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I heard somewhere that in 1 Corinthians 16:2

Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come

There is some ambiguity about "the first day of the week". I heard something like it could even be something like "the first week of each seven weeks" or so. Is it true? Can anyone, please, comment on it here?

EDIT:

I just found where I came across it - "From Pentecost to Prison" by Charles H. Welch, p. 128:

Acts 20:7 : "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight"

Much has been written regarding the true translation of the phrase "The first day of the week". The original reads En de te mia ton sabbaton, and has sometimes been translated "The first of the sabbaths". The Companion Bible has the following note on this point:

"The first day of the week" – first day of the sabbaths, i.e. 
the first day for reckoning the seven sabbaths to Pentecost. 
It depended upon the harvest 

(Deut. 16:9: "Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin 
to number the seven weeks from [such time as] thou beginnest 
[to put] the sickle to the corn"), 

and was always from the morrow after the weekly sabbath when 
the wave sheaf was presented 

(Lev. 23:15: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow 
after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of 
the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete"). 

In John 20:1 

("The first [day] of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, 
when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the 
stone taken away from the sepulchre") 

this was the fourth day after the Crucifixion, "the Lord’s 
Passover". This was by Divine ordering. But in A. D. 57 it 
was twelve days after the week of unleavened bread, and 
therefore more than a fortnight later than in A.D. 29. 

The reader may feel that there is a weak point in this argument, for there is no evidence given for the "twelve days" that this view necessitates. Those who regard "the first day of the week" as referring to Sunday, draw attention to the fact that if we assume this day to be the Sabbath, then, as this day begins at sunset, by traveling at day-break Paul would have been traveling on the Sabbath. This would not have been likely in view of the Jews’ bitter opposition to his teaching, and the apostle’s conciliatory attitude at Jerusalem a few weeks later (Acts 21:21-24).

It is also a point worth considering that if we translate Sabbaton and Sabbata as ‘Sabbath’ and ‘Sabbath day’, then there is no word for ‘week’ in the New Testament, which seems rather unlikely.

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This question might also shed some light. –  maj nem ɪz dæn Feb 13 '13 at 7:52
    
@Sarah - As far as I know, they were completely agree with each other on this point. Welch is quoting here the Companion Bible not so as to refute Bullinger in anything, but simply to show what kind of perspective on this matter the Companion Bible has, and later he shows that in the light of the perspective that they were holding (both Welch and Bullinger) this whole matter is no longer important (my quote doesn't have it). –  brilliant Feb 24 at 14:32
    
@Sarah - I was forced to add a quote to my question. At first, I just wanted to ask without any quotes, but later got rebuked. I am not good at handling quotes, hence the mishap. "Or do you understand Bullinger to be saying this is a Sabbath as well?" - Yes, I do. Bullinger was very honest, he even gave up on almost half of his own books after he accepted Welsh's perspective. –  brilliant Feb 24 at 15:16
    
@Sarah: (1) "Can you tell me about this in the library" - I don't think I could say much, so I'll just answer here. "When Bullinger wrote the Companion Bible was it his understanding that this was actually a Sabbath or did his views change after that?" - He started writing Companian Bible after he met with Welch in 1908 and accepted his perspective, having acknowledged that "half of his books" now must be "scrapped". –  brilliant Feb 24 at 16:48
    
@Sarah: (2) Don't have precise info on the matter of Sabbath, but I am pretty sure that this matter was no longer that important for him. You may want to read Welch's autobiography: charleswelch.net/Autobiography.PDF - he talks there about his meeting with Bullinger on page 81. –  brilliant Feb 24 at 16:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

@Brilliant asked the following:

about "the first day of the week". I heard something like it could even be something like "the first week of each seven weeks" or so. Is it true? Can anyone, please, comment on it here?

So, "Is it true that this phrase could be interpreted this way?"
In short: The phrase, directly translated, word for word from the Greek Majority Text, is "(the) day one of/belonging to (the) Sabbaths." One can see how this could logically be understood as "day one of 50, belonging to the seven Sabbaths," spoken of in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16.

Below is a thorough examination of the matter if you want a more in depth look.

THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, linguistically and in its context.

There are only 8 Bible passages in which this phrase occurs (quoted in NKJV):

Matthew 28:1—Now after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Mark 16:2—And very early on the first day of the week at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
Mark 16:9—Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons.
Luke 24:1—Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared.
John 20:1—Now very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance.
John 20:19—On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
Acts 20:7—On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul began to speak to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, he extended his message until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2—On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come.

Translating “The first day of the week” from Greek to English

“First”: Of these eight passages, Mark 16:9 is the only one that uses the Greek word “prōte,” which means “first.” In all the other seven passages, the Greek word translated “first” is actually “heis,” conjugated “mia(n/s).” It is a cardinal number, used for counting. It means “one” not “first.” Elsewhere in the NT, it is always translated “one” or “single.”

