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I have a translation of the New Testament in my hands, in which Revelation 1:10 is rendered as "I was in the Spirit on Sunday". When I looked up the same verse in some other translations, I saw "I was in the Spirit on the day of the Lord".

Can anyone, please, comment on this? How much is it permissible to render "the day of the Lord" as "Sunday", or vice versa? What about original manuscripts? Do they have the word "Lord" there? Do they have the name of a day of the week there?

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The early christians made a tradition out of meeting on "the first day of the week", which is Sunday, because Saturday is the last day of the week (you can compare this to an American calendar which start the week on a Sunday and ends it on a Saturday.)

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.

and 1 Cor 16:2:

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

A hint that John saw his revelation on a day when christians used to worship is in Rev 4 where some kind of heavenly worship service is going on (but a more solid evidence is Didaché which I refer to below). It was an ordinary day of work, but it was special because it was the day when the Lord had risen (Mark 16:2).

It's not far fetched to connect this with "the day of the Lord". In the early christian book called Didaché which is "dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century" (Wikipedia) it is also obvious that "the day of the Lord" was the most important day for the christians to meet on:

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: "In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations." Didaché, ch. 14

Put these two things together, the tradition to meet on "the first day of the week" and the tradition to meet on "the day of the Lord" and I think you have a pretty good case that they both refer to Sunday.

As a side note, it may also be observed that there is another concept in the Bible of "the day of the Lord" (Isiah 13:6, 9; Ez 13:5 etc) which should not be confused with what's going on in Rev 1:10.


As Jon points out in the comments there is another question which deals more with the transit from the Jewish sabbath (Friday night to Saturday) to Sunday as the christian worship day.

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  • 3
    Welcome to our Biblical Hermeneutics site. Solid answer! Part of the confusion we modern Christians have, is confusing the "Lord's day" with the "Sabbath". They are now very much tied in our minds, but they would have been somewhat distinct in the first few centuries of the church. Now I'm curious how that transition happened. This question has some hints. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 15:29
  • Thanks Jon! I've got some help before on other passages by reading some previous answer from the site. So I thought it was about time that I contributed ;) I also made my answer a little more complete by (a) adding a reference to Rev 4 in the beginning of the answer (b) moved up a previous comment about another concept of "the day of the Lord" and (c) added your link to the answer. Hopefully more people would find this answer helpful in the future. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 19:19
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    And this confusion... I believe most of my congregation (myself included) might use the Swedish term "vilodagen" (day of resting) to refer to Sunday and the term "sabbath" to refer to the Jewish sabbath. But that of course is a cultural thing. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 19:35
  • I'm so glad you found some help from previous answers. (I'm curious which ones.) Seems like you've learned to contribute from observation, which is excellent. Thanks so much. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 20:23
  • The fact that the Jewish day starts at 6pm is an important piece in the puzzle, I think. In Acts 20:9 we read that "On the first day of the week we (the believing community) came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight". A Jewish day starts about 6pm. So to break bread together in the beginning of the first day of the week - Sunday, they would have to gather already at the end of Saturday, around 5.30pm. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 1:55
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Pleasd read Acts 20:7 or 1 Cor. 16:2 using a Greek interlinear, you will find that in Greek it shows the word Saturday or Sabaton and not 1st day or Sunday. The first Christians kept the Sabbath or the 7th day. The translation is a complete lie or misslesding intent.

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  • All the first Christians kept the Sabbath because they were all Jews living in Palestine where they had kept the Sabbath as children. When Paul went on a missionary trip he would often go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and reason with the Jews there - right in their synagogues. The book of Acts mentions Paul doing this at least twice, maybe more. On one occasion, again on a Sabbath, Paul went to a river and sat down amongst the worshippers. Gentiles who were friends of the Jews attended the meetings in the synagogues and also listened to Paul. On the Sabbath. Commented May 19, 2023 at 6:05
  • The Sabbath was never abolished by Jesus nor the Father. Jesus kept the Sabbath when he lived. However, many of the Gentiles who were averse to going into a Jewish synagogue or had to work on the Sabbath would meet with each other on Sunday as that was the rest day for most of Gentiles. The whole known world (Europe and some nations in the Middle East) was geared to Sunday worship. The Gentiles did it in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not because the Sabbath had been abolished, but because it was convenient. Sunday never replaced the Sabbath. Commented May 19, 2023 at 6:16
  • Sunday is NOT the Gentile Sabbath. It is the day they gathered to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. It is NOT required for salvation. But under European rule in the Roman Empire, the Gentiles came from a pagan background that was geared to Sunday. So Sunday they met because they otherwise would have to work on Saturday, the Sabbath. Commented May 19, 2023 at 6:23
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The translation of τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ as "Sunday" is reckless and absurd. I recommend tossing it into a Gezina.

