Such topic as this is not my favorite to write on but I feel there must be a way to awaken the sincere Bible student on matters pertaining to salvation.
Some might rashly cut the knot by judging the article by its title without reading the article to know what it contains. This article is solely and specifically for members of the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG) which is arguably Nigeria fastest growing Pentecostal denomination and to all other Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches worldwide.
Andrew Rice, writing in The New York Times, calls the RCCG “one of [Africa’s] most vigorously expansionary religious movements, a homegrown Pentecostal denomination that is crusading to become a global faith.”[i]
This letter is a broader view of a previous article that was written on the 9th January, 2016 which I titled, “Rebuttal to Pastor E. A. Adeboye False teaching about the Sabbath.” I am writing this article on a theological ground and not to castigate any personality but to point out, with the use of the Bible and other extra Biblical sources, the hidden deception in the system. I was once a member of this lovely and sincere group of people for years and I know for sure that many true worshipers are in this system. Therefore, am writing from experience.
Some one might say, “Who are you to sit in the sit of Judgment to Judge the man of God and his Church?” To such person I will reply, “The LORD admonished us test all spirits and character if they are of God with the use of His Word that is revealed in the Bible.” After reading this letter, i plead with all who are convicted by it to invite as much as they can find to read and print this letter and distribute it to their Redeem Christian Church of God friends or any other Pentecostal friend in other denomination. This letter can be printed an-open-letter-to-the-redeem-christian-church-of-god-2 in PDF version.
The aim of this article/letter is to point out one particle belief that the denomination hold in high esteem and that is belief number 40. According to their official website, the RCCG outlined 40 fundamental beliefs that the world Church are to obey strictly.
BELIEF NUMBER 40
I am very sure and certain that many of the members in this Pentecostal Denomination are ignorant of their fundamental beliefs not because the beliefs are not available at their disposal but they have refused to search and study for themselves what the church actually belief.
It is true that many of the beliefs outlined on their websites are Biblical but some are not and one of the unbiblical beliefs or doctrine being taught is that of belief number 40. After this study, we will be looking at other doctrines that are being taught in the church and see if they are biblical or not. The other beliefs can be found on their website by clicking this.
Belief Number 40 read thus:
“THE LORD’S DAY: We believe that the first day of the week called Sunday is a special day which the believers should separate as the Lord’s day during which time are to gather to worship – Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10. The Lord resurrected on the first day of the week – Mark 16:9; Ezek. 31:12-14.”[ii]
Although our focus will be on belief number 40, we also need to look at one other belief upon which this study will be based. The other belief is belief number 1.
Belief number 1 says thus:
“THE BIBLE TEACHING: We believe that the entire Scripture, both Old and New Testament are written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – II Tim. 3:16-17. All the Christian teachings and the Christian attitude of the Children of God are such as are established in the Holy Bible – II Tim. 3:10-15; II Peter 1:21; John 17:17; Ps. 119:105.
We believe that the Bible is the written and revealed Will of God. Man’s position to God, the way to obtain salvation, woe and destruction awaiting sinners that refuse to repent and everlasting joy that is kept for the born again souls. All the Bible teachings are holy, what the Bible reveals as the will of God are such that we should accept, and whatever God writes in the Bible and His Law are to remain unchangeable; for the Heavens and Earth may pass away but the Word of God stands forever. Deut. 4:22; Rev. 22:18, 19; Matt. 24:34-38.”[iii]
According to the official website of the RCCG, the authority of the Bible is undisputable. The Bible reveals “the will of God” to mankind. The RCCG also belief that “both Old and New Testament” and “His Law” are “unchangeable.” Though the heavens and the earth may pass away, the Bible and the Law of God will “stand forever.”
If truly the RCCG up hold the Bible teachings as it is claimed on their website, then we need to ask them the following question:
“Why Do You Keep SUNDAY as the LORD’s DAY instead of SATURDAY the Seventh Day?”
Their likely response to this question is given in belief number 40 that was previously quoted:
Because “The Lord resurrected on the first day of the week[iv]”
But wait a minute!
Is this really true?
