When does the Sabbath Day Begin/End Revisited

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Puritan Board Graduate
The two most prominent position for the Sabbath Day start/finish is either:

1) Midnight to Midnight (defended by Greg Price here).

2) Evening to Evening

and I have recently found what seems to be a third position as expounded by John Owen in his commentary on Hebrews (below):


p. 531

8. Of the beginning and ending of the Sabbath — The first rule about time.

8. It may seem to some necessary that something should be premised concerning the measure or continuance of the day to be set apart to a holy rest to the Lord; but it being a matter of controversy, and to me, on the reasons to be mentioned afterwards, of no great importance, I shall not insist upon the examination of it, but only give my judgment in a word concerning it. Some contend that it is a natural day, consisting of twenty-four hours, beginning with the evening of the preceding day, and ending with the same of its own. And accordingly so was the church of Israel directed, <032332>Leviticus 23:32, “From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath ;” although that does not seem to be a general direction for the observation of the weekly Sabbath, but to regard only that particular extraordinary Sabbath which was then instituted, namely, the day of atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month, verse 27. However, suppose it to belong also to the weekly Sabbath, it is evidently an addition to the command, particularly suited to the Mosaical pedagogy, that the day might comprise the sacrifice of the preceding evening in the services of it; from an obedience whereunto we are freed by the gospel. Neither can I subscribe to this opinion; and that because, —

(1.) In the description and limitation of the first original seven days, it is said of each of the six that it was constituted of an evening and a morning, but of the day of rest there is no such description; it is only called “the seventh day,” without any assignation of the preceding evening unto it.

(2.) A day of rest, according to rules of natural equity, ought to be proportioned to a day of work or labor, which God has granted to us for our own use. Now, this is to be reckoned from morning to evening:

Psalm 104:20-23.
“Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep” (from whose yelling the night has its name in the Hebrew tongue.) “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun arises, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goes forth unto his work and to his labor until the evening.”
The day of labor is from the removal of darkness and the night, by the light of the sun, until the return of them again; which, allowing for the alterations of the day in the several seasons of the year, seems to be the just measure of our day of rest.

(3.) Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his resurrection gave beginning and being to the especial day of holy rest under the gospel, rose not until “the morning of the first day of the week,” when the beamings of the light of the sun began to dispel the darkness of the night, or “when it dawned toward day,” as it is variously expressed by the evangelists. This, with me, determines this whole matter.

(4.) Mere cessation from labor in the night seems to have no place in the spiritual rest of the gospel to be expressed on this day, nor to be by any thing distinguished from the nights of other days of the week.

(5.) Supposing Christians under the obligation of the direction given by Moses before mentioned, and it may entangle them in the anxious, scrupulous intrigues which the Jews are subject to about the beginning of the evening itself, about which their greatest masters are at variance; which things belong not to the economy of the gospel. Upon the whole matter, I am inclined to judge, and do so, that the observation of the day is to be commensurate to the use of our natural strength on any other day, from morning to night And nothing is hereby lost that is needful to the due sanctification of it; for what is by some required as a part of its sanctification, is necessary and required as a due preparation thereunto. This, therefore, is our first rule or direction : —

I. The first day of the week, or the Lord’s day, is to be set apart to the ends of a holy rest unto God, by every one, according as his natural strength will enable him to employ himself in his lawful occasions any other day of the week.
There is no such certain standard or measure for the observance of the duties of this day, as that every one who exceeds it should by it be cut short, or that those who, on important reasons, come short of it should be stretched out thereunto. As God provided, in his services of old, that he who was not able to offer a bullock might offer a dove, with respect to their outward condition in the world; so here there is an allowance also for
the natural temperaments and abilities of men. Only, whereas if persons of old had pretended poverty, to save their charge in the procuring of an offering, it would not have been acceptable, yea, they would themselves have fallen under the curse of the deceiver; so no more will now a pretense of weakness or natural inability be any excuse to any for neglect or profaneness Otherwise, God requires of us, and accepts from us, “according to what we have, and not according to what we have not,” And we see it by experience, that some men’s natural spirits will carry them out to a continuance in the outward observance of duties much beyond, nay, double perhaps to what others are able, who yet may observe a holy Sabbath unto the Lord with acceptation. And herein lies the spring of the accommodation of these duties to the sick, the aged, the young, the weak, or persons any way distempered. “God knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust ;” as also that that dust is more discomposed and weakly compacted in some than in others. As thus the people gathered manna of old, some more, some less, wOlk]a;Aypil] vyai
, “every man according to his appetite,” yet “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack,” <021617>Exodus 16:17, 18; so is every one in sincerity, according to his own ability, to endeavor the sanctifying of the name of God in the duties of this day, not being obliged by the examples or prescriptions of others, according to their own measures.

What other resources / arguments are available for Sabbath day beginning/ending?

Do all of these fall under the Westminster Confession's view of the Sabbath?

