A READER asks this question: “What reason have you for saying that the meeting of Acts 20:6 was held on Saturday night and that a part of Sunday was spent in traveling?”
The Bible day, unlike the modern day, begins at the setting of the sun. That this is true is shown by several texts of Scripture. In the first chapter of Genesis we find repeatedly the expression, “The evening and the morning were the first day,” “The evening and the morning were the second day,” etc. This alone would of course not be conclusive, though it is suggestive. But in Leviticus 23:32 we find the express command: “From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” That the “even” here referred to was marked by the setting of the sun is evident from Mark 1:32: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were disease,” etc. The connection shows that the setting of the sun marked the close of the Sabbath, which, according to the commandment, was and is, the seventh day.
The texts cited establish clearly the fact that the Bible day commences with the even, that is, at the setting of the sun. The meeting at Troas was on the first day of the week. It was likewise an evening meeting, for “there were many lights in the upper chamber.”
But, according to the Bible, the evening of the first day of the week is not what we call Sunday evening, but what corresponds to our Saturday evening. This conclusion is unavoidable. It follows therefore that “a part of Sunday was spent, by Paul and his company, in traveling,” for the record is, that after healing the young man who fell from the window, Paul “talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.” While of Luke and his companions we read: “We went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul; for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.”
The only reasonable conclusion to be arrived at from a careful reading of the whole account of the visit to Troas, is that arriving at Troas early on Sunday, Paul and is company spent an entire week there. At the close of the Sabbath, Luke and his companions sailed for Assos, but Paul tarried over night, held a farewell meeting with the church at Troas, and then went on foot to Assos, where he met his companions who had made the much longer journey by water. The twentieth chapter of Acts affords not even a hint of Sunday sacredness, but rather the contrary.
The view here presented is not peculiar to observers of the seventh day, but is identical with that presented by Conybeare and Howson, in their “Life and Epistle of the Apostle Paul,” so far as the time of the Troas meeting and the Bible day are concerned.