Does Acts 20 Verse 7 Refer To The Feast Of Firstfruits?

In the Truth of Lifesection on the official WMSCOG website, the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) claims that the apostles of Jesus Christ observed the Sabbath on Saturday.  I always understood that after Jesus’s death, the day of worship was changed to Sunday not only because Jesus fulfilled the old Law (Luke24:44, Romans 3:21), but because Jesus Christ resurrected, appeared to his apostles and ascended on the first day of the week, Sunday, thus establishing a pattern of Sunday as a holy day.  The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, was also on a Sunday.

Sunday Worship in Scripture?

The Bible clearly documents that Christians gathered on Sunday in the following verse:

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. Acts 20:7

A WMSCOG member tried to explain this Bible passage of the Apostles meeting on the first day of the week to me by saying they were keeping the Feast of Firstfruits (which occurs during the Festival of Unleavened Bread), by directing me to Acts 20:6:

But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Acts 20:6

When Does the Feast of Firstfruits Occur?

In order to determine if the first day of the week in Acts 20:7 points to the Feast of Firstfruits, we should examine how the feast dates were calculated according to God’s Law for the Israelites in the Old Testament.  Leviticus 23 lays out each of the feasts for us and how they are to be kept:

The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast…  [Offering the Firstfruits] The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. Leviticus 23:5-11

Just to recap, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days and the Feast of Firstfruits is celebrated on the next Sunday (the day after the Sabbath).  This is exactly how the WMSCOG calculates these two feasts as shown in the table below.  So, now that we know how to calculate the feasts, we can look again at Acts to see if the Apostles were really keeping the Feast of Firstfruits, or if they were worshiping on Sunday.  Will my friend’s argument hold up?

Where Was Paul?

As seen earlier, Acts 20:6 tells us that Paul sets sail after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and joins the others in Tras in five daysActs 20:6 also tells us that Paul and the others stayed in Troas for seven daysActs 20:7 tells us that Paul gathered with the people in Troas on the first day of the week, Sunday and intended to leave the next day, which would be Monday.  To illustrate that the first day of the week, or Sunday, that Paul gathered with the people in Troas could not have been the day of Firstfruits we can go ahead and add the days up:

Day Day of Week Feast WMS Held WMS Held
Passover Wed (Lev 23:5) 14th day of the 1st month Passover 2003 Wednesday April 16th 2006 Wednesday April 12th
#1 Thur (Lev 23:6) 15th day Feast of Unleavened Bread Unleavened Bread April 17th Unleavened Bread April 13th
2 Friday
3 Saturday Sabbath
4 Sunday (Lev 23:11) Feast of Firstfruits Resurrection Day April 20th Resurrection Day April 16th
5 Monday
6 Tuesday
#7 Wednesday Last day of Unleavened Bread
#1 Thursday (Acts 20:6) Paul sets sail to arrive in Troas in 5 days
2 Friday
3 Saturday Sabbath at sea?
4 Sunday
#5/1 Monday (Acts 20:6) Paul arrives and begins his 7 day stay in Troas
2 Tuesday
3 Wednesday
4 Thursday
5 Friday
6 Saturday
#7 Sunday (Acts 20:7) Paul gathers with disciples to break bread before departing the next day
Monday Paul Departs from Troas
Key
Feast of Unleavened Bread
Paul arrives in Troas
Five day sail to Troas and Sabbath at Sea
Paul’s seven day stay in Troas

In Acts 20:7 it clearly states that Paul planned to depart the next day and since they gathered on Sunday, we can simply count backwards from that point (Monday), and work our way up the table back to the Passover.  Now, not only were the Apostles not gathered on the Feast of Firstfruits which wasn’t until a week later, but also note that Paul did not celebrate the Sabbath.

The WMSCOG vs Scripture

The WMSCOG however states that “the apostles kept the Sabbath day by worshipping God in spirit and in truth, following Jesus Christ’s example”, citing Luke 4:16 where Jesus goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath and reads from the Bible.  Obviously Paul did not follow this example because he was out to sea on the Sabbath day and not in the synagogue.  The scriptures in Acts provide irrefutable proof that the Saturday observance of the Sabbath day was not kept by the apostles after Jesus died on the cross.

Paul Misses the Sabbath

As demonstrated above, Paul did not keep the Sabbath because he was at sea. This is irrefutable proof that the Apostles did not keep the Sabbath. How much more evidence do you need?

Will Those Who Do Not Keep Saturday Sabbath Observance Be Saved?

Not according to the WMSCOG:

“The saints, who will be saved on the last day, the day of God’s judgment, are those who follow in Jesus’s footsteps.  The Sabbath day, one of Christ’s footmarks, is a very precious commandment of God.” ©WMSCOG English WATV.org – Accessed on 04/21/2011.

If you believe the above statement that the WMSCOG makes on their official website, then you must believe that Paul, despite his fervent ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ, will not be saved by God on the last day??? Either the Bible is right, or the WMSCOG is right.  Since we have just proved from Scripture that the Apostle Paul did not keep the Sabbath, then what does that say about what the WMSCOG preaches on their official homepage?

Conclusion

Not only was my friend wrong, that Acts 20:7 does not refer to the Feast of Firstfruits (it was a week later), but we also saw that Paul did not keep the Sabbath. Thus, Scripture stands in clear contradiction to this WMSCOG sermon.  The WMSCOG claims to be lead by “god”, but they get it wrong on Scripture all the time.   If you are a current member, you owe it to yourself and to God to leave this organization which is blasphemous to our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and fulfilled the Old Testament law.

“know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith inChrist and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16

5 Comments

  • i think it is important to note that the church believes that the feast of u.b is one day in the NT according to MArk 2:19-20. so that would change the calculations a bit thought the result would still show Paul didnt keep the sabbath and also FF. BUt this is my delimma, at that time i believe Paul was under the Julian calendar, which means though we calculated from the basic Jewish calendar the day might be different as it is for us now. with out knowing those calculations from the Julian Calendar we cannot know the exact days of pauls trip and celebration of the feast. i hope that makes since. Pls respond and let me know what u think.

    • Hello Explained Titan,
      Like you said, the days of the week would not be affected so the calculations would still show that Paul did not keep the Feast of Firstfruits. Besides, the World Mission Society Church of God uses the “sacred calendar” to calculate the dates of their “feasts” despite the fact that the rest of society follows the Gregorian Calendar. I hope this helps. I would suggest starting a thread in the forum so that others can contribute to this topic.

    • The way I understand it is the Feast of UL bread only 1 day long. However, it doesn’t disrupt the calculation because the Feast of First Fruits is always on the 1st day following the 1st Sabbath after PO.

      Let’s say today, 2/11 is PO. 2/12 is the Feast of UL. 2/16 is the Feast of FF.
      Let’s say 2/13 is PO. 2/14 is the Feast of UL. 2/16 is the Feast of FF.

      My question lies.. How do you know the PO Paul supposedly kept was on a Saturday? I’m genuinely confused.

  • I have the same question. I have a friend who is in this cult and I can obviously see through the chart above that he could not have celebrated those feasts but I still am confused on how we know the days of the week to start counting. I would really appreciate a breakdown of calculating this out.

  • so…what is the exact day the apostles worship/remember/remind us/yada yada Jesus’ resurrection?