Lesson 9: Five Reasons The Christian Day of Worship is Sunday
Reason 1 The Resurrection Was On the First Day
Scripture is clear that the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred on the first day of the week. Since God does not work by random chance, the 1st day of the week was more than just a coincidence of when Jesus died. The first day was now a mark of the New Covenant which Jesus’ death and resurrection had secured and instituted.
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Matthew 28:1 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.
Luke 24:1 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.
John 20:1 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 20:19 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.
When we meet on Sunday, we recognize and honor the resurrection of the Lord. If we ignore or refuse to acknowledge the 1st day of the week we dishonor His resurrection and the New Covenant that it marks.
Reason 2: Pentecost Was On the First Day
After the ascension of Christ, the early church was told to wait in Jerusalem until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. This occurred on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 1:7-8 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:1-2 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Pentecost was on the first day of the week, 50 days after the Passover. 7 weeks x 7 day = 49 days + 1 day = 50 days. The 49th day would be a sabbath the next day would be Sunday.
Leviticus 23:9-10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Leviticus 23:15-16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
As Jesus was the fulfillment of the Paschal lamb on Passover, he was also the fulfillment of the wave offering on Pentecost. He was the “firstfruits” of the coming resurrection of believers.
Deuteronomy 26:2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1 Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
Worshiping on Sunday acknowledges our belief in Christ’s resurrection and in our own through Him.
Reason 3 The Early Church Met On the First Day
In the New Testament the only day cited as the day to meet, to come together, is always the first day of the week. The phrase “first day of the week” is exactly the same as the Gospels when stating they day upon which the Lord rose from the dead. This is purposeful and show the relationship between the resurrection and the day of worship for Christians.
Acts 20:6-7 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 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.
1 Corinthians 16:1–4 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 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. 3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. 4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
Reason 4 History Records The 1st Day
The Didache dates around the late first century AD or early second century AD and provides insight into early church practices. It records, “On the Lord’s own day, gather together and break bread and give thanks…”
Pliny’s correspondence with Trajan—which shows a typically negative attitude toward early Christianity—records “that it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god; and that they bound themselves with oath, not for any crime, but not to commit theft or robbery or adultery, not to break their word, and not to deny a deposit when demanded” (Pliny, To the Emperor Trajan). The fixed day Pliny refers to was the first day of the week. - Efraín Salcedo, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, 2016.
Sunday is the first day of the week, adopted by the first Christians from the Roman calendar (Latin Dies Solis, Day of the Sun), because it was dedicated to the worship of the sun. The Christians reinterpreted the heathen name as implying the “Sun of Righteousness,” with reference to this rising (Mal. 4:2). It was also called Dies Panis (Day of Bread), because it was an early custom to break bread on that day. In The Teaching of the Twelve it is called the “Lord’s Day of the Lord” (Kuriakēn de Kuriou). – Merrill Unger
Reason 5: The Book of Revelation Use of “The Lord’s Day.”
The book of Revelation is the last book written in the New Testament Canon around 100 AD. John records the day he sees the vision of the returning King.
Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
The phrase “Lord’s Day” is now the accepted and common term for the first day of the week, Sunday the day of worship for the church.
“Lord’s day” in the NT occurs only in Rev 1:10, but in the post-apostolic literature we have the following references: Ignatius, Ad Mag., ix.1, “No longer keeping the Sabbath but living according to the Lord’s day, on which also our Light arose”; … “We keep the eighth day with gladness,” on which Jesus arose from the dead.” I.e., Sunday, as the day of Christ’s resurrection, was kept as a Christian feast and called “the Lord’s day,”... Its appropriateness in Rev 1:10 is obvious, as St. John received his vision of the exalted Lord when all Christians had their minds directed toward His entrance into glory through the resurrection. - Burton Scott Easton, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.
It seemed to be a common practice among the early Jewish Christians to continue to meet on the Sabbath, both to honor their heritage and culture, and to evangelize among the Jewish people. After the Sabbath on Saturday, they then met on Sunday to honor and celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah. This practice would be fitting and used of the Lord to reach the lost Jews. But those denominations or churches that insist on returning to a 7th day, Sabbath worship today are in reality returning to a keeping of the Old Testament law rather than a celebration of the New Covenant through the Lord’s resurrection. They are looking behind to the type instead of forward to the One who fulfilled it. Such a backward-looking theology can lead to a creeping legalism tied to the Law, rather than a joyous relationship with the risen Lord