There are many scriptures verifying the Sabbath day being the 7th day of the week. All throughout the ‘New testament’, the first day of the week is called “The first day of the week” and the 7th day of the week is called “The Sabbath”. This fact alone should prove when the Sabbath truly is.
Many well-meaning Christians say that they observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week, called “sunday” because that is the day that our Savior rose from the dead. However, would it not make more sense to rest when he rested in the grave and to begin working again when he arose to prepare a place for us?
Either way, let us examine the pattern of the disciples after Yahushua’s resurrection in the book of Acts to determine what day that they attended Sabbath Services and what day they expected others to observe. We will keep a count of how many times the 7th day is observed vs. how many times the first day of the week was observed.
We see one example in Acts 17:1…
Acts 17:1 (NKJV) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and [saying], “This Yahushua whom I preach to you is the Messiah.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Here we see that Paul went to a Sabbath service three times, where there were both Jews and Greeks. The scripture also mentions that this was a regular custom of Paul. Was this also the custom of Yahushua the Messiah?
Luke 4:16 – So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read
Paul once said, “imitate me, as I imitate the Messiah” in 1 Corinthians 11, so Paul would be doing what He did, observe the sabbath on the seventh day. And we are supposed to be doing what Paul did, walking as our Savior walked (1John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.)
Here we can see that in Acts 17, which is said to be 22 years after Yahushua’s death and resurrection, the disciples were attending Sabbath services with the Jewish people on the seventh day of the week.
In no place do we see Paul or any other disciple teaching them that they should come back the next day and join them for a ‘first day of the week’ service. Rather, they went to three Sabbath services where there were both Jews and Greeks present. Thus, the the doctrine that says the Jews have their day (the 7th day) and the Gentiles have their day (the 1st day) is foreign to scripture.
Some would argue that Paul was only at the synagogue because that is where he would find people to witness to, not to observe the Sabbath. But scripture itself does not say that. This is an assumption that those who refuse the simplicity of the scriptures or justify the traditions of men want to make, not one that the scriptures actually teach.
Again, the Seventh Day is called “The Sabbath day” in this passage.
So lets see where we are at now..
Seventh day – 3 First day – 0
Another example is found in Acts 13…
Acts 13:13 – Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men [and] brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
So here is another example where Paul and the other disciples came to the Synagogue in Perga to attend the Sabbath Service.
Seventh day – 4 First day – 0
A little later in the chapter, after Paul shares Yahushua with them we see that the Gentiles were quite interested.
Acts 13:42 – So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
Now here is a perfect situation for Paul to tell these Gentiles “Hey just come back tomorrow, we keep the Sabbath on the first day now!” But we don’t see this written anywhere in scripture.
Acts 13:43 – Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of Yahweh 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of Yahweh.
So here is the fifth time that the disciples attended a Sabbath service on the day that Yahweh sanctified at creation. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath” in this passage.
Seventh day – 5 First day – 0
Here is another example in Acts 16…
Acts 16:11 – Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next [day] came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met [there].
It was the custom of the Jews of that day for the rabbi to shut down the synagogue if there were not at least 10 men that would show up for the Sabbath meeting. This could very well be why there were women meeting by the riverside for prayer.
Nevertheless, we see that the disciples sought a place to meet for the Sabbath and they did. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath Day” in this passage.
Seventh day – 6 First day – 0
Acts 18:1 – After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
So we see that he worked on the other days as a tentmaker, but on the Sabbath He was not. Does this not demonstrate that He was keeping the Sabbath, as he had done his entire life?
Here again we see that both Jews and Greeks are in the synagogue and on the Sabbath. Paul among them, attending the Sabbath services. The interesting thing about this verse is that instead of the scripture saying that they attended only one or three sabbath services, it says that he was there every Sabbath persuading both Jews and Greeks.
Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath” in this passage so we know that we can at least count one. Let’s do that..
Seventh day – 7 First day – 0
Now if Paul was in Corinth and was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath, all we have to do is find out how long he stayed in Corinth to discover how many Sabbaths he actually attended.
Let’s look further..
Acts 18:5 – When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews [that] Yahushua [is] the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook [his] garments and said to them, “Your blood [be] upon your [own] heads; I [am] clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain [man] named Justus, [one] who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Master with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. 9 Now the Master spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 “for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued [there] a year and six months, teaching the word of Elohim among them.
A year and six months!
Finally the ruler of the synagogue was converted to believe in Yahushua and Paul was there a year and six months! So the scripture says that Paul was there every Sabbath and that he was there for a year and six months. If we counted this by the Gregorian calendar that would give us 52 Sabbaths in a year plus 26 Sabbaths in the following six months, giving us a a total of 78 Sabbaths! Now lets add this to our present total:
Seventh Day – 85 First day – 0
So we can see that the disciples attended a Sabbath service 85 times in the book of Acts alone. Again, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath” in this passage.
First Day of the Week, “sunday”
How many times do we see them meeting together on the first day of the week, commonly called “sunday?”
Some would cite one example in Acts 20. Let’s examine the text…
Acts 20:6 – But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. 7 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.
Here we see an example of the disciples gathering together on the first day of the week. There is no mention of a Sabbath being observed in this verse. Nowhere is this day called “The Sabbath”. In fact, we know that Paul was ready to depart the next day. According to verse 7, Paul spoke to them a message because for this very reason.
