When asked, many Christians will say that they observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh because Christ rose from the dead on that day and authorized Christians to observe the day in honor of His Resurrection instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. There are only eight texts in the New Testament that refer to Sunday, and by carefully studying these verses we can be certain that all the evidence for consideration is before us. If there is any biblical authority for keeping the first day of the week, it will have to be found in one of these verses. Let us see what the bible has to say on this important topic as we study from verse to verse!
Where do we find the first mention of the first day of the week within the new testament?
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” Matthew 28:1
Note: This is the first mention of the first day. According to Miriam Webster dictionary, Sunday is defined as, “the first day of the week.” Also notice that Matthew wrote his gospel 6 years after Jesus’ resurrection, yet he calls the day before the first day of the week, Sabbath. Clearly, he lays a distinction and separation between Sabbath and the first day of the week providing he describes both as two different days and not the same.
Where is the first day of the week or Sunday mention next in the bible?
“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” Mark 16:1-2
Note: This is the second time the first day in mentioned. This is the same account Matthew 28:1 mark is describing and writing 31 years after the resurrection of Christ. Yet, 32 years after Christ, both Mark and Matthew still acknowledges the Sabbath.
Does Mark mention the first day anywhere else?
“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” Mark 16:9
Note: This is the third mention of the first day. This also indicates to us that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday, the day after the Sabbath spoken of by Matthew and Mark.
We see Christs’ resurrection on Sunday. What day was he laid in the tomb?
“This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.” Luke 23:52-54
Note: This is what Catholics and most of the world celebrates as Good Friday. Good Friday is defined by Miriam-Webster dictionary as, “the Friday before Easter observed in churches as the anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ and in some states of the U.S. as a legal holiday.”
Since the Sabbath was drawing on, what did the women do after Jesus was crucified?
“And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56
Note: It is interesting to know, that both the women and Jesus (through his death) rested on that very Sabbath Day.
What work did they postpone doing on Sabbath till the first day of the week?
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” Luke 24:1
Note: This is the fourth mention of the first day of the week. The gospel of Luke was written 24 years after the events recorded occurred.
How does John speak of this same account?
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” John 20:1
Note: This is the fifth mention of the first day of the week, Sunday.
Do we find Sunday or the first day or the week being mentioned in the book of John?
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” John 20:19
Note: Evening refers to the dark portion of a day and morning the daylight hours based on Genesis 1. Again on the first day of the week, a little later that evening, which seems to be taking place sometime time before sunrise as the other gospels elaborate. This scene in verse 19 is transpiring during the hours we would refer to today as early morning. This is the sixth mention of the first day of the week. We see from the previous explanations of this same occurrence, that this is taking place the day after Sabbath, making a distinction between the Sabbath and the first day which today is called Sunday.
Where is the first day of the week mentioned next in the bible?
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7
Note: This is the seventh mention of the first day of the week.
What time was this gathering held?
“And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.” Acts 20:8
Answer: Several things to take note of from the last two texts given. Notice Paul preached until midnight. This means he was preaching all through the evening on what we refer to as Saturday night (biblically the evening of the first day) until might night came. There is only one midnight within a biblical day from sunset to sunset, which again in this scenario it would be the midnight following hat we know as Saturday night. Also, you would notice the lights were many in the upper chamber where they were indicating it may have been dark already, however it is confirmed to us because the 7th day had already ended and it was the first day, meaning the sun had already set.
Is the breaking of bread and gathering together some done on Sabbath only?
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Acts 2:46
Answer: This is something the apostles engaged in daily.
How many accompanied Paul on his journey to Asia on this trip?
“And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.” Acts 20:4
While Paul was journeying to Asos on the first day what were his companions doing?
“And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.” Acts 20:13
Note: Notice they were engaged in sailing, and none of them regarded Sunday as a sacred day.
Where else do we find the first day of the week mentioned in the bible?
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16:2
Note: The expression “lay something aside” in the original Greek comes with the connotation of putting something aside at home. Even Sunday-worship advocates agree with this interpretation. Therefore there wasn’t a church service done when the donations were collected that day, it was from house to house. This is the eight and final mention of the first day or Sunday in the bible.
What was that donation or offering for?
“And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.” 1 Corinthians 16:3
It’s clear that Apostle Paul was giving them instructions on their offering to the Church of God in Jerusalem. They were experiencing famine in the land, as the books of Acts 11:28-29 brings out some of the conditions at that time.
As we have gone through each text that deals with the first day of the week in the Bible, without a doubt we see nothing that relates it to the Sabbath. The change in the day or worship from Saturday to Sunday was recently taking place in the year 321 AD by the Pope of Rome, however, the bible is clear that we are to worship Him on the Seventh-day (Exodus 20:8-11) and not Sunday. See study on the Sabbath. Are you willing to choose to obey God over man and the traditions of this world? If you are, God will strengthen you to obey!