Revelation 1

The Lord’s Day

In Revelation 1, John was taken by the Spirit into the Lord’s Day. He began the Book of Revelation with its climax—the climax of our faith. It is this Day that every Christian looks forward to.

But why has John called it “the Lord’s Day” and not “the Day of the Lord?” The answer is revealed in the statement “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” which appears in verse 8.

God was the Lord in the Old Testament. He was called Adonai Yihvah, the expression we read in our Bibles as the Lord God, as in Isaiah 61:1—“the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me.”

After Jesus endured the cross, God made Him the Lord, as Peter explained in Acts 2:36 and as Paul explained in Philippians 2:9. After Jesus rose, He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth.”

On the Lord’s Day, God will become the Lord again. He is the First and the Last.

This is dramatically illustrated in the Book of Revelation, where the apostle John never calls Christ the Lord in the Lord’s Day or thereafter! In Revelation 11:8, 14:13, 17:14, and 19:16 John calls Christ the Lord, but after the Lord’s Day, in Revelation 1:8 and 10, 4:8 and 11, 11:15 and 17, 15:3 and 4, 16:7, 18:8, and 22:5 and 6, John called God “the Lord.”

In the New Testament, there are about 500 uses of the phrase “Lord,” and only Christ is called “the Lord” after His resurrection, and before the Lord’s Day, except when referencing Old Testament passages or calling God the Lord of Creation.

The apostles used the expressions “Day of the Lord” and “Day of Christ” to signify the Day of Christ’s return, but when speaking of the Father, Peter called this Day “the Day of God” to signify the Day of destruction. It seems that John called it “the Lord’s Day” to signify the Day when God becomes the Lord again.

Coming to the Ancient of Days

Daniel had two visions of the Lord’s Day. Both were repeated in Revelation 1.

In the first vision, he saw the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days, the everlasting God. Daniel said that he was seeing visions in the night:

“And behold, one like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him,
Then to Him was given dominion and glory….
His kingdom shall never be destroyed.”

Here, Daniel describes the Lord’s Day as the day when Christ hands over the kingdom to God. This is the same scene that we find in Revelation 1: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even of those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.”

The meaning of Daniel’s vision was explained by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:24, who wrote, “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God, the Father.”

In Revelation 11:15–17, John again explained the Lord’s Day as the Day when Christ hands over the kingdom to God, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. We give you thanks, O Lord, God, the Almighty, who were and who are, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.”

Here, God was called the Almighty, as He was in Revelation 1. God had not been called “Almighty” since the Book of Exodus, when Christ told Moses that He had only appeared to men as “God Almighty.”

On the Lord’s Day, the Almighty God will take back His power, and He will begin to reign again.

The Glorious Man and the Kings of the North

In Daniel 10:5–6, we find Daniel’s second vision of Christ in the Lord’s Day, which is also repeated in Revelation 1.

In his first vision, the Son of Man handed over the kingdom to God. In his second vision, Daniel sees the Angel Michael, “WHO IS LIKE GOD,” stand up on the last day.

“I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”

The vision of Christ in Daniel 10:5–6 is the same vision that John saw in Revelation 1:13–16. It is a vision of Christ on the Lord’s Day.

In the Book of Daniel, an angel was sent to explain the meaning of Daniel’s vision. He said that it described “what will happen to your people in the latter days.” The explanation was long.

In Daniel 11, the angel described “the king of the north,” who would oppress the saints. Verses 1–3 describe the kings of Persia and Alexander the Great. Verses 4–30 describe the kings of the Seleucid Empire from 320 BC to 163 BC. In verses 31–35, the king of the north is Satan. In verses 36–39, the king of the north is the pope, who reigned with the ten kings. Finally, in verse 40, the angel described the king of the north as Gog, who would appear in the end time to attack Israel.

In Daniel 12, we finally come to the explanation of the vision—we see the One whom Daniel saw in Daniel 10. In the Lord’s Day, the angel Michael, WHO IS LIKE GOD, “shall stand up … and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” He is the one we see in Revelation 1:13–16.

