(1 Cor. 16:2) Do we have to meet on Sunday for church?

CLAIM: Paul writes, “On the first day of every week [Sunday] each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Cor. 16:2). Does this mean that Christians are mandated to meet on Sunday morning for church? Is it biblically permissible to meet on another day of the week?

RESPONSE: The NT does not command us to meet on Sundays or any other day of the week. While there are some examples of Christians meeting on Sundays in the early church, these are descriptions –not prescriptions. That is, while we have examples of Sunday meetings, we do not have imperatives or commands for this anywhere in the NT. Moreover, we even have examples of Bible studies occurring on Saturdays, during the Jewish Sabbath (Acts 13:13-14; 16:13; 17:2). We do find an example of Paul breaking bread and teaching on a Sunday in Troas (Acts 20:7), but this was actually a nighttime meeting (“He prolonged his message until midnight.”). This wouldn’t fit with the traditional paradigm (meeting until midnight?). Therefore, these NT examples should not be binding to us. In fact, other NT examples demonstrate that we should meet “daily” (Acts 2:46 NIV).

In addition, the NT explicitly teaches that no days are specifically holy. Paul writes, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5). In other words, these are negotiable issues –not morally objective ones. Elsewhere, Paul explicitly writes, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to… a Sabbath day” (Col. 2:16). Paul even admonishes the legalism of the Galatians, because they were observing “days and months and seasons and years” (Gal. 4:10). Jesus himself taught that he was “Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:28; c.f. Lk. 6:5).

1 Corinthians 16:2 does explicitly speak about “the first day of every week,” but this is not referring to a church service. When we consider the context, Paul’s primary purpose was financial giving –not church meetings. Even if this was a church service, this is not at the heart of Paul’s command. Instead, he is commanding them to set aside their money; he is not telling them when to meet together. This would be twisting the spirit of this passage.