“The First Day of the Week”—Mian Sabbaton/Mia Ton Sabbaton Explained

Matthew 28:1, First of the week. 

Is this phrase only emphasizing that Yeshua’s resurrection was on the first day of the week, or is it also telling us something else? This verse reads:

 “In the end [Greek: de] of the sabbath [Greek: sabbaton], as it began to dawn [Greek: epiphosko] toward the first day [a supplied word which is not in the Greek] of the week [Greek: sabbaton], came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” (KJV)

The other parallel passages in the Gospel accounts include:

And when the sabbath [Greek: sabbaton] was past [diaginomai], Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. (Mark 16:1, KJV)

Now upon the first [Greek: mia] day [a supplied word which is not in original Greek] of the week [Greek: sabbaton], very early in the morning [Greek: orthros] , they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (Luke 24:1, KJV)

Now one of the week, while still very early, they came on the tomb … (Luke 24:1, J.P. Green Interlinear)

The first [Greek: mia] day [a supplied word which is not in original Greek] of the week [Greek: sabbaton] cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. (John 20:1, KJV)

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word shabbaton as used in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Acts 20:7,11 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 though translated in the KJV as “the first day of the week” literally and idiomatically means, “one of the sabbaths” signifying “the first day after the sabbath.” (p. 810)

Some scholars see this as a reference to the beginning count of the Feast of Weeks since in all the above references either that Feast or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is mentioned in the textual context of each passage.

The Interlinear Bible of J.P. Green translates sabbaton in Matthew 28:1, John 20:19, and Acts 20:7 as sabbaths, though he translates the same word not as sabbaths, but first of the week or of a week in Mark 16:2 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 respectively. Green translates the phrase containing sabbaton in Luke 24:1 as “But on one of the week, while still very early…” Likewise, Young’s Literal Translation reads, “And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths…” The Bishops Bible of 1568 translates John 20:1 as, “The first day of ye Sabbothes, came Marie Magdalene early, when it was yet darke, unto the sepulchre, and sawe the stone taken awaye from the grave.”

On Acts 20:7, Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament admits that sabbaton is plural in the Greek, though he reference it as a singular word saying, “The plural [is] used for the singular, in imitation of Hebrew form. The noun Sabbath is often used after numerals in the signification of a week. See Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; John 20:19” (vol. 1, p. 558).

The Greek word sabbaton, as noted, is from the Hebrew word shabbaton, which is from the Hebrew root word shabbat, which can mean “weeks of Sabbaths.” Shabbatown (Strong’s H7677, from H7676) means “a special holy day” and is used in reference to the weekly Sabbath, Day of Atonement, the sabbatical year, Day of Trumpets and the first and last days of the Feast of Tabernacles and is translated in the KJV as rest (8 times), sabbath (3 times). Examples of its usage include:

  • The weekly Sabbath: Exod 31:15; 16:23; 35:2; Lev 23:3
  • The Day of Atonement: Lev. 16:31; 23:32
  • The sabbatical year: Lev 25:4
  • The Day of Trumpets: Lev 23:24
  • The First day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day (Shemini Atzeret): Lev 23:34

What can we conclude from this? The word translated for first [as in “first of the weeks”] is the Greek word mia which, according to the Greek lexicons, refers to the cardinal number one and is not the ordinal number first, which is a completely different Greek word. Why would the writers of the Gospel accounts of the empty tomb emphasize literally week one? Could it be that they are referring to week one of the counting of the omer the seven weeks between the weekly Sabbath within the seven day festival of Hag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and Shavout (Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks)? The Torah specifically speaks of the day after the Sabbath when the high priest would lift heavenward in a waving motion the freshly cut barley for Elohim to accept (Lev 23:9–14). This event, which would occur on the first day of the week (Sunday) would also commence the counting of the 49 days (seven weeks) of the omer concluding with the celebration of Shavuot (Pentecost, literally meaning to count fifty) on the fiftieth day (Lev 23:15–16).

It seems likely that not only did Yeshua resurrect just after the end of the Sabbath, and barely into the evening portion of the first day, but that he ascended to heaven on the first day, as well, when the priests were waving the barely omer—on Wave Sheaf or First Fruits Day.

Therefore, the Gospel writers were emphasizing a “morrow after the Sabbath” or first day (Lev 23:15) wave sheaf offering, which was a prophetic shadow-picture of Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension to his Father in heaven (John 20:17) to be accepted as the first of the first fruits of those resurrected from the dead (1 Cor 15:20–23) as well as the commencement of the counting of the seven weeks leading to Shavuot (Pentecost).

Interestingly, E.W. Bullinger, the noted late nineteenth-century British Bible scholar, linguist and author of the Companion Bible has come to the same conclusion. Bullinger says in his Companion Bible commentary on John 20:1, states that the phrase “On the first day of the week” should read “on the first (day) of the Sabbath.” He goes on to explain that this is passage is a reference to the Leviticus 23:15–17. On the day that the disciples found the empty tomb was “the first of the days for reckoning the seven Sabbaths to Pentecost. On this day, therefore, the Lord became the firstfruits (verses 10–11) of God’s resurrection harvest (1 Cor 15:23).” (The Companion Bible, p. 1570).

