I noticed that the Greek phrase τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων in Acts 20:7 is often translated “the first day of the week.” However, I assert that it could also mean “the first Sabbath” because the noun σάββατον can be translated “week” or “Sabbath.”

(By the way, the Greek word for “day” is not in the Greek text but has been assumed by translators.)

So, which of the translations is correct, and why?

7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. NASB, 1995

Ζʹ Ἐν δὲ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων συνηγμένων ἡμῶν κλάσαι ἄρτον, ὁ Παῦλος διελέγετο αὐτοῖς μέλλων ἐξιέναι τῇ ἐπαύριον, παρέτεινέν τε τὸν λόγον μέχρι μεσονυκτίου. NA28

  • 1
    For a recent academic discussion of the words for "sabbath" and "week" in Hebrew, Greek, and other languages, see this lecture.
    – fdb
    May 12, 2017 at 11:04
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    You guys are killing me. How am I suppose to understand what you are talking about if you speak in Chinese... I mean Greek ;-) This level of discussion is definitely higher than expected and that's a good thing. I love this network and I have a high esteem for everyone of you who are sharing your knowledge on your personal time to help others to understand the Word of God. Thank you again to y'all. May 15, 2017 at 15:33
  • The question is correct in pointing out the plausibility of the "First of the Weeks" ... in reference to Pentecost. Regardless, the fact remains that textually, it was both the first day of the week, and the first week of Pentecost. Then again, there is a whole different debate on when the weeks start, so ... there is that. Though, the way that Acts unravels kind of shows what the Christians - at that time - believed, (if you do the maths). I also researched this and found very inconsistent ways that σαββάτων is used. So, I just go with "Both". Why not? Apr 18, 2018 at 18:14
  • Does this answer your question? Sabbath, Sabbaths or week? Matthew 28:1
    – Michael16
    Mar 1, 2023 at 12:29
  • That word is used for weekdays too, not just weekend. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/19592/…
    – Michael16
    Dec 22, 2023 at 6:42

10 Answers 10


It cannot mean “the first Sabbath” because the lemma σάββατον is a noun declined in the neuter gender, while the cardinal number μία (an adjective) is declined in the feminine gender. In Greek grammar, an adjective must agree in case, gender, and number with the noun it modifies.

If we are to suppose that τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων is to be translated as “the first [Sabbath] of the Sabbaths,” with the supplied ellipsis “Sabbath,” then the cardinal number should be declined in the neuter gender in agreement with supplied ellipsis τῷ σαββάτῳ, as in τῷ σαββάτῳ τῷ ἑνὶ τῶν σαββάτων—“the first Sabbath of the Sabbaths.”

The fact that the cardinal number is μία, declined in the feminine gender, suggests that the supplied ellipsis should be ἡμέρᾳ (“day”), as in “the first [day] of the week,” since ἡμέρᾳ is also declined in the feminine gender.

In English, it is also common to use such ellipses when numbering days. For example, in the phrase “It is the first of the month,” the word “day” is omitted because it is assumed to be understood by the reader.

Unlike Hebrew, English actually has unique names for the days of the week, such as Monday, Tuesday, etc., which of course are derived from the names of astronomical phenomena (e.g., Sunday, Monday) or gods (e.g., Thursday, Saturday). Therefore, it is unnecessary in English to refer to days of the week by number.1 On the other hand, it is typical to do so in Hebrew.

For example, the following chart displays how the days of the week were numbered in the Talmud:

Hebrew Day Numbering in the Talmud

It is noteworthy that בשבא and בשבתא/בשבת are equated in such phrases as חד בשבא and חד בשבתא, both evidently meaning “the first day of the week.”

In addition to the aforementioned phrases, there also exists the phrases כל השבת and באמצע שבת, meaning “the whole week”2 and “in the middle of the week,”3 respectively.

The Greek Septuagint, written a few centuries prior to the Christian advent, has the phrase τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων in Psa. 24:1, a psalm that was historically sung on the first day of the week by Levites in the Temple, as testified by Jewish writings.4

John Phillips, p. 180

This is impartial evidence identifying τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων with the first day of the week, as Collins notes,5

...because we have good evidence that Jewish Greek used μία for the first day of the week, in the expression ἡ μία [ἡμέρα] τῶν σαββάτων “the first [day] of the week.” For example, in the LXX inscription to Ps 24 (lxx Ps 23.1), we find:

ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυιδ τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων
A psalm for/of David, of the first day of the week.

In addition to the preceding arguments against the translation “the first [Sabbath] of the Sabbaths,” a few points could benefit from clarification.

It is argued by some that σάββατον should never be translated as “week,” for the author would have used ἑβδομάς instead. Both in the Old and New Testament, there are instances where the author is clearly referring to a “week” rather than “Sabbath” using the word σάββατον (or a declension thereof).

