Why Do Christians Worship on Sunday?

Sunday Worship Vs. Sabbath Day

Sunday Worship
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It's not unusual for Christians and non-Christians alike to question why we worship on Sunday rather than Saturday, the Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week. In Bible times, the Jewish custom was (and still is today) to observe the Sabbath day of worship on Saturday. So then why is a Saturday Sabbath no longer observed by most Christian churches today? Why do Christians worship on Sunday?

Sabbath Worship

Many verses in the book of Acts refer to the early Christian church meeting together on the Sabbath, which was Saturday, to pray and study the Scriptures. Here are a few examples:

On the Sabbath they [Paul and Barnabas] went to the synagogue for the services. (Acts 13:14, NLT)
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer ... (Acts 16:13, NLT)
As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. (Acts 17:2, NLT)

Transition to Sunday Worship

Some Christian scholars believe the early church began meeting on Sundays soon after Christ rose from the dead, in honor of the Lord's resurrection, which took place on a Sunday, or the first day of the week. This verse quotes the apostle Paul instructing the churches to meet together on the first day of the week (which was Sunday) to give offerings:

Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. (1 Corinthians 16:1–2, NLT)

When Paul met with believers in Troas to worship and celebrate communion, they gathered on the first day of the week:

On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. (Acts 20:7, NLT)

While some scholars view the transition from Saturday to Sunday worship as beginning right after the resurrection, others see the change as a gradual progression over the course of history.

The Lord's Day

Today, many Christian traditions consider Sunday to be the Christian Sabbath day. They base this concept on verses like Mark 2:27-28 and Luke 6:5 where Jesus says he is "Lord even of the Sabbath," implying that he has the power to change the Sabbath to a different day.

Some interpret the Lord's command not specifically for the seventh day, but rather, one day out of the seven days of the week. To them, changing the Sabbath to Sunday (often called "The Lord's Day," or the day the Lord resurrected), symbolically represents Christ's broadening blessing and redemption from the Jewish people to the entire world.

Traditions such as Seventh-day Adventists still observe a Saturday Sabbath. Since honoring the Sabbath was part of the original Ten Commandments given by God, they believe it is a permanent, binding command that should not be changed.

Personal Freedom

From its initial days described in Acts 2:46, the church in Jerusalem met in the temple courts and broke bread together in private homes every day.

These verses in Romans 14 seem to suggest that there is personal freedom regarding the observance of holy days:

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. (Romans 14:5–6, NLT)

In Colossians 2:16-17, Christians are instructed not to condemn anyone or let anyone else condemn or judge them for celebrating (or not celebrating) certain holy days. And in Galatians 4:8-10 Paul expresses concern that Christians might turn back to being slaves of legalistic observances of special holy days.

Drawing from these verses, observing the Sabbath seems similar to the tithe. As followers of Christ, we are no longer under a legalistic obligation, for the requirements of the law were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Everything we have, and every day we live, belongs to the Lord. At the very minimum, and as much as we are able, we happily give God the first tenth of our income, (the tithe), because we know that everything we have belongs to him. And not out of any forced obligation, but joyfully, willingly, we set aside one day each week to honor God, because every day belongs to him.

Finally, as Romans 14 instructs, we should be "fully convinced" that whichever day we choose is acceptable to God as a day of worship. And as Colossians warns, we should not judge or allow anyone to judge us regarding our choice.