 

8 thoughts on ““The First Day of the Week”—Mian Sabbaton/Mia Ton Sabbaton Explained

  1. In the key resurrection verse of Matthew 28:1 (below) the original Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ appears twice in the same sentence and is plural in meaning at both instances;

    “οψε δε σαββατων τη επιφωσκουση εις μιαν σαββατων ηλθεν μαρια η μαγδαληνη και η αλλη μαρια θεωρησαι τον ταφον”

    GREEK TEXT – STEPHENS (Editor) 1550  – TEXTUS RECEPTUS

    The full sentence of Matthew 28:1 would render closely like;

    “Late (οψε) but (δε) sabbaths (σαββατων) to the (τη) lighting-up (επιφωσκουση) into (εις) one of (μιαν) sabbaths (σαββατων) Mary (μαρια) Magdalene (μαγδαληνη) and (και ) the (η) other (αλλη) Mary (μαρια) observed (θεωρησαι) the (τον) sepulchre (ταφον).”

    What could this possibly mean according to Greek Syntax with the contrasting ‘sabbaths’ in the very same sentence having a duality sense of definition with a co-existence between one and another??

    Hence, Matthew 28:1 is describing details in meaning like; ‘Late (adverb) (post-after-end) (genitive of separation) but (with exception of the annual Passover) sabbaths (plural) as it was lighting up (twi-lighting e.g. Psm 148:3) on one (a cardinal number) of the (a partitive- genitive case function) sabbaths (plural)…… (etc).

    Thus a description that pertains to a time interval when the Passover festal period was finished and had already completed (e.g. ‘End’, opse-adverbial) the 2 High sabbaths (Nisan 15 & 21 i.e. Ex 12:16) of the Passover period onto a weekly sabbath ( 1 of 7 ) or one sabbath (Nisan 23) from a group of seven weekly sabbaths within the 50 day counted duration of time between Passover (i.e. from the sheaf offering – Lev 23:11,15,16) leading up to Pentecost.

  2. The phrase ‘the first day of the week’ has been traditionally perceived, interpreted, and understood to read as ‘the first day of the week’, or less commonly as ‘the first of sabbaths’. However, let us consider specifically the Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ which is transliterated as ‘sabbaton’ where the literal English rendering is translated as ‘sabbaths’ and is plural of meaning in line with Greek Syntax rules.

    In the key resurrection verse of Matthew 28:1 (below) the original Koine Greek word ‘σαββατων’ appears twice in the same sentence and is plural in meaning at both instances;

    “οψε δε σαββατων τη επιφωσκουση εις μιαν σαββατων ηλθεν μαρια η μαγδαληνη και η αλλη μαρια θεωρησαι τον ταφον”

    GREEK TEXT – STEPHENS (Editor) 1550  – TEXTUS RECEPTUS

    The full sentence of Matthew 28:1 would render closely like;

    “Late (οψε) but (δε) sabbaths (σαββατων) to the (τη) lighting-up (επιφωσκουση) into (εις) one of (μιαν) sabbaths (σαββατων) Mary (μαρια) Magdalene (μαγδαληνη) and (και ) the (η) other (αλλη) Mary (μαρια) observed (θεωρησαι) the (τον) sepulchre (ταφον).”

    What could this possibly mean according to Greek Syntax with the contrasting ‘sabbaths’ in the very same sentence having a duality sense of definition with a co-existence between one and another??

    Hence, Matthew 28:1 is describing details in meaning like; ‘Late (adverb) (post-after-end) (genitive of separation) but (with exception of the annual Passover) sabbaths (plural) as it was lighting up (twi-lighting e.g. Psm 148:3) on one (a cardinal number) of the (a partitive- genitive case function) sabbaths (plural)…… (etc).

    Thus a description that pertains to a time interval when the Passover festal period was finished and had already completed (e.g. ‘End’, opse-adverbial) the 2 High sabbaths (Nisan 15 & 21 i.e. Ex 12:16) of the Passover period onto a weekly sabbath ( 1 of 7 ) or one sabbath (Nisan 23) from a group of seven weekly sabbaths within the 50 day counted duration of time between Passover (i.e. from the sheaf offering – Lev 23:11,15,16) leading up to Pentecost.

    Then, Yehoshua would have arrived at Bethany on Friday Nisan 8th being six days (Jhn 12:1) before the Passover (preparation day) on Thursday Nisan 14th (full moon), and ate the Passover meal (on the first day of unleavevened bread) at the precise designated time (Mth 26:17, Mrk 14:12, Luke 22:7) on the nightly beginning of Friday Nisan 15th. He was cut off in AD 34 being the prophetic 69th Sabbatical year (Dan 9:25,26) since the temple of Jerusalem had been reconstructed on Nisan in 445 BC.

