IS THE LORD'S DAY OF REVELATION 1:10

SATURDAY, SUNDAY,

OR A MUCH GRANDER DAY?

Questions and Answers

R.L.B.

Question:  Revelation 1:10 tells us that the apostle John was "in the spirit on the Lord's day."  Is "the Lord's day" Saturday or Sunday?

AnswerNeither.  First of all, John "became in [the] spirit"  This reminds us of Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones:

   "The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about. . . ." (Ezekiel 37:1-2)

        Just as Jehovah carried Ezekiel by His Spirit and showed him the vision of dry bones, this same Jehovah caused John to become "in spirit" and carried him to a particular time and place where he saw a series of marvelous visions.

   " I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
   "I became in [the] spirit in the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, What you see [in the vision] write in a book and send it to the seven gatherings. . . ." (Rev. 1:10-11)

        Wherever John was transported "in spirit" it was to a time or place where he heard the actual voice of the Lord God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega.  Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and clearly signify the identity of the Person to Whom the "great voice" belonged.

        The prophet Isaiah leaves no doubt that the term "first and last" refers to none other than Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel.

   "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God." (Isa. 44:6)

        Thus, John heard the thundering voice of Jehovah, the King of Israel as soon as he became spiritually transported in the visions of the Lord "in the Lord's day."  But was this on a Saturday, or Sunday, or some other day of the week?  What does the term "the Lord's day" refer to?  What was that time and place to which John was carried by the spirit of God? 

        First of all, many translators are convinced by religious tradition that the term "the Lord's day" refers to Sunday, the first [day] of the week, and therefore betray their built-in bias by translating the Greek preposition "en" by the English word "on," whereas its usual translation when referring to a historical time is "in."  Consider the following:

Rom. 2:16, "in the day when God shall judge"

Mat. 7:22, "many will say to Me in that day"

1 Cor. 1:8, "blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ"

1 Cor. 5:5, "Saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

2 Cor. 1:14, "ours in the day of the Lord Jesus".

2 Tim. 3:1, "in the last days perilous times shall come".

        Secondly, the first day of the week did not become known as "the Lord's day" for nearly a hundred years after John wrote the Apocalypse.  Since the term "the Lord's day" was not known as the first day of the week in John's day, to what then does the term "the Lord's day" refer?  We get many clues from the context of chapter one itself.

1.  It is the day when the Lord Jesus is "unveiled" (Rev. 1:1).  He is revealed in His stance as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, a title referring to His appearance as the Great Judge of the earth, when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of Jehovah and of His Anointed.

2.  It is a time when the Lord Jesus will come visibly for all the world to see (Rev. 1:7).  This is not the secret "rapture", but the time of His coming in Glory to execute judgment on the world and set up His millennial kingdom on earth.  It is the "day" when "every eye shall see him."  It is the "day" of His coming in glory to reveal Himself "to every one who pierced Him" (Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10).  Members of the body of Christ, the present day "church" will previously have been caught up to be with the Lord.  Thus, His coming in glory will fulfill the prophetic scriptures concerning God's earthly covenant people Israel, not the body of Christ.

3.  He is called "the son of man."  This is His title that pertains to the earth, and to the fulfillment of the many prophecies that pertain to Israel.  It is our Lord's title as Prophet.

4.  He appears in the midst of the seven stars, walking among the seven golden lampstands, no longer sitting on the right hand of God the Father, (His present stance).  Standing is His position of judgment.  Stephen saw "Jesus standing" because the Jews at Jerusalem had rejected their King, and God was about to begin the first of two stages of His judgment on National Israel at Jerusalem.  (The Jews of the dispersion would experience the second stage of judgment at their final shutting up at Acts 28:28).  "Jehovah stands up to contend, and stands to judge the peoples." (Isa. 3:13)  At the time when He comes to earth and takes actual possession of the kingdom that is rightfully His, He will once again be "sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mat. 26:64).

5.  His appearance, white hair, long robe, eyes as flame of fire, feet as polished brass, great voice as a trumpet, all point to the fact that the terrible Judge of the whole earth was seen by John while He stood in their midst.  The same description of the Lord Jesus is seen at the "gathering" at Thyatira in Rev. 2:18, and while riding His white horse in Rev. 19:12, when His awesome title is revealed, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (vs. 16).

6.  In his vision of the Lord's day John hears behind him a great voice, "as of a trumpet"  (Rev. 1:10).  That great voice is heard once again in Revelation 12.

   "And I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10)

And what happens when the seventh trumpet is blown?

