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The phrase, the Lord's day, found in Revelation chapter one, occurs only once in the New Testament. What grounds do we have to determine what day John was speaking about (the day his readers would have understood him to mean)?

The ways it seems to generally be understood are as follows:

What concrete textual evidence do we have to indicate what this day is or is not?
I am looking for traceable, logical steps, leading to a logical conclusion.

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    Kindly inform me on the literary immediate context of the text in question.
    – user6328
    Nov 17 '14 at 17:30
  • Thank you for your request. I inserted a couple links into the question to provide the literary context, one on "the Lord's Day" and the other on "Revelation chapter one." The first brings you to a page that has the verse translated in several languages. The second contains the entire first chapter of Revelation in which this verse if found. By clicking on the arrows at the top of the second page one can progress through the rest of the book of Revelation.
    – user2027
    Nov 18 '14 at 18:14
  • 1
    possible duplicate of "Day of the Lord" or "Sunday" in Revelation 1:10 Mar 19 '15 at 21:42
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It's unlikely that John intended the phrase to refer to the "day of the Lord" as found in the prophets.

While the phrase found in Revelation 1:10 isn't found elsewhere in the New Testament, the phrase "day of the Lord" is found in several places. When the phrase is used elsewhere in the New Testament, the grammar matches that found in the prophets. In 1 Thessalonians 5:2, for instance, the phrase "day of the Lord" is ἡμέρα κυρίου, where κυρίου (Lord) is in the genitive case. The same is true in 2 Peter 3:10. In the LXX, the phrase "day of the Lord" always appears with the genitive case.

In Revelation 1:10, the phrase used is κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, where κυριακῇ is in the dative case and is being used as an adjective. This doesn't rule out the possibility of it referring to the same thing, but it does make it highly unlikely and puts the proof of burden on those who would claim otherwise. Authors tend to retain phraseology when it carries a heavy theological weight.

The context also suggests that John does not intend to refer to the eschatological "day of the Lord" found in the prophets. The phrase in the prophets is accompanied by a dread of expectation and judgement. Yet John's experience, while disturbing, is not shaped after the day of the Lord but after Daniel's experiences with his visions.

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    So what is the "Lord's day" are you saying it is Sunday?
    – Bagpipes
    Aug 3 '14 at 10:36
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    @Bagpipes, At the time I answered this question, the question at stake was, "Is it possible that the Day of the LORD prophecied by Zephaniah is the same as the day of the Lord referred to by John in Revelation 1:10?" It appears to have since been significantly edited.
    – Soldarnal
    Aug 3 '14 at 20:36
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    The distinction between dative vs. genitive really doesn't contribute to the interpretation at all. There are way too many other factors - original languages of the texts, translators, or potentially even MSS variations. Dec 14 '18 at 21:26
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+500

(Supplementary answer)

kuriakē(i) (LSJ) (from κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ) is an adjectival form of kurios, "lord", which could be rendered "lordly" (on analogy of "royal" = "kingly", roughly!). As the adjective "royal" indicates something belonging to the monarch ("the royal palace"), so kuriakos indicates something belonging to the "lord".

Rev 1:10 uses it with day: "on the lordly day" (= bad translation! just to attempt to clarify) + see other phrases at link, above; whereas "Sarah's Day = Day of Sarah" is like "Lord's Day = Day of Lord" from OT.

Some other early Christian writings use the Rev 1:10 phrase. In Didache 14:1, for example:

On the Lord's Day of the Lord come together, break bread and hold Eucharist, after confessing your transgressions that your offering may be pure

Which precise day is in mind of these options (first day? Sabbath day? Easter Day?) is not specified. However, one or two of the early Christian apocryphal writings are explicit aboout which day this is, e.g. Acts of Peter, in the prologue [scroll down to second line of I. THE COPTIC FRAGMENT]:

On the first day of the week, that is, on the Lord's day...

These are from the second century, however, and might be deemed to be too late to determine the usage of the phrase in Revelation 1:10.

Some of these references and themes are touched on already by James Moffat in the Expositor's Greek Testament (Hodder & Stoughton, 1897), vol. 5, p. 342. For a more modern treatment see (among many options), David Aune, Revelation 1-5 (Word; Dallas, 1997), p. 84.