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[34] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week,[35] and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's day,[36] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[37]

34. Exod. 20:8-11; Isa. 56:2- 7
35. Gen. 2:2-3; I Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7
36. Rev. 1:10
37. Matt. 5:17-18; Mark 2:27-28; Rom. 13:8-10; James 2:8-12

VIII. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,[38] but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.[39]

38. Exod. 16:23, 25-26, 29-30; 20:8; 31:15-17; Isa. 58:13-14; Neh. 13:15-22
39. Isa. 58:13-14; Luke 4:16; Matt. 12:1-13; Mark 3:1-5
See also Brian Schwertley, The Christian Sabbath: Examined, Proved, Applied:

5. The time of the Lord’s day
The sabbath law teaches that man is to sanctify to the Lord one whole day in seven. A question that needs to be answered is: “When does the Christian sabbath begin?” Some argue that the Christian sabbath begins on Saturday evening, while others argue that it runs from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday. Those who argue that it runs from evening to evening point to the Jewish ceremonial sabbaths for support: “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” (Lev. 23:5). The Hebrew word translated “twilight” (NKJV, NASB, NIV, NTHSMT [114]) or “evening” (RSV) literally means “between the evenings.” “The meaning of the phrase is much discussed. Most commentators think it means ‘in the evening’ (cf. Deut. 16:6, ‘at sunset’), or more precisely, the period between sunset and complete darkness. The orthodox Jewish view is that it means ‘between midday and sunset,’ and this is supported...on the grounds that it would have been impossible to kill all the passover lambs in the temple between sunset and darkness. In NT times the passover sacrifice began about 3 p.m.” [115] The evidence for an old covenant evening-to-evening sabbath is quite strong (cf. Lev. 23:32; Ex. 12:6, 30:8). Hendriksen believes that the Jewish sabbath began at 6 o’clock Friday evening: “According to the ancient Hebrew way of speaking, there were ‘two evenings’ (cf. Exod. 12:6 in the original). The first ‘evening’ which we would call ‘afternoon’ began at 3 p.m., the second at 6 p.m. Something of this is probably reflected in the phrase ‘When evening fell,’ for we cannot imagine that Joseph of Arimathea, a Jew, would have approached Pilate on Friday, 6 p.m., asking for the body of Jesus when the sabbath was beginning.” [116]

Although the Jewish sabbath was probably from evening to evening (or sunset to sunset), the passages in the New Testament which discuss the Lord’s day (the new covenant sabbath) point to a midnight-to-midnight observance. A passage which indicates that the inspired apostles no longer held to the old covenant system of a sunset-to-sunset sabbath is John 20:19: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” John is very specific in noting that this event took place on the first day of the week. “‘On that day’ would be enough, yet John adds, ‘the first one of the week.’” [117] “It was evening. In light of Luke 24:29, 33, 36 we have a right to conclude that it was no longer early in the evening when the great event recorded in the present paragraph took place. As the Jews compute the days, it was no longer the first day of the week. But John, though a Jew, is writing much later than Matthew and Mark, and does not seem to concern himself with Jewish time-reckoning.” [118] It is very significant that John emphasizes that the disciples gathered on the first day of the week, yet also records that it was evening, for if the apostolic church had maintained a sunset-to-sunset sabbath, then John would not have regarded it as the first day, but as the second. There then would be no reason at all for John to emphasize the time, for while the New Testament often emphasizes and singles out the first day (Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:2; Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1, 19, 26; Ac. 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10), the second day holds no significance at all.

Another passage which indicates that the apostolic church had forsaken the sunset-to-sunset sabbath for a midnight-to-midnight [119] sabbath is Acts 20:7: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Luke describes a church service that occurred on the first day of the week, yet says very specifically that Paul did not finish his message until midnight. If the Christian church had followed the Jewish synagogue practice, Paul would have concluded his message before sunset on Sunday, and not late at night. [120] “Certainly, one would almost expect the midnight-to-midnight demarcation, not only in the light of the particulars surrounding Resurrection Sunday, but especially considering that Troas was a Roman colony possessing the Jus Italicum and which therefore certainly followed the Roman midnight demarcation as a colony. It is clear that the congregation at Troas met for worship at night well after sunset, for ‘there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together’ (Acts 20:8). Seeing that ‘the disciples came together to break bread’ in ‘the upper chamber,’ and seeing that there is no instance whatsoever in Scripture of religious meetings on Saturday night after sunset, it is reasonably certain that the disciples at Troas gathered on Sunday nights perhaps even before and certainly after sunset, even as their risen Lord had appeared to His Emmaus disciples on Resurrection Sunday and broken bread with them in the late afternoon, and long after the sunset of ‘the same day at evening, (still) being the first day of the week,’ had congregated with the Jerusalem disciples in the upper room.” [121]

