Revelation 1:10 begins with, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day” (NKJV, unless otherwise noted).
Some believe this refers to Sunday, while others believe this has to do with the “Day of the Lord”. Are either of those views correct? Are there any other verses in the Bible that mention the "Lord's Day." This article provides scriptures that should help answer that question.
It also has a section from a Catholic publication that comes to essentially the same conclusions.
Many have suggested that the expression ‘Lord’s Day’ in Revelation 1:10 refers to Sunday. For example, Matthew Henry’s Commentary and the Wycliffe Bible Commentary both state Revelation 1:10 is referring to the first day of the week or Sunday, though neither provide any scriptural proof.
Also four out of the last four NKJV Bibles I looked at (The Nelson Study Bible, Vine’s, The MacArthur’s Study Bible, and Ryrie) list Acts 20:7, and only Acts 20:7, as the cross-reference scripture (a verse to clarify the meaning) related to the expression ‘Lord’s Day’ in Revelation 1:10.
Acts 20:7 itself states,
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
While Acts 20:7 does mention the first day of the week, it does not mention the term ‘Lord’ much less the expression ‘Lord’s Day’. And it is talking about a Saturday night, and not a Sunday morning.
Actually, the term ‘Lord’ (Κυριω in the Greek) is not even mentioned until verse 19 of Acts 20, which the context shows occurs several days later (either on Wednesday or Thursday—and no one has claimed that these are “the Lord’s Day”).
Thus, there is no obvious biblical support to the idea that ties Revelation 1:10 to the first day of the week mentioned in Acts 20:7.
The New Testament, however, does tell us which day is the Lord’s Day as far as worship is concerned:
The verses in Mark and Matthew are also consistent with the Old Testament:
Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28).
For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:3).
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:11).
If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable (Isaiah 58:13).
So, if we look into the verses of the entire Bible, it is clear that the Bible supports the idea that the Lord’s Day would be the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, and never Sunday.
Although this disagrees with many Protestant scholars, when some of the apostles disagreed with some of the religious scholars of their day,
Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men ” (Acts 5:29).
Hence, while it is clear that the actual Lord’s Day is the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday), this still does not answer the other question-- is Revelation 1:10 referring to the Lord’s Day or the Day of the Lord?
Perhaps it should also be mentioned that a 2nd century collection of writings (which contains some erroneous doctrines), related to the Apostle John, has the following:
John … on the seventh day, it being the Lord's day, he said to them: Now it is time for me also to partake of food. …
John went to Ephesus, and regulated all the teaching of the church, holding many conferences, and reminding them of what the Lord had said to them, and what duty he had assigned to each. (Acts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Translated by Alexander Walker. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe)
While the above is not scripture, notice that it identifies the “Lord’s Day” as the seventh day of the week. And the idea that the seventh day if the Lord’s Day is consistent with Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:8 Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5 stating He is “Lord of the Sabbath” day.
Referring to Revelation 1:10, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:
And so here is the very KEYNOTE verse, sounding the THEME of the whole Revelation! And it is here that most people begin to stumble, and to misunderstand!
The theme is THE DAY OF THE LORD. Let us read it: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet" (verse 10).
As this is not understood, endless controversy and strife and confusion have come from arguing as to whether the day of the WEEK on which John WROTE this message was Saturday or Sunday. John was NOT referring to any day of the week.
The day of the week on which this happened to be written—IF it could have been all written within one day—is not important, and that is not what this verse means at all. It does NOT refer to any day of the week—but to that prophetic period referred to in more than 30 prophecies as "The great and terrible DAY OF THE LORD."
As Greek scholar Adolf Deissmann wrote, the grammar and connection both favor the view "according to which 'the day of the Lord' here stands for the day of Yahweh: the day of Judgment" (Encyclopedia Biblica, article "Lord's Day"). New Testament and textual scholar F.J.A. Hort agrees that this meaning fits "best with the context" and "gives the key to the book" (The Apocalypse, pp. 15-16).
