A Closer Look:
#16 The Lord's Day

By Joel Heller

It is commonly assumed that Sunday is called the Lord’s Day because Yeshua rose from the dead that day. But as we have seen in a previous post1, his tomb was discovered to be empty before sunup on the “first day of the week.” Not only can we not fit “three days and three nights” between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, we can’t even count a partial Sunday morning as one of the three days. As we saw, the resurrection took place late on Saturday afternoon, toward sunset.

The phrase, “the Lord’s Day” occurs only once in the King James Version. Revelation 1:10 says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet . . .” The Greek of that verse begins, “I-was2 in spirit in the Lord’s day . . .” There is no “the” attached to “spirit.” “In spirit” is an adverbial phrase describing how John was “in the Lord’s day.” Because of traditional doctrinal presuppositions, when translators see pneuma, spirit, in the Greek, they usually add the definite article, the, and capitalize making an indefinite “spirit” into “The [Holy] Spirit.” 

“In spirit” John was in the Lord’s day. We use the expression “in spirit” the same way today as John did. If I cannot be with you on your special occasion (say, a wedding or graduation), I will be with you “in spirit,” not “in the Spirit.”

 “The Lord’s Day” is synonymous with “the Day of the Lord.” The Lord’s day is the day when the Lord, or Lord, judges all humankind.3 It is distinguished from “man’s day,” when humans judge.

In 1 Corinthians 4:3 (KJV) Paul says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.” “Man’s judgment,” in the Greek is literally “man’s day (anthropines himera),” just as “the Lord’s day” in Rev 1:10 is te kuriake himera. Most English translations follow the King James and translate “day” as judgment, judging, human court, or some similar expression. Darby, Douay-Rheims, Tyndale, Wycliffe, and Young translate himera literally as “day.” “Man’s day” is the day or era when humans do the judging. The Lord’s Day is when Lord does the judging.

The expressions te himera tou kyriou, the day of the Lord, is synonymous with te kuriake himera, the Lord’s day. Biblical Hebrew has no equivalent to “Lord’s day.” It only has “day of the Lord,” yom Yhvh, or yom l’Yhvh.”4 While the KJV always renders the Hebrew as “day of the Lord,”5 the New English Translation translates yom Yhvh interchangeably as either “day of the Lord” or “the Lord’s day.”6

The earliest unequivocal use of “Lord’s Day” to mean Sunday is in a second century, non-canonical book, the Gospel of Peter.”7 The New Testament invariably calls Sunday “the first day of the week.” Biblically, the days of the week are not named, but numbered, i.e. First Day, Second Day, etc. Only the seventh day has a name, Shabbat or Sabbath. 

There is a fundamental principle of interpretation applied to any writing: Words mean what they meant when they were written. Imposing the modern erroneous use of “Lord’s day” to mean Sunday onto a writing which was written when “the Lord’s day” meant the day of Yhvh’s judgment8 gives false support the notion that the Sabbath was somehow transferred from Saturday, the seventh day of the week to Sunday, the first. There is no Scriptural support for that dogma. The shift from Saturday Sabbath to Sunday observance occurred gradually over many decades after the mainstream of the church was severely Hellenized.9

To repeat, nowhere in the Bible, either the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, or New Testament, ever is Sunday, the day which pagans dedicated to “Dominus Sol Invictus,”10 the sun god, called “Lord’s Day.”

The “Lord’s Day” is not a day of the week, but the Day of the Lord, Judgment Day. For those to whom righteousness is imputed, there is no reason to dread the approach of that day. For those who reject grace, the outcome of judgment will be much less pleasant.


1 #4 Three Days and Three Nights. 
Egenomen “I” is implied in the form of the verb.
In the Tanakh, the Old Testament, many versions translate adon as Lord, in upper and lower case, and the Name, Yhvh, as Lord in small capitals. New Testament Greek renders both as kurios, which has led to confusion in some Christian circles. 

4 The l’ prefix means to or for.

5 Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9; Jer 46:10; Eze 13:3, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20, Oba 1:15; Zep. 1:7, 14; Zec 14:1, Mal 4:5. 

6  NET renders yom Yhvh as “Lord’s day” in Isa 13:6, 9; Amos 5:18, 20; Zep 1:7, 14. Otherwise, “day of the Lord.” 

7  Gonzalez, Justo L., A Brief History of Sunday from the New Testament to the New Creation; Grand Rapids; William B. Eerdmans, 2017. 

8  Cf. Isa 13:6 NET. 

9  Gonzalez, ibid. 

10  Latin, literally: “Lord Unconquered Sun.” 

Joel Heller Profile Picture

Joel Heller is the author of Neither Yavne nor Antioch: Recovering Nazarean Judaism. He is a retired member of the Kansas Bar. In place of traditional Protestant presuppositions, he brings the common-law principles of legal interpretation to the interpretation of God’s Law, called the Torah or Nomos. You can reach him by email.