The Lord’s Day

Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Palmdale Church: The Lord’s Day

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.

On page one of the Bible, God orders a beautiful world out of chaotic darkness within a sequence of six days. And on the seventh day, God rests. This introduces the major biblical theme of patterns of seven that conclude with God and humans resting together as partners. In this video, we explore the theme of seventh day rest and the biblical concept of Sabbath. We also look at why Jesus adopted this idea as a major part of his own mission to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.

Sabbath, The Bible Project

Scripture contains numerous references to the sabbath. In view most often is the weekly, seventh-day sabbath. In the OT there is also the pattern of sabbath years occurring every seven years. Is the Lord’s Day the Christian sabbath?

Scripture contains numerous references to the sabbath. In view most often is the weekly, seventh-day sabbath (e.g. Ex. 20:10; Mk. 2:27). In the OT there is also the pattern of sabbath years occurring every seven years and culminating every fifty years in the Year of Jubilee (Ex. 23:10–11; Lv. 25). The sabbath institution is integral to the life of Israel; it is a sign of Israel’s identity as God’s covenant people (e.g. Ex. 31:13; Ezk. 20:12).

The primary provision/demand of the weekly sabbath (the word comes from Heb., related to the verb šaḇat, ‘to cease’, ‘to rest’) is that the day be kept holy to the Lord by resting from the activities, especially labour, of the other six days (Ex. 20:8–11; 31:14–15; Is. 58:13). One of the major indictments in the later OT books is that Israel has desecrated the sabbath by conducting business as usual (e.g. Ne. 13:15–18; Je. 17:19–23).

Sabbath-rest, however, is not simply idleness or inactivity but is oriented towards worship. The sabbath is ‘a day of sacred assembly’ (Lv. 23:3); the sacrifices appointed for the tabernacle are increased on the sabbath (Nu. 28:9–10). How Israel as a whole worshipped on the sabbath during OT times is difficult to say. Some indications at least are found in the later custom of weekly synagogue worship which most likely developed from more ancient practices (cf. Lk. 4:16; Acts 15:21; 17:2).

Rev. 1:10 is the only explicit mention of the Lord’s Day in Scripture. Efforts to find in this verse a reference either to the eschatological Day of the Lord (the final judgment) or to Easter Sunday (an annual day) are not convincing. There can be little doubt that the first day of the week is intended. The adjective translated ‘Lord’s’ (Gk. kyriakos) describes the first day, no doubt because the day of Christ’s resurrection was in some way set apart by and marked out for the Lord, just as the only other NT occurrence of the adjective in 1 Cor. 11:20 describes the eucharistic meal instituted by the Lord to commemorate his death (v. 26). In this light Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 are best read as alluding to the church’s regular practice of gathering for corporate worship on Sunday.

Is the Lord’s Day the Christian sabbath? This has been a matter of perennial debate in the church, especially since the Reformation. Those who answer negatively argue primarily 1. that the sabbath was not instituted until the time of the exodus and then only for Israel, and 2. that the sabbath has been abolished because it was a sign or ‘shadow’ anticipating the salvation-rest already realized by the work of Christ (Mt. 11:28; Col. 2:17). Of greater weight, however, are the principal arguments for an affirmative answer: 1. that the weekly sabbath is a ‘creation ordinance’, that is, based on the action of God in blessing, hallowing and himself resting on the seventh day at creation, before the fall (Gn. 2:3; Ex. 20:11; 31:17); 2. that the sabbath commandment, because it is included in the Decalogue (Ex. 20:8–11; Dt. 5:12–15), is part of God’s enduring moral law; 3. that the writer of Hebrews teaches that the weekly sabbath-sign points to the eschatological rest-order, anticipated by God already at creation and secured, in view of the fall, by the redemptive work of Christ, but which will not be entered by the people of God until Christ’s return (Heb. 4:3b–4, 9–11; 9:28).

R. T. Beckwith and W. Stott, This is the Day (London, 1978); D. A. Carson (ed.), From Sabbath to Lord’s Day (Grand Rapids, MI, 1982); J. Murray, Collected Writings, vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1976), pp. 205–228.

Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 606.