What is the First Day of the Week in The Bible?

by oaeen
The Biblical Week

The concept of time, weeks, and days holds profound significance in the Bible, shaping religious practices, cultural norms, and theological understandings throughout history. The structure of a week, composed of seven days, is deeply rooted in the biblical narrative, and understanding the designation of these days offers insights into Judeo-Christian traditions. One of the most pivotal questions arising from this context is: What is the first day of the week in the Bible? This question is not merely about calendrical systems but intertwines with theology, worship practices, and historical development of religious observances.

The Biblical Week: Creation Narrative

The foundation of the biblical week is found in the Book of Genesis, specifically in the creation narrative. According to Genesis 1, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The sequence begins with “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:5, NIV). This passage is crucial as it establishes the concept of days and weeks in the biblical context. The days of creation proceed sequentially, culminating in the seventh day, which God sanctifies and rests upon, known as the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3).

In this creation account, the first day of the week is explicitly marked by the act of God separating light from darkness, initiating the cycle of days. This first day, therefore, is what we understand as Sunday in the contemporary Gregorian calendar, aligning with the Jewish and early Christian tradition that regards the day after the Sabbath (Saturday) as the first day of the week.

Sabbath Observance in Jewish Tradition

In Jewish tradition, the Sabbath (Shabbat) is observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening. The commandment to observe the Sabbath is enshrined in the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10, NIV). This observance emphasizes rest and worship, rooted in the creation narrative and the Exodus from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).

Given this structure, the first day of the Jewish week is Sunday. This aligns with the historical and religious context, where the week begins anew after the day of rest and sanctification. The Jewish calendar and religious practices consistently regard Sunday as the starting point of the weekly cycle.

Early Christian Worship and the Lord’s Day

Early Christianity inherited the Jewish week structure but introduced significant theological reinterpretations, particularly concerning the first day of the week. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, a foundational event in Christianity, is recorded in the Gospels as occurring on the first day of the week: “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb” (Matthew 28:1, NIV).

This event, known as the Resurrection, transformed the first day of the week into a central day of worship and celebration for early Christians. The first day of the week, Sunday, became known as the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10), a term reflecting its significance in commemorating the Resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles further indicate that early Christians gathered on the first day of the week for communal worship and breaking of bread (Acts 20:7).

Theological Implications of the First Day

The designation of Sunday as the first day of the week carries profound theological implications. It symbolizes new creation and renewal, paralleling the creation narrative in Genesis. The Resurrection of Jesus on this day is seen as the dawn of a new covenant and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, marking the transition from the old covenant (symbolized by the Sabbath) to the new covenant (symbolized by the Lord’s Day).

This theological shift influenced the development of Christian liturgy and ecclesiastical calendars. Sunday worship became a hallmark of Christian identity, differentiating it from Jewish Sabbath observance and establishing a rhythm of worship and rest centered around the Resurrection.

Historical Evolution of the Weekly Calendar

The understanding of the first day of the week has evolved alongside the development of calendars and cultural practices. The seven-day week, with its origins in ancient Near Eastern and Jewish traditions, was adopted by the Roman Empire and later by Western civilization. The Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, standardized the week with Sunday as the first day, aligning with Christian liturgical practices.

This calendrical system was disseminated globally through European colonization and influence, making the Sunday-first structure a common standard in many parts of the world. However, variations exist; for instance, in some cultures and modern business practices, Monday is considered the first day of the week. Despite these variations, the biblical and historical foundation remains rooted in Sunday as the first day.

Contemporary Observances and Practices

In contemporary Judaism, the week still begins with Sunday, following the ancient tradition. The Sabbath remains central to Jewish religious life, emphasizing rest, worship, and community from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

Christian denominations vary in their observance of Sunday. For many, Sunday remains a day of worship, rest, and reflection, honoring the Resurrection. The concept of the Lord’s Day continues to shape Christian liturgical practices, with Sunday services, Eucharist celebrations, and communal gatherings forming the core of weekly worship.

However, secularization and modern work schedules have influenced the perception and observance of weekly cycles. In many countries, the weekend comprises Saturday and Sunday, with Monday marking the start of the workweek. This practical adaptation coexists with religious traditions, reflecting the dynamic interplay between ancient customs and contemporary life.


The question of the first day of the week in the Bible is intricately tied to theological, historical, and cultural contexts. Rooted in the creation narrative of Genesis, the designation of Sunday as the first day reflects ancient Jewish tradition and has been reinterpreted in Christian theology through the lens of the Resurrection. This understanding shaped the development of liturgical practices, ecclesiastical calendars, and cultural norms throughout history.

As we explore the significance of May 30th in Canadian history, we are reminded of the rich tapestry of events and milestones that have shaped the nation’s identity and trajectory. From the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company to the creation of Nunavut, the dedication of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial to the inauguration of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the events that transpire on this day offer insights into the complexity and diversity of Canadian history. Reflecting on the significance of May 30th in Canadian history allows us to appreciate the enduring legacy of the past and the ongoing evolution of the Canadian story.

In conclusion, the first day of the week in the Bible, recognized as Sunday, carries profound implications for religious observance, cultural practices, and historical development. This designation, rooted in ancient traditions and reinterpreted through the lens of Christian theology, continues to shape the rhythm of worship and rest in contemporary religious life. Understanding the biblical and historical foundations of the weekly cycle enriches our appreciation of the enduring legacy of these traditions and their relevance in today’s world.

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