The very fact that we have to address this question, even in evangelical circles, demonstrates the true measure of the church’s worldliness. It is not a superstitious attachment to days, but respect for the Lord’s generous service to us, that gives us one day in seven to be swept into the drama of redemption. When the holy day is reabsorbed into the common week, the church is bound to be reabsorbed into the world’s bloodstream.
In the Old Testament, the weekly Sabbath is anchored in creation (Ex 20:8-11) and God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt (Dt 5:12-15). The apostolic church met on Sunday, “the first day of the week,” also identified as “the Lord’s Day” (Jn 20:19, 26; Ac 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10).
After the apostles, the twin dangers of antinomian neglect of the weekly assembly and “Judaizing” legalism already reared their head. Addressing the latter problem, Ignatius reminds the Magnesians, “If then, those who lived in antiquated customs came to newness of hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath but living in accordance with the Lord’s day—on which also our life arose through him and his death (though some will deny it), and by this mystery we received the power to believe…(Mag. 9:1). At the same time, the Lord’s Day continued to occupy its princely status in the weekly schedule. Constantine declared it an official day of rest in 321, launching a civil application of the fourth commandment that lasted even into twentieth-century Europe and the United States.