Most Christians don’t know why they attend worship services on Sunday, the first day of the week. Yet they believe the seventh-day Sabbath is just for the Old Testament, irrelevant to modern Christians. The truth is that even the New Testament proves that God expects today’s Christians to keep a seventh-day Sabbath.
What example did Jesus set—then record and preserve for Christians today? “And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught” (Mark 1:21). Luke 4:16 also records how, in His hometown of Nazareth, Christ’s “custom” was to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath.
“Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Christians believe that Christ existed, as spirit, before His physical birth. Therefore, He was part of the creation of the Sabbath. In fact, since God created all things through Him (Ephesians 3:9), Jesus Christ actually created the Sabbath!
What about after Jesus Christ died, was resurrected, and returned to His Father? Did the Church after Christ keep the Sabbath? The Apostle Paul wrote 14 epistles that became part of the New Testament. Much of his ministry is recorded in the book of Acts, written by Luke. Which day did Paul observe?
Eight New Testament passages contain the phrase “first day of the week.” (The word day is not in the original Greek in any of those instances.) Many Sunday-keepers refer to Acts 20:7: “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.” Yes, Paul preached, and the disciples broke bread—meaning they ate a meal on the first day of the week. And remember, in the Bible, the day begins at sunset (Leviticus 23:32). Here the disciples are eating a meal at night, since there were “many lights in the upper chamber” (Acts 20:8), and Paul spoke “until midnight” (verse 7). If this was the first day of the week, it had to have been Saturday night, for if it were Sunday night, it would already be the second day to Luke, the writer of these verses. Concluding his stay in Troas (verse 6), Paul was departing “on the morrow,” or the next morning. This was not a holy observance. He was merely meeting with the disciples to have one last meal and speak to them one last time before leaving the next day.
The other seven passages that refer to the first day of the week, if they even allude to God’s people coming together at all, give no evidence of Sunday being a day of worship. In Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?, Herbert W. Armstrong examined each instance and proved that no worship services were held on Sunday. Request this booklet for a deeper study into these passages.
Even the Catholic Church realizes that these eight passages give no precedent for a day change. In Faith of Our Fathers, Archbishop James Gibbons wrote, “You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day we never sanctify.” He was asserting that the Catholic Church had the authority to change the day.
Which day did Paul keep holy? Acts 17:1-2 say “his manner” was to attend synagogue on the Sabbath—the same Greek word Luke used when he wrote of Christ’s “custom” in Luke 4:16. So just as it was Christ’s custom to keep the Sabbath day, so too was it Paul’s manner, years after Christ had been resurrected!
Acts 13 records Paul preaching on the Sabbath to both the Jews and Gentiles, which proves that the Sabbath wasn’t just for Jews. In fact, the Jews were offended by Paul’s message, and “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath” (verse 42). Why didn’t Paul tell the believing Gentiles to come on Sunday? Because he was a Christian who, like the rest of the New Testament Church, observed the Sabbath. “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (verse 44).
Matthew 24 records the “Olivet prophecy,” where Christ privately discussed with His disciples the time just prior to His return. In verses 20-21, He specified that Christians should pray that their escape from prophesied calamities will not be on the Sabbath. So clearly, the Sabbath will remain in effect for God’s faithful believers right up to the return of Jesus Christ.
The Sabbath is not only for the Old Testament, but is still in living effect, and should be kept by Christians today.
Having recognized this New Testament command, you will be delighted to learn just how consistent and harmonious the New Testament is with the Old Testament. If you have closed your mind to the latter’s instruction, I would encourage you to go back to this treasure trove in the Bible, which will show you why and how to observe the Sabbath. You can study Genesis 2:1-3 to see how God placed His presence in this day, thus making it holy. You will find depth and meaning in this weekly observance that goes far beyond merely entering a building.
The Sabbath means resting from the labor of the week and remembering the Creator. More importantly, it typifies a future time of rest for this hectic world, of which Satan is now deceiver and god (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4). The 6,000 years Satan has had man in his grasp are a type of the six-day workweek, since 1,000 years is as one day to God (2 Peter 3:8). When Christ returns to stop mankind from erasing himself from the face of the planet (Matthew 24:21-22), He will rule this Earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4-6)—the “seventh day” of God’s 7,000-year plan. It will truly be a rest from the great deceiver, who at that time will be restrained in a bottomless pit (verses 1-3). And it will be a time when the Sabbath will be kept (Isaiah 66:23), a time when its true meaning will be evident! The vision in the seventh-day Sabbath is truly inspiring. Study it and come to see its relevance to your life.