Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 5, 1959

The Lord's Day

Luther G. Roberts, Salem, Oregon

John, the apostle of Christ, wrote, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's' day" (Rev. 1:10.) A day to be of special significance must be connected with a particular event pertaining to a particular people. The Fourth of July is of special significance to a particular people — the citizens of the United States — because it commemorates an event of peculiar importance to these people. This day would have no particular meaning to the people of Canada. The sabbath day of the law of Moses was of special interest to the particular people — the Jews — for it was to be celebrated because of Israel's delivery from bondage in Egypt. (Deut. 5:15.) The sabbath was a sign between God and Israel. (Ex. 31:12, 13.) It could not be a sign to all nations. God said of the sabbath, "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel." An engagement ring is a sign between a particular man and a particular woman. Just so, the Lord's day is a day of significance to celebrate a particular event to a particular people. The event is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the people to whom it is significant are all those who believe that Jesus arose from the dead.

The Lord's day is the first day of the week for on this day Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. The Lord of Christians is Christ. Peter said, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." (Acts 2:38.) Paul declared, "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living." (Rom. 14:8, 9.) The Lord's day is particularly his, set apart for a purpose created by the system which he originated. The day of the Lord's resurrection is definitely fixed..

In Luke, chapter 24, we have some statements by the inspired historian which definitely fix the day of the resurrection of Christ. Luke 24:1: "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared." Verse 13: "And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem." Verse 21: "Yea and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass." What things? "The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him." Verse 46: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day." "The first day of the week" of verse 1, "that very (same) day" of verse 13, and the "third day" of verse 21 are all one and the same day. The first day of the week of verse one, is the third day since "these things" happened, that is, since the crucifixion of Christ. But Jesus was to be raised on the third day, verse 46. Therefore, Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week. To deny this is to deny the inspired statements of Luke, the writer of the third gospel.

On the first day of the week the Lord Jesus met with his disciples between his resurrection and his ascension to heaven. In fact, Jesus met with his disciples on successive first days of the week during this time. John 20:19: 'When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst . ..". Verse 24: "But Thomas ... was not with them when Jesus came." Verse 26: "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst . . . ." "After eight days" means on the eighth day, which would be the next first day of the week. "After three days" and "on the third day" meant the same thing with the Jews. Jesus on one occasion began to show to his disciples what would be done to him, and he said he would be raised up the "third day." (Matt. 16:21,) After the death of Jesus, the ffief priests and Pharisees told Pilate, "That that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I rise again." (Matt. 27:63.) Thus "After three days," and "on the third day" meant the third day. Just so it is, that "after eight days" and "the eighth day" mean the same thing. Thus, Jesus met with his disciples on successive first days of the week between his resurrection and ascension. But there is no evidence 'of Scripture that Jesus met with his disciples this time on the Sabbath day.

On the first day of the week the church was established. This was on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ according to Acts, chapter 2. Pentecost always came on the first day of the week. Moses gave the manner of determining the time of the day of Pentecost. He said, "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, and the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven sabbaths shall there be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall number fifty days .....(Lev. 25:15, 16,) It was counted from the sabbath of the Passover weak — seven sabbaths complete. This would be forty-nine days, of course, and the next day would be the "fiftieth" day, which is what the term "Pentecost" means. Since Pentecost was the next day after the seventh sabbath it was the first day of the week. But on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost of Acts 2, the disciples were gathered together; the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit; the first complete gospel sermon was preached and Jesus was proclaimed as the Christ, the Son of God, crucified, risen, and exalted at God's right hand. About three thousand souls were obedient unto the gospel on that day — the first fruits of the gospel harvest; they were added to the church. (Acts 2:37-47.) The church of the Lord began on this day, the first day of the week, the Lord's day. This was the "beginning." (Acts 11:15.)

Also, on the first day of the week the disciples of the Lord met to "proclaim the Lord's death" by eating the Lord's supper. The disciples at Troas came together on the first day of the week to break bread and Paul "discoursed unto them." (Acts 20:7.) We learn from the context of this Scripture that Paul and his companion, Luke, joined their companions who had gone before to Troas, and they remained in Troas seven days. Although Paul was in a hurry to be on his way to Jerusalem he tarried in Troas seven days to be there on the first day of the week to meet with the disciples. We learn from this incident that the church of the first century under the direction of the inspired apostles met on the first day of the week to break bread or to observe the Lord's supper. What is done in one church of the Lord by the approval of an apostle as worship should be done in every congregation of the Lord's people. Since the church at Troas met on the first day of the week to break bread with the approval of the apostle Paul, so every church of the Lord should do likewise. This is an apostolic approved example. This example of the church in Troas alone is sufficient to show that the church is to assemble on this day, the first day of the week, the Lord's day, to worship God "in spirit and in truth," that is, it is sufficient to any one who respects apostolic authority. It is to be understood the same way we understand any thing that has been written. If there be those who are disposed to quibble about the matter, it still remains that the facts are clear from the narrative of the inspired historian Luke.

Some one is ready to say that Luke did not say "the first day of every week." That is true and neither did God say in giving the ten commandments of the law of Moses, "Remember every sabbath day". But since the sabbath day was on the seventh day of the week and every week had a seventh day, the Jews knew that the sabbath day every week was to be kept holy. Too, since there is a first day in every week and the disciples met on the first day of the week, it was unnecessary to say, "the first day of every week."

Somebody else may say that this does not exclude or forbid the church observing the Lord's supper on some other day of the week. But what significance would the Lord's supper have if observed on some other day than the day of the Lord's resurrection, the Lord's day? Too, we wonder if Paul did not know that the Lord's supper could be observed on some other day than the first day of the week, if it could be with the Lord's approval. But he remained in Troas seven days and met with the disciples on the first day of the week although he "was hastening" to be at Jerusalem a certain time. Did Paul not know he could meet with the disciples on "Maunday" Thursday night and partake of the Lord's supper and not need to wait until the first day of the week arrived? or on "good Friday"? Was it not Thursday night that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper? And was it not on Friday that he was crucified? We do not know with certainty on what day Jesus was crucified, and so do not know what night he instituted the Lord's supper. But if we did know the day of his crucifixion and the night of the institution of the Supper, this would still not be authority to partake of the Lord's supper at those times, unless it had been authorized by a command, an apostolic approved example, or a necessary inference in the word of the Lord. As long as we are content to abide by a "thus saith the Lord' in what we teach and what we practice in religion, we are safe. May the Lord help us to abide in the teaching of Christ. For "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son."

If such teaching is "legalism," then, we must be "legalists" to please the Lord and to receive his approval. In fact, we should strive to be legal in what we do, that is, according to Webster, "In conformity with the law; lawful." For a thing to be lawful in religion it must be scriptural. So, the article in the January 15, 1959 issue of The Gospel Guardian was just a "take off," (distortion by exaggeration) on the type reasoning done in the recent publication, "We Be Brethren." The reader can see where the type argument used in that "caricature" will lead if followed. One reader of the article in the January 15 issue wrote, "Acts 20:7 plainly states that they met on the first day of the week, and also states for what purpose." This statement is true and correct. When we say that Acts 20:7 forbids the observing of the Lord's supper on any other day we are not making a law where the Lord made none. The Lord gave no such commandment for observing the Lord's supper on any other day. Hence, this is not authorized by the Lord.