3. The word often is used in the sense of an indefinite period of time: the whole creative period (Gen 2:4), day of God’s wrath (Job 20:28), day of trouble (Ps 20:1), day of the Lord of hosts (Isa 2:12), day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2) day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).

The pl. is sometimes used in the sense of “time of,” as in the “days of Abraham” (Gen 26:18), the “days of Noah” (Matt 24:37), or of the span of human life, as in “the days of Adam...were eight hundred years” (Gen 5:4), “I will lengthen your days” (1 Kings 3:14).

The eternal God is called “the Ancient of Days” (Dan 7:9, 13).

4. Many times the word is used fig. When Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work” (John 9:4), “day” means the time of opportunity for service. Jesus said that because His disciples saw “the light of this world” as they walked “in the day” (John 11:9), and He Himself claimed to be “the light of the world” (John 8:12). Paul called Christians “sons of light and sons of the day,” contrasting them with those who were “of the night or of darkness” (1 Thess 5:5). When Paul wrote, “the night is far gone, the day is at hand” (Rom 13:12), he meant by “day” the time of eschatological salvation. There will be perpetual day in the final state of perfection (Rev 21:25).

5. There are special days set aside for and belonging in a peculiar sense to Jehovah, such as the Sabbath day (Gen 2:3; Exod 20:8-11), the Passover (Exod 12:14), and the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29-31). On these days no labor was to be done and special rituals were observed.

7. The phrase, “the last days,” seems to include in its broadest meaning the whole period from the cross to the Second Advent (Acts 2:17; 2 Tim 3:1; Heb 1:2; 2 Peter 3:3, 4).


Crem (1892), 275-277; BDB (1952), 398-401; O. Cullmann, Christ and Time (1950); Arndt (1957), 346-348; W. G. Kummel, Promise and Fulfilment (1961); TWNT, II (1964), 243-253.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

This common word has caused some trouble to plain readers, because they have not noticed that the word is used in several different senses in the English Bible. When the different uses of the word are understood the difficulty of interpretation vanishes. We note several different uses of the word:

(1) It sometimes means the time from daylight till dark. This popular meaning is easily discovered by the context, e. g. Ge 1:5; 8:22, etc. The marked periods of this daytime were morning, noon and night, as with us. See Ps 55:17. The early hours were sometimes called "the cool of the day" (Ge 3:8). After the exile the day. or daytime was divided into twelve hours and the night into twelve (see Mt 20:1-12; Joh 11:9; Ac 23:23); 6 a. m. would correspond to the first hour, 9 a. m. to the third; 12 noon to the sixth, etc. The hours were longer during the longer days and shorter during the shorter days, since they always counted 12 hours between sunrise and sunset.

(2) Day also means a period of 24 hours, or the time from sunset to sunset. In Bible usage the day begins with sunset (see Le 23:32; Ex 12:15-20; 2Co 11:25, where night is put before day). See Day and Night.

(4) It is used figuratively also in Joh 9:4, where "while it is day" means "while I have opportunity to work, as daytime is the time for work." In 1Th 5:5,8, "sons of the day" means spiritually enlightened ones.

(5) We must also bear in mind that with God time is not reckoned as with us (see Ps 90:4; 2Pe 3:8).

(6) The apocalyptic use of the word "day" in Da 12:11; Re 2:10, etc., is difficult to define. It evidently does not mean a natural day. See Apocalypse.

(7) On the meaning of "day" in the story of Creation we note (a) the word "day" is used of the whole period of creation (Ge 2:4); (b) these days are days of God, with whom one day is as a thousand years; the whole age or period of salvation is called "the day of salvation"; see above. So we believe that in harmony with Bible usage we may understand the creative days as creative periods. See also ASTRONOMY; CREATION; EVOLUTION.

G. H. Gerberding

Figurative: The word "day" is used figuratively in many senses, some of which are here given.

(1) The span of human life.--Ge 5:4: "And the days of Adam .... were eight hundred years." "And if thou wilt walk .... then I will lengthen thy days" (1Ki 3:14; compare Ps 90:12; Isa 38:5).

(2) An indefinite time.--Existence in general: Ge 3:14: "All the days of thy life" (compare Ge 21:34; Nu 9:19; Jos 22:3; Lu 1:24; Ac 21:10).

(3) A set time.--Ge 25:24: "And when her days .... were fulfilled"; Da 12:13: "Thou shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days" (compare Le 12:6; Da 2:44).

(4) A historic period.--Ge 6:4: "The Nephilim were in the earth in those days"; Jud 17:6: "In those days there was no king in Israel" (compare 1Sa 3:1; 1Ch 5:17; Ho 2:13).

(5) Past time.--Ps 18:18: "the day of my calamity"; Ps 77:5: "I have considered the days of old" (of Mic 7:20; Mal 3:7; Mt 23:30).

(6) Future time.--De 31:14: "Thy days approach that thou must die"; Ps 72:7: "In his days shall ...." (compare Eze 22:14; Joe 2:29; Mt 24:19; 2Pe 3:3; Re 9:6).

(7) The eternal.--In Da 7:9,13, where God is called "the ancient of days."

(8) A season of opportunity.--Joh 9:4: "We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (compare Ro 13:12,13; 1Th 5:5-8). See Day (4), above.

(9) Time of salvation.--Specially referring to the hopes and prospects of the parousia (see Eschatology of the New Testament). Ro 13:12: "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand."

Henry E. Dosker