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The Lord’s Day

John’s reference to the Lord’s Day (v. 10), generally regarded as referring to Sunday, suggests that to first-century Christians the first day of the week was particularly significant. That raises the question of whether Sundays are special today.

We know that the early church gave special honor to Sunday, the first day of the week, as the day on which Jesus was raised from the dead. Every week on that day they celebrated His resurrection and met for worship and instruction (1 Cor. 16:2). This observance of a special day was both a parallel and a contrast to the Jewish Sabbath, or day of rest, at the end of the week. The Sabbath celebrated God’s rest from creation (see “The Sabbath,” Heb. 4:10-13).

Some Jewish Christians continued to observe the Sabbath, as well as the Jewish festival days. But many Gentiles in the church did not. Apparently this created tension, especially when the observance of Jewish practices began to be linked by some to salvation. A council of church leaders at Jerusalem did not include a demand for Sabbath observance in its decision regarding Gentile converts (Acts 15:20, 28-29).

Likewise, in writing to the Romans, Paul urged everyone to decide for themselves whether one day should be esteemed above another; but by all means, no one should judge another for his convictions (see “Matters of Conscience,” Rom. 14:1-23; compare Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16-17).

It’s interesting that the phrase “the Lord’s Day” occurs only this one time in Rev. 1:10. In Asia Minor, where the churches to which John was writing were located, people celebrated the first day of each month as the Emperor’s Day. Some believe that a day of the week was also called by this name. Thus, by calling the first day of the week the Lord’s Day, John may have been making a direct challenge to emperor worship, as he does elsewhere in the book.

The Word in Life Study Bible, New Testament Edition, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville; 1993), pp. 878-879

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