  • Luke 18:12: νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου (“I fast twice a week”)

Regarding this verse, Francis D. Nichol wrote,6

Nichol, p. 237–238

In addition, there are the following verses in the Greek Septuagint:

  • Psa. 24:1: τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων (“the first day of the week”)
  • Psa. 94:1: τετράδι σαββάτων (“the fourth day of the week”)

Historical sources testify that both of these psalms were sung in the Temple by the Levites on their respective day of the week.

Furthermore, in Lev. 23:15, it states, שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה—“and seven שַׁבָּתוֹת shall be complete.” Some translate שַׁבָּתוֹת as “Sabbaths,” as though the Israelites had to count seven complete Sabbaths, but consider the following remarks from Carl Friedrich Keil,7

That שַׁבָּתוֹת (ver. 15) signifies weeks, like שָׁבֻעֹת in Deut. xvi. 9, and τὰ σάββατα in the Gospels (e.g. Matt. xxviii. 1), is evident from the predicate תְּמִימֹת, “complete,” which would be quite unsuitable if Sabbath-days were intended, as a long period might be reckoned by half weeks instead of whole, but certainly not by half Sabbath-days.


Collins, C. John. “The Refrain of Genesis 1: A Critical Review of Its Rendering in the English Bible.” Technical Papers for the Bible Translator. Vol. 60, No. 3, July 2009.

Keil, Carl Friedrich. Commentary on the Old Testament. 1900. Reprint. Trans. Martin, James. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.

Nichol, Francis D. Answers to Objections: An Examination of the Major Objections Raised Against the Teachings of Seventh-Day Adventists. Fort Oglethorpe: TEACH Services, 2014.

Phillips, John. Exploring Psalms: An Expository Commentary, Volume One. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1988.


1 Thus, it is typical to say, “Today is Wednesday” rather than “Today is the fourth of the week.”
2 Chul. 26b; Meg. 30a; Men. 65a; Nazir 5a; Yoma 46a
3 Taʿan. 29b, 30a, etc.
4 See Phillips, p. 180; also, cp. Babylonian Talmud, Seder Moʿed, Tractate Rosh ha-Shana, Chapter 4, Folio 31a, Gemara (English translation)
5 p. 124–125
6 p. 237–238
7 p. 442

  • The Catechism of the Council of Trent makes this observation: "Sabbath is a Hebrew word which signifies cessation. ... In this sense the seventh day was called the Sabbath, because God, having finished the creation..., rested on that day from all the work which He had done. ... Later on, not only the seventh day, but, in honour of that day, the entire week was called by the same name; and in this meaning of the word, the Pharisee says in St. Luke: 'I fast twice in a sabbath.' So much will suffice with regard to the signification of the word sabbath." Jun 24, 2019 at 13:08
  • Regarding the discussion here on Luke 18:12, keep in mind that the first century Greek writing of the ‘Didache’ in 8:1 reveals that the Judeans fasted on the second and fifth sabbaths (σαββατων = sabbaton) that were fittingly recognized within part order to the week of seven weekly sabbaths being observed between Passover and Pentecost. (i.e. Lev 23:15) Dec 20, 2020 at 12:33
  • @WilliamPriebe - Um no. They fasted on the 2nd and 5th day of the week. Dec 22, 2020 at 15:34
  • A parallel regarding the word for "week": In Chinese, the days of the week are rendered by concatenating a word of "week" with a number or the character for "day". There are two possible words for "week" however, one of which can also mean "worship". So there is a very strong parallel here between the Koine Greek of the Bible and Chinese, with the differences being that "day" is required after "week", and that the day numbered with one is Monday rather than Sunday.
    – Max Xiong
    Dec 9, 2023 at 22:18

The answer should take into consideration the command under Leviticus 23:15 that the Hebrews were to count 7 sabbaths after the feast of unleavened bread to get to the 7th sabbath and 49th day, and thereafter the 50th day which was Pentecost. So, having the text read as "the first of the Sabbaths" which Young's Literal Translation does at John 20:1 is consistent with the Interlinear Greek "te mia ton Sabbaton" or "the first of the Sabbaths" at Acts 20:7.

The Hebrews were counting the first sabbath after the calendar feast day of unleavened bread, and it would have meant the first of the seven regular sabbaths counted to Pentecost. We may have a real problem with the English translation of Sabbaton as "week".

  • You make an excellent point. This is relevant to the Gospel "mia ton Sabbaton" but unfortunately not in Acts 20. The reason is verse 6 states the days of Unleavened Bread had passed before Paul reached Troas. May 14, 2017 at 14:36

I'm studying Greek, and thought I'd throw my 2 cents into this discussion. I've included some good references as well.

