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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    c. The third style of reckoning time, namely, from midnight to midnight, is used by John in his Gospel, the last written book in the New Testament, unless Revelation be later. Here we have Scriptural authority as to the last usage among Christians. Mark 15:25 informs us that, according to the notation which begins the day with the morning, Jesus was crucified at the third hour-our nine o’clock in the morning. But John, who evidently begins the day at midnight, says that at the sixth hour He was on trial, John 19:14. This is also the only reckoning, as we shall hereafter see, which accounts for all the Scriptural statements bearing on the length of time that Jesus was in the grave. “The Egyptians, the Ausonians, and others,” says Kitto, adopted this reckoning. It was also used by the Romans, and hence was the prevailing method when Christianity was cradled and nurtured. Not only was this style used in Ephesus, where John wrote his Gospel, but also in the Roman town of Troas, about 130 miles to the north, of which Acts 20:7 speaks.WDUS 122.2

    Thus do we not only justify the present usage of beginning our days at midnight, but this also decides that that breaking of bread (v. 11) which took place after midnight (v. 7) was not the breaking of bread for which the disciples assembled, but was such an ordinary eating of food as is mentioned in Acts 27:35 in the use of similar terms. Conybeare well says: “St. Paul now took some refreshment after the protracted labor of the evening.” He translates verse 11, “When he had eaten,” and adds, “This is distinguished in the Greek from the breaking of bread.” Hence the breaking of bread for which they assembled—the partaking of the Lordic supper—was attended to before Paul began his long speech. Indeed, the change of pronouns—“We having assembled to break bread, Paul was discoursing with them”—indicates a withdrawal of Paul’s companions after the Communion, and before the discourse. And this serves to strengthen the preceding conclusion as to the point whence the day is reckoned. At least the reckoning which begins the day with sunset is not to be thought of; for that applied only to Jewish sacred seasons. The time of its abolition was, moreover, so far in the past, that it had fallen into desuetude, especially among Gentile Christians.WDUS 122.3

    From the fact that Paul and his companions ‘tarried seven days’ at Troas before this gathering to break bread took place, it appears that in this Gentile city the Christians did not observe the sabbath, as was still the custom in Jewish countries; reports of which troubled converts from among the Jews. Acts 21:19-25.WDUS 122.4

    We have here, beyond all controversy, one First Day given to the Lord, in the Communion and the ministry of the word, and I raise the question whether we may affirm more from these premises. It seems to me that we can, and I will here set down a few reasons.WDUS 122.5

    a. Eminent Bible scholars of various denominations have been compelled, chiefly by this passage, to decide against their practice, and that of their people, in favor of weekly communion. (See quotations in my first affirmative.) Now, whatever force this passage has in this direction, it has with equal clearness in favor of the weekly observance of the First Day. The two are inseparable.WDUS 122.6

    b. It seems, as Conybeare says, that Paul ‘lingered at Troas after his companions.’ This conclusion is, no doubt, reached from the expression, ‘And we went before’ (proelthontes, to go in advance or first), as Paul’s companions (proelthontes) had preceded him in their journey to Troas, v. 5. The precise point when they left is, by the change of pronouns, indicated to have been immediately after Communion and before preaching: ‘We having come together to break bread, Paul discoursed to them.’ (Bible Union.) It was Paul that was ‘about to depart on the morrow,’ while his companions went in advance, by ship. The bearing this has on the question before us is obvious. The ship was expected to weigh anchor on Sunday, yet the communion service is postponed to that day! Though Paul and his companions were with the brethren at Troas a whole week, and no doubt ‘labored from house to house,’ yet the Lordic supper is not attended to on any previous day, not even on the Sabbath, but is reserved for Sunday. Evidently this was the day for its observance. Aware, however, that the ship would sail about the time of meeting, Paul had ‘appointed’ or planned that his companions should go with it, and that he, in order to gain a few hours for his brethren and to give them opportunity to attend preaching on that day, would ‘on the morrow’ go to the trouble of footing it across to Assos, while the ship is rounding Cape Lectum or doing business at the next landing. These facts can have but one meaning, namely, that the first day of the week is the Lordic day—the day on which the Lordic supper is to be partaken of. And if such is the nature of the first day, it is of every first day.WDUS 123.1

