Q: As believers, are we commanded to gather for worship on the Sabbath or on Sunday? When did Sunday become a day of worship?
A: If you look up every passage on the Sabbath in the Mosaic Law, the one thing you will not find is Moses commanding the people to gather together for corporate worship on the Sabbath day. What Moses did tell people to do is to stay home and rest on the Sabbath day. In fact, it was forbidden to travel more than a Sabbath day’s journey from your home, which was roughly one kilometer (.62 miles). The only ones commanded to meet regularly for corporate worship on the Sabbath day was the priesthood, and that was for the purpose of offering special Passover blood sacrifices. However, for the rest of the Jewish people, they were simply to stay at home and rest.
Corporate worship was required only three times a year: Passover (Pesach), Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkoth). Therefore, the Sabbath was simply a day of rest and staying home. Also, there is not a command to have corporate worship on Sunday either. That was the practice of the early church as early as Acts 20:7. That is an example of what they chose to do but no biblical command was given to follow it. The fact is in the Mosaic Law the Sabbath was strictly a day of rest and to stay home, and for that reason Jewish believers had their corporate worship on Saturday night (which is already the first day of the week), in order to worship with fellow believers. Gentiles also met on the first of the week but it was Sunday morning. Neither one was commanded so they both are equal options.
What the Bible commands is that believers gather together regularly for corporate worship but the day of the week is strictly optional. My messianic congregation chooses to meet on Saturday afternoon, other groups meet on Friday night and other groups meet on Sunday and all of these are valid options. One is not more biblical than the other. That is why it is so important to “rightly divide the word of truth.” The Bible definitely provides a valid roadmap, but we have to make sure what commandments are applicable to what group of people. The Mosaic Law was given to Jewish people only, and only until Messiah died. The commandments you are obligated to obey today are the commandments of the Law of the Messiah and that is the law code you need to learn to follow and not the law code that was intended for different people for a different period of time.
You will find all the details on the issues of the Sabbath and Sunday controversy in our Messianic Bible Studies entitled “The Sabbath” (MBS176) and “The Law of Moses and the Law of the Messiah” (MBS006). This will help to distinguish the two different law codes.