The entire doctrinal basis of Western Christianity’s observance of weekly Easter, i. e. Sunday, is built around eight places in the New Testament (NT) where the phrase “first day of the week” occurs. We are going to take a fresh look at the Greek words used by no less than five major writers of New Covenant scriptures, and question whether they have been translated properly.
The KJV translates Acts 20:7 as follows:
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples gathered together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow and continued his speech until midnight.
We are going to analyze the phrase mia ton sabbaton, translated “first day of the week”, and see why various authorities on the scripture prefer the literal meaning of these words. An example of a literal translation of this verse may be found in the Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT):
Now on one of the sabbaths (mia ton sabbaton) at our having gathered to break bread, Paul argued (dialegetai=had a dialogue, or discussed) with them, being about to be off on the morrow. Besides, he prolonged the word (ie. his teaching) unto midnight (Saturday night).
In Vol. 35 of Word Bible Commentary (p. 1188), admission is made that “the first day of the week” literally means “one of the Sabbaths” in the Greek. The truth of the matter is that there is no Greek-speaking linguistic scholar or professor who would deny this fact. I myself have consulted numerous professors of Greek at prestigious universities (such as Dickenson College in Carlisle, PA) who have confirmed the literal meaning of this phrase. We will prove in this chapter that “first day of the week” is a misrepresentation of the Greek.
Therefore, the mass hypnosis that intellectually transforms this phrase into something other than its literal meaning happens on the presumption that it is an idiomatic expression– “mia/one” being used for “first,” and “sabbaton” being using for “week,” and “day” being thrown in just so they can make sense out of their non-literal invention. However, I have yet to find one commentary or lexicon citing an example of mia ton sabbaton being used idiomatically outside the Bible in other Greek writings. Therefore, if it is a figure of speech, prove it. The burden of proof is on the translators. This they cannot do lexicologically. They must resort to arguments based on Church traditions that were not in place until Constantine.
By going with non-literal suppositional words “first” and “week,” they are left with the nonsensical “first week.” Since this makes no sense in the light of contexts that demand a particular day of the week, they throw in the word “day” as though they are sure it ought to be there, and hocus pocus, we now have an entirely different phrase referring to an entirely different day of the week. Had those translating out of the Greek not engaged in this imaginative word-play, the myth of a Sunday morning resurrection would never have gained a foothold. [NOTE: Jesus was resurrected precisely at twilight between the end of Sabbath and the beginning of the first day of the week, to fulfill the 3 days and 3 night prophecy.] No less is at stake here than the basis in Western Christianity for replacing the seventh day Sabbath with Sunday as the day of worship, because, as scholars too numerous to mention have pointed out, Sunday is nothing other than the weekly celebration of the resurrection.
Mia Means One, Protos Means First
First we consider the Greek word mia. It means one, as any Greek person will tell you. I have received the same answer from Greek professors at prestigious universities. Protos is the Greek word for first. It is confusion to suggest that the former is used for the latter. A study (using an Englishman’s Greek Concordance) of the many places where mia occurs, would show any diligent inquirer that mia always, in context, means one, a certain one, one singularity, the quantity one. It does not have the meaning first. In other words, if one were to substitute “first” in every other place where the word occurs (some 72 times), you end up with nonsensical phrases. How is that mia is only trans-lated “first” where it occurs with sabbaton? How could they translate “mia” as “first” when they knew that “protos” was the Greek word for “first”?
Again the answer has to be that the translators brought their preconceived notions into the equation. But to come up with the plausible construction “first day of the week”, they had to make three other gratuitous assumptions.
“Day” Is NOT in the Phrase Mia Ton Sabbaton
The translators, bringing their a priori ideas about the phrase to the translating table, assume that the word “day” needs to be supplied in order to help the reader understand the expression. But this is true only if the three words in question actually refer to the first day of the week. If it means one of the Sabbaths, then the word day obviously is not there because it did not need to be there in the first place.
The word “day” is used hundreds of times in the N.T. to refer to various and sundry days, the Sabbath day(s), the third day, the seventh day, the eighth day, the day of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:7), and even “first day of Unleavened Bread (Mk. 14:12).” In this latter verse, protee heemera is behind the English words “first day.” So if we take the Holy Spirit to be the power that moved the writers, we see that there is precedent for including heemera (day) with “first” to indicate the first day of something. So the absence of heemera/day in the expression mia ton sabbaton is a strong indication that we are not dealing with a figure of speech, nor with a phrase that requires the word “day” at all in order to be understood. Instead, it is simply “one of the Sabbaths.” It makes little sense for the Greek wordheemera to be left out of a reference to the first day of the week, but supplied in the expression “First Day of the Unleaveneds (Mk. 14:12).” This is especially true since none of the days of the week have names in the Bible, except the 7th day Sabbath.
There are at least two more presumptions that the lying majority of translators have made that we shall address to prove that the Concordant Literal rendering of this Greek expression is correct.
Sabbaton Is an Imported Word from Hebrew
All scholars, without exception, recognize that sabbaton is not native to the Greek language. Because the Greek culture despised the Sabbath, and did not even have a seven day week prior to the Romans taking over, they had no word Sabbath, or sabbaton. In fact, I have yet to find the word used in the Septuagint (LXX) or writings of the ante-Nicene fathers to refer to first day of the week. Nor can it be found in any extra-Biblical literature, such as Plato, Socrates, or a plethora of other ancient Greek writings referring to Sunday. Hence, it was imported from Hebrew by Jewish writers of the New Testament.
Imported Words are Necessarily Transliterated Words
But imported words always retain the sound of that word in the original language. Proper names are an example of this. My name is recognizable phonetically no matter what country I travel to. And if I listen to the broadcast news in Moscow, I will recognize many names such as George Bush, Washington, D.C., dollar, America(n), etc. because of this principle of transliteration.
Now if a word is imported because it has no equivalent in that language, its meaning in the new language is invariably going to be consistent with the meaning in the original language. This linguistic truth is axiomatic. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the translator to ask what the meaning of the imported word was in the original language, and what the writer’s attitude toward that word was. To this end, we are going to launch an investigation into sabbaton. Apparently, it has not occurred to the illustrious translators and erudite commentators to do this. Had they done so, they never would have imagined that it meant week.
What Was Sabbaton’s Meaning in Hebrew?
The Hebrew word sabbaton is used of weekly Sabbaths (Lev. 23:3), for annual Sabbaths–Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and first and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:24, 32, 39)—and of land Sabbaths in Lev. 25:4-5). It has the same pronunciation in Hebrew as the 3rd declension of the word in Greek. In other words, its plural usage in Greek sounds the same as its original in the Hebrew. It essentially means to cease or pause in Hebrew. The idea of ceasing in order to rest and be refreshed spiritually, mentally and emotionally is the essential purpose of all Sabbaths. Hence it was this word, sabbaton, used only 11 times in the O.T., that was brought over to refer to weekly and annual Sabbaths to mark the activities of our Savior, His apostles, and believers throughout the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and in First Corinthians chap. 16.
What Was the Attitude of the New Testament WritersToward the Sabbaths and Holy Days?
There is no repudiation of the commands to keep the Sabbath or holy days anywhere in the N.T. Modern research into the historical Jesus admits that Christ Himself upheld every jot and tittle of the Law (Mt. 5:17-19), even claiming (somewhat erroneously) that Yeshua had few differences philosophically with the Pharisees. Paul said in Hebrews 4:9 that “there remains…the keeping of a Sabbath (sabbatismos) to the people of God.” Paul told his Colossian converts:
“Let no one judge you in [your] eating and drinking, or in respect of a festival, or of a new moon, or Sabbaths, which are shadows of things to come (Co. 2:16).
If they had been done away, then he would have said they were shadows. Since they were Gentiles before Paul converted them to “Pauline theology,” then we don’t need to speculate about them having been Sabbath, New Moon, and Holy Day keepers prior to his evangelizing them. Obviously they became that as a result of His converting them to Yeshua the Savior and His strict requirement of maintaining the paradosis/traditions which Paul delivered to them (I Cor. 11:2, II Thes. 2:15, et al.).