    There He was crucified on Wednesday Nisan 20th on the Passover preparation day (Jhn 19:31) before Thursday Nisan 21 = the seventh day of unleavened bread (a Holy Convocation Day) and would resurrect ‘3 days and 3 nights’ later (Sign of Jonah/Mth 12:39, 40) on the weekly Sabbath late afternoon of Saturday Nisan 23rd. This particular Divine inspired day being one integral Sabbath in a week of (7) sabbaths within the 50 day period leading up to Pentecost.

    • Thank you, but this seems like a lot of info without making a point; therefore, I’m not sure what your main point is. Whatever the case, it seems that we agree and teach what you’re stating. Have been doing so for years. It’s a matter of record.

      BTW, is what you’ve written your work based on your understanding of Koine Greek, or did you copy and paste this info from another source? If so, please cite the source. Not trying to be insulting, but from time time people do this. (E.g, just a couple of days ago on this same blog, someone actually quoted me from an article I had written previously on this blog as if they were the one making the statement. No kidding!) If you do indeed have a deeper understanding of Greek, as you purport, then I’d like to know your background, so that we can ask you questions from time to time and draw on your expertise.

      I studied Greek for a year at the academic level a few years back, but like a lot of things, if you don’t use it, you get rusty. It would be nice to have someone in the wings to rely on who has a better working knowledge than I do of Greek, so that we could ask questions.

    • Not sure what you mean. Please explain. We believe and teach that Yeshua was in the grave a full three days and three nights as he prophesied he would be, and not parts of three days and nights as the mainstream church teaches.

      The length of time Yeshua was in the grave was not the point of this article. That’s another discussion outside the scope of the article. We deal with the subject elsewhere.

      • Nathan, if the Lord “was in the grave a full three days and three nights” then it means exactly 72 hours. If that is so, how would you harmonized these verses?

        Matthew says in 12:40 – “three days and three nights,”

        Mark says in 8:31 – “after three days.”

        John says in 2:19 – “in three days,”

        Who is correct among these 3 apostles? Is one of them correct and the other two are wrong?

        They are definitely referring to ONLY ONE EVENT, and that is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus!

        Ten times Jesus said “on the third day”

        Five times He said “in” or “within three days”

        Two times He said “after three days”

        And then the controversial “three days and three nights” He said it only ONCE.

        “after three days’ would certainly have to be interpreted as longer than 72 hours.

        “Within three days” could mean anytime less than 72 hours,

        and “three days and three nights” could only mean exactly 72 hours

        And how about “the third day” which represents even greater problems.

        Is Jesus Himself guilty of compounding the confusion, because He used all of the expressions at different times in speaking of His death and resurrection?

        AGAIN, how do you reconcile what Matthew, Mark and John said?

        Five (5) times Jesus said, “on the third day”. Read Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 13:32; 24:46.

        ANOTHER QUESTION:

        1. What is the Biblical counting of days? Isn’t it sunset to sunset” and the fraction of the day is counted as one whole day?

        Luke 24:20-21 ESV say:

        21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, TODAY IS THE THIRD DAY since these things were done.”

        Verse one says this day is Sunday, the first day of the week and the two speaking to Jesus say that He was crucified and this is the THIRD DAY since this happened.

        So we are told that the “third day” is this day being Sunday. Let’s count backwards and see what day Christ was crucified on.

        Sunday is the third day

        Saturday (Sabbath) is the second day

        And so Friday is the first day and the day of crucifixion.

        WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON ALL OF THESE?

      • We have discussed these points here and elsewhere, so I’m not going to rehash my position. Not interested in arguing. If you want to believe that Yeshua was a liar when he clearly stated that he would be in the grave for three days and three nights (i.e. 72 hours) as Jonah was in the fish, be my guest, but I won’t go there.

        In believing that Yeshua was not in the grave for 72 hours, the mainstream church has, in essence, called Yeshua a liar. I shake in my boots to think how they will have to answer to him on judgment day for making such a railing allegation against our LORD and Savior and the Creator of the Universe and them!

        If other Scriptures don’t seem to line up with Yeshua’s statement in Matthew 12:40, the problem isn’t with the other statements in the holy and divinely inspired word of Elohim, the problem is with humans whose understanding is limited and with so-called highly “educated,” and often non-believing idiots who call themselves “scholars” as they employ demonic and secular humanistic tactics (called “theology”) to twist the word of Elohim to put it at odds with itself. These are the same “scholars” who’ve twisted the words of Paul to make him say things he never meant and the are against the words of Yeshua, the other apostolic writers and the rest of the Bible by saying the Torah was done away with, nailed to the cross, is no longer for us today, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

        With all due respect, I will not answer your comments until you deal first with the larger issues I have just brought to the light above and you tell me why I should trust these “scholars” who treat the Word of Elohim and Yeshua the Messiah with such brazen impunity, rebellious impudence and hubris. And why do people even listen to and follow these false teachers even against the clear words of Yeshua????? I’ll tell you why:

        “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)

        “The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so.” (Jer 5:23)

  3. Here’s an article from [edited out].

    From Natan: This blog is open to posting the respectful and righteous comments and questions of its readers. We do not allow the posting of articles written by others, or the mentioning of websites, ministries or posting links to other websites. This is because I don’t have the time to read everything or vet everything out to ascertain its validity biblically.

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