The claim is based on Revelation 1:10: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." Significantly, those who make this claim feel it necessary to abolish the Sabbath in order to find a place for Sunday worship. Naturally so, for the Bible provides for only one weekly holy day, and Sunday advocates have rather uniformly sought to provide some kind of Bible foundation for Sunday. But even if John meant "Sunday" by "Lord's day," that would provide no proof that the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments had been abolished or even changed. Let that fact be clear at the outset. Now, how do Sabbath opposers attempt to prove that this text refers to Sunday? In this fashion: They declare that the phrase "Lord's day," as a synonym for Sunday, began to be used by church fathers in their writings very soon after John's death, and that therefore he used the phrase in the same sense. What are the facts? Briefly these: There have come down to us today certain writings attributed to various martyrs and other church fathers who lived in the generations immediately following that of the apostles.

John the Revelator on the isle of Patmos
John the Revelator on the isle of Patmos

Church historians declare that many of these writings are spurious, and of those that are genuine, most have been so garbled or so added to by later writers that it is almost impossible to know what portion was written by the original author. And the very fact that an author's words were often garbled, coupled with the fact that some of these earliest fathers employed unusual, if not incoherent, literary constructions, has caused learned translators to be in great uncertainty as to the true meaning of many passages in those writings. The church historian Augustus Neander thus sums up the problem of their value: "The writings of the so-called apostolic Fathers have unhappily, for the most part, come down to us in a condition very little worthy of confidence. Partly because under the name of these men, so highly venerated in the church, writings were early forged for the purpose of giving authority to particular opinions or principles. And partly because their own writings which were extant, became interpolated in subservience to a Jewish hierarchical interest, which aimed to crush the free spirit of the gospel. " - General History of the Christian Religion and Church (1854), vol. 1, Appendix, sec. 4, p. 657.

In view of these facts the reader can immediately see how undependable is any argument based on what the apostolic fathers are supposed to have said or when they are supposed to have said it. Only if we shut our eyes to the spurious element, with the uncertainty as to date that grows out of it. And only if we are ready to add a little wishful thinking to our translation of certain garbled and incoherent passages, can we unquestioningly accept the claim that the phrase "Lord's day” began to be used by the church fathers shortly after John's death. We believe that there is no clear, undebatable use of that phrase in any writings of the fathers until near the end of the second century. (See page 773 for historical proof of this statement.) And if that be true, the argument for Sunday based on John's use of the phrase stretches out so thin-for it must stretch out over nearly a century-that it cannot carry the weight of argument suspended on it. But so plausible can even a garbled, doubtful passage sound to those who need the support it provides that, despite the damaging evidence here presented, there will still remain in many minds at least a halfway feeling that the phrase was actually used by church fathers to describe Sunday within a generation or so of John's day.

Furthermore, so intriguing is the fact that John uses a phrase that is later used to describe Sunday that those same minds will naturally lean toward the conclusion that probably, after all, John likewise used the phrase to describe Sunday. Besides the emotional weakness that afflicts that kind of conclusion, there is a glaring fallacy that invalidates it, the fallacy of concluding that because a word has it certain meaning at one time it has identically the same meaning at an earlier time. This is one of the worst fallacies into which a person can fall in reading writings of a former day. Because in the writings of a second-century father the phrase “Lord's day" meant Sunday, it does not therefore follow that in the writings of John the phrase meant Sunday. Words change and even reverse their meanings, and sometimes in an amazingly short period. Until the seventeenth century the word "Sabbath" had rather uniformly been used by Christian speakers and writers to describe the seventh day of the week. But in the British Isles, in that century, 108 there was a great Puritan revival of religion, which focused on an endeavor to secure better observance of Sunday.

Sunday was declared to be commanded in the Ten Commandments, with simply a change from the seventh to the first day of the week. (See page 545 for historical proof.) In order to make their language consistent with this view the Puritanical reformers began to call Sunday "Sabbath." In almost one generation the change was made. So far as a large segment of the population was concerned, and the term "Sabbath- for "Sunday" has come down to our day. Take the word "Sabbatarian." For long years, even to the opening of the twentieth century, the term was used to describe a Sunday advocate who believed that Sunday should be rigorously kept, generally with the aid of civil legislation. Today "Sabbatarian" is used to describe a Seventh day Adventist, who keeps a different day and who is opposed to civil laws for Sabbath keeping. Here again is a complete reversal of meaning, and in a rather short space of time. Or take another change in word values, more startling as to difference in meaning and as to speed of change. As late as the 1840's in America the word "spiritualist" meant a person who spiritualized away the literal meaning of Scripture, or one who had very spiritual views. But in less than ten years the word began to be used to describe those who had taken up with the Hydesville rappings of 1848, which started the modern cult of spiritism.