The Spirit of Christ as the Word

Revelation 1 demonstrates the meaning of Christ as the Word.

The Word is the Spirit of Christ, the speaker and image of the invisible God.

Isaiah saw the coming Messiah, the Lord of Hosts, who said to Him, “Who shall go for Us.” The “Us” was explained in Isaiah 48:16, as “the Lord God and His Spirit sent me.” The Aramaic Targum translated this as “the Lord God and His Word sent me.”

The Word was the Spirit who spoke in Revelation 2 and 3, saying, “Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” The early Church clearly understood that the Spirit who spoke in Revelation 2 and 3 was the Word. We can see this in the writing of Irenaeus, who described the Word’s rebuke of the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2.

In Revelation 1:8, the Word said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, who was, and who is to come.” Here, the Spirit of Christ as the Word speaks for the invisible God, just as He did in the Old Testament.

In verse 17, the Spirit of Christ says, “I am the First and the Last.” 

This brings us back to the Book of Isaiah, where the Spirit of Christ was clearly identified as the Word—the speaker for the invisible God:

“Thus says YHVH, He WILL BE, the King of Israel,
And its Redeemer, He WILL Be of the Armies,
‘I am the first and the last;
Besides Me there is no God.’”

The King of the Jews was the name that Pilate put above Jesus’s cross. Thus, Jesus Christ, the Word, told the Jews, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that I AM.” Jesus was the promised “He WILL BE,” the King of Israel and its Redeemer.

The Manifestations of the Spirit of Christ

A significant theme of the Book of Revelation is the image of the beast, the false image of a three-person god: a lion, a leopard, and a bear.

The first chapter of the Book of Revelation destroys this false doctrine by explaining the true relationship of Christ and God.

In verses 13–16, the Spirit of Christ appears:

• as one like the Son of Man; this explains that the Spirit of Christ was “manifest in the flesh”;
• as “the image of the invisible God,” as the Ancient of Days, with “head and hair as white as wool,” in Daniel 7:9;
• as the body of Christ, the Spirit of Christ as the Rider on the White Horse, with “eyes a flame of fire” and “a sharp two-edged sword” from His mouth; and
• as the Archangel, “with a golden sash around His chest,” like the angels in Revelation 15.

The Spirit of Christ also speaks from these many manifestations:

• as the Son of man, saying “I was dead and behold, I am alive forever”;
• as the Word, the image of the invisible God, saying, “I am the First and the Last”;
• as the Body of Christ, with “the sound of many waters”; and
• as the Archangel, “with the seven stars in His hand.”

The apostle John’s explanation of Christ continues throughout the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 2 and 3, the Angel was called “the Spirit.” This Angel of God was the Spirit of Christ. In Revelation 3, John called Christ “the beginning of the creation of God.”

The Apostles Could Not Have Created the Lord’s Day

The Greek text of Revelation 1:10 tells us that John was “in the Spirit in the Lord’s Day.” He was not “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” as we read in all English translations. He was taken by the Spirit into the future.

In Greek, one is “in a day” and not “on a day, and many believe that the “Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 described a weekly meeting time established by the apostles. They cite the fact that the church came together to break bread on Saturday night in Acts 20:7, and they cite Paul’s instruction to set aside offerings on the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2. But neither of these verses provide evidence of a special weekly meeting. Acts 2:46 tells us that the early church met daily to break bread, and the setting aside of offerings on the first day of the week was a practice from the Old Testament.

The apostles could not possibly have created a religious day for worship. Jesus told us that the Father is seeking true worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and truth, “neither in Jerusalem nor on this mountain”—not according to a time or place, which Paul called worship, according to “the elementary principles of this world.” Paul asked the Galatians, “How is it that you have come to know God … but return to the weak and worthless elemental things? … You observe days, and months, and seasons and years. I fear for you that perhaps I labored for you in vain.” Paul admonished the Galatians not to observe religious days with the Jews, saying, “If anyone brings you another Gospel, let him be eternally condemned.” Jesus called those who say they are Jews but are not “a synagogue of Satan.”