Here is the text in question:

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς σάλπιγγος

The words literally say "the Lord's day". This is not a spanking new "Christian" term but rather an ancient Jewish term repeated and discussed endlessly in both "testaments".

"Sunday" on the other hand is named after the Roman sun-god, which the emperor Constantine also worshiped and minted coins in honor of.

The term "the day of" is a Jewish idiom for "the time of", not just a single day. "The day of the Lord" is the Septuagint version of "the day of YHVH".

There is no "Christian day of worship" established in the scriptures. John was clearly brought by the "spirit" to witness the events of the end of the age.

Update

Malachi reveals that the long promised "day of the Lord" occurred in the first century AD (culminating in the great judgment on Herod's temple and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD):

Mal 4:5  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Revelation, then is at least partially rooted in the events of 70AD.

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  • Youre ignoring the context which says I was in spirit on this day, it is not referring to the day of destruction, the special day but a regular day, hence Sunday is interpreted. See Rev 4:2 "at once I was in spirit", hence, it refers to a regular day of Sunday. The phrase is also unique Lord's day, kyriaki hemera, not hemera tou kyriou as it is elsewhere for the Day of the lord.
    – Michael16
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 11:27
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“Day of the Lord” or “Sunday” in Revelation 1:10

Under inspiration John found himself in " The Lord's Day" this does not refer to a particular day of the week, because the events that follow in the prophesies of Revelation happen at a future time, that John saw in his vision.

Includes events like the destruction of the kings of the earth, and the resurrection of the dead, and many other events that we read in the Revelation. Compare also 1 Corinthians 1:8 "Day of our Lord Jesus Christ", Philippians 1:10 and 1:16 "Day of Christ" 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 reads;

1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NRSV)

" In the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing.[a] When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord."

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  • "The Lord's Day" this does refer to a particular day of the week" - "does" or "doesn't" ?
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 22:48
  • brilliant, It doesn't refer to a particular day of the week, but a long period of time in which the events mention in Revelation will take place. Like the resurrection of the dead. Please note the bold verses above also refer to the Lord's Day Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 15:45
  • "...because the events that follow in the prophesies of Revelation happen at a future time, that John saw in his vision" - But isn't it Like John is telling us that one day he was on the isle of Patmos and that it was on the day of the Lord, and that on that day he heard the voice telling him to write something to the seven churches first? I mean all of that was not yet the future events. The real prophecy about the future starts only from Rev 4:1: "Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter"
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 18:09
  • brilliant . Not from 4:1 but from 1: 3 "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near".and 1:19 "Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this." Note that verse 3 says "Blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it". Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 21:06
  • (1) Rev 1:3 is merely an introduction to the whole book. There are no prophecies in 1:3 at all. 1:19 is simply a command by Jesus to John to write "what he had just seen" by that moment (exactly, seven stars and seven lampstands), "what is" (that is, seven churches), and " what is to take place after this" (that is, all other things about the future that would be shown to John in visions soon after Jesus is done telling John what to write to the seven churches).
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 6:06
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I don't believe the etymology of a single Greek word should be the proof to determine an accurate translation. The context in Greek as in Hebrew determines the correct translation, not semantics. For example, isn't "the testimony of John" the same as "John's testimony"? Pointing out that an adjective is used instead of the genitive in Rev. 1:10 isn't a very convincing proof of a correct translation.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 1:37
  • The point at issue is whether John is talking about the first day of the week, or if he has another meaning altogether (in which 'day' means the same as 'David was in his day, a great king).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 3:01
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Despite the recent fashion for applying this to the Old Testament "Day of the Lord", my money remains on the more traditional "the Lord's Day", referring it to Jesus (who is also Lord).

The first day of the week became known as "the Lord's day", specifically because it was the day when Jesus rose from the dead.

This first chapter is very much about John's encounter with Jesus. It is "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in the very first words, and "the testimony of Jesus Christ" in the next verse. The first verse announces that Jesus sent his angel to John, and that angel (or representative) appears in v12, speaking the words of Jesus as his messenger.

