Which day is the Lord’s Day?
-written specifically for our evangelical friends-
-P. R. Kreamer, editor of
The Catholic Extension Magazine.
I am continually amazed when I see Christians on the one hand believe in Sola-Scriptura (bible and bible only) and on the other hand use sources outside of scripture to prove or somehow establish a doctrine. Sunday observance is one such example. When all the verses in the New Testament which deal with the first day of the week are biblically dealt with by a Sabbath keeping brother or sister, our evangelical friends result to Revelation 1:10 to show that Sunday keeping did exist in the early centuries of the Christian church. Here is how the argument goes. The apostle John…
“… was in the spirit on the Lord’s day…” –Revelation 1:10.
But which day is the Lord’s Day? Here’s where they err. We quote one of their sources:
“During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord's day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord's Day contains the resurrection.” -The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chap. 9, p. 146.
So, rather then answering this bible question with a bible answer, they resort to the “church fathers.” It would seem like this would be their only choice, since there really isn’t any solid proof that the bible enjoins the celebration of the resurrection to the first day of the week, which is the reason why they want Sunday to be the designated “Lord’s Day.” And, there is no bible verse specifically saying that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Rather, when we go to scripture, as we should always do, we find the real way in which Christians are to be…
Let us turn to the book of Romans:
(1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
(2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
(3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
(4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
(6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Here lies the underlying principle of celebrating the resurrection. Paul gets “baptism” and tells us that when we are baptized we symbolically die to self as Christ died upon the cross, that as Christ was resurrected, we too should be resurrected “to newness of life,” no longer living to self, but living for Christ. As a result, the believer will “henceforth” no longer “serve sin.” He will be walking victorious, having the perfect life of Christ manifesting itself through him (2 Cor. 4:10-11) enabling him to “walk in the spirit,” crucifying the old man and beginning a new life alive unto God (verse 11).
This is how we celebrate his resurrection, in which we do not let his wonderful act of love go to naught. We give our lives completely to him, show the world through baptism how that as he was resurrected, so we have been resurrected to a new life, and live a victorious life through him, celebrating, on a daily basis, his resurrected life in us.
Not one verse will prove otherwise. And because of this, the idea of “Sola-Scriptura” is temporarily placed aside in order to resort to writings other then scripture to prove differently. But we won’t do that here. Our foundation is the bible and the bible only; hence we will endeavor to prove, line upon line, “here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-13), that…
Compare now Revelation 1:10 with the following verse:
(13) If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words
The above is so unmistakable and clear that the newest convert to the faith can understand. John says he was in the spirit, or in vision, on the Lord’s Day, and Isaiah tells us that the Lord’s Day, or “my holy day” which is “the holy of the LORD,” is none other then the Sabbath day.
Despite the fact that our Lord does not change, evangelicals try their best to claim otherwise, saying he has changed his taste in days in this respect. So we will now quote Jesus Christ:
(8) For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
(28) Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
(5) And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Okay. Jesus is Lord, and these verses say that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath day. In other words, the Sabbath day belongs to him. It is his day, and he is Lord of it. The Lord’s Day, therefore, is the Sabbath day. Pretty easy right? Did we really have to go outside of the bible to find out what day is the Lord’s Day? Yet despite the evidence provided, some would get technical with us, and claim that John was speaking of neither the seventh day nor the first day of the week, but rather…
An appeal is made to the context following verse 10 of Revelation 1, namely, chapter two, because the rest of chapter one is simply describing who John saw in his vision. So let’s go to chapter two:
(1) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…
(8) And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write…
(12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write…
The things described after John’s reference to the Lord’s Day are far from the day of the second coming of Christ. Seven churches are mentioned, each described in the previous chapter as…
“…the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” –Revelation 1:19.
There are three schools of interpretation for these texts on the seven churches. One is that they were literal churches. The second is that they were literal churches which also represented the seven eras of the Christian church throughout the rest of history. The other is that they only represent those seven Christian eras. Because of Revelation 1:19, we believe that that the second school of interpretation is more likely and more logical when matched up to church history. But which ever of these you subscribe to; none of them describe the day of the coming of Jesus Christ. So the context does not have the answer as to which day is the Lord’s Day described by John in chapter 1, verse 10. We are left with Isaiah’s way of “understanding doctrine” (Isaiah 28:9). When comparing scripture with scripture, spiritual things “with spiritual” -1 Corinthians 2:13, the bible itself will tell us which day that was. And that day was the Sabbath day, proving without a doubt that the Sabbath was still in existence way after Jesus resurrected and went to heaven, and that it has not been abolished or somehow replaced as most would has us believe. Perhaps this is the real reason why the “fathers” must be used to interpret this verse, because to do otherwise would debunk their understanding of the law and the Sabbath, which they claim has been abolished.
In an effort to maintain their exaltation of Sunday sacredness, the sometimes honest Christian will turn to the holy scriptures to prove that…
upon the first day of the week
Yet it can be shown quite easily that those eight references to the “first day of the week” have nothing to do with celebrating Sunday as the day of resurrection. This can be seen in the following verse:
(19) Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Let the bible student examine this verse a bit closer, and he will quickly notice that the reason why they were gathered together was… “for fear of the Jews.” These poor souls were in dismay, mostly because of their unbelief, because their Lord was just crucified and they feared they were next. I’m sure a celebration did take place once Jesus appeared to them, but not because of the day, but because of HIM.
The same can be done with all of the other references to the first day of the week in the New Testament. The context is ignored, and the details go unnoticed. We have examined verses like these before, and will list them here for your reading:
-Acts 20:7: Sunday church service?
-1 Corinthians 16:1-2: Sunday church collection?
It is claimed that the heart of the Christian gospel is the resurrection of Christ, and that it took place on Sunday is significant and should be given our earnest attention. But such reasoning fails to realize that if it were not for crucifixion day, Friday, the resurrection of Sunday would have never taken place! Both events are equally as important, for one could not happen without the other. Why not celebrate Friday? Well, because there is no explicit command to do so, as is also true of Sunday. The best way to celebrate the resurrection, along with the crucifixion, is the bible way, through baptism and a renewed and living life, walking in the Spirit and conquering the flesh:
(8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
(9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
(10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
(11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Show the world your appreciation for the resurrection of Christ by your renewed life, and not by your obedience to the “traditions of man” (Matthew 15:6, 9), the so-called church fathers.
For further study, see:
-The National Sunday Law Question (weekly updates on the current push for Sunday Laws)
-Colossians 2:14-16: The Sabbath a shadow? Which Sabbath?
-2 Corinthians 3:7-11: The glory of the law abolished?
-Romans 10:4: Christ the end of the law?
-Acts 13: Did Paul really keep the Sabbath?