The Lord’s Day, and when did Jesus rise?

The First Day of the Week in the New Testament

He causes all men to receive a mark (Revelation 13:16).

In the conclusion of the most famous defense of Sunday observance, the theologian A.T. Lincoln admits that the entire theology of Sunday worshipers rests upon one verse:

“Of the New Testament texts it is only Revelation 1:10 with its designation of the first day as the Lord’s Day that can indicate the theological significance that was attached to this day.” [From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, pg 384]

But is Revelation 1:10 really referring to Sunday?

The expression “the LORD’s Day,” in Revelation 1:10 refers to the return of Christ, the Day when Christ submits to God (1 Corinthians 15:28), and God becomes our LORD. We explain this in detail here, The LORD’s Day.

Before the Third Century, the “Lord’s Day” referred to Saturday

The “Church” did not call Sunday the Lord’s Day until 325 A.D.

The Gospel of Peter, dated to 150 AD, calls Sunday, the “Lord’s Day,” but it is uncertain whether we possess the version that was written at that time. A very similar writing of that Day, called the “Acts of John,” very clearly used the expression “Lord’s Day” for Saturday.

Some say that Clement of Alexandria, in 200 A.D., called Sunday as “the Lord’s Day,” in his Stromata. He compared “the Lord’s Day” to the “eighth day” using an analogy of Roman Philosophy. However, it is unclear whether he meant “the eighth day” as Sunday, or our resurrected life in heaven. Clement wrote, “He . . . keeps the Lord’s day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.”

Tertullian made the first undisputed use of the phrase “Lord’s Day” for Sunday, in about 200 AD, in his writing, “on Idolatry.” Tertullian, a Montanist, was possessed by the power of Satan that drove the founders of Montanism to suicide. Tertullian was the first to promote the Trinity, Sunday rest, and was also the first to say that it made no difference what kind of water was used for baptism.

In recent years, a number of translators have led us to believe that earlier Christian writings referred to Sunday as “the Lord’s Day.” In the table below, we present the actual Greek text used to make these translations. You will see that all of these translations are fraudulent.

Before the third century, if there was any use of the Lord’s Day, it was applied to the Sabbath Day, and not the first day of the week. As we will see below:

The Epistle of Barnabas (130 A.D.)

The Epistle of Barnabas made a comparison of the LORD’s Day with the Sabbath Day.

Behold, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end. And He rested on the seventh day. This He meaneth; when His Son shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

Dionysius, in Eusebius’ Church History (176 A.D.). Book 4:23 (section 11)

English translations say “Lord’s Day.” But the Greek reads “Lord’s Holy Day.”

Historians tell us Corinth observed the Sabbath; this was the meaning of “Lord’s Holy Day;” as we discussed in Chapter 18, Christ was the YHVH ELOHIM who rested on the Sabbath, as stated in the Commandment.

The Acts of John(150 to 200 A.D.)

In the second half of the second century, Modalist or Docetic believers wrote two forgeries, which are the Gospel of Peter and the Acts of John.

The Acts of John reads, “And on the seventh day, it being the Lord’s day.”1

The Gospel of Peter, and Matthew 28:1, tell us when Jesus rose

There is only one verse in the Bible that tells us the time when Jesus rose, which is Mark 16:9. It says that Jesus rose on Sunday morning, between 4 and 6 am. The entire passage of Mark 16:9-19 is the only universally recognized forgery in the New Testament. This passage does not appear in any early manuscripts. It was created hundreds of years later.

The Gospel of Peter has only one chapter, verse 35 reads, “But in the night in which the Lord’s day dawned . . . there was a loud voice . . . the stone was thrust against the door.” Verse 50 reads, “But early in the morning of the Lord’s Day, she (Mary Magdelene) . . . . came to the tomb . . . .”

This “Gospel”may be the oldest writing to use the phrase “Lord’s Day. ” We have only one copy of this “Gospel” mentioned by Eusebius in his Church History. The original writing is considered by most to have been made about 150 AD. The copy that we have was discovered in 1886-87, and is a reproduction dated to the 6th Century. The question is: Did the original version of 150 AD, really contain the phrase “Lord’s Day,” or did a transcriber, like others we describe below, simply believe that was the proper word? It is certainly difficult to believe that the original writer, in the 2nd Century, put the phrase “Lord’s Day,” for Sunday, in the mouth of the Apostle Peter, and even to use it two times!