   "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15)

It has also been pointed out that there are more quotations from, and allusions to, the Hebrew prophetic scriptures in the Apocalypse than in Matthew and Hebrews combined, thus showing that this book is closely connected with God's often prophesied purpose for His earthly covenant people Israel.  (Matthew 92 references, Hebrews 102, Revelation 285).

What about the term "the Lord's day"?

        While the term "Lord's day" is commonly understood in the religious world as the day of the week on which the "Lord's supper" is usually observed, this is pure tradition.  That meaning was introduced at a time well after John's day, when the official church was beginning to fall away from scriptural principles.  This is one of many misunderstandings Reformers failed to correct.

        A more historically correct view is that John was transported "in Spirit" to a particular future time and place where he saw a series of visions pertaining to the termination of man's day, and culminating in the wonderful day of the Lord.

        So, why does John describe that "day" as "the Lord's day" rather than as "the day of the Lord"?  Scholars tell us that the Greek language, like English, can express the thought either way.  However, Hebrew does not have this flexibility and therefore does not have the ability to say "the Lord's day." So if Revelation 1:10 is translated into Hebrew (as it will be for the benefit of the "Jews" of Rev. 2:9, Rev. 3:9 and for the "hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" of Rev, 7:4) it would come out as "I became in spirit in the day of the Lord." Both "the Lord's day" and "the day of the Lord" are identical in meaning, and neither expression refers to a day of the week.

What about the seven "churches"?  Doesn't the word "church" always refer to "the church which is Christ's body"?

        Absolutely not.  Unfortunately, many believers when encountering the word "church" in our translations, automatically equate the word to mean "the body of Christ."  However, the word "ekklesia" simply means a "gathering", any gathering of people, whether believers or unbelievers.  Twice the Holy Spirit uses this word "ekklesia" to describe the mob who sought to kill the apostle Paul (Acts 19:32 & 19:41).  It is used to describe the local political body (Acts 19:39), a body similar to the local town councils of our day.  And Stephen uses it to describe the "gathering" of Israelites who wandered 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 7:38).  [See my separate article on the word church].

Conclusions

        If John became spiritually energized on a particular day of the week, whether Saturday or Sunday, we have to ask, "So what?"  What import does the day of the week have to do with the powerful imagery of the Judge of the whole earth that is thrust upon the readers of Revelation chapter one?  But if you put it all together and conclude that John was "in spirit in the day of Jehovah" then everything John writes from chapter 1 through 22, (including the "seven gathering" in chapters 2 and 3), has to do with the Lord's day, the great and terrible day of Yahweh.  The content of the entire prophecy primarily relates to future kingdom "churches" that will exist after the "body of Christ" will have been removed from the world and is at home with our blessed Lord.  These "gatherings" will exist during the time when the "great tribulation" is taking place around them, when "the doctrine of the Nicolaitans" and the "depths of Satan" are being manifested through the beast and his image, and when Antipas will be God's faithful martyr in the place where Satan dwells.

        With this key to the whole Apocalypse in hand the student of the word will gain tremendous insight into the events surrounding the seven "gatherings," and other portions of this wonderful portion of scripture which reveal our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

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Appendix - Quotations from Seven Bible Teachers, whose lives span 1824 to 2015:

Joseph A. Seiss, D.D. (1824 - 1904)

[John] says he "was in Spirit in the Lord's day," in which he beheld what he afterwards 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.  Sunday belongs indeed to the Lord, but 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, men 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....This is what I understand by his being "in Spirit in the Lord's day."  I can see no essential difference between hee Kuriakee heemera--the Lord's day,--and hee heemera Kuriou--the day of the Lord.  They are simply the two forms for signifying the same relations of the same things.  (Joseph A. Seiss, D.D. The Apocalypse, A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Twelfth Edition, 1865, Philadelphia School of the Bible, pp. 20-21)

[Seiss' footnote]:  Our English Translations have frequently used both these modes of expressing the genitive case of the same noun, both in Hebrew and Greek.  Compare Gen. 28:17 and Gen. 28:22, where "House of God" and "God's house" mean precisely the same.  So "Lord's law," Ex. 13:9, and "Law of the Lord," 2 Chron. 12:1--"The Lord's people," 1 Sam. 2:24, and "People of the Lord." Judges 5:11.  In all these instances the Septuagint presents the same forms as the original.  So in the New Testament we have the same variety of expression to signify exactly the same relation.  In 1 Cor. 10:21, for the same grammatical form in Greek, we have "Lord's table," and "Table of devils;" in 2 Cor. 2:12, "Christ's Gospel" for "Gospel of Christ:" in 2 Pet. 4:12, "Christ's sufferings," and in 1 Pet. 5:1, "Sufferings of Christ."  The same may be seen in Rev. 11:15, where the kingdoms of the world become our Lord's and his Christ's kingdoms.]  (op. cit., p. 22) 

