Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Is Sunday the New Sabbath

Imagine the scenario: 

Jews attended their synagogues every Sabbath; some Gentile proselytes to Judaism also attended, with limited privileges. Women also had limited privileges. But most pagan Gentiles didn't attend of course. 

Then Paul and Barnabas, new arrivals in town, turn up one Sabbath, and preach a new message, the Gospel. Paul gets invited to speak again, the following Sabbath. Some believe, both Jews and Gentiles, others don't.

Some rulers of the synagogue start getting upset, and start inciting the Gentiles against Paul. It's so bad many of the believers can't keep meeting at their synagogue any more. 

So the believers have to meet elsewhere. They don't want their meeting to clash with the synagogue's gathering on the Sabbath, because some Jewish believers who might still be welcome at their synagogue might still feel obligated to observe their Sabbath.

So in order not to clash with the conscience of Jewish believers, they pick a different day to meet. And what better day than the first day of the week, seeing that's the day our Lord rose again! A day when Jew and Gentile - and women - could all attend, with equal rights, and no-one's conscience being troubled. 

Not that they were making a rule to meet on the first day. And not that they were calling the first day the 'Sabbath'. No - it's just that that's what they did - because it seemed appropriate.

If Constantine or anyone else hundreds of years later called the first day of the week the 'Sabbath', that's not something we hear of the early Churches doing. But the early Churches did often meet on the first day of the week. And they didn't require Gentiles to begin observing a seventh-day Sabbath.

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