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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

On the first day of the creation-week God said, "Let there be light, and there was light"; so on the first day of the week "the true light" came forth from the darkness of the tomb "like dew from the womb of the morning".

It is a day to be much remembered by his people, because it assures them of their justification "in him," of their own resurrection to life, and of the certainty of his ruling or "judging the world in righteousness" as Jehovah's king, when they shall also reign with him as kings and priests to God.

This day is also notable on account of the special interviews which occurred between Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection.

He ascended to heaven on this day, even the forty-third from his crucifixion; and seven days after, that is the fiftieth, being "the day of Pentecost," the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, and the gospel of the kingdom preached for the first time in his name.

Power being in the hands of their enemies, the Christians of the Hebrew nation still continued to observe the seventh day according to the custom.

Hence we find the apostles frequenting the synagogues on the sabbath days and reasoning with the people out of the scriptures.

To have done otherwise would have been to create an unnecessary prejudice, and to let slip one of the best opportunities of introducing the gospel to the attention of the Jewish public.

They did not forsake the synagogues until they were expelled.

While they frequented these, however, on the seventh day, they assembled themselves together with the disciples whose assemblies constituted the churches of the saints and of God.

They ordained elders over these societies, and "taught them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus had commanded them".

In his letter to the Hebrew Christians, Paul exhorts them "not to forsake the assembling of themselves together".

Such an exhortation as this implies a stated time and place of assembly.

On what day, then, did the churches of the saints meet to exhort one another so as to provoke to love and to good works ?

Certainly not on the seventh day, for then the apostles were in the synagogues.

What day then more appropriate than the first day of the week ?

Now it cannot be affirmed that the saints were commanded to meet on this day, because there is no testimony to that effect in the New Testament.

But it is beyond dispute that they did assemble themselves together on the first day of the week, and the most reasonable inference is that they did so in obedience to the instruction of the apostles, from whose teaching they derived all their faith and practice, which constituted them the disciples of Jesus.

To keep the first day of the week to the Lord is possible only for the saints.

There is no law, except the emperor Constantine's, that commands sinners to keep holy the first, or eighth, day, or Sunday, as the Gentiles term it.

For a sinner to keep this day unto the Lord he must become one of the Lord's people.

He must believe the gospel of the kingdom and name of Christ, and become obedient to it, before any religious service he can offer will be accepted.

He must come under law to Christ by putting on Christ before he can keep the Lord's day.

Having become a Christian, if he would keep the day to the Lord, he must assemble with a congregation of New Testament saints, and assist in edifying and provoking them to love and good works, in showing forth the death of Jesus, in giving thanks to the Father, in celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and in praising and blessing God.