Furthermore, it is recorded that Paul departed at daybreak, or the break of the next day. If Luke had been following the sunset-to-sunset day demarcation system of the Jews, Paul would be described as leaving “later on the same first day of the week.” [122] But Luke says of Paul on Sunday evening that he was “ready to depart the next day” (i.e., early Monday morning at daybreak). Thus there is considerable evidence that the inspired apostles abandoned the Jewish method of day demarcation for a midnight-to-midnight system. Although the matter of sabbath day demarcation may seem trivial, it is important that the church and society follow the inspired apostles’ example for the sake of uniformity, determining when church discipline is appropriate, preparing properly for the Sabbath, and refuting heretics (such as Seventh-day Adventists). “The Jews are supposed to begin every day, and consequently their sabbaths, at the evening, in remembrance of the creation, Gen. i. 5, as Christians generally begin their days and sabbaths with the morning, in memory of Christ’s resurrection.” [123]

And William Gouge, The Sabbath's Sanctification:

Question 48. When begins the Lord's Day?

Ans. In the morning, Acts 20:7.

When Paul came to the Church at Troas, he had a mind to spend a Lord's day with them, though he was in great haste to depart so soon as he could. He came, therefore, to their assembly at the time that they came together according to their custom; but he kept them till the end of the day (for he would not travel on the Lord's day); and having dismissed the assembly, he departed. Now it said that he continued his speech "till midnight" (Acts 20:7), even "till break of day" (verse 11), and then departed; which departure of his is said to be "on the morrow." By this punctual expression of the time, it appears that the first day of the week, the Lord's day, ended at midnight, and that then the morrow began. Now to make a natural day, which consisteth of twenty four hours, it must begin and end at the same time; for the end of one day is the beginning of another. There is not a minute betwixt them. As, therefore, the Lord's day ended at midnight, so it must begin at midnight, when we count the morning to begin. Which is yet more evident by this phrase, Matt. 28:1, "In the end of the Sabbath" (namely, of the week before which was the former Sabbath) "as it began to dawn" (namely, on the next day, which was the Lord's day). Or, as John 20:1, "when it was yet dark" there came divers to anoint the body of Jesus, but they found him not in the grave. He was risen before; so as Christ rose before the sun.

Question 49. What reasons may be given of the Lord's day beginning in the morning?

Ans. Other days then begin.

That they do so with us is evident by the account of our hours. For midnight ended, we begin with one o'clock; then the first hour of the day beginneth. And it appears to be so among the Jews; for when Aaron proclaimed, Exod. 32:5, 6, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord," "they rose up early on the morrow." I deny not but that sundry of the Jewish feasts began in the evening, as the Passover (Exod. 12:6). But it cannot be proved that their weekly Sabbath so began. There were special reasons for the beginning of those feasts in the evening, which did then begin. As for the supposed beginnings of the first days gathered out of this phrase: "the evening and the morning were the first day;" they cannot be necessarily concluded to be at the evening. For the evening and the morning there importeth the moment of the evening and morning parting from one another, and the return to the same period; which moment is rather at the beginning of the morning than of the evening. The evening useth to be referred to the end of the day and the morning to the beginning, as Exod. 29:38, 29; 1 Sam. 17:16; John 20:19.

Question 50. What other reason is there of the Lord's day beginning in the morning.

Ans. Christ then rose, Mark 16:2, 9.

Of Christ's rising in the morning, no question can be made; all the evangelists agree in the narration thereof. Now the Lord's day being a memorial of Christ's resurrection, if it should begin in the evening, the memorial would be before the thing itself, wihch is absurd to imagine. As all God's works were finished before the first Sabbath, so all Christ's sufferings before the Lord's day. His lying dead in the grave was a part of his suffering. Therefore, by his resurrection was all ended. With his resurrection, therefore, must the Lord's day begin.

To make the evening before the Lord's day a time of preparation thereunto is a point of piety and prudence; but to make it a part of the Lord's day is erroneous, and in many respects very inconvenient.

I am of the opinion that the Sabbath runs from evening to evening. Thomas Shepard makes a compelling argument for this in his "Theses Sabbaticae" (volume 3 of his Works). It is available in paperback from Crown Rights Publishing.


I'm also working on reprinting John Cotton' treatise on "The Duration of the Lord's Day" which is also very good. DV, I should have it available by the end of the month on Lulu.
See also Dr. Francis Nigel Lee's refutation of the Seventh Day Adventist arguments for evening-to-evening observance of the Sabbath in The Covenantal Sabbath:

The answer to the fourth sub-query: "When was Sunday first observed, and how?", must be that Christ and His Spirit progressively taught its observance in the hearts of God’s children by example rather than by precept particularly from Resurrection Sunday onwards. And in so teaching, They then probably indicated that, like the Adamic sabbath before the fall and like the Resurrection Sunday of Christ the Second Adam, the New Testament Sunday observance was to run from midnight to midnight (Matt. 28:1,6,13; Mark 16:1-2,9; Luke 24:1, 13, 24-36; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:6-7, 11 cf. Ex. 11:4; 12:6, 12-16, 27-29, 42 cf. Gen. 1:3-5, 31; 2:1-3);...
That is a lot of verses, but none of them say midnight to midnight or anything about midnight. An evening to evening observance fits in with all those verses just as well. Shepard addresses all of these arguments. One of his most compelling arguments is that the Christain Sabbath began immediately after the last Jewish Sabbath which would've been Saturday evening. The Julian calendar or day was not observed by the Jews. Shepard goes back to creation and shows that a biblical day was always observed from evening to evening. Rome's imposition of the Julian calendar doesn't change the biblcal definition of a day.
Thanks for the great resources so far! :up::up:

I don't have appropriate time to read them at this moment (as I am at work), but I will later today Lord willing.

