Christ Arose on Sabbath per Greek NT (Sabbath Mistranslated “First Day of Week”) – Will You Study This Now?

by Deanna J. Reynolds M.D. (Ret.), Corpus Christi, Texas

Overview

Studying the New Testament (NT) original Greek using a good interlinear bible and the Concordant Version reveals that Jesus Christ was actually resurrected early in the morning on the sabbath (Saturday), not the first day of the week (Sunday) as is nearly universally mistranslated.* Fulfilling His numerous prophecies of rising on the third day, our Lord thus was crucified as the Passover Lamb on Wednesday, Preparation day, and was placed in the tomb right before Passover began that evening. In observance of the Passover, the women were unable to buy and prepare spices with which to anoint Him until Friday; they went to the tomb to do so early Saturday morning, and of course found it empty.

Searching for all NT instances of the Greek word meaning Sabbath (Strong’s G4521) (e. g. this BibleHub link) reveals the KJV and modern translations correctly translate that Greek word for Sabbath in 59 of its 68 occurrences in the NT. However, they consistently mistranslate sabbath to mean first day of the week in the six Scriptures specifically pertaining to the day Christ was resurrected (Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, Mark 16:9, Matt. 28:1, and John 20:19). Two of those six Scriptures (Matt. 28:1 and Mark 16:1-2) contain the Greek word sabbath twice; astonishingly, the KJV and modern translations translate it as sabbath AND as first day of the week within each of the two Scriptures, with the latter phrase substituted for sabbath when specifying the day Christ arose.

The same search reveals this Greek word meaning sabbath is likewise mistranslated to mean the first day of the week in Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2, two of the other pivotal Scriptures widely used to teach that the early Christians met on Sunday instead of God’s Sabbath (in its context, John 20:19 actually indicates both occurred on the sabbath). The last of the 9 instances of mistranslation of the Greek word meaning sabbath is in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:12), unrelated to these two important matters, wherein it is simply mistranslated as week.

The Greek Interlinear Bible and Concordant Literal New Testament are specifically designed to eliminate such errors/inconsistencies in translation so as to render as pure an understanding of God’s essential words to us as possible. All disciples are encouraged to wisely spend a few minutes learning how, and to then begin using these valuable resources regularly to search for more hidden treasure / liberating truths, and to be delivered from the deceit of other astonishing false doctrines, to the glory of God!

*Of course I’m not the only disciple to come upon these two surprising and paradigm-busting truths while studying the Greek via an interlinear bible…

Background

The King James Bible and the modern Bible translations all disclose that Jesus prophesied He would be resurrected ON the third day, not before or after (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7; 24:46; and John 2:19-22). They also contain His prophecy in Matt. 12:39-40 that just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, He would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Yet the timeline they present of crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday does not fulfill His prophecies.

Jesus continually warned us not allow ourselves to be deceived: instead of casually accepting what others offer to explain such difficulties, each disciple must continue mining the Scriptures for truths under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit until all points are satisfactorily reconciled on a given matter.

Two important details often overlooked in establishing the timeline are: (1) Per Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31 (also Ex. 12:18 and Lev. 23:5,33), the day begins in the evening. (Surprisingly, God does not designate it more precisely in His word; the Jews developed specific traditions as to when it begins precisely, but we must recognize and always distinguish traditions of men from God’s word.) Our Gregorian calendar days do not begin until midnight, a few hours later. (2) Passover week has two sabbaths: the Passover (special sabbath), and the usual sabbath on the seventh day of the week; according to our calendar, this usual sabbath begins Friday evening and ends Saturday evening.

Now, God chose to reveal His New Testament to mankind via the first century Greek language, which is far more precise than English. Only the original Greek language expresses God’s inerrant word; multiple types of errors can occur in the transcription-reproduction-translation process of providing us English translations of God’s word. For those of us who pursue pure truth but are not Greek scholars, The Greek Interlinear Bible  (using Scriveners’ Textus Receptus 1894, the basis of the KJV / Authorized Version) and the Concordant Literal New Testament (using the Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus codices) are two very valuable online sources which reveal the NT Scriptures with intentional consistency and more contextual accuracy than the translations (including the KJV). The Greek Interlinear Bible is a very powerful online study tool, yet it lacks fluidity for reading; the Concordant Literal New Testament provides ease of reading and specificity (and is available in paperback and hardcover as well as online).