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath[s], as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (1)

Bill Mounce Ph.D. (2) is a well respected scholar on biblical Greek (Koine Greek), and his text books are used at many seminaries, which doesn’t mean he is correct, but he’s not your average guy. According to Bill Mounce Ph.D. σαββάτων can be translated as singular or plural (3), and depends on context, so without expanding this discussion into the potential greater meaning of the verse and the text in general, a person is not going to discover the answer.

To understand if the word σαββάτων is plural or singular, you have to have an understanding of the Jewish culture at the time, and that there were biblical feasts which were also Sabbaths (days of rest). Chuck Missler Ph.D (4) and Scott Ashley (5) have done a lot of work on this topic, and are one of many good resources in order to understand the Sabbath(s) and their relevance to the Bible (past, present, and future significance).

I’d recommend obtaining three good sources, that can argue their stance on both sides of this topic, so that you can obtain a good idea on which side has the strongest stance based upon what the Bible says and teaches, not based on a specific tradition or perhaps a mistranslation/misunderstanding of the text.

Hope this helps!


Ref#1– NKJV: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+28%3A1&version=NKJV

Ref#2 – Bill's Bio: https://www.billmounce.com/personal

Ref#3 – σαββάτων: https://www.billmounce.com/monday-with-mounce/sabbaths-and-sunday-%CF%83%CE%AC%CE%B2%CE%B2%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%BF%CE%BD

Ref#4 – Chuck Missler Ph.D document: http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/214/

Ref#4 – Scott Ashley https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/jesus-wasnt-crucified-on-friday-or-resurrected-on-sunday-how-long-was-jesus-in-the


In Acts 20:7, why is the phrase τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων translated “the first day of the week” when it could mean “the first Sabbath”?

Yes, it could mean "the first Sabbath" as in the first Sabbath in the seven Sabbath countdown toward Pentecost.

There are two ways "mia ton sabbaton" could be translated. The first and most obvious one is "the first of the Sabbaths" which would be the first Sabbath of the seven Sabbath countdown toward Pentecost. It could also be an idiom the "first of the week" as many scholars have claimed over the centuries.

However, in this passage, it is not the first of the seven Sabbath countdown toward Pentecost, because the Feast of Unleavened Bread was already passed, and this meeting took place about two weeks after the Feast had passed.

Acts 20:6, 7

6 And we sailed away from Philippi AFTER the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

6 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.

There are about sixty English translations of Acts 20:6 on Bible Gateway and all sixty translate it after the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Therefore, this "first of the Sabbaths" in Acts 20:7 could not be referring to the first of the seven Sabbath countdown to Pentecost, it has to be something else. Bible Gateway shows many translators translate this as "first day of the week" although the word "day" is not in the text.

There are some that don't like that, so they claim the proper translation should be "We sailed away from Philippi amid (or during) the days of Unleavened Bread" so that the "first of the Sabbaths" might still fall during Paul's stay in Troas. This is cutting things pretty close and doesn't seem reasonable. In my view, it is still too late for the "first of the seven Sabbaths" to happen.

However, it doesn't work because the Greek word for after in all those translations is μετὰ and nothing else. Here are the passages from two well-known manuscripts:

Nestle Greek New Testament 1904 has:

ἡμεῖς δὲ ἐξεπλεύσαμεν μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας τῶν ἀζύμων ἀπὸ Φιλίππων, καὶ ἤλθομεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν Τρῳάδα ἄχρι ἡμερῶν πέντε, ὅπου διετρίψαμεν ἡμέρας ἑπτά.

Scrivener's Textus Receptus 1894 has:

ἡμεῖς δὲ ἐξεπλεύσαμεν μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας τῶν ἀζύμων ἀπὸ Φιλίππων, καὶ ἤλθομεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν Τρωάδα ἄχρις ἡμερῶν πέντε, οὐ διετρίψαμεν ἡμέρας ἑπτά.

Both clearly state it was after the days of Unleavened Bread.

The Greek manuscripts for Acts 20:7 are available at Bible Apps.

If you're like me and can't read Greek cut and paste these two texts into Google Translate and get an English translation. Google Translator is not perfect but it can be helpful sometimes. (Here is an interlinear Greek-English translation and commentaries for Acts 20:6)

And finally, additional commentaries on the "first of the Sabbaths" in verse seven.

The phrase "first of the Sabbaths" can be an idiom and mean the "first day of the week."

The Jewish Translators of the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word Shabbat into WEEK and WEEKS in Leviticus 23:15,16.

The Feast of Weeks

15 And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering, seven full WEEKS 16 until the morrow after the last WEEK ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord.

That was the case two or three centuries BEFORE Christ walked the earth. About two or three centuries (I don't know for sure) after Jesus walked the earth the Jewish authorties called Shabbat a WEEK one time in Menachot 65a through Menachot 66a.


