(Act 16:12) And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
(Act 16:13) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
(Act 16:14) And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
(Act 16:15) And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Acts 16:13 is different to the other references to the Sabbath in Acts, but nothing in this text suggests this was a Christian worship service. Yes, it was the Sabbath, but that is simply the day of the week on which it occurred. Just like at times other days of the week are named, there is NOTHING in this text that implies that this was a Sabbath service. Christians can and do worship on ANY day of the week – this was nothing special.
One Adventist made the following statement:
The KJV Bible refers to meeting by the riverside because of a lack of men to build a synagogue.
Actually, the text says nothing like that. Nowhere in the KJV text do we see something that suggests that the men were not available to build a synagogue?
What we see here is a group of non-Christian Jewish women who had gathered on the Sabbath to pray. The fact that Lydia is Jewish is proven by the fact that she is called a ” worshipper of God” but she is certainly non-Christian because she is not yet baptised, and at that point, had not yet converted. We are told her heart was opened to the Gospel and that she and her household were then baptised.
In fact, she was still a “seller of purple goods” – that, if you research what “purple goods” are, means that she made the special purple garments the Levites and Pharisees wore, using a unique kind of dye. That was not a Christian occupation – it was distinctly Jewish.
That means she was Jewish (it’s unlikely a non-Jew would sell purple) and not Christian prior to Paul preaching the Gospel to her and her acceptance of it.
So, these are some of the Philippian Jews that Paul meets – so the primary gathering was a Jewish gathering, not a Christian gathering. If it was a special Sabbath gathering or not, we don’t know – that much is not revealed. But the text does not say that Paul was going there to worship because it was the Sabbath, nor even does it say he was going there to worship. It does say that it was the Sabbath, but the way that is mentioned in the sentence indicates that the Sabbath was not related to his need for prayer, but rather was mentioned to give us a time frame – where this all fitted into that time. If Paul only ever prayed on the Sabbath, then perhaps this text can be used as evidence of Paul’s keeping the Sabbath – but I don’t see any evidence for that – the fact that Paul and his travelling party wanted to pray does not make the day it happened on any more observed by him than any other day.
In summary, this was not a Christian worship service, but a Jewish gathering which Paul and his party came across.