The author of Acts indicated that on the Sabbath day (τῇ τε ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων), they went outside (ἐξήλθομεν ἔξω) the city gate (τῆς πύλης), by the river (παρὰ ποταμὸν). They supposed that this was a place of prayer (οὗ ἐνομίζομεν προσευχὴν εἶναι). They sat down (καὶ καθίσαντες). Then they began speaking (ἐλαλοῦμεν) to the women who had gathered there (ταῖς συνελθούσαις γυναιξίν). Apparently, there were not enough Jews in Philippi to have a synagogue, where Paul would usually have gone. The custom must have been to go outside the city gates if you wanted to pray. Since it was the Sabbath day, this group of Christian missionaries wanted to pray. They gathered to pray near a river outside of town. The author of Acts continued to insert himself into this story by saying “we”, using the first-person plural. He insinuated that he was one of this group of traveling missionaries on this Sabbath day. There must have been some Jewish women who gathered there also, although there was not any mention about men here, just women. Have you ever gone to a river to pray?
that this day was the Sabbath (Ἦν δὲ σάββατον ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ). This problem of Jesus healing on the Sabbath
was a common problem in the synoptic gospels also, especially the healing of
the paralytic in Luke, chapters 6:6-11, Matthew, chapter 12:9-13,
and Mark, chapter 3:1-5, as well as the unique story of the man with
dropsy in Luke, chapter 14:1-6. John
would join the other synoptics with this story about a man at the pool being
cured on the Sabbath. Do you think that
people should be cured on Sundays?
There is less confusion about this Joseph since he is mentioned in all 4 gospel stories. This text is similar to Mark, chapter 15:43. Luke, chapter 23:50-51, mentioned that Joseph was a member of the elder’s council in Jerusalem who had not voted for the plan to destroy Jesus. John, chapter 19:38, said that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus. Matthew said that when it was evening (Ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης), a rich man from Arimathea (ἦλθεν ἄνθρωπος πλούσιος ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας), named Joseph (τοὔνομα Ἰωσήφ), who was also a disciple of Jesus (ὃς καὶ αὐτὸς ἐμαθητεύθη τῷ Ἰησοῦ) came forward. Notice that it was evening since no burials were permitted on the Sabbath or feast days. Many legends have developed around this wealthy Joseph from Arimathea, a town in Judea near Jerusalem.
Matthew has Jesus cure the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. This is similar to Mark, chapter 3:5, and Luke, chapter 6:10. After this discussion about the Sabbath, Jesus said to the man with the withered hand (τότε λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ) to stretch out his hand (Ἔκτεινόν σου τὴν χεῖρα). He then stretched out or extended his hand (καὶ ἐξέτεινεν). It was restored, so that it was just like his other hand (καὶ ἀπεκατεστάθη ὑγιὴς ὡς ἡ ἄλλη). After all this discussion, Jesus finally healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.
Matthew has Jesus respond to the Pharisees with his own example about sheep and humans. This is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 3:3-4, and Luke, chapter 6:8-9, but Matthew was the only one who compared sheep to humans. Jesus posed a question to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). Suppose a man had only one sheep (Τίς ἔσται ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος ὃς ἕξει πρόβατον ἕν). Suppose this one sheep fell into a pit or a ditch on the Sabbath (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον). Would this man not grab it and lift it out of the pit (καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ τοῦτο τοῖς σάββασιν εἰς βόθυνον)? Just think, how much more valuable are human being when compared to a sheep (πόσῳ οὖν διαφέρει ἄνθρωπος προβάτου)! Thus, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (ὥστε ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν καλῶς ποιεῖν). If you help sheep on the Sabbath, surely you can help humans on the Sabbath.
Matthew has the discussion about the Sabbath continue in the local synagogue. This is similar to Mark, chapter 3:1-2, and Luke, chapter 6:6-7. In this synagogue, there was a man with a withered or dried out hand (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος χεῖρα ἔχων ξηράν). They, the Pharisees, asked, inquired, or interrogated Jesus (καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν λέγοντες) whether it was lawful to heal, cure, or serve anyone on the Sabbath (Εἰ ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεῦσαι). They were trying to see if they could accuse or charge Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ). Jewish law allowed people to help in cases of distress on the Sabbath. Clearly, this was a trap question.
This saying is unique to Matthew. He has Jesus cite an example in Numbers, chapter 28:9-10, where there was a special sacrifice only on the Sabbath. This sacrifice had two male one-year old lambs without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering. This was the burnt offering every Sabbath. This was in addition to the regular burnt offerings and the drink offerings. However, this sacrifice was not mentioned in any other place in the Torah. Jesus asked them if they had read the law (ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ) where on the Sabbath (ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν), the priests in the temple (οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ) broke or profaned the Sabbath with these sacrifices (τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν), yet they were guiltless (καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν).
Sunday worship on the Sabbath is the key Christian ritual, with special emphasis on the Easter and Christmas ceremonies. Sunday is the day of worship rather than Saturday because Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Thus, every Sunday is a little Easter celebration. Worship centers on Bible readings and their interpretation with sermons and testimonials. Prayers, hymns, chants and the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharistic meal, remain a mainstay of most Christian worship services. The various Christian symbolic actions or sacraments grow out of a Trinitarian baptism based on a belief in Jesus Christ.
Besides the Sabbath, the other regular festival was the monthly new moon sacrifice. The lunar calendar was based on the 28-day cycle of the moon. Once again, the prince was responsible for furnishing the animals and the grain offerings, as on the Sabbath. He was to take an unblemished bull with 6 lambs and an unblemished ram for the burnt offerings. He was to offer them up with a grain offering. He too had to provide an ephah of grain (2/3rds of a bushel) with the bull and the ram. However, this prince could decide how much grain went with the lambs, but there had to be a gallon or hin of oil for each ephah of grain. The prince would enter and leave at the same gate.