The First Day Controversy
Thoughts on Acts 20:7 when the disciples came together to break bread.
This verse is repeatedly used to support Sunday worship in place of the Sabbath.
Luke speaks clearly when identifying a religious custom—examples, Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2. In Acts 20:7, the meeting was not “according to their custom.”
It was a night meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 8). In the Bible, the dark part of the day is the first part of the day and the light part of the day is the last part (see Leviticus 23:27–32). Therefore the meeting was held on what we call today Saturday night, the evening before the first day of the week.
On the first day of the week (Sunday) about daybreak Paul appointed his companions to sail around the coast to Assos (about 40 miles) while he went to Assos on foot (about 20 miles cross country). From there they sailed to Mitylene (another 40 miles). So on Sunday Paul first walked 20 miles before sailing 40 miles while his companions sailed about 80 miles.
No Christian obeys a moral precept on the basis of the example of the Apostles or the practice of early Christians. The apostles were subjects and not masters of moral obligation. Moral duties derive from the will of God and not from the example of either prophets, priests, apostles or the church. The apostles point us to Jesus as our example and not themselves: “Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” I Peter 2:21; “You be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1; “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” I John 2:6. Jesus Christ is the one and only example for men to follow. He says “follow me.” Take my yoke upon you and learn of me (Matthew 11:29). I am the door. He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way the same is a thief and a robber (John 10:7, 8). Jesus is the only person Who is the example to be followed by men.
There is no example of Jesus keeping the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath. He never commanded it or authorized it. On the other hand, for the keeping of the seventh day we have the commandment of God (Exodus 20:8–11; Genesis 2:3), the example of the living God and the example of the Lord Jesus Christ both in heaven and on earth (Genesis 2:3; Luke 4:16; John 15:10), both as Creator and Redeemer. There is neither command nor example for keeping any other day.