The phrase “the Lord’s Day” is used only one time in the Scriptures, and it comes in the final book of the New Testament. In Revelation 1:10 the apostle John describes himself being “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” when he received revelation from Jesus Christ Himself.
The word “Lord’s” is the Greek word kuriake, a derivative of the word kuriakos. The only other time kuriakos is used in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians 11:20, where it refers there to the “Lord’s supper.”
The word kuriakos describes something that pertains to the Lord in a special way. While we eat and drink every meal to the glory of God, there was a particular supper that held special significance in the mind of the Lord, so much so that He told His followers to “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Today, we call this the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. While every meal is to be eaten to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), this particular meal was set apart by the Lord with special significance and meaning, and therefore holds great significance for all His followers today.
In a similar fashion, every day is to be lived for the glory of the Lord, but there is a particular day of the week that John called “the Lord’s Day.” This day pertains to the Lord in a special way, and therefore should be held in high regards by His followers today. But which day is it?
When considering the information in the New Testament, there is this designation of “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 as well as several references to “the day of the Lord.” Are they the same? There are two things which help us understand this question. First, all the references to the “day of the Lord” in the New Testament refer to some future event (Acts 2:20; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:5; 2 Peter 3:10). The idea of the term “day of the Lord” speaks to some eschatological day, not a historical day to the Bible authors. Second, (without getting overly technical) the Greek wording in the phrase “day of the Lord” is always different than the wording here in Revelation.1
Because of these differences, the Lord’s Day should not be viewed as the eschatological day of the Lord spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments. However, it remains to be determined which day is meant by John’s statement that he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” If this is a day of particular significance to the Lord, but not the eschatological day of the Lord yet to come, it must be a reference to some significant day in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also must mean a specifically known day, for John was very particular about saying “on the Lord’s Day” which implies that whoever read his letter would know to which day he referred.
During the earthly ministry of the Lord, there are a few significant days which could be possibilities. The first one was the day of His birth. However, we are not told upon which day of the calendar He was born, nor are we told which day of the week. Our modern celebration of Christmas is simply a celebration of the event of the birth of Christ, but with no significant information as to which day of the week upon which it fell. His baptism was also a significant day, but we face the same lack of information regarding His baptism as we do His birth. The other two major significant days we are left with are the day of His death, and the day of His resurrection.
The day of Christ’s death is widely held to be what we now call Friday, the day before the Jewish Sabbath Day (Mark 15:42). Our Lord Jesus Christ died on a cross that day, giving his life as a ransom for many. He died as the spotless Lamb of God on behalf of sinful humanity. While this day is definitely significant in the life of the Lord and for all of God’s people, this day is not of highest significance. There was another day that would prove to be even more significant. This is the day of His resurrection, which proved the significance and efficacy of his death. Paul argues that if Christ had died, but not rose from the dead, then our faith would be worthless (1 Corinthians 15).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is unequivocally on the first day of the week, the day which we now call Sunday. Every gospel writer in the New Testament references the fact that the resurrection took place early on the first day of the week. In fact, in each of the gospels, the only reference to “the first day of the week” is with reference to the resurrection.
I submit that resurrection day was the most significant day in the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the first day of the week, what we now call Sunday. Six out of the eight post resurrection appearances recorded in the New Testament took place on Sunday.2 The Old Testament passage of Psalm 118:22 prophesied that “the stone which was set at naught of you builders…is become the head of the corner.” It was this passage which Peter referenced in Acts 4, linking this prophecy to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was rejected by men in His crucifixion, but became the head of the corner on the day of His resurrection.
The first day of the week, Sunday, is the day of special significance to the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, it is “the Lord’s Day.” This is the day which the Lord has made. Therefore, we should rejoice and be glad in it.
This essay was originally posted here and is published by permission from the author.
- In Acts, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Peter, the word for “Lord” is always kurios, whereas the word for “Lord’s” in Revelation is kuriakos, the adjectival form of kurios. The word order is also different in Revelation, making this reference distinct from the previous references. [↩]
- The Lord’s Day, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 3:964. [↩]