In spirit—in VISION—John was carried forward some 1900 years—projected into the DAY OF THE LORD—during the time which is now just AHEAD OF US, to occur in this present generation!
The "Day of the Lord" is described by the Prophet Joel as a time when God will send DESTRUCTION upon the unrighteous and sinning nations of the world. It is described by Zephaniah as the day of GOD'S WRATH. It is described all through the Revelation as the time when God Almighty will soon, now, step in and supernaturally INTERVENE in this hellish strife and friction and destruction among men, and send PLAGUES upon the sinners of the earth! It is the time which FOLLOWS the Great Tribulation, and leads up to and CLIMAXES in the glorious SECOND COMING OF CHRIST!
The house of John is John's house. The Day of the Lord is the Lord's DAY. Listen to the translations of two Greek scholars and translators:
In the Rotherham translation: "I came to be, in Spirit, IN the Lord's Day." The Concordant version: "I came to be, in Spirit, IN the Lord's Day." (Armstrong HW. The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last).”
Protestant scholar J.A. Seiess wrote:
John...says he "was in Spirit in the Lord's day," in which he beheld what he afterward wrote. What is meant by this "Lord's day"? Some answer, Sunday, the first day of the week; but I am not satisfied with this explanation...the Scriptures nowhere call it "the Lord's day." None of the Christian writings for 100 years after Christ ever call it "the Lord's day." But there is a "Day of the Lord" largely treated of by prophets, apostles, and fathers, the meaning of which is abundantly clear and settled. It is that day in which, Isaiah says, people shall hide in the rocks for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty; the day which Joel describes as the day of destruction from the Almighty, when the Lord shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; the day to which the closing chapter of Malachi refers as the day that shall burn as an oven, and in which the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings; the day which Paul proclaimed from Mars' Hill as that in which God will judge the world, concerning which he so earnestly exhorted the Thessalonians, and which was not to come until after a great apostasy from the faith, and the ripening of the wicked for destruction; the day in the which, Peter says, the heavens shall be changed, the elements melt, the earth burn, and all present orders of things give way to new heavens and a new earth; even "the day for which all other days were made." And on that day I understand John to say, he in some sense was. In the mysteries of prophetic rapport, which the Scriptures describe as "in Spirit," and which Paul declared inexplicable, he was caught out of himself, and out of his proper place and time, and stationed amid the stupendous scenes of the great day of God, and made to see the actors in them, and to look upon them transpiring before his eyes, that he might write what he saw, and give it to the churches.
This is what I understand by his being "in Spirit in the Lord's day." (from The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
The late John Ogwyn wrote:
The Day of the Lord
Most commentators completely misunderstand Revelation 1:10. As a result, they do not understand the perspective from which the entire book was written. When John declared that he was in the Spirit in the Lord’s Day (Note that, elsewhere in the New Testament, the Greek word en is almost always translated "in," though many wrongly render it here as "on"), he was not talking about the day of the week on which he received the prophecy. Rather, he was describing the future prophetic time that he saw in vision—a time when God will intervene powerfully in end-time world affairs. John’s perspective in writing Revelation was this vision of the future (Ogywn J. Revelation The Mystery Unveiled!, 2006, p. 6).
Thus, it appears that many believe that the proper way to understand the expression ‘Lord’s Day’ in Revelation 1:10, is that it is not referring to a day of the week, but is referring to the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord is referred to in several places throughout the Bible. Since it seems that Revelation 1:10 was referring to the Day of the Lord, it is logical to see if the day of the Lord is otherwise referred to in Revelation.
Revelation 6:12-17 states,
I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
And notice Joel 2:30-31,
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
Joel thus shows that the time in Revelation is called, “the day of the LORD” in the Old Testament. It should perhaps be noted that when the New Testament quotes an Old Testament verse which uses the term LORD (Yahveh) it is most frequently quoted as Lord. And that is precisely how verse 31 is rendered in Acts 2:20, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come” (KJV).
