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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(he kuriake hemera):
Formerly it was supposed that the adjective kuriakos (translated "the Lord’s") was a purely Christian word, but recent discoveries have proved that it was in fairly common use in the Lord). And it is even possible that the full phrase, "the Lord’s day," was coined as a contrast to the phrase, "the Augustean day" he sebaste hemera), a term that seems to have been used in some parts of the Empire to denote days especially dedicated in honor of Caesar-worship.before Christian influence had been felt. In secular use it signified "imperial," "belonging to the lord"--the emperor--and so its adoption by Christianity in the sense "belonging to the Lord"--to Christ--was perfectly easy. Indeed, there is reason to suppose that in the days of Domitian, when the issue had been sharply defined as "Who is Lord? Caesar or Christ?" the use of the adjective by the church was a part of the protest against Caesar-worship (see
"Lord’s day" in the
3. In the New Testament:
The hebdomadal observance of Sunday points back of Corinth to Jewish-Christian soil, but it is impossible to say when the custom first began. Not, apparently, in the earliest days, for
5. Sunday and the Sabbath:
Sunday, however, was sharply distinguished from the Sabbath. One was the day on which worship was offered in a specifically Christian form, the other was a day of ritual rest to be observed by all who were subject? the Law of Moses through circumcision (
6. Later History:
The delay occurred, however, and for human beings in the ordinary routine of life there are necessary, not only set periods of worship, but set periods of relaxation from routine to make worship profitable. And the Christian fundamental doctrine of mercy demands that Christianity, where she has the power, shall give to men relief from the drain of continuous toil.
The formulation of general rules to carry these principles into effect, however, belongs to a period outside New Testament times, and so does not come within the scope of this Encyclopedia. It is enough to say that the ecclesiastical rules for Sunday were felt to be quite distinct from the laws for Sabbath observance, and that Alcuin (733?-804) is the first to hold that the church had transferred the Sabbath rules as a whole to Sunday. This principle is still maintained in Roman Catholic theology, but at the Reformation was rejected uncompromisingly by both Lutherans (Augsb