As we use them herein, you’ll see how the two complement each other when studying such key matters. I encourage you to add those two master links to your smart phone or tablet, or to download them to your computer, and to skim/read this link about the accuracy and power of this particular Interlinear Bible and this one to learn about the precision of biblical Greek, and to learn the beauty of the Concordant version.

So, let’s relearn what the inspired Scriptures actually reveal regarding the timing of Christ’s resurrection and which day of the week the early church actually met! May our Father grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation as we make time to seek His word like silver and search it out like hidden treasure. Amen.

Scriptural Data

The Greek Interlinear Bible (GIB) and the Concordant Literal New Testament (CL) reveal God has provided us SIX WITNESSES that Christ was resurrected on one of the two Sabbaths that week. Five of the Scriptural witnesses (Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, Mark 16:9, and Matt. 28:1) pertain to the happenings of the morning of that day, with four of those specifying early morning on a sabbath. The sixth witness (John 20:19) pertains to the evening following that day which had been a sabbath day.

For those who have never used an interlinear bible before, understand that they are information-packed! Each chapter of the bible in this particular interlinear, the GIB, is presented online as a pdf, and each verse number is designated on the left-hand side in gray. Each verse has six rows of color-coded text: from top to bottom you’ll see (1) the original inspired Greek (which was all one case and without punctuation) in black, (2) the transliteration in paler black, (3) Strong’s numbers in grey, (4) parts of speech abbreviations in gray, (5) the direct English equivalent words in teal, and lastly, (6) the idiomatic English equivalents (if any) in green.

In order to study these Scriptures via the GIB, you’ll need to click the link I’ve provided to the particular book and chapter, then scroll down to the pertinent verse(s). The KJV translation of each verse is provided at the far right of the GIB. You’ll immediately see the KJV has some egregious errors, starting with Mark 16:1-2 in which the Greek word for sabbath is translated as such in verse 1, but not in verse 2. You should quickly appreciate the consistency and specificity of the Greek-English equivalents of this particular interlinear Bible, and come to value the wealth of information provided.

First witness – Mark 16:1-2

Concordant Literal  1 And, for the elapsing of the sabbath*, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, buy spices, that, coming, they should be rubbing Him. 2 And, very early in the morning on one of the sabbaths, they are coming to the tomb at the rising of the sun.

Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to view GIB to study vv. 1-2. Did you note the KJV inconsistency in translating the Greek word for sabbath in these two verses? We’ll see it again in the fifth witness, and will expand on this key matter after studying all six.

*Note that once the first sabbath of the week elapsed – the special one, Passover – the women were able to buy and prepare the spices to anoint their Lord’s body.

Note how the CL version agrees with the Greek.

Second witness – Luke 24:1

Concordant Literal Now in the early depths of one of the sabbaths, they [“the women who were come together out of Galilee with Him” per 23:55], and certain others together with them, came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they make ready.

•Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to view GIB to study v. 1

Note how the CL version agrees with the Greek.

Third witness – John 20:1

Concordant Literal  Now, on one of the sabbaths, Miriam 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.

Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to view GIB to study v.1. 

* “there being still darkness” is consistent with the other witnesses that it was very early in the morning; note that “there being still darkness” also indicates it was no longer completely dark.

Note how the CL version agrees with the Greek.

Fourth witness – Mark 16:9

Concordant Literal Now, rising in the morning in the first Sabbath,* He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.

Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to view GIB and scroll down to view verse 9.

*Given the previous Scriptural witnesses, I discern via the GIB that the words translated as “rising in the morning in the first sabbath” in the CL version above are better translated as “rising in the morning before most of the sabbath” (please discern via studying the GIB yourself). Christ was NOT raised on the first of the two sabbaths as the CL version renders it. That would be nonsensical, as the first sabbath in the week was the special one – Passover – and Jesus was placed in the tomb right before the Passover began in the evening; that would not allow three days and nights in the heart of the earth. (I have since learned that the CL translator was apparently thinking of the Passover being the first of the special sabbaths per Lev. 23.) In situations like this one where the interlinear Greek allows another translation which better aligns with the other Scriptural witnesses, we should choose it over the CL translation. By its unique design, the CL version is far more accurate than other translations, but only the original Greek language expresses God’s infallible NT word.

