"7 And 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." Were these meetings for breaking bread observed any day, or on a specific day?
ESV - 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
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Acts 20:7, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread...." Hi John A. The meeting took place on the first day of the week. B. According to the Julian calendar in use today, that would be Sunday. (I'll come back to 'A' & 'B') C. Acts 2:46, "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts." They broke bread any day. It was mostly an evening event. (They'd have spent the day in the temple courts.) Now back to 'A' and 'B': The biblical reckoning of a day is sunset to sunset following. Very important. Luke 23:53-56 narrates that the body of Jesus was taken down on the day of crucifixion, and placed in the tomb. It was Preparation Day, AND THE SABBATH WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN. This was just before sunset, not close to midnight. And the Sabbath was about to begin, meaning just at sunset, the Sabbath would begin. This is the Hebrew way of reckoning days. See also Numbers 9:3, Lev 23:5, Gen 1:5,8,13; Neh 13:19-21 The current reckoning of midnight to midnight was a Roman invention, in fulfillment of Daniel 7:25, "...and shall think to change the times and the Law;" So the meeting at Acts 20:7 was held after Sabbath service at Church. Sabbath service runs the whole day until sunset. So what happened on this occasion was that the believers went to Church in the morning, spent the day at Church, then most probably dispersed to their homes to prepare meals for the young ones. Then later during the same evening, being the first day already since sunset preceding, they went to one believer's house 'to break bread.' Please know that there was NOTHING peculiar about this gathering - it was common; save the miracle of the raising of Eutychus from the dead. That is the whole reason why that section was included in the Scripture. It was not a gathering to usher in 'sunday-worship', as some are wont to assume. That is why we don't even have a clue as to what Paul said that day - whether it was administrative, doctrinal, social, strategic - nothing. We don't know what he actually said, because this was a general meeting. The account is only to show the power of God among the believers. Paul then talked on and on INTO THE NIGHT, because he was leaving the following day, that is, after day-break. He was to take a journey from Ephesus to Jerusalem. He was NOT going to Church on the sunday. But people rant that this verse proves that the Christians were in the HABIT OF MEETING ON SUNDAYS. How mistaken. I had to elaborate this way because, dear John, I seem to detect that you're worried about how this verse might impact on the rest of Scripture, especially Sabbath observance. If that was indeed your concern, I hope I have laid the Scriptures plainly before you. Bless you.
This meeting spanned at least two days by roman reckoning, one or two by jewish. The meeting began the jewish Sunday (our Sat evening or Sun morning) and lasted through to (roman) Sunday or Monday morning. (Acts 20:11) They broke bread at least twice. (Acts 20:7, Acts 20:11) By our reckoning that would be Saturday night (after Sundown) until Sunday day, or our Sunday morning through till Monday morning, since for the jews Sunday begins at our Saturday sunset. The length and time of the meeting was due to "Paul leaving the next day". (Acts 20:7) It was not a restriction on meeting other days, nor even a sign that that was their usual day. It appears he prolonged his message to spend the most possible time with them before he left (Acts 20:7). There was no mandatory day for meeting. The early Christians met on any/every day of the week to fellowship or preach. (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 5:42) 'Breaking of bread' in various verses refers to sharing a meal, which was common, and also the coming together to take communion. It's likely at Paul's meeting that there was both. "Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved". (Acts 2:46-17) Meeting at houses was common, but they didn't stick to just one house. The believers in a city usually all had fellowship together, and went from house to house. Often it was wealthy widows who would offer up their houses as meeting places. Chloe, for example, was probably one of these widows and thus in a good position to notice warning signs in the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:10-17). Saul, before he became converted and known as Paul, dragged off the christians from the houses they met at and the synogogues (Acts 8:3-4, Acts 9:2). They also met in the synagogues on the Sabbath, usually to evangelize to the jews (Acts 13:14-44, Acts 17:1-3). The Jerusalem christians could be found regularly at Solomon's Collonade on the east side of the temple (Acts 15:12-15). In Acts 17:1-4 Paul is found preaching for three Sabbaths (Saturdays) in a row. In Acts 13:13-15, Paul goes to the synogogue again. In Acts 13:42-43, Paul comes one Sabbath and then waits and comes back the next to preach. In Acts 16:11-12, the christians go to the riverside to pray, since in that city it was a customary meeting spot. Acts 18:1-4, Acts 18:5-11, etc - scripture explicitly references many Sabbath gatherings. In short: Weekdays they met at houses, the Sabbath they usually at the synagogues if they could. Some historical references: "The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;.therefore the Christians for a long time together, did keep their conventions on the Sabbath, in which some portion of the Law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council." The Whole Works of Jeremey Taylor, Vol. IX, p416 (R. Heber's Edition, Vol.XII, p.416) "The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day..It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival...Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship [Yahushua], the [Master] of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same." Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Book XX, chap. 3, Sec. 1, 66.1137, 1138 "Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb 'When you are in Rome, do as Rome does,' " Heylyn, The History of the Sabbath, 1613
During Apostle Paul's time, the 1st day of the week would be what is now called Sunday by the gentiles. The Hebrews called days of the week by numbers just as it was done during creation in Genesis. Much later and for a brief time, a Roman emperor decided on an eight day week. As in Genesis, Hebrew calendars recognized a day beginning at sunset.
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