Are both views (three views including Owen's) faithful to the WCF?
Just a reminder. The scriptures do not mention a jewish or christian sabbath. This is a man made nomenclature. It would be like saying, the jewish decalogue and the christian decalogue or jewish marriage and christian marriage. There is only the sabbath.
Acts 20.7 does specifically reference midnight. It's an important point because it is consistent with midnight-to-midnight observance for Paul to have preached until midnight (a Lord's Day evening worship service) before "departing on the morrow" whereas the evening-to-evening position would suggest that Paul was preaching on the first and second days of the week. The other verses are highly relevant to when Jesus rose from the dead (thus instituting the Lord's Day) and make reference to the morning (before it was light) which raises the question of when the morning begins.

Dr. Lee's position (and that of Greg Price) is that the Biblical definition of a day, and hence Sabbath observance, has always been from midnight to midnight. His argument which is extensive (spread throughout his book beginning with the section on Adam) is worth reading (I just quoted a concluding section). Others (like James Durham) hold that there was a change in the reckoning of the day as well as the day itself at the Resurrection and this not by Roman institution but by divine institution. Either way, the New Testament language that is used in connection with the events of the Resurrection and Paul's preaching until midnight, as demonstrated by Price, Lee, Schwertley, et al., are consistent not with evening-to-evening reckoning but midnight-to-midnight.

Note: Greg Price alludes to and refutes another position that argues that the Sabbath begins at noon.

Another point for consideration -- I'm not sure off hand which came first, Owen's statement or Vincent's -- but Owen signed an epistle to commend the exposition of the Shorter Catechism by Thomas Vincent which argues for reckoning the Lord's Day from midnight to midnight.

Besides the question of what the Bible actually teaches, there are various practical implications for the differing views as to when the Sabbath begins and ends. One, for example, might pertain to watching the Superbowl. One view would see it as Sabbath-desecration; another would not. Another would involve whether to have church services on Saturday evening or the Lord's Day evening.

[Edited on 10-9-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
WCF 21.7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him:k which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,l which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day,m and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.n
k, EXO 20:8, 10-11. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. ISA 56:2, 4, 6-7. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. 4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

l. GEN 2:2-3. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. 1CO 16:1-2. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. ACT 20:7. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

m. REV 1:10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

n. EXO 20:8, 10. [See 7k]. With MAT 5:17-18. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
John Brown of Haddington, Systematic Theology, Book VI, Chap. 1, p. 475:

The Christian Sabbath begins in the morning after midnight. 1. Christ rose early in the morning, Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2,9. 2. It begins where the Jewish sabbath ended, which was when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, Matt 28:1,3. 3. The evening which follows the day of our sabbath pertained to it, John 20:19.

Lewis Bayly, Practice of Piety, pp. 163-164:

The Jews kept the last day of the week, beginning their Sabbath with the night (Gen 2:2; Lev 23:32; Neh 13:19), when God rested; but Christians honour the Lord better, on the first day of the week (Matt 28:1), beginning the Sabbath with the day when the Lord arose (Acts 20:7,11) They kept their Sabbath in remembrance of the world's creation; but Christians celebrate it in memorial of the world's redemption; yea, the Lord's day being the first of the creation and redemption, puts us in mind, both of the making of the old, and redeeming of the new world.
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Acts 20.7 does specifically reference midnight. It's an important point because it is consistent with midnight-to-midnight observance for Paul to have preached until midnight (a Lord's Day evening worship service) before "departing on the morrow" whereas the evening-to-evening position would suggest that Paul was preaching on the first and second days of the week. The other verses are highly relevant to when Jesus rose from the dead (thus instituting the Lord's Day) and make reference to the morning (before it was light) which raises the question of when the morning begins.
[Edited on 10-9-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]

:ditto: I was thinking of that verse, too.
Paul preaching until midnight does not mean that he couldn't have preached into the next day. The reference about Jesus raising from the dead before it was light doesn't add any weight to a midnight to midnight argument either. Otherwise the reasoning would be Christ arose before daylight, therefore a day runs from midnight to midnight. This does not logically follow. I don't know of anyone that argues that the Jews did not observe the day from evening to evening. Midnight to midnighters would have to prove how the Sabbath did not only change days, but the time period too. What about those missing hours between the last Jewish Sabbath and the first Christian Sabbath? The question is where in Scripture is a day defined as anything other than evening to evening and where is a day defined as midnight to midnight?
Thank you for this discussion, I have often wondered about all three views (though I didn't know of Owen's defense of morning to evening, I have heard people espouse that view).