Fifth witness – Matt. 28:1

Concordant Literal Now it is the evening of the sabbaths. At the lighting up into one of the sabbaths came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulcher.

Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to study GIB for v. 1 Did you happen to note the KJV inconsistency in translating the Greek word for sabbaths occurring twice in this verse? We previously observed such glaring inconsistency in the first of these five Scriptures studied regarding the timing of Jesus’ resurrection, Mark 16:1-2, and will study this later on.

Recalling from Genesis 1 that evening precedes day, we understand the Holy Spirit inspired John to write this so that it is noted that the evenings of both sabbaths of that week had passed, and one of those sabbaths (the second) was entering into the day phase. This brings to mind our Lord’s repeated prophesying that He would be raised on the THIRD DAY, and also re-emphasizes that it is the sabbath, God’s all important day of rest.

Note how the CL version agrees with the Greek.

Sixth witness – John 20:19

  • Concordant Literal It being, then, the evening of that day, one of the sabbaths,* and the doors having been locked where the disciples were gathered together, because of the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and is saying to them, “Peace to you!”
  • Greek Interlinear Bible Click here to study GIB for v. 1 and scroll down to page 4 to view v. 19.
  • *The preceding verses of John 20 described Mary finding the empty tomb on the Sabbath morning, Mary telling the disciples, Peter and the other disciple confirming the tomb was empty, Jesus appearing to Mary at the tomb after the disciples left it, and Mary then going to the disciples and informing them that she had seen Him and what He’d told her. So, given the five previous witnesses above, in this verse “It being then the evening of that day, one of the sabbaths” means all that had occurred on “that day, one of the sabbaths,” and the Lord then appeared amidst His disciples during the evening of that day (which, per Genesis 1, was thus the beginning of the next day). All the Scriptural witnesses fit together regarding Christ being resurrected on the sabbath.
  • Note that this verse also describes that the disciples were assembled as the ecclesia (“church”) on the sabbath, NOT the “first day of the week.” This is the first of three Scriptures that do so, and we’ll soon study the other two, since (spoiler alert!) the same Greek word meaning “sabbath” in them is also mistranslated “first day of the week” in the KJV and most all modern translations.
  • Note how the CL version agrees with the Greek.

Discussion

The Greek clearly reveals via five witnesses (Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, Mark 16:9, and Matt. 28:1) that Jesus was resurrected on a sabbath morning; a sixth witness (John 20:19) confirms that that day had been a sabbath. There were two sabbaths that week: the special sabbath, Passover, and the usual sabbath on the seventh day.

Jesus could not have been resurrected on the morning of the special sabbath – Passover – even if Passover had occurred on a Sunday. This is because He had been crucified on Preparation day for the Passover (Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14, and John 19:42), and so would have been in the heart of the earth only one night if He had been resurrected early Passover morning, which is not the three days and three nights duration He prophesied in Matt. 12:38-40.

Therefore, Jesus had to have been resurrected on the usual sabbath morning (the seventh day), and He could NOT have been resurrected on the first day of the week(Sunday).

The Greek Interlinear Bible and the Concordant Literal examined herein thus provide this TRUE TIMELINE of these three most crucial days of history which FULFILLS HIS PROPHECIES:

  • The Passover Lamb is crucified on Wednesday (the day of Preparation of the lamb before the Passover sabbath).
  • Day #1 in the tomb, Passover, the special sabbath (Thursday, from Wednesday evening until Thursday evening)
  • Day #2 in the tomb, regular day after the sabbath when the women can buy spices and prepare per Mark 16:1 (Friday, from Thursday evening until Friday evening).
  • Day #3 Resurrection on the sabbath (the second and usual sabbath of Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1). Specifically, early on Saturday morning before the empty tomb was discovered, and before He then appeared to Mary (Mark 16:9).

It is noted regarding Jesus’ prophecy in Matt. 12:39-40 that His spending only a small portion of the third day in the heart of the earth is not problematic, as even a small portion of the last unit of time in the count – a day in this case – fulfills the prophecy. Prophetic Scriptures regularly disregard fractional remainders of a time-unit, whether it be a day, a week, a month, or a year.