Let us ask our sincere brothers and sisters in RCCG the following questions:
- Did Christ’s resurrection, on the first day of the week, give us any authority to transfer God’s Holy Day, Saturday, to Man’s Holiday, Sunday?
- If it is true that Christ’s death has given us the right to transfer the solemnity of the Lord’s Sabbath to Sunday, why didn’t God announce to us through any of His Prophets or Apostles or even Christ just as He inspired the Prophets and Apostles to write much about the Sabbath? At least we were told that, ‘Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets’ Amos 3:7. Would God have changed His 4th commandment that talks about the Sabbath, the seventh-day of the week or Saturday, without revealing the reason why this change was made in the Bible?
- Did Christ observe Sunday, the first day of the week? If he did I will prefer to observe Sunday rather than Sabbath (or Saturday). At least if I were to follow any one’s example it should be that of Christ and not the example of the PASTOR. For the Bible says, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”1Pe 2:21. I will prefer to follow the examples and steps of Christ for man cannot be trusted.
- Did any of the Apostles Observe SUNDAY or the so-called LORD’s DAY?
- Which of the days did Jehovah call the LORD’s Day?
- As a believer can I separate to myself any day and call it the LORD’s Day? Because according to belief number 40, the RCCG said, “the believers should separate as the Lord’s day” Sunday as their day of worship because Jesus Christ resurrected on Sunday which they rightfully call the first day of the week.
- Since the RCCG belief that the Law of God is unchangeable, why are they not keeping all of God’s Ten Commandment which reveals our relationship with God and our fellow neighbors?
- Will they be lost if they ignorantly keep Sunday as the Sabbath while sincerely worshipping God of Heaven?
- Is the Sunday-Sabbath controversy a matter of salvation?
- Why is the whole world worshipping on Sunday and a few are still worshipping on Sabbath (Saturday)? How did this change occur? (See: Dan 7:25).
I throw these ten questions out to all sincere Bible students in Redeem Christian Church of God and to other Churches to answer from the Bible. When I say the Bible, I mean the King James Version Bible or the New Kings James version for those who prefer more modern English.
Now with your Bibles in your hands, I would like us to answer these questions and many more in this letter to RCCG.
WHICH IS IMPORTANT: HIS LIFE, HIS DEATH, HIS RESURRECTION OR HIS HEAVENLY MINISTRATION AS OUR HIGH PRIEST?
All Modern Pentecostal Denominations have one thing in common and that is the observance of Sunday. They all claim, like RCCG, that the reason for Sunday observance is because “Jesus Christ resurrected on Sunday— the first day of the week.” Some say, “The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost on Sunday.” While some gives many other reasons.
Is Christ’s resurrection more important than His death?
If Christ had not died on Friday afternoon would there be any resurrection on Sunday morning? Emphatically, No!
Lets us see some Bible text to drive this point home and clarifying that Christ Life, death and Heavenly ministration as our advocate are as important as His resurrection.
- “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Rom 5:10. Take note: Paul said we were reconciled or justified by Christ’s death and not by His resurrection. He also said we shall be saved by His life and not by His resurrection. Yes it is true that our faith would be in vain if Christ had not resurrected just as Paul noted in 1 Cor. 15:12-19, but His life and Death is what will give us reconciliation and Salvation from Sin.
- “He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Gal 1:4. Without His death there wouldn’t be deliverance from sin and evil.
- Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” Gal 3:13. It is Christ death that delivered us from the curse of the law (not the ten commandment law because the ten commandment does not contain any curse but instructions)
- “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. “ Tit 2:14. Again, we see that Christ gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity.
- “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin. Hebrew 9:22. If Christ had not died on Friday we all will be lost forever.
- “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”Heb 3:1; 4:15. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1Jn 2:1.
Christ’s life, death and ministration as high priest are important as His resurrection. If we choose to exalt one of His saving act above the other, by attaching a day to it, then one can easily make Friday the LORD’s Day since on that day Christ redeemed me from my sins and through His blood I can come boldly to the Father for forgiveness and sanctification of life.