Besides, in I Corinthians chapters 5 and 11, we have explicit language indicating that the Corinthian Church was keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Church itself was born on Pentecost in Acts 2, and the rest of the book is a chronology based on Sabbaths and various Jewish holy days throughout. IF THE HOLY SPIRIT WERE TRYING TO LEAD THE CHURCH AWAY FROM KEEPING THE SABBATHS AND HOLY DAYS, THEN WHY USE THEM AS THE CHRONOLOGICAL BACKBONE FOR THE MISSION WORK OF PAUL AND THE OTHER APOSTLES IN THE BOOK OF ACTS. The same question might be asked of Yahweh’s delaying the birth of the Church and the pouring out of His Holy Spirit until Pentecost, a full fifty days after Christ’s Resurrection. This would be highly unusual, to say the least. Rather, the attitude of the writers inspired by the Holy Spirit is that these special days are still in force, still being regarded highly by the apostles and the Church. And there are scholars of various persuasions who recognize this fact, i.e. that the Sabbaths and holy days represent the definitive time markers of Luke’s writings and Paul’s missionary endeavors throughout Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. Similar dissertations have been written about Matthew and the book John.
Where did they get this attitude? Obviously from Matt. 5:17-19 and Yeshua’s pro-Torah teaching. None of this was changed as a result of Paul’s three years in Arabia (Mt. Sinai) with Yeshua. Rom. 3:31:
“Do we nullify the law through faith? May it never be coming to that (God forbid)! Nay rather, we establish the Law [through faith, an ellipsis of syntax].”
“Yahweh sent Yeshua in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that He might condemn sin in the flesh, in order that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4)
Considering that the Sabbath and Passover continued to be observed up until the 4th Century in the Western Roman Empire, throughout the British Isles until the 7th Century, and among various Churches in Asia Minor and the eastern Roman empire for centuries beyond that, and considering that this reality was based on people’s understanding (though in many places these people were in the minority) of the apostolic attitude toward the Fourth Commandment and the Law of Moses, it becomes rather impossible to suggest that the Jewish men who wrote the four gospels could take the strictest word for sabbatizing and use it to refer to Sunday, the worship day of most pagan religions. Sunday was nothing to them but a work day.
A Fourth Translational Assumption:
Sabbaton — Is It Plural or Singular?
The question we are trying to answer is whether the phrase mia ton sabbaton can possibly mean first day of the week. As we focus on the word “sabbaton” and its meaning, we must also note that it is used in the plural in the passages under consideration. When referring only to singular Sabbath days, it never has the letter “n” on the end of it. As noted in The New Englishman’s Concordance and Lexicon, sabbaton is the plural form of a noun that is either in the singular (2nd declension) or plural (3rd declension). In all of the seven places where mia ton sabbaton occurs–Mt. 28:1 (mian sabbaton), Mk. 16:2 (mias sabbaton), Lk. 24:1, Jn. 20:1,19, Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:2 (these five all have mia ton sabbaton)—the word sabbaton is in the third declension of the noun, meaning it is plural. This means that if the word meant week at all, then it would have to be in the plural, weeks.
But since the translators are insistent on bringing their preconceived notions to the phrase, i.e. that the phrase must mean first day of the week, they know that first day of the weeks would not make any sense. So they simply ignore its proper declension, and pass over the fact that the wordsabbaton is plural.
This makes for very nice historical fiction, but very poor scholarship. It would not be so bad if we were dealing with an event on par with whether or not George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day or some other day, but instead we are dealing with whether Christ arose on a Sunday or a Saturday, thus either establishing sol invictus venerable (the day held to honor various pagan Sun gods), or Saturday, the day hearkening back to Yahweh’s renewal of the face of the earth in Genesis chapter 1, and the creation of Mankind in His image and likeness. In short, we are dealing with a subject of the utmost magnitude, one that either legitimizes the decisions made by Constantine and His bishops in the 4th Century, or legitimizes Passover and the Sabbath of Yahweh God. The diligent student of Church history will know what is at stake here; the modern television Christian who comes once a week Saturday or Sunday morning to suck on his bottle will have no clue. That is why when this thesis finally makes the rounds of academia, and when this dissertation is circulated among the halls of theological seminaries far and wide, I predict there will be a hew and cry of disbelief and emotional objection. And the antagonism will be palpable.
The Greek Word for Week—Known in the 1st Century
How would the Jewish authors of the N.T. have gone about conveying the idea of a seven day week in Greek? If you were a Jewish religious writer composing one of the books of the N. T., what Greek word would first Century readers and writers have been familiar with that would have conveyed the idea of a week? The answer to that question is found in the Septuagint (circa 280 B.C.), a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures that was widely available in the time of Yeshua. The Septuagint uses the word hebdomadas (os) to translate the Hebrew word for week, which is shavua.
- Hepta hebdomadas is used in last part of Lev. 23: 15 for the seven weeks you are to number to get to the 50th day, called Pentecost. Until the morrow after the last week (eschateeshebdomados) shall you number 50 days.
- Deut. 16:9–Hepta hebdomadas exarithmateis (seven weeks shall you number), and you shall keep the feast of weeks (heopteen hebdomadon).
- The seventy weeks prophecy of Dan. 9 also uses this word hebdomadas a number of times.
There can be little doubt that this Greek word for week would have been chosen by John, Matthew, Mark, Paul and Luke had they sought to convey the idea of the first day of the week. How do we know this? Because the Septuagint (LXX) was used in all the synagogues of Asia Minor, Achaia, and Macedonia, and Greece. We are confident of this fact because of the large number of Hellenistic Jews, Greek proselytes, and God-fearers among the Gentiles who attended synagogue in these places, as is evident in the accounts throughout the book of Acts. We know that the word sabbatonwas used in the LXX in the same way as in the N.T. to refer to weekly and annual Sabbaths. It is logical to assume that had they desired to mention “the first day of the week,” they would have usedhebdomados. The fact that these same N.T. writers do not use hebdomados anywhere in the New Testament, indicates they had no intention to convey the idea of “week.”
It was throughout these synagogues that Paul preached from Sabbath to Sabbath. The thousands of Greek-speaking believers that were converted to the Gospel would have been familiar with the language of the Septuagint. It must be argued that the motivation for putting the story of Yeshua’s life and ministry into Greek largely came from the needs of all these congregations. Not only did they need to be able to read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in Greek, but there would have naturally been widespread interest in a chronicle of the early Church, the Acts of the Apostles, and particularly their “father” in the faith, i.e. the Apostle Paul. And when Paul wrote the brethren in Corinthians, it needed to be in Greek. It would have been very confusing indeed to refer to Sunday by nomenclature foreign to the LXX, but which had hitherto only been used therein to refer to the Sabbath(s) of the Lord. Thus the six books that contain some variation of mia ton sabbaton –Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and I Corinthians — were intended for a Greek-speaking Church that had taken on Jewish customs and nomenclature, as we have seen. The use of sabbaton to refer to the first day of the week would have been without precedent.
The first day of the week is never called “Sabbath” in the N.T. On this point, there is no controversy among professors and students of the N.T. Why, then, do they imagine that the writers of the N.T. used the imported word sabbaton and applied it to the first day of the week?? This is a non-sequitur whose damage has run its course, but whose heyday will be soon be over, if I have anything to say about it.
The Definitive Sunday thru Saturday WEEK of Luke 18:12
Does this mean that the writers of the N.T. never wished to convey the idea of a week? The one place where it is fairly certain that a Sunday through Saturday week was meant (Luke 18:12), the words “tou sabbatou” are used. It is important to note they are singular (2nd declension). Notice the Pharisee prays with himself, saying, “I fast twice a week (tou sabbatou).” (Wm. Barclay’s N.T.)