Just about all the data and assessment one could want on this are assembled in the article by R. Stefanovic, "'The Lord's Day' of Revelation 1:10 in the Current Debate", Andrews University Seminary Studies 49/2 (2011) 261-284.

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  • This is just what I was looking for. Thank you again!
    – user2027
    Mar 13 '14 at 1:17
  • This is all very helpful,but it does not answer the question (it only acts as a guide) In your own conclusion, what is "the Lord's day" as written in Rev 1:10 ?
    – Bagpipes
    Aug 3 '14 at 10:44
  • @Bagpipes - My "supplement" to Soldarnal's answer goes as far as I can in brief answer to the question: we lack evidence to decide definitively between Sarah's helpfully outlined options. Each has merit; none is without problems of some kind. My own evaluation - FWIW - is that neither the "eschatological" day nor the Sabbath day is most likely, since they both have clear and long-established designations; so my hunch is that this "innovation" is more likely to refer to the "first day of the week" just as we later get unambiguously in the Acts of Peter reference cited above.
    – Dɑvïd
    Aug 3 '14 at 12:21
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Revelation 1:10 says

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,"

The Lord's Day is defined as the seventh-day Sabbath in Isaiah 58:13-14

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD

Jesus, the apostles and even Gentile Christians observed the seventh-day Sabbath for a few hundred years after the resurrection (Acts 13:42, Luke 23:55-56, Matthew 28:1, http://www.sabbathtruth.com/ ) This is best proved by Hebrews 4:9 which says

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God."

The word rest there is sabbatismos which means a keeping of the Sabbath - http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4520&t=NKJV

The day of the Lord in the Hebrew Bible sometimes refers to a coming judgment which did not occur on the day that John wrote Revelation...

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. (Isaiah 13:9-11)

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2 Peter 2:8-10. From all of the research that I've done on this subject, it seems that "the Lord's day" in Revelation 1:10 is not either the Sabbath day or the first day of the week, but rather from the context into which it is placed would clearly make it prophetic, as is the book of Revelation itself. We see from 2 Peter verse 8 that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, hence the Millennium, and verse 10 in conjunction cites "the day of the Lord". John was taken to the Lord's day in the spirit, so he was translated to spirit in order to be shown prophetic, future events. He was taken to the Millennium, from it's first day forward. He had to be in that dimension in order to see and record these future events in Revelation. It seemed to me in my studies that most studies from other view points got close to making this declaration, but then strayed back to the subject of this "day of the Lord" being either the Sabbath or the first day of the week. I think Revelation should be read in the context that it is written. God Bless. I hope this helps and doesn't confuse.

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What is the Lord's Day? Let's start by showing what it cannot mean.

Had John wanted the Lord's Day to mean every particular Sunday, he would have wrote in this manner.

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. John 20:1

Moreover, John (and the other apostles) observed the 3-day sequence of Passover (14th), Unleavened Bread (15th), and 2nd day (16th) on a floating basis; it is like Christmas that is observed on the 25th of December on whatever day of the week it lands. So John would not have Sunday in mind because of the resurrection.

Had John wanted the Lord's Day to mean any Saturday (Sabbath), he would have wrote like this.

And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. John 9:14

So, what is the Lord's Day?

Lord's is an adjective and Day is a noun. The phrase describes a particular day. It is similar to Lord's (adjective) Supper (noun).

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. 1 Cor 11:20

What day is the Lord's Supper? Any day, of course. So what is the Lord's Day?

It is not just any day, but is Pentecost, the giving of the Spirit to His church on Sunday. Pentecost always falls on Sunday to fulfill 7 weeks and the 50th day on the day after the Sabbath (Lev. 23).

Jewish tradition also has the giving of the Law on Pentecost. The similarities are trumpet voice, lightnings, fire, and more.

To reinforce this connection, John specifically says he was in the Spirit.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Rev 1:10

So, the Lord's Day is Sunday as it has come to be known, but not particularly because of the resurrection, but because of the giving of the Spirit on Sunday Pentecost.

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The expression "Lord's Day" appears only once in the Bible, in Revelation 1:10:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, … “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

There are various interpretations about what this expression means, the most common being that it refers to a specific day of the week.

  • Sunday: Every reference to Sunday in the Greek scriptures is "the first day of the week" (meaning from sunset on Saturday to sunset on Sunday).
  • Saturday: Hebrews 4:4 uses the expression "seventh day", and all other references are "sabbath".