If Christ had not lived as human He would not have been a perfect sacrifice for my sins. If He was not in all point as human like me, then He would not have been my example. Christ died on the Cross as the Lamb that was slain for the remission of man’s sins. If He had not died, he wouldn’t have resurrected. If Christ had not resurrected, He would not be in heaven interceding for my sins with His blood. If Christ had not gone to heaven, the Holy Spirit would not have come as His representative. All of these act are important and not the date which they occurred.
Thus, Christ’s resurrection didn’t give us any right to change His Holy Sabbath day to Sunday. But the RCCG believed that Christ resurrection had abolished the Sabbath without any Biblical authority or validation.
I repeat: Nowhere in the Scripture were we instructed to separate the FIRST DAY (SUNDAY) as a day of worship. But there are many placed in the Bible where we were strictly commanded to keep the SEVENTH-DAY (SABBATH or SATURDAY) as God’s designated day for worship.
DID CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES KEEP THE SABBATH?
To ask this question is to ask another: “Did Christ and the Apostles Keep the LAW which He gave at Mount Sinai?” Let the Bible speak for us.
The Christ’s purpose concerning the Law was prophesied by Isaiah even before Christ was born into this world. It reads, “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable” Isaiah 42:21. If you read the context from verse one, it is clear who Isaiah was talking about. The servant who will bring forth Judgment is none other than Jesus Christ (vs. 1). When Christ came in His first coming he magnified and honored the Law of God. The word magnify in Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary defines it as, “To make great or greater; To extol; to exalt; to elevate; to raise in estimation.” While honor means, to “esteem due or paid to worth; high estimation. To Reverence. Dignity; exalted rank or place; distinction.”
The reason why Christ came to magnify, honor, or elevate the Law when he came was because the house of Israel and all other nation have made void the law of God. For it is written, “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.” Psalms 119:126.
The Law was made null and void when Christ was here on earth and for this reason came He to magnify and exalt it to its right position. It was written about the Law in the time of Christ that “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:7-9 (See also: Matt 15:1-9).
The people rejected the commandment of God to keep their traditions. That means the traditions were irrelevant not the commandment of God. In Christ’s statement, the traditions were not salvation but the commandment of God, when broken, will lead to eternal death.
Christ’s attitude toward the Law of God is to fulfill the Law and not to destroy it. He Himself said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matt 5:17. To fulfill, as Thayer Greek lexicon defined it, is “to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full. Render it full, i.e. to complete.
Christ in many instance in the New Testament magnified the Law. Let us see some instances:
Christ magnified the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13):
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matt 5:21-22.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15.
Christ magnified the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14):
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matt 5:27-28.
Christ Himself kept the commandments. He said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”John 15:10. This commandment is the Ten commandments and every other commandment that are not ceremonial in nature. He said that the Law which was given at Sinai will stand forever even when the heavens and earth shall pass away. “For verily I say unto you” said Christ, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matt 5:18.
Many Christians don’t know that one of the reasons Christ came to earth was to teach us how to keep the Law perfectly and to fulfill the Law in us. Paul wrote, “ For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4.
Note what Paul said. He said, the Law could not save us or justify us because all have broken the Law. Therefore, Christ came in the same sinful nature as you and I to fulfill that which the righteous Law could not do. The Law is righteous but I am carnal. The fault is not with the Law if am unable to keep it, the fault is with me because I am carnal and walk in the flesh. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7. The carnal mind cannot and will never obey the Law but he that is spiritual can obey it because Christ is the one working the work of obedience in him “that the righteous law might be fulfilled in us.” It is totally an impossibility for a carnal mind to obey the Ten Commandments because it the “law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good . . . For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Romans 7:12, 14.
In order for Christ to perfectly fulfill the Law in us, he needed to die for our stead. The reason being that, we are all without strength to obey one single commandment without Him. It was written of Christ, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. We are all born without strength, ungodly, sinful and under the curse of sin, but Christ came to free us from the power of sin and to give you and I the strength to obey Him perfectly.
Let me ask my SUNDAY KEEPERS this QUESTION:
“If the Law could have been abolished by Christ, as some suggest He did, would that not have been easier to have done instead of coming into this world to die a criminal death?”
