The Westminster Confession of Faith says this about the Sabbath:

[God] has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath. (WCF 21.17)

What I want to examine in this post is the scriptural basis for stating that the Sabbath was moved from Saturday to Sunday. The WCF cites the following verses:

1Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

7On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

10On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet… (Revelation 1:10)

These passages do indeed indicate that the churches in Galatia, Corinth, and Ephesus were worshipping on the first day of the week, but that is all. They say nothing about the Sabbath itself being moved. It seems strange to me that the WCF can make so bold a claim based on such scanty, non-conclusive evidence. To be sure, they have ample evidence in the Old Testament that the Sabbath is a perpetual ordinance:

16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ (Exodus 31:16-17)

Does the above reference apply to Christians, however? Or just to Israelites? And is “forever” to be taken literally, or simply to mean that this is an ordinance that all Israelite generations are to observe?

The references to the Old Testament are the strongest points of the WCF, in my opinion. The Sabbath is indeed a creation ordinance, and it is found in the ten commandments. However, I find it utterly unconvincing that the New Testament teaches that the Sabbath was moved to Sunday. The New Testament has a great deal to say about whether circumcision and the other ceremonial ordinances of the Law still apply, and the answer is an emphatic no. Is the Sabbath included in these Old Testament observances that no longer apply? The following passage from Colossians 2 seems to be saying that very thing:

13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Emphases are mine.)

When the conflict over the observation of the Law came to a head, the church in Jerusalem rendered the following judgment:

28It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” (Acts 15:28-29)

Notice they did not require them to observe the Sabbath. It is true that they do not mention a lot of things from the Law (like murder, theft, etc.), which are obviously still applicable, so perhaps this is not a valid point. I would think, however, that the observance of the Sabbath would have been one of those things that were foreign to Gentile converts and that the proponents of the Law were requiring them to observe.

In conclusion, it seems far from certain that the Lord’s Day is synonomous to the Sabbath. In fact, the Colossians passage seems to indicate that its observance is optional, but I am not a theologian. Care to add your two cents?