Tuesday: Troas

After the riot (Acts 19:23-41), Paul resolved to leave Ephesus. But he took an extended detour through Macedonia and Achaia instead of going straight to Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-3). On this journey, representatives of some Gentile churches were with him (Acts 20:4).

Read Acts 20:7-12. What’s wrong with the common argument that these verses help prove the Sabbath was changed to Sunday?

Paul Departs Troas

Image © Providence Collection Goodsalt.com

Paul’s stopover in Troas ended with a church meeting “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). They gathered together “to break bread”, which probably refers to the Lord’s Supper, with or without the fellowship meal that was often combined with it since the early days of the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42Acts 2:46). That there is no mention of a cup nor of any prayers does not rule out this possibility. The point, however, is that this episode is often mentioned as evidence that in Paul’s time, at least Gentile churches had already replaced Sabbath with Sunday as a day of worship.

Yet, before making such a claim, it is necessary to establish the precise day on which the meeting took place, as well as the nature of the meeting. The reference to the use of lights (Acts 20:8), together with the fact that Paul’s message continued until midnight (Acts 20:7), and then until daybreak (Acts 20:11), not to mention the deep sleep of Eutychus (Acts 20:9), makes it clear it was a night meeting.

The question, though, is whether it was the night before Sunday or the night after Sunday. The answer depends on what system of time reckoning Luke is using, whether the Jewish system from sundown to sundown or the Roman one from midnight to midnight. If it is the former, then it was Saturday night; in case of the latter, it was Sunday night.

Either way, the context of Acts 20:7-12 indicates that, even if the meeting was on a Sunday night, it was not a regular church meeting but a special one due to Paul’s departure the following morning. It is hard to see, then, how this isolated and exceptional episode affords support for Sunday keeping. The fact is, it doesn’t.

Dwell more on all the reasons for the validity of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. How does the powerful biblical support for the Sabbath help affirm us in our identity as Seventh-day Adventist Christians and the calling that we have been given to spread the three angels’ messages to the world?


Tuesday: Troas — 19 Comments

  1. Today's study highlights a very real issue that we often have. We sometimes spend more time defending the Sabbath that understanding what true worship on Sabbath really means. To other Christians, it often seems that all we have done has taken the church service from Sunday and put it back on Saturday. The whole Sabbath experience has to be more than just a time-shift. I submit that we do not have an argument if all we offer is a time-shift, no matter how biblically based it is. What is is that really makes Sabbath special? If we get that right, then the time-shift is easy to argue. (Yes I know who did the original time shift - but our Sabbath experience has to be more than an anti-papacy statement too. If we see the Sabbath in that light, we have also forgotten something.)

    • So true, my Brother. Yesterday, I was talking to my bio sister (a true Christian of another religion), and she mentioned that she was reading an article that told of a city in California (she couldn't remember the name of the city) where 2/3 of the population are Seventh-day Adventist. She said the article was about went on to talk about our health message and how we tend to live longer than other religions. I then told her that it is not just our healthy eating that is the reason for our longevity, but also that we take one-day a week, the Sabbath, to truly rest from the cares of this life; we don't think about all the stresses in our lives on the Sabbath. For that one day, we truly rest and de-stress, and it refreshes our body, soul and mind. I was going to continue, but her next word was exactly what I was going to say, "you use that time to commune with God". I said "yes, which adds a few years to our lives for doing so". In these last days, Stress and worry(anxiety) has caused more deaths and disabilities than cancer. We must give it over to God to handle, no matter the outcome; "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1 Peter 5:7. God's Blessing to you all.

    • Maurice, as you indicated, there is no doubt that Sabbath has to be a quality time of convocation and worship for those who keep the Sabbath. We are all agreed that was the meaning and intent of God rested, blessed and sanctified the 7th Day, Sabbath.

      However we cannot disregard the historical fact Acts 20:7, and its being used as a credible statement of post-resurrection worship. This is standard learning and argument for Pastors and their Church members in almost every Church that worships on Sunday; it becoming even more deep set in the foray of conflict between SDA Sabbath keepers and most of the world of Christianity. Yes, there was a meeting of breaking of bread on the first day of the week, and it continued into Sunday night. Luke told us earlier that the disciples break bread daily, in view of the instruction of Jesus Christ: "as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you show the Lord's death till He comes". The soon return of Jesus Christ was a powerful driving force, empowering the desire to commemorate the Lord's sacrifice and resurrection (which had just replaced the daily offering of sin sacrifices and burn offerings).

      Seventh-day Adventists must have a profound clarity for worshipping on the 7th Day, if indeed we really believe that Sabbath day worship for God is decisive, particularly in the closing hours.