    I can, however, easily picture to myself the avidity with which my brother will seize upon the fact that Paul’s companions traveled on this day, to turn it against me. Let him, however, remember that we are not now talking about the sabbath, hence no fanciful interpretation of the rules regulating it will apply here. The journey was necessary, and the ship not under their control. Whether they were able or unable to endure the fatiguing march across the country, or were needed to guard the baggage upon the ship’s arrival at Assos, it is not necessary to conjecture; they could as quietly and profitably enjoy a sacred feast on shipboard as in the upper room at Troas. Paul and Luke arrived at Troas on Monday, having been the preceding Sabbath and Sunday on their way from Europe to Asia, v. 6. If, therefore, the traveling of Paul’s companions argues against the First Day, his own traveling argues much more against the sabbath. Having once failed to make railroad connections, I was compelled to finish the last twenty miles of my journey afoot and on the Lord’s Day, on a hot September morning, in order to fill an appointment of long standing; in this I felt that I was doing acceptable service to the Lord. On the supposition that I am right in the day, dare even my legalistic brother say that I did wrong?WDUS 123.2

    We have, then, in several acts of worship, and in many churches, indeed in every church, both of Europe and of Asia, whose history is given in such detail as to name the time of observing these acts, invariably the First Day given to the Lord; and this not once, simply, but ‘every First Day of the week.’ Beyond all controversy, therefore, this is ‘the Lord’s Day.’WDUS 123.3

    V. The First Day of the week is peculiarly appropriate and the fittest of the seven to be the Christian’s sacred day.WDUS 123.4

    The Lord’s day being a new institution, we naturally expect a new reason to underlie it. Being a positive institution, the Lord could make any day His that He saw fit to choose. But positive institutions, as a rule, are commemorative and fall more appropriately on memorable days, if there be any, and if, in the nature of the case, they can be permanently located. The entire 23rd chapter of Leviticus is proof of this statement. Baptism, though commemorative (See Romans 6), is of such a nature as to find a fit place at the burying of ‘the old man’ and the resurrection into a new life. The Lordic supper is a symbol, not of dying, but of death: the bread and wine are apart, as were the body and the blood of Jesus, from the time the Roman spear had entered His side till the moment of the resurrection on the first day. While, then, any point between these two events is, in itself, suitable for the location of this commemorative institution, yet the first day is the more appropriate, having the additional advantage of being the more notable. There is no day of the week in this dispensation about which so many memorable facts cluster as about the First Day. Indeed it is remarkable how barren of such events are the other six. Let the reader pause to call them up, interrogating them one by one, and he will be astonished at the meagerness of the result. But turn to the First Day and behold what we have! What stimulus to holy thought!WDUS 123.5

    1. Jesus rose from the dead on the First Day of the week.WDUS 124.1

    This is an admitted fact on the part of Eld. Waggoner and his brethren, but denied by Seventh-day Baptists. I will, therefore, pause a little to gather Scripture facts in support of my statement. And for this the reader will have the more patience when I assure him that these facts will bear on several points hereafter to be made.WDUS 124.2

    a. The paschal lamb was by the law required to be slain on the 14th day of the first month, between the two evenings-3 p. m. and sunset. Exodus 12:6, margin. But as ‘born under the law’ (Galatians 4:4) and ‘a minister of the circumcision’ (Romans 15:8), Jesus ‘learned obedience’ (Hebrews 5:9), ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21), was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5), and ‘fulfilled all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15); He, therefore, slew the paschal lamb at its appointed season. See also Matthew 26:17-21; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:7-14; and compare Exodus 12:18.WDUS 124.3

    b. On the fifteenth day, which of course began after the two evenings had passed, was the first paschal sabbath, Numbers 28:16-18. And so also testifies Smith, Bib. Dict., Art. Pass.: “The lambs were selected, on the fourteenth they were slain, and the blood sprinkled, and in the following evening, after the fifteenth day of the month had commenced, the first paschal meal was eaten. At midnight the first-born of the Egyptians were smitten.” Again: “As the sun was setting, the lambs were slain, and the fat and blood given to the priests (2 Chronicles 35:5-6). The lamb was then roasted whole, and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, no portion of it was to be left until the morning. The same night, after the 15th of Nisan had commenced, the fat was burned by the priests and the blood sprinkled on the altar (2 Chronicles 30:16; 35:11). On the fifteenth, the night being passed, there was a holy convocation, and during that day no work might be done, except the preparation of necessary food (Exodus 12:16).” So, in substance, Kitto also.WDUS 124.4

