The Lord’s day refers to Sunday, the first day of the week, on which Christians gather for corporate worship in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The phrase “Lord’s day” comes from Revelation 1:10 where the apostle John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” Here are some key points about the meaning and significance of the Lord’s day according to the Bible:
The Lord’s day commemorates Christ’s resurrection
All four gospels record that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Christians therefore worshipped corporately on Sundays from the earliest days of the church to celebrate Christ’s victory over death and the new life we have in Him. Sunday is called the Lord’s day because it was the day the Lord Jesus conquered sin and death on our behalf. As Justin Martyr wrote around AD 150, “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead” (First Apology, chapter 67).
The Lord’s day is distinct from the Sabbath
In the Old Testament, God commanded His people Israel to observe the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as a day of rest and remembrance that God delivered them from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 20:8-11). However, Christians are not under obligation to keep the Jewish Sabbath, as Paul makes clear in Colossians 2:16-17. The Lord’s day was instituted by the resurrection of Christ and corporate Christian worship on Sundays does not mean the Sabbath commandment must be followed as a religious duty. As Augustine wrote, “The Lord’s day, the day of Resurrection, the day of Christians, our day” is different than the sabbath “which the Jews observe” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 1, section 10).
The Lord’s day involves corporate worship and fellowship
On the Lord’s day, Christians gather together to worship God by remembering Christ in the preaching of the Word and participating in the sacraments He instituted (baptism and the Lord’s supper). We see this pattern throughout the book of Acts how the early church met on Sundays to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42; 20:7). Meeting together with other believers is vital for our growth in Christ. As Hebrews 10:25 commands, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The Lord’s day points forward to eternal rest
Our weekly rest and worship on the Lord’s day also typifies the eternal rest and worship believers will experience with God forever. As Hebrews 4:9 states, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” This rest is not referring to a literal day of the week, but rather the unending rest that Christians enter into when they place their faith in Christ (Hebrews 4:3). Our practice of setting aside Sundays to gather as the church and devote ourselves to the Lord in worship gives us a foretaste of the perfect rest awaiting all Christians. The Lord’s day points us ahead to the fullness of redemption we will experience in glory.
The Lord’s day does not have specific mandated activities
While Scripture gives us the example of the early church gathering on Sundays for teaching, remembrance of Christ, prayer, and fellowship, the Bible does not spell out exact requirements for how to observe the Lord’s day. Christians are free to glorify God and serve others on Sundays in many different ways, as long as our consciences are clear and our activities are for God’s glory and others’ good (Romans 14:5-6). The specific activities of the Lord’s day can vary across cultures and contexts. The key is worshipping Christ as Lord, remembering His resurrection, and devoting ourselves to building up His body, the church.
The Lord’s day presents a witness to the world
Our corporate gathering and rest on Sundays stands out in a world that largely ignores God. When Christians refrain from work and business as usual to meet and worship the risen Lord Jesus, we make a statement about what we value most. Our practice of the Lord’s day shows unbelievers that we serve a Creator who is worthy of honor and celebration. It displays that we belong to a kingdom higher than any earthly realm. It presents a witness to the world of the hope and joy we have in Christ.
The Lord’s day foreshadows the new creation
In the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21-22, there will be no night, no closed gates, and no more curses – only unending rest, worship, and fellowship with God and the Lamb upon the throne. Our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection each Sunday provides a glimpse of the glorious work God will one day do in making all things new. The Lord’s day is a sign that points ahead to the restoration of all creation when Christ returns to rule and reign.
Key Bible passages on the Lord’s day
Here are some of the key verses in Scripture that mention the Lord’s day and inform our understanding of its meaning:
– Revelation 1:10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”
– John 20:1 – “Now on the first day of the week…” (describing the resurrection)
– Acts 20:7 – “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…”
– 1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up…” (concerning a collection for the church)
– Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
In light of the biblical significance of the Lord’s day, here are some practical applications:
– Make Sunday corporate worship a priority by regularly gathering with other believers. Do not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25).
– Set aside time on Sundays for spiritual development through Bible reading, prayer, learning theology, etc. Devote yourself to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42).
– Be intentional about Christian fellowship and caring for others’ needs on Sundays. Love one another and stir up each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
– Rest from work and refrain from unnecessary busyness and stress. Enjoy your weekly day of rest given by God.
– Make the most of Sundays by redemptively planning activities that honor Christ and serve others. Glorify God in all you do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
– Prepare your heart throughout the week to celebrate Christ’s resurrection during corporate worship on the Lord’s day. Cultivate joy and thankfulness.
– Let Sunday be a witness to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers of your commitment to Christ. Let your light shine (Matthew 5:16).
The Lord’s day, Sunday, is a weekly gift from God to His church. It is a day to commemorate Christ’s victory over sin and death, worship Him together, grow in His Word, enjoy Christian fellowship, rest from work, and anticipate the glory to come. Our observance of the Lord’s day points towards the eternal rest all believers in Jesus will share together forever. Let us honor the Lord’s resurrection and gracious salvation each and every Sunday.