“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15. The Law produce wrath upon the Law breaker and not the Law keeper. Where there is not Law, there would be nothing to break because the Law is not in existence. But where there is a Law and it is broken, then the Law demands punishment upon the breaker.
It is plain that, if the Law of God demanded that Christ needed to die for the Adam’s sin that was committed, that means that, the Law is RIGTHEOUS and still alive. The curse placed upon the transgressor was death and Christ took it upon Himself to die for humanity in order to release the sons and daughters of Adam from the curse.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Gal 3:13. As it was pointed earlier, when you look at the Ten Commandments, there is no curse in the Ten Commandments therefore the curse of the Law is the punishment accrued to all that transgress the Law which is death. “For the wages of sin is death.” Rom 6:23. “Sin is the transgression of the Law” 1 John 3:4. Therefore, death is the portion of all that sin or transgresses the Law of God.
But our brothers and sisters in RCCG wants us to believe that the 10 Commandment are not abolished. Some even say, “We only have 9 commandments and not 10.” They claim that the Fourth commandment is for the Jews and not for the Christians.
Let us now answer the initial question asked: “Did Christ and the Apostles keep the Sabbath?”
Christ and the Sabbath
It was written of Christ: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Matt 12:8. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Matt 18:11. The Son of man is Jesus Christ, for it is He who has come to save that which was lost. The Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath day.
Take note that the text in Matt 12:8 didn’t say the Son of man is the Lord of the first day but of the Sabbath day. Nowhere in the Bible did the Father and Christ claim any other day for themselves order than the Sabbath day. The reason being that the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day while the other 6 days were made for man to do his work.
It was Christ who made all things including the Sabbath. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:3. All things include Time, days, month, and years. Christ, the Word made flesh, created the Sabbath. He didn’t create it because He needed to rest; He created it for man’s sake. God knew man would forget Him if He didn’t out in place an instrument that will always remind man that God was the one who created the heaven and earth. That was why Christ said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27. The Sabbath was made for the benefit of mankind. It was made to bring back the mind of man to his creator. God knew man will forget and for this reason He wrote with His finger on tablet of stones these solemn words:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex 20:8-11.
Christ while on earth kept the Sabbath just as He commanded us at Sinai. “And 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 for to read.”Luke 4:16. The word custom means “Frequent or common use, or practice; a frequent repetition o the same act; hence, way; established manner; habitual practice.” The same Greek word ‘etho’ translated as ‘custom’ in Luke 4:16 is translated as ‘manner’ in Acts 17:2 which says, “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”
I am not surprise Paul is following the same manner or custom of Christ. Although Jesus Christ was the Lord, Maker, and an observer of the Sabbath, He was watched and spied upon by the scribes and Pharisees on this day just to accuse Him of breaking the law of God because they didn’t understand the essence of the Sabbath has many Christians today. “And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the Sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.” Luke 6:7. Christ met their false accusation, ideas and reasoning with this question:
“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?” Verse 9.
The Sabbath was designed by God as a day to do good and to save lives but the Pharises didn’t understand the purpose of the Sabbath because they have exalted their traditions above the Ten Commandments. They have lost the essence of the Sabbath but Christ came to deliver the people from the false theories surrounding the Sabbath. Verse 11 reveals the Satanic spirit that filled the mind of the leaders of the Church in the time of Christ. “And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:6. They wanted to destroy the same person who gave them the Sabbath in the first place for doing good and for saving lives. It is for this reason Christ came to deliver the Jews from the satanic misconception associated with the keeping of the Sabbath.
“They were angry because, notwithstanding the fact that by the miracle performed Christ had given evidence that He was from God, He had shown no respect for their views of Sabbath-keeping, but, on the contrary, had shown these to be wrong. Wounded pride, obstinacy, and malice, therefore, combined to fill them with madness; and they went out immediately and held council with the Herodians,— their political enemies with whom they disagreed in the matter of paying tribute to a foreign power,— for the purpose of accomplishing His death.”[v]
When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day, and told him to take up his bed and walk, the Jews persecuted Jesus for the good He did. “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.” John 5:16.
