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The Doctrine of Christ

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    LESSON SEVENTY-ONE The First Day of the Week in the New Testament

    1. The first day of the week is mentioned as the day on which Christ rose from the dead. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1.TDOC 206.1

    2. The disciples refused to believe the testimony of those who declared that Christ was risen from the dead. Mark 16:9-14; Luke 24:25, 26, 36-43; John 20:9.TDOC 206.2

    3. It was recommended to the churches of Galatia and at Corinth that a proper share of their 4ncome should be laid aside at home on the first day of the week, for the benefit of the needy Christians. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3.TDOC 206.3

    4. On the first day of the week Paul journeyed from Troas to Assos, after holding a meeting during the first half of the previous night. Acts 20:7-13.TDOC 206.4

    5. It was thought proper to do on the first day of the week, work which had been deferred on account of the Sabbath. Luke 23:55 to 24:1.TDOC 206.5

    Sunday observance not an apostolic institution

    “Taken separately, perhaps, and even all together, these passages [which mention the first day of the week in the New Testament] seem scarcely adequate to prove that the dedication of the first day of the week to the purposes above mentioned as a matter of apostolic institution, or oven of apostolic practice.”-Smith’s “Bible Dictionary,” art. “Lord’s Day” by J. A. Hessey.TDOC 206.6

    No command for it

    “The religious observance of the first day of the week rests on no recorded command.”—“The Expositor’s Bible,” Colossians, Alexander MacLaren, p. 232.TDOC 207.1

    Human appointment makes no time holy

    “Nor could any general consent to set apart a day for religious uses make the day sacred as the Sabbath was sacred. No person, no place, no time could be set apart for God by any human appointment, and so made holy. Every consecrated person, place, and time was consecrated, not by the fervor of human devotion, but by the authority of the divine will.”—“Lectures on the Ephesians,” R. W. Dale, pp. 18, 19.TDOC 207.2

    The meaning of “by him.”

    “The whole question [concerning 1 Corinthians 16:1-3] turns upon the meaning of the expression ‘by him;’ and I marvel greatly how you can imagine that it means ‘in the collection box of the congregation.’ Greenfield, in his Lexicon, translates the Greek term, ‘with one’s self, i.e., at home.’ Two Latin versions, the Vulgate and that of Castellio, render it ‘apud se,’ with one’s self; at home. Three French translations, those of Martin, Osterwald and De Sacy, ‘chez soi,’ at his own house; at home. The German of Luther, ‘bei sich selbst,’ by himself; at home. The Dutch, ‘by hemselven,’ same as the German. The Italian of Diodati, ‘appresso di se,’ in his own presence, at home. The Spanish of Felippe Scio, ‘en su casa,’ in his own house. The Portuguese of Ferreira, ‘para isso,’ with himself. The Swedish, ‘naer sig self,’ near himself.”-“Vindication of the True Sabbath,” J. W. Morton, pp. 51, 52.TDOC 207.3

    The meeting at Troas

    “The labors of the early days of the week that was spent at Troas are not related to us but concerning the last day we have a narrative which enters into details with all the minuteness of one of the Gospel histories. It was the evening which succeeded the Jewish Sabbath [italics ours]. On the Sunday morning the vessel was about to sail. The Christians of Troas were gathered together at this solemn time to celebrate that feast of love which the last commandment of Christ has enjoined on all his followers.”TDOC 207.4

    “But the time came when Paul too must depart. The vessel might arrive at Assos before him, and, whatever influence he might have with the seamen, he could not count on any long delay. He hastened, therefore, through the southern gate past the hot springs, and through the oak woods, then in full foliage, which cover all that shore with greenness and shade, and across the wild watercourses on the western side of Ida. Such is the scenery which now surrounds the traveler on his way from Troas to Assos.”TDOC 207.5

    “And strength and peace were surely sought and obtained by the apostle from the Redeemer as he pursued his lonely road that Sunday afternoon [italics ours] in spring among the oak woods and the streams of Ida.”-“The Life and Epistles of the Apostle Paul,” Conybeare and Howson, pp.520-522. New York: T. Y. Crowell And Co.TDOC 207.6

    The origin of Sunday observance

    “Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or his apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work.”-The Great Controversy, 54.TDOC 208.1

    Some important admissions

    The following NOTES from the Bampton Lecture on ‘Sunday’ contain some admissions which really strengthen the conviction that the Sabbath was never changed by divine authority, and also show the nature of some of the reasons adduced in order to defend the observance of a day which the Lord never designated as the Sabbath:TDOC 208.2

    “If you desire dogmatic statements on this class of subjects, I may say to the Sabbatarians, you will not find them in Scripture, in reference to confirmation, orders, infant baptism, any more than in reference to the ordinance [Sunday keeping] now in question.”-‘Sunday’, (Bampton Lectures), J. A. Hessey, p. 29.TDOC 208.3

    “Nothing Sabbatical, either in the sense of commanded rest (though rest to a certain extent would be a necessary condition to the fulfillment of its duties, and indeed, as we shall show hereafter, is implied in the very idea of the Lord’s day), or in the way of implication that the whole of it is to be employed in directly religious observances, or that such religious observances as are employed should be cast in a particular mold, or that such and such acts are prohibited during its continuance; nothing, I say, of this sort is to be found in what we may call the charter deed of the institution of the Lord’s day. Whatever of this sort afterward formally belonged to it, is of ecclesiastical ruling in the lower sense of the term is obligatory in a secondary degree only, in deference to the voice of the ancient church, or to that of our own or as suggested by the nature of the case, or by Christian charity, or by (what no good man will disregard), considerations of public utility.” Id., 40.TDOC 208.4