The Concordant Literal is equally accurate: “I fast twice of a Sabbath.” In this instance, Sabbath is being used metonymously to represent the seven day period for which it is the culmination. There is a well-known precedent for this in the Old Testament–the unique method (as compared to the other holy days) given for counting to the Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost) in Lev. 23. When one counts toward Pentecost Sunday in Lev. 23:15-16, seven Shabbats were counted. “Seven Sabbaths shall be complete” is how it is phrased in Lev. 23:15. The Hebrew word here can only be construed as the weekly Sabbath. It was called the Feast of weeks (shavuot) in Exod. 34:22 and Deut. 16:10, but those weeks were perfect seven-day periods ending with Saturdays. The morrow after the 7th Sabbath was the 50th day, which constituted the total number of days to be counted (Lev. 23:16). Based on this, the Pharisee of Luke 18 is saying he fasts twice per weekly Sabbath period, Sabbatou being used by metonymy for the week it consummates.
But the fact that the Holy Spirit uses the singular words “tou sabbatou” in Luke 18 when intending to convey the concept of a week, leads us to question why Luke would not also use the singular in Luke 24:1 and Acts 20:7 [mia ton sabbaton (plural) occurring in both verses] to convey “the first day of the week,” if that is what he had meant. The contrast between singular and plural usages of tou(on)sabbatou(on) by gospel writer Luke, proved that when the Holy Spirit wanted to convey a single week, as in Luke 18:12, the singular was used, but when he wanted to convey “one of the Sabbaths”, he used the plural (ton sabbaton). These facts may be confirmed by checking with the Englishman’s Greek Concordance. We will see further confirmation when it is shown that Yeshua rose from the dead at the beginning of a weekly Sabbath.
The Concordant Literal N.T. has translated the word sabbaton correctly as “sabbaths” in the seven places where mia and sabbaton occur together. The Concordant Publishing Concern has absolutely no doctrinal axe to grind, since their other literature in no way promotes the Sabbath. They have stuck to their literal guns, as it were, and our investigation is going to show just how justified they were in translating these expressions literally.
The Inconsistency of the Translators Highlighted by Their Treatment of Sabbaton
In none of the other 60 places where sabbaton (pl.) occurs in the N.T. do the translators translate itweek, but only where it is part of the phrase mia ton sabbaton. That in itself is quite telling on the translators. This inconsistency belies a remarkable willingness to buttress the Friday-Sunday mythology which undermines the sign of Christ’s Messiah-ship–that He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40). The confusion comes from one blind scholar following the rest of the blind scholars unwilling to submit to the righteousness of the Sabbath command. Their lack of understanding stems from their rejection of the foundation of wisdom, which is Yahweh’s Law. Notice Hos. 4:6:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you rejected the knowledge, I also reject you as My priest; Because you have spurned and forgotten the teaching/Law [Heb. is torah here] of your God, I, in turn, will spurn and forget your children. (translated from JPS and Green’s Int.)
If the scholars and translators sincerely do not understand, then we cannot ignore the root cause. Ps. 111:10 tells us:
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments.
The Implications of the Correct Translation of Mia Ton Sabbaton
In this study, it will be demonstrated that in each of the eight places where “first day of the week” occurs, it makes more sense that each of the passages is referring to a weekly Sabbath. Later we shall demonstrate a different way to configure the three days and three nights (from Tuesday through Friday) in the actual year of the crucifixion of Christ (31 A.D.). A new chronology will be proffered–one that accommodates our newfound understanding of mia ton sabbaton, but also jives with the facts of the Mosaic calendar in that year. In so doing, we will have finally harmonized the passion accounts of scripture with the demands of Yahweh’s calendar, in a way that the sabbatarian Church of God’s Wednesday-Saturday scenario failed to do.
Acts 20:7: Paul’s Meeting in Troas on Mia Ton Sabbaton
Now we are ready to go back to the start of this chapter, and Paul’s meeting with the brethren in Troas. It was here that Paul had a vision to go into Macedonia to preach the gospel (Acts 16:8). In 20:6 Paul arrived there early in the week (on Sunday, as we shall see), and abode there seven days. V. 7, quoted at the head of this paper, says:
Now on one of the sabbaths (mia ton sabbaton) at our having gathered to break bread, Paul argued (dialegetai=had a dialogue) with them, being about to be off on the morrow. Besides, he prolonged the word (ie. his teaching) unto midnight (Saturday night). (CLNT)
There is substantial lexicological and linguistic analysis up to this point to substantiate that this meeting was on a weekly Sabbath, and there is plenty of contextual evidence in the book of Acts to prove that these formal get-togethers throughout Paul’s missionary journeys were on Sabbaths.
The Preponderance of Sabbath Meetings in Paul’s Ministry in the Book of Acts
Acts 17:2 says:
Paul, according to his manner (etho = customary habit), went into them (in the synagogue), and reasoned three Sabbath days with them out of the scriptures.
Luke used the same identical words to describe Yeshua’s custom of entering into the synagogue on the Sabbaths in Luke 4:16. So Paul was no different. Many theologians and the more erudite radio preachers realize that Paul spent three years in Arabia with Christ, and got His teaching directly from Yeshua there. There is not a scintilla of evidence that meetings were switched from Saturday to Sunday in the book of Acts. On the contrary, Paul preached Christ in the synagogues immediately after his conversion (Acts 9:20)
At the conclusion of the first Apostolic Conference in Acts 15, James said that the new Gentile converts to the Way would be able to grow in righteousness by having Moses read to them in the synagogues every Sabbath day.
At the start of their commission from the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas came to Salamis (Acts 13:5), the first port they reached on the east end of Cyprus. They preached the word of Yahweh in thesynagogues of the Jews. In Acts 13:14 Paul and his company entered into a synagogue with a sizable Gentile constituent in Antioch of Pesidia. The Jews largely rejected the forgiveness of sin that was offered them through Paul’s powerful presentation of Yeshua, but the Gentiles received the Word gladly, and besought Paul that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath (Acts 13:42). The following Sabbath, almost the whole [Greek] city came together, to the chagrin and envy of the Jews. In Acts 14:1 Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue in Iconium and spoke so powerfully, that Yahweh made Believers out of a great multitude of both Jews and Greeks.
Acts 16:13-15 described Sabbath worship with Lydia and those accustomed to praying by the river side near Philippi in Macedonia. In Acts 17:10 Paul and Silas went into a synagogue in Berea, and many honorable Greek women and men believed. In Acts 18:4 Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath at Corinth, reasoning with the Jews and the Greeks. The same story was repeated in Ephesus (Acts 18:19 and 26; 19:8). According to Dr. John Lightfoot, in towns where there were many Jews and where they had a synagogue, the Jews established Divinity schools. Such a school, that of Tyrannus, is mentioned in Acts 19:9. He may have been a Rabbi who converted. The teaching and miracles at the hands of Paul that occurred here during two years caused virtually everyone in Asia Minor to hear the word.
Virtually every significant evangelistic opportunity delineated by the Holy Spirit in these accounts took place either on a Sabbath, and/or in a synagogue, or at a rabbinic school.
Why then, in Acts 20:7, is it logical to conclude that all of a sudden there was a Sunday meeting? On the contrary, one would be completely justified in assuming the mia-ton-sabbaton meeting mentioned here was just another “one of the [many] Sabbaths” already described at every other city where he witnessed. Here, however, Timothy, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus, Aristarchus, Secundus and Sopater were all waiting at Troas for Paul to arrive. Paul was finished preaching in Greece and Macedonia, and it was time to celebrate the fruits of his labor via a fellowship meal with the disciples in Asia Minor who partly owed their eternal life to Paul’s efforts.
Luke’s Use of Mia Ton Sabbaton in Luke 24:1 Proves Sabbath Resurrection
We now commence our investigation into the resurrection narrative contained in the four gospels. We pick it up where we left off—with the writings of the same beloved physician who wrote the book of Acts—with Luke, who also wrote the Gospel account bearing his name. Having proven that the evangelistic activity in Acts centered around the synagogue and Sabbath meetings, and having proven that mia ton sabbaton in Acts 20:7 was just one such mikra kodesh (holy convocation) on “one of the Sabbaths” after Unleavened Bread, we now turn our attention to Luke’s use of mia ton sabbaton in Luke 24:1. I quote from the CLNT:
1) Now in the early depths (wee hours of the morning) of one of the sabbaths (mia ton sabbaton), they, and certain others together with them, came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they made ready. 2) And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.
