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A question often asked about the Christian day of worship is, “Since Saturday was the day God set aside for the “Sabbath," why do Christians worship on Sunday?”
"And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made," (Genesis 2:3 KJV).
It is well understood that:
Sabbath means, Rest; cessation of work.
Saturday means, the seventh day of the week.
Sunday means, the first day of the week.
Somewhere along the way, the day of worship was shifted from Saturday to Sunday. Why and when it changed are age-old questions, with few answers.
The Lord's Day
Many scholars believe the reason Christians worship on Sunday is that it is the day Christ rose from the dead. The Reverend John A. O’Brien expresses that view very well in the following excerpt from his book, “The Faith of Millions.”
"To signalize this transition from the old to the new law, the Apostles transferred the observance to the Sunday, the first day of the week. Sunday was chosen because on that day was wrought the greatest miracle of the Christian religion, the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It was on Sunday also that the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles and sent them out to preach the Gospel to the world. Sunday is, therefore, the birthday of the Christian Church." (The Faith of Millions, by the Reverend John A. O'Brien, PH. D., 4th Edition, copyright 1938)
Others believe Christians may have begun Sunday worship in the first century to escape the persecution of Nero, a wicked Roman emperor who did all within his power to destroy Christianity.
Knowing the Christians worshiped on the Sabbath made them easy to find. Nero would have them killed, and then burn their bodies in his courtyards at night for entertainment. It was a terrible time for Christians.
Some believe the Christians changed their day of worship to Sunday, as a way to survive.
Others believe that Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, changed the day of rest to Sunday during the fourth century.
Apparently, he had forced the survivors of his conquests to join the Christian Church. In an attempt to appease these new converts, (and to avoid the appearance of showing favor to the Christians), the day of worship was changed to Sunday.
Still, others believe the day of worship was changed centuries later by the Catholic Church, but no one can be certain.
The Apostle Paul
The Apostle Paul was helping those under the Old Testament Law, make the transition to the New Testament. Other religions were also joining the new Christian Church at this time, and many of these had a favorite day of worship and worshipped false gods.
Paul required them to lay their false gods and rituals aside. It was essential for them to understand that they could not be born again through rituals, a specific day of worship, or the food they ate. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ.
"One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike [sacred]. Let everyone be fully convinced (satisfied) in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it in honor of the Lord..." (Rom 14:5-6, AMP).
Unlike the godly people in the Old Testament, Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide, lead and comfort.
Paul wanted the new converts to know that Christianity was about getting to know Jesus, and in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Worshipping on any specific day does not determine whether one goes to Heaven. According to the Words of Jesus, Salvation comes by a born-again experience, based upon faith in what Christ accomplished on the cross.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
Paul used the term, "with a good conscience.” The ultimate answer is not in which day, but in whom we worship. According to the teachings of the Apostle Paul, we are to consider every day to be a day of worship, with no one day being more important than another.
However, I believe scripture calls for God’s people to set aside one day of the week as a day of rest, and the day most Christians observe is Sunday.
My conviction, based on the above writings of the Apostle Paul, is that it matters little which day of the week we set aside for our day of worship.
I love all Christian Denominations who have a clear plan of salvation and accurate teachings. Some wonderful churches insist on observing Saturday as their day of worship.
Nevertheless, it may be that when you attend a weekly church service in the denomination of your choice, it will be on a Sunday.
A Visitor's Question:
Should Christians Observe a Day of rest?
Hi Samuel, thanks for the great articles. A question ...
If the moral law is still in play, should Christians be observing the Sabbath day of rest?
Did Jesus not cover the moral law, and more, while teaching the crowds in Matt 5 and 6... sermon on the mount? Is this not our moral law?
Would appreciate your thoughts and understanding of this. Blessings
Anthony: South Africa
You have an excellent analogy of the moral law, and yes, I do believe that if we obeyed/adhered to the Sermon on the Mount we would very likely be covering all other laws.
However, I'm thinking about the teachings of the Apostle Paul, "...Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom 7:7, ESV)
"You shall not covet" is one of the Ten Commandments, (#10).
According to the Apostle Paul, the Ten Commandments serve to teach us what God considers to be a sin, and according to his writings, he observed the Ten Commandments and taught others to do so, (Rom 7:7).
I believe we are to observe the Ten Commandments as guidelines, which includes honoring the Sabbath, (meaning "day of rest)."
However, Christians are under the "Law of Grace." Jesus, "God the Son," the only one to perfectly fulfill every commandment, was found worthy by "God the Father" to die in the place of all who would accept Him as their Savior.
Those under the "Old Testament Law" attempted to obeyed in hopes of being good enough to enter Heaven. Jesus changed all of that.
Below is an article that may offer some understanding:
Hope I have helped with your question. I welcome any follow-up
I pray the Lord will bless all your efforts.
Day of Worship