Even in 1917 the JPS translators of the Tanach translated Sabbath as week or weeks twice in Leviticus 23:

15 And you shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day from the day you bring the omer as a wave offering seven WEEKS; they shall be complete.

16 You shall count until the day after the seventh WEEK, [namely,] the fiftieth day, [on which] you shall bring a new meal offering to the Lord.

It is apparent that the word Shabbat can be translated as WEEK, depending on the context.


This phrase 'mia ton sabbaton' translates as 'one from the Sabbath' and is equivalent to 'the first day of the week. It is an ablative use of the genitive case. The word 'sabbaton' is never translated week in the Septuagint, as the Greek has a word for 'week' which is hebdomas. This phrase is nothing to do with the count to Pentecost, as 'hebdomas' is used there in the Septuagint. QUOTE: - In the Septuagint it occurs at least 11 times, given below with the KJV translation: (Exodus 35:3) "upon the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Leviticus 24:8) "Every Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Numbers 15:32) "upon the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Numbers 28:9) "on the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Jeremiah 17:21) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Jeremiah 17:22) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Jeremiah 17:24) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Jeremiah 17:27) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Ezekiel 46:1) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Ezekiel 46:4) "in the Sabbath day" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. (Ezekiel 46:12) "on the Sabbath" τῶν σαββάτων = Sabbath. It also occurs once in the Septuagint (Numbers 15:33) where it is not translated in the KJV. - END QUOTE.

See a full scriptural study here. https://www.logosapostolic.org/bible_study/452-sabbaton.htm


The Christians gathered in Troas:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. (Acts 20:7-8) [ESV]
7 ἐν δὲ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων συνηγμένων ἡμῶν κλάσαι ἄρτον ὁ Παῦλος διελέγετο αὐτοῖς μέλλων ἐξιέναι τῇ ἐπαύριον παρέτεινέν τε τὸν λόγον μέχρι μεσονυκτίου 8 ἦσαν δὲ λαμπάδες ἱκαναὶ ἐν τῷ ὑπερῴῳ οὗ ἦμεν συνηγμένοι

σαββάτων is the plural form of σάββατον which is a Jewish term:

The ancient Greeks did not have the concept of a week and thus there is no word for 'week' or for any of the days of the week in classical Greek. [The Etymology of "Sabbath"]

The Sabbath is a singular day of rest always observed at the end of 6-days of work. Outside of Jerusalem, a Jewish observation would include meeting in the synagogue (cf. Acts 13:14, 15:21, 17:1-2, 18:4) or outside when the city lacked a synagogue (cf. Acts 16:13). It was Paul's custom to join in these observances until he was no longer welcome.

Some commentators see the event in Troas as describing the Christian practice of the Jewish weekly gathering. For example, "This is the first certain example we have of Christians making a practice to gather together on the first day of the week for fellowship and the word - though here, it seems they gathered in the evening, because Sunday was a normal working day for them."1The gathering in Troas takes place in a home, not the synagogue or a place outside the city. This reflects the fact the early "church" met in individual homes.

Any phrase using “Sabbath” or “Sabbaths” is meaningless unless the Sabbath was observed. If it was “the first day of the week” it would be such only if the Sabbath had been observed. So whether singular or plural, a weekly Sabbath had to be observed using the Jewish calendar, which is obvious was used (cf. Acts 20:6, 16). It is believed there was no significant Jewish population in Troas at that time.2 If this is so, then it was Christians who had been keeping track of which day of the week was the Sabbath. In other words, if this passage describes the Christian practice of weekly gathering in a house on a day of the week relative to the Sabbath, then it was Christians who were keeping track of the "weekly" Sabbath calendar.

Here are some related questions about Sabbaths (plural): What are the many Sabbaths referred to in scripture? and Colossians 2:16 speaks of holy days, festivals or weekly sabbaths? and Sabbath, Sabbaths or week? Matthew 28:1

The obvious meanings of the plural are:

  • More than one weekly or annual Sabbath
  • The counting of Sabbaths after the Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16)
  • The occasion when both an annual and weekly Sabbath occur in conjunction

Luke uses the plural σαββάτων three times in Acts:

but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day (ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων) they went into the synagogue and sat down. (Acts 13:14)

And on the Sabbath day (ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων) we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. (Acts 16:13)

On the first day of the week (Ἐν δὲ μια των σαββατων), when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

The first two are always placed on the Sabbath Day. A good exegesis should treat the word consistently. Also, the phrase "ἐν δὲ μια των σαββατων" is nearly identical to that used to record the Resurrection in the Gospel:

τῇ δὲ μια των σαββατων (Luke 24:1)
ἐν δὲ μια των σαββατων (Acts 20:7)

The use of τῇ in the Gospel follows the importance of the day: it is the first of the Sabbaths marking the counting to the Feast of Weeks. For Christians it is also the first of the Sabbaths in the New Covenant (as discussed in Gina's answer).

