Does it mean the 'first day of the week', communion, Passover, the Day of the Lord, or something else?
ESV - 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
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John in Revelation 1:10 is referring to the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week. And we know that the Sabbath Day is the seventh day because of Exosus 20:8-11: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. The Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20 makes it clear what the Lord's Day is and how should be observed and why (because it is a memorial of Creation). Genesis 2:2. God hasn't changed and Creation hasn't changed; then there is no reason to change the Lord's Day. Many Christians today observe the first day of the week and call it the Lord's Day for various reasons: because we are not under the Law anymore, Sunday observance is now in memory of the resurrection, Jesus changed the day of worship, or the Sabbath was given only to the Jews. None of these explanations are based on Bible. If we are not under the Law anymore, are we free to murder, steal and fornicate? Jesus Himself observed the Sabbath and is also called Lord of the Sabbath Mark 2:28. If He wanted as to observe a different day, He would have made that clear somewhere in the Bible. He was in the synagogue every Sabbath: Luke 4:16, 4:31, 6:6, 13:10. Also there is no indication that after the resurrection, the early church and the disciples observed any other day or that the sanctity of the Seventh-Day was transferred to the first-day of the week: Acts 13:14, 42; 14:1; 17:1-2; 18:4. Acts 13:44. I hope that helped.
The plain truth of the matter is... there is a reason "the Lord's Day" is not found anywhere else in all of Scripture... and that is because it does not say this in Revelation 1:10. It does not say "the Lord's Day!" What is says is: "I was in the spirit on "the Day of the Lord." The 6th and 7th Greek words in this sentence meaning "of the Lord" and "Day" were reversed by the translators in an effort to falsely support "Sunday" worship. The "Day of the Lord" is an Old Testament reference quite well known among the Jews! In fact, "the Day of the Lord" is what the entire book of Revelation is all about! Just as an FYI for everyone... "The Day of the Lord" has nine variant phrases in the Old Testament like "The Great Day of the Lord's Anger" and nine variant phrases in the New Testament like "The Day of the Lord Jesus." In all, these phrases appear 24 times in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament. But, that's not all. There is also the Jewish idiom for "the Day of the Lord" which was simply "that Day." A prophet speaking of the events would say, "in that day" or "on that day" which in Hebrew is the same. This idiom for the "Day of the Lord" is used 17 times in the Old Testament and... you guessed it... exactly 17 times in the New Testament. This "Day" permeated the Jewish mindset as it was "that Day" when the kingdom would be restored to Israel! It was even the disciples final question to Jesus before He ascended into heaven! (Acts 1:6) Now, the far better question people should asking here is: "Why did the original English translators feel they had to alter the text of Scripture to falsely support "Sunday Worship?" A person will never tell a lie when they have the actual truth supporting them! And, I am sorry, but this was no error or mistake. The translators were Greek scholars... they knew what Rev 1:10 said... the same exact Greek phrase appears 12 times in the Septuagint (LXX) so they knew... and they changed it anyway. Apparently they did not believe what God said about adding to... or taking away from His word. (Deut 4:2, 12:32; Prov 30:6 and Rev 22:18-19). In changing this the way they did, they took away God's meaning and they added their own meaning for their own purposes. But, this is not an isolated instance. If you have the resources... remember to check the original texts very closely. To the best of my knowledge there is only one English translation (and I have 14 different translations) which has Rev 1:10 correct and that is "The Jewish New Testament."
