On the First Day of The Week… (Vos)

Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments Vos, Geerhardus cover image

There are various biblical reasons why Christians gather together on the first day of the week to worship Christ the risen king. One of the better reasons is a redemptive historical one. What does that mean? Geerhardus Vos explained this well in the section of his book Biblical Theology where he talks about the sabbath. Here’s an excerpt:

“Inasmuch as the Old Covenant was still looking forward to the performance of the Messianic work, naturally the days of labor to it come first, the day of rest falls at the end of the week. We, under the New Covenant, look back upon the accomplished work of Christ. We, therefore, first celebrate the rest in principle procured by Christ, although the Sabbath also still remains a sign looking forward to the final eschatological rest. The Old Testament people of God had to typify in their life the future developments of redemption. Consequently the precedence of labor and the consequence of rest had to find expression in their calendar.” 

“The New Testament Church has no such typical function to perform, for the types have been fulfilled. But is has a great historic event to commemorate, the performance of the work of Christ and the entrance of Him and of His people through Him upon the state of never-ending rest. We do not sufficiently realize the profound sense the early Church had of the epoch-making significance of the appearance, and especially of the resurrection of the Messiah. The latter was to them nothing less than the bringing in of a new, the second, creation. And they felt that this ought to find expression in the placing of the Sabbath with reference to the other days of the week. Believers knew themselves in a measure partakers of the Sabbath-fulfillment. If the one creation required on sequence, then the other required another.

It has been strikingly observed, that our Lord died on the eve of that Jewish Sabbath, at the end of one of these typical weeks of labor by which His work and its consummation were prefigured. And Christ entered upon His rest, the rest of His new, eternal life on the first day of the week, so that the Jewish Sabbath comes to lie between, was, as it were, disposed of, buried in His grave….”

Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 141-2.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015