Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sabbaths and Sundays, Common Proof Texts, #9

This is the last in my series of Sabbath articles. I hope you enjoyed it! :)

Claim: The apostle John kept Sunday and Revelation 1:10 proves this.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10).

It is true that "the Lord's Day" has come to be synonymous with Sunday. Does this verse then prove that the early church kept Sunday, and John's comment in passing is an implicit recognition of that?

Far from. All we can draw from this verse is that the phrase itself goes back 2,000 years. It tell us nothing about what the phrase meant. Later usages of a word or phrase cannot be applied backward in time to define it.

There are at least three other possible interpretations of "the Lord's Day" besides "Sunday."

1) First, it could be the weekly Saturday Sabbath. Jesus said He is "the Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5), so John calling it "the Lord's Day" makes perfect sense.

2) Second, it could be the yearly Easter celebration. This would make it Sunday, but only one day a year, just as some modern Sabbath keepers attend Easter celebrations on Sunday once a year.

However, John was from an area that kept to the old Quartodecimen reckoning of the resurrection, so Easter could fall on any day of the week, and not on the day that finally won out that we today call Easter Sunday.

3) Third, and probably most likely, it could mean the second coming of the Lord. After all, John's vision is about the end of the world and Jesus' second coming. Elsewhere in the Bible this is referred to as "the day of the Lord." In fact, Christ's second coming is the focal point of the entire book.

Also, the use of the term "Lord's day" rather than "day of the Lord," merely changes the emphasis in the phrase, sort of like saying "the Lord's DAY" or "the LORD'S day." The meaning is the same; the emphasis is not.

Let me quote Samuele Bacchiocchi, since he is much more the scholar than I: "John mentions twice again the day of judgment and of Christ's coming,and in each instance he uses a somewhat different expression: 'the great day of God' (16:14) and 'the great day of wrath' (6:17)...In the New Testament, in fact, the day of Christ's described by a wide variety of expressions, such as 'the day of judgment,' 'the day,' 'that day,' the last day,' 'the great and notable day,' the day of wrath and revelation,' 'the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,' 'the day of Christ,' 'the day of the Lord,' 'the great day,' and 'the great day of God.' Christ himself calls the day of His coming 'his day' (Luke 17:24)...the expression 'Lord's day' of Revelation 1:10...can be best interpreted as a designation of the day of judgment and of the parousia." (From Sabbath To Sunday, pp. 127, 131.)

At any rate, even if "the Lord's Day" here means Sunday, there is no mention of a worship service, a day or rest, or anything else, so it still falls flat as an argument for Sunday observance. In the New Testament, Sunday is always referred to as the "first day of the week." There is not one other phrase for Sunday than that. Additionally, why would John use a different designation here, but use "first day of the week" in his Gospel?

For further study on this, please see Samuele Bacciocchi's, From Sabbath To Sunday, pp. 111-131.

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