They could not have prepared these spices before having bought them. To discover when the women bought the spices, we must turn to the last chapter of Mark’s Gospel. But before we do so, it is important to note one other important detail in Luke’s narrative, in the verse right before Luke 24:1. He tells us the women “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” after preparing the spices and ointments. Thus, they finished the laborious work of preparing the herbs and oils prior to the start of the Sabbath, which began at Friday sundown.
The Gospel of Mark Gives Important Details on When Spices Were Purchased (Mark 16:1)
Since Matthew and Luke seem to use verbatim many of the same stories about Yeshua’s life that are found in Mark, most scholars consider Mark to be the earliest gospel. And so we will continue our investigation of the resurrection narrative in Mark 16:1:
At the elapsing of the Sabbath (we will demonstrate thoroughly that this Sabbath had to be the First Day of Unleavened Bread), Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, buy spices, that coming, they should be rubbing (anointing) His body. (CLNT)
“Buy” is the correct tense of the verb in verse 1. “Had bought” of the KJV is recognized by all commentators and Greek scholars to be incorrect. Even the New KJV corrects “had bought” to “bought.”
Flagrant Mistranslation of “Bought” by KJV Indicative of Pressure From Anglican Church Hierarchy and King James
We know from the forward to the 1611 King James Bible that its translation committee performed their work under a certain amount of duress, charged as they were from the outset by King James and the Anglican authorities WITH UPHOLDING THE OFFICES AND INSTITUTIONS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. Chief among those institutions was Easter Sunday (and its resultant switch from Saturday to Sunday as the day of worship), and “Good Friday”.
The fact that the King James translators deliberately put the action of buying the spices into the past perfect tense (as an action already completed prior to that Sabbath), shows blatant disregard for what they knew was the tense of the Greek word “bought.” They knew there was a problem for the institution of Good Friday and Easter Sunday if the text showed them purchasing spices AFTER THE SABBATH. They knew that if the Passover were on Friday, then there was virtually no time to have bought the spices, nor time to prepare them (Lk. 24:1)! Matt. 27:57 shows that Joseph of Arimathea got permission to take Yeshua’s body off the cross and place Him in the tomb as evening was approaching (i.e. at the end of Passover Day). There would have been no shops open for purchasing anything in and around Jerusalem this late on the 14th, as Alfred Edersheim and Jewish writings show. Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is out of the question, as all the Jewish businesses would have been shut down for the Sabbath. Luke 23:54-56 proves that the spices were prepared by these women prior to resting on the weekly Sabbath. Thus when we combine Mark 16:1 with the account in Luke 23, we prove that the spices were bought on the work day following the annual Sabbath, but prepared prior to the weekly Sabbath. Hence, there had to be some work days in between the two Sabbaths mentioned. It was during these interim days of Unleavened Bread that the women prepared their sweet spices.
The same things could be said with their presumptuous translations of mias sabbaton (one Sabbath) in Mk. 16:2 and protee sabbatou (first Sabbath) in verse 9 into “first day of the week.” In this they sycophantically prostrated themselves before the erroneous translation work of everyone before them, especially Jerome and the Latin Vulgate. Even though they were not the first to engage in this lame linguistic carelessness, it nevertheless remains one of the most egregious cases of eisigesis in the history of translation. To say that they were afraid for their lives is not an overstatement. Had the translation been allowed to cast doubt upon the switch from Saturday to Sunday as the day of worship), and upon the Easter tradition of “Good Friday,” there would have been serious repercussions from the educational/religious establishment, not to mention King James Himself.
It would be another couple of centuries before the hegemony of the Anglican Church waned, allowing for enough intellectual freedom to explore a better resolution of the insurmountable problems presented by the Friday-Sunday quandary of orthodoxy. Chief among these solutions was the work of E.W. Bullinger. In Appendices 144 and 156 of his Companion Bible, he lays out his explanation of the three days and three nights that Christ was in the tomb. He believed they stretched from Wednesday sundown to Saturday sundown. While this was a great improvement over the Good Friday/ Easter Sunday hypothesis of mainstream Christianity, there were other factors Bullinger did not consider when choosing Wednesday as the day of the crucifixion. Several factors that must be considered are:
- Because of the nature of the Hebrew calendar, the science of astronomy limits the years in which you can have a Wednesday Passover.
2. The facts of the true, Biblical Hebrew calendar
- The true Hebrew calendar, and consideration of the lunar cycles (upon which the holy days are based), make a Wednesday Passover in 31 A.D. fall on April 25, which is almost a week too late. We explore in a later chapter the various reasons why April 25 is wrong, and why a Wednesday Passover in 30 A.D. utterly fails to incorporate the facts of the Hebrew Calendar.
3. The truth about mia ton sabbaton (and protee sabbatou).
· The resurrection was discovered on a Sabbath/Saturday morning. Since a Wednesday crucifixion forces the resurrection to be on late Saturday, we would be forced to ignore all the facts brought forward in this chapter, which require the women at the tomb no later than a Saturday morning.
Many of the Sabbatarian Church of God 7th Day, Armstrong, and Sacred Name groups relied heavily on Bullinger’s appendices when putting forward their explanation of the fulfillment of Matt. 12:40. And as Bullinger states, it was a lack of awareness of the High Day Sabbath at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (and the fact that this High Day was a different day than the weekly Sabbath that year) that led to much of the confusion about the chronology of the Passion Week. Until the waning years of the 20th Century, it seems almost no one tried to reconcile Bullinger’s chronology for the Passion week with the realities of the Hebrew calendar. In other words, God’s calendar greatly restricts the years that will accommodate all the facts. These competing realities led to this present work.
What Was Involved in the Preparation of Spices and Ointments?
Many in America today use high quality essential oils for deodorizing their houses and for therapeutic rubbing onto the skin. These oils are very expensive, often running anywhere from $40.00 to $150.00 per ounce. The ointment that was poured on Yeshua at Simon the leper’s house, just days prior to His arrest, was very costly. It was worth more than one year’s wages. The extravagance lies not just in the cost of the spices and ground herbs, but in the time and process used in the preparation. Preparing essential oils involves extracting the essence of the bark, leaf, or root. This requires laborious grinding of the raw material, and then soaking same in strong alcohol solution. Alternatively, it requires boiling steam up through the spices to extract the oil, condensing the steam, and separating the water from the oil.
Since the quantity of spices necessary for anointing burial wrappings of a human body is considerable, it would have required a large amount of time to prepare them in this way. Had Luke told us that the women brought spices already prepared by someone else, we could possibly account for a Saturday night purchase (still quite unlikely). But when Mark 16:1 tells us that they bought them on the 16th of Aviv, and then Luke tells us they personally prepared the spices, we are looking at time parameters that probably required two work days in between the High Day 15th and Friday sundown, when the women ceased and rested according to the Commandment (Lk. 23:56). This is but one of several objections to the Wednesday sundown–Saturday sundown scenario, which allows only one work day (Friday) between the burial and resurrection [Thursday being the High Day].
Women Came to the Tomb Early on the Sabbaton in Mark 16
Continuing with our investigation of the resurrection narrative, we go to Mark 16:2, where mias sabbaton occurs:
And very early in the morning on one of the Sabbaths [mias sabbaton], they are coming to the tomb. At the rising of the sun they said to themselves, “Who will be rolling away the stone for us out of the door of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away…And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe, and they were overawed. Now he is saying to them, “Be not overawed! Ye seek Yeshua, the Nazarene, the Crucified. He is risen! He is not here! Perceive the place where they laid Him! But go, say to His disciples and to Peter, that He is preceding you into Galilee. There you shall see Him, according as He said to you.” And, coming out, they fled from the tomb, for trembling and amazement had filled them. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
(v.9) Now, having risen [Greek is in the aorist tense, that is, it is here describing an action completed at a time in the indefinite past, i.e. prior to Mary arriving at the tomb], early first Sabbath (Protee sabbatou) He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.(CLNT)
Translating protee sabbatou into “the First day of the week” is gratuitous, for three of the four reasons already discussed. I have left out “on the” because there is no prepositional phrase. “Early first Sabbath” is telling us when He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, who probably separated from the other women as they fled from the tomb.
