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Breaking Bread and Keeping the Sabbath

Posted on September 07, 2017
Breaking Bread and Keeping the Sabbath
People often quote the story in Acts 20—of Paul and his fellow workers meeting on the first day of the week to “break bread together” (v. 7)—as evidence that Paul celebrated the Communion service as part of a worship service on a Sunday. They assume that this demonstrates Paul’s regard for Sunday as a sacred day. There are a few problems with this idea.

Jesus instituted the Communion service on the Thursday night before His crucifixion as a way to commemorate His death (Matthew 26:26:30), not His resurrection. Paul confirms this when he writes to the church in Corinth, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). According to these Scriptures, participating in the Communion service highlights Christ’s sacrificial death.

“Breaking bread” is not clearly defined in the Scriptures as being a Communion service. Luke, the writer of Acts, records one other time when believers met to break bread together: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). If we assume that “breaking bread” means having a communion service, these believers were celebrating every day!

Going back to the story of Paul, after having broke bread, the record says that Paul preached until midnight and “there were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together” (Acts 20:8). Luke is referencing the biblical method of counting days, beginning in the evening (Genesis 1). Following this reckoning, this meeting would have taken place on what we consider Saturday night.

Since this is the only record of a Christian meeting on the first day of the week, it would seem that Luke would highlight the importance of honoring Christ’s resurrection if the Sabbath had been changed. But the key point of this story is a resurrection of a dead believer, with no reference at all to Christ.

You may have family or friends who are asking questions about why you keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy—when the whole world seems to regard Sunday as sacred. Click here for a FREE resource you can share that will help to answer those questions.
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