Consider:

  • Why would John introduce new terminology, completely out of context, to indicate the day of the week?
  • Why would John even bother to mention what day of the week it was?

Only someone that had grown up in a church that refers to Sunday as the "Lord's Day" would let this experience influence their interpretation of what John wrote.

That method of reasoning is known as confirmational bias, and with respect to scriptural analysis as eisegesis. When trying to prove or derive the meaning of something, such reasoning is very unreliable.

On the other hand, a far more reliable method is abductive reasoning (looking at things in context, including people's motives) and exegesis.

In this case, a reasonable man would answer the above questions with "he wouldn't". And the obvious objective conclusion is that John wasn't using "Lord's Day" to refer to a specific day of the week.


Another way of expressing "Lord's Day" is "Day of the Lord", and that expression does appear many times in scripture.

Isaiah 58:13 uses the expression to refer to the Sabbath day:

… My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable …

but that appears in only some translations, and it is only one occurrence.

All 24 other uses of the expression have a completely different meaning, such as:

  • Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. — Isaiah 13:9
  • For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, That He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood … — Jeremiah 46:10
  • … For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. — Joel 1:15
  • The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. — Joel 2:31
  • For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near … — Obadiah 1:15
  • The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. — Acts 2:20
  • For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. — 1 Thessalonians 5:2
  • But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. — 2 Peter 3:10

These, and many other scriptures are talking about the end time, when Jesus returns to destroy the wicked and save the righteous.

This time, the Day of the Lord, is exactly what John's vision was all about.

John even makes frequent use of the same imagery to describe it:

  • … For in one hour she is made desolate. — Revelation 18:19
  • … drunk with the blood … — Revelation 17:6
  • … And should destroy those who destroy the earth. — Revelation 11:18
  • … the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood — Revelation 6:12
  • … to him I will give power over the nations — Revelation 2:26
  • … I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.— Revelation 3:3
  • … And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. — Revelation 20:9
  • … Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. — Revelation 20:14–15
  • Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. … — Revelation 21:1

Now consider these passages:

  • in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. — 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. … — 1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, — Revelation 1:10

It would be very difficult to argue that they, and all of Revelation, are not describing the same event, the Day of the Lord, a period of time that begins with Jesus's return and ends with the destruction of this world.

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    Your last sentence/conclusion is utter nonsense given the text in question. Jesus has not yet returned--his coming is still future. Yet you say it would be "difficult to argue" that this "Day of the Lord" is NOT "a period of time that begins with Jesus's return and ends with the destruction of this world." Well, I beg to differ--strongly. I think you have a difficult case to say that John wrote using the past tense to mean that he had written in the future during a time when none of us could be there to read it. As I said...your conclusion is utter nonsense.
    – Polyhat
    Sep 24 '21 at 15:28
  • "Jesus has not yet returned" — right, I didn't say otherwise. "… John wrote using the past tense to mean that he had written in the future during a time when none of us could be there to read it" — I'm having trouble understanding what you mean by that. John had a vision about "things which must shortly take place". After that, he recorded what he had seen in the vision. The vision occurred in his past so he told it in past tense, but it was a vision of the future. Cf. "Last night I heard that it will snow next week." Sep 24 '21 at 16:20
  • John wrote "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day." John wrote about what happened ON that day. You say that day is yet future but that John wrote in the past. How do you manage to come to such an absurd conclusion?
    – Polyhat
    Sep 24 '21 at 19:33
  • @Polyhat, ἐν (en G1722) is translated as "on" only 62 times out of the 2800 times it appears in Greek scripture. If it were translated as "at" instead, the statement would match the interpretation I gave, and it is translated as "at" 113 times, nearly twice as many times as "on". "With" (140×) and "among" (117×) would also make sense. It was usually translated as "on" in this verse because the translators already understood "Lord's Day" as a reference to Sunday. Sep 24 '21 at 20:39
  • Saying "on" should be "at" does not change the fact that John puts himself "at/on" that time in his day, nor the fact that you are making a claim for that day being decidedly yet future, despite John's having written about it in past tense. Greek prepositions can be ambiguous; the verbs not so much.
    – Polyhat
    Sep 24 '21 at 20:42