Now some would say that coming together to ‘break bread’ constitutes a meeting that includes the observance of partaking in Yahushua’s body, commonly called the “eucharist” or “communion.” However, this is not true in light of other scripture:
Acts 2:44 – Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising Yahweh and having favor with all the people. And Yahweh added to the assembly daily those who were being saved.
According to this scripture, breaking bread was not an uncommon thing to do on a daily basis. It was one of the customs in those days to eat their ‘daily bread’. Even in Yahushua’s prayer He said “Give us this day our daily bread“.
So we cannot confirm that this scripture in Acts 20 is a Sabbath day observance. In fact, nowhere does it say that the first day of the week is the Sabbath. But the 7th day of the week is always called “the Sabbath” in the ‘new testament.’
Unless you don’t believe in the New Testament, you would have to conclude that this was not a Sabbath meeting. So what was it really?
Many may not realize that in scripture, a new day begins at sundown. This would mean that at sundown on ‘Saturday’, the first day of the week begins.
Once the Sabbath ends on “saturday night,” this would have been the appropriate time to cook food and “break bread” because cooking was not done on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23).
Thus, it is most likely an ‘after Sabbath’ fellowship meal where Paul continued to speak until midnight because he wanted to get as much teaching in as possible before he departed the next morning.
Nevertheless, in spite of 85 other examples of where Paul and the other disciples were participating in Sabbath observance on the 7th day of the week, some will hang onto this one verse so that they may continue their tradition. I say tradition because this verse proves nothing, as it could just as easily been an after Sabbath fellowship meal.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 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.
Some would suggest that this was Paul instructing them to “pass the plate” during “sunday church services” so that there be no collections when he comes for the Galatian congregations.
However, since the Sabbath ends at sundown on “saturday,” if everyone was keeping the Ten Commandments as written, and properly observing the Sabbath on the 7th day, the proper time for handling monies would have been on “saturday night” when the Sabbath had ended. Thus, they would have cooked their meals and handled orders of business after Sabbath, on the first day of the week.
Nowhere in this verse does it say they were keeping the Sabbath on the first day of the week, or that the Sabbath had been changed, or they were holding services on this day. One would have to inject these thoughts into the text, based on one’s assumptions and traditions, rather than getting these thoughts the from the text itself.
If one wants to protest the 85 count tally by saying Paul was only going to the synagogue to preach, and not to keep the Sabbath, that is also an attempt to inject those thoughts into the text, based on one’s assumptions and traditions, rather than from the text itself.
The truth is, for one to remove one of the Ten Commandments from its rightful place among the Ten, there should be a very, very clear directive somewhere in scripture. The burden of proof is not on one who continues the keep the Sabbath, the burden on proof is on the one who makes the claim that the Sabbath has been changed or abolished.
You can search the scriptures from Genesis to Revelations and you will not find a single verse that says His Sabbath was changed to a different day. There is not a single verse that tells us that the Ten Commandments are not to be kept. And there is not a single verse that prophesied either of these two events occurring!
In fact, the scriptures declare the seventh day to be the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, in the words of the prophets, in the writings about Yahushua, and in the Acts of the apostles. It continues to speak of the Sabbath being observed by Jews and Gentiles in prophecies of the future Kingdom.
For any who would claim that Colossians 2:14-16 abolishes the Sabbath, please read this study demonstrating otherwise.
Therefore that final tally will remain at:
Seventh Day – 85 | First day – 0
There is also historical evidence that the early disciples kept the Sabbath on the true day.:
First, we must understand that the Emperor Constantine enforced keeping the Sabbath on the first day of the week, which he calls “the venerable day of the sun.” Venerable means ‘commanding respect,’ suggesting the sun deity should be respected (sadly).
The text of Constantine’s Sunday Law of 321 A.D. is:
“One the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for gain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”
This forced Sabbath may explain why some groups were observing both the 7th day of the week as the Sabbath, but then also meeting on the first day of the week.
“The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.”Ecclesiastical History, vii, 19, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. 2, p. 390 [written soon after A.D. 415].
This is interesting, in that only the Christians of Rome and Constantinople forsook the Sabbath day while other churches continued keeping it. Constantine must have had quite an influence over the Roman Christians/Catholics.
“The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;.therefore the Christians for a long time together, did keep their conventions on the Sabbath, in which some portion of the Law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council.”The Whole Works of Jeremey Taylor, Vol. IX, p416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol.XII, p.416)
“The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day..It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival…Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship [Yahushua], the [Master] of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same.”Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Book XX, chap. 3, Sec. 1, 66.1137, 1138
“Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb ‘When you are in Rome, do as Rome does,’Heylyn, The History of the Sabbath, 1613
Later, those who observed the Sabbath were persecuted and killed by the Catholic church. When the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier arrived in India he immediately requested to the pope to set up the Inquisition there.
“The Jewish wickedness” of which Xavier complained was evidently the Sabbath-keeping among those native Christians as we shall see in our next quotation. When one of these Sabbath-keeping Christians was taken by the Inquisition he was accused of having *Judaized*; which means having conformed to the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law; such as not eating pork, hare, fish without scales, of having attended the solemnization of the Sabbath.”Account of the Inquisition at Goa, Dellon, p.56. London, 1815
“Of an hundred persons condemned to be burnt as Jews, there are scarcely four who profess that faith at their death; the rest exclaiming and protesting to their last gasp that they are Christians, and have been so during their whole lives.” Ibid p.64
Today, some of the leading Baptists even have admitted that the Sunday Sabbath isn’t in the scriptures:
“There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not on Sunday…It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week….where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of a sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” Dr. Edward Hiscox, author of The Baptist Manual