Why Do Christians Worship on Sunday?

Please give some thought on why we worship on Sundays or the importance of the Sunday worship. Why not on other days? Why do we meet on Sunday, the first day of the week?

Our meeting upon the first day of the week is neither by accident nor by arbitrary selection. There are some scriptures which specifically mention the first day of the week and there are other scriptures in which the first day of the week is implied. Let’s look at these scriptures and see what we can gain in understanding from them. First, we find that all four writers of the gospel accord that Jesus was resurrected upon the first day of the week. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; and John 20:1 all record Jesus as having been resurrected upon the first day of the week. We ask the question, why would the gospel writers/Holy Spirit have included this within their narrative if it were not significant? Remember, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all written years after the actual events occurred and the writers would have already been participating in first century worship long before they picked up the inspired pen to jot these things down. So it is not without reason that they all mention that Jesus was resurrected upon the first day of the week. Yet at this point in our discussion we know not what that reason might be. But it would certainly be fitting to say that we meet upon the first day of the week because that was the day in which our Lord was raised.

Second, we find that the preaching of the first gospel sermon and the terms of the entrance into the kingdom of God was upon the first day of the week. In Acts 2, the apostles were all meeting together on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was fifty days after the Passover Sabbath according to Leviticus 23:15, 16. So fifty days later would be forty-nine days (seven weeks) plus one day. Seven weeks from the Sabbath would be on a Saturday, so the fiftieth day would be on a Sunday or the first day of the week. Acts 2:41, 42 we read the following, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Most Bibles will insert a period after verse 41 and then start a new paragraph in verse 42. However, I would like to note that this is not necessarily warranted by the text. In the original Greek manuscripts, there was no punctuation. So verse 42 could likely be the continued thought of verse 41. In this case, that would make the continuing in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers happening upon the first day of the week. We could have in this verse the very beginning of the observance of the Lord’s supper. I want you also to notice the quality of events that are occurring within this verse. They are all aspects of worship. Here is the first worship assembly and the things that they did in worship to God. They studied, they broke the bread and they prayed. We see, however, in verse forty-six a contrast between the former breaking of bread. This second mention of breaking of the bread occurs daily, from house to house, and is also accompanied by the phrase “did eat their meat with gladness.” This reference to breaking bread refers to the daily meals that they took to nourish themselves. Why are two different references to breaking of bread mentioned if not to draw a contrast between the two? So we meet upon the first day of the week to worship because the apostles did this on the first day the message of the kingdom of God was preached, and they also observed the Lord’s supper here as well.

Third, we see need to take a good look at Acts 20:7. We read here, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” In this context, Paul and a band of men are carrying the great collection that they have received from the churches in Macedonia, Greece, and Asia back to the church of Jerusalem to be distributed to the poor among the saints (Romans 15:26). Certain of the company went before Paul to Troas and evidently they decided that they would meet up at that location. Verse 6 of Acts 20 indicates to us that they left after the days of unleavened bread. Most likely this refers to the days of the Passover indicating that it has been completed. They arrived in Troas in five days yet they stayed for seven days. Let us keep in mind that Paul wanted to get this money back to Jerusalem for the poor and that he would have not wanted to unnecessarily delay his journey. Carrying large sums of money in that day was very dangerous for travelers. This is in part why there were so many accompanying him. They acted as both a surety that Paul was dealing wisely with the funds and also as a body guard of sorts to protect him from any thieves or brigands that might waylay them on the road. So I am sure that Paul would have wanted these funds to get into the proper hands as soon as possible. Yet he stays in Troas for seven days. Why would he do this? One can only think that it was so that he could come together with the disciples upon the first day of the week to break bread and that is exactly what is indicated by the text. The Greek text is more clear as to the purpose of the gathering in verse 7. It is for the purpose of breaking bread. That is why they came together. This is a grammatical construction in the Greek known as the infinitive of purpose. Paul’s preaching to them was an incidental event as far as the gathering was concerned. The purpose of the meeting was to break bread. The phrase “to break bread” is a figure of speech known as synecdoche, referring to a part of something when one is really making reference to the whole of something. The breaking of the bread was the opening part of the Lord’s supper as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24. Hence, that action became the symbol for the whole of the Lord’s Supper itself. This is what we find in Acts 20:7. If they knew that Paul needed to be on their way, why did not the brethren have the Lord’s supper some other day that would be more convenient to Paul? In short, because it was not the apostolic custom to meet upon any other day. The keeping of the apostolic traditions was something that Paul wrote concerning numerously indicating that they were authoritative and definitive regarding Christian practice (cf. 1 Cor.11:1; 2 Thess.3:6).