“It is a fact worthy of note that over the question of proper Sabbath observance the Jews not only persecuted Jesus, but first took counsel to kill Him. Not the least of the malice which finally culminated in His crucifixion, was engendered over this very question of Sabbath observance. Christ did not keep the Sabbath according to their ideas of Sabbath-keeping and so they sought to kill Him. And they are not alone. Many today are cherishing this same spirit. Because some do not agree with their ideas regarding the Sabbath, or Sabbath observance, they seek to persecute and oppress them,— seek laws, and alliances with political powers, to compel respect for their views.”[vi]
Christ justified His acts of mercy on the Sabbath day by saying, “Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.” Matt. 12:12. Not the word “Lawful.” Webster 1828 Dictionary defined it as any of the following: “Agreeable to law; conformable to law; allowed by law; legitimate. That is deemed lawful which no law forbids, Constituted by law.” In other word Christ is saying, “For this reason it is agreeable to the Law or conformable to Law or allowed by the Law to do well on the Sabbath day.”
In Luke 13, Christ healed a woman who had been sick for eighteen years on the Sabbath but because the Leaders were under the satanic deception of what the Sabbath should be, they were filled with indignation and anger against Christ for loosing this woman on the Sabbath. One of the Jewish leaders replied Christ and the people in indignation because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, “There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14. Christ met his hypocritical and satanic sentiment by saying, “Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass [donkey] from the stall, and lead him away to watering? and ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Verses 15, 16. This reply had positive effect on the people and negative effect on the leaders of the Jewish Church. The people had been taught false teaches over the years in relation to how they were to keep the Sabbath and never knew the Sabbath was actually a day to do good and save lives, either the live of humans or that of an animal. “And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” Verse 17.
Christ, in some other places, justified His act of mercy, justice and saving lives on the Sabbath day by asking them the following questions: “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day? And they could not answer Him again to these things.” Luke 14:5, 6. In fact it is imperative to know that, Christ’s working of miracles on the Sabbath day brought great perplexity and division among the Pharisees and Sadducees so much more that they couldn’t understand how He could be breaking the Sabbath and at the same time working miracles. They knew for sure that it wasn’t possible to be breaking the Sabbath and at the same time work miracles by hand of God. “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because He keepeth not the Sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.” John 9:16.
“The working of these wonderful, beneficent, and gracious miracles on the Sabbath was an evidence that Christ was from God, and that His views of Sabbath-keeping were right. By these miracles God was setting the seal of His approval to Christ’s views and teachings respecting the Sabbath, and to His manner of observing it, and thus condemning the narrow and false views of the Pharisees. Hence the division.”[vii]
The false theories and ideas which the Jewish leaders and Priests held concerning the Sabbath and its observance, and due to the conflict which Christ had with them in consequence, many of the professed followers of Christ, after the death of Christ and His disciples, a little later and in this present day were led into the error of rejecting the Sabbath itself as being Jewish, and, without any divine command or Scripture warrant, to substitute another day in its place.
The Apostles and the Sabbath
If we should ask our beloved RCCG members why they keep Sunday instead of Saturday it is likely they would a unanimous reply that the Apostles kept Sunday and for this reason we all are to keep Sunday. In fact they quoted the following Bible text to support their claims in the website: Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10. Let us see if this claim is actually true and if these texts are actually what they say they are.
It is imperative to note that the first day of the week is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament, six of which are found in the four Gospels, and refer to the day on which Christ arose from the dead. See Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19. The other two (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2) refer to the only religious meeting held on the first day of the week after the ascension, in apostolic times, recorded in the New Testament, and to a systematic accounting and laying by in store at home on that day for the poor saints in Judea and Jerusalem. A diligent Bible student will take the Scripture as it read without adding or taking out of it.
Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 are the two most used text by Sunday keeper to substantiate the fact that Sunday is more sacred than the Sabbath day. As I have previously said, these are the only two texts that suggest the Apostles met for any religious meetings on the first day. Before searching the Scripture to know if Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 is actually talking about a day set apart by the apostle for worship, let us study the other text in the New testament which talks about the first day of the week.
