Sunday: Christian Sabbath, Lord’s Day, or Something Else – Problems with the Traditionalist Lord’s Day Position, Part 2

For the entire series, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

After a long hiatus, I am offering up the next to final part of my series from last year on Sunday and how we are to view it as Christians. I encourage you to review the previous posts to get back into the swing of what I’ve been writing here. I am continuing to list several problems I see with the traditionalist position on the Lord’s Day.

Fourth, there is a definite reference to the “Lord’s Day” in Rev. 1:10. Dr. Beale helpfully notes that there is a unique adjective for “Lord’s” used here that is not used much elsewhere. It is not correct to take that as a reference to the prophetical Day of the Lord. The very early 2nd century testimony of the post-apostolic church seems to support that Sunday came to be known as the “Lord’s Day” and that the church was gathering that day. Some of these references may be within a generation of when the Revelation was written, and that makes it possible that the two phrases have the same reference. Still, this later evidence seems to me to be insufficient justification to reach such a conclusion. Even if John meant to say “I was in the Spirit on [Sunday],” it falls short of requiring any kind of particular practice or significance for Sunday. We can justify our worship on Sunday as our honoring of the day Jesus rose from the dead, but that is not the same as observing a weekly Lord’s Day as an institution.

Fifth, with regard to Dr. Chafer’s argument from Psalm 118:19, his connection is interesting but troublesome. First, the description there I always thought had connection to what happened on Palm Sunday, though it could be better linked to the day of His resurrection. Second, if this idea is applicable to the church, it makes more sense to rejoice in the Day of the Lord’s resurrection rather than rejoice on a day that is devoted to commemorate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection. We can choose to commemorate this day of resurrection on the same day of the week as He actually did rise from the dead, but this is not the same as regarding every Sunday as a day mandated as commemoration.

Sixth, there is the still more curious line of reasoning from Dr. Chafer, who typically (and sometimes, even oftentimes, rightly) calls for a distinction between law and grace. He seems to argue that there is a theological justification for the Lord’s Day to serve as an anti-type of sorts to the Sabbath. He upholds his (albeit valid) distinction between law and grace with the Sabbath Vs. Lord’s Day as a center piece Yet, he seems to me to contradict himself just a bit as he tries to forbid worldly pleasures and to call for a special day of spiritual activity. On the one hand, he tries to say the Lord’s Day is not subject to rules since it is of the dispensation of grace. Yet, he still suggests rest is not something fitting for the Lord’s Day or entertainment. It just doesn’t make sense to me. He wants it all to be driven by God’s Spirit at work, rather than rules, and that is good. But in essence, he seems to make rules that are a part of the “law of Christ” effectively. I have no objection with there being rules in a law of Christ, and I agree that we ought to focus on the grace of God empowering us rather than legal rules. But, Chafer still seems to just tangle a bit of a web that is overstated—and sometimes he does do that. I love his writing, but at times you do have to just move on.

I encourage you to read my previous posts (see above) since it has been a while. I hope in the coming month or so to wrap up this series with some concluding comments on why I do not accept the position that Sunday is a divinely ordained day for Christian purposes.