“Week”: The Greek word translated “week” is “Sabbatōn,” meaning “Sabbaths.” or “sabbatō,” meaning “Sabbath.” Mark 16:9 is the only one of these eight passages that uses sabbatō singular. In all the other seven passages of the majority text, it is plural. There is some variation in other manuscripts as to whether this is singular or plural. (In the Aramaic texts the word here is the word translated seven, not the word translated Sabbath). Scholars seem to agree that context is important in determining whether this is translated in singular or plural.

“Day”: The word “day,” while not directly in the original Greek of this phrase, is strongly implied. In Greek, adjectives and their subjects must agree in number and gender. When they do not, it means the adjective is modifying an implied noun (Mounce). Thus, in our phrase, the word “one” would need to agree in number and gender with “Sabbath(s)” in order to modify it; it does not. Based on the Received Text, in all eight passages, “first/one” is feminine, singular, “Sabbath(s)” is not. Thus, the word “mia(n/s)” must be modifying another implied noun that agrees with it in number and gender. The word “day” is a natural conclusion, as it is feminine and singular; no other logical options present themselves. Thus, the implied word “day” is reflected in our translations in italics.

“of”: The Greek form of Sabbath(s) used in all eight of these passages, is the genitive case. The Genitive case shows possession or belonging. Thus the genitive Greek word Sabbath(s) is translated, “of Sabbath(s)” or “belonging to Sabbath(s).”

All together: One passage translates, “first day belonging to Sabbath” (singular). Seven passages translate, “(the) day one belonging to (the) Sabbaths” (plural).

Passages with this phrase directly translated:

Matthew 28:1—Now after the Sabbath, as day one belonging to Sabbaths began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Mark 16:2—And very early day one belonging to Sabbaths at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
Mark 16:9—Early on the first day belonging to the Sabbath, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons.
Luke 24:1—Now on day one belonging to the Sabbaths, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared.
John 20:1—Now very early on day one belonging to the Sabbaths, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance.
John 20:19—On the evening of that day, the day one belonging to the Sabbaths, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
Acts 20:7—On the day one belonging to the Sabbaths, when we met to break bread, Paul began to speak to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, he extended his message until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2— On day one belonging to Sabbaths, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come.

Let us observe context:

In Mark 16:9 “first” is an ordinal number. It sets the day in sequence with the Sabbath (singular) but indicates that we are not counting. In context, it follows a Sabbath. It is logical thus, to conclude that this passage is indeed referring to the first day of the week.

The remaining 7 passages Given the fact that translators rely heavily upon context to determine whether the word here should be rendered as singular or plural, it is important to note the context of the passages where this phrase occurs: “day one belonging to Sabbaths” is ALWAYS recorded between Passover and Pentecost, exactly where we would expect to find day one counting to 50 in the context of 7 Sabbaths!

Observe the LORD’s instruction to Israel, "You shall count seven [sevens] for yourself; begin to count the seven [sevens] from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain” (Deut. 16:9). “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD” (Lev. 23:15-16).

(Notice that we have occurring here both "seven sevens" and "seven Sabbaths;" therefore, reference to this period of counting could be spoken of in the context of sevens or of Sabbaths. Interestingly the word rendered "week" in these eight NT passages, in the Greek text is the word that means "Sabbaths" and in the Aramaic text is the word that means "Seven(s)").

This counting took place each year between Passover and Pentecost (“Pentecost” means “fiftieth“). What could more appropriately be called “day one belonging to the Sabbaths” than day one of fifty, commencing the count toward seven Sabbaths! We count using cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, )! The counting is in the context of seven Sabbaths (plural)! Day one would “belong to” the Sabbaths as the genitive case indicates!

The day after which day? There is considerable disagreement about when this day comes. Some think it is the day after the “High Sabbath” of Passover (the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread), reflected in the practice of modern Rabbinic Jews; some think it to be the day after the weekly Sabbath immediately following Passover, reflected in the practice of Karite Jews. Thus, the Jews are not in agreement on which day this is. Scripture merely says that it is the day after the weekly Sabbath, that falls when they put the sickle to the grain. This could logically be understood as a date determined by the harvest.

Note: The first month (Abib/aviv) literally means ear of grain. It is determined by the stage of the grain.

Three reasons lead me to conclude this is not the day after the "High Sabbath":

1) When the LORD first gave His instruction saying, “the day after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:15-16), “the Sabbath” He had previously spoken of was the 7th day.

