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The First Day of the Week

Discovering the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:20
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The first Christians assembled together on the first day of the week to commemorate Jesus Christ’s resurrection through the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Day quickly became the focal point of the Christian week, assuming the characteristics of the Jewish Sabbath, namely worship and rest.

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INTRODUCTION

1. For almost 2000 years, Christians have assembled on Sunday to observe the Lord's Supper...
a. Why on Sunday (the first day of the week)?
b. Why not on the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week)?
2. In Ac 20:7, we find the first reference to worship on a Sunday...
a. When disciples came together to break bread
b. When Paul spoke to them
[Some might wonder whether this passage refers to a weekly observance, and whether Christians did in fact assemble on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord's Supper. Consider the evidence for...]

I. THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SUPPER

A. THE BIBLICAL EVIDENCE...

1. When the church began, they continued steadfastly in "the breaking of bread" - Ac 2:42
2. Disciples came together on the first day of the week to "break bread" - Ac 20:7
3. "Breaking bread" is likely a reference to the Lord's Supper - cf. 1Co 10:16-17
1 Corinthians 10:16–17 ESV
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
4. Other indications of a weekly observance:
a. The church at Corinth was coming together to eat the Lord's Supper, though they were abusing it - cf. 1Co 11:17-22
b. Instructions concerning the collection suggest their coming together was on the first day of the week - cf. 1Co 16:1-2
-- Seemingly slight, the Biblical evidence weighs more than any human opinion

B. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE...

1. The earliest historical evidence outside the Bible confirms the day and frequency
a. The Didache (ca. 95 A.D.) indicates Christians were to come together on the first day of the week to break bread - Didache 14:1
b. Justin Martyr (ca. 150 A.D.) records how Christians assembled on Sunday and partook of the Supper - Apology I, 67
c. "...the early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all with one consent, declare that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord's Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week." - B. W. Johnson, People's New Testament
2. Religious scholars confirm this was the practice
a. "As we have already remarked, the celebration of the Lord's Supper was still held to constitute an essential part of divine worship every Sunday, as appears from Justin Martyr (A.D. 150)..." - Augustus Neander (Lutheran), History Of Christian Religion And Church, Vol. I, p. 332
b. "This ordinance (the Lord's Supper) seems to have been administered every Lord's day; and probably no professed Christian absented themselves... - Thomas Scott (Presbyterian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
c. "This also is an important example of weekly communion as the practice of the first Christians." - A. C. Hervey (Episcopalian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
d. "It is well known that the primitive Christians administered the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) every Lord's day." - P. Doddridge (Congregationalist), Notes On Acts 20:7
e. "We understand v. 7 to indicate that the Breaking of Bread on the first day of the week was customary during the apostolic period." - F. F. Bruce, (Open Brethren), New International Bible commentary (p. 1302)
-- The overwhelming consensus of extra biblical sources supports the conclusion that the Biblical practice was to observe the Lord's Supper each first day of the week
[But as asked in the introduction, why Sunday? Why not the Sabbath Day? Consider the following regarding...]

II. THE DAY OF THE OBSERVANCE

A. WHY THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK...?

1. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday - Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2,9; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1

2. Jesus appeared to His disciples on Sunday - Jn 20:19

3. The church began on Pentecost, which was on a Sunday - Ac 2:1-42

4. The command to lay by in store was to be carried out on a Sunday - 1Co 16:1-2

5. Jesus appeared to John on "the Lord's Day", understood to be Sunday - Re 1:10

-- The Scriptures do not explicitly declare the above to be reasons why Christians assembled on the first day of the week, but it might indicate why they did

B. WHY NOT THE SABBATH...?

1. The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant (Exo 31:16-17; Neh 9:14; Eze 20:12),
Nehemiah 9:14 ESV
14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant.
Ezekiel 20:12 ESV
12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
whereas Christians are under the New Covenant (2Co 3; He 8)
2 Corinthians 3:4–6 ESV
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Hebrews 8:6–10 ESV
6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2. There is no NT command to keep the Sabbath
3. The first command to keep the Sabbath was not until the time of Moses (Ex 16:23-30; 20:8)
4. The Jerusalem Council (Ac 15) did not order Gentile believers to keep the Sabbath
5. Paul never cautioned Christians about breaking the Sabbath
6. The NT explicitly teaches that Sabbath keeping was not a requirement (Ro 14:5; Ga 4:10-11; Col 2:16-17)
Colossians 2:16–17 ESV
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
-- The above reasons are from The MacArthur Study Bible (Acts 20:7), for why Scripture does not require Christians to observe the Saturday Sabbath

III. What we do on the First Day of the Week

We Pray

1 Timothy 2:1–2 ESV
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

We Sing

Colossians 3:16 ESV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

We Preach

Acts 2:42 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

We Give

1 Corinthians 16:1–2 ESV
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We Communion

1 Corinthians 11:24–26 ESV
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

When we meet Two Governing Principles

1 Corinthians 14:25 ESV
25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
1 Corinthians 14:40 ESV
40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

CONCLUSION

1. Again from Philip Schaff, History of Christian Church, Vol. 1, pg. 478-479...
a. "...it appears, therefore, from the New Testament itself, that Sunday was observed as a day of worship, and in special commemoration of the Resurrection, whereby the work of redemption was finished."
b. "The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it has its roots in apostolic practice."
2. Some may say that the Biblical evidence is scarce...
a. But a whisper of God's Word is worth more than a blast of man's opinions
b. The apostolic example is more authoritative than any human tradition If you are a disciple of Christ, do you assemble with other Christians on the first day of the week to break bread (observe the Lord's Supper)? If not, why not...?
Hebrews 10:25 ESV
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

God’s Plan of Salvation

Hear

Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Believe

Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Repent

Acts 17:30 ESV
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Confess

1 Timothy 6:12 ESV
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Be Baptized

Acts 2:38 ESV
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Remain Faithful

Galatians 5:4 ESV
4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
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