Question: Why call it “first Sabbath”? First Sabbath after what?
Answer: Protee sabbatou simply refers to the first weekly Sabbath after Passover. See footnote.
Should the Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Mk. 16:9-20) Be There?
The last twelve verses of Mark provide important details about events after the resurrection, but most modern critics are in agreement that the last twelve verses of Mark 16 are not an integral part of his Gospel. Modern translators question the authenticity of these twelve verses because they are omitted by two of the three oldest uncial manuscripts in our possession today—Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Vaticanus. There are, however, 18 other uncials (a MS. using all CAPS) and some 600 cursive MSS., none of which leaves out these twelve verses.
Jerome, who had access to Greek MSS. older than any now extant, includes these twelve verses in the Latin Vulgate version, which was largely his effort in the early 5th Century. But Jerome’s Vulgate was only a revision of the VETUS ITALA, which dates to the 2nd Century, which also contains these twelve verses. There are nearly a hundred ecclesiastical writers older than the oldest of our Greek codices: and two hundred additional writers between 300 A.D. and 600 A.D. who all refer to these twelve verses. The Gothic Version (A.D. 350), the Coptic and Sahidic Versions down in Egypt (4th C.), The Armenian Version (5th C.), the Ethiopic (Cent. 4-7), the Georgian (6th C.) all bear witness to the genuineness of these verses.
In addition, we would be remiss if we did not mention the thorough-going mathematical analysis of the letters (consonants, and vowels), nouns, proper nouns, etc. done by E.W. Bullinger’s contemporary, Ivan Panin, which proved a kaleidoscope of numerical patterns in the text of Mark 16:9-20 similar to all the other scriptures. These numerical patterns are unique to God-breathed scripture, and cannot be found in the literature of mere mortals unmoved by the Holy Spirit. Ivan Panin was uniquely qualified to make such an assessment, having taught the classics, English and Russian literature at Harvard in the late 19th Century. He was also an accomplished mathematician.
What Theological Problems Did Mark 16:9-20 Give To Theologians?
So why did some of the monks and professional copyists make the decision to leave out vss. 9-20? That is a very good question. I offer three reasons which will bring us back to our original thesis:
1. 4th Century orthodoxy was hell-bent on shoving its brand of religion down the throat of every sect that named the name of Christ. Part of that orthodoxy was the Trinity, and baptizing using the Trinitarian formula of Matt. 28:19, which can be shown to be a doctored verse of scripture. Mark has Yeshua saying “these signs shall fully follow in those who believe: In My name they shall be casting out demons”, etc. After Nicea, to emphasize the new-found equality of the tripartite Godhead, all sacraments were pronounced in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), which Eusebius recognized to be a specious interpolation of copyists.
2. Unfortunately, the signs which Yeshua promised would accompany His True Believers were not forthcoming for the state-church or any of the other Torah-hating, Jew-hating, woman-hating sects, orthodox or not. Yahweh afforded the orthodox nothing to confirm their glorified heresy. No doubt, due to the lack of signs and healings in the marcionized, anti-Law, anti-Jewish, anti-Sabbath, anti-Passover quarters of the Church world where Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus originated, there was concern that Christ’s words in vss. 16-18 made them look bad.
3. But why truncate the gospel beginning with verse 9? I believe it was done for theological reasons. The establishment of Easter was at stake. It is here in Mk. 16:9 that we have perhaps the most incontrovertible evidence Christ did not rise from the dead on a Sunday morning. Here, and here alone (as we explained above), the two words protee Sabbatou [first Sabbath (after Passover)] are used to tell us when He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. But by then, He had already risen at some point in the indefinite (aorist) past. Protee Sabbatou simply cannot be what the translators so desperately want it to be (“first day of the week”).
If the true understanding of the text of Mark casts a shadow over the possibility of a Sunday resurrection, how then, thought Constantine and his bishops, would they be able to draw all the Mithra-worshipping, Sun-venerating, sun-worshippers of the empire into the new fold? How unify the disintegrating Empire? Nicea and its aftermath made for good politics, lousy theology, as many scholars have come to realize.
If this is true that He rose on a Sabbath, then there goes your Easter Sunday resurrection. There goes everything the so-called “Fathers of the Church” lived and died for. There goes Constantine’s Council of Nicaea, there goes the primacy of the Roman see, and the coerced unity of the Roman Catholic Church. And if Christ rose on a Sabbath, then the same reasons that were used to supplant the 7thDay Sabbath, i.e. the weekly celebration of the resurrection on Sunday, must now be used to glorify the weekly Sabbath, of which Christ said He was Lord.
And consider what was at stake if Mark 16:9 could be allowed to stand casting its aspersions on the “first day of the week.” I quote Encyclopedia Britannica’s summation of the importance of the Council of Nicaea to the Catholic Church:
The Council of Nicaea marks an epoch in history of the conception of the Christian Religion, in that it was the first attempt to fix the critieria for Christian orthodoxy (by means of definitely formulated pronouncements on the content of Christian belief)—the acceptance of these criteria being made a sine qua non of membership of the Church. Moreover, it admitted the principle that the State might employ the secular arm to bring the Christian subjects of the Roman Empire under the newly codified faith. [In other words, if you want to be a Christian, this is what you must believe.]
The Nicene Council represents an important stage in the development of the state-Church.
Yeshua and the Apostle Paul forbade anyone lording it over the believers’ faith. Only Bible illiterates (like Constantine) were/are ignorant of this truth. So we will not belabor the point. But when we ponder the benefits that Constantine bestowed upon the orthodox bishops and their Churches at Nicaea and via the state welfare system, plundering the gold and wealth of the pagan temples for the benefit of the state-church, etc., we scarcely wonder that the more erudite among them would have looked with a jaundiced eye at the threat posed to them by protee sabbatou in Mk. 16:9. So it is with suspicion that we ponder the coincidence of the 4th Century origin of Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and their convenient omission of Mark 16:9ff.
Frankly, it is not a stretch to suggest that Constantine was like Satan offering the Church the whole world and the dominion thereof, as long as they did his bidding, and the Church said, “That sounds like a good deal.” Before Constantine was dead in 337, the bishops already had way too much to lose. But as Burkhardt says in The Era of Constantine the Great, the Church lost its soul in the process.
Mark 16:9-20 represented a threat to the authenticity of the state-church in so many ways. Seen through the eyes of the literary criticism, it does not make sense that Mark would end his book with verse 8. The women are told here to go and tell Yeshua’s disciples what they have seen (the empty tomb), that Yeshua is risen. But instead they tell no one because they are afraid. In contrast, in chapter one the book begins with a leper who is expressly forbidden from saying anything to anybody about his healing; Christ tells him to report directly to the priest at the Temple, and bring for his cleansing what Moses commanded (Lev. 14:3-13). Instead, he blazes abroad the word, violates Christ’s charge, which in turn causes havoc in all the towns round about, preventing Yeshua from entering into any city. How ironic is it to have a leper, who Yeshua was very angry with [casting him out of His midst (Mark 1:41-44)], do exactly what the women failed to do due to fear, and have the book end in this way. If Mark ends the book with verse 8, then he makes the women out to be the opposite of what they are in the three other gospels. Some of these women who followed Christ had given of their possessions to sustain Christ’s ministry early on (Luke 8:3). Those familiar with the resurrection accounts know the women were the heroes of the story. They were:
1. the first to note where He was laid.
2. the first followers to see, speak to, and embrace the risen Christ.
3. the first to notice the stone rolled away and observe an empty tomb.
4. the first to believe in the resurrection. It took hours and, in some cases, days before the male disciples believed, even after they heard first-hand testimony. Yeshua berated them for their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mark 16:14).
5. possessed with the courage and faith that they will be able to sneak past the authorities in the wee hours of the morning with their prepared spices, and be able to get inside the tomb, despite knowing ahead of time that a very great stone had been rolled into place (see Mark 15:46-47).
