Paul did not hold a service on Sunday

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Eoghan, Apr 10, 2009.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Maybe Paul did not hold a service on Sunday

    It has long been held that Paul met on the "first day of the week" Acts 20:7 this may be untrue. It might be a cultural translation that misreads the text, the Greek text actually uses the term Sabbath!

    The possible reason for a misunderstanding is that the Jewish day follows the pattern of Scripture, there was "evening and morning" (Genesis)

    Thus the Sabbath starts at dusk on our cultural (as opposed to Biblical) Friday night. Sabbath ends on our cultural (not Biblical) Saturday night.

    The greek of the text suggests that Paul met with the disciples at the close of the Sabbath (i.e. our cultural Saturday evening?). The meeting lasted until midnight. Indeed Paul continued talking until dawn (i.e. our culturally dawn on Sunday?).

    This would explain the emphasis on artificial lighting (verse 8)

    It would explain why Eutychus fell asleep and fell backwards out a window (verse 9)

    If the meeting was held at the close of Sabbath - an all nighter - should it be the pattern for our services?

    Paul worshipped on the Sabbath before his conversion - and after, was this a sabbath meeting?

    -----Added 4/10/2009 at 03:43:41 EST-----

    Going on the greek text alone i.e. Scripture we get a possibly different reading from the cultural accretions that might overlay a cultural mistranslation.

    Are we brave enough to set aside tradition long enough to seriously examine what the greek text tells us?
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  2. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    But there is still the word that is translated 'first'. I think this makes it more difficult!

    Here is the Greek:

    εν (on) δε (and) τη (the) μια (first) των (the) σαββατων (sabbath) συνηγμενων (assemble) των (the) μαθητων (disciples) του (the) κλασαι (break) αρτον (bread)
  3. jeffm05

    jeffm05 Puritan Board Freshman

    Eoghan: The word in question is the only word translated as week in the NT of the KJV. It's also in Luke 18:12. If as you say this word only refers to the Sabbath, and not to a week of seven days, then how could the Pharisee in Luke 18:12 fast twice in one day?

    -----Added 4/10/2009 at 05:37:01 EST-----

    Also view Mark 16:1-2, which clearly distinguishes between Saturday (the Sabbath) and Sunday (the first day of the week).

    Do you also believe that Christ was raised from the dead on Saturday?
  4. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Now at one of the sabbaths, at our being assembled to break bread ...

    How you can make sense of this without translating the greek word Sabbath I don't understand.

    The word which you call first mia according to Young's Analytical Concordance means literally "one".

    The word you need to pay attention to is SABBATH - this was the pattern of Jesus, the Disciples and the early believers!

    Contrast this Sabbath meeting with the doctrines based on the mistranslation as Sunday!!!

    And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight.
    First day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread ...
    This emphatically states the purpose of Christian assemblies on Sundays throughout history, that purpose being for the observance of the Lord's supper. As Lange said, "Luke's language here plainly indicates that this day (Sunday) was precisely one on which assemblies for religious services were customarily held." F7 Harrison complained that "We are not told when or how the practice of Sunday worship arose in the church"; F8 but one does not need to seek any later than the day of the resurrection of our Lord for the beginning of it. On successive Sundays, Jesus appeared to the apostles on the day he arose from the grave (John 20:19), Thomas being absent; and again on the following Sunday (Thomas present) (John 20:26) he appeared to them again. There can be little doubt that Sunday services of Christians began with those two appearances of our Lord in their assemblies on successive Sundays.

    -----Added 4/10/2009 at 07:13:31 EST-----

    The Living Bible :eek:

    "On Sunday, we gathered for a communion service, with Paul preaching."
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2009
  5. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate


    This is certainly an interesting discussion. But I think we are skipping steps here.

    You said,

    But according to another concordance there is a choice to be made between one or first. Now I am not a skilled translator or exegete, nor do I have formal training in the languages, but I think there is semantic range here: in some cases the context will demand one and in some others, the context demands first. That's as far as I can go in this aspect.

    The other thing that needs to be done here is to look at other scriptures that address the same word or idea. We should do this in order for the discussion to be complete.

    The reason why I am being cautious here is the position you are arguing for is contrary to all of Protestant Christendom with the exception of the Seventh Day Adventist church, perhaps.

    You are correct that we must be willing to give up all presumptions when coming to the Word of God, but you definitely have taken a minority position here.

    ...If what you are saying is that Christians today should meet on Saturday for corporate worship. Is this what you are arguing? Sometimes its good to just say what you think and let the discussion happen.
  6. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Moderator Warning:

    Eoghan, be very careful when you post on Puritan Board. If you are simply asking questions about the text, that is one thing, but your OP reads more like an assertion that roughly two millennia of Biblical interpretation has been wrong. Furthermore, if you are rejecting the teaching of the Reformers and positing something that reads more in line with Seventh Day Adventist interpretations of the passage.

    Once again, this is not to say it is improper to ask questions about the text, but if you are asserting that the confessional view of the Christian Sabbath is incorrect, that position will not be tolerated on the Puritan Board.

