The rendering of the Greek text to "first day of the week" has caused many
to consider the New Testament was referring to Sunday.
However, as will be shown it was never God's intention to establish a basis
for a new doctrine.
'FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK'
The expression 'first day of the week' is found in the following verses;
- Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19;
Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2.
Of these references, those found in the four gospels refer specifically to
the day Christ rose from the dead. Acts 20:7 refers to a day Paul taught at
Troas and 1Cor 16:2 refers to when a provision for the saints in Jerusalem
was to be set aside.
'FIRST OF THE SABBATHS'
The proper translation of the Greek is 'one of the sabbaths'.
This text could in effect be translated in a number of ways without
totally destroying its meaning;
'one of the weeks'
or 'first of the weeks'
or 'first of day of the sabbaths'
or 'first of day of the weeks'.
What does destroy the meaning is the rendering of the word 'sabbaths' in
the singular form as either 'Sabbath' or 'week'. This is because the Old
Testament describes a specific period of the year as the time of the
'sabbaths' or 'weeks'.
NB: All the above 'first day of the week' verses reflect the same Greek
text, except for Mark 16:9!
Mark 16:9 reads 'foremost sabbath'.
This might at first lead one to believe that Christ rose on a Sabbath
day. However, as can be seen from Luke 18:12, the word 'sabbath' is
sometimes used in the New Testament to refer to a 'week'. Rendering
the Greek as 'foremost week', suggests the first of several weeks.
PERIOD OF THE SABBATHS
We notice in the Old Testament that there existed a period of 7 weeks.
Deut 16:9 You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin
to count the seven weeks from the time you begin
to put the sickle to the grain.
:10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks ...
This seven week period was followed by the annual celebration called
the 'Feast of Weeks'. In the New Testament this feast is known by the
[ The name Feast of Weeks was in recognition of the passing of 7 weeks.
In the New Testament the name Pentecost was in recognition of this
feast, being held on the day following the completion of the 7 weeks,
ie the 50th day. ]
WAVE SHEAF OFFERING DAY
The day which initiated the period of the counting of 7 weeks, and
also the 50 days, was the day the wave sheaf offering was presented.
Lev 23:15 And you shall count for yourselves from the day
after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought
the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths
shall be completed.
:16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh
Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering
to the LORD.
The day the sheaf of the wave offering was presented was;
*** the first day of the sabbaths ***
NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS
As mentioned earlier, the English phrase 'first day of the week' is
found in Scripture in reference to three applications.
1) The day Jesus Christ was resurrected.
- Since the wave sheaf day was the first day of the harvest
season, it was appropriate that Christ was raised at that
2) The day Paul preached at Troas (Acts 20:7).
- To understand precisely when this day occurred it is
necessary to realize the shortcomings of the standard
translations of Acts 20:6. Refer the corrected rendering
provided in the discussion under the title 'Timing of
the Wave Sheaf Offering Day'.
3) The day a provision was to be made for the saints (1Cor 16:2).
- This was a specific collection of food and was to
be made from any food remaining from the prior years
harvest. (Hence the timing, the first day of the new
The Greek 'first of the Sabbaths' should not have been rendered as
'first day of the week'. It was never intended to be a reference to
The text was rather a reference to the first day of the period of the
'sabbaths', ie the first day of a specific period in the Old Testament
calendar. A day which only occurred once per year!