Writings on Christianity

Why Worship on a Sunday Instead of a Saturday?

Why do Christians worship on a Sunday morning rather than on Saturday–since Saturday is the “Sabbath” day of the Jewish people? Is there any biblical evidence for Christians gathering on Sundays?

Recently I preached on Acts 20 and came to Acts 20:7. This verse is very relevant to the question of Sunday morning worship:

Acts 20:7: “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.” (ESV).

What day is “the first day of the week” and is that the best translation of the text?

The phrase “On the first day of the week” is from the Greek “Ἐν δὲ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων.” The translations are unanimous: “first day of the week” (KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, CSB, NASB, NET, RSV).

The word here is σάββατον (‘Sabbaton’) and can refer to “Sabbath,” like in Matt 12:8 (“For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath,”). However, here in Acts 20:7 it is in the plural (σαββάτων), and in other places where it is used in the plural in the genitive case with the word “first” before it (μιᾷ), then the it always refers to Sunday in the New Testament. We see this clearly in the other passages where the exact same phrase used in Acts 20:7 “μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων“ is used in Matt 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, John 20:19. In all of those verses the phrase clearly refers to Sunday. This means, that the best way to understand Acts 20:7 is see it as referring to Sunday.

In conclusion, Acts 20:7 refers to a Sunday worship gathering. Thus, we see from the time of the apostles, there was a precedent for Christians to gather for worship on SUNDAY rather than Saturday. (see also 1 Cor 16:2 and Revelation 1:10 [“Lord’s Day”=Sunday]). Such a situation makes sense, as Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday morning.

I close with the quote from the Bible commentator F.F. Bruce on Acts 20:7: “The reference to the meeting for the breaking of the bread on “the first day of the week” is the earliest text we have from which it may be inferred with reasonable certainty that Christians regularly came together for worship on that day.”

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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