Examination of the term “First day of the Week” in the New Testament

One of the regular comments I hear about “Sabbath observance”, is that the 1st Century Church met on the “1st Day of the Week” and not on the “Sabbath”. Did Peter, Paul, James and the rest of the Disciples in the 1st Century change the day of worship from “The Sabbath” to “The 1st Day of the Week”? This is an examination of the Greek behind our English translations in an attempt to understand what “The 1st Day of the Week” meant in the Original Greek Manuscripts. I encourage all of you, who take the time to examine the following, to do your own research and test these conclusions.

Lev23

Lev 23:15&16 from the 1611 print of the King James Version of the Bible (Please note the highlighted words “Seven Sabbaths” & “Fifty Days”)

»The following examination will review Greek Words using the Strong’s Greek Concordance. It maybe slightly technical, but I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. The Strong’s Greek Concordance numbers will accompany the related word within brackets (eg. G4521) for each reviewed verse. The below examination will reveal that the phrase “First day of the Week” did not have the word “day” in the Greek Manuscripts. Accordingly, our examination will show, that this phrase should read “First Week” or “First of the Weeks”. The term “First Week” or “First of the Weeks” refer to the “First” of the seven “Weeks” in the 50 day count from Christ’s Resurrection(Firstfruits) to Pentecost. Our examinations will arrive at the conclusion, that wherever the New Testament reads “First day of the Week”, it actually meant “First Week” or “First of the Weeks” in Greek. And that it exclusively referred to the “First” of the seven “Weeks” in the 7 Week count towards the day of Pentecost as seen in Lev 23:15,16, Deut 16:9,10.«

There are only 8 verses overall, in the New Testament writings, with the term “First day of the Week”. It will be our objective to check each of these 8 verses to better understand what this phrase means. The verses are as follows:

Mat 28:1  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mar 16:2  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:9  Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luk 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Joh 20:1  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.
Joh 20:19  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Act 20:7  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
1Co 16:2  Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

What most people do not understand is that, all of the above verses are connected (in some way or the other) to some of the Feasts/Appointed times of God(Passover, Week of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits & Pentecost[50 days or Feast of Weeks]). Because of this, we need to have some background information that will help us better understand the above Scriptures before we start our examination.
A. Christ died on the day of Passover(Joh 18:28, 19:14, Mat 27:46-50, Mar 15:33-37, Luk 23:44-46). This is not a fixed day, such as “Friday” on our modern Calendars. Passover could fall on any day of the week, and depends solely on the Biblical Calendar(Lev 23:5). Read this post for more information
B. Passover eve starts off the days of Unleavened Bread which continues on for 7 days(Lev 23:6-8). The day following Passover, which is the 1st day of Unleavened Bread is always a “Special/High Sabbath” (Lev 23:7). It is known as a Special/High Sabbath, because it can fall on any day of the week, unlike the fixed 7th day Sabbath. (Joh 19:31) Read this post for more information
C. Christ’s resurrection happened on the day of Firstfruits. This is the day after the 7th day Sabbath which follows Passover(Mt 28:1-6, Mar 16:2-4, Luke 24:1-3, Joh 20:1,2). In other words, It is always the 1st Day of the week following Passover(Lev 23:10,11). Read this post for more information
D. Pentecost which means “50 days”, is counted from the Day of First Fruits. Pentecost will always fall after 50 days(7 weeks) from the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:15,16, Deut 16:9,10) which is the day Christ rose from the Dead. Read this post for more information
E. For example, if Passover fell on the 4th Day(Wed) of the Week, the 5th Day(Thur) of that same week would be the 1st Day of unleavened bread which would be a special/high Sabbath. The 7th Day(Sat) of the week would be the regular fixed Sabbath. The next day, which is the 1st Day(Sun) of the next week will be the Day of Firstfruits. Counting 50 days from the Day of Firstfruits, brings us to the feast of Pentecost(exactly 7 weeks from the day of first fruits).

With the above information by our side, let’s start our examination. The 8 verses highlighted at the onset of this study has been broken down into 3 parts.

PART 1 – The “First day of the Week” and the Resurrection of Christ
Fact #1: Christ rose from the dead on the day of firstfruits(Sunday after Passover), which begins the 7 week (50 day) count towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.
Fact #2: Out of the 6 instances/verses given below, none of them carry the word “day” in the Greek. This word is given in italics in most English Bible Translations, denoting that it is a word inserted by translators.
Fact #3: If the word “day” is dropped from all of these verses, it would read “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks”
Fact #4: In all of the below verses, (as Yeshua rose on the day of Firstfruits) the week that had begun or dawned, was in fact, “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, as it was a counting of 7 Weeks that led to Pentecost.
Mat 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first(G3391) day of the week(G4521), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mar 16:2 
And very early in the morning the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:9 
Now when Jesus was risen early the first(G4413) day of the week(G4521), he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luk 24:1 Now upon the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 
Joh 20:1 The first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521) cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 
Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

G3391 – μία – mia – Irregular feminine of G1520; one or first: – a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.
G3588 – ὁ, ἡ, τό – ho hē to – The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom): – the, this, that, one, he, she, it, etc.
G4413 – πρῶτος – prōtos – Contracted superlative of G4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance): – before, beginning, best, chief (-est), first (of all), former.
G4521 – σάββατον – sabbaton – Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.

