What is the significance of first day of the week in the N.T.?
The circle of seven days has been introduced by the Almighty God in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. Our present Sunday, Monday, etc, were not named until the time of Jesus or in the first century.
For Jews, a particular day was very relevant as per their obedience to the law of their God. It was our Saturday or the seventh day of the week (Sabbath) of the Bible. We do not have a single occurrence of our present so called days or their names either in the N.T. or in the secular history of the first century. Days were named later.
According to the N.T., we have indications of two different days
1. Seventh day of the week (Sabbath or Saturday) and
2. The first day of the week (Resurrection day, day of victory over death, or Sunday).
The Word of God is very clear that the Sabbath is the last day of the week and Sunday is the first day of the week (Mat. 28:1-2). In the present scenario, Saturday is also known as Sabbath day, the last day of the week, and the day of rest. Sunday is known as the Lord’s Day, Day of resurrection, the first day of the week, eighth day, day after Sabbath, etc,.
The Bible has occurrence of both the last day of the week and the first day of the week. We have a great number of events related to the last day of the week in the O.T. when compared with N.T. in which the last day of the week is mentioned only in relation to the gathering at the Temple to worship God or at the Synagogue to study the word of God and sharing of the gospel. Much more than that is quoted about the first day of the Week in the N.T. There are many remarkable events that relate to the mysterious plans of God that occur in the first day of the week. Let us point out certain significant truths about the first day of the week. Please also remember that the seventh day or the Sabbath never transferred as Sunday or the first day of the week.
There are eight occurrences of the phrase “the first day of the week” in the N.T. [(KJV), (Matt. 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, John 20:19, 1Cor. 16:2)]. But many related events occurred on the same day.
A. Relation to the Christ Jesus
1. Sunday is the resurrection day of Lord Jesus (Mk. 16:9)
2. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God on Sunday (On His resurrection) (Rom 1:4, 5).
3. The great “Triumphal entry” (also called “Palm Sunday”) happened on the first day or Sunday (Lk. 19: 32).
4. The Lord Jesus uttered the words of consolation (Peace be unto you) to His disciples on the first day of the week (Jn. 20: 19)
5. The first time Jesus had communion after his resurrection with His disciples, was on a Sunday (Lk. 24: 1, 13, 21, 28-35)
6. Jesus appeared 6 different times on at least 2 different Sundays (Mk. 16:9, Mt 28:5-9, Lk. 24:34, Lk. 24:13-15, Lk. 24: 33,36; Jn. 20: 19, Jn. 20: 26).
B. Relation to the Holy Spirit
1. The promised coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the first day of the week (Jn. 16: 7-8; Acts 2: 1ff.).
2. The Holy Spirit first fell upon the apostles on a Sunday: Acts 2:1-4
3. Baptism of the Holy Spirit took place on the same day (Acts. 2:-4; I Cor. 12:13).
4. Convincing work of the Holy Spirit about sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16: 8; Acts 2: 14-36; 37-42 – about three thousand souls were convinced) begun on the first day of the week.
C. Relation to the Disciples
1. Disciples are recorded as assembling three times on ‘the first day of the week’ or Sunday in between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, never on the Sabbath. (Jn. 20:19; Jn. 20:26; Acts 2:1).
The day Jesus was raised (Jn 20:19)
The very next Sunday (Jn 20:26)
On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1)
2. On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb (Jn. 20:1). She also saw the resurrected Jesus on the first day of the week (Mk. 16: 9)
3. Other women who were with Mary Magdalene saw the Lord Jesus on Sunday or the first day of the week (Mat. 28: 5-9)
4. Peter saw Him on the same day after His resurrection (by way of inference) (Lk 24:34)
5. Two men on the Emmaus road saw him on the same day (Lk. 24: 13-15, 21)
6. The apostles had seen Him on Sunday or the first day of the week (Lk. 24: 34; Jn. 20: 19; Jn. 20: 26).
7. The disciples’ reception of the promise of the Father was on the first day of the week or Sunday (Acts 1: 4-5; 2:1-4).
D. Relation to the Early Christians
1. The birth of the N.T. Church was on Pentecost, the first day of the week or Sunday (Acts 2: 1)
2. The first Baptism of the Church took place and about 3000 people were baptized on the same day or the first day of the week (Acts 2:1-41).
3. The only time Christians are recorded to have assembled together was on first day of the week or Sunday (Acts 20:7)
4. The only day ever mentioned when Christians broke bread was on the first day of the week (Sunday) (Acts 2: 42; 20:7)
5. Christians are asked to give into a common need on every ‘first day of the week’ (Sunday) (1 Cor. 16:1-2)
6. The first time we could be born again to a living hope was on a Sunday (1 Pet. 1: 3)
For a Christian, all doctrines of the church were started to be preached and practiced on the first day of the week or Sunday. This same day or Sunday was officially selected to worship the Lord in the 3rd century by Constantine the emperor. Remember that before his public announcement the Christians had a practice of gathering together on every first day of the week.
E. Relation to the Church of God
1. Keys to the Kingdom of God were first used on Sunday
(Mat.16: 19; Acts 2)
2. Peter preached the Christian message of Salvation first on Sunday
(Mat. 16: 19; Acts. 2:1, 38, 40-41).
3. “Lord’s” is used only 2 times in the N.T.; “Lord’s day” & “Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11: 20; Rev. 1:10)
4. On this day, which Peter later referred to as “the beginning”
(Acts.11: 15), of: “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts.2: 42).
5. John called the first day of the week (Sunday) as the Lord’s Day
F. Relation to the Bible prophecy
1. Ps 2:7 “Today I have begotten thee” was fulfilled on Sunday when he rose (Acts. 13: 33).
Dear brethren, please be informed that the day we gather together to sing songs, meditate, break the bread, take collections for the needy, and for the ministry of the Word is not unbiblical. It is Biblical and historical. It was a practice of the early apostles and remains as a pattern for us. Though the events related to Sunday were scattered throughout the Scripture, we must understand that the first day of the week or Sunday has got many significances in connection with the New Testament Church. It does not mean that we have to worship the day (Sunday), because today many worship the day forgetting its significance. Let’s remember that: it is a day of resurrection, a day of victory over sin, Satan, death, etc. How can we keep quiet when these facts appear in our spiritual eyes? Don’t you think that it is a great privilege to meditate upon the same day of OUR MASTER’S RESURRECTION? Do you think that you will go out of the assembly without worshiping Him once you meditate deeply on a Sunday remembering its significance? Let our Sunday gathering and worship be meaningful after realizing the significance of the day.