And the first thing that the angel of Jesus talks about is the Resurrection.He identifies himself as "the living one" and says "I died and behold I am alive for evermore." And because he was raised from the dead, he can say "I have the keys of Death and Hades" (v13, RSV). In other words, his power to help us is based on the fact that he was raised from the dead, which is central to the Christian faith. The point is reinforced in visual form when he is presented to us later as a "Lamb standing as though it had been slain" (ch5 v6), that is as a resurrected Lamb.

The book of Revelation is about his power to support his people, which is based upon the power of the Resurrection, and that makes it very appropriate that these visions should be given to John on the day dedicated to celebrating the Resurrection. That is, the Lord's day.

John says "I was in the Spirit" on the day in question. Anyone who wants to identify the day as "The Day of the Lord" in the O.T. sense has to treat that statement as a retrospective summary of the whole vision experience, regarded as a view of the Day of the Lord. I don't believe this works.

One reason is that the "Day of the Lord" is the moment when God intervenes in full power, and that doesn't happen until ch19. The previous events are only the prelude, and applying "I was in the Day of the Lord" to the whole experience is stretching the concept. The other is that I see no reason to suppose that John is making a retrospective comment here. He is writing about events as they happen, and "I was in the Spirit" is describing his state immediately before the loud voice spoke to him.

So this event must have been taking place on the Lord's day.

(This is the gist of the argument that I used in "Silence in Heaven", reconstructed from memory rather than quoted directly)

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I only found a couple of bible versions using Sunday in Rev 1:10, and it is a valid translation. New Matthew Bible, and MSG, and versions mentions Sunday in footnotes.

NMB I was in the Spirit on a Sunday, and heard behind me a great voice, as if of a trumpet,

It is correct to render it as Sunday, however it is a little bit interpretative. Even the NLT has not used Sunday there. It depends on the translator's choice whether to keep the phrase ambiguous and leave it to the reader or present an interpretative easier translation. It is Sunday, not the special day of the lord (abomination of desolation, second coming), which is a very specific day. John is referring to a regular day, that is Sunday, which took its name due to the resurrection day. The phrase is also unique, adjective-Lord's day κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, unlike the "Day of the Lord" ἡμέρα κυρίου or ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου phrase. The adjective (Lord's) is used for something belonging to the Lord, as used in 1Cor 11:20 Lord's supper Commentators explain, for example John Gill mentions that:

Ethiopic version renders it "on the first day"; and is so called just as the ordinance of the supper is called the Lord's supper, being instituted by the Lord, and the Lord's table, 1Co 10:21,:

Cambridge commentary:

the Lord’s day] Undoubtedly here used (though for the first time) in the sense now traditional throughout Christendom. Many of the early Fathers, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, &c. use the word of the First Day of the week. A few commentators have proposed to translate, “I was, in spirit, on the day of the Lord,” i.e. was carried away in spirit to the Great Day of the Lord’s Coming; but the reference to Rev 4:2 refutes this.

Rev 4:2 has a similar phrase of a regular occasion.

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and look, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne.

Pulpit commentary:

On the Lord's day. The expression occurs here only in the New Testament, and beyond all reasonable doubt it means "on Sunday." This is, therefore, the earliest use of the phrase in this sense. That it means Easter Day or Pentecost is baseless conjecture. The phrase had not yet become common in A.D. , as is shown from St. Paul writing, "on the first of the week" (1 Corinthians 16:2), the usual expression in the Gospels and Acts (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; comp. Mark 16:9). But from Ignatius onwards, we have a complete chain of evidence that ἡ Κυριακή became the regular Christian name for the first day of the week; and Κυριακή is still the name of Sunday in the Levant. "No longer observing sabbaths, but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day" (Ign., 'Magn.,' 9.). Melito, Bishop of Sardis (A.D. 170), wrote a treatise περί Κυριακῆς (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' IV. 26:2). Dionysius of Corinth (A.D. 175), in an epistle to the Romans, mentions that the Church of Corinth is that day keeping the Lord's holy day (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' IV. 23:11). Comp. also Clem. Alex., 'Strom.,' VII. 12:98 (p. 377, Potter); Tertull., 'De Con.,' 3. and 'De Idol.,' 14, where Dominicus dies is obviously a translation of Κυριακὴ ἡμέρα; and fragment 7 of the lost works of Irenaeus. That "the Lord's day" (ἡ Κυριακὴ ἡμέρα) in this place is the same as "the day of the Lord" (ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυίου) is not at all probable. The context is quite against any such meaning as that St. John is spiritually transported to the day of judgment. Contrast Revelation 6:17; Revelation 16:14; 1 John 4:17; John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; John 11:24; John 12:48. Whereas, seeing that the visions which follow are grouped in sevens (the seven candlesticks, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials), the fact that they begin on the first day of the seven is eminently appropriate.

