|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
Sundayby Glen E. Barksdale
Whereas the seventh or sabbath day was established as a day of rest and worship and a commemoration of the Creation (Ex. 20:10-11), the "first day of the week" Sunday, or the Lord's Day, was consecrated to remember the Atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). Moreover, a new ordinance, the Sacrament, was introduced so that Christian worshipers on that day might venerate Jesus' atoning sacrifice. For Latter-day Saints, modern revelation fixes the day of weekly worship and holy rest as "the Lord's day," which is Sunday, the first day of the week (see D&C 59:9-12).
Jesus' fulfillment of the Law of Moses brought several changes, including the practice of meeting on the first day of the week to commemorate Jesus' resurrection. That the Lord intended a change in the day of worship is suggested by certain events of his postmortal ministry. For instance, it was on the first day of the week (Sunday) that he initially appeared to the apostles (John 20:19). It was also on the first day of the week that he reappeared to these same apostles, then in company with Thomas (John 20:26). After Jesus' resurrection, it was on the day of Pentecost, a festival on the first day of the week observed by ancient Israel fifty days after Passover (cf. Lev. 23:15-16), that the assembled Saints and others received their most essential guide to eternal life, the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-12). On that day of Pentecost the apostolic ministry began with the conversion of three thousand souls through the preaching of Peter (Acts 2:37-41).
The early Christians understood the significance of this change in the day of their worship, as can be seen by their continued practice of congregating on the first day of the week: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; cf. Col. 2:16). Early Christian writers confirm the continued use of the first day of the week as the accepted new day of worship, only noting exceptions (e.g., Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.27.5). By A.D. 321, Constantine had officially designated the first day of the week as a day of rest. The word "Sunday" for the first day came from the weekly pagan worship of the sun God in Rome.
In a revelation received on August 7, 1831, a Sunday, the Lord confirmed his prescribed design in changing the day of public worship: "But remember that on this, the Lord's day [Sunday], thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High" (D&C 59:12).
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the day of the week on which they gather to pay devotion to God and his Son matters less than receiving the edification and enlightenment that may be gained from worship. This observation is confirmed, for example, by the Church's custom of worshiping weekly in countries in the Middle East on a day other than Sunday.
As President Joseph F. Smith explained, Latter-day Saints are to gather on a day to "mingle with the saints that their moral and spiritual influence may help to correct our false impressions and restore us to that life which the duties and obligations of our conscience and true religion impose upon us" (Smith, p. 243; see D&C 59:9-19).
Kittel, Gerhard, ed. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 8, pp. 1-34. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1964-1974.
Smith, Joseph F. GD, pp. 241-47. Salt Lake City, 1939.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company