Many believers think that Paul teaches that whether a believer esteems the Lord’s Day above other days is a matter of Christian liberty (Rom. 14:5-6). For several key reasons, this is a serious misapplication of Paul’s teaching in Romans 14:5-6.
Divine Consecration of One Day above the Others
In the beginning, the Lord created light and called it “Day” (Gen. 1:3-5a). He so created the universe that “the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5).
Having finished His work of creating all things in six literal 24-hour days, “God . . rested on the seventh day from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3). He then blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:3). These statements show us that even though God was the one who made all the days, He set apart one day as special above the other days.
Adam, Eve, and all others who were among God’s people prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law would thus have had direct divine activity that would have unmistakably made clear to them that they were to esteem the seventh day above the other days of the week.
Divine Mandate to Esteem One Day above the Others
Through His giving the Decalogue to Moses, God revealed to His people His command that they were to esteem the seventh day above other days:
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
We should notice that God directly ties His commands concerning the Sabbath day to what He did at creation on and concerning the seventh day. God’s people from this point until the Resurrection of Christ and the birth of the Church on Pentecost had both divine consecration and divine mandate that would direct them unmistakably to esteem one day above the other days of the week.
Divine Possession of One Day above the Others
God raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1-8) and gave Him glory so that our faith and hope might be in God (1 Pet. 1:21). Apostolic use of Psalm 118:22 in Acts 4:10-11 shows us that the Psalmist’s statements in Psalm 118 about the day which the Lord hath made are not to be taken generically to apply to every day but specifically are prophetic prediction about the first day of the week when God would raise Christ from the dead and make Him the head stone of the corner! God’s people ever after are to rejoice and be glad on the day the Lord has made—the Lord’s Day!
Furthermore, on Pentecost, God birthed the Church on the first day of the week (Acts 2). In obedience to an apostolic command (1 Cor. 16:2a), His people thereafter assembled to worship Him on the first day of every week (cf. Acts 20:7), including giving offerings for helping meet the pressing needs of His saints (1 Cor. 16:1-4). All these facts show that the first day was a special day for His NT people in many respects.
In providing His climactic revelation to mankind, however, God revealed that the first day of the week was now special to Him in a singular way unlike any other day was—it was “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10)! The Greek construction used here reveals a crucial truth:
Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Rev 1:10 ἐγενόμην ἐν Πνεύματι ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς σάλπιγγος,
In the expression τῇ Κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ (‘the Lord’s Day’), the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to use the Greek adjective kuriakos (“belonging to the Lord,” [Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 115]) to teach us that the Lord now has possessed this day in a unique way that was and is distinct from all other days.1 Yes, He created all the days of the week at Creation, but through His work of raising His Son from the dead on the first day and giving Him glory, the Lord took possession of that day in a glorious new way!
The Holy Spirit thus teaches all believers that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day that He distinctively possesses and that His people are to esteem that day above all the other days of the week. Romans 14:3-5 most definitely does not apply to how a Christian should esteem the Lord’s Day, and Christians must esteem the Lord’s Day above all other days!
1 I am indebted to my pastor Dr. Mark Minnick for his excellent teaching through which I first learned this glorious truth.