In Acts 20, Luke begins with ἐν which denotes a "fixed position in time place or state." Literally it means what is taking place is "in (not after) the first of the Sabbaths.” Assuming "Sabbaths" as elsewhere in Acts (13:14 and 16:13), the reasonable assumption is Paul and the others observed the Sabbath beginning at sunset with a prayer service followed by a meal, as was the Jewish tradition. When the events are placed on the Sabbath and σαββατων is rendered as singular (as it is everywhere else in Acts), the passage would read:

In the first of the Sabbath, we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day3, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.

What is described is the typical start of the Sabbath. Paul and the others gather after sunset to break bread (compare to Acts 13:14 and 16:13 which describe events during the day near the end of the Sabbath); what is described is the start (i.e. "the first") of the Sabbath(s).

“Sabbaths” in Troas
The events in Troas describe a typical Sabbath beginning at sunset, as was the Jewish custom. However, they are not in Judea where all believers stopped working at sunset. They are in Troas, a Roman colony in Asia where days were reckoned by Greek or Roman custom: either from midnight or from sunrise. Some Christians in Troas would not conclude their six days of work until after sunrise. The “first” of the Sabbaths comes at sunset on Friday and it is followed by those who start their Sabbath at midnight or sunrise (on Saturday). enter image description here In any city which the beginning of a day is not reckoned at sunset, there can be more than one beginning to the Sabbath, especially when visitors like Paul choose to begin their Sabbath according to Jewish (i.e. Biblical) tradition of sunset, while other Christians might be required to adhere to a civil or legal calendar and work until midnight or sunrise.4The events in Troas describe Paul leading a "Sabbath service" as was the custom of the Jewish people. The difference in Troas is he met in the upper chamber of a house which was the Christian custom; not in a synagogue or a place outside the city as was the Jewish custom.

The phrase “μια των σαββατων” describes the practical reality of differing customs in the Gentile world. This is no different than the contemporary situation where some Christians observe the weekly Sabbath beginning on sunset Friday while others in the same city wait until Saturday evening, midnight, or Sunday morning. In this situation the actions of those who start before the others may be described as beginning "on the first of the Sabbaths."

The plural Sabbaths reflect the situation of a Gentile city where multiple beginnings to the singular (weekly) Sabbath are possible. The plural nature refers to the different times a Sabbath may start. Paul opened the Sabbath, not in a synagogue but in a Christian household which observed the Sabbath beginning at sunset. The same language applies if one house was not large enough for all the Christians in a city to meet; Paul could start at the first house and then go to another house.

Many translations add "day" because the Sabbath is seen as a way to identify a day of the week and so "Sabbaths" (σαββάτων) is a week. In practice, observing the Sabbath is about rest, being refreshed, gathering for holy convocations and meals. Based on the purpose of the Sabbath the proper ellipsis would be “κοινωνία" (fellowship):

“On the first Sabbaths κοινωνία (fellowship) we were gathered together to break bread…”5

In this case, Luke omitted the implied "κοινωνία" to avoid confusing the practice of communion (κοινωνία) with "the breaking of bread." In other words, on the first of the Sabbaths Paul gathered with other Christians for fellowship, which was done with communion and the breaking of bread and teaching in a house: it was the first of multiple fellowships.


  1. David Guzick, Acts 20
  2. Jewish Virtual Library
  3. The "next day" being the day which would start after the following sunset.
  4. Luke is describing an actual event. He is recording history. He is not commenting on whether the Sabbath should begin at sunset. He is simply stating sunset is when Paul gathered with others for fellowship.
  5. As stated in another answer (user862): "The fact that the cardinal number is μία, declined in the feminine gender, suggests that the supplied ellipsis should be ἡμέρᾳ (“day”), as in “the first [day] of the week,” since ἡμέρᾳ is also declined in the feminine gender." This argument fails to consider κοινωνία is feminine and there is good reason for its omission. On the other hand, if Luke intended the reader to understand "day" there is no reason not to include it since, arguably it is the omission of ἡμέρᾳ which creates the uncertainty.
  • Unfortunately this answer does not taken into consideration the fact that this same exact phrase μια των σαββατων is used in John 20:1 & John 20:19 to refer to the "first day of the week" (cf. Matt 28:1 where μιαν σαββατων is also used for the "first day of the week").
    – user6503
    May 12, 2017 at 19:15
  • 1
    Sorry, but -1. You quote the first part of Matt 28:1 where you say "Now after the Sabbath [Sabbaths]..." but you do not quote the rest of the verse, which is the part that undermines the arguments you try to make in your next paragraphs. You also still don't take into account John 20:1 & John 20:19, both of which can't be taken any other way than "first of the week," as in "first day of the week" due to phrasing and most importantly context, where it is clear that the Sabbath had passed and it was the next day. [continued...]
    – user6503
    May 13, 2017 at 21:40
  • This is why translations such as the NKJV & NASB include day in italics, because day is implied. Additionally, your arguments that 'Sabbath' and 'week' are inconsistently translated, giving examples such as Luke 4:16, Acts 13:14 & Acts 16:13, are not valid because these verses do not contain an ordinal number like Acts 20:7 does, or like the portion of Matt 28:1 that you did not quote does (or, for that matter, like John 20:1 & John 20:19 do).
    – user6503
    May 13, 2017 at 21:41
  • I just wanted to add that English also has certain words that are always spelled in a plural form even if referring to a singular item, or almost always used in a plural form even though a singular form exists. Some examples include: pants, scissors, & glasses. See this Oxford Dictionary blog post about pluralia tantum (plural only).
    – user6503
    May 14, 2017 at 13:00
  • See also this wiktionary page that I happened to stumble upon that has a few examples from ancient Greek of pluralia tantum. My point being that you cannot use the argument that a word must always be translated as a plural if it is spelled in a plural form.
    – user6503
    May 14, 2017 at 13:01

