“The Lord’s Day”
“BY INSPIRATION I came to be in the Lord’s day.” (Revelation 1:10) So said the aged apostle John, depicted above, in the first chapter of the Bible book of Revelation. His words help us to locate the time of the fulfillment of the magnificent visions that he goes on to describe.
Not all, however, agree with this rendering of Revelation 1:10. For example, the German Bible translator Jörg Zink renders it: “I was filled with holy spirit—it was on Sunday.” Most Bible versions, however, translate the Greek phrase teiʹ ky·ri·a·keiʹ he·meʹrai as “the Lord’s day.” But in a footnote many claim that it refers to Sunday. Is this correct?
The German Herders Bibelkommentar, a Catholic reference work, explains the reasoning behind this thinking when it says: “Reference is made here [at Revelation 1:10] not to the Day of Final Judgment, which is likewise known as the ‘Day of the Lord’, but to a specific day of the week. The early Christians began celebrating the first day of the week as the day of their main church services as early as the middle of the first century. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2)” However, the two scriptures cited by that reference work in no way prove that first-century Christians viewed the first day of the week as “the day of their main church services.”
The first text, Acts 20:7, merely records that Paul, his traveling companions, and Christians from Troas gathered together on the first day of the week for a meal. Since Paul was going to leave the next day and he would not see them again for some time, he took advantage of the occasion to speak to them at length.
The second text, 1 Corinthians 16:2, encouraged the Christians at Corinth to set aside money “every first day of the week” in order to have something to contribute to those in need in Judea. Scholar Adolf Deissmann suggests that this day may have been a payday. At any rate, Paul’s suggestion was practical, since money could run out during the week.
Nowhere in the Bible is it said that Christians in the apostolic era viewed the first day of the week, now called Sunday, as a kind of Christian sabbath, a day set aside exclusively for their regular meetings for worship. It was only after the death of the apostles that Sunday came to be viewed in this way and came to be called “the Lord’s day.” This was part of the apostasy foretold by Jesus and the apostles themselves.—Matthew 13:36-43; Acts 20:29, 30; 1 John 2:18.
What, then, is “the Lord’s day”? The context of Revelation 1:10 points to Jesus as the Lord whose day it is. God’s Word identifies expressions such as “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” with a time of judgment for mankind and the restoration of Paradise.—1 Corinthians 1:8; 15:24-26; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16.
Hence, Hans Bruns, in his translation with commentary, Das Neue Testament (The New Testament), is correct when he says: “Some maintain that he [John] is speaking here of Sunday, but it is far more likely that he is referring to the illustrious Day of the Lord, which is after all what all of his subsequent description pertains to.” W. E. Vine says: “‘The Day of the Lord’ . . . is the Day of His manifested judgment on the world.” Fritz Rienecker’s Lexikon zur Bibel (Lexicon of the Bible) says that “the Lord’s day” clearly refers to “judgment day.”
The right understanding of the expression “the Lord’s day” helps us to understand the whole book of Revelation. Moreover, the evidence is that that day has already begun. How important it is, then, that we ‘hear the words of the prophecy of Revelation and observe the things written in it’!—Revelation 1:3, 19.
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