So how can you end the gospel (which means good news) with these same women disobeying an explicit command of an angel to go tell the disciples. It make no literary or common sense whatsoever, especially when verses 9-20 are the most powerful, upbeat, positive, encouraging twelve verses anywhere in the four gospels. They are the heroes of the resurrection story. But the celibate monk/copyists of the monastery at Sinai, with their warped view of women and the sanctity of marriage, took their orders from like-minded Church authorities, and made their damnable deletions and alterations of the text to deprive them of their rightful place in this story. They deleted perhaps the most important verses in the entire book. In verse 10 Mary does go and report to the mourning, lamenting disciples. “And they, hearing that He is living, and was gazed upon by her, disbelieve.”
Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 Confirmed By Best Scholarship
On page 539 of Word Bible Commentary for Mark we have this significant analysis.
The last phrase of v. 8 is ephobounto gar—“for they were afraid.”
…Mark begins rather than ends, new sections or paragraphs (pericopes) on a note of fear (5:33, 36; 6:20, 50; 9:6; 10:32; 11:32). Only 10% of the time (6 out of 66 times) does Mark conclude a story, paragraph, or section with gar, ‘for,’” [Thus, the facts] “favor the view that the last part of v. 8 beginsa new pericope rather than ends the one that precedes. Books ending with gar, the preposition “for,” are a rarity indeed.”
Burgon (Last Twelve Verses) 19th C. argues these verses are authentic. One could take volumes of time and space refuting all the disbelieving Higher Critics who are paid to vindicate codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, but why waste the time. I have said enough. Protee Sabbatou (first Sabbath) stands. And “first day of the week” vanishes as a figment of brainy men’s imaginations.
Were the Women Who Came to the Tomb on Sabbath Morning Violating the Tradition of the Elders (the Oral Law)?
The Encyclopedia Judaica says “The Law says relatively little about burial, and where it treats the subject, the concern is to avoid defilement by the dead (Num. 19:16; Deut. 21:21-23). There is a law in the Mishah (23:5), however, which states “People may do [on the Sabbath] all that is required for a corpse: They may anoint and rinse it…”
Page 315 of Edersheim’s The Temple: Its Ministry and Services says the following:
The Jerusalem Talmud (Ber. 5, b) expressly declares it lawful on Sabbath and feast-days to bring a coffin, graveclothes, and even mourning flutes—in short, to attend to the offices for the dead—just as on ordinary days.”
The Sabbath-Law of R. Meir, by Robt Goldenberg gives us valuable information on Jewish burial customs in the 2nd Century, a time when the political situation in Palestine tended toward stricter Sabbath regulations by the Jewish religious authorities than in the previous Century. Meir was a leading member of the Palestinian rabbinate following the fall of Bar Kokhba rebellion in 135 AD. He was a student of the two masters Aqiva and Ishmael. His Mishnah is said to have formed the basis for the later work of Judah the Patriarch, who redacted the canonical Mishnah still extant today. Meir was one of the leading rabbinic authorities of the 2nd Century. On page 39 of Goldenberg’s book we find this mishaic reference–T. Shab. 12:8-14a concerns the preparation and use of medicines on the Sabbath:
17J.A.1. People may anoint the sick with unguents on the Sabbath. B.1. R. Meir used to permit mixing wine and oil, and anointing the sick on the Sabbath.
Pg. 170 of the above book: “The principle of Sabbath-rest does not apply to the Temple.” In this regard, the women understood from Christ’s earlier statements (Matt. 12:5-6) that One Greater than the Temple was among them, and also how Christ lauded the two women who anointed Him with precious oil on separate occasions just prior to His death. One of those occasions was at Lazarus’ house (John 12:1), where a number of these women were present. Anointing Yeshua’s body was a priority in these women’s hearts and minds. It was not going to take a back seat to rabbinic Sabbath strictures, which in any case, did not have the force of Law. The Temple, when rightly understood by Paul (I Cor. 3:16 and the entire book of Hebrews), is nothing more than a type or foreshadowing of the Messiah Yeshua.
P. 189–Public offerings override Sabbath and defilement. In Emanuel Feldman’s book Defilement and Mourning: Law as Theology (p. 6), we find the following elucidation and commentary on this principle:
If the defilement law were merely hygienic precautions, it is difficult to explain how it was that precisely at crowded festivals—at which congregational offerings were brought—those very corpse-defilement laws were set aside in order not to postpone an offering. When the time of that offering arrives, and it happens that the majority of the congregation bringing the offering is defiled by a corpse, the offering is not postponed; it is brought while the congregation is in a state of defilement. In fact, it is exclusively corpse defilement which is overridden, and not defilement of emissions, creeping things, carrion, etc. “Corpse uncleanness alone was allowed to be set aside,” according to Maimonides.
A Guide to Jewish Religious Practices, by Klein, P. 101 states this: “The burial of the dead is the main exception to this rule [against Sabbath work]. For those who are occupied with burial, all work connected with a burial is permitted…”
Some might object to the women walking from their domicile in Bethany to the garden tomb on the Mount of Olives. The phrase Sabbath-days’ journey is only used one time in the scriptures (Acts 1:12), only to denote a distance (approx. one half mile). There is no explicit restriction on how far one may walk in the Torah, though reason would limit one’s physical activity. In reality, however, both Bethany and the place of Yeshua’s tomb were both on the Mt. of Olives, and likely within a mile of each other. But for inquiring minds, we cite the following from page 566 of Encyclopedia Judaica’s article “Sabbath”.
The rabbis placed no restrictions on freedom of movement within one’s town, but they prohibited any walking outside the town beyond a distance of 2,000 cubits (a little more than a half mile). This boundary is known as the tehum Shabbat (Sabbath limit). It is, however, permitted to place, before the Sabbath, sufficient food for two meals at the limits of the 2,000 cubits; then, by a legal fiction known as eruv, this place becomes one’s “abode” for the duration of the Sabbath, so that 2,000 cubits may be walked from there.
It is this author’s opinion that the disciple’s of Yeshua felt no obligation to please either the Pharisees or the rabbis when it came to tradition of the elders. Yeshua re-oriented everyone’s focus back to keeping the spirit and letter of the written law. Where the Law was silent, we should be silent. That is how strict constructionists take God’s Word. However, in order to avoid offence and risk social and perhaps legal consequences at the hands of the ruling religious authorities, the women chose to embark on their labor of love very early in the morning, while it was yet dark (according to John’s gospel (Jn. 20:1).
Matthew’s Contribution to the Resurrection Narrative
At the outset of our dissection of Matt. 27:66 (the last verse of chap. 27) and the beginning of chapter 28, we must note that chapter breaks and verse numberings have absolutely no authority. They were introduced many hundreds of years after the originals were penned. There are not even any spaces between the words in the uncial texts. In Matt. 27:65, Pilate ordered the Jews to secure the tomb with these words:
You have a detail. Go, make it secure, as you are aware [aware of what Christ had said, that He would arise after three days (vs. 63)].
(27:66) Now they (the Pharisees and chief priests), being gone, secure the sepulcher, sealing the stone, with the detail. (28:1a) Now it is the evening of the Sabbath (end of the 15th). CLNT
This rendering by the Concordant Publishing Concern constitutes a major clarification. Matt. 28:1a belongs in the previous chapter because it was put there by Matthew and by the Holy Spirit to tell uswhen they finished securing the tomb, which is an important detail to the narrative. It was a full twenty four hours after Yahshua was in the tomb before this was done, ie. the evening of the Unleavened Bread Sabbath (the 15th).
There are two time modifiers in the first half of Matt. 28:1. But they describe different parts of a day. Opsi de sabbaton at the beginning of 28:1 and the next phrase–tee epiphosoutee eis sabbaton–are mutually exclusive terminologies. The first means “evening of the Sabbath”, whereas the latter means “at the lighting up into one of the Sabbaths,” as the Concordant Literal has it. The KJV rendering of the latter—“as it began to dawn” is essentially correct, though we prefer the Concordant as being more descriptive and indicative of early dawn. This comports with the Greek used by Luke in 24:1 (very early), where we have a complementary description of how and when the women came to the tomb. Matt. 28:1 (CLNT) says:
At the lighting up into one of the sabbaths [mia ton sabbaton (pl.)] came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulcher.