 The passages given here below regarding the Apostle Paul are stated directly from the MYLES COVERDALE BIBLE of 1535; (Quotes Begin)

Acts 20:7

“Vpon one of the Sabbathes , whan the disciples came together to breake bred, Paul preached vnto them, wyllinge to departe on the morow, and contynued the preachinge vnto mydnight.”

  • Consider as well Thomas Cranmer’s Great Bible of 1539 for THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES’ 20:7 which reads; (Quote Begins)

“And vpon one of the Saboth dayes, whan the disciples came together for to breake bread Paul preached vnto them (ready to departe on the morow) and continued the preachynge vnto mydnyght.” (Quote Ends)

The English Hexapla, London: Samuel Bagster & Sons 1861

It seems that the Translators decipher their impression of the Acts 20:7 passage by their theological understanding and interpretatation of what the original scripture means to them...

Although the phrase ‘mia ton sabbatwn’ e.g. (Acts 20:7) may be synonymous in meaning with the ‘first day of the week’ scripturally it is not duly supported. The phrase ‘first (ordinal) day of the week’ could have appeared as; ‘πρώτο ημέρα του εβδομάδας’ i.e. ‘first (πρώτο) day (ημέρα) of the (του) week (εβδομάδας)’ and transliterated as ‘prote hemera tis hebdomata’ in the original Koine Greek verses of; Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, St. John 20:1,19; Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 16:2 in the New Testament but does NOT appear anywhere in any way, shape or form.

The word ‘εβδομάδας’ in the Koine Greek for ‘week’ does appear respectively in certain aspects of the Septuagint LXX Old Testament (~ 270 B.C.) i.e. Ex 34:22; Lev 23:15, 16, 25; Num 28:26; Deut 16:9, 10, 16; II Cron 8:13, and Dan 9:24,25, 26, 27; 10:2, 3.

Secondly, the phrase ‘the first (ordinal) of the sabbaths’ could have appeared as ‘της πρωτον των σαββάτων’ i.e. ‘the (της) first (πρωτον) of (των) sabbaths (σαββάτων)’ in the original Koine Greek for the resurrection verses but does not for the most part. However, ‘πρωτη ημερα των αζυμων’ i.e. ‘first (πρωτη) day (ημερα) of the (των) unleaveneds (αζυμων)’ = ‘first (ordinal) day of unleavened (bread)’ is translated accurately for Mark 14:12 along with the most part of Matthew 26:17 and Luke 22:7.

The verse of Mark 16:9 in the original Greek is shown as ‘πρώτη σάββατου’ transliterated as ‘protos sabbatou’ which is translated literally to mean ‘first (ordinal) sabbath (singular)’. Here the long ending of Mark 16:9–20 is critically regarded as an extension interpolated at a later time and does not exist in the earlier and older manuscripts. The Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinaiticus, Sinaitic Syriac, Armenian and oldest Georgian manuscripts show no support for the long ending of St. Mark 16:9-20.

The Koine Greek word ‘μια’ transliterated as ‘mia’ and translated as ‘one’ (cardinal) is found in the Greek Septuagint (~250 BC) O.T. references such as; Deuteronomy 12:14 (one of the tribes), 15:7 ; 19:5,11 (one of the cities), Joshua 10:2 (one of the chief cities), Ruth 2:13 (one of thy servants), 1 Kings 2:36 (one of the priests), and 2 Kings 15:2 (one of the tribes).

Outside the resurrection verses the Koine Greek word ‘μια’ is found in other N.T. references such as; Matthew 5:19 (one of the commandments), 26:69 (one servant girl); Mark 14:66 (one of the maids), and Luke 5:12 (one of the cities), 5:17 (one of the days), 13:10 (one of the synagogues), 17:22, 20:1. (one of the days) and Acts 21:7 (one day).

