The records that remain in the New Testament show that the first day of the week became a day of worship. When Paul wanted to collect an offering from the church at Corinth, he asked them to gather the money on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16: 2) and when he wanted to meet with the believers at Troas, the gathering took place on the first day of the week, when we were to gathered together to break bread (Acts 20:7)
We notice in Revelation 1:10 that the Apostle John described himself as being in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. Most writers have thought he was referring to Sunday, so that our use of the Lord’s Day as a term for Sunday comes from this verse.
There is no Scripture passage that specifically teaches that the Sabbath has been transferred from one day to another. It seems most likely that the shift from Saturday to Sunday was gradual, and took place along with the change from mostly Jewish Church to a mostly Gentile one. The early church fathers generally viewed Sabbath as a Jewish observance, and the Lord’s Day as the proper Christian observance.
Although the fouth century Roman Emperor Constantine is generally recognised as the one who imposed Sunday worship, as early as the 2nd century Justin Martyr, wrote in his First Christian Apology.
‘Sunday is the day upon which we all hold our communion and assembly’
Justin’s testimony (100AD – 165 AD) is important, for there is a direct link from him, through Polycarp (70AD -155AD), right back to the Apostle John. During his life, Polycarp was personally acquainted with, first of all John (the Apostle) then later Justin Martyr, with no evidence of doctrinal dispute existing between them. Other very early documents such as the non-canonical Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache appear to show that Christians were very soon assembling on Sundays.
The Epistle of Ignatius (Ignatius was born about AD 50. He believed to have known some of the Apostles. Ignatius is thought to have succeeded Peter (the Apostle) as the bishop or ruling elder of Antioch, Syria. Scholars refer to Ignatius as the God-Bearer or Theophorus) which can be dated to about AD 107 gives the reason why The Lords Day was now seen as having more importance than the Sabbath.
‘Be no deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace…if, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death. Of several other early church documents which can be fruitfully consulted on this topic, ‘Apostolic Constitutions: Church life in the 2nd Century say this
‘ On the day of the resurrection of the Lord – that is, the Lord’s Day – assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.’
The New covenant, however, which commenced with the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, marked a distinct change in approach. Jesus is now our Lord and Master (Hebrews 1:1-2) Christians are no longer subject to legalistic law codes but, rather, the Spirit of Christ is to lead those who have been Born Again. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) clearly reveals this insufficiency of Old Covenant law as a guide for the Disciples of Christ. Christians are not required to ‘Sit down and think of God’ one day in seven in the old way, legalistic sense because, as Spirit-led believers, we should enjoy regular communion with Him through the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6)