"On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit," Rev 1:10 This is the ONLY verse in the NT which talks of 'the Lord's Day'. It is therefore impossible to decipher, Scripturally, what John meant - that is, if we base our search on this verse alone. For instance, there are those who say it is the first day of the week, since it was the day the Messiah rose from the dead. While it is true that it was discovered on the first day that He was risen, there is no Scripture whatsoever which calls that day, the Lord's Day. Others say it is the Sabbath. So we turn to Scripture for direction. There are myriads of passages where the Lord claims ownership of a day (He owns every day, but if He pinpoints one and claims ownership, then that must mean something). In the NT, Jesus says, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Luke 6:5. While this may not be conclusive, it is a very good indicator. He never laid claim of Lordship on any other day. However, if we turn to Isa 58:13, we find 'the LORD's holy day', with reference to the Sabbath. If you then turn to drill-down passages that talk of the Sabbath, it becomes abundantly clear that God claims this Day as His. See Exo 20:10, "But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD..." Exo 16:25, "Because today is a Sabbath to the LORD." Eze 20:12, "Also I gave them MY Sabbaths as a sign between us..." Eze 20:20, "Keep MY Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us..." It would be in perfect order, then, to conclude that the Lord's Day is the Sabbath. It cannot be Judgment Day, because that Day has not yet come, yet John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. That is a past event, not in the future. Bless you.
While there are several theories as to what "The Lord's Day" meant in Rev 1:10, only two have any real support from scripture or history. The first, with strong support from scripture, is the possibility that Michael Harris discusses in his answer. John could easily have been saying that He was in seeing a vision in reference to "The Day of the Lord" - God's judgement upon mankind. As a good portion of Revelations deals with God's wrath and future judgement, this makes sense from the context of the book and also has the burden of scriptural proof behind it. Another possibility, which has some support from history, especially as John is the author of Revelations, is that "The Lord's Day" is reference here to the Passover/Resurrection celebration. (1 Cor 11:20). In the 3rd Century, the Passover/Ressurection communion celebration was commonly referred to as "The Lord's Day", as referenced several times in the 3rd century Apostolic Constitutions. But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord's day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection. But there is one only Sabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord's burial, on which men ought to keep a fast, but not a festival. ~Apostolic Constitutions bk. 7, sec. 2, xxiii. The disciples of John, following his tradition, usually celebrated the 'Lord's Day' communion celebration of Christ's death/Resurrection on the first Passover celebration (Lev 23:5, 1 Cor 5:7). They celebrated Passover with it's new meaning in Christ, highlighting the day of Christ's death (John 19:14, 1 Cor 11:23-26). Other groups, primarily the gentile Christians, trended towards keeping this special communion celebration on the Sunday after the Passover. Perhaps this was because the Resurrection would have more immediate meaning for the gentiles, vs. The Passover which was not part of their history or custom. [That, and that even in the second century there was heavy persecution towards those who kept the celebration on Saturday]. Church customs varied wildly by region, as highlighted in Ambrose's famous quote in 378 A.D., " "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are." Or, as we might say "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". Eventually, due to the persecution of Rome and the influence of the Catholic church, celebration on Passover was banned, and the reckoning method for the celebration changed (hence why the Easter timeline follows the spring equinox, not the Passover). [One can look up the quartodeciman controversy for more on this: http://holysabbathministries.org/pdfs/Quartodeciman_Controversy.pdf] [For further details on historic quotes [and common misquotes], see http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers/sunday-fraud.htm] The last common theory is the least likely; that John meant "on Sunday". 'Kuriake', in greek, is both the word for Sunday and for Master/Lord. "Kuriake Hermana" is then -either- "Sunday Day" in Greek or "The Lord's day". [Not both at the same time]. Sunday in the Bible is never referred to by the greek name elsewhere, but called "the first day [according to, of the] the Sabbaths/week" (Mia Sabbaton), using Jewish reckoning. This theory does not have the scriptural support as the first (Day of the Lord), or the historical basis of the second (Passover/Resurrection Celebration). Rather, it stretches the text to try and make it say "Sunday". Usually, this argument is used as part of an attempt to argue that Sunday was the new official day of worship for Christians after the Resurrection, or even that it replaced the Sabbath.