Outside the resurrection verses the Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ transliterated as ‘sabbaton’ and translated as ‘sabbaths’ can be found in Luke 4:16 and Acts 13:14, 16:13 (day of the sabbaths). Each example exhibits a partitive genitive case function where one of something is displayed as a fractional margin in association or possession to a larger group in a mass resemblance of the same thing.

As well we have numerous Koine Greek Septuagint Old Testament verses where the words ‘μια’ as ‘one’, ‘ημέρα’ as ‘day’, or ‘πρώτn’ as ‘first’ appears in various combined segments. These may be observed at; Genesis 27:45, 33:13, Leviticus 22:28, 23:35,39,40., Numbers 11:19, Deuteronomy 16:4, Judges 20:23, 1 Kings 2:34, 27:1, 3 Kings 4:22, Ezra 3:6, 10:13,16,17., Ester 3:13, 8:12, Nehemiah 8:2,18, Isaiah 9:14, 66:8, Daniel 10:12, and Zacharius 14:7.

In the N.T. we have a few examples shown in Mark 14:12, Acts 20:17, and Phillipians 1:5. There the various examples are usually two words combined togeather where ‘μια ημέρα’ is commonly translated as ‘one day’ and ‘ημέρα μια’ as ‘day one’ but mis- interpreted as the ‘first day’ along with ‘πρώτn ημέρα’ more precisely. The segment ‘μια ημέρα’ as ‘one day’ may be regarded in a fractional sense for a position of tense within time. Again for the verse of Acts 20:7 the Koine Greek words ‘’ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων" is rationalized as ‘one of sabbaths’ being one sabbath within a group of seven weekly sabbaths. (e.g. Lev 23:15)

  • 1
    This question is about the Greek of the passage and modern translations like the NASB and others. I don't see how the Coverdale Bible or Great Bible is all that relevant, unless you're implying that modern scholars ignore the Greek and only look at the Coverdale Bible?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 26, 2020 at 12:27
  • Also please edit your existing answers rather than writing multiple new ones.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 26, 2020 at 12:28

I have an altogether different take on this subject but I don’t claim certitude on what I say. I would appreciate if the Greek experts may look into this and come to a right conclusion.

It is true that the Greek NT writers were all Aramaic speaking Jews and hence they have tried to translate/transliterate several of Hebrew or Aramaic idioms/phrases into Greek. “Talitha koumi” (Mar 5:41), “Maranatha” (1 Cor 16:22), “Amen” are some of such examples.

Remember the Sabbath

The fourth commandment is to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. The Jews, post Babylonian exile, thought that their Exile was the result of their non or improper observation of the Sabbath earlier as God had accused them of through Isaiah (Isaiah 58:13 is one sample).

So post Exile, they made stringent rules regarding the observation of the Sabbath which resulted in a swing to the other extreme. The result was what we see with Jesus criticizing them for making Sabbath a burden to the common people!

One result of their effort to remember to keep the Sabbath was to count the days of a week “in relation” to the Sabbath.

Names of Days in a Week

In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the names of the days in a week are termed in relation to the Sabbath:

Sunday = Echad ba Shabbath, that is, one day in (relation) to the Sabbath;

Monday = Sheni ba Shabbath, that is, second in (relation) to the Sabbath;

Tuesday = Shelishi ba Shabbath, that is, third in (relation) to the Sabbath;

Wednesday = Rebi’i ba Shabbath, that is, fourth in (relation) to the Sabbath;

Thursday = Chamishi ba Shabbath, that is, fifth in (relation) to the Sabbath;

Friday = Erev Shabbath, that is, Evening (preparation) to the Sabbath; and

Saturday = Shabbath.

This is how they counted the days in a week in ancient times to remember the Sabbath.

Mia ton Sabbaton

“Mia Sabbaton” or “mia ton sabbaton” was a direct translation (may be from the days of the Greek Septuagint) for Sunday from the Hebrew/Aramaic , which meant exactly ‘one day in (relation) to Sabbath’.

The confusion, in my opinion, occurred because people forced the meaning of “Week” into the Greek word “Sabbaton”, which simply meant Sabbath.

Even when one considers Sabbaton as Sabbath or Week, the days do not change in relation to Sabbath. But the purpose for which this direct translation was made into the Greek, that is, “to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” was lost in the post-Apostolic New Testament church!!


Luke 6:1 KjV "And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands."

Here it signifies that Jews recognised and observed a series of 7 weekly sabbaths (LEV 23: 11-15) between Passover to Pentecost. Therefore every N.T. reference regarding the transliterated phrase "mia ton sabaton" reflect apon these sabbaths including the intented meaning behind the Acts 20:7 passage...