2) The LORD instructed Israel to count from “the morrow after the Sabbath unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath” (Lev. 23:16). The last day was to land on the day after a Sabbath. However, the first day of Unleavened bread falls on a different day of the week each year. If the count commenced from the day after the High Sabbath of Passover, then the 50th day would always fall on the same day of the week that unleavened Bread started. (If Unleavened Bread started on the 2nd day of the week, the 50th day would also fall on the 2nd day of the week. If Unleavened Bread started on the 3rd day of the week, the 50th day would also fall on the 3rd day of the week. etc.). The 50th day would land on the day after a Sabbath only once every 7 years! Logically, in order to count 50 days, and also 7 Sabbaths, and to have the 50th day land on the day after a Sabbath every year, the counting would have to begin on the day after a weekly Sabbath (7x7=49 +1=50).

3) If the counting began the day after the first day of Feast of Unleavened bread, then Pentecost would always occur on the 6th day of the 3rd month. But God did not instruct them to observe Pentecost on the 6th day of the 3rd month or on any particular day of a particular month as He did with His other holy days. Instead, He gave instructions based on when the grain ripens, an event which one cannot predict! The only one way for them to know when to keep the day of Pentecost was to “count seven weeks from the time they began to put the sickle to the grain” (Deut. 16:9). “ . . . from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that [they] brought the sheaf of the wave offering” (Lev. 23:15-16).

Why I conclude that this is not necessarily the day after the first Sabbath following Passover:
Let's look again at the two passages where instruction is given about this day: "You shall count seven [sevens] for yourself; begin to count the seven [sevens] from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain” (Deut. 16:9). “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days *to the day after the seventh Sabbath*; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD” (Lev. 23:15-16).

While this instruction follows the instruction about Passover in Scripture, it nowhere directly connects this day to Passover. It does, however, directly tie the day to the time when the sickle is put to the grain; and it does directly tie the day to Pentecost. The most we can could deduce about its relation to Passover is that, given its Scriptural sequence, the day the sickle would be put to the grain may likely occur after Passover.

Passover, "Day one belonging to Sabbaths" and Pentecost:
Since Passover falls on the same day of the Lunar month every year, if the day of the wave offering is the day after the weekly Sabbath when the sickle is put to the grain, then this day would fluctuate by any number of days in relation to Passover, yet would always fall 50 days before Pentecost. If this "day one, belonging to Sabbaths" is indeed the day of the wave offering, then we would expect to find this same fluctuation. We do indeed observe this in the Gospels and Acts.

In the Gospels, Passover and "day one belonging to Sabbaths" were three days apart during passion week. Jesus was tried and crucified on Passover. On the third day, “one belonging to Sabbaths,” we see Jesus alive. We then see the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost when the fifty days were complete (Acts 2).

In Acts 20, Passover and “day one belonging to Sabbaths” are 12 days apart: Paul and his companions decided to remain and depart after the feast of Unleavened bread. It took five days to sail to Troas. 7+ 5 = 12. Then we see the church observing this “day one belonging to the Sabbaths.” After other stops, we see Paul in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost!

I Corinthians 16 is not a chronological historical account; it is a letter. None the less, we see Passover, day one belonging to Sabbaths, then Pentecost in that order:

Passover: In chapter 5:7-8 Paul instruct the Corinthians to purge out adultery and keep the Passover feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. In chapter 11, Paul writes to the Corinthians about keeping the traditions as He delivered them to them. He speaks of the Lord’s supper in the context of Passover, “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. . . .For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; (v11-23) (That “same night” was Passover).

"day one belonging to Sabbaths": In chapter 15 He speaks of delivering to the I Corinthians “that which [He] received from the Lord, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, . . . But now Christ has is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Then we see this passage about “day one belonging to Sabbaths” in Chapter 16:2, sandwiched between references to “first fruits” (15:20, 23; 16:15). (remember, the first fruits are waved before the LORD by the priest on day one of counting fifty in the context of seven Sabbaths).

Pentecost: We then see, continuing in chapter 15, verse 8 that Paul wants to see the Corinthians and would even like to spend the winter with them, but he doesn’t wish to see them “now on the way , “But will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost!” We have traditionally tended to spiritualize Paul’s instruction here about keeping the Passover. Likewise, we have applied I Corinthians chapter 11 to weekly Sunday services with communion; but, in reading the whole of Paul’s letter we see these are in the literal context of Passover to Pentecost!

Conclusion: With the exception of Mark 16:9, the phrase traditionally translated “first day of the week” could logically be translated “day one belonging to the Sabbaths.” It is only used in the context of Passover and Pentecost. Directly translated this phrase presents itself logically, honestly, and naturally as--day one, counting toward 50, in the context of 7 Sabbaths--the day the priest waved the first fruits before the LORD, the beginning of counting to the harvest of Pentecost, the day on which Jesus presented Himself before the Father as the firstfruit of the resurrection!