The phrase “at the lighting up into” is tee epiphosountee eis, is a time modifier telling us what part of “one of the Sabbaths” the women came to the tomb. Consistent with Mark, Luke and John, we are told that it was well prior to sunrise, at dawn’s early light. That is why the CLNT translates the Greek here as “at the lighting up into one of the Sabbaths.” The only other time this word is used in the N.T. is Luke 23:54. Its use here requires some explanation, because it is used quite differently than in Matt. 28:1. Notice in Luke 23:
(v. 52) [Joseph of Arimathea] begged the body of Yeshua…wrapped it in linen, and laid Him in a rock-hewn tomb…(v. 54) and that day was the preparation (the 14th) and the Sabbath drew on(epiphoskein).
According to Word Bible Commentary, epiphoskein in Lk. 23:54 literally means “to dawn.” Luke’s particular use of epiphoskein “has not been paralleled.” The usage could represent a Greek-speaking Jewish adoption, for use in relation to a Jewish reckoning of the day, of language originating from and better adapted to expressing the dawning of a new day reckoned to being at first light. However, William Barclay translates this verse “and the Sabbath lamps were just beginning to be lit.” Epiphausko is used three times in the Septuagint:
Job 25:5—He gives an order to the moon, and it shines not… (kai ohuk epiphauskei…).
Job 31:26—do we not see the shining sun (heelion ton epiphauskonta) or the moon waning.
Job 41:9—At his (leviathan’s) sneezing, a light lights up (epiphausketai) his eyes.
These three uses of epiphosko in the LXX are similar to the literal use of the term in Matt. 28:1, where the lighting up of the early dawn sky is meant. Therefore, the only thing that is lit up at the end of a preparation day such as you have in Luke 23:54 would be the Sabbath lamps that are lit at that time by the Jews in Jerusalem. In fact, every evening at dusk (between the two evenings) the high priest Aaron went into the tabernacle to light up the lamps (Exod. 30:8). William Barclay, no doubt, has deciphered the correct meaning of epiphoskein in Luke 23, and we are indebted to his insight.
Now, on one of the Sabbaths (mia ton sabbaton), Mary Magdalene is coming to the tomb in the morning, there being still darkness, and is observing the stone taken away from the door of the tomb. (CLNT)
She goes and tells John and Peter that the Lord’s body has been removed, and goes back to the tomb with them, lingering there after they left it. She is the first to see Yeshua and report to the disciples that He is risen. In vs. 19 it is now evening (opseos) of that same day, and the Holy Spirit emphasizes that it is still mia ton sabbaton. The CLNT renders it this way:
It being, then, the evening of that day, one of the Sabbaths (mia ton sabbaton), and the doors having been locked where the disciples were gathered together, because of fear of the Jews, Yeshua came and stood in the midst.
It is important to note that the Saturday evening appearance of Yeshua in John 20:19 is dictated by the same language (mia ton sabbaton) as in Acts 20:7 at the head of this chapter. There we took considerable space proving that all the many other sabbaton meetings in Acts had been on weekly Sabbaths, so when Paul prolonged his discussion of scripture until midnight, it was well into the evening of that mia ton sabbaton (i.e. Saturday night). The same time parameters apply in John chapter 20. In this area, the Church of God Sabbath-keeping groups have been most inconsistent, allowing the John account to be a Sunday evening, while insisting that Acts 20 is a Saturday evening.
Combining details from the Luke 24 narrative, we are able to see when Yeshua ascended to Heaven to fulfill the wavesheaf offering after His resurrection. In Luke 24:16, he appeared in an unrecognizable form (see Mark 16:12 where it says He appeared in various forms) to two disciples who were heading back to Emmaus (7 miles West of Jerusalem) late on a Saturday afternoon. When they arrived at their domicile in Emmaus, they urged Yeshua to dine with them, for the day was far spent, and evening was coming on. Only after they broke bread did they recognize Him. But He vanished at this point without explanation. They hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples in the upper room, which brings us to the account in John 20:19. In the two hours it took them to return to Jerusalem, Yeshua went to the 3rd Heaven to appear before the Father, and to be accepted on our behalf as the first of the firstfruits. As a spirit being, it would have taken almost no time for Yeshua-God to go from earth to Paradise in Heaven. So I speculate that He spent three to four hours reuniting with the heavenly Father, and then returned immediately to the disciples in the upper room perhaps around 10 PM. For those who question whether the first omer of barley was cut on a Saturday evening, you will have to consult Edersheim’s book The Temple: Its Ministry & Services.
I Cor. 16:1-2
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have made arrangements in the Churches of Galatia, so do ye. Upon every (Greek=kata) one of the Sabbaths (CLNT), let every one of you lay by him in store as God has prospered him, that there be no collections when I come.
Paul abruptly introduces the subject of the collection for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (see Rom. 15:26). He devoted a significant amount of time and energy to this charitable project—close to two years—in order to promote unity and love between the Gentile and Jewish quarters of the budding Church. First we want to establish how the preposition kata is used in I Cor. 16:2, so that we understand that Paul intends each believer, by himself, to set aside and store up every one of the Sabbaths, according as he is prospered.
This construction sometimes signifies “in every . . .”
- Acts 2:46—Continue steadfast with one mind day by day (kath’ heemeran), breaking bread in every house (klontes te kat’ oikon).
- Acts 5:42– house by house (kat’ oikon) they ceased not teaching and preaching the gospel
- Acts 14:23—in every church (kat’ ekklesian) picking leaders by the stretching forth hands (hand-picked, also used of taking a vote), they committed them to the Lord.
- Acts 15:21—For in every city (kata polin) from ancient generations Moses has those proclaiming him.
- Acts 20:23—city by city (same as 15:21) the Holy Spirit testifies that bonds await me [Paul],
- Titus 1:5—appointed elders in every city (kata polin)
- Acts 22:19— in every synagogue (kata tas synagogas) I was imprisoning and beating the saints.
- Luke 8: 1—“throughout every city” (kata polin) and village.
- Luke 8:4—A great crowd coming together and those in each city (kata polin) to Him, He spoke through a parable.
- Rom. 12:5—each one, individually, members of one another (kath’ heis alleelon).
The preposition Kata, down, is sometimes found governing a noun, in the sense of “every.” Examples of this include:
- Luke 2:41—“every year” (kat’ hetos) His parents went to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover.
- Luke 16:19–there was a certain rich man making merry day by day (kath’ heemeran) in luxury.
- Heb. 9:25—the high priest enters the holy of holies year by year (kat’ heniauton=every year)” [on the Day of Atonement].
- Heb. 10:3—there is a remembrance of sins year by year (same as above).
- I Cor. 16:1-2—As I charged the churches of Galatia, so also you do—every one of the Sabbaths (kata mian sabbaton)–each of you lay aside by himself in store that in which he should be prospered.
Hence, we see that kata mian sabbaton in I Cor. 16:2 is a very common mode of expression signifying “every” single Sabbath. This fact may be verified on page 384 of The International Critical Commentary. Paul wanted the brethren to set aside in store that which he intended to contribute to his brethren the Jews in Palestine, so that there need be no collections when he arrived at Corinth. Listen to the comment on this verse by The New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. X, p. 996):
[it is] a regular setting aside so that when Paul arrives they will already have the [presumably substantial] collection ready. A couple of features are noteworthy:
The reference in the Greek is to a regular practice of each person setting apart contributions every Sabbath. From such nomenclature of days, WE SEE HOW COMPLETELY RE-SOCIALIZED THESE GENTILES WERE TO THE WHOLE SENSE THAT THEY BELONGED TO THE FAMILY OF GOD, WHOSE ROOTS ARE TRACEABLE DIRECTLY TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
In other words, we have scholars admitting here that the nomenclature being used here (every one of the Sabbaths) is evidence that Paul had completely changed the social customs of these Corinthian Christians. Paul–via the power of the Holy Spirit, miracles, healings, and teaching directly from Yeshua–made spiritual Jews out of Gentiles. They adopted the Sabbath, Passover (I Cor. 5:7-8; 11:24-26), Days of Unleavened Bread, and the New Moons (Col. 2:16), and contributed very generously (throughout the Greek-speaking churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Philippi, and Achaia) to the welfare of their new-found brothers the Jews suffering in Palestine.
