Q29 : Sunday and the Early Church

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Q29 : Sunday and the Early Church

Is Sunday said in the bible as the day Christians meet at church or did that day just evolve in time as the day Christians meet?

A29 : by Tony Garland

The Scriptures record that the first day of the week, Sunday, was the day that Christians met in the early church. This was only natural since it was the day on which Jesus was first seen after His resurrection (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

Now on the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7)1

On the first [day] of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (1Cor. 16:2)

We also know from another early Christian document that Christians met to break bread on Sunday. The Didache, or "Teaching of the Twelve," written in approximately A.D 100 records:

On the Lord's own day gather together and break bread and give thanks, having first confessed your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure.2

It was not until A.D. 321 that Constantine issued an edict making Sunday a holiday, making reference to the physical "sun" rather than the "son" of God:

All judges, city-people and craftsmen shall rest on the venerable day of the Sun. But countrymen may without hindrance attend to agriculture, since it often happens that this is the most suitable day for sowing grain or planting vines, so that the opportunity afforded by divine providence may not be lost, for the right season is short. 7 March 321. CONSTANTINE'S Edict (Cod. Justinianus III xii 3)3

Most believers follow the practice of the early church, regardless of the unchristian motivation reflected in Constantine's edict.

It should also be recognized that although Scripture commands that we assemble with fellow believers on a regular basis for edification and encouragement (Heb. 10:25), each fellowship is free to determine when they meet (Rom. 14:5-6; Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16).

1 - Because the Jewish day begins at sunset, some suggest that Christians met when the first day of the week began, at sundown on the Sabbath (Saturday). They observe that this would provide a more reasonable explanation for the length of Paul's preaching in Acts 20:7.

2 - J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathersa (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), p. 157.

3 - Tim Dowley, ed., The History of Christianityb (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), p. 152.

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