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    THE APOSTLES AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

    In the chapter on “Sun-worship and Sunday” it is shown that Sunday was from the most ancient times a heathen festival day, devoted to the licentious sun-worship, and that the adoption of it by the early church was a link which joined the church to paganism. Its existence in the church to-day, although it has been clothed with something of the semblance of the Sabbath, whose place it has usurped, is a standing reminder of the great apostasy, and a proof that the Reformation did not entirely clear the church from pagan corruption. This being the case, it is evident that there can be no authority for it in the Bible, and this has been expressly stated. It may, however, be well to note those passages which mention the first day of the week, since if there were any sacredness attached to the day, it would there be at least intimated. The argument must, as a matter of course, be negative.FACC 352.2

    Our task is not very great, for the first day of the week is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament, and six of these instances of its occurrence have reference to a single first day,—the day on which Christ rose from the tomb. These six texts are Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19. They read, in order, as follows:—
    “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 sepulcher.” Matthew 28:1.
    FACC 352.3

    “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.” Mark 16:1, 2.FACC 352.4

    “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” Mark 16:9.FACC 353.1

    “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared.” Luke 24:1.FACC 353.2

    “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher.” John 20:1.FACC 353.3

    “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 said unto them, Peace be unto you.” John 20:19.FACC 353.4

    In none of these texts is there the least hint that the day was sacred, or was henceforth to be considered so. They simply state that Jesus met with certain of his disciples on the day of his resurrection. Those incidents are mentioned to show that Christ did really rise from the dead the third day, as he had said. That he should show himself at once to his disciples, was the most natural thing in the world, in order to relieve their sorrow. The meeting referred to in John 20:19 was not a religious meeting, not a gathering for prayer, or to celebrate the resurrection, but simply such a meeting as Jesus had with Mary in the garden, with the other women, and with Peter, being one of the “many infallible proofs” of his resurrection. That this is so, is evident from the fact that the eleven had one common abode (Acts 1:13), and that just before Jesus came into the room where they were, the two disciples to whom Jesus appeared “as they walked, and went into the country” had returned and told the eleven that Jesus was risen, but their story was not believed Mark 16:12, 13. Moreover, when Jesus himself appeared unto them, they were sitting at meat, and he “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” Mark 16:14. They could not have celebrated his resurrection, when they did not believe that he had risen. A comparison of Acts 1:13 with Mark 16:14, and Luke 24:36-43, is sufficient to show that when Jesus met with his disciples on the evening of the day of his resurrection, they were simply eating their supper at home, and did not believe that he had risen.FACC 353.5

    When Jesus met with them he did not tell them that thenceforth they must observe the first day of the week in honor of his resurrection, nor did he pronounce any blessing on that day. In short, he made no reference whatever to the day. To the disciples he gave the salutation of peace, saying, “Peace be unto you,” and he breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost;” but that affected the disciples, and not the day. Thus we see that in connection with the resurrection of Jesus there is not the remotest hint of Sunday sacredness.FACC 354.1

    The next reference to the first day of the week is in Acts 20:7, and there we find that a meeting was held on that day. And here one thing may be noted, namely, that this is the only direct mention in the New Testament of a religious meeting on the first day of the week. If there were the record of fifty meetings on that day, however, that would not in the least affect its standing, for meetings were held every day in the week. The New Testament contains an account of many meetings held on the Sabbath, but that is no reason why the Sabbath should be kept. The Sabbath stands on a different foundation than that, even on the unchanging word of God.FACC 354.2

    But what of this one meeting on the first day of the week. We note first that it was in the night, for “there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together” (verse 8); and Paul preached until midnight (verse 7), and then, after a brief intermission, until break of day, when he departed. Verse 11. But every day, according to the Bible method of reckoning time, ends at the setting of the sun. (See Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; Leviticus 23:32; Mark 1:32.) Therefore, since this meeting at Troas was in the dark part of the first day of the week, it could not have been at the close of that day, but must have been at the beginning, corresponding to what is popularly designated as “Saturday night.”FACC 354.3

    Now note what immediately followed that Saturday night meeting. As soon as it was break of day, on Sunday morning, Paul’s companions went to the ship, and resumed their journey to Jerusalem, while Paul himself chose to walk across the country and join the ship’s company at Assos. The distance from Troas to Assos was about sixty miles by water, but only about nineteen by land, so that Paul could easily reach that place before the ship did. That this trip was taken on the first day of the week is so evident that few, if any, commentators suggest any different view. The Scriptures need no indorsement from men; but it may help some minds to know that this view of the text is not a peculiar one. “Conybeare and Howson’s Life of Paul” says of this trip of Paul’s:—
    “Strength and peace were surely sought and obtained by the apostle, from the Redeemer, as he pursued his lonely road that Sunday afternoon in spring among the oak woods and the streams of Ida.”—Chapter 20, paragraph 11.
    FACC 355.1

    So far, then, as the example of the apostles goes, Sunday is to be used in secular employment.FACC 355.2

    One more text completes the list of references to the first day. It is 1 Corinthians 16:2, and, together with the preceding verse, reads as follows:— “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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.”FACC 355.3

    A literal rendering of this would be, “Let each one of you lay by himself at home, treasuring up in store, as God hath prospered him,” and that Paul’s injunction has reference to private stores and not to public collections is evident from the language, as well as from what the apostle wrote in his second epistle, in which he says: “I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness,” 2 Corinthians 9:5. But if their offerings had been cast into the collection box, and so kept all together in the treasury of the church, there would have been no need of sending the brethren ahead to make up beforehand their bounty.FACC 356.1

    These are all the texts that speak of the first day of the week, and not one of them intimates that it was in any sense a sacred day. Indeed, at the time the New Testament was written, no one in the world had ever heard of “the day of the sun” being kept as a sacred day, for the heathen observed it only as a wild festival day.FACC 356.2

    But throughout the New Testament the seventh day of the week is called the Sabbath—the same title that is given to it in the commandment. This is not because the New Testament writers were Jews, for they did not write as Jews, but as men inspired by the Holy Spirit. They were Christians, writing, under guidance of the Spirit of God, for the comfort, encouragement, and instruction of Christians until the end of time. If the seventh day were not the Sabbath for Christians and for all men, then the Holy Spirit would not have given it that name. But the truth is, as shown before, that the seventh day is the Sabbath—made so by the unchangeable act of the Creator—and no other day can ever be the Sabbath. And so we see that Dr. Scott and the Christian at Work told the exact truth when they said that we must go to later than apostolic times to find Sunday observance, and that it came in gradually and silently. But for everything that came into the church after the days of Christ, the church is indebted to paganism.FACC 356.3

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