“THE BINDING OF SUNDAY GIVING”
section 3: “A Day Appointed”
Neither the word “Sunday” nor is the expression “first of the week” found in the original texts of the New Testament. The day “Sunday” comes to us from ancient Greece via the Latin and German.i It was named after a Greek idol. This pagan designation is never used by the Holy Spirit. Rather, the days are numbered relative to the weekly sabbaths. This was the prevailing Jewish practice of the first century.ii
We know that the sabbath was the seventh day according to the Ten Commandments. We know that the church was established on a first day of the week, the day after a sabbath because it was observed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). The Pentecost was on the “tomorrow after the sabbath”, hence, Sundayiii. The first gospel sermon was delivered not on a sabbath but on a Sunday. For a while the believers are never said to meet on the sabbath nor on a Sunday; they are said to have met daily (Acts 2:46).
With the exception of meeting every day in Jerusalem, disciples are not spoken of meeting on a specific day to worship until Acts 20:7. The sabbath gatherings mentioned in the book of Acts were Jews meeting in their synagogues which was the Jewish custom under the Law of Moses. It had nothing directly to do with Christianity. “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21).
Finally, the authority for a specific assembly day for the believers is given two times: Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. The first is an apostolic approved example and the other is an apostolic command; the apostleiv Paul is connected with both. The first passage relates to the assemblying to observe the Lord's Supper. In the second instance, Paul commands the church to give to a common treasury on a certain day. Apostolic instruction is binding on us as Jesus predicted in Matthew 18:18.
What is the day appointed? It is called the “first of the sabbaths” in the above passages. The translators interpreted this as an idiom meaning the “first day of the week.” This is consistent with what we know about the resurrection of Jesus. He arose on the first day of the week, but the records call it in Greek the “first of the sabbaths” (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19).
For example, “Now after the Sabbaths, as the first 'of the sabbaths' began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb” (Matthew 28:1, AGPen).
The passage specifically says that the women went to the tomb “after the sabbaths.” That would be the first day of the week, the next day from the seventh.v
Since this same appelation is applied to the giving day in 1 Corinthians 16:2, the day would be Sunday. Paul's command for giving was: “When you collect money for God's people, I want you to do exactly what I told the churches in Galatia to do” (1 Corinthians 16:1, CEV). In all matters, Paul's instructions were common to all churches. “And so ordain I in all churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17, KJV). Therefore, the day of giving authorized is the first day of the week and is binding upon all.
The word “collection” (logiaG3048) is singular and genitive. The apostle says do not to wait for a special contribution but to store it up to give to him when he comes. Some versions or commentators translate this as saying “Lay it up at each one's house.” The word for house is not in the text. If that were so, then there would have to be a special contribution when the apostle arrived. He specifically says that this is not allowed. The word “treasury” is a present participle singular; therefore, it is to be a common storage. It has to be available at a point where the apostle can get it when he comes. It has to be on what we call a Sunday.
Lord's Supper. The Corinthian church is also commanded to assemble to eat the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-33). “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat [the bread and drink the cup], tarry one for another” (verse 33). This is consistent with the church practice at Troas in Acts 20:7 who also assembled on Sunday.
“Lay by.” The imperative verb “put” or “lay by” is compounded by the addition of a Greek dative reflexive pronoun “by him.” However, notice that this does not affect when or where the contribution is made. Rather, it emphasizes the how the giving is to be made. The verb means to either literally or figuratively lay “properly in a passive or horizontal posture; it is properly reflexive and utterly prostrate” (Strong's). In other words, contribution must be given in an attitude of worshipvi (“a kiss toward God”) to be acceptable.
It is important how a person gives. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). One must plan to give. It must be from a “willing mind” (2 Corinthians 8:12). A believer must be a happy giver.
One must plan what to give. “...It is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Jesus praised the widow who gave only a mite. The mite was compared to what she had to give.
To recapitulate from section #2, Christians are to continue stedfastly in fellowship as partners (koinōniaG2842). That means, we are to share as partners in good works. The way to do this is via the church on Sunday. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). That also means, we are to share in the financial needs of the congregation. This includes, resources for the facilities (toilets do not come free from the state), preacher and clerical salaries, etc. Christians cannot afford to be “freeloaders.” The Holy Spirit tells us to give and has specified the Sunday assembly for doing so.
- Gaylon West
Throw Out the Lifeline
i The ancient Greeks named the days of the week after their pagan gods. They called the first day of the week after the sun god, hemera heliou [sun; our English via German Sonn].
ii Martin. Mysteries of the Everlasting kingdom. “hemera heliou,” p. 303.
iii Called Sunday by Justin Martyr: http://silouanthompson.net/2008/05/justin-martyr-describes-christian-worship-c150- ad/. The name comes from the Latin dies solis, meaning "sun's day": the name of a pagan Roman holiday.
iv 1 Corinthians 15:9
v The plural “sabbaths” included both the Passover, the day after the crucifixion, which was a “high” sabbath (Friday), and the following seventh day sabbath when Jesus rested in the tomb. This is why some authorities say that Jesus was killed on a Thursday. Otherwise, the Saturday would have to be what can be called a “double sabbath.”
vi“worship.” proskuneōG4352. “1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence” (Thayer).