All one needs to do is to examine an unabridged dictionary to find an endless list of such changes in meanings of words. And after such an examination he will be hopelessly suspicious of any argument that would seek to read back into the words of a man who wrote at one time the meaning given to those words by men who wrote at a later time. Why conclude, on the reading of a "spiritualist" in a theological journal in 1840, that a believer in departed spirits is there described? Or why conclude on reading in a newspaper of the 1890's that a group of "Sabbatarians” field a meeting that therefore a company of Seventh day Adventists were in session? Or why conclude from reading John's statement on the "Lord's day," written about AD. 90, that he was "in the Spirit” on Sunday? We may properly understand a writer's words in the light of the meaning that those words have had up to the time he wrote. But we cannot safely read back into his words a meaning acquired by those words in later years. Now, as noted, John wrote the Revelation about the year AD. 90. Up to that time had the Bible writers ever used the term "Lord's day" to describe Sunday?

No. They uniformly described Sunday simply as "the first day of the week." Even more striking is the fact that John himself, in his Gospel, which, it is generally agreed, was written some years after the Revelation, still calls Sunday by the same colorless phrase as the other Bible writers used, "the first day of the week." There is only one day described in the Bible that could lay claim to being the "Lord's day," and that is the Sabbath. The Ten Commandments describes it as "the Sabbath of the Lord." Ex. 20:10. Isaiah tells us to call this day "the holy of the Lord." Isa. 58:13. Christ described Himself as "Lord also of the Sabbath." Mark 2:28. John had heard the Savior utter these words. He knew also the words of the Ten Commandments and the words of Isaiah. How reasonable, then, to conclude that he meant the Sabbath when he said "Lord's day." Of course someone may contend that if John used "Lord's day" for Sabbath in the Revelation, he would naturally use it also in his Gospel. But instead he there uses the customary term “Sabbath."

We grant that we do not know just why he used “Lord's day" this one time. Evidence has been presented to show only (1) that the Sabbath objector's interpretation of "Lord's day" in Revelation 1:10 will not stand scrutiny, and (2) that the only reasonable interpretation of his words is that he meant "Sabbath." However, the history of John's day offers an interesting suggestion as to why he used "Lord's day" for Sabbath in the book of Revelation. Christianity was coming into ever greater and greater conflict with pagan Rome. The Caesars were often deified, and Christians were sometimes called on to offer incense to them, or forfeit their lives. There were emperor days, such as the emperor's birthday, which took on a religious quality because of the blending of state and church.

The day when a Caesar visited a certain city was ever afterward a holiday in that city and known, by translation, as a worshipful day, a day worthy of worship. The emperor Domitian was "accustomed to call himself and to be called 'Lord and God.”-PHILIP SCHAFF, History of the Christian Church (8th ed., 1903), vol. 2, p. 44. Now, John, who had been banished to Patmos almost certainly during Domitian's reign, was specially favored with revelations of Christ's coming kingdom and glory, as Patmos lighted up for him with the glory of his Lord. This Lord he described as "King of kings, and Lord of lords." And how meaningful that title was for the persecuted Christians who, at the cost of their lives, refused to acknowledge Caesar as "Lord and God." In Revelation 1:10 John introduces his first revelation of Christ's glory. In view of the Christian conflicts with Rome, how natural for him, if that first vision was on the Sabbath, to declare that he "was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," the day of the true Lord, whose 109 proof of Lordship is His Creator ship, which the Sabbath memorializes. (See Rev. 4: 11; 10: 6; 14:7.)

Francis D. Nichols, Answers to Objections, pg. 107-109

Papacy Watch

Words of Care and Concern
If anyone should think that we are attacking fellow Christians, please keep in mind that the prophecy is aimed at a system and not individuals. There are sincere, devout Christians in all churches, including the Catholic faith. Bible prophecy simply gives a message of judgment and correction upon a large religious institution that compromised with paganism, as many other churches have also done.