For what it's worth - a tertiary source to a secondary standard - JG Vos in his commentary on the WLC says that the day ought to be reckoned as ordinary days. Specifically:

7.* Does the Sabbath run from sunset to sunset, or from midnight to midnight?
(Answer:) This is a matter which is indifferent in itself. The Jews reckoned their days from sunset to sunset, and their Sabbath accordingly. We count from midnight to midnight. The Sabbath should be reckoned in the customary way of reckoning other days. (*Section 7, from the commentary to Q 117, _The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary_, JG Vos, P&R, 2002)
Consider William Perkins' two observations on Acts 20, from his Cases of Conscience. Also note what he says about Ps. 92.

In that text I note two things. First, that the night there mentioned was a part of the seventh day of Paul’s abode at Troas. For if it were not so, then he had stayed at least a night longer, and so more than seven days, because he should have stayed part of another day. Secondly, that this night was a part of the Sabbath which they then kept. For the apostle keeps it in manner of a Sabbath, in the exercises of piety and divine worship, and namely in preaching. Yea further, he continues there till the rest was fully ended: he communed with them till the dawning of the day, and so departed, verse 11. Besides this text, David saith in his Psalm of the Sabbath, that he will declare God’s loving kindness in the morning, and his truth in the night, Ps. 92:2, making the night following a part of the Sabbath.
James Ussher, A Body of Divinitie, p. 244-245:

Why doth our Sabbath begin at the dawning of the day?

Because Christ rose in the dawning; and to put a difference between the Jewish, and the true Christian Sabbath. For as the Jewes begun their Sabbath in that part of the day, in which the Creation of the world was ended, and consequently in the Evening: so the celebration of the memory of Christs Resurrection, and therein of his rest from his special labours and the renewing of the world, being the ground of the change of that day into this; it is also, by the same proportion of reason, to begin when the Resurrection began, which was in the morning.

Can you see this by example?

Yea. Paul being at Troas, after he had preached a whole day, until midnight, celebrated the supper of the Lord the same night, which was a Sabbath dayes exercise: and therefore that night following the day was apart of the Sabbath. For in the morning he departed, having staid there seven dayes: by which it is evident, that that which was done, was done upon the Lords day. Acts 20.7.--10.

William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, pp. 297-298:

35. Just as the beginning of the old sabbath occurred in the evening because the creation also began in the evening (the formless earth being created before the light) and the cessation of the work of creation also began at evening, so also the beginning of the Lord's Day appears to begin in the morning because the resurrection of Christ was in the early morning, Mark 16:2; John 20:1.
Great resources! Thanks all! I have read them, and hopefully this can be a thread that can be used to pile them up!

I especially like the reasoning of Ames in that last quote Andrew. I have been persuaded of the midnight to midnight position for some time now, but would enjoy studying it some more. Francis Nigel Lee's work looks VERY interesting, and I have flipped through it a bit, but it will take a while for me to get through it.

Thanks again!
The Christian Sabbath doesn't begin when Christ arose. Where in Scripture is that taught? The Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week. The question is what does Scripture define a day as? The first day of creation began in the evening. Why wouldn't the first day continue to be observed that way? Was the Julian calendar day observed from creation? I have a few interesting New Testament verses that clearly imply that the day began at evening.

In Mark 1:32, Luke 4:40, and Matthew 8:16 the Jews all began bringing their sick unto Jesus to be healed. This was in the evening as the sun was setting on the Sabbath. Why do you suppose the people were waiting for the evening to bring their sick to be healed? I believe it was because it was unlawful (according to the pharisees) to heal on the Sabbath, so they waited until the Sabbath was past.

Another couple of verses are from our Saviour Himself. In Luke 22:34 and Mark 14:30 Jesus tells Peter that "this day, even this night" Peter would deny Him. Now unless you'd argue that Christ said this to Peter after midnight He was calling the next morning the same day as Passover evening.

There are many more examples in Scripture to support an evening to evening day, mostly in the Old Testament, but there are others in the New. Thomas Shepard addresses all of the above arguments in his Theses Sabbaticae.

[Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]
Some additional resources that I previously cited in another thread about Lord's Day evening worship:

Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Hughes Oliphant Old discusses the continuity of the pattern of morning and evening worship that existed in the transition from Jewish ("By long Jewish tradition the Shema was recited every morning and evening, 'when you lie down and when you rise.' p. 35) to Christian Sabbatarianism in The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Vol. I:

p. 223:

179. Just when the Church began to hold its principal service on the Lord's Day morning is not clear. The meeting in the Upper Room on the evening of the first Easter Sunday may have included the sharing of the Supper. One might regard that meeting as the first Lord's Day service. More than likely the first Lord's Day morning service would not have been held until after the Christians had been expelled from the synagogue.

p. 293:

We have echoes of both in the New Testament. First, there are the evening appearances reported in both Luke and John: at Emmaus Jesus made himself known in the breaking of bread (Luke 24: 13-35); in Jerusalem he appeared to the disciples on the evening of the first day of the week (Luke 24: 36-43; John 20:19-23); then he came to the disciples precisely a week later (John 20:26-29). Second, there are the morning appearances reported in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). Jesus appeared to the women, Peter, and Mary Magdalene. Both in regard to the morning and the evening the Gospels make a point of telling us that it was on the first day of the week that Jesus took the initiative and met with the disciples. The implication seems to be that both the morning and the evening Lord's Day services were of dominical institution.