Ethelbert W. Bullinger, D.D. (1837 - 1913)

In order to see "visions of God" the prophet Ezekiel (1:1) was under the direct influence and power of the Spirit.  John was transported by spiritual instrumentality into the scenes which shall take place in the Day of the Lord, and records what he then saw in vision: namely: the things which shall take place literally and actually in that Day.  How this may have been accomplished we may learn from Ezek. 8:3  "And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem." ... Ezekiel goes on to record what he saw of events and realities in the far distant future, and describes the Temple which is then to be built.  (E. W. Bullinger, The Apocalypse, or the Day of the Lord, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, p. 152)

From all this evidence [pages 1 through 14] we feel justified in believing that the Apocalypse consists of a series of visions, which set forth the events connected with "the Revelation of Jesus Christ," which will take place during "the Lord's DAY" ; that day being so called because it is viewed as being then present; and as it had been called heretofore in prophecy, "the day of the Lord." (op. cit., p. 14)

Gustav Adolf Deissmann, Professor of New Testament Exegesis, Heidelberg (1866 - 1937)

Usually Rev. 1:10 is cited as the earliest instance [of the Greek adjective referring to a day of the week]; but the article before kuriakee, and the connection, both favour the interpretation according to which 'the Day of the Lord' here stands for the Day of Yaweh (Jehovah), the Day of Judgment; in the Septuagint heemera tou kuriou ; also in the New Testament, as in Rev. 6:17; 16:14; the Great Day.  This view is supported by a weighty minority of scholars. (Dr. Deissmann, as quoted by E. W. Bullinger, The Lord's Day, Selected Writings, Lamp Press, p. 217)

Charles H. Welch (1886 - 1953)

There is no mystery about the meaning of John when he tells us that he "came to be in the day of the Lord in spirit."  It cannot possibly mean that he felt in a specially spiritual frame of mind on a Sunday....  The book of the Revelation is taken up with something infinitely vaster than days of the week.  It is solely concerned with the day of the Lord.  To read that John became in spirit on the Lord's day (meaning Sunday), tells us practically nothing.  To read in the solemn introduction that John became in spirit in the Day of the Lord, that day of prophetic import, is to tell us practically everything.  Traditional bias is seen even in the rendering of [the Greek] en by "on" instead of "in."  The Hebrew language does not allow such a construction as "The Lord's day," it can only be expressed by "The day of the Lord."  The Greek language, however, like the English, permits of both modes of expression, and the one used here is "The Lord's day," making the word Lord's an adjective.  There can be no difference between the thing signified, whichever mode of expression be chosen, it is the same day, the difference is one of emphasis.  Revelation 1:10 means "the Lord's day"; had it been set out as in the Hebrew it would have meant "the Lord's day," but no other day than this could be meant by either expression.

If in Revelation 1, John is taken, in spirit, to the future day of the Lord to see the visions and to write them in a book, all the book that he writes, including chapters 1, 2, and 3, must be future in their interpretation.  There is no part of the prophecy or vision that is not "in the day of the Lord."  That day is the point of time from which all time must be measured.  When John says of anything "it is present," or "it shall arise," he speaks from the standpoint of his vision--the day of the Lord, and not A.D. 96. (Charles H. Welch, This Prophecy, The Berean Publishing Trust, pp. 47-50)

The whole book is written from the future standpoint of the day of the Lord, and has no historic or prophetic reference to the course of events which have transpired during the interval filled by the dispensation of the mystery, or of the church in its wider aspect.  (op. cit., p. 9)

Theodore H. Epp, ThM (1907 - 1985)

John said he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. His experience was that of being carried beyond the normal senses into a state where God could reveal in a supernatural way the contents of the Book we now study.

It was in the Spirit that John was loosed from the normal boundaries of the flesh. He was transported into the future as God sees it. John was transported or projected beyond the time in which he lived. He was taken across the centuries to the time the Bible calls the Day of the Lord. That Day is the day of the consummation of all things material and spiritual.