According to the Scripture, the Sabbath precedes or comes before the first day of the week as it is revealed in this text: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” Matt. 28:1. The Sabbath had to pass in order for the first day of the week to begin. The Bible clearly defined what this first day of the week is. “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Ex. 20:10. The Sabbath that ended before the first day of the week was ushered in is called the seventh day. This seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord not Sabbath of the Jews. The Sabbath was so important to the disciples and followers of Christ that after the crucifixion, the women who followed Jesus had to return to prepare spices and ointment and to observe the Sabbath because it was already late on Friday to do anything. “And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. But Mark 16:2 and Luke 24:1 only talked about the day Christ resurrected and not the day the disciples met for worship. In John 20:1, 19, the Bible talks about the gathering of the disciples in a room for fear of the Jews and not for worship. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” John 20:19. The reason why they gathered was not for worship. It should be noted that the doors were shut and they assembled for fear of the Jews since they have succeeded in killing their master they were afraid they leaders might seek them. They were restless and fearful and for this reason Jesus appeared to them to strengthen them and encourage them. But many Sunday worshippers over look this fact and use this text as a proof text to support their Sunday sacredness theory. Christ never commissioned the disciples to gather for church service or any religious meeting at this time and on this day.
In fact if John 20:19 was the only text to support Sunday because Jesus appeared to them on this day we might probably have accepted but it is interesting to note that Christ appeared to the disciples many other times after is resurrection on other days apart from Sunday. (See. Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:33-36, 41-43; John 20:26)
Before explaining Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 let us see John 20:6 which says, “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” John 20:26. After eight days is an indefinite expression. This is not to be taken as the eight day but after the eight days. If the Christ met with them on the first day of the week as verse 19 had shown, then counting eight days from Sunday evening will carry us to Monday of the following week. Therefore Christ met with the disciples on Monday not on Sunday. Shall we then take Monday as our Sabbath because of this? Definitely No!
Paul and the first day of the week
Let us now look at the two most used texts by the Redeemed Christian Church of God and other Evangelicals and Pentecostals to support the Lord’s Day (Sunday) sacredness.
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7
Milian Lauritz Andreasen gave an excellent exposition of this text in his classic book called, “The Sabbath: Which day and why?” pages 50-52. He wrote the following commentary as follows:
“Here a definitely religious meeting is recorded. It was held upon “the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” Paul was leaving “on the morrow” on a long journey. We are informed that he “continued his speech until midnight.” A young man was sitting in a window, and “as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.” Verse 9. Paul, however, restored him to life, bread was broken, and Paul continued to speak “even till break of day.” Then he took his departure, and went on foot a distance of about eighteen miles to meet the ship which was to take him on his way.
There are several questions that confront us in this account. First, When was the meeting held? The record shows that it was held in the evening, for there “were many lights in the upper chamber,” and Paul spoke till midnight, and then continued “till break of day.” The question is whether the meeting was held on Saturday or Sunday evening. As is known, the Bible reckons the day from sunset till sunset, while the common present reckoning is from midnight to midnight. When the Bible speaks of the first day of the week, the time from sunset Saturday till sunset Sunday is meant. Ordinarily a meeting held in the evening of the first day of the week would mean that it was held Saturday night; but there are indications that it was not always so reckoned, and hence it may be that this particular meeting was held on what we call Sunday night.
This is the only record in the New Testament of the disciples meeting the first day of the week ‘to break bread. Acts 2:46 states that they continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.” This states that they broke bread daily, which would, of course, include the first day of the week; but there is no record that bread was broken only on that day, to the exclusion of other days. . .
The question in which we are interested is that of whether this meeting on the first day of the week proves that this day was the Sabbath; that is, whether the disciples were observing the first day of the week as the Sabbath at this time, and whether Paul was observing the first day with them, meeting with them, speaking to them, and breaking bread with them. This is an important question that deserves study.
It is to be noted that the account of the meeting says nothing about the Sabbath. It would have been easy for Luke to insert a word, stating that this meeting was held on the Sabbath. That he does not do this is significant. It seems clear that the reason for the meeting’s being recorded in the Bible is the fact that a miracle was performed. A dead man was brought back to life again, and Luke notes this unusual happening. It was not often that such an event took place, and Luke recorded it.