Old also makes reference to Pliny's letter to Trajan (112 AD) which recounts the practice of the Christians to assembly for worship on the Lord's Day morning, to depart, and then to assemble again for the Lord's Supper.

W. Rordorf, The History of the Day of Rest and Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church, pp. 236-237:

We are, therefore, almost compelled to conclude that there was a direct connection between these (post-resurrection) meals on the one hand and the breaking of bread on the other. There does exist, then, good reason for supposing that in the primitive community the breaking of bread, for which no definite date is mentioned in Acts 2:42, 46 took place weekly on Sunday evening.

J.I. Packer goes on to describe how the Puritans carried on this practice of consecrating the whole day unto the Lord:

(b) Public worship must be centeral on the Lord's Day. The day must be built round public worship, morning and afternoon or evening ('the publike exercises are twice at the least to be used every Sabbath').25 Private devotions must take second place to this, if one or the other for any reason has to go.

25. Richard Greenham, Works (1611), p. 208.
Theses Sabbaticae pp.234, 235

Thesis 59. Those that would have the Sabbath begin at morning allege John xx. 19, where it is said, "that the same day at even, which was the first day of the week. Jesus came among his disciples, when the doors were shut," which (say they) was within night; and therefore the night following belongs to the day before, which was the Christian Sabbath; which place compared, with Luke xxiv. 33, does further clear up (as they say) this truth: for the two disciples who went to Emmaus, and met Christ, are said to return to the disciples when they are thus met together; which evening can not (say they) be possibly meant of the first evening before sunlight was set, because the day being far spent, (ver. 20.) and they constrained him to abide with them, (which argues that it was late,) and the distance of Emmaus from Jerusalem being sixty furlongs, or eight miles excepting a half; so that it was impossible for them to travel so long a journey in so short a time, within the compass of the first evening: hence therefore it is meant or the second evening, which was within night, which yet we see belongs to the day before. But there are many things considerable to evacuate the strength of these reasons.
Thesis 60. For, first, this invitation our Saviour had to stay by the two disciples was probably to some repast, some time after high noon; possibly to a late dinner rather than a late supper toward the latter evening; and if so, then the disciples might easily come from Emmaus to Jerusalem before sunset within the former evening; for the words “toward evening," may be as well understood of the first evening toward two or three of the clock, as of the second; and if it be objected, that before the first evening the day could not be said to be far spent, yet if the words be well observed, no such translation can be forced from them, for the words "the day hath declined," which is truly said of any time after high noon, and therefore might be a fit season to press our Saviour to eat; as may appear by comparing this with a parallel scripture, (Judges xix. 8,9.) which is almost word for word with this place of Luke: for the Levite's father invites him to eat something after his early rising, (ver. 8,) which was too soon for supper, and therefore seems to be rather to it dinner which they tarried for until after high noon, or as it is in the original, until the day declined, (just as it is here in Luke,) and then when dinner was ended he persuades him to stay still because; the day was weak, and (as we translate it) toward evening, (as here the disciples tell our Saviour; ) and yet after these persuasions to tarry, as late as it was, he departed and came to Jerusalem before night, and from thence to Gibeah (without any miracle too) before sun was set, or the latter evening; and verily if we may give credit to topographers. Gibeah was almost as far from Bethlem (from whence the Levite came) as Jerusalem was from Emmaus; and therefore if the Levite came with his cumber and concubine so many miles before the second evening, notwithstanding all the arguments used from the day declining, and that it was toward evening, why may we not imagine the like of these disciples at Emmaus much more? who had no cumber, and whose joy could not but add wings to a very swift return to the eleven before the second evening, notwithstanding the like arguments here used in Luke xxiv. 29. And yet, secondly, suppose that they invited our Saviour to supper; yet, the former evening beginning about two or three of the clock in the afternoon, our Saviour might stay some time to eat with them, and yet they be timely enough at Jerusalem before the second evening; for suppose our Saviour staid an hour with them, or more, after two or three of the clock: yet, if a strong man may walk ordinarily three miles an hour: why might not the tidings of this joyful news make them double their pace, whether on foot or horseback, (no mention is made of either,) and so be there within an hour and half, or thereabout, before the second evening could come?

[Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]

[Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]

[Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]
I agree that discovering the whole mind of God in everything is not to be downplayed. But this question, In my humble opinion, is one with which we need not be overly concerned.