John's vision was largely concerning the future. What he saw had to do in a great measure with the end times. The expression "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" has been understood by many to mean Sunday or the first day of the week. This is how it is commonly used among us today. But in the Scriptures the Day of the Lord is an extended period of time in which Christ first deals in judgment on the earth and then sovereignly rules over it. It is used to cover the time of the Tribulation on through the Kingdom Age with the consummation of all things in the new heaven and the new earth. John was taken in the Spirit over the centuries to view the Day of the Lord as seen from both heaven's viewpoint and earth's viewpoint. It is described as God sees it and then also as men will see it upon the earth in that day. (Theodore H. Epp, Practical Studies in Revelation, Back To The Bible Broadcast,1969, pp. 47 - 48)

John F. Walvoord, D.D. (1910 - 2002)

The expression "on the Lord's day" has been taken by some to refer to the first day of the week, by others to the day of the Lord.  The word Lord in this passage is actually an adjective used in the sense of "lordian."  Though today the expression is used commonly of the first day of the week, it is nowhere so used in the Bible.  The day of Christ's resurrection is consistently referred to as "the first day of the week" and never as the Lord's day (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).  It is true that the same adjective (Gr., kyriakos) is found in 1 Corinthians 11:20 - referring to the Lord's Supper characteristically observed by the early church on the first day of the week.....  There is no solid evidence, however, that the expression used by John was ever intended to refer to the first day of the week.  It is rather a reference to the day of the Lord of the Old Testament, an extended period of time in which God deals in judgment and sovereign rule over the earth.  The adjectival form can be explained on the ground that in the Old Testament there was no adjectival form for "Lord," and therefore the noun had to be used.  The New Testament term is therefore the equivalent to the Old Testament expression "the day of the Lord."  On the basis of the evidence, the interpretation is therefore preferred that John was projected forward to the future day of the Lord."  (John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, A Commentary, Moody Press, 1966, p. 42)

Paul M. Sadler, D.D.

Tradition teaches that the Lord's Day is Sunday, the day Christians customarily worship, but this is foreign to the Scriptures.  The Lord's Day or Day of the Lord is a clear reference to an extended period of time that covers seven years of Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, the binding of Satan in the bottomless pit, the judgment of Israel and the nations, the Millennial reign of Christ, the battle of Gog and Magog, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the purging of the heavens and earth by fire.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew phrase, Day of the Lord, can only be translated, "Day of the Lord," without exception.  However, in the Greek of the New Testament it can be translated "the Lord's Day" or "Day of the Lord."  Either way it is translated, it is referring to the same period of time.  As John was transported to this future day, he was seated in the balcony, as it were, and recorded all the events that unfolded before his very eyes.  (Paul M. Sadler, Revelation, Volume 1, Berean Bible Society, 2014, p. 34)

Concluding note:

        While all of the above expositors recognize that John was presented with a vision of the day of the Lord, not all seem to have grasped the logical conclusions this truth leads to.  I would submit that since John's vision is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the future Lordly Day, it is wrong to pick and choose which parts of the text are part of the vision and which parts are not.  In particular, all of them concede that while John's vision is of the day of the Lord, not Sunday, some delete the seven "gatherings" from the vision of the future Lordly Day and make those seven gatherings to be assemblies in the present "church age."  This unwarranted selectivity is difficult to comprehend since the appearance of the Son of Man in judgment attire is directly connected to the seven "churches" in the future day of the Lord in a single unbroken thought by the conjunction kai (and).

   "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, AND I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet
   "saying, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
   "AND I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. AND having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;
   "AND in the midst of the lampstands one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. (Rev. 1:10-13)

Those who pick and choose have chosen to miss out on a portion of truth God would reveal to them, just as Martha missed out on that "good part" (Luke 10:42). 

 

Footnote as to the erroneous interpretation of Revelation 2 & 3 wrongly taken as referring to seven so-called "church ages":
 
“Church History seen by some in Revelation 2 & 3”  (sic.)
 
Ephesus
Desirable
Apostolic Age
10-167 AD
Smyrna
Myrrh
Martyrdom
167-316 AD
Pergamos
Marriage
Worldliness
316-500 AD
Thyatira
Wear out by Sacrifice
Papacy
500-1500 AD
Sardis
Those Escaping
Reformation
1500-1800 AD
Philadelphia
Brotherly love
Revival
1800-1900 AD
Laodicea
People Rule
Apostasy
1900-

 

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        For a study on the meaning of the word "ekklesia" (church, assembly, gathering of people),  click on the following link:

        The "church," How and Why it Changed During the Book of Acts

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