  2. Hello, while I do understand your point, I still think it essential to point out boundaries. Let's say a journey is easier if there's a planned itinerary. There is a blueprint for time. Time's "ADN" is the Sabbath. The importance and unfolding of the package is the issue that will play such a major role in the world's end time events. It is therefore crucial to understand it as well as being very conscious of the Lord of the Sabbath that it reveals. Was there any need to preach the Sabbath in apostolic times? I guess the Sabbath was evident. Here we come to it. Then the emphasis was pointed to the reveal the "Lord and Savior Jesus", the messiah. Today nothing has not changed. Find Him in the Sabbath. I call the Sabbath the synopsis.

    • Beverly, very well spoken. Let me quote two of your significant points:

      "There is a blueprint for time. Time's "ADN" is the Sabbath. The importance and unfolding of the package is the issue that will play such a major role in the world's end time events".
      "It is therefore crucial to understand it as well as being very conscious of the Lord of the Sabbath that it reveals."

  3. I have said it before but it bears repeating - I suggest that when people ask us how are SDA's different to other Protestant Churches we start with other things not the Sabbath.
    Ty Gibson made the suggestion that we say: what is different is our belief and understanding of the character of God.

    Think about that - how would you say our understanding of the character of God is different? Any suggestions??

    • I just ordered Ty’s book, The God Named Desire, I have the book The Desire of Ages, to read along with it. I will have an answer to your thought provoking question in a quarter or two when the Sabbath topic comes up again. In my little experience you can’t assume a believer of another denomination believes any different on the character or nature of God than you until you talk with them about God. You may have your preconceived impression of them changed.

    • Shirley, do you mind saying more about "understanding the character of God" as a way of identifying difference?

      One consideration with that approach is to advocate in lives, in Church, and to others, that we believe in the perfect love of God. Because of this we a claim and live a higher value of respect and honor for the love of God in sending Jesus Christ to die to save sinners; and we believe that love restored in us will cause us to have a higher respect for ourselves and others, including enhancement of our own development, and the development of all others around us, for we are all being restored into His perfect model of love.

      Develop further:
      When Jesus Christ enters the heart, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, He gives us His nature so we can be restored to compatibility with His character, which is a wholistic concept of respect and honor as the primary access of love in relating to anyone and anything.

      Increase understanding of The Ten Commandments, which will read:

      We honor/worship God Creator as the only God, not ourselves or anyone else
      We honor/worship Him as person, not images or likenesses that we choose
      We respect and reverence His name in honor of Who He is, and live by it
      We respect the time He chooses for convocation and worship, not ours
      We honor our origins in our Creation and our birth by parents
      We respect human life and human persons right to live in peace
      We respect and honor God's property and others' property
      We respect and honor the sacredness of marriage, and persons characters
      We respect and uphold a person's good name as their best right
      We for ourselves choose a heart of love that honors, not covet

      If this has value to you, please develop further; or add alternatives

    • Any true difference must be seen in the fundamental beliefs. As far as "faith" or "understanding" of anything, including the character of God, is more of an individual difference, and not a denominational trait in reality. We are very divided and in this, are very much like other denominations. The true difference of the remnant is that they "follow the Lamb wherever He leads". The remnant will become very visible and distinct when the last great test comes upon the world, until then, the wheat and tares are nearly indistinguishable from each other.

      • The point is what do our fundamental beliefs say about the character of God? What is the Great Controversy about? Per EGW it the misconception of the character of God. Make it a discussion about God not what I believe verse what you believe.

    • Character of God: father, son, holy spirit have Principles by which they live and they wish to share with people. How they do this depends on the spiritual maturity and understanding of the people, he has been progressively revealing them through out history. Sometimes his Princples are revealed as 'laws', sometimes as parables, sometimes as acts of love, sometimes as divine sacrifice, sometimes as pastoral letters, sometimes as a view of the future. Put them all together and we will have an idea of God's character and his Princples of Life.

  4. Any effort to twist any event described in the Bible as evidence the law of God is void will simply be false. There is no “correct” explanation needed to counter such conclusions. Jesus' teaching of the eternal endurance of the Law is enough, as well as the commandments themselves, which have no expiration date attached to them. There is nothing to argue. The Law of God is as eternal as it's Author.

    Why this need to “justify" our keeping of the Sabbath to anyone? Don't we invite argument when we take it up ourselves, always trying to prove what needs no proving. If individuals are first brought to Christ as their Savior and Lord, they will see the beauty of the law, but if the law comes before Christ(which is too often the case), there will be some difficulties encountered from this lack of gospel order.

    Agree with Maurice's thoughts as well.

    • SDAs know "the Law of God", and don't need to "justify" the Sabbath.
      Long before the first SDA Satan was already the 'God' of Christianity, above Yahweh, by changing "times and laws"; and has warred against Jesus Christ and God's people. The Law of God is abolished, and the change of the 7th day Sabbath is the sign of Satan's and Human's authority.

      So which SDA knows for sure which person in Christianity, Catholicism or Apostate Protestantism, is a genuine seeker for truth, a diligent student of Scripture as taught by Christianity in Seminary and Church, or an active agent of Satan knowingly or unknowingly? And what of the non-Christian, including the Moslem, many of whom have become skilled in the Scriptures for debate?