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Exposure of Systematic Error in Translating the Greek Word for Sabbath (Strong’s G4521)

Notably, virtually all the modern English translations AND the KJV uniformly mistranslate the Greek word  for sabbath (Strong’s G4521) in those  6  specific  scripture  we studied in the Greek above to mean instead that Christ was resurrected on the “first day of the week” (Sunday).

Behold and study carefully now this key BibleHub link displaying the NAS and KJV translations of all 68 occurrences of G4521.  Notice that it is properly translated sabbath in 59 of the 68 occurrences in the NT.

Examining the 9 instances in which that specific Greek word for Sabbath (Strong’s G4521) is mistranslated reveals all but one of the errors specifically pertain either to the day of the week Christ arose from the dead or to the day of the week the ecclesia (“church”) met!

  1. The 6 Scriptural witnesses regarding the day our Lord was resurrected already studied herein via the Greek Interlinear Bible and the Concordant Literal NT are, once again, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, Mark 16:9, and Matt. 28:1 pertaining to the morning, and John 20:19 pertaining to all the day’s events.
    • The BibleHub link reveals that G4521 appears twice within both Matt. 28:1 and Mark 16:1-2, yet was translated as sabbath only once in each – that’s the epitome of inaccuracy!
    • To expose the absurdity of both the KJV and modern translations on this monumental matter, here are Matt. 28:1 and Mark 16:1-2 in the Greek Interlinear Bible, the Concordant Literal,  the KJV, and the NASB:
      • Matt. 28 GIB Click here to view the Greek in GIB for v. 1
      • Matt 28:1 CL Now it is the evening of the sabbaths. At the lighting up into one of the sabbaths came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulcher.
      • Matt 28:1 KJV In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.
      • Matt. 28:1 NASB Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
      • Mark 16:1-2 GIB Click here to view the Greek in GIB for vv. 1-2
      • Mark 16:1-2 CL 1 And, for the elapsing of the sabbath, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, buy spices, that, coming, they should be rubbing Him. 2 And, very early in the morning on one of the sabbaths, they are coming to the tomb at the rising of the sun.
      • Mark 16:1-2 KJV 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
      • Mark 16:1-2 NASB 1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
  2. Acts 20:7 and First Corinthians 16:2 are two more Scriptures used (falsely!) to teach that the ecclesia (“church”) met on Sunday instead of on the sabbath (we already studied the first, John 20:19 above); Acts 20:7 denotes the day of the week the ecclesia assembled in Troas, and 1 Cor. 16:2 denotes the day of the week the ecclesia in Corinth was instructed to take offerings. Realize the implications of  the ecclesia, Christ’s called-out ones, abandoning the sabbath and the day He was resurrected from the dead, and worshiping on the pagan sun-day instead!
  3. These two matters are perhaps the ultimate twisting of God’s word, and we’ve been partakers of the deception just as the translators were!
  4. To expose the absurdity of both the KJV and modern translations on this great matter, here are the Concordant Literal, the Greek Interlinear Bible, the KJV, and the NASB:
    • Acts 20:7 CL Now on one of the sabbaths, at our having gathered to break bread, Paul argued with them, being about to be off on the morrow. Besides, he prolonged the word unto midnight.
    • Acts 20:7 KJV And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
    • Acts 20:7 NASB On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
    • 1 Cor. 16:2 CL  On one of the sabbaths let each of you lay aside by himself in store that in which he should be prospered, that no collections may be occurring then, whenever I may come.
    • 1 Cor. 16:2 KJV Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
    • 1 Cor. 16:2 NASB On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.
    • Realize that the actual Greek words which mean “first day of the week” (whatever they are) obviously are not here in God’s inspired word!
    • Realize that those men who translated the Greek Scriptures over the centuries were so deceived by worldly mindsets and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church (and also the Protestant) that they came up with the bizarre explanations that they did as to why the specific Greek word which they translated sabbath in 59 other occurrences in the NT instead meant “first day of the week” SPECIFICALLY when pertaining to the day the ecclesia met and the day our Lord was resurrected!
  5. The only other occurrence of Strong’s G4521 being translated other than sabbath is in Luke 18:12, concerning Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. This is the lone Scripture in which translators chose to translate this word simply as “in the week” or “week.”
    • Luke 18:12 CL I am fasting twice sabbath. I am taking tithes from all whatever I am acquiring.
    • Luke 18:12 KJV I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

