We received a question, asking why Christians don't worship on Saturday, since that is the Sabbath day. Why do we worship on Sunday? This article explores that issue.
As you navigate the fascinating journey of understanding Christian religious practices, one question may have caught your attention: "Why worship on Sunday?" The question delves deeper than merely observing religious rites on a particular day. It involves understanding the rationale behind the shift from the Old Testament's Saturday (Sabbath) worship to the predominantly Sunday worship observed by most Christians today.
We worship in Sunday, which we call The Lord's Day, out of a desire to follow the model of the early church and be faithful to the practice found in the New Testament.
Why Not Worship on Saturday?
In the Old Testament, the concept of Sabbath was instituted as a day of rest. This mandate was established in Exodus 20:8-10 (ESV), which says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates." The seventh day, Saturday, was set aside for rest and worship, a tradition that was faithfully observed by the Jewish people.
So, why did the early Christians move away from this tradition? "Why not worship on Saturday?" you may ask. The shift wasn't arbitrary, but rather, a recognition of an event that altered the course of history - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Sunday Worship and The Resurrection
The early Christians began to gather and worship on Sundays as a way of commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week, Sunday, according to the Gospels. John 20:1 (ESV) states, "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb." This monumental event marked a new beginning for the followers of Jesus, giving birth to a new covenant between God and humanity.
Thus, the early Christians, most of whom were Jews, began to differentiate themselves from their Jewish roots by changing their day of worship. In Acts 20:7 (ESV), we find evidence of the early Christian practice of gathering on the first day of the week, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight."
What Day is The Sabbath?
While the question, "What day is the Sabbath?" may seem straightforward, it’s embedded within a complex theological context. According to Old Testament laws, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, Saturday. However, in Christian practice, the term Sabbath has often been applied to Sunday in recognition of the day of Christ's resurrection.
Most Christian traditions observe Sunday as the primary day of corporate worship and personal rest, drawing from the New Testament practices and the significance of the Resurrection.
The debate of "Sunday vs Saturday worship" is deeply rooted in history and theology. We believe that Sunday worship is important, and most closely alligns with the Bible's instruction for the church. That's why we refer to Sunday as "The Lord's Day." That said, it's important to remember that the specific day of worship is less important than the act of worship itself. In Romans 14:5 (ESV), the Apostle Paul writes, "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."
There are many churches that have grown so large that they have worship services on Saturday night and Sunday morninig. While we are committed to corporate worship on The Lord's Day, we don't think it is a sin to gather for worship on Saturday. Therefore, whether you worship on Saturday or Sunday, the essential part is the devotion and reverence towards God. This is the heart of worship, transcending the bounds of specific days and traditional practices.