Q. Why is the first day of the week the day of rest, rather than the last day of the week?
A. The keeping of the Jewish Sabbath is and has been quite a controversial subject, with much being written pro and con.
The keeping of the day depends on which dispensation is had in mind.
In the beginning God established the principle of six days work and the seventh a day of rest. It appears that even before the law was given to Moses this principle was observed as an unwritten law in remembrance of the creation, and they were to keep it holy. Ex. 20:8 referred them to the creation.
In the Jewish dispensation they were commanded to remember their bondage in Egypt and how God delivered them. “Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). Here we have the reason for the Jewish sabbath
In the New Testament it is not once commanded to keep the sabbath nor how to deal with transgressors of the sabbath. Of all the sins mentioned by the apostles, not once is the sabbath mentioned. But the principle of one day as a day of rest out of the seven days in the week is stated. The Lord’s day, so stated in Rev. 1:10 was adopted by the Church. The first day of the week was chosen by the early Christians as a day of meeting, and has carried on till this day in memory of the resurrection of our Lord, and our release from the bondage of sin (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
Christ set the example by his resurrection from the grave, and the disciples commenced keeping the day in memory immediately, and Jesus also met with them a number of times, thus approving their act by his presence.
The Sabbath and Jewish ordinances were a type, and by the crucifixion of our Lord, they were all nailed to the cross, including the sabbath (Col. 2:14- 16).
[Written by F. H. Wenger and published in the Messenger of Truth, September 1963. Frank Wenger (1887-1974) was in his day one of the best known ministers of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.]