At any rate, the writer  provides us with an idea of the real meaning of Matthew 28:1-2, which reads: “Now after the Sabbaths, as it began to dawn ἐπιφωσκούσῃ epiphōskousē toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And there was a great earthquake . . .”

Jewish days end at sunset. The Greek word epiphōskousē, in Matthew 28:1, means sunset, not sunrise. It is only otherwise used in our Bibles in Luke 23:54, “it was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was ἐπέφωσκεν about to begin.” The Gospel of Peter uses the same word to mean sunset in verse 5, “the Sabbath is dawning. For it is written in the law that the sun must not set on one who has been killed.”

But we know that Mary Magdelene did not go to tomb at sunset, she went during the night, before the sun rose (John 20:1). What happened at sunset in Matthew 28:1-2?

The Gospel of Peter explains that the stone was rolled away (Matthew 28:2-4), and that night, the guards went to report this to Pilate. Then, perhaps many hours later, Mary appeared at the tomb, and saw the Angel, as described in Matthew 28:5.

The Gospel of Peter also clarifies that “the next day,” in Matthew 27:62, when Pilate ordered to the tomb to be sealed, was Friday. Verse 34 of the Gospel of Peter, “early in the morning, as the Sabbath dawned, a crowd came from Jerusalem,” tells us the next day was Saturday. This explains the plural, “after the Sabbaths” in Matthew 28:1. Friday was the High Sabbath, the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-8, John 19:31-42), and Saturday was the weekly Sabbath. These are the two Sabbaths described in Luke 23:54 and 56. They appear to be the same Sabbath, but in fact they are two different Sabbaths, the “Sabbath according to the commandment” being Saturday. This also explains Luke 24:21, this is the third day SINCE these things happened.”

The Comparison of the Gospel of Peter and Matthew is as follows:

Thursday Friday Saturday Night
Gospel of Peter V. 20–27 V. 28–33 V. 35–50
Gospel of Matthew Matt 27:57–61 Matt 27:62–66 Matt 28:1–2

False Citations of the phrase “the Lord’s Day”

in all known English Translations

The Didache (80–130 A.D.), Chapter 13 and 14

The Greek reads, “set aside your offering according to (kata) the (Paul’s) commandment. According to (kata) the Lord’s (commandment – implied) those of the Lord should break bread.”

κατα την εντολην κατα κυριακην δε κυριου

In 1912, Kirsopp Lake added the word “Day” after Lord’s.

Ignatius of Antioch letter to the Magnetians (110 A.D.)

The only surviving Greek manuscript, which comes from the eleventh century, reads “living according to (kata) the Lord’s life.” But Ussher in the sixteenth century added the word “Day” to the fifteenth-century Latin version, which said, “living according to the Lord’s” and he ignored the word “life” in the Greek.

In the third century, a fraudulent expanded version of Ignatius’ letter was produced that reads, “let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival.”

Ironically, the message of Ignatius was based on Paul’s text of Colossians 2:8:

“let no one cheat you according to (kata) the traditions of men, according to (kata)the basic principles of this world, and not according to (kata) Christ.”

Dionysius, in Eusebius’ Church History (176 A.D.). Book 4:23 (section 11)

The Greek reads “Lord’s holy Day” (not “Lord’s Day).

κυριακὴν ἁγίαν ἡμέραν 2

Bishop Melito of Sardis, in Eusebius’ Church History (170 A.D.). Book 4.26 (section 2)

The Greek reads, “A Discourse Concerning the Lord’s Word (Logos)” (not Day)

καὶ ὁ Περὶ ἐκκλησίας καὶ ὁ Περὶ κυριακῆς λόγος3

Fragment 7 of the Lost Works of Irenaeus

“Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenæus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day.”

This passage is often quoted, as belonging to Irenaeus. The writer says he is not Irenaeus. We don’t know when this passage was written or who wrote it, but it was definitely written after Irenaeus. The Lord’s day in this sentence may actually refer to Easter, which is apparently the subject of his treatise.

  1. Translated by Alexander Walker. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886).