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  7. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    My question is how the word "Sabbath" is avoided and the word Sunday substituted (Living Bible). Yes we all laugh at the Living Bible a bit but it takes the KJV "the first day of the week" and substitutes Sunday.

    The Greek however specifies that it was the Sabbath and I just cannot see how we tap dance round that!

    It might have been the "first" Sabbath or "one" Sabbath but it was a Sabbath meeting continuing through to dawn on Sunday.
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    Have you studied either the 1689 London Baptist Confession, or the WCF on this matter? Are you in agreement with the confessions or not? If not, why?
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Eoghan, you are not listening to the people here. The hyper-literal translation is "the first of the sabbaths." The idea here is that the word "first" implies "first day." The construction with the genitive and the definite article in front of "one" completely rules out the translation "one of the sabbaths." The latter translation is completely impossible according to the rules of Greek grammar. The exact phrase occurs in the following places: Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, and here in Acts 20:7. You will notice that almost all translations translate the phrase, wherever it occurs, as "first day of the week." The word "sabbaton" does not always mean "Sabbath." It can mean "week." In this construction, it does. Interestingly, not even Bacchiocchi makes the claim that you are making. In short, Eoghan, your position is untenable.
  10. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The problem with this approach it is that it must absolutize a word without seeing it in its proper context. Yes the word is 'Sabbath' the Jewish word for 'rest, cease, stop' but what does it mean when connected to mia? The word is part of a phrase is one which begins with the definite article te (the) modifying mia (one) and finally the noun sabbaton (sabbaths - plural) in a genitive relationship with mia, therefore literally translated as 'the one of the sabbaths'.

    Obviously the Jews had no word for Sunday (or at least as far as I know) so they would speak according to the renewal of their Sabbath week by another day. The seven day cycle of the Sabbath week would have ended and another cycle had begun. The first day of the next Sabbath week was thus 'the one of the Sabbaths'.

    This is also noted in the context. Verse six mentions a stay at Troas “for seven days” which is an indicator that the week has passed. The next day, “the first day” is a day where the disciples gather, break bread and hear Paul preach. Thus Sunday is the acceptable day of worship for the New Covenant people.

    So the problem here is not so much our culture but our lack of understanding of Jewish culture which permeates the Old and New Testaments. See Leviticus 23:36,39; Numbers 29:35 for the OT significance of the 'eighth day' and its relationship to the Lord's Day.

    On another note this verse is strong evidence of the import and continuing significance of the seventh day cycle for the early church but with a new day (the first day, or as we call it, Sunday) for a new covenant with a new people (Jew and Gentile).
  11. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Sabbaton (Greek)

    Mmmmmm somebody should have noticed this and brought it to my attention earlier. It might have stopped the moderator coming down hard on me :agree: .

    Youngs Analytical Lexicon to the NT

    Sabbaton - translated as Sabbath x16
    - translated as Sabbath day x 34
    - translated as week x9
    - sabbath (adjective) x 7

    What Sabbath means week???

    Again from Youngs Analytical (as recommended by Al Martin)


    2. A week (from sabbath to sabbath) sabbata

    3. A week (from Sabbath to Sabbath) sabbaton
  12. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    The First to present his case seems right
    Until another steps forward to question him

  13. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    We can't do your homework for you. ;)
  14. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    The simple side of it is

    The Jewish Sabbath was dawn to dusk and not until midnight. So his meeting at midnight would nto have been a Jewish sabbath anyway.

    Historically some Christians were said to have met on both days as they transitioned away for the Sabbath to the Lord's day,

    And yes Paul did go into the synagogues on the Jewish Sabbath and read and teach.
    So what.
    He also went into Mars Hill and taught?
    This says nothing about which day we celebrate the 4th command or the Lord's resurrection now.

    Also, many today call the 1st day the Sabbath.
    I think it is more properly referred to as the Lord's Day but ... it is a sabbath rest day. One day in a 7 day week
  15. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Please don't take it so personally. Pointing out the fact that you are arguing an untenable position is not the same as attacking you.

    In seminary, one of my Godly old professors said to the class: "One day you will be in your study looking at the Greek text and discover something that nobody has ever seen in the 2,000 year history of the church. You will become excited and want to share it with your congregation at the next Sunday service. DON'T! Chances are it is wrong. Submit to the wisdom of other exegetes and consider the possibility that you may be in error."

    Eoghan, that is advice I try to follow EVERY time I open the Word of God. And, even 38 years after my first Greek class in college, it is STILL wisdom that I NEED to hear.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  16. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    My Greek professor said the same thing to us . . . 27 years ago. Has it been that long? I can still hear the chalk on the board as he showed us the proper way to write the letters that first day. .

    And, I still have to heed that wisdom as well.
  17. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I think we've come to an end here. The phrase in question has been sufficiently explained in the sense that it is understood confessionally - that is, "the first day of the week". There is no justification for arguing that the phrase implies anything else, as has been ably demonstrated here and elsewhere. No need to go further.
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