Does Acts 20 Verse 7 Refer To The Feast Of Firstfruits?
In the “Truth of Life” section 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.
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.
When Does the Feast of Firstfruits Take Place?
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.
Just to recap, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days and the Feast of Firstfruits is celebrated on the following Sunday (the day after the next 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 Troas in five days. Acts 20:6 also tells us that Paul and the others stayed in Troas for seven days. Acts 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|
|4||Sunday (Lev 23:11)||Feast of Firstfruits||Resurrection Day April 20th||Resurrection Day April 16th|
|#7||Wednesday||Last day of Unleavened Bread|
|#1||Thursday (Acts 20:6)||Paul sets sail to arrive in Troas in 5 days|
|3||Saturday||Sabbath at sea?|
|#5/1||Monday (Acts 20:6)||Paul arrives and begins his 7 day stay in Troas|
|#7||Sunday (Acts 20:7)||Paul gathers with disciples to break bread before departing the next day|
|Monday||Paul Departs from Troas|
|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 observe the Sabbath. According to the WMSCOG, Sabbath observance is required for salvation. The Apostle Paul said, follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), and the Bible provides irrefutable proof that Paul was traveling by boat on the Sabbath. Remember that the Apostle Paul was a Jew before he began believing in Jesus Christ, and therefore was very familiar with the Old Testament laws and regulations. If Sabbath observance was required for salvation, surely the Apostle Paul would not have been traveling on that day.
Are WMSCOG members allowed to travel on the Sabbath? As any former member will tell you, the answer is no.
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 observance of the Sabbath on Saturday was not kept by the apostles after Jesus resurrected.
Will Those Who Do Not Keep Saturday Sabbath Observance Be Saved?
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.
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??? Either the Bible is right, or the WMSCOG is right. Since we have just proved directly from Scripture that the Apostle Paul did not keep the Sabbath, what does that say about what the WMSCOG teaches? The World Mission Society Church of God teaches a works based doctrine that is in complete opposition with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only was my friend wrong in claiming that Acts 20:7 refers to the Feast of Firstfruits (it was a week later), but the Bible demonstrates that Paul did not observe the Sabbath. Thus, Scripture stands in clear contradiction to this core belief of the WMSCOG. The World Mission Society Church of God claims to be lead by “god”, but they misinterpret Scripture all the time. If you are a current member, you owe it to yourself and to God, to leave this blasphemous and legalistic organization.
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.