I’m currently reading Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology for tomorrow’s Resident Meeting and, as usual, I learned something new.
Here’s an excerpt of his chapter “The Worship of the Church,” that I found to be particularly interesting:
IV. THE DAY FOR CORPORATE WORSHIP
The New Testament church used Sunday as their day of corporate worship. They did this in spite of the fact that it was not a weekly holiday that people had free. Undoubtedly many Christian slaves were on call all day every day; yet they made time for corporate worship. (Ryrie, 499)
A. The Origin of the Lord’s Day
Though modern writers invariably attempt to emphasize the connection between the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath, the early church and the church Fathers did not make that emphasis. They did see a moral value in applying the Ten Commandments but made an exception of the fourth one concerning the Sabbath. Notice the absence of a Sabbath-Lord’s Day problem in Acts 15:29 and the clear teaching of the New Testament as to the end of the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments (except as nine of them, all but the Sabbath one, are repeated in the epistles, 2 Cor. 3:7-11; Col. 2:16). The idea of a particular day for worship may have been connected with the Sabbath, but the particular day was unrelated to the Sabbath. (Ryrie, 499)
[T]he only explanation as to why the early church established a new day of worship unrelated to the Sabbath and the existing calendar was that Sunday was the day of the Lord’s resurrection. He not only arose on Sunday, but six post-Resurrection appearances were also on Sunday, and the Day of Pentacost when the body of Christ was formed fell on Sunday. Almost always the day is designated as the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). In Revelation 1:10 it is called the Lord’s Day, a term similar to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20) and used by believers to protest and contrast the Emperor’s or Augustus’s Day. The Lord’s Day, then, is the first day of the week, the day of His resurrection, and the day used by believers to celebrate that greatest event in history. (Ryrie, 499)
B. The Distinctiveness of the Lord’s Day
Clearly the early church made this day distinct, for though they went to they synagogue services on the Sabbath they went to evangelize. When they met other believers it was on Sunday. Romans 14:5 does not mean that Christians did not distinguish the first day for worship. Rather Paul was exhorting them not to be pressured by the Jewish element in the church to observe or fast on certain days. (Ryrie, 500)
I had no idea! I had always thought that it was linked to the Sabbath. This is why knowledge of theology and church history are so vital for the church today. We need to know what we believe, why we do things, and how these traditions began. I can’t wait to get to seminary! Josh and I are registered for History of the Church to the Reformation and I’m really looking forward to it.