Why do we meet Sunday? part 2

Thanks to Luisa for pointing out the connection to Pentecost.

Acts 20:7 has more in it than initially meets the eye.  But we don’t see it because we have no background.  Let’s look at the words in question.  First, here is the verse from the King James as we are used to it:

Act 20:7  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.

Notice first of all that the word “day” is italicized.  It is not in the Greek.  It should read “first of the week”, except that “week” in the Greek is plural, according to Robinson’s morphological tags:

[*Robinson*]
Part of Speech: definite arTicle
Case: Genitive
Number: Plural
Gender: Neuter

So it should read “first of the weeks”.  Looking through all the translations in our Bible study program, we find Godbey’s translation has a different reading:

7 And on the first of the Sabbaths we being assembled to break bread, Paul spoke to them, being about to depart the following day, and continued his discourse till midnight:

Where does Godbey get “Sabbaths” from?  First let’s look at Strong’s for this verse:

Act 20:7  AndG1161 uponG1722 theG3588 firstG3391 day of theG3588 week,G4521 when theG3588 disciplesG3101 came togetherG4863 to breakG2806 bread,G740 PaulG3972 preachedG1256 unto them,G846 readyG3195 to departG1826 on theG3588 morrow;G1887 andG5037 continuedG3905 his speechG3056 untilG3360 midnight.G3317

“Week” is G4521:

G4521
σάββατον
sabbaton; of Heb. or. H7676; the Sabbath, i.e. the seventh day (of the week): - Sabbath (58), Sabbaths (1), week (9).

So this word “Weeks” is also translated “Sabbaths” when plural (Acts 17:2).  And why would that be important?  Going back a verse to 20:6 we read:

Act 20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

So they had been at Philippi for Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, spent the next week traveling, and the week after that in Troas.  From Passover to Pentecost is seven weeks and a day (50 days, Penta is five).

Let’s go to Wikipedia and look up Pentacost:

Pentecost is historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.

Pentacost is Shavuot.  Let’s look up Shavuot in Wikipedia:

Shavuot (or Shavuos , in Ashkenazi usage; Shavuʿoth in Classical and Mizrahi Hebrew Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. “Weeks”)

In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, Ḥag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22 , Deuteronomy 16:10 ); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, Ḥag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16 ), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הבכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26 ). The Mishnah and Talmud refer to Shavuot as Atzeret (Hebrew: עצרת, a solemn assembly), as it provides closure for the festival activities during and following the holiday of Passover. Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews gave it the name Pentecost (πεντηκοστή, “fiftieth day“).

So Shavuot is “Weeks”, or the “Festival of Weeks”.   If we understood Jewish holidays and the feasts, this would be easier.  Godbey is correct to use “Sabbaths”, and Luke is counting off the weeks until Pentecost.  Luke still puts the day as the first, so it is the beginning of Sunday (our Saturday evening) but it’s not just noted because it’s Sunday.

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