The Way It Happened

Revelation 1:10, The Lord’s Day

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

//You may be surprised to know that this verse in Revelation is the only reference in the scripture to The Lord’s Day. Most of us read the words without thinking any more about it, and conclude that John writes about seeing his vision on a Sunday.

But the earliest Jewish Christians continued to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath (Saturday). In time, they also began to hold their own gatherings on Sunday, with both Saturday and Sunday holy for a time–not an either/or proposition–but eventually Sunday replaced Saturday as the day of worship. We don’t know exactly when Christians began to recognize Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Maybe not until nearly 130 CE and then only in the cities of Rome and Alexandria, leaving us unsure how to interpret today’s verse.

Adding to the confusion is John’s awkward Greek, which sometimes makes translation difficult. Some scholars contest the traditional understanding of this verse, and assert that when John wrote “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit,” he meant “I was caught up in a vision to the coming Day of the Lord.”

Nevertheless, it appears likely that this verse played a part in the eventual development of a special day belonging to Jesus. Scholars of Revelation recognize the intense competition in Asia Minor (where Revelation was directed) between Christianity and Roman Emperor worship; just as certain rulers claimed particular days as their own, so too did the Lord Jesus deserve his own day, right? My understanding of the verse is traditional. I think John encouraged setting aside a special day to commemorate Jesus.

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