Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day... Above is the only reference to the Lord's day /Κυριακή ἡμέρα what answer can be gathered from Scripture to know what this means? I would like to see a consistent application of biblical hermeneutics in exegeting the text from those who have a conviction of it's meaning. The answers to this question commonly give are mixed with historical tradition alone to definitively answer what Κυριακή ἡμέρα as John references, thus I as the Biblical Hermeneutics community to give me a biblical answer if you can? Thanks!

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  • I have no idea why people say this is a "hapax", (not ever mentioned in Scripture). It is quite literally all over the place in prophetic contexts. I think this misunderstanding might be what is behind the current erroneous answers. For example: Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. Another question might be, "Are there two senses of the phrase 'Day of the Lord' or is it possible that people gathered together on Sunday in hopes for 'The Day of the Lord'?". – elika kohen Dec 14 '18 at 20:46

Here's my answer to the same question (more or less) on Christianity.SE:

Some terms might not be defined in Scripture, but this doesn't mean their meaning wasn't known or taught to the first Christians, as if the Apostles only taught by their letters, contrary to 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and to reason.

1 Corinthians 16:1 (DRB)

On the first day of the week let every one of you put apart with himself, laying up what it shall well please him; that when I come, the collections be not then to be made.

Acts 20:7 (DRB)

And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his speech until midnight.

Revelation 1:10 (DRB)

I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

(This appears to be a reference to a state of prayer, such as in a liturgical setting.)

From these alone we can gather that this was a set time for assembly: Sunday. The reason for the solemnity of the first day, Sunday, as a kind of new 'the Sabbath,' arose (no pun intended) in that Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, symbolizing a New Creation.

Mark 16:9 (DRB)

But he rising early the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

But we aren't stuck with just this. Many early Christians explicitly identify the title 'the Lord's Day' as a reference to Sunday, the first day of the week.

For example, the earliest catechism or teaching document outside of the New Testament, the Didache (~ A.D. 70-90), makes mention of the day Christians come together for the Eucharist:

But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. (XIV, 11)

(Of course, 'breaking the bread' was how the Eucharist was known in earliest days of Christianity, itself formerly known as 'the Way.')

It's significant that it's not 'on the Sabbath,' but a day the audience already know as 'the Lord's Day'—as is clear from the consistent testimony of the writings which follow, obviously Sunday, the first day of the week.

Again, Ignatius, writing still very early (A.D. 110):

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death—whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master (Letter to the Magnesians, IX)

This of course means the Lord's Day was understood as Sunday, the day on which Christ rose from the dead.

Again, Justin Martyr, an important early Christian apologist (writing here appealing to the Romans under whom they were persecuted about the benignity and innocence of the Christian faith):

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and he that presides in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn [Saturday]; and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration. (First Apology, LXVII)

(Justin defines elsewhere that 'the Gospels' are what he means by 'memoirs of the apostles,' this being a condescension to non-Christians who know nothing of the Faith.)

'The Day of the Lord,' or 'the Day,' is a reference to the summation of all things, the end of days, the Judgement proper of all.

This is the sense in which this day is the day of the Lord. It is quite distinct from that future Day spoken of in, e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:13.

  • With out Justin and a lot of historical tradition that's not a good case. I've seen the history, I'd like to see a solid biblical answer (Canon). Thanks! – Lowther Dec 13 '18 at 22:30
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    Out of curiosity, why is historical tradition not important in understanding which day was the Lord's day? After all, the tradition is a universal one from the earliest times onward. It would be strange in my opinion to 'ignore' this fact; like having a presupposition that they cannot be right. – Sola Gratia Dec 13 '18 at 22:38
  • This answer contains some errors. First, the reference in the Didache is 14:1 (not XIV,11). Second, the reference to the "Lord's day" does not actually exit - the Greek is actually "Lord's of the Lord". The reference in Ignatius is highly disputed and the best data suggests that the Greek phrase is actually "Lord's life" and was edited much later to "Lord's day". (Section 9 letter to Magnesians.) – user25930 Dec 14 '18 at 4:06
  • There's always some scholar somewhere disputing this or that. We can only work with the actual writings as handed on—let scholars themselves meekly and humbly defend the idea we ought to substitute something else, and gather a following. It's not my job to be convinced of their suggestions. Anything which sounds too 'modern day Christian' is always doubted and rained upon as an 'addition by scribes.' The only evidence I see brought forward for such critiques, however, is this kind of simple aversion to the idea early Christians corroborate later Christian claims. – Sola Gratia Dec 14 '18 at 13:33
  • I've already dealt with the Greek words in this answer to the best of my ability. – Sola Gratia Dec 14 '18 at 13:34