    “It has been imagined that whatever evidence can be brought that the Sabbath exists still, will assist in the transfer of the spirit of the Sabbath, or of the Sabbath itself to the Lord’s day. It would do nothing of the sort. It would merely strengthen that very extreme opinion that the seventh day, or Saturday Sabbath, is binding upon Christians. The difficulty of the transfer would remain. Scripture does not sanction it. The Fathers do not sanction it.”-Id., 131.TDOC 208.5

    “Those who judge that in the place of the Sabbath the Lord’s day was instituted as a day to be necessarily observed, are greatly mistaken. Scripture abrogated the Sabbath, and teaches that all the Mosaic ceremonies may be omitted now that the gospel is revealed. And yet, forasmuch as it was needful to appoint a certain day that the people might know when they ought to assemble together, it appears that the church destined the Lord’s day for this purpose.”-Id., 168, 169.TDOC 208.6

    “None of them [the early writers on the Sabbath question] transfuse the spirit of the Sabbath into the Lord’s day, or refer either to the fourth commandment, or to God’s rest after the creation, for the sanctions of the Lord’s day.”-Id., 54.TDOC 209.1

    “The Eastern Church, professedly for reasons of its own, but no doubt in consequence of the greater proportion of Jewish elements in its composition, gradually came to rank the Sabbath as a festival, co-ordinate, or nearly so, with the Lord’s day. It is not exactly known when this became general in that branch of the church.”-Id., 56, 57.TDOC 209.2

    “With every abatement for the state of things already existing, we may justly call the edict of Constantine the inauguration of a new era in the history of the Lord’s day. Christians had now a document, and that not necessarily a Christian document, provided for the observance of a day which had here to fore been reverenced solely as an ordinance existing in and dating from the lifetime of the inspired apostles. Men are always more inclined to lean on visible and living authorities than on authorities passed out of sight, however venerable: and, if both exist, to refer to the former than to the latter. And the former sort of authority having once established itself and having once felt its power, is inclined to extend it. So it was oven in matters of the church. The Lord’s day had, as a festival, hitherto stood almost, alone in the Christian ritual (with the exception of Pentecost, or the interval between the resurrection and Whitsunday). But now, the church seeing the Lord’s day so unreservedly recognized, began to establish other festivals, more or less resembling it, though destitute of the same sure foundation. These were multiplied, as time went on, in great abundance, and the aid of the state, so efficient in one case, as it seemed, was called in for other cases. And in order to justify this, by the time that the Reformation commenced, the following state of things, which may in a manner be called Sabbatarian, had completely set in. The Jewish law, or at least the supposed analogy of it, was continually and systematically quoted in favor of these multiplied festivals. Exact and stringent rules had been laid down, professedly for the guidance of consciences, but really to their serious entanglement, in the observance of these festivals. The results were, that the ideas of the Lord’s day and of the Sabbath, originally quite distinct, and indeed almost antagonistic, became confused; and that the reverence especially due to the Lord’s day was swamped amid claims to reverence on the part of other days, depending solely on ecclesiastical authority in the lower sense of that phrase.”-Id., 66, 67.TDOC 209.3

    “With one blow, as it were, and with one consent, the Continental Reformers rejected the legal or Jewish title which had been set up for it; the more than Jewish ceremonies and restrictions by which, in theory at least, it had been encumbered; the army of holy days of obligation by which it had been surrounded. But they did more. They left standing no sanction for the day itself which could commend itself powerfully to men’s consciences. They did not perceive that, through the apostles, it was of the Lord’s founding. They swept away together with the upper-works which were not the Lord’s the under-works which were the Lord’s. And when they discovered that men, that human nature in fact, could not do without it, they adopted the day, indeed, but with this reservation expressed or implied: ‘The Lord’s day is to be placed in the category of ordinances which, being matters of indifference, any particular or national church hath authority to ordain, change, or abolish;’ or, which was worse still, they made it a purely civil institution, dependent if not for its origin, at least for its continuance, on the secular power.”-Id., 165, 166.TDOC 209.4

    “That the Lord’s day is a positive ordinance of Scriptural and apostolic Christianity, standing on grounds and supported by considerations peculiarly its own, and not borrowed or continued from the older dispensation; that the Sabbath was not held to be of obligation upon Christians, so far as the apostles and the early church may be cited as authorities; and that attempts to regulate the Lord’s day by the exactness of the precedent of the Sabbath, or to found it primarily on the command given to the Jews for the establishment of the Sabbath, seem therefore to be a rebuilding of things which have been destroyed, and to make those who do so transgressors-has been the argument of the previous lectures.”-Id., 97.TDOC 210.1

    No word of God for Sunday observance

    “The Jews have the word of God for their Saturday, with it is the seventh day, and they were commanded to keep the seventh day solemn. And we have not the word of God for us, but rather against us; for we keep not the seventh day, as the Jews do, but the first, which is not commanded by God’s law.”-Fryth’s Works, p. 69, cited in “Sunday,” J. A. Hessey, p. 1-8.TDOC 210.2

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