    It was on this day, the 15th, a yearly sabbath, that Jesus was crucified. The same unscrupulousness which had once led the Jews to send officers to arrest Jesus on ‘the great day of the feast’ of Tabernacles (John 7:32-45) and afterwards to seize Peter during the Passover (Acts 12:3-4), led them, in disregard of the day, to crucify Jesus on the first yearly sabbath. Against the conclusion to which the foregoing facts undeniably lead, namely, that the Passover had actually begun, John 18:28 weighs nothing, since (1) the word passover may there denote the feast in general, as in Luke 22:1, or (2) the same perverseness which could crucify the innocent One, could just as readily postpone the keeping of the Passover beyond the legal time, or (3) the priests may have been afraid of becoming defiled because it would render them unfit to attend to the sacrifices which were to be offered on the 15th. Numbers 28:17-24.WDUS 124.5

    c. Jesus was crucified on ‘the preparation’ day before the sabbath, Luke 23:54. As this preparation day was itself a (yearly) sabbath, and the second yearly sabbath is wholly out of question, the sabbath which followed was one of the weekly sabbaths, and Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday. And this helps us to understand the somewhat indefinite expression of John 19:14—‘It was the preparation of the Passover;’ it is to be understood of the preparation for the weekly sabbath, which fell in the passover week. Before the yearly sabbaths no particular preparation was needed, for necessary food might be prepared on those days (Exodus 12:16). But this sabbath ‘was a high day’ (John 19:31), since it not only fell within the passover week, but also because from it the following Pentecost was dated, as we shall hereafter see.WDUS 124.6

    d. On the first day of the week the grave was found empty, and Jesus had risen. Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-7. His resurrection could not have taken place on Saturday; for in that case it would be impossible to make out ‘three days’ even by counting the beginning and ending fraction of a day as a whole, no matter at what point we begin to reckon the day. Nor is there any passage of Scripture which teaches His resurrection on the Sabbath. The only one relied on by the advocates of this theory is Matthew 28:1-6, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.” And the angel said, Jesus ‘is not here; he is risen.’ Should we adopt this version, and understand with Lange, in the quotation already made from him on this point, that the more accurate Jewish division of the sabbath is here referred to, we have these women leaving their homes at the dawning of the day and arriving at the sepulcher, as Mark says, ‘at the rising of the sun,’ or more strictly, ‘the sun having risen.’ Or, if we adopt the more unusual rendering of Dr. Geo. Campbell and others, ‘After the Sabbath,’ etc., this difficulty vanishes equally well. Campbell says, “Opse before a genitive often means ‘after.’” There is, however, a more excellent way. Let the word ‘opse’ have its more usual meaning, ‘late’ or ‘in the end of,’ and render sabbatoon in each of its occurrences by the same word in English (and no man can give a substantial reason why this should not be done) then we have the version of Rotherham, and of many others,—“And late in the week, when it was on the point of dawning into the first [day] of the week,” etc. The Jews for whom Matthew wrote his Gospel, knew well that, though the sabbath ended at sundown, the week, according to their own reckoning, did not end till sunrise the next day. It follows from the foregoing that Mark 16:9 is punctuated correctly in the common version: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene.”WDUS 124.7

    e. Jesus, then, was in the grave a part of Friday, all of Saturday, and a part of Sunday. He said that he would be in the heart of the earth ‘three days and three nights,’ Matthew 12:40. If we reckon the day from sunset, and count the beginning and ending fraction as if a whole, we can make out three days, but only two nights; though this reckoning is not permissible, since it belongs only to sacred days; if, on the other hand, we reckon from sunrise, adding the night to the preceding day, we still have but two nights. The night must be broken into fractions before we can count ‘three nights.’ This brings us again to the Christian reckoning, which begins the day at midnight. From before sundown to Friday midnight, counting fractions, we have one day and one night; from thence to Saturday midnight, another day and two half or one whole night; thence till sunup Sunday, another day and night.WDUS 125.1