In my considered opinion, based on my study of the scriptures, “The Lord’s day” is a definite period of time during which the Lord Jesus Christ brings certain things in connection with God’s purpose to a successful conclusion. In Biblical usage the word “day” may denote a period of time far longer than 24 hours. (Ge 2:4; Joh 8:56; 2 Pe 3:8). Contextual evidence indicates that “the Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10 is not a particular 24-hour day. We should bear in mind that John was “in the spirit”, or that it was by “by inspiration” that he came to be “in the Lord’s day,”. Therefore, the reference could not be to some particular day of the week...whether Sabbath Day, or Sunday. It would not have been necessary for John to have been inspired to come to a specific day of the week. I tend to partially agree with the view expressed by Jennifer Rothnie in her answer, which I quote below: “ The first, with strong support from scripture, is the possibility that Michael Harris discusses in his answer. John could easily have been saying that He was in seeing a vision in reference to "The Day of the Lord" - God's judgement upon mankind. As a good portion of Revelation deals with God's wrath and future judgement, this makes sense from the context of the book and also has the burden of scriptural proof behind it.” I however feel that she should have stuck to the words in Rev 1:10, that is, “ the Lord’s day”. Therefore, “the Lord’s day” most likely refer to that future unspecified period (that is, in terms of length or duration) of time during which events that John was privileged to see in vision would occur. This included such happenings as : 1. the war in heaven and the ouster of Satan, Rev 12:1-17 2. the destruction of Babylon the Great and the kings of the earth and their armies, Rev 17,18 and 19 3. The declaration of the kingdom of God as being established in heaven, Rev 12:10 4. the binding and abyssing of Satan, Rev 20:1-3. 5. the resurrection of the dead, Rev 20:12-14, and 6. Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. Rev 20: 4:5 Interestingly, the first verses of the first chapter of the book of Revelation say as follow: “ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, [even] the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John; who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, [even] of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation 1:1 - 1:3 ASV). In view of these words, understanding and observing events that do occur during “the Lords day” will be of immense spiritual and material benefits to all true followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The revelation was written to guide us and help us navigate our ways successfully during that period of time.
The Lord’s day is Sunday, on which believers celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The consecration of the day to worship, almsgiving, and the Lord’s Supper, is implied in Ac 20:7; 1 Co 16:2; compare John 20:19-26. The presence of the adjective kuriakos [kuriakov"] in Revelation 1:10 makes the expression grammatically different from the common biblical phrase "the Day of the Lord, " which uses the genitive form of the noun kurios [kuvrio"]. By this, I don't believe the Lord's Day means the Day of the Lord.
No one knows! However, we can be confident of a few things: the Greek in Revelation 1:10 is "master's day" in that order and that John was referring to his "master/lord" Jesus; and that it was a day of the year that John associated with his Lord, Jesus. So from there, since John was Hebrew, we can know that it likely wasn't being called the "Lord's day" by being a general average Sabbath/Saturday. Being that this day was highly associated by John to being Jesus' day or one of Jesus' days, that association may have been made based on a number of thoughts: 1) It may have been the annual recurrence of Jesus' death on Passover preparation day; 2) or Jesus' resurrection on the third day after the annual recurrence of Jesus' death, on His resurrection day, on the third day of Unleavened Bread; 3) or it may have been the weekly recurrence of the day Jesus was first SEEN resurrected, a Sunday, although Jesus would have actually been resurrected minutes or hours previously near the end of the Sabbath; 4) or it may have been one of the other days of the seven Leviticus 23 feast which God declared as "His days" and "His times". Saint John the Apostle shows that he was pretty smart, such that he may have recognized that Jesus had died on Passover, the first feast; resurrected during Unleavened Bread, the second feast; ascended into Heaven on First Fruits, the third feast; sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost/Shavuot, the fourth feast; and Jesus' return would be on Trumpets, the fifth feast. Thus, the "Lord's Day" John was referring to may have been John's expected day of Jesus' return on the day of the Feast of Trumpets, also repeatedly called in prophecy "the day of the Lord", about which the book of Revelation spends the majority of its attention. In reality to us, which "Lord's day" in John's life, John didn't feel it was important enough for us to concern ourselves, else he would have told us. I believe that phrase is a good example for us of the Christian teaching to "major on the major doctrines, but only minor on minor doctrines".
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