Concluding Remarks Concerning Mia Ton Sabbaton
If, as scholars say, the first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in scripture, then why do they imagine that the writers of the New Testament used the Hebrew word sabbaton to refer to the first day of the week?? Anyone zealously keeping God’s Holy Sabbath Day should wonder out loud at how ludicrous this sounds at the outset.
When translators deprive Yahweh of His opportunity to speak literally, they arbitrarily alter His Word. This is why skeptics have the attitude “Well, you can make the Bible say whatever you want it to say.” But this is only true if you allegorize, and take words out of context, or assume figures of speech where there are none. Men have transformed mia ton Sabbaton from “one of the Sabbaths” into “first day of the week” by refusing to take it as it literally stands and by forcing it to conform to Church traditions. They assumed the authors meant “first”, but did not use protos. The translators supply the word “day” when it is not there, and this, despite the fact that Protos heemeras was used by these same authors to refer to the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Thirdly, that they meant “week” but used the Hebrew and Septuagint word for Sabbath instead. They had the familiar wordhebdomados, the LXX word for “week“, available to them, had they wanted to refer to week. The translators and interpreters assume the inspired writers chose not to use the accepted Greek word for “week,” and chose to use sabbaton in an unprecedented way to totally confuse their Greek readers. No, I think not. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. The Lord has tried to do just that. But the Truth will not be found by them who refuse to keep His Commandments, by those who are not savvy enough to discern the lying pen of the scribe (Jer. 8:8), and who prefer television and sports and pastimes to diligent inquiry into the original language of scripture. Let them go back to nursing at the breast of their spiritual Momma Babylon, for the “people that doth not understand shall fall (come to ruin-NIV).”(Hosea 4:14)
Greek was the lingua franca of the First Century Roman Empire. The gospel writers were trying to communicate the life and ministry of Christ Yeshua to Greek-speaking believers at synagogues and home churches in Asia Minor, Achaia, Macedonia, and elsewhere. When it comes to fundamental religious terminology such as sabbaton, it is more than likely that they would have used this word in the same way it was used in both the Hebrew Old Testament and in the Septuagint. The great bulk of the early believers came out of the Jewish synagogue, where they had heard the scriptures read in Greek. Sabbaton is the word used throughout the LXX for the weekly and annual Sabbaths. It is never used of “week.” Taking advantage of this familiarity, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul all used sabbaton just as it had been used in the LXX. In singling out the particular Sabbaton upon which Christ was resurrected and discovered by the women disciples, the earliest of these writers, Mark, used protee sabbatou to signify that it was the first Sabbath after Passover.
The practical theology in the minds of most mainstream Christians tells them that all of the Ten Commandments are still relevant and binding. Nobody questions the need to literally abstain from adultery, or not bear false witness against one’s neighbor, and not steal his property. But when they get to the 4th Commandment, the pastors transfer the sanctity of the 7th Day to Sunday. They have only one idea that allows them to do this, the illusion that Christ rose on the first day of the week. The fact that the Sabbath and holy days are mentioned no less than eighty times in the New Testament should have been enough to cause any serious believer to remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. For the past century and a half, the truth about the Sabbath has been disseminated far and wide by the Adventists and other Sabbatarian, Church of God, or Sacred-Name groups. Until now, however, the Sabbatarian movement has failed to identify the Achilles heel of mainstream orthodoxy, which is the amazing truth that “first day of the week” does not occur anywhere in the New Testament Greek text.
This piece in the puzzle must now be considered part of “the restoration of all things” which Christ promised:
And He answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things. (Mark 9:12 KJV)
The process began with Martin Luther in 1519, who exposed the corruption of the Roman Catholic system, and showed Christians, among other things, the primacy of scripture over tradition. The remnant that Yahweh is perfecting must find the basis for all their practices and beliefs in scripture: the Law of Moses, the prophets and Psalms, the sayings of Yeshua, and the letters of Paul. Yahweh’s agenda has been moved forward by Adventists (Sabbath and unclean meat laws) and Church of God 7th Day and Armstrong Church of God groups (Passover and God’s Holy Days), the Assemblies of Yahweh (restoration of God’s proper name in order to fulfill and not violate the 3rd Commandment, where the literal Hebrew says “don’t bring the name of Yahweh Elohim to oblivion/nothingness”). The charismatic movement, pro-family Christian organizations like Focus on the Family, Messianic Jewish movement, and Davidic praise and dance movement have all had vital roles to play in restoring all things in Yahweh’s vast agenda of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children (and vice versa) prior to sending His Son Yeshua back to this earth. I now submit that undoing the havoc caused by Constantine and his bishops at the Council of Nicea (Easter Sunday, etc.) is also high on Yahweh’s to-do list.
Paul and Yeshua are the two most important figures in Western Civilization, and yet neither of them ever mentioned the first day of the week, if I Cor. 16:2 is understood correctly. One would think that the cornerstone doctrine of orthodox Christianity (Easter Sunday and its weekly celebration) would have required some formal discussion of the changeover from Saturday to Sunday somewhere in Paul’s writings or the Gospels. The silence of the New Testament on this topic is deafening.
The last leg supporting Sunday sacredness is being removed by a correct understanding of mia ton sabbaton. The truth about mia ton sabbaton is necessary to wean the Church from its moorings in pagan traditions.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Mt. 15:9).
Acts 3:19 is very relevant to our concluding remarks on this subject:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but is now commanding men everywhere to repent, forasmuch as He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world [and the Church] in righteousness by that Man Whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all, by raising Him from the dead.
Throughout this article, “CLNT” is used when citing the Concordant Literal New Testament, published by the Concordant Publishing Concern, Canyon Country, CA. It is one of the most helpful, literal, and scholarly translations of the New Testament available.
 See Jer. 8:8 where it talks about “the lying pen of the scribe”, i.e. translator or transcriber of scripture.
 The exception among the translators is Green’s Interlinear, which flirts with the proper rendering of sabbaton (Sabbath) and mia (one). Green is a perfect case in point of the ambiguity with which scholars have dealt with this expression.
 See marginal notes in the Companion Bible.
 Bullinger was an unorthodox Anglican scholar who taught at Oxford University up until his death in 1913. He was a man of considerable knowledge, whose Companion Bible is among the best study Bibles available today.
 Significant in the Torah as being the Sabbath the morrow of which one counts from in order to get to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15). It could probably be argued that since mia means
”a particular one” or “a certain one,” that every one of the occurrences of mia sabbaton and mia ton sabbaton are referring to this particular Sabbath of prime (protee) importance in starting the count to the important pilgrimage Feast of Pentecost. Hence, Mark calls it protee sabbatou.
 See Appendix 168 of Bullinger’s Companion Bible for further corroboration on this point.
 Eusebius quotes this verse 18 times prior to the Council of Nicea, omitting our current reading “baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit.” It says “baptizing them into My name.” After Nicea, on pain of exile Eusebius capitulates, acknowledging a reading that he knew had been changed by copyists. He complained about changes being made in various texts.
Things got so desperate that the bishop of Alexandria, the great Athanasius, was accused by his opponents in the Egyptian clergy [at the Council of Tyre (335 A.D.)] of hewing off the hand of Arsenius, a bishop from an opposing sect, for the purpose of using it for magic.
 I do not mean to imply that these codices are useless in the textual criticism of the N.T. Their variant readings elsewhere must be weighed due to their antiquity when considering what the original said. What we are taking issue with here is not the professional, precise nature of the copying that took place in Sinai and Alexandria, but the doctrinal bent, the heresies they were trying to combat, and pressures from Church authorities that influenced what they included or excluded.