Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 14, 1961

The Sabbath Day Or The Lord's Day?

John W. Collins, Perry, Florida

The purpose of this article is to answer the question, why do Christians observe the first day of the week as the Lord's Day and not the Sabbath? Why do we meet for worship on Sunday and not on Saturday?

The Origin Of The Sabbath

In Gen. 1-2:3 we have the story of creation. In chapter 2 verse 3 we read: "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from his work which God created and made." It will be noticed that while the word "sabbath" is not used, we must agree that from of old the seventh day of rest has been known. We must however note that while the rest day is mentioned, there is no command of God for man to keep it. There was no Sabbath Law. We may point to Gen. 7:4, 10; 8:10-12; 29:27ff where we have a seven day period mentioned but again thette is no command of God to observe the sabbath.

We do not deny that the seventh day of rest was known before the Law of Moses, but we do deny that man was required by law to keep that day. Would there be anything wrong with the primevals honoring that day as the resting day of God, or would there be anything wrong with us honoring it as such? We must say, no! But, if we try to bind as law the honoring of that day before Moses' Law, then we would be wrong.

The Origin Of Sabbath Law

In Ex. 16:21-30 we have the first expressed mention of the Sabbath. In connection with the giving of the manna Moses said in verse 23, "This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord...." Then in verses 25-26, "Eat that today for today is a sabbath unto the Lord: .... six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none." Finally in verses 29-30, "abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place in the seventh day. So the people rested on the sabbath day."

Then in Ex. 20:10, as God gave to the people his Law we find this statement concerning the sabbath, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, .... the Lord .... rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it,."

In these two passages of scripture we see that the sabbath day of rest was made law. They were to obey it under the curse of death. (Num. 16:32-36) The reason for it being made a law was that God rested on that day and hallowed it. God's hallowing it did not make it law, but this is one reason for it becoming law.

A second reason is found in Deut. 5:15, "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence .... therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath."

The law of the sabbath was a part of the Law of Moses!

It will be noted, from Jewish history, that it was not until the development of the synagogue that the sabbath became a day to study the law.

Law of Moses — Law of Christ The Bible is very clear to state that the. Law of Moses was simply a "tutor to bring us (the Jews) unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24); that it was given "till the seed (Jesus) should come to whom the promise hath been made" (Gal. 3:19); and that the Law was blotted out or taken out of the way at the death of Christ. (Col. 2:14) We are now subject to a new law with a new priesthood, one greater than Aaron. (Heb. 7:12f) Therefore no man can bind on us meat, drink, "or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day which are a shadow of the things to come." (Col. 2:16-17) We belong to Christ and are thus subject to his Law.

Lord's Day And Christ's Law

We find, from examples in the New Testament, that the early Christians met on the first day of the week and that day is called, in the New Testament, the Lord's Day. Acts 20:7 tells us that this is the day on which the worship of the breaking of bread took place. In 1 Cor. 16:1-2 the command is to lay by in store on the first day. Worship is not here mentioned, but that the appropriateness of the day for Christian acts also would allow appropriateness for the Christian worship, is hard to doubt.

With these examples before us, it cannot be doubted that the first day of the week was the day of worship.

The phrase, "the Lord's Day" is found in the following passages: Matt. 28:1; Mk. 16:2; Lk. 24:1; John 20:1, 19; and Rev. 1:10. It has the same form as that in Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2.


The "first day of the week" is the basis of Christian worship for on that day was the Lord raised from the dead. This act of resurrection is the basis of Christianity and that day of the week is the basis of Christian worship. We have examples in the New Testament to this effect.

The sabbath day was abolished with the Law of Moses for it was a part of that law.

The seventh day, as God's day of rest, is still hallowed and should be remembered as the day of God's creative completion but there is no law attached to it now.

Sunday is an important day to Christians for it is the day of worship based on the Lord's resurrection. To you Christians, who forsake the assembly, wake up, you are forsaking Heb. 10:25, a command to assemble; and you forsake the command to partake of the Lord's Supper.

This is our day of worship, the first day of the week, Sunday.