The other events of the meeting are mentioned incidentally, and apparently were not of chief concern. We are not for instance, told the subject of Paul’s talk. We know, therefore, that it was not the sermon that impelled Luke to report the meeting. If the meeting had anything to do with the observance of the first day of the week, we may be sure that Luke would have reported this most important fact. Also the fact that nothing is said of Paul’s speech, is proof that it did not deal with the subject of a new Sabbath. All that Luke says about the speech is that Paul “continued his speech until midnight,” “was long preaching,” “talked a long while, even till break of day.” Luke was not greatly impressed with the content of the sermon.
There are other questions that call for consideration. If the meeting was held Saturday night, which to many seems most likely-then Paul had a long journey ahead of him for Sunday. Would Paul have undertaken such a journey on the new Sabbath? Luke, who is the author of the book of Acts, as well as of the third Gospel, in reporting the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, makes note of the fact that the women did not attempt to embalm the body on the Sabbath, but “rested the Sabbath day,” and that this resting was “according to the commandment.” The time of the writing of the book of Luke and that of Acts are not far apart. Is it conceivable that he would not faithfully make a record of such a drastic change as that from Saturday to Sunday, had such a change occurred? If this particular meeting took place on Saturday night, Paul started his journey of eighteen miles at daybreak to get to his boat. This would hardly be an auspicious introduction of the first-day Sabbath, either to the church there or to New Testament readers. . .
If the holding of a meeting on the first day of the week is proof of that day’s being the Sabbath, or that it has any bearing on the Sabbath question, what shall we say of the meeting which Paul held in Antioch on the seventh-day Sabbath? Acts 13: 14. That would balance the argument, for now we have the record of one meeting held on the Sabbath and one on Sunday. But Paul held a meeting the next Sabbath also! Verse 44. That would make the argument twice as strong for the Sabbath as for Sunday! But that is not all. In Thessalonica he held meetings on three Sabbaths. Acts 17:2. That makes the argument five to one in favor of the Sabbath. But even that is not all. At Corinth he stayed “a year and six months,” and “he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” Acts 18:11, 4. A year and six months are seventy eight weeks and the same number of Sabbaths. Added to the previously recorded five Sabbaths, this makes a total of eighty-three recorded meetings that Paul held on the Sabbath, and the ratio is now eighty-three to one in favor of the Sabbath as against Sunday.
We, however, reject any such reasoning. The number of times meetings are held on a certain day has no bearing whatever on the question of that day’s being the Sabbath. But to any who believe that the fact that Acts records a meeting as being held on Sunday has any bearing on the question of that day’s being the Sabbath, we submit the above computation.”[viii]
RCCG also quoted 1 Cor. 16:2 as evidence that we are to keep Sunday in their fundamental belief statement. This text reads thus:
“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Cor 16:1-2.
As noted rightly by Andreasen:
“Some have thought that this refers to a collection to be taken in the churches on Sunday, and that Paul was giving directions in regard to how it should be done. It is to be noted, however, that neither church nor meeting is mentioned. Each man was to lay “by him in store.” “By him” means “by himself,” or “at home,” as it is also translated. “In store” means that he should keep it until it was called for.”
English Standard Version translated 1 Cor 16:1, 2 as follows:
“Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”
Good News translation of 1 Cor 16:1, 2 is
“Now, concerning what you wrote about the money to be raised to help God’s people in Judea. You must do what I told the churches in Galatia to do. 2 Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what you have earned, and save it up, so that there will be no need to collect money when I come.
NIV translate it thus:
“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
“Those who use this advice of Paul’s as an argument for Sunday sacredness – a most curious use indeed-make several mistakes. They fail to note that this is not a public collection. They fail to note that this is not speaking of a church service. They fail to note that this money is not to be given in a collection to be taken then and there, but is to be kept “in store” until such time as it is called for. They fail to note that this setting aside of funds is to be done “by him,” that is, by each person, at home, not in church, not in company, but by himself.
They fail to note that the gift of each is to be proportionate to the prosperity with which God has blessed him, and that this calls for a weekly accounting, to determine the income, and a weekly laying aside according to the amount of income. This might in some cases involve considerable bookkeeping, which would be altogether inappropriate to do on the Sabbath, but which Paul considers to be good work on Sunday.”[ix]
The following verses shows how many times the Apostles kept the Sabbath in Acts:
“But when they [Paul and his company see vs. 12] 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 unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Acts 13:14-15
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Acts 13:27.