Fourth, we need to look at 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. We read there a command by Paul to the church at Corinth. It says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Although it is not translated this way, there is a preposition of time used in the phrase “upon the first day of the week” in this passage indicating that the Christians at Corinth meet upon every first day of the week. This is significant because to this point in our study we have seen that the first day of the week should be recognized for the resurrection of Christ. The first day of the week was when the apostles first met and preached the terms of entrance into the kingdom and first worshipped with the first church. The first day of the week was the day for which Paul and his companions and the church at Troas waited so that they could partake of the Lord’s supper. Now we have here the implication that it was not just upon occasional first days of the week, but it was upon every first day of the week. Paul is not giving a new commandment to meet upon the first day of the week to take up the collection here, but is presupposing a practice which they are already observing–that they are meeting upon the first day of the week. He is adding additional requirements to that meeting time. When you meet upon every first day of the week as it is your practice to do, go ahead and take up the collection for the saints as well. They were already meeting upon the first day of the week to do something. What were they doing? The rest of the book of 1 Corinthians kind of fills us in. They were worshipping. How were they worshipping? Part of that worship included the observance of the Lord’s supper as Paul had instructed them to do earlier in the book. The implication here is that they were partaking of the Lord’s supper upon every first day of the week.

One final passage noteworthy of our interest in this regard we find in Revelation 1:10 John says that he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. By the time John wrote the book of Revelation, the apostolic tradition had taken hold and been held fast so that John can refer to a specific day of the week and everyone know exactly what day he is discussing. This day was the Lord’s day–the first day of the week. Wouldn’t this be consistent with what we have learned about this day so far? This was the day that Jesus was resurrected; this was the day that the gospel was first preached; this was the day that the church first worshipped; this was the day on which the Lord’s supper was observed; and this was the day that the Lord’s collection was taken up. Need we any more evidence from the scriptures as to what day the “Lord’s Day” would be? Would it not be the first day of the week? No other day would have been referred to as the Lord’s Day by John.

Hence, from the evidence that is contained within the scriptures we may come to the conclusion that early Christians worshipped upon the first day of the week. They partook of the Lord’s supper upon the first day of the week. They gave of their means upon the first day of the week. This day came to be known as the Lord’s day. Why would we want to break with apostolic tradition in this regard? Why would we want to introduce into the church some practices about which we cannot be certain that were observed by the Christians of the first century? If we are going to have what they had, then we need to do what they did. They met and worshipped upon the first day of the week and specifically, they partook of the Lord’s supper upon the first day of the week and upon every first day of the week. Why should we do anything different than what they did? Herein lies the basic plea for New Testament Christianity–that in imitating the authorized practice of the first century church as indicated within the New Testament, we can be simply what God wants us to be–not a denominational body, not a bloated and corrupted institution of religion, but the simple church of the New Testament.

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Heaven

It has been said that heaven is a prepared place for a prepare people (John 14:1). Such is true. Heaven is God’s home (Hebrews 9:24) and God’s people have the promise of being with Him there one day (Hebrews 11:16). Heaven is where Christ lives now as our High Priest and mediator (Hebrews 4:14-16). Only those who are holy, however will see God (Hebrews 12:14). Those who are unrighteous will not enter into heaven (Revelation 21:7).

  • John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
  • Hebrews 9:24 “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”
  • Hebrews 11:16 “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
  • Revelation 21:1-4 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
  • Revelation 21:7 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
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Holy Spirit

Within Christianity, the Godhead (Colossians 2:9) is composed of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit partakes of the essence of God and so is Divine and worthy of worship. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12). The Holy Spirit is omnipotent (Romans 15:19). The Holy Spirit is omniscient (Isaiah 40:13, 14). The Holy Spirit is not an “it” as many people consider him today, but is a person. He speaks. (2 Samuel 23:2; Ezekiel 11:5; Matthew 10:20; Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19; Acts 13:2) He acts (Acts 8:39). He leads. (Matthew 4:1) He calls (Acts 13:2). He guides (John 16:13; Acts 11:12) He forbids (Acts 16:7)He can take a unique form (Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). He knows (1 Corinthians 2:11). He makes decisions (Acts 15:28). These things are not characteristic of an “it” but of a person.

  • Genesis 1:2 “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
  • Isaiah 40:13, 14 “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?”
  • Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
  • Matthew 10:19, 20 “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”
  • Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
  • John 1:33 “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”
  • John 14:25, 26 “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
  • Romans 15:19 “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
  • Galatians 4:6 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
  • Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
  • Ephesians 5:18, 19 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”
  • Hebrews 2:3,4 “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”
  • 2 Peter 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
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