I am of the persuasion that the disruption of the kingdom (586 BC) and the captivity and return introduced significant upheaval into the Jewish calendar. The Messiah's promised coming was to set a great many things to rights, as well as changing a great many things, and eliminating a host of typological details.

For instance, I am persuaded that not only was the Mosaic-era calendar different from the post-exilic, but I also argue that the practice of keeping days beginning at even instead of morn was an "inversion" practice begun as a result of a recognition that in the captivity their "world had been turned upside down." God himself spoke of the event through his prophets as a "reversal" of the Exodus, this sending of the people back into bondage in "Egypt" (a different "Egypt", yes, but that is how God pictured it).

The return to the land was not a return to status quo ante. Many adjustments were made to life back in the land, but they were of such a nature as to keep the people longing for the Messiah, who would, as before stated, "set ALL things back to rights."

It is in part because I detect these "shifts" in Jewish practice--shifts not accompanied by prescriptions (and no didactic prescriptions appear to me anywhere in the record going back to Moses) prior to Christ, that I judge this concern to be largely adiaphoric.

[Edited on 10-10-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
William Fenner, Treatise of the Sabbath:

Another reason is this: God rested the seventh day: now looke what time God rested, that time we must sanctifie: now God rested the seventh day, all of it, he left none of the creation to do upon the seventh day; he had finished the creation in six days, and rested all the seventh day, therefore we must keep the whole day. Thirdly, because this is the nature of a Sabbath to bee 24 houres, not to be an artificiall day, but to be a naturall day, 24 houres together, as you may see Lev. 23.32 you shall keep the Sabbath from evening to evening; then the days were reckoned from evening to evening from the creation; though now under the gospel, because Christ arose in the morning, they are reckoned from morning to morning.
Thomas Vincent, The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly Explained and Proved from Scripture, on Q. 58:

Q. 6. When doth this holy day or Sabbath begin, in the evening before, or that morning from midnight?

A. In the evening before, by virtue of that word, "Remember to keep holy the seventh day," we ought to begin to prepare for the Sabbath; but the Sabbath itself doth not begin until the evening is spent, and midnight thereof over, and the morning after twelve of the clock beginneth.

Q. 7. Doth not the Scriptures require us to begin the Sabbath in the evening, when it is said, "The evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen. 1:5); and, "From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath?"— Lev. 33:32.

A. 1. It doth not follow that the evening of the first day was before the morning, though it be first spoken of; no more than that Shem and Ham were elder than Japheth, because they are reckoned up in order before him. "The sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 10:1); and yet Japheth is called the elder brother. — Verse 21. But Moses, reckoning up the works of God on the first day, retires back from the evening to the morning, and saith, they both make up the first day. Surely in the account of all nations, and in Scripture account too, the morning is before the evening. "The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, came Jesus," &c. (John 20:10), where the evening following this day, and on the evening before the day, is called the evening of the same day. 2. That place in Leviticus, concerning the celebration of the Sabbath from evening to evening, hath a reference only unto a ceremonial Sabbath, or day of atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month, wherein the Israelites were to afflict their souls; but it hath not a reference unto the weekly Sabbath.

Q. 8. How do you prove by the Scripture that the weekly Sabbath doth begin in the morning?

A. That the weekly Sabbath is to begin in the morning, is evident— 1. by Exod. 16:23: "This is that which the Lord hath said, to-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord." If the Sabbath had begun in the evening, Moses would have said, This evening doth begin the rest of the Sabbath; but he saith, To-morrow is the rest of the Sabbath. 2. Most evidently it doth appear that the Sabbath doth begin in the morning, and not in the evening, by Matt. 28:1: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre." If the end of the Jewish Sabbath were not in the evening, when it began to grow dark towards the night, but when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, which must needs be towards the morning, and in no rational sense can be interpreted of the evening, then the Sabbath did also begin in the morning, and not in the evening, for the beginning and ending must needs be about the same time. But the former is evident from this place, concerning the Jewish Sabbath's ending; and therefore, consequently concerning its beginning. 3. Further, it is also said in this place, that the first day, which is the Christian Sabbath, did begin towards the dawning, as it grew on towards light, and not as it grew on towards darkness; therefore the Christian Sabbath doth begin in the morning. 4. Moreover, the resurrection of Christ, in commemoration of which the Christian Sabbath is observed, was not in the evening, but early in the morning ("Now when Jesus was risen early, the first day of the week "— Mark 16:9); therefore the Sabbath is to begin in the morning. 5. If the Sabbath did begin in the evening before, it would end in the evening after; and it would be lawful for men to work in their callings, or to go to their recreations, on the evening of the Sabbath, which surely would be very unsuitable after the holy employments of that day.
John Flavel, An Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, re: Q. 57-59:

Q. 6. When doth the Christian Sabbath begin?

A. It appears that this day is not to be reckoned from evening to evening, but from morning to morning; because the Christian Sabbath must begin when the Jewish Sabbath ended, but that ended towards the morning, Matthew 28:1. In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.
Thomas Ridgeley, A Body of Divinity:

...that the beginning of sacred days is to be at the same time with that of civil; and this was governed by the custom of nations. The Jews' civil day began at evening; and therefore it was ordained that from evening to evening, should be the measure of their sacred days. Our days have another beginning and ending, which difference is only circumstantial....We have some direction as to this matter, from the intimation given us, that Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, while it was yet dark. Therefore the Lord's day begins in the morning, before sunrising; or, according to our usual way of reckoning, we may conclude it begins immediately after midnight, and continues till midnight following; which is our common method of computing time; beginning it with the morning and ending it with the evening. Again, if the Sabbath begins in the evening, religious worship ought to be performed some time, at least, in the evening; and then, soon after it is begun, it will be interrupted by the succeeding night, and then it must be revived again the succeeding day: And as to the end of the Sabbath, it seems not so agreeable, that when we have been engaged in the worship of God through the day, we should spend the evening in secular employments; which cannot be judged unlawful, if the Sabbath be then at an end. Therefore it is much more expedient, that the whole work of the day should be continued as long as our worldly employments are on other days; and our beginning and ending of religious duties, should, in some measure, be agreeable thereunto. Another scripture brought to prove this argument is in John 20:10. 'The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst and said, peace be unto you.' It is called the evening of the same day; so that the worship which was performed that day was continued in the evening thereof: This is not called the evening of the next day, but of the same day in which Christ rose from the dead; which was the first Christian Sabbath.
John Willison, A Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of the Lord's Day:

But all these things being absurd, I do upon solid ground, assert, that the whole natural day, consisting of twenty-four hours, is to be set apart for the Sabbath day; and that we ought to measure this day, and begin and end it, as we do other days, that is, from midnight to midnight; during which time we are abstain from our own works, and sanctify the Lord's Sabbath: For the fourth command binds us to consecrate the seventh part of every week to the Lord, who challengeth a special property in one of seven, and asserts his just title thereto, saying, "The seventh day is the Lord's:" And also Isa. lvii.13 he expressly calls it, "My holy day." It is all holy; and therefore no part must be profaned or applied to common uses. It is all the Lord': and so it is unlawful for us to rob him of any part of it, and alienate it to our private use.
Would anyone agree with me that "midnight to midnight" reckoning is, practically, the same as "morning to morning," wherein most of us are sleeping from midnight to sunrise?

JG Vos in his commentary on the WLC argues for midnight to midnight as the ordinary way that we mark our days.
Thomas Boston, A Complete Body of Divinity, Vol. II, p. 559:

Thirdly, The day to be kept holy is one whole day. Not a few hours while the public worship lasts, but a whole day. There is an artificial day betwixt sun-rising and sun-setting, John xi.9; and a natural day of twenty-four hours, Gen. i. which is the day here meant. This day we begin in the morning immediately after midnight; and so does the sabbath begin, and not in the evening, as is clear, if ye consider,

1. John xx.19. The same day at evening, being the first day of the week: where ye see that the evening following, not going before this first day of the week, is called the evening of the first day.

2. Our sabbath begins where the Jewish sabbath ended; but the Jewish sabbath did not end towards the evening, but towards the morning, Matth. xxviii.1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, &c.

3. Our sabbath is held in memory of Christ's resurrection, and it is certain that Christ rose early in the morning of the first day of the week.

Let us therefore take the utmost care to give God the whole day, spending it in the manner he has appointed, and not look on all the time besides what is spent in public worship, as our own; which is too much the case in these degenerate times wherein we live.
Alexander McLeod, The Ecclesiastical Catechism; Being a Series of Questions, Relative to the Christian Church, Stated and Answered, With the Scripture Proofs:

140. At what period of the twenty-four hours does the Lord’s day or sabbath commence?

Our Lord arose from the dead on the morning of the first day of the week [a]: it is more conducive to solemnity to observe one whole day, than parts of two labouring days : the fourth commandment requires not a part of two days, but one whole day [c]; and the evening after Christ’s resurrection, upon which he appeared in the midst of his worshipping disciples, is called, in scripture, the evening of the same day [d]: the christian sabbath comprehends twenty four hours, from midnight to midnight.

[a] John 20. 1. "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark—and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." Deut. 5. 14. "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord—in it thou shalt not do any work." [c] Exod. 20. 8. "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." [d] John 20. 19. "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week—came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
John Willison, An Example of Plain Catechising Upon the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, p. 188:

Q. How much of the day appointed for the sabbath is to be kept holy to the Lord?

One whole day in seven; a whole natural day, consisting of twenty-four hours, commencing from midnight to midnight, ought to be dedicated unto the Lord, seeing he claims a seventh part of our time. It is true, time for eating and sleeping must be allowed upon the sabbath as well as on other days, being works of necessity, seeing without these we cannot perform the duties of the sabbath.
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