Which Day of the Week Should Christians Gather?

Today’s blog comes as a result of an email that I got from Rob, a friend of mine, who explained that he was in a conversation with a friend of his about Christians gathering on the first day of the week.  Now, I don’t want put words in the mouth of Rob’s friend, but it seemed that he was suggesting that Sunday – or the first day of the week – is the preferred day that Christians should gather together for worship.   Preferred, that is, by God.     

Rob’s friend shared some passages of Scripture that seemed to support this point of view. For example, Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…”   or  1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside…”      

Rob’s friend referred him to a website that seems to argue this point, which is an article on the Vestavia Church of Christ webpage. The first two sentences read, “Why do Christians come together every first day of the week? Is this just an arbitrary choice we have made, or is there something else special about it that we ought to recognize?” The author goes on to admit that it’s not that Christians can’t meet on other days but that this should not “diminish in our minds the importance and significance of the first day of the week.”      

This gives us a glimpse into the thought behind the article. That is: the author of the article believes that there is something special about the first day of the week; that it has been in a sense elevated above the other days. The remainder of the article argues that light was created on the first day of the week in Genesis, and that Jesus is the real light of the world, and that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, therefore Christians should come together on the first day of the week.   

So, here are the questions before us: Is Sunday the day that God prefers Christians to gather? Is God more pleased with us if we get together on Sunday, then say on Thursday afternoon? Is there something special about Sunday that elevates it above the other days?    

It is true that Scripture makes it clear that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, and that early Christians began to gather for worship on that day. Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian apologist recorded:

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.”

So, it would appear that this was the day that the early church was coming together. However, as I’ve pointed out in some of my earlier blogs, when we read what the early church did, we have to ask ourselves if this is a prescription for all Christians to do everywhere, or does this merely describe what they did. For example, when we read in Acts 4 that “all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,” do we understand this as a command that any of us who own lands or houses ought to sell them and donate the proceeds to the church? Is this something we should be doing?  Or, do we understand this as just something that they had felt led to do? Does this prescribe what we are to do, or does this describe what they did?      

In the case of the first day of the week, we absolutely lack a direct command from Jesus or the Apostles telling us that we must set aside this day to worship. If we had one, then there would be no debate. If Peter had stood up on the day of Pentecost, for instance, and during his preaching told us that Jesus was commanding His followers to begin gathering on Sunday, then there would be no question as to what we should do. However, we don’t have any such command. Any person or church that feels that one day is superior to another is simply connecting dots that no one told them that they must connect. They’re giving us their preference.      

When Paul wrote to the Romans, he seemed to recognize that not everyone preferred the same day. He said, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.”  Apparently, Paul knew that some Christians viewed some days differently than others. Perhaps there were Jewish Christians in Rome who preferred the last day of the week – the Sabbath – as had been their tradition. Perhaps others gravitated toward the first day of the week since they knew this was the day that Jesus had risen. And, perhaps some saw every day as equally beneficial for worship.  Whatever the case, this would have been the perfect time for Paul to set the matter straight. If he knew that Peter & the rest of the Apostles were gathering on Sundays because that’s the day that God preferred, one would think that he would make it clear to the Romans which day should be esteemed above the others. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure Christians were gathering on the correct day.    

But, look at what he said, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.”(Rom. 14:5-6)

Paul seems unconcerned over which day his readers esteem above the others. He only suggests that if you observe a day, then observe it to the Lord.  To the Colossians, Paul suggested something similar when he wrote, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths.”(Col 2:16)

Festivals were annual observations, new moons were monthly ones, and sabbaths were weekly observations that his Jewish readers would have been familiar with. Again, Paul suggests that no one is to be your judge in terms of what times you like to like to observe. If you want to observe annual celebrations, monthly times, or even weekly observations, then you decide for yourself, and others in the church should not stand in judgement of your choice. If you don’t want to observe these occasions then it would seem you are free not to.      

I believe that Paul, who was Jewish and who had been raised observing the last day of the week, the Sabbath, understood what Jesus had done on the cross. Jesus did not destroy the Sabbath day observation, but He had fulfilled it.

The writer of Hebrews explains in chapter 4 that those who place their hope in Jesus have entered into His rest. In one sense we have ceased from our labors as God did from His. The Sabbath day has now been fulfilled.      

No longer is a single day elevated for the celebration of God, but everyone who is in Christ lives each day in the Sabbath.    Each day is now elevated as the day to honor and celebrate God.  Christians recognize that it’s not the first day of the week, or the last day of the week that belongs to God, but every day of the week is His.

If you like to gather the first day of the week with other believers, then gather the first day of the week. If Tuesday works better for you and the Christians around you, then make it Tuesday. Luke wrote in Acts 2:46 that the early church was “continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house.”

Apparently, they saw each day as the best day to get together with other believers.  I don’t believe God is as interested in which day you meet with other Christians as we sometimes see it. Find a time when the Christians near you are coming together, and join them. View every day as a day which the Lord gave you to celebrate and honor Him. Fellowship with other believers as often as you can.  

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, follower-of-Jesus blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmakerPodcast host, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us , and has worked as an investigator for over 35 years.




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