Rev 1:10 is the only instance of the phrase "Lord's day" occurring in the Bible (Greek: kuriake hemera). There is nothing in the immediate context of what day this was but several interpreters have made some suggestions:

  • Sunday – this is an unlikely suggestion as the phrase “Lord’s Day”, only came to mean “Sunday” many years after the book of Revelation was written. [The earliest unambiguous and undisputed reference to “Lord’s day” as the first day of the week is in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (about 110 – 180 AD?) in v34, 35, 50.] Further, if "Sunday" had been intended then "first day of the week" would have been used as in numerous other places (eg, • Matt 28:1, Mark 16:1, 9, Luke 24:1, 20:1, etc).
  • A variation of “Day of the Lord” as found in Joel 2:31 and cited by Acts 2:20, Isa 2:20, Amos 5:18-20, 1 Thess 5:2, 1 Peter 3:10, etc; all these refer to climactic events at the second advent of Jesus, at the end of time. If this is the intent in Revelation then John is projected forward in time to that great day of the Lord. While this is a more reasonable interpretation than above, it ignores the fact that that a significant portion of Revelation was intended for the time at hand (in John’s day) and not the (eschatological) Day of the Lord, especially the material contained in the seven churches.
  • The weekly Sabbath on the basis of Matt 12:8, Mark 2:27, 28, Luke 6:5 and Isa 58:13.

Various denominational "traditions" have established one or more of these as dogma but there is no basis for any of these as dogma. I prefer to leave this on the list of things that we will have to ask either the Lord or John when we meet them.

  • "only came to mean “Sunday” many years after" How are you distinguishing between that and 'the first explicit reference to what the Lord's Day was is.' In other words, in what world could anything outside the Bible tell us what the Lord's Day is if everything is viewed with suspicion (despite the universality of the doctrine). " I prefer to leave this on the list of things that we will have to ask either the Lord or John when we meet them" Doesn't that indicate something is wrong with sola scriptura if the very day of worship has to be 'guessed at until Jesus returns?' Isn't that alone proof? – Sola Gratia Dec 14 '18 at 13:27
  • I do not understand much of what you write. However, this is a site about Biblical hermeneutics, not church tradition. You may believe what you like - I prefer the Bible alone. – user25930 Dec 14 '18 at 18:22
  • I am not sure what the basis behind the claim that this phrase does not appear elsewhere in Scripture: Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. See the Greek LXX text for wording. – elika kohen Dec 14 '18 at 20:51
  • "I do not understand much of what you write. However, this is a site about Biblical hermeneutics, not church tradition. You may believe what you like - I prefer the Bible alone." Well Biblical hermeneutics is by its nature extra-biblical: the Bible doesn't offer its own exegesis. I wasn't offering 'divine tradition,' simple history, tradition. It's absurd to say all Christians began to worship on Sunday at once citing the same reason and name for the day. Especially when it corroborates Acts when it says they gathered to break bread on the first day of the week. – Sola Gratia Dec 14 '18 at 22:29
  • @elikakohen It's evident that St. John was not in the spirit on the Lord's Day as in Malachi 4:5's, because St. Paul describes the eschatological "Day" of the Lord as judgement (1 Cor 3:13). There is no reason to reject the tradition which says the Lord's Day was the first day of the week. I mean, don't sola scripturists even say 'we accept tradition as long as it doesn't contradict the Bible?' Or have they moved on to rejecting all tradition whatever? I confess to not being able to keep up. – Sola Gratia Dec 14 '18 at 22:31

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