Joel 1:15 states,
Zephaniah shows us,
Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty”.
The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. "I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse" (Zephaniah 1:14-17).
Isaiah talks about the same time,
Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, Every man's heart will melt, And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; They will be amazed at one another;Their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. "I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens,And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:6-13).
More on the Lord's Day can be found in the article When Can the Great Tribulation Begin?
The following is from the Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893:
References to “Day of the Lord” or “Lord’s Day”
The first text of this class is to be found in the Acts of the Apostles 2:20: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord shall come.” How many Sundays have rolled by since that prophecy was spoken? So much for that effort to pervert the meaning of the sacred text from the judgment day to Sunday!
The second text of this class is to be found in 1 Cor. 1:8: “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What simpleton does not see that the apostle here plainly indicates the day of judgment? The next text of this class that presents itself is to be found in the same Epistle, chapter 5:5: “To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The incestuous Corinthian was, of course, saved on the Sunday next following!! How pitiable such a makeshift as this! The fourth text, 2 Cor. 1:13,14: “And I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.“
Sunday or the day of judgment, which? The fifth text is from St. Paul to the Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” The good people of Philippi, in attaining perfection on the following Sunday, could afford to laugh at our modern rapid transit!
We beg to submit our sixth of the class; viz., Philippians, first chapter, tenth verse: “That he may be sincere without offense unto the day of Christ.” That day was next Sunday, forsooth! Not so long to wait after all.
The seventh text, 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” The application of this text to Sunday passes the bounds of absurdity.
The eighth text, 2 Peter 3:12: “Waiting for and hastening unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved,” etc. This day of the Lord is the same referred to in the previous text, the application of both of which to Sunday next would have left the Christian world sleepless the next Saturday night.
We have presented to our readers eight of the nine texts relied on to bolster up by text of Scripture the sacrilegious effort to palm off the “Lord’s day” for Sunday, and with what result? Each furnishes prima facie evidence of the last day, referring to it directly, absolutely, and unequivocally.
The ninth text wherein we meet the expression “the Lord’s day,” is the last to be found in the apostolic writings. The Apocalypse, or Revelation, chapter 1:10, furnishes it in the following words of John: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day“; but it will afford no more comfort to our Biblical friends than its predecessors of the same series. Has St. John used the expression previously in his Gospel or Epistles?—Emphatically, NO. Has he had occasion to refer to Sunday hitherto?—Yes, twice. How did he designate Sunday on these occasions? Easter Sunday was called by him (John 20:1) “the first day of the week.”
Again, chapter twenty, nineteenth verse: “Now when it was late that same day, being the first day of the week.” Evidently, although inspired, both in his Gospel and Epistles, he called Sunday “the first day of the week.” On what grounds, then, can it be assumed that he dropped that designation? Was he more inspired when he wrote the Apocalypse, or did he adopt a new title for Sunday, because it was now in vogue?
A reply to these questions would be supererogatory especially to the latter, seeing that the same expression had been used eight times already by St. Luke, St. Paul and St. Peter, all under divine inspiration, and surely the Holy Spirit would not inspire St. John to call Sunday the Lord’s day, whilst He inspired Sts. Luke, Paul, and Peter, collectively, to entitle the day of judgment “the Lord’s day.” Dialecticians reckon amongst the infallible motives of certitude, the moral motive of analogy or induction, by which we are enabled to conclude with certainty from the known to the unknown; being absolutely certain of the meaning of an expression, it can have only the same meaning when uttered the ninth time, especially when we know that on the nine occasions the expressions were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Nor are the strongest intrinsic grounds wanting to prove that this, like its sister texts, containing the same meaning. St. John (Rev. 1:10) says “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day“; but he furnishes us the key to this expression, chapter four, first and second verses: “After this I looked and behold a door opened in heaven.” A voice said to him: “Come up hither, and I will show you the things which must be hereafter.” Let us ascend in spirit with John. Whither?—through that “door in heaven,” to heaven. And what shall we see?—”The things that must be hereafter,” chapter four, first verse. He ascended in spirit to heaven. He was ordered to write, in full, his vision of what is to take place antecedent to, and concomitantly with, “the Lord’s day,” or the day of judgment; the expression “Lord’s day” being confined in Scripture to the day of judgment exclusively.
