As mentioned earlier in this series, some Christians believe that the Saturday Sabbath, rather than Sunday, was the main day of Christian assembly and worship until the fourth century. In support of this they cite the 13th, 16th, and 18th chapters of the Lukan Acts, which narrate that the Apostle Paul and his companions attended synagogue and preached on Sabbaths. When asked to preach again in Acts 13.42 and 44, they did not do so the next day (Sunday) but on the following Sabbath. The sabbatarian reasoning goes that Christian preaching, and therefore the main Christian community assembly to hear the word of God and worship, was on the Sabbath, not Sunday.
The relevant verses quoted for this position are:
Acts 13:14: they came to Antiochin Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down.
Acts 13:42And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 44And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Acts 16:12And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
Acts 18:4And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
The real reason the apostolic company went to the synagogue on the Sabbath was that it was when they would have the largest audience. The Saturday Sabbath was and is the main day for Jews to assemble and listen to readings from the Law of Moses and the prophets (Acts 13:15; 15:21). In this they were joined by “God-fearers”, who were Gentiles that were attracted by Jewish (and later Christian) ethics and belief in a single deity, but were not ready to formally convert to Judaism, for this required circumcision. Do not forget that visitors at synagogue were often requested to preach on the readings (Acts 13:15), which provided a splendid opportunity for evangelization not found elsewhere or on other days of the week. Remember also that in predominantly Gentile milieus Paul preached in the marketplace also, and at a sort of Hyde Parkfor discussion of metaphysical subjects (Acts 17:16-21).
It was like a retail shop in a tourist town being on the main street and open only during the summer. There is neither town bylaw requiring winter closing nor zoning regulation that shops be on the main street. Still less does the shopkeeper harbour religious convictions on the matter. It is simply because the merchant will encounter many more potential customers at such a time and place. In the same way, Paul went where and when there was the greatest opportunity of his message being heard and heeded.
Note that what Paul and companions attended on the Sabbath were Jewish synagogues. The Bible does not say they attended Christian churches then. In fact, Christians might be so busy with their own worship activities on Sunday that the Sabbath was more convenient, posed fewer time constraints, and would not interfere with the main Christian day of assembly and worship.