After Jesus was made the Lord in the New Testament, the apostles used the expression “Day of the Lord” to refer to the day of Christ’s return. The apostle John used the expression “Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 to signify the Day of God—the Day when God becomes the Lord again.

False Translations of the Lord’s Day

Concluding his book From Sabbath to the Lord’s Day, A. T. Lincoln wrote, “Of the New Testament texts it is only Revelation 1:10 with its designation of the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day that can indicate the theological significance that was attached to this day.”

A.T. Lincoln has assumed, however, that “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 is speaking of a weekday and not of the Day of Christ’s return.

The Greek text tells us that John was “in the Lord’s Day,” not “on the Lord’s Day.” Of course, A. T. Lincoln knows this, but many other false translations of early writings have led us to believe that “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 refers to a weekday. In the 16th century, Ussher translated “Lord’s life” in Ignatius’s Letter to the Magnesians as “Lord’s Day.” Others replaced “Lord’s Word” with “Lord’s Day” and “Lord’s Holy Day” with “Lord’s Day” in Eusebius’s Church History. In 1912, Kirsopp Lake added “Lord’s Day” to the translation of The Didache, where the Greek inferred “Lord’s commandment.”

Besides these false translations, there are many manuscripts falsely attributed to bishops and apostles that describe the “Lord’s Day” as a weekday, but all these were written or rewritten in the 4th century or later.

Once we remove all the fraudulent writings, the truth of the “Lord’s Day” is easy to see. The expression “the Lord’s Day” did not refer to Sunday until the 4th century.

At the end of the 2nd century, the churches of Egypt and North Africa began to celebrate the end-time resurrection of the saints on “the Lord’s Day,” Easter Sunday. It was not until A.D. 325 that the church in Rome made every Sunday a celebration of the resurrection of the saints. In fact, some 2nd-century believers used the expression “the Lord’s Day” to refer to the Sabbath Day—“the Lord’s Holy Day.”

The Annual Celebration of the Lord’s Day

At the end of the 2nd century, the churches of Egypt and North Africa began to call the annual celebration of the resurrection of the saints “the Lord’s Day,” but it did not become a weekly celebration until the 4th century.

It seems that the annual celebration of “the Lord’s Day” began after the Quartodeciman controversy. In A.D. 193, the bishop of Rome wrote letters of excommunication to the churches of Asia because they did not accept his doctrine of Easter Sunday. In this debate, Bishop Polycrates said that he could only remember the Passover on the 14th of the month, according to the Old Testament instruction: “We observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming.”

The churches of Asia did not actually celebrate the resurrection: they remembered the Passover. But perhaps in response to the Quartodeciman debate, the churches of Egypt and North Africa began to celebrate the resurrection of the saints, who will rise on the Lord’s Day. They called this annual celebration “The Lord’s Day.” Tertullian described it as the anniversary of the birthdays of those who will resurrect: “As often as the anniversary comes around, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honors.”

In Egypt and North Africa, the expression “the Lord’s Day” was used only in the context of the Easter celebration. Origen listed the days of the resurrection season as the Lord’s Day, the Preparation, the Passover, and the Pentecost. Both Origen and Tertullian compared the significance of the Lord’s Day to that of the Day of Pentecost.

By the 4th century, the churches throughout the world were calling the annual celebration of the resurrection “The Lord’s Day.”

In A.D. 324, one year before Rome called every Sunday “the Lord’s Day,” Eusebius, the bishop to the emperor, described “the Lord’s Day” as the time to celebrate “rites like ours in commemoration of the Savior’s resurrection.” Of course, these were not rites that were performed on a weekly basis.

Jesus Rose on a Saturday

Many believe that Jesus rose on a Sunday, and that is why Christians celebrate on Sunday. In the late 19th century, however, a French archeologist discovered a copy of the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which clarified the time when Jesus rose as recorded in Matthew’s gospel.

The Gospel of Matthew says, “After the Sabbath, as it began to ‘shine on’ (ἐπιφωσκούσῃ) toward the next day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave, and behold, there was a great earthquake, for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone.”