“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” Acts 13:42-44.
Note that it was not the Jews that were begging Paul but the Gentiles. The wanted Paul to preach to them the next Sabbath and when this day came, many Jews and Gentiles assembled to hear Paul on this day and not Sunday. Many claim Paul used the Sabbath to minister to the Jews and Sunday to the Gentiles but nowhere in the Bible is that fact found. Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles on the Sabbath and go about his craft trade on every other day including Sunday.
“And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont [habitually or customarily] to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.” Acts 16:13
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” Acts 17:2-4. [Note: 3 Sabbath days means three weeks.]
“And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. . . And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. “Acts 18:4, 11
“Here were at least sixty-two Sabbaths on which Paul preached in one city. The record further says that he worked at his trade; and we may justly infer that Paul worked at tent making just as many Sundays as he preached on Sabbaths. But if we place with these sixty-two Sabbaths, the three he spent at Thessalonica, the one at Philippi, and the two at Antioch, we have a record of sixty-eight Sabbaths on which the Apostle held religious services while he held only one on the first day, which was only a night meeting immediately following the Sabbath.”[x]
Which Day is the LORD’s Day?
The Redeem Christian Church of God also quoted Revelation 1:10 as one of their proof text for keeping Sunday. The Phrase the LORD’s Day is derived from Revelation 1:9, 10 which says:
“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. ” Rev 1:9-10
In fact this text proofs the opposite of what the Sunday worshipper supposed it proved. Let us ask the Lord Himself which day He designated as His day.
“Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Mark 2:28 Jesus, the Son of man, is the Lord of the Sabbath and not the Lord of Sunday. Although He created all the 7 days but He has specifically sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day as His holy day. Gen 2:1-3 gave us a clear answer to when the first Sabbath was given to man as a day set apart for rest and worship. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Gen 2:1-3
The Lord did three things on the Seventh-Day:
- He rested on the Seventh-Day;
- He blessed the Seventh-Day;
- He Sanctified it.
For every other days He created, He only pronounced them very Good, never did He rest, blessed and Sanctified them. This is what the Bible said not me.
Who else beside Christ claim the Sabbath as His day?
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” Isaiah 58:13.
The Father Himself called the Sabbath the Holy of the LORD and there is a blessing attached to all who honor Him by keeping His Sabbath. “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:14.
The reason why God calls the Sabbath His Holy Day is shown in Exodus 20:11
“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex 20:11.
Both the Father and the Son share the ownership of the Sabbath because through the Son the Father created all things. When the Son rested on the First Sabbath in Eden, the Father also rested with Him to commemorated the birth of a new world. (Heb. 1:1, 2).
I am ready to recant my letter and write a letter of apology to the RCCG leaders with they can show me from the Scripture which other day the Father and the Son claim as the Lord’s Day apart from the Sabbath. I would be digging deep in the part two of my letter to the RCCG and in Part Two, I will be considering some text in the writings of Paul that seems contradictory such as: Col 2:16; Romans 14:5; Gal 4:10; Hosea 2:11. But when we take the whole Bible that’s talks about the issue we would come to a right conclusion and not just taking one text and build a doctrine on it.
I therefore please with the Leaders of the Redeemed Christian Church of God to direct its members back to the true day of worship which the LORD has ordained at Eden and repeated it at Mt. Sinai, even the Sabbath of the LORD Jehovah.
“The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” Acts 17:30 (ASV)
Watch out for part two of this letter. Stay bless till then!
[i] Rice, Andrew (12 April 2009). “Mission from Africa”. New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
[v] Bible readings for the home circle (1914), p. 431.
[vi] Bible readings for the home circle (1914), p. 431.
[vii] Bible readings for the home circle (1914), p. 434.
[viii] M. L. Andreasen (1948), The Sabbath: Which day and why?, The Review and Herald Publishing association Washington D.C., p. 50-52.
[x] Bible readings for the home (2008), p. 392