Christians believe and act as if praying to the Lord is the ultimate goal of our existence. As a result, we grow in our understanding that everything comes from the Lord, and we become even more grateful and praise the Lord. Worship helps us recognize who God is and opens our hearts to accept good. It takes us to the domain of all things heavenly. It’s something we’re asked to do daily, and it’s enshrined in the Lord’s Prayer, among other things.
Prayer is an integral part of a Christian’s life, and the early Christians emphasized that. They recognized that Christ was raised on the morning of a Sunday, which consequently happened to be the Feast of Firstfruits, as the Jewish liked to call it. They started meeting on Sunday to mark Christ’s ascension in Jerusalem in 1st Century A.D. This was years and years before the Pope and Constantine. Christ and many of his early disciples and a majority of the Christians were Jewish. Worshipping on Sunday was a significant change from Sabbath worship observed on Saturday. But why and when did Christians start worshipping on Sunday? Read on to find out.
A Sabbath is a break from our efforts of self-righteousness. It’s the day Christians designate for resting and worshipping. In Genesis 2:2-3, the Lord mentioned and established the Sabbath for the first time. As it is highly referenced, the Lord made everything in creation in six days and observed rest on the seventh day. But it isn’t until Exodus 16:23 that man is mentioned as observing the Sabbath—thousands and thousands of years ago.
This took place when God had given Israelites quail and manna to feast upon between Mount Sinai and Elim. Although the Lord indeed rested (Genesis 2:3), the Sabbath for humans wasn’t instituted till Moses’ time. This happened at Mt. Sinai, several centuries after men had existed on the planet.
Throughout the 1st chapter of Genesis, it is stated that the evening came first and then the morning. At the start of the Bible, Genesis is regarded as one of Moses’ writings. The Torah refers to the Bible’s initial five books, first drafted in Hebrew. Jewish individuals continue to count their days in this manner. Every day begins at dusk and concludes at sundown the next day. A new day starts when the sunsets. At the dusk of every Friday, the Sabbath begins and finishes on Saturday’s sundown.
Sabbath Over The Centuries
Sunday is a significant day for Christians as it’s the day Christ was resurrected, and the Apostles felt the Holy Spirit ascend on them. The practice of gathering Christians for prayer on the first day of the week can be traced back to 115 A.D.
The Sabbath was replaced by Sunday long after the New Testament. There were no definitive allusions to Sunday as the day dedicated to Christian worship until the works of Justin and Barnabus (150 and 135 A.D.). Sunday appears to have been established as the main day of worship during Emperor Haiden’s reign when the Roman Empire was cruelly persecuting Jews. He also outlawed Judaism’s customs, such as the 7th-day Sabbath.
Several Christians in Rome appear to have been inspired by these coercive measures to forsake the 7th day in favor of Sunday, which was traditionally observed by Romans as a day of sun worship. Within a few centuries, Christians’ Sabbath Day observance was completely abandoned within the empire’s borders, and Sunday was replaced.
Following Constantine’s pronouncement, a growing number of Christians decided to observe Sunday instead of Saturday. The transfer of the Christian Sabbath from week’s last day to the first day was started by Eusebius, who was made Caesarea Maritima’s Bishop in 314 A.D.
In line with the Puritan thinking of the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Congregational and Baptist Churches along with the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches adopted Sunday (1st day Sabbatarian beliefs into their confessions of faith, keeping the Christian Sabbath as the same day as the Lord’s day.
Sunday Sabbatarian practices include going to the church in the morning and the evening on Sundays, not dining out on Lord’s Day, avoiding excessive use of the internet and T.V., and not taking part in sporting events.
Even though many Christian Churches have Sunday services, a small number of Christian congregations believe that Saturday is the right day as it’s when the Sabbath is supposed to be observed. Indeed, Christian proponents of Sabbath worship point to Exodus as the source of the Lord’s command to observe the day of Sabbath and keep it holy.
With the book of Exodus as a reference, the Sabbath has been the designated day of worship. The law of the Sabbath is a good one. It’s a commandment from the Lord. New Testament texts are frequently cited by Sabbath-worshippers. And there has been quite a disagreement among Saturday and Sunday worshippers regarding which day is the proper day to worship. Saturday worshippers claim to be correct as they believe it should fall on the day of the Sabbath.
Sunday worshippers, on the other hand, consider themselves to be correct by citing Christ’s ascension on Sunday and to early Christians assembling on the week’s first day like in Acts 20:7. This states that Sabbath was just a sign between the Israelites and God. It was not to be followed by the Christians.
Following Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, believers began to gather on the first day. These incidents are recorded in Acts. Paul, a disciple of Jesus, began speaking to the people on Sunday. They broke bread, and as he planned to leave the following day, he prolonged his speech till midnight. This showcases that the early Christians ate and met on the first day of the week. This indicated that religious teachings were being discussed, and prayers were held in the presence of pastors.
Our Final Thoughts
Whether or not Christians start worshiping on Sunday shouldn’t be our concern, as the main goal of worshipping is to honor the Lord and his creations. It is to make ourselves persistent in prayer and allow ourselves to completely submit to Him and remember Him wherever we go.