    That it is Bible custom to reckon the beginning and the ending fractions of a series as if they were whole numbers, is so well known and so generally admitted that proof seems unnecessary. I will only ask that doubters, if there be any, begin at such passages as 1 Kings 15:25-28, and try to harmonize the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel.WDUS 125.2

    By way of preparing for objections on another score, I call attention to the fact that Jesus said He would rise ‘in three days’ (John 2:19), ‘after three days’ (Mark 8:31; Matthew 27:63), and ‘on the third day’ (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 9:22). It must be frankly confessed that according to our idiom this is an irreconcilable contradiction. But the difficulty vanishes when we remember that the Jews in all ages habitually used the cardinal numbers inaccurately, and the ordinals accurately. Let us look at a few examples. Joseph imprisoned his brethren ‘three days’ and yet released them on the third day (Genesis 42:17-20). This, by the way, also serves to show that a fraction is counted as a whole. Rehoboam said, ‘Depart ye for three days, then come again.’ ‘So all the people came to Rehoboam the third day as he had appointed;’ 1 Kings 12:5-12. The Pharisees and priests asked for a guard, alleging that Jesus had said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ ‘Command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure till the third day’ (Matthew 27:62-64). Matthew reports Jesus as having said, ‘the third day’ (16:21), and Mark, in a parallel passage, says, ‘after three days’ (8:31). ‘Cornelius said (to Peter, Acts 10:30), Four days ago I was fasting until this hour;’ but according to our count it was only three days. In Esther 4:16-5:1, we have a passage parallel to Matthew 12:40: ‘Fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night and day;’ yet ‘on the third day,’ she went before the king.WDUS 125.3

    2. The First Day is memorable by reason of Christ’s appearance to His disciples on that day, after His resurrection.WDUS 125.4

    There were, no doubt, other days on which Jesus appeared to his disciples, but none of them stand out with such prominence as these. The appearances on other days are not dated, unless it be the ascension day, that mournful event when the disciples were left ‘orphans’ and ‘comfortless’ for a season; and yet it is difficult to say whether this was on Thursday or Friday. But for some reason the Holy Spirit has seen fit to carefully date the appearances on the First Day.WDUS 125.5

    [l.] On this day Jesus appeared to proclaim His resurrection [a] to Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9-11; [b] to the other women [Matthew 28:8-10]; [c] to Peter, Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5; [d] to two others of the disciples, Mark 16:12-13; and [e] to the Apostles generally, Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23. To the sad hearts who mournfully said, ‘We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel,’ this was equal to the reception of a new life; they were ‘begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!’ But all this meant no more to them than it means to us. Most memorable day!WDUS 126.1

    [2.] “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” John 20:26. ‘After eight days’ is the inaccurate use of the cardinals, which we have examined above, denoting the eighth day, as ‘after three days’ denotes the third.WDUS 126.2

    J. N. Andrews, Seventh-day Sabbatarian, in his History of the Sabbath, says, ‘“After six days’ instead of being the sixth day was about eight days after. Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28.” But Luke’s ‘about eight days’ is too indefinite to form an exception to the rule established. Webster says that about signifies ‘not far from,’ and the sixth day is certainly ‘not far from’ the eighth. Luke did not mean to be accurate. Mr. Andrews says again, “Those who were to come before God from Sabbath to Sabbath to minister in His temple, were said to come ‘after seven days.’ 1 Chronicles 9:25; 2 Kings 11:5.” This is no exception; if after seven days denotes on the seventh then after eight days signifies on the eighth. Moreover, the Hebrew of 1 Chronicles 9:25 is peculiar; it literally reads, ‘for or against the seven of days.’ Where we have after in the Common Version, the Hebrew has lamed, for or against; the Greek, kata, on; the Douay Version, upon; and Luther, the genitive, i. e., on;-thus making it different from John 20:26, where the Greek has meta. There is, then, no getting away from the fact that the only visits of Jesus to His disciples which the Holy Spirit saw fit to date carefully were those taking place on Sunday.WDUS 126.3

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