PART 2 – The “First day of the Week” and the breaking of bread by the Disciples
Fact #1: Similar to the 6 verses highlighted in PART 1, Acts 20:7 does not carry the word “day”
Fact #2: Acts 20:6 highlights that Paul sailed from Phillipi amid* the days of unleavened bread, coming to troas in 5 days and dwelling there for 7 days, placing the breaking of bread comfortably in “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.

Act 20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after(G3326)* the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
Act 20:7  And upon the first(G3391) day of the(G3588) week(G4521), when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

*G3326 – μετά – meta – A primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly denoting accompaniment; “amid” (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (genitive case association, or accusative case succession) with which it is joined; occupying an intermediate position between G575 or G1537 and G1519 or G4314; less intimate than G1722, and less close than G4862): – after (-ward),X that he again, against, among, X and, + follow, hence, hereafter, in, of, (up-) on, + our, X and setting, since, (un-) to, + together, when, with (+ -out). Often used in composition, in substantially the same relations of participation or proximity, and transfer or sequence.

PART 3 – The “First day of the Week” and the collection for the saints in Jerusalem
Fact #1: Similar to the verses highlighted in PART 1 & PART 2, 1Cor 16:2 does not carry the word “day”
Fact #2: The collection mentioned in this verse was to be taken to Jerusalem
Fact #3: Visiting Jerusalem 3 times a year for the feasts, including Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, was a Commandment given by God(Deut 16:16), and Paul was aware of it (Act 20:16)
Fact #4: Paul mentions that he will stay in Ephesus till Pentecost in 1Cor 16:8, which would mean that Pentecost/Feast of Weeks was at hand, connecting 1Cor 16 verse 2 with verse 8.
Fact #5: This would mean that Paul was asking the believers to gather the collection for the saints in Jerusalem in “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks” towards Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, rather than waiting to collect the offering till his arrival.
Fact #6: This could not have been a weekly collection as it was supposed to be sent to Jerusalem

1Cor 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
1Cor 16:2 Upon the first(G3391) day of the week(G4521) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
1Cor 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

Another Clue: Luke’s mention of the Second Sabbath after the First in Luk 6:1
Fact #1: The phrase “Second Sabbath after the First” makes little sense in the below verse. Understanding that Seven Weeks/Sabbaths were supposed to be numbered from Firstfruits till the Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, helps us understand this phrase better.
Fact #2: According to Luke, this event happened in the 2nd Week of 7 Weeks towards Pentecost
Fact #3: This is a clear indication that the numbering of “Weeks” leading upto Pentecost/Feast of Weeks was a well known fact by Scholars such as Luke, in the 1st Century, which was used as a marker to highlight a time of year
Fact #4: The timing given by Luke (2nd Week towards Pentecost) and the disciples walking through the corn fields also make absolute sense, as this would be the time when fields are beginning to ripen and are full with grain.

Luk 6:1  And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first(G1207)(G4521), that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

G1207 – δευτερόπρωτος – deuteroprōtos – From G1208 and G4413; second first, that is, (specifically) a designation of the Sabbath immediately after the Paschal week (being the second after Passover day, and the first of the seven Sabbaths intervening before Pentecost): – second . . . after the first.

Conclusion
The 8 verses that carry the phrase “First day of the Week” in the New Testament writings should ideally read “The First Week” or “The First of the Weeks”. Each of the 8 instances/verses in question relate to the “time” (of counting seven weeks) that lead towards Pentecost. While “First day of the Week” misinterprets and misrepresents the New Testament accounts leading people to believe that “Sunday” replaced the “Sabbath” which was commanded by God and adhered to by Yeshua & His believers, it is my belief that the above evidence proves that no such change happened at all. The only verses that are used to promote “Sunday” observance instead of the “Sabbath”, are not speaking of the “First day of the Week”, but are speaking of the “First Week” leading upto Pentecost as a marker of time. I hope all of you do your own research whether this conclusion is true, so that all of us better understand the Scriptures leading people out of the massive confusion most bible translations have made over the years.

Questions
Q1. What about the “Lord’s Day”? Isn’t that “Sunday”? The only mention made of “The Lord’s Day” in the whole of the New Testament happens in Rev 1:10. There is no evidence to believe that this is “sunday”. If at all, the day that is referred here by John, could be the “Day of the Lord”(2Pet 3:10, 1Thes 5:2, Act 2:20, Mal 4:5, Joe 2:31) which is the day when He brings judgement at His return.
Q2. Can we be sure that just because the word “day” is not seen in the Greek, it is not insinuated,and should be read as the “First day of the Week”?  There are numerous examples in the New Testament where the word “day”(G2250 – ἡμέρα – hēmera) is used along with a number (eg. first day[Mar 14:12], third day[Joh 2:1], seventh day[Heb 4:4], eighth day[Luk 1:59], etc.). The fact is, it is not used even once in these 8 instances where it could have been easily used. If it was meant to be read as “First day of the Week” and not “First Week” or “First of the Weeks”, the writers could have easily included the word day in each of these verses.

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One thought on “Examination of the term “First day of the Week” in the New Testament

  1. Pingback: Good Friday or Passover? | Bible things in Bible ways

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