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1  
I see you've edited a lot since I first made the comment, so I just deleted the comment. It's been a long while since I made it and I would have to study back through to give you helpful feedback at this point. However, I don't really participate here much anymore; I've found other avenues for my energies because I'm burnt out by the meta battles. So let it stand---glad to see you have come up to speed on the site. :) –  Kazark Feb 25 at 15:32

I hope somebody that really heard this interpretation explains it. I haven't heard it. But I will make a guess (and I could be completely wrong) that this is part of a very speculative escatological interpretation that in some way relates to Daniel 9:24-25 where "seven weeks" are mentioned.

I believe that it really is to twist this passage to try to interpret it in another way than the obvious. The first day literally is the first day of the week. It fits well with Mark 16:2:

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb

It's only natural for the followers of Jesus to meet on the day of his resurrection which was the very center of there belief (even today this is the main day for a majority of all the Christians to worship.)

This notion is even more clear in Acts 20:7:

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

It would be very weird to interpret this first day as a week of seven weeks. What does then "until midnight" refers to? The following two days or something? And for how long did they break bread? For one week?

I think the passages in 1 Cor 16:2 is very clear. The first day of the week is literally the first day of the week. Which in a Jewish calender would be Sunday, and for the Christians is the day of Jesus' resurrection.

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In fact, in the Jewish calendar the days aren't called Sunday, Monday, etc, but yom rishon (first day, = Sunday), yom sheini, etc. I don't know the Christian testament well nor Greek at all, so I don't know if this text derives from "yom rishon", but it sure sounds like it does. –  Gone Quiet Jul 8 '12 at 22:13
    
"It would be very weird to interpret this first day as a week of seven weeks" – I am sorry – my recollection was wrong. It was "the first day of the sabbaths", not "the first week of seven weeks". Please, check out my edit. –  brilliant Jul 9 '12 at 5:36
    
@MonicaCellio: You are of course completely right. I took a shortcut. What I meant was that the first day in the week in a Jewish context relates to Sunday in a Western calendar. But I didn't know that the days of week in a Jewish calendar is LITERALLY named "first day", "second day" etc. That's very interesting. –  Niclas Nilsson Jul 10 '12 at 15:58
    
@NiclasNilsson, I wasn't criticizing, just augmenting. I figured you knew that Sunday = first day but might not know about the naming. –  Gone Quiet Jul 10 '12 at 16:00
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@brilliant I will read through your edit and try to change my answer according to that. Maybe I find some time tonight :) But I would hope that someone that knew this interpretation since before would give a better answer that I probably will be able to. –  Niclas Nilsson Jul 10 '12 at 16:05

μίαν σαββάτων

μίαν is feminine-gendered. σαββάτων is neuter-gendered.

The English translation cannot be "one of the Sabbaths" because μίαν does not agree in gender with σαββάτων. Simple as that. It's grammatically impossible.

Here is the first of several PDF's that I will post on the subject. This first one proves that the Hebrew word שַׁבַּת (shabbat), meaning "Sabbath day" (i.e., seventh day of the week), is overwhelmingly translated into Greek in the LXX by a plural inflection of the equivalent Greek word σάββατον (sabbaton).

Occurrences of the Singular Inflection of Shabbat in the Hebrew Tanakh

The next PDF contains a table that lists all 68 occurrences of the Greek word σάββατον and its related inflections in the Textus Receptus and their corresponding English translation in the KJV. Cells shaded in blue indicate verses in which a plural inflection of the Greek word σάββατον occurs in a context that clearly refers to a singular Sabbath day.

Occurrences of the Greek Word σάββατον in the New Testament

This is the third paper on the subject, tieing it all together. I didn't have a chance to revise it since I accidentally deleted my hard drive with the original Word doc on it. Fortunately I had saved this to a web host.

Here you go:

Discourse: On the Greek Word σάββατον

There's a lot of good information in there. Just take your time with it.

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Checkmark answer not address simple grammar addresses here. This is best answer –  user1985 Feb 17 '13 at 3:44
    
@H3br3wHamm3r81 Based on your discourse and what I've gathered elsewhere, it appears as though "Sabbath(s)" CAN be translated "week/seven," (s.) or (pl.); howver, the translators must decide BASED ON CONTEXT how to translate it. Pertaining to the posted question, this "mian ton Sabbaton" in every NT Text is contextually between Passover and Pentecost (see my ans.) Do you discern any reason logical that this phrase CANNOT be translated, "(day) one of/belonging to the Sabbaths," ie., day one of counting 50 days, in the context of 7 Sabbaths, in counting toward Pentecost. If so, please share. –  Sarah Feb 24 '13 at 2:20

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