The Jewish days end at sunset. This is when a new day “dawns.” The sunset in Matthew is described by an obscure Greek word, epiphóskó (ἐπιφώσκω), which means “shine on.” This word is only otherwise used in Luke 23:54 to describe the evening when Jesus died: “It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was shining on (ἐπέφωσκεν), about to begin.” The so-called Gospel of Peter, originally written in the 2nd century, used the same word “shining on” (ἐπέφωσκεν) to describe sundown, when Jesus was buried and rose again. This agrees with all accounts of the New Testament.

The Gospel of Mark described the Saturday resurrection when it said that the two Marys went to the tomb while it was “very early (πρωῒ).” This was “very early” on the first day of the week, which began at sundown on Saturday.

To summarize the events recorded in the Gospels, at sundown on Saturday evening, the two Marys went to the tomb and found out that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus had risen. Mark said that this was “very early” on the first day of the week. Later, while it was still “early,” still dark, Mary and Martha went to the tomb. Finally, “at dawn (ὄρθρου), “the women who had come with Him out of Galilee” went to the tomb, as described in Luke 24:1.

The True History of Sunday

Today, those who support the idea that Sunday was observed by the early Church assume that the “Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 describes Sunday as the day for communion. In fact, however, there is no evidence that the early Church had a special meeting on Sundays.

The phrase “the Lord’s Day” as a weekday is found only in false translations and in false writings attributed to early Christian writers. Socrates Scholasticus, in his 5th-century Church History, said that all the churches in the world observed communion on the Sabbath day, “yet the Christians of Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.” According to Socrates, even the churches of Alexandria and Rome originally observed communion on the Sabbath day. In the 6th century, Sozomen repeated this claim in his Ecclesiastical History.

We know that in the 2nd century, the Church at Alexandria and some other Egyptian churches observed communion on Saturday night, as described in the Epistle of Barnabas.

The “ancient tradition” of Sunday communion in Rome began after Justin Martyr told the Emperor that the Christians in the cities and in the country observed the Lord’s supper on Sundays.

In A.D. 150, Justin Martyr was living in Rome and wrote to the Emperor, saying, “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 Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”

None of Justin’s statements, however, were true. None of the churches met on Sundays for communion, Jesus did not rise on a Sunday, and this was not the day when God made the world. These were all Saturday events. It seems that Justin Martyr equated the Jewish first day of the week to the Roman day Sunday for the emperor’s convenience.

The Image and Mark of the Beast

Both the mark of the beast—Sunday rest—and the image of the beast—the Trinity doctrine—had their beginnings in the First Apology of Justin Martyr to the Roman emperor. Justin Martyr equated the events of Saturday evening (the Jewish first day of the week) to Sunday, and said that the Holy Spirit of Christ was a third person called “the Spirit of Prophecy,” who was born on the waters in Genesis 1:2.

Justin Martyr’s theory made the anointing of God on the Church to be another “person”—a third person. This was a great departure from the understanding of the Jews, who said that the Ruah of God in Genesis 1:2 was the breath of God described in Psalm 33:6 and Job 34:14.

Because Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology from the church in Rome, these two errors were proclaimed as doctrines of the Church. In about A.D. 229, Origen of Alexandria, in his Commentaries on John, said, “All things were produced through the Word, and the Holy Spirit is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was produced by the Father through Christ.” In his Homilies, Origen said, “On Sunday, none of the actions of the world should be done.”

In A.D. 321, Emperor Constantine declared Sunday a day of rest, and in A.D. 381, the Trinity doctrine became the official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The image and mark of the beast are two significant themes of the Book of Revelation. Both false teachings are refuted in the first chapter. The Lord’s Day in Revelation 1:10 does not refer to Sunday, as the Church later claimed, and the many manifestations of the Spirit of Christ in verses 13–16 explain the true relationship between Christ and God in the Bible. Christ was the Word, the firstborn spirit, whom John called “the beginning of the creation of God” in Revelation 3:14.