  • How do you know that Acts 20 takes place between Passover and Pentecost? Do any details from Acts indicate such a timeline?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 26, 2020 at 12:31
  • 1
    Here we have A.E Knoch's literal translation from the Greek showing the Acts' 20 time frame behind Paul's sacred observation... 6 "Yet we sail off from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread ...where we tarry seven days." (I.e. * Passover-Feast *) 7 "Now on one of the sabbaths, at our having gathered to break bread, Paul argued with them... he prolonged the word unto midnight." 16 "for Paul had decided to sail by Ephesus...it may be possible for him to be in Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost." concordant.org/version/read-concordant-new-testament-online/… Dec 29, 2020 at 13:58
  • There are early manuscripts that do not have the "second-first" Sabbath in Luke 6:1. See here: biblehub.com/text/luke/6-1.htm Jun 17, 2023 at 20:31
  • Here is some commentaries on the Luke 6:1 passage: biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/6-1.htm Jun 17, 2023 at 20:36

To acquire a proper median let us reconsider a linguistic approach from the ORIGINAL Koine Greek Texts for Acts 20:7 and also for the resurrection passages at; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; and St. John 20:1,19 of the New Testament.

In these verses we commonly find the Koine Greek phrase; ‘μιαν σαββατων’ or ‘μια των σαββατων’ which is transliterated as 'mia ton sabbaton' and is directly translated to literally mean on; ‘one of the sabbaths’. .

This phrase has been traditionally perceived, interpreted, and understood to read as occuring on ‘the first day of the week’, or less commonly as ‘the first of sabbath(s)". However, let us consider specifically the Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ which is transliterated as ‘sabbaton’ where the literal English rendering is translated as ‘sabbaths’ and is plural of meaning in line with Greek Syntax rules.

In the key resurrection verse of Matthew 28:1 (below) the original Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ appears twice in the same sentence and is plural in meaning at both instances;

Matthew 28:1 “Late (οψε) except (δε) sabbaths (σαββατων) to the (τη) lighting-up (επιφωσκουση) into (εις) one of (μιαν) sabbaths (σαββατων) Mary (μαρια) Magdalene (μαγδαληνη) and (και ) the (η) other (αλλη) Mary (μαρια) observed (θεωρησαι) the (τον) sepulcher (ταφον).”

“Late (adverb) (post-after-end) more-over (the annual Passover) sabbaths, (plural) [genitive of separation] as it was lighting up (twi-lighting or the torch lighting period) on one (a cardinal number) of the [a partitive genitive case function] sabbaths (plural) came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to view the tomb.” Thus a description that may pertain to a time interval when the Passover festal period was finished and had already completed (e.g. ‘End’, opse-adverbial) the 2 High (annual) sabbaths (Nisan 15, 21 (i.e. Ex 12:16) of the Passover period onto a weekly sabbath ( 1 of 7 ) or one sabbath (Nisan 23) from a group of seven weekly sabbaths within the 50 day counted duration of time between Passover (i.e. from the sheaf offering – Lev 23:11,15,16) leading up to Pentecost.

Then, Yehoshua (Jesus) would have arrived at Bethany on Friday Nisan 8th being six days (Jhn 12:1) before the Passover on Thursday Nisan 14th, and ate the Passover meal at the designated time (Mth 26:17 : Mrk 14:12 : Luk 22:7) on the nightly beginning of Friday Nisan 15th. He was cut off in AD 34 being the prophetic 69th Sabbatical year (Dan 9:25,26) since the temple of Jerusalem had been reconstructed.

Thus He was crucified on Wednesday Nisan 20th on the Passover preparation day (Jhn 19:31) to Thursday Nisan 21 (a Holy Convocation Day) and would resurrect ‘3 days and 3 nights’ later (Sign of Jonah/Mth 12:39, 40) on the weekly Sabbath late afternoon of Saturday Nisan 23rd. This particular Divine inspired day being one integral Sabbath (LEV 23:15) in a week of (7) sabbaths within the 50 day period leading up to Pentecost.

The chronology of the Passion account then likely being in the AD 34 (Sabbatical Year) with Passover on Thur Nisan 14> a High Sabbath Fri Nisan 15> a Sat Sheaf Offering Nisan 16, a High Sabbath Thurs Nisan 21, and with a week of 7 Weekly Sabbaths on; (1) Sat Nisan 23 (2) Sat Nisan 30 (3) Sat Iyyar 7 (4) Sat Iyyar 14 (5) Sat Iyyar 21 (6) Sat Iyyar 28 and (7) Pentecost Sat Sivan 6.

Acts 20:7 followed (at a much later time) to the same pattern of understanding as being one sabbath as a part of or as being within the same group of the seven observed sabbaths...

  • 2
    I find this to be incomprehensible. And it does not answer the question.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 18, 2020 at 17:32

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