And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow…
This is the first allusion to distinctively Christian meetings as held on the first day of the week, the day which commemorates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The grounds on which it pleased God to separate a regular, and a frequently recurring, portion of time from common worldly labor may be pointed out. Two things especially require notice.
1. Such a recurring period of rest is practically proved to be necessary for man's physical well-being. It is more and more clearly shown, that the recovering and restoring power of nightly sleep is not sufficient, and that the weekly prolonged rest is essential to the continued maintenance of the bodily powers.
2. A man is not chiefly a body. He is a composite being; but he is, in the truest conception of him, a soul, having a body for his use. And it is of the first importance that the soul should have its due and adequate opportunities of culture. For the securing of such opportunities, the tension of bodily claims must be at times relieved. The change of the day kept as the sabbath, from the seventh to the first of the week, does not seem to have taken place by any revelation or any distinct apostolic arrangement. It came about in the natural course of events. Probably at first the Jewish Christian disciples kept the Jewish sabbath in the usual way, and also had some special meeting of their own, in remembrance of the Lord's resurrection, on the evening of the first day of the week. As the gospel won its way among the Gentiles, the distinctively Christian meetings would grow in importance; and when St. Paul separated the disciples from the synagogue, Jewish customs and rules ceased to have authority over them. As Judaism faded away, the Christian day of rest took the place of the older sabbath; and the Christian forms of worship superseded the temple and the synagogue ordinances. We dwell on two points.
I. THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH WAS A RETENTION, IN SPIRIT, OF THE OLDER JEWISH SABBATH. What was essential in the original institution was the devotement to God of one day in seven. No importance attached to its being the first, or fourth, or seventh, as men may arbitrarily reckon the days of the week. The division of time into weeks is not a natural division, dependent on movements of earth or of moon. It is an arrangement made entirely in view of man's physical and spiritual interests. And the change of the precise day teaches us the important lesson that God cares for the essence of obedience, for the spirit of service; and while this finds its proper expression in minute and careful observance of his requirements, God is not limited by the mere formality of his commands, but graciously leaves the times, seasons, and modes of our obedience to our good will and judgment. Wherever there is the spirit of obedience, there need be little fear as to the finding of right modes. All that is essential in the Jewish sabbath holy souls jealously preserve in the Christian Sunday.
II. THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH IS A PRECISE SANCTIFYING OF ONE DAY IN SEVEN TO THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. We are to "keep the sabbath day holy;" that is, we are to fill it fully up with thoughts of God and work for God. But to us God has been "manifest in the flesh;" "he was made flesh and dwelt among us." As with us here in our humanity, Jesus was the "Brightness of the Father's glory, and the express Image of his person." And so the keeping the Christian Sunday holy is filling it fully up with thoughts of Christ and work for him. And that they might be helped to such remembrances, the early disciples, every Sunday evening, broke bread together, this being the appointed means for recalling to their minds their Lord's broken body and shed blood. For our soul's life, the Sunday is a day for communion with Christ. For the world's salvation, Sunday is a day for witnessing of Christ and working for him. We may learn, then, in what lies the very essence of the rightly kept Christian sabbath. It must have two things always in it.
1. Conscious communion with Christ.
2. Active co-operation with him in his sublime purpose to redeem and save the world. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.