Issue 2

Difficult Scriptures

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”  (1Cor 16:1-2)

Does this scripture provide evidence that the apostle Paul was telling the believers at Corinth to assemble, worship and take up a collection on the first day of the week?  Did all the apostles and the new church started at Jerusalem meet together for divine worship, to hear the word, and observe the ordinances of Christ on Sunday?

This is a common scripture used by many worldly ministers and professing Christians to try to prove the Sabbath day was changed to Sunday, the first day of the week.  By reading carefully through these verses, we will be able to understand what the Corinthians were commanded to do.

Let us begin with the first part of the verse and really catch the accurate meaning of these verses.  “Now concerning the collection for the saints…” (1Cor 16:1)  First, we see that there is to be a collection.  It is important for us to understand who this collection was for.  This part of the verse shows that the collection was for the saints at Jerusalem.  They were suffering from drought and famine.  They needed food.  This is not the only place in Paul’s letters that he mentions the saints.  To gain a clear understanding of their situation, we should look at his letters to the Romans.

In Romans 15 we read, “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.” (Rom 15:25-28)

Here we can see that the saints in Jerusalem were poor.  They did not need money; they were suffering from a lack of food.  Did you notice that it was not money, but fruit that was being sealed for shipment to the poor saints at Jerusalem!  Paul was instructing the church at Corinth and Rome to collect food.

Now let us continue in the second verse, “Upon the first day of the week…” (1Cor 16:2) Here we see Paul giving instructions to the Corinthians on when this collection was to take place.  We should note that Paul knew which day was the Sabbath, and he understood the importance of the Sabbath.

He was born of the stock of Israel.  In Philippians, we can see Paul describing his heritage, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee”  (Phil 3:5)  In the book of Acts, we are given a glimpse of Paul's training, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.”   (Act 22:3)

Paul fully knew how to observe the Sabbath.  “Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD:” (Ex 31:15)

He would know the many Old Testament passages that talked of how ancient Israel went into captivity for breaking the Sabbath.  Paul would not command anyone to break the Sabbath!  If the first day of the week had become the Sabbath-rest, then Paul, by instructing the Corinthians to gather on that day, would have caused them to break the Sabbath.  We should note that in this scripture, Sunday, the first day of the week, is a workday.

Reading further in verse 2, we see that Paul instructed them to “lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”  Paul was commanding the men of Corinth to gather vegetables or fruit.  They were to store it in their homes until he could arrive and have it transported to Jerusalem.

Apparently, it was going to require several men to carry this collection to Jerusalem.  We find this in the third and fourth verse, “And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.  And if it be meet that I go also, they [more than one] shall go with me.”  If it were tithes or offerings for the ministry or for the spread of the Gospel, Paul could have carried the money alone.

Finally, we find, upon honest examination, that not one of the scriptures speaking about “the first day of the week” sets it apart as a day of rest. Not one scripture makes it holy, calls it the Sabbath or by any other sacred title. In every case, the first day of the week was a common workday.  If we take an honest look at these verses, we can see that Paul did not command the converted church members at Corinth to assemble and worship on the first day of the week.