Why we keep Sunday

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Divine Mercy icon, Byzantine style

Divine Mercy icon, Byzantine style

This is a question that was e-mailed to me:

Hi I am curious and am searching on why should we keep the Sunday worship. That is the only question I want to know can you please tell me the answer. I’m not good with the computer So please can you explain.

My reply:

There is no need to keep the 7th day Sabbath any longer, because there is no biblical command to do so that applies to Christians1,2,3, the Apostles never set an example of doing so4,5,6,7,8,9,10, and we’re told that the Sabbath is only a shadow of a greater reality we have experienced11,12,13.

So, if Christians wanted to keep a weekly day special, the natural day would be Sunday, the weekly anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible indicates that this took place14,15, and other Christian writings from the first and second century are explicit about this16.

Jesus told the Apostles that whatever they bind or loose on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. The Christian community has chosen to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection as a weekly event, and this has taken place from the beginning of Christianity. To avoid sharing in this weekly celebration is to separate oneself from the united will of Christians from the time of the Apostles.

I’ve stuck in footnotes to articles on my website, and one from Catholic Answers. At this time of night I don’t feel like tracking down the others I could reference.

References:
1. Matt 5 – will the law never pass away?
2. Mark 2/Matt 12/Luke 6 – was the Sabbath made for all mankind to keep?
3. Matt 24 – pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day?
4. Luke 4 – did Jesus set an example of Sabbath keeping for us?
5. Acts 1 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
6. Acts 13 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
7. Acts 15 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
8. Acts 16 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
9. Acts 17 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
10. Acts 18 – do Christians keep the Sabbath in Acts?
11. Col 2:14-17 – does this refer to the 7th day Sabbath?
12. Rom 14:5-6 – do we need to keep the Sabbath?
13. Gal 4:10-11 – do we need to keep the Sabbath?
14. 1 Cor 16:2 – regular first day services?
15. Acts 20:7 – a service on the first day of the week?
16. The Fathers know best – Sabbath or Sunday?

For other discussion regarding these texts, see the following:

The Sabbath vs Sunday debate

The Old Testament Sabbath and Christians

The Sabbath and the First Day in the New Testament

The Sabbath in the Gospels


Comments imported from the old blog:

Posted by David Fitzcharles on September 28, 2008, 6:08 am
[Comment missing]

Posted by stephen on September 28, 2008, 3:55 pm
Baptism vs Sunday – yes, one of the things baptism symbolises is our death and resurrection in Christ. But unless we’re attending someone else’s baptism, as a Christian community baptism doesn’t give us a chance to gather together on a regular basis. A weekly day of worship does.

The authority – the Church, in the persons of the Apostles, was given authority to bind/loose. Just as they exercised that with circumcision without Jesus telling them they could, so they – or the Church – could do that with Sunday.

You’re right, God never said “Remember circumcision and keep it holy,” but he DID say:

Genesis 17:10-13 KJV “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. [11] And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. [12] And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. [13] He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.”

That the Apostles saw fit to do away with the physical sign of an everlasting covenant was quite something, especially when God had issued the instruction and never withdrawn it.

Your assertions re early Christians keeping the Sabbath are not quite true. Sunday observance amongst Christians dates back to the 1st century, there is evidence of it in the New Testament, and the reason given by the earliest writers on the subject is Jesus’ resurrection. Any reference to the sun came much later; and there is good evidence that Sunday observance originated with Christians, not with pagans.

Are we to do ONLY what Jesus expressly permitted? He didn’t tell the Apostles to abolish circumcision, at least not in the written record of the New Testament, and unlikely at all, since it took some debate before it was decreed. Did he send the Apostles to teach the Gentiles (see Matt 10:5)?

These things come from the Holy Spirit, with the Church having the authority (which WAS given in the New Testament) to enact them. God gave many commands, which, without Jesus’ permission, all Christians, no matter which day they keep, acknowledge were only for a limited time under a certain dispensation.

The Bible isn’t exactly silent on the issue of Sunday observance. It is pretty clear that the Sabbath belonged to the Old Covenant, and we fall under the New Covenant, two separate things according to Hebrews. So, if we need not keep the Sabbath, should we not observe a specific day at all, but perhaps rotate through the week, or choose Thursdays or Fridays as some have done, or have a Wednesday evening Bible study? Is there anything intrinsically wrong with Sunday that is not applicable to Thursday?

There is a far deeper link between the Eucharist and Sunday that I don’t have the time or space to go into; time permitting, I’ll finish reviewing a book soon that I hope will be published by the author. The biblical symbolism for Sunday is far from lacking; the biblical evidence for Sunday observance is also present. What is lacking is an explicit command to keep Sunday – and given what we do have, I don’t see it as a practice that is not strictly biblical, nor a decision that is outside of the Church’s authority.

Posted by love-ely on October 27, 2008, 2:12 pm
The interesting article. But I’m dreaming about oneness. If you have time, I like to know your review to my thought (at the post title “If One Why Different”).

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