Regarding Matthew 28:1, transcribed below ipsis litteris:

ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων ἦλθεν Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ ἡ ἄλλη Μαρία θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον

I'm looking for an answer that could accurately explain if grammatically (and only grammatically!!!) the word σαββάτων could be translated as "week" or "Sunday", especially considering that there are specific words that mean "Sunday" or "week" in Greek.

I'm neither looking for an answer biased by beliefs, nor by how the XYZ theologist interpreted it, nor what the word means according to Strong, nor how King James translated it nor if there is any contradiction in this versicle, etc, etc, etc. I've already read lots of "biased answers" :)

Whoever is going to post an answer, please make it purely based on the Greek "vocabulary" and "grammar rules", explaining the "why's" and "how's". I'm looking for help because I don't know any native greek, and I don't know any of the Greek idioms. :)

Lastly, my question differs from THIS ONE, as the other question was based on different translations and interpretations, and the answers were flooded with beliefs and theories, and this current question is looking for a pure grammar-ruled answer.

I'd be so grateful if someone could help me with it.

  • The regular succession of Sabbaths creates weeks; as such, biblical expressions such as n-th of the Sabbath(s) translate as n-th [day] of the week [from Saturday]. This constitutes a calque; specifically, a Hebraism, since, as already noted, native speakers would have chosen other ways of expressing the same concept; but the Septuagint and the New Testament were penned by Hellenistic Jews, rather than actual Hellenes.
    – Lucian
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:49
  • When the context says after the Sabbath or first day of the Sabbath it points to the next day which means translation should be weekend. It cannot be (full) week but weekend. Weekdays are literally named on numbers so Sabbat is 7th. It will be a poor translation to call 7th as 1st or Sunday (Lord's day Kyriaki) coz it means early morning after the weekend/Sabbath.
    – Michael16
    Jul 27, 2021 at 4:56
  • Thanks for sticking to grammar. regarding both answers, the first two translations from greek (for what I know till now, Latin Jerome's and Gothic Wufila's) both translate it as "first sabbath" or "first of the sabbaths" or "sabbath number one" (like cardinal). And I believe these pals were probably used to ancient greek. Jul 27, 2021 at 12:48
  • @DavidCosta: They render the Greek literally, just as the Greek itself rendered the Hebrew phrase literally; and it is the same in other languages, such as Romanian, for instance. Nevertheless, regardless of rendition, the meaning is referring to the first day of the week; and not just here, but in all other similar situations. There is no (other) place in scripture where the phrase n-th of the Sabbath(s) is used to denote the n-th Saturday in a succession of N consecutive Saturdays. This is by no means the only calqued phrase in Greek scriptures, be it the Septuagint or the New Testament.
    – Lucian
    Jul 27, 2021 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


According to the respected BDAG, the word σάββατον (sabbaton) has exactly two meanings:

  1. the seventh day of the week in Israel's calendar, marked by rest from work and by special religious ceremonies, sabbath, eg, Matt 12:8, Mark 2:27, 6:2, 15:42, 16:1, Luke 6:5, 23, 54, etc.
  2. a period of seven days, week, eg, Matt 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24;1, John 20:1, 19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2.

In the second category, the word σάββατον (sabbaton) always occurs in the phrase μίαν σαββάτων, or, μίαν σαββάτου = (lit) first of Sabbath = first day of the week.

Thus, there is no instance of σάββατον (sabbaton) ever meaning "Sunday". This is confirmed by several uses of σάββατον (sabbaton) in Acts which still means "Sabbath" such as Acts 13:14, 27, 42, 44, 15:21, 17:2, 18:4, etc. See also Acts 1:12.

  • Thanks for your time. Perhaps μίαν σαββάτου mean the 1st of a sequence of others sabbaths instead "first day of the week" (mainly because the word "day" does not exist in the original text). The reason of my suposition is because, after the passover, there should be a sequence of 7 sabbaths before the pentecost feast. Oh, please interpret my comment under the gramar possibilities umbrella. Jul 27, 2021 at 12:52
  • In Koine Greek, the days of the week were named, first of Sabbath, second of Sabbath ... fifth of Sabbath, Preparation, Sabbath. This shown by the other instances of listed above.
    – Dottard
    Jul 27, 2021 at 21:34

Here are the senses of the word as used in the New Testament (from Logos Bible Software).

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The size on the chart is the comparative amount of each meaning as used in the New Testament. Thus, week is a possible meaning, but not as common.

KJV translates

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I couldn't find any translation translating Sabbath as Sunday. Sunday is described as the first day of the week, after the Sabbath.

  • Thanks for your time. But what you say about the usage of the different translations? Does it fit into "week"? Souldn't they have used the "week" or "sunday" correspondent greek word? Jul 27, 2021 at 12:41
  • It is transliteration of a Hebrew word and isn't a truely Greek word. Sabbath = Saturday.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 27, 2021 at 12:54
  • Thanks Perry. This is the point: if it is a transliteration of the word sabbath, perhaps it could not have any meaning other than "rest" (shabat), which is the word attributed to name the 7th day of the week (so called saturday in english). And this is the reason that I'm in doubt about the literal meaning, as "interpreted definitions" are mostly biased by beliefs. Jul 27, 2021 at 14:08
  • In Hebrew, the word "shabat" is "שַׁבָּת" and the word for "seven" is "שֶׁבַע". As can be seen, the first two root letters are the same. This doesn't say much, because having two root letters the same may mean nothing at all in Hebrew--but there is still a potential connection here that cannot be entirely ignored. It seems quite possible that the concept of "rest" and the concept of "seven" are merged in the word "shabat." As others have said, the Greek word has its origins in the Hebrew, and in Hebrew, only the Sabbath day (seventh) had a name--the others were just numbered.
    – Polyhat
    Jul 28, 2021 at 1:01

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