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It remains for us to define the meaning of the "Lord’s Day" of Revelation 1:10 solely in the light of the text, context, and the teaching of the New Testament. Assuming that the Seer intended to specify that on a Sunday he found himself rapt in the Spirit, would he have designated such a day as “Lord’s Day”? Because in the New Testament, this day is always called “the first day of the week,” is it not strange that in this one place, the writer would use a different expression to refer to the same day?

More important still, if, as many exegetes maintain, John the Apostle wrote at approximately the same time both the Revelation and the fourth Gospel, then would it not seem reasonable to expect him to employ the same expression even in his Gospel, especially when reporting the first-day events of the resurrection and appearances of Jesus (John 20:1, 19, 26)? In the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, written several decades later, we notice for instance that the day of the resurrection is designated not as the “first day of the week” but as “Lord’s—kuriake” since the latter had by then become the term commonly used. If Sunday had already received the new appellation “Lord’s Day” by the end of the first century when both the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation were written, we would expect this new name for Sunday to be used consistently in both works, especially since they were apparently produced by the same author at approximately the same time and in the same geographical area. If a new term prevails and is more readily understood, a writer does not confuse his readers with archaic time designations.

On another historical note, in the second century, Christians were trying to figure out how much of Judaism to get rid of, not because there was a biblical mandate to keep the first day of the week, but predominantly because of the Jewish upheavals that occurred-AD 70, AD 118, AD 135-that lead to the Jews losing their legal privileges in the empire. They were trying to distance themselves from the backlash against Jews, seeing as how Christians and Jews worshipped on the same day. A gradual shift occurred, predominantly in the major cities. Shortly after the Barcopa Rebellion of AD 135, you will find language in the Epistle of Barnabas, circa AD 135-140, attempting to distinguish Christians from Jews; however, the vast majority of Christians worshipped on the seventh-day Sabbath. There is no New Testament language calling the first day of the week Sabbath, but the seventh day is consistently referred to as the Sabbath. There is no commandment changing the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day. Just because later Christians honored Sunday, does not mean that one can anachronistically refer to the first day in scripture as the Lord's Day. There are many areas of the Church's teachings that have diverged greatly from the teachings of the New Testament. The Sabbath is but one. Protestant reformers were integral in bringing attention to the many points of deviation from scripture brought about throughout the centuries after the apostles, and are continuing to rediscover the faith of Jesus. Sunday worship is something that the later church adopted, despite there being no Biblical foundation for it; however, that is not the question. The question is, "What determines the rule of life, the traditions of the church, or the scriptures themselves? If the answer is "tradition," then it does not matter which day we superimpose upon the commandment to "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.." Exodus 20:11. We can just as easily keep Tuesday as holy. If, however, we follow Scripture alone, then there is but one day that is consistently called the Sabbath, the seventh day.

This whole change from Sabbath to Sunday still does not apply to the issue in question, Revelation 1:10. Sunday is consistently referred to as "the first day of the week in the NT. None of John's writing exalts Sunday as the new Sabbath. The immediate context which precedes and follows Revelation 1:10 contains unmistakable references to the eschatological day of the Lord. In the preceding verses Christ is portrayed as the One who “is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him” (v. 7) and as the One “who is and who was and who is to come (v. 8). In the following verses John describes the vision of the glorious and triumphant “Son of Man” who has“the keys of Death and Hades” (vv. 12-18). The same “Son of Man” appears again later to John with “a sharp sickle in his hand... for the harvest of the earth” (14:14, 15), where unquestionably the reference is to a future time of judgment. The immediate context is clearly eschatological. This suggests that John felt himself transported by the Spirit to the future glorious day of the Lord.

Additional support for this interpretation is provided by the fact that 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—tes hemeras megales tou theou” (16:14) and “the great day of wrath— he hemera he megale tes orges” (6:17).

These variations in the designation of the day of Christ’s coming indicate that the event was of such great importance that it could be designated in a great variety of ways without the risk of being misunderstood. No less than thirty times John refers explicitly to it in his book. In the New Testament, in fact, the day of Christ’s coming, which is regarded as the foundation and consummation of the Christian faith, hope, and living, is 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—hemera autou” (Luke 17:24). The fact that such a broad diversity of expressions is used to name the day of Christ’s coming, and the fact that John himself refers to it with different appellatives, make it altogether plausible that “the Lord’s day” is simply one of the many different designations for the same event.

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