John mentions the "first day" again in the same chapter, and this has often been misinterpreted as a reference to Sunday worship.
John 20:19 "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
Even though this gathering behind locked doors took place on the same day as the resurrection, was it a special commemoration of that event? The circumstances make it impossible for such to be the case. The text plainly states that they were gathered there "for fear of the Jews". The frightened disciples had already learned that the tomb was empty, and they expected shortly to be charged with stealing away the body of Jesus. They huddled together in the locked room for protection and reassurance.
The fact is that they did not believe Christ had been resurrected from the dead. Mark's account reveals that they totally rejected the testimony of Mary and the other disciples who brought word of actually seeing the resurrected Lord.
Mark 16:10–14 "10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen."
Based on these words, we must quietly pass over that embarrassing Sunday afternoon meeting in the closed room. It was not an occasion of unrestrained joy over the resurrection, as some have portrayed it. In fact, there was not even any recognition on the part of the disciples that a miracle had taken place. They were fearful, depressed, and unbelieving. When Jesus appeared to them He spoke words of strong rebuke because of their lack of faith and because they had rejected the testimony of their own companions. How misleading it is to make this a happy memorial service honoring the resurrection!
We have now carefully studied six of the eight New Testament references without finding a single instance of Sunday observance. In fact, every one of them reveals a consistent, total ignorance of any recognition of the first day of the week for worship, prayer, rest, or honoring the resurrection.
The Gospels were written several years after the events transpired, giving many opportunities for the Holy Spirit to inspire the Biblical authors with the full facts. Jesus told His disciples that the work of that Spirit was to "guide you into all truth" John 16:13. If first-day observance had been any part of truth, then the Holy Spirit would have been divinely obligated to reveal it to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
We also have the record in scripture of the disciples on the road to Emmaus...
Two disciples were walking to Emmaus, about 6-7 miles from Jerusalem (this could not have been on the Sabbath Day, as a Sabbath Day's Journey was about a half-mile according to Jewish tradition). As they were walking they were intercepted by the Lord, He walked together with them until they drew near to the village (Luke 24:28). The time of day at this point was "toward evening, and the day is far spent" (Luke 24:29).
We see here in Luke they clearly state that it is the third day (Sunday)...
Luke 24:21 "But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done."
So again we see that if it is the third day since the crucifixion which was Friday then it has to be Sunday, they are not keeping it Holy as they would not have been walking on the Sabbath more than about half a mile.
Now we turn to the two remaining references. If we find no evidence in these texts, we will have to abandon the search, for there is nowhere else to look. Paul and Luke are the final witnesses who mention the first day of the week, and both of them have been grossly misrepresented in what they said.