The Editor’s Private Corner. Sunday the First Day of the Week
Ellet J. Waggoner
The Present Truth : January 2, 1902
“Can you kindly inform me what Bible authority we have for calling Sunday the first day of the week?”
The terms of your question should be inverted; for it is not Sunday that is called the first day of the week, but the first day of the week that is called Sunday. The number was before the name. Then when the question is inverted, and it is asked what Bible authority we have for calling the first day of the week Sunday, the reply must be that we have none; for the names of all the days of the week are of heathen origin.
It must be known to every reader of the Bible that from the beginning the days of the week were known only by number, as first, second, third, etc. Only one was named, and that was the seventh. Its name was Sabbath, and of course it is so still. (See Genesis 1, 2, and Exodus 20.8-11.) Yet, in reality “Sabbath” is not the name, but only the description of the seventh day. The word “Sabbath” simply tells what the day is—a rest; for Sabbath is the Hebrew word for rest.
As might be expected, there is in the entire Bible no change in the titles of the days from those given in the beginning. They are always, with the exception of the seventh day as already noted, known only by number; and these titles they still retain. No matter what other names men may call them, no act of man can change what God has done. Whatever God has called a thing that is the name of it.
The question, then, which is really to be settled is this: “Have the days of the week come to us with the name designation that they had from the beginning, without change?” Or, “Are the days now known as the first and the seventh the same ones that God so designated at the creation?”
It is easy to show that the answer to these questions must be, “Yes”. God Himself keeps the record, and He can make no mistake. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt took place about twenty-five hundred years after the creation; and at that time God made it very plain which day was the seventh, so that there could not possibly be any mistake, even supposing that the people had previously lost the reckoning. For forty years God was their timekeeper, marking the seventh day each week by wonderful miracles. Of course when they knew the seventh day, there was no trouble about the others.
And God continued to be the timekeeper when the children of Israel came to Canaan. When they forgot Him, and began to break the Sabbath, becoming like the heathen, He reproved them again and again by His prophets; and at last they were carried into captivity, solely because they had not kept the Sabbath. See Jeremiah 17 and 2 Chronicles 36. From the time of the Babylonian captivity, the Jews never again went into idolatry, but, as far as outward acts were concerned, were most zealous worshipers of Jehovah, and very punctilious concerning the Sabbath.
Then Christ came, and testified both by word and deed that the day, which the Jews were keeping, was the true Sabbath of the Lord. Soon after His ascension, the Jews were scattered over all the earth, yet there has never arisen any doubt as to which day is the Sabbath. If a company of Jews from every nation were to meet in London, they would all be keeping the same day of the week—the seventh day.
Having the seventh day so firmly established, it is easy enough to determine all the other days in the week. One has only to be able to count seven, either forward or backwards. There are but seven days a week, and when the seventh is reached, the count begins with the first again, the next day. The day that follows immediately after the Bible Sabbath is the first day of the week (See Matthew 28.1) and is now known as Sunday.
Or, to state it another way; the resurrection of Jesus took place on the first of the week, “when the Sabbath was passed.” Mark 16.1, 2. The day was by the heathen dedicated to the sun, and was known among the Romans as dies solis, —day of the sun, or, the sun’s day, from which comes our word Sunday. So we see that there cannot possibly be any question that the day called Sunday is the first day of the week. This is established by indisputable Bible testimony, which at the same time shows that it is not, and cannot be, the Sabbath day.