The  translators were deceived by doctrines of demons on these basic facts of Christianity, just as we were until now! They viewed the inspired Greek words before their eyes, repeatedly and uniformly teaching that Christ was raised from the dead on the sabbath and that the ecclesia gathered together on the sabbath as well. The specific Greek words designating “first day of the week” were not there, yet, valuing their comfortable paradigm of (false) understanding of God’s word more than they valued transcribing it accurately, they transcribed “first day of the week” in those eight key Scriptures instead of sabbath. Could we likewise be deceived on other matters of similar importance, unbeknownst to us today? We are blessed when we learn from such mistakes, and when we understand the importance of seeing to it that we are NOT taken captive by deceptive and hollow philosophy which depends on the traditions of men and by the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

+++

1 I am conjuring you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, Who is about to be judging the living and the dead, in accord with His advent and His kingdom: 2 Herald the word. Stand by it, opportunely, inopportunely, expose, rebuke, entreat, with all patience and teaching. 3 For the era will be when they will not tolerate sound teaching, but, their hearing being tickled, they will heap up for themselves teachers in accord with their own desires, 4 and, indeed, they will be turning their hearing away from the truth, yet will be turned aside to myths. 

2 Timothy 4:1-4 Concordant Version New Testament

+++

Conclusions

  1. The biblical Greek accounts of Matt. 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Mark 16:9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1 and John 20:19 reveal that Christ was resurrected on the usual sabbath that week (Saturday), NOT on the first day of the week (Sunday), as is almost universally mistranslated in the modern English translations as well as in the KJV. Furthermore, in two of those Scriptures the Greek word designating sabbath occurred twice, and was properly translated sabbath where it did not pertain to the day Christ was resurrected, but was mistranslated as “first day of the week” where it pertained to His resurrection.
  2. TRUE THREE-DAY TIMELINE which FULFILLS HIS PROPHECIES:
    • The Passover Lamb is crucified on Wednesday afternoon (the day of Preparation of the lamb before the Passover). He is placed in the tomb quickly before the special Sabbath begins, preventing the women from anointing Him then. (Yet per Mark 14:18, He had already been anointed!)
    • Day #1 in the tomb, Passover, the special sabbath (Thursday, from Wednesday evening until Thursday evening)
    • Day #2 in the tomb, regular day after the sabbath when the women can buy spices and prepare the perfumes for anointing His body per Mark 16:1 (Friday, from Thursday evening until Friday evening).
    • Day #3 Resurrection on the sabbath (the second and usual sabbath of Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1). Specifically, early on Saturday morning before the empty tomb was discovered, and before He then appeared to Mary.
  3. Comparing the Greek Scriptures per the Greek Interlinear Bible and the Concordant Literal New Testament with the modern translations and the KJV (such as via this key BibleHub page https://biblehub.com/greek/strongs_4521.htm) reveals the identical uniform discrepancies also occur in Acts 20:7, denoting the day of the week the ecclesia assembled together in Troas, 1Corinthians 16:2, denoting the day of the week the Corinthians were instructed to give their offerings, and in John 20:19, denoting the day of the week the disciples were gathered together when the resurrected Lord appeared in their midst. These Scriptures have been the basis of the false teaching that the ecclesia didn’t meet and worship on God’s sabbath, the day He resurrected His Son from the dead on our behalf, but on the pagan sun-day instead. (After meditating on it, you’re likely to appreciate this is a wicked twisting of Holy Scripture.)
  4. Our understanding of God’s word is rendered more accurate by bypassing the error introduced by inconsistency of word usage likely due to the doctrinal misunderstandings of the translators. The Greek Interlinear Bible* and the Concordant Literal New Testament* are designed to render specific and consistent English words or idioms drawn from the Scriptural contexts so as to eliminate such egregious errors as demonstrated in this study, while still rendering fluidity of expression. This enables those of us who seek purer truth but aren’t Greek and Hebrew scholars to do so quicker and more consistently than we would otherwise. Praise God for providing and revealing these vital resources to His people in order that we learn His truth, and demolish those strongholds of false doctrine with it! To Him be all the glory!

*Hebrew Old Testament versions are available also

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