Paul's Longest Sermon


This brings us to the final reference that could provide any support for Sunday sacredness. In Luke's history of the early church, he describes the dramatic farewell meeting, which Paul had with the believers in Troas. Those who grasp for any tiny excuse to justify their disobedience of God's commandments have grievously distorted this account in the book of Acts. Because it is the only record in the New Testament of a religious meeting being held on the first day of the week, so we should examine it with special care and interest.

The full context reveals that it was a night meeting (And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together). In addition, 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.

Acts 20:8–13 "8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. 10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. 12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot."

There are some very unusual things about this all-night meeting in Troas. First, it had to be a solemn, poignant occasion for the speaker and congregation, as well. In verse 25 Paul declared:

Acts 20:25 "And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."

It is obvious that this farewell meeting was held on the dark part of the first day of the week. There were lights in the room, and Paul preached until midnight. It is important to understand the Jewish way of reckoning time. Days were not counted according to the pagan Roman method, from midnight to midnight. In the Bible, the day begins at evening.

Genesis describes all the days of creation week in the same way... "The evening and the morning were the first day ... the evening and the morning were the second day" etc. In other words, the evening always comes first in the day.

This explains why the Sabbath is described in these words:

Leviticus 23:32 "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."

But when does the evening begin according to the Bible?

Mark 1:32 "And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils."

Since the Pharisees taught that it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath, the people waited until the Sabbath was over before bringing their sick to Jesus. Therefore, they brought them "at even, when the sun did set." Moses wrote...

Deuteronomy 16:6 "... thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun ..."

In Nehemiah, we are given another description of the beginning of Sabbath.

Nehemiah 13:19 "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day."

This definitely places the first moments of the Sabbath at sunset, when it is beginning to get dark.

Now we are ready to apply this sound Bible principle to the first-day meeting of Paul in Troas. The night setting would require that it be held on Saturday night. The Sabbath ended at sundown, and the first day of the week began. Paul, who had stayed a full seven days so that he could be with the people over the Sabbath, decided not to leave with the ship on Saturday night. Instead, he fellowshipped all night long with the believers and then walked twenty miles across the peninsula on Sunday morning to join the boat at Assos.

Incidentally, Paul's missionary companions, including Luke, who chronicled the highlights of the carefully scheduled voyage, manned this boat. It is very significant that they would not go out to sea until the Sabbath was over on Saturday night. Toiling at the oars and sails would have been no more proper for a holy day than Paul's twenty-mile walk across the Isthmus on Sunday morning. Neither Paul nor his fellow travelers would have indulged in those secular activities on God's holy Sabbath.

The New English Bible actually states that the meeting was held on Saturday night. The chief focus of the story seems to be upon the raising of Eutychus from the dead after he fell out the window. The dauntless Paul, after ministering on Sabbath and all Saturday night, walked twenty miles on Sunday morning to join his companions in Assos. They had stayed with the ship as it sailed around the peninsula on Saturday night, after the Sabbath was over. That long journey on foot by Paul the next day would have been very inappropriate on any kind of holy day.

Some have equated the breaking of bread with the communion service, but such a view cannot be supported from the Scriptures. Luke assures us that those early Christians broke bread daily.

Acts 2:46 "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart."

The Bible cannot confirm the contention that Paul celebrated the Lord's Supper with the believers in the upper room. The wording seems to indicate that it was a common meal they shared together.

Acts 20:11 "When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed."

Here we find that eating was associated with the breaking of bread. It is unlikely that the communion meal would be referred to in this manner. But even if that farewell meeting had included the celebration of Christ's suffering and death, it would not lend any credence to Sunday observance.

We have seen from Acts 2 that bread was broken daily, and nowhere is the Lord's Supper linked to any particular day. It is surely obvious to anyone that the Troas meeting was not a regular weekly worship service. The importance of that all-night session appears in the miraculous raising of the young man Eutychus, and in the fact that Paul would never see them again before his death.

The particular time frame - all Saturday night - has no spiritual significance whatsoever. Luke, the careful historian, does not even record any of the content of Paul's marathon sermon, although he faithfully documents the miracle of the resurrected youth. Apparently, it was the way Eutychus dropped out of church, and not the day on which it happened that Luke is seeking to establish, but to the miracle of the resurrected young man.

We have now completed an intensive examination of each one of the eight New Testament references to the first day of the week. Not one of them has offered the slightest evidence that Sunday was ever sanctified by God or celebrated by man. God's great infallible test-Book has revealed that the majority is following tradition instead of truth. Millions have been deceived into blind adherence, million have been led to an empty pagan symbol.

Today there are millions of sincere Christians who are religiously trying to protect the sanctity of Sunday. They do not realise that there is no real sanctity in this day. The first day of the week is just as devoid of holiness as any other day of the week apart from the weekly Sabbath set out from the very beginning. Jesus said:

Matthew 15:13 "... Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."


Page 8 - History Of The Early Church And The Day They Kept


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