We have studiously and accurately collected from the New Testament every available proof that could be adduced in favor of a law canceling the Sabbath day of the old law, or one substituting another day for the Christian dispensation. We have been careful to make the above distinction, lest it might be advanced that the third (6) commandment was abrogated under the new law. Any such plea has been overruled by the action of the Methodist Episcopal bishops in their pastoral 1874, and quoted by the New York Herald of the same date, of the following tenor:
“The Sabbath instituted in the beginning and confirmed again and again by Moses and the prophets has never been abrogated. A part of the moral law, not a part or tittle of its sanctity has been taken away.” The above official pronouncement has committed that large body of Biblical Christians to the permanence of the third commandment under the new law. We again beg to leave to call the special attention of our readers to the twentieth of “the thirty-nine articles of religion” of the Book of Common Prayer; “It is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s written word.“
We have in this series of articles, taken much pains for the instruction of our readers to prepare them by presenting a number of undeniable facts found in the word of God to arrive at a conclusion absolutely irrefragable. When the Biblical system put in an appearance in the sixteenth century, it not only seized on the temporal possessions of the Church, but in its vandalic crusade stripped Christianity, as far as it could, of all the sacraments instituted by its Founder, of the holy sacrifice, etc., retaining nothing but the Bible, which its exponents pronounced their sole teacher in Christian doctrine and morals. Chief amongst their articles of belief was, and is today, the permanent neces.
The preceding was part of a series on articles in the Catholic Mirror which explained that the seventh-day Sabbath, on the day we now call Saturday, is the only scripturally defensible day of rest. More from the Catholic Mirror is in the article The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad. The full text of the Catholic Mirror series is found in the article The Christian Sabbath.
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).
And that is when Paul observed it. As Acts 13:42-44 shows, "the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God." Also Acts 18:4 states, "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."
John ended up being a leader of the Church in Asia Minor. Specifically, Ephesus and Asia Minor. John, and a claimed follower of his named Polycarp, kept the Saturday Sabbath. There is no direct, nor indirect, historical evidence that John and other true Christians ever observed Sunday.
Consider, for historical purposes, the following:
Another evidence from the mid second century of continuant Sabbath observance comes from the apocryphal work Acts of John where seventh-day Sabbath is mentioned as being a true “Lord's day”. (Zivadinovic D. REVISED and CORRECTED "SABBATH in the EAST. "Andrews University, c. 2016)
John … on the seventh day, it being the Lord's day, he said to them: Now it is time for me also to partake of food. (Acts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Translated by Alexander Walker. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe)
Even the Protestant scholars Roberts and Donaldson noted that John's practices could be considered supportive of the idea that the Sabbatarians were correct. They mentioned the following in a dispute about Passover which John kept:,
...on the fourteenth day of the moon. But to the Jews the Apostles became "as Jews" in all things tolerable, so long as the Temple stood, and while the bishops of Jerusalem were labouring to identify the Paschal Lamb with their Passover. The long survival of St. John among Jewish Christians led them to prolong this usage, no doubt, as sanctioned by his example...Those who in our own times have revived the observance of the Jewish Sabbath, show us how much may be said on their side, and elucidate the tenacity of the Easterns in resisting the abolition of the Mosaic ordinance as to the Paschal, although they agreed to keep it "not with the old leaven." (Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).
Roberts and Donaldson immediately continued with,
Our author belonged to a family in which he was the eighth Christian bishop; and he presided over the church of Ephesus, in which the traditions of St. John were yet fresh in men's minds at the date of his birth. He had doubtless known Polycarp, and Irenaeus also. He seems to have presided over a synod of Asiatic bishops (A.D. 196) which came together to consider this matter of the Paschal feast. It is surely noteworthy that nobody doubted that it was kept by a Christian and Apostolic ordinance. So St. Paul argues from its Christian observance, in his rebuke of the Corinthians. They were keeping it "unleavened" ceremonially, and he urges a spiritual unleavening as more important. The Christian hallowing of Pentecost connects with the Paschal argument. The Christian Sabbath hinges on these points (Ibid).