      Can the Evangelist, Bible Worker, soul-winning Leader or Member or Teacher be prepared without credibly "know Thee, the only True God and Jesus Christ
      Whom Thou has sent", and be well versed in the Word of God and what it teaches about the final conflict?

      William Miller and early SDAs understood hard study for knowing God and knowing the Word of God. That is our challenge, by His grace through the working of the Holy Spirit in us

  5. The sabbath is the rest we enter as we learn to to trust the Lord. The sabbath DAY is a God-given symbol of that relationship of trust. Any day of rest can symbolize entering into rest but it seems to me that entering into HIS rest is best symbolized by resting on the day the Lord rested in creation and in redemption.

    Worship is anything that shows who has our highest allegiance. To rest on the day the creator rested is to worship him AS creator--whether or not I attend formal or semi-formal worship services on that day.

    Christians worship the Lord every day of the week so arguing about when to worship him is an exercise in futility--or worse because it implies that Christians only worship the Lord one day each week. (Or even worse when the language employed includes the phrase “sabbath worship”.)

    When people ask me--which they sometimes do--why I rest on the seventh day of the week, I’m glad to tell them. I seldom introduce the subject of the seventh-day-ness of the sabbath, however, because that subject is about as clearly taught in scripture an any other doctrine. I’ve met people who discovered it on their own before ever speaking with or hearing a Seventh-day Adventist speak about that subject.

    When I was a boy in the 1940s, the adventists of my acquaintance emphasized resting on the seventh day of the week. In the twenty-first century, the emphasis seems to have shifted to worshipping on the the seventh day of the week. So much so that rest is seldom mentioned anymore. I think that is a shame for several reasons, one of which is that, in the United States, many people have joined our denomination who now attend sabbath services but whose activities on the sabbath are otherwise little different than what they were doing on Sundays before changing their denominal affiliation.

  6. I find it difficult to accept that Jesus' followers celebrated THE COMMUNION SERVICE on a daily basis and therefore much less that this was the case in this incident of Paul's preaching till midnight and past it. Jesus Himself instituted the COMMUNION SERVICE as a ONCE FOR ALL EVENT and based it on the YEARLY and ONCE A YEAR "Passover Feast," celebration. I believe that Luke is just simply indicating that the Apostle Paul chose to preach to this group of believers during one of their afternoon meals and he just got LONG WINDED with his preaching to the point of one young person fatally falling to his death from his being overcome by sleep. To me the words BREAKING BREAD in the NEW TESTAMENT does not mean "The Communion Service." If it did, the phrase would have included the drinking of THE CUP too. But again, since Jesus instituted this Ceremony in Lew of THE PASSOVER, I am sure that His Followers therefore were not in the habit of celebrating this event on A DAILY BASIS.

    • Pete, see if this answers the question:
      Acts 2
      42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

      46 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, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

  7. One example: I don't believe God artificially keeps people alive just so he can torture them by fire 🔥 for eternity. Another: I don't believe God created people to be his slaves but to have a relationship with him, to be able to choose freely to love him, to think and discuss and understand his Principles of Life.

  8. Pete, thank you for raising very important questions. Here's additional:
    1 Corinthians 10:16 (NKJV)
    16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

    "It has been assumed that all references to "breaking bread" (Luke 24:35, Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 10:16) in the New Testament are referring to a common meal and never refer to the Lord's Supper. As a result, it is denied that the "breaking of the bread" in Acts 2:42 and "to break bread" in Acts 20:7, refer to the Lord's Supper.

    In Luke 24:13-35 (after His resurrection), Jesus sat with some of His disciples, took bread and broke it (Luke 24:30). They later told the apostles how Jesus had been made known to them in breaking of bread (Luke 24:35). This was obviously a common meal because the church had not yet been established (see Matthew 26:29; Acts 2) - the time when the Lord would be the host of His table.

    In Acts 2:42 we read, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." This verse summarizes the practice of the brethren after the establishment of the church. Notice the spiritual nature of every item: doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3), fellowship (1 John 1:3-7), breaking bread (Acts 20:7), and prayers (Acts 12:5). The Greek uses the definite article "the," making the phrase to read, "the breaking of the bread." It does not refer to just any bread, but to a specific bread, a special bread. This verse is obviously a reference to the Lord's Supper.
    "In Acts 2:42 we read, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." This verse summarizes the practice of the brethren after the establishment of the church. Notice the spiritual nature of every item: doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3), fellowship (1 John 1:3-7), breaking bread (Acts 20:7), and prayers (Acts 12:5). The Greek uses the definite article "the," making the phrase to read, "the breaking of the bread." It does not refer to just any bread, but to a specific bread, a special bread. This verse is obviously a reference to the Lord's Supper."


    Whether this statement is correct or not, isn't it imperative that we clearly understand what "breaking of Bread" means, and how it relates or does not relate to the Sabbath- especially in view of it's being used as Scriptural justification for Sunday worship?

    Aren't we advised that we would have to give an account of our faith?


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