The "author" they are referring to is Polycrates, who claimed to continue what most Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox would consider to be Jewish practices. The points they are referring to is that if the Passover should be kept on the exact day and John did that as Polycrates wrote, then the Sabbath should also be kept on the exact day, the seventh day.
Polycrates wrote this to the Roman Bishop Victor,
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man'...I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus" (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).
In other words, Polycrates is insisting that he and other leaders always kept such 'Jewish' practices as the Passover on the exact day (the 14th of Nisan) and the days of unleavened bread and that they learned this from Holy Scripture and from John. Those who did not do that, he implies, would be obeying men rather than God. And actually, Protestants and Orthodox like to cite this passage from Polycrates to show that many in the 2nd Century did not accept the authority of the Roman bishops. But what do they do about keeping Passover or the days of unleavened bread?
Polycrates also mentioned Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp is considered to be a true saint by Catholics, Orthodox, and others. According to the letter The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans, "on the day of the preparation, at the hour of dinner, there came out pursuers and horsemen" and the Polycarp was killed "on the day of the great Sabbath". The use of these two expressions ("day of the preparation" and "the day of the great Sabbath" strongly indicates that those in Smyrna (a Gentile filled area) were still keeping the Sabbath around 156 A.D. (the approximate date of Polycarp's martyrdom).
Although true Christians do not consider the Gospel of Thomas to be scripture, the following passage from it shows that the sabbath was being observed in the 2nd Century, and that the observance of the Sabbath was considered to be of great importance:
...If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father (Patterson S, Meyer M. The "Scholars' Translation" of the Gospel of Thomas. Verse 27. Scholars Version translation of the Gospel of Thomas taken from *The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version.* Copyright 1992, 1994 by Polebridge Press).
Sabbath-keeping in Asia Minor was publicly still going on to at least 364 A.D. or else the Eastern Church would not have convened a Council in Laodicea to excommunicate any who rested on the seventh day. This still did not stop all Sabbath keeping. Around 404 A.D. Jerome noted,
...the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e....keeping the Jewish Sabbath…there exists a sect among… the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of , the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe...
Yet, Jerome considered them to be part of “a most pestilential heresy.”
But it was not just Jewish Christians keeping the Sabbath as Sozomen reported in the mid-5th Century,
The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.
And Sabbath-keeping has existed throughout history (even Roberts and Donaldson refer to it in the 1800s).
The simple reality is that since John and those truly in the Church were diligent to keep Passover on the 14th of Nisan (more information is in the article on Polycrates), as well as the Sabbath, this further demonstrates that John could not have been referring to Sunday in Revelation 1:10. (More information on church history can be found in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Rome, Ephesus & Smyrna.)
Although this article has discussed the context of Revelation 1:10, let's once again repeat it, but look for additional clues within the verse itself,
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (KJV).
Notice that this day has something to do with a great voice, like a trumpet.
Look what Paul said about Jesus' return,
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God" (1 Thes 4:16).
Similarly, Jesus also taught,
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).
Does someone wish to argue that Paul or Jesus are talking about Sunday?
There is nothing in the context to suggest that Revelation 1:10 is either.
Several have written that expression “the Lord’s Day” for Sunday entered the Greco-Roman churches from Mithraism. Here is what Thomas H. Greer wrote:
Mithra was also associated with the sun, and his followers marked Sunday as his day of worship. They called it the "Lord's Day," for Mithra was known to them as Lord (Greer T. A brief history of Western man, 3rd edition. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977; Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Apr 27, 2006, p. 121).
Interestingly I also ran across some writings from the late Martin Luther King. Jr. on Mithraism that he apparently wrote on February 15, 1950:
Mithraism...was suppressed by the Christians sometime in the latter part of the fourth century A.D.: but its collapse seems to have been due to the fact that by that time many of its doctrines had been adopted by the church, so that it was practically absorbed by its rival.
...the Church made a sacred day out of Sunday partially because...of the resurrection. But when we observe a little further we find that as a solar festival, Sunday was the sacred day of Mithra: it is also interesting to notice that since Mithra was addressed as Lord, Sunday must have been "the Lord's Day" long before Christian use. It is also to be noticed that our Christmas, December 25th, was the birthday of Mithra, and was only taken over in the Fourth Century as the date, actually unknown, of the birth of Jesus.
To make the picture a little more clear, we may list a few of the similarities between these two religions: (1) Both regard Sunday as a Holy Day. (2) December 25 came to be considered as the anniversary of the birth of Mithra and Christ also. (3) Baptism and a ritual meal were important parts of both groups...
In summary we may say that the belief in immortality, a mediator between god and man, the observance of certain sacramental rites...were common to Mithraism and Christianity. (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 307, 309.)
Notice that Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly understood that the Sunday churches dropped the Sabbath, that "the Lord's Day" essentially first meant the day of Mithra, and that the worlds' churches did adopt many practices from Mithraism. It also is likely that the first references to the "Lord's day" in semi-Gnostic literature was the result of some interaction between Mithraism and those who made some profession of Christianity.
For more on Mithraism, please see the article Do You Practice Mithraism?
The Gnostics had a system involving the number 8, which they called the ogdoad. And while this was condemned as a Gnostic heresy by Roman and Eastern Orthodox saint Irenaeus (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 1, Verses 1-3), it still got adopted.
Catholic scholar and Priest Bagatti wrote:
The application of these principles, of Platonic or Pythagorean origin, to Christianity introduced a great diversity of views…In this system were admitted as personified the tetrad (= 4), namely, the four fundamental elements of the cosmos, become through application synonymous with the cross…the ogdoad was referred to Christ-Day for which reason the eighth day was called the ‘Lord’s Day’… (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 149)
So, pagan Greek concepts, that the Gnostics adopted, apparently combined some information from Mithraism, ended up in the Lord's Day.
The New Testament and most early church-related writings were almost exclusively written in Greek. The Greek expression translated as Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10 are the words Κυριακη ἡμέρᾳ (note: All New Testament Greek in this article is based on J.P. Green's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, 3rd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2002--Strong's Concordance does not always use the precise Greek word) which literally means the Lord's Day or Day of the Lord.
Note these are nearly identical to the words ἡμέρᾳν Κυριου which in Acts 2:20 are translated as "day of the Lord" (the context of the statements require a slightly different word order and form, but both would still be translated the same in English. But let's explain this with an example from English. Suppose John marries Lisa. In English, most people would say that the expressions "wife of John" and "John's wife" are referring to Lisa--not that one expression means something else--this is the same in Greek).
Both Revelation 1:10 and Acts 2:20 also include the same Greek word μεγαλην (which both translate as great) which suggests that something is great about both days (see also Matthew 24:31). Which is true, these verses are referring to the Day of the Lord, a great day with a great trumpet sound.
There actually is one 21st Century translation of the New Testament that does translate Revelation 1:10 correctly. It is called A Faithful Version (York Publishing. Hollister (CA), 2003). Here its translation of Revelation 1:10:
I was in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord; and I heard a loud voice like a trumpet behind me.
It may be of interest to note that the first known reference to not observing the seventh day Sabbath by one associated with Christianity was by Marcion in Rome. Nearly all Protestant, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic researchers consider that Marcion was a major Gnostic heretic. Should any rely on major heretics be the basis of the true Christian faith?
The first true reference to Sun-day worship was around 150 A.D. by Justin Martyr (over a century after Jesus' death and about 1/2 century after John died). And he used the expression τῇ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ which literally means "On the Helios said (called) day" (Helios was a Greek sun god). Justin did not use the expression Κυριακη as it was simply not accepted for the first day of the week when John wrote Revelation 1:10. Most of the Protestant, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic faiths , if they studied Justin, would conclude that Justin made many statements that are heretical and notice that he admitted that there were Christians who continued in practices he considered to be Jewish and that he did not care to associate with them (for documented proof, please see the article Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate?).
It should be noted that some (mainly 19th century scholars and those who have perpetuated their mistranslations) have intentionally mistranslated the term κυριακήν in The Didache and Ignatius' Letter to the Magnesians as "Lord's day", but all scholars will acknowledge the Greek word for day (ἡμέρᾳ) is missing in the text (I have the text in Greek and can also verify that--other scholars have realized this as well as is documented in the article The Didache and Ignatius' Letter to the Magnesians ). Also, real (as opposed to improperly biased) scholars will admit that κυριακήν is more literally translated as "Lord's way" than "Lord's day" ("Lord's day" is a stretch that the term does not literally support). In the Didache, the Greek expression normally translated by 19th Century Protestant scholars as "On the Lord's day" is Κατα κυριακήν δε κυριου, which literally means "According to the Lord' way, even the Lords", and not "Lord's day" (the context actually appears to actually be referring to the Christian Passover). In Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, `κυριακήν should be translated as “Lord’s way” or combined with the Greek word that follows it , ζωντες, “Lord’s way of life” or “Lord’s living” (see the article The Didache and Ignatius' Letter to the Magnesians for more details and comments from other scholars).
Interestingly, the the first early document that uses the expression "Lord's day" and specifically ties it to a day of the week is the apocryphal Gospel of Peter which neither Catholics, Protestants, etc. accept as inspired. No scholar believes that Peter the apostle wrote it (Peter died around 65 A.D.). One researcher noted this about when it was written,
Ultimately, the only certain fact about the date of the origin of the Gospel of Peter is that it was written before 190 C.E. (at that time, Serapion, the bishop of Antioch, condemned it by name). How long before cannot be determined with any degree of certainty (Bernhard A. Gospel of Peter, Additional Information. http://gospels.net/additional/peteradditional.html 09/15/05).
Although no one knows when it was written (and other sources indicate that Serapion did not denounce it until possibly 203), it most certainly over a century since Jesus died and decades after John died. Surely God would not expect Christians to rely on a late non-inspired writing as proof of a change that is not discussed in the Bible.
The simple truth is that there is not one verse in the entire Bible that suggests that Sunday is the Lord's Day. The New Testament verse that mentions the expression Lord's day (or Day of the Lord) is Revelation 1:10. One cannot build a biblically supportable argument on one verse taken out of context.
It is only because of mistranslations, heretical writings, influence of non-Christians, and traditions of men, that anyone could have ever suggested that the verse in Revelation 1:10 has anything to do with Sunday.
From a strictly biblical perspective, the only ‘Lord’s Day’ is the seventh day Sabbath. It was Jesus who specifically claimed to be "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28).
There is simply nothing in the context of the Book of Revelation to suggest that a particular day of the week, like Sunday, is being referred to. The only way people can see that the Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10 means Sunday is because they read something into the verse that is not there nor supported anywhere else in the Bible. There are also no direct references to any Sunday morning church service in any of the books of the Bible.
The Book of Revelation is prophetic (Revelation 1:1-3). The prophesies include events leading up to, as well as after, the time referred to in the Bible as the ‘Day of The Lord.’ The Book of Revelation specifically lists events that the Old Testament prophets stated would be near the ‘Day of the Lord’.
Hence it is clear that Revelation 1:10 is not talking about Sunday as certain theologians suggest. Instead, the Book of Revelation lists many events that occur around the prophesied “Day of the Lord". And that is the biblically logical conclusion.
Do you wish to rely on the Bible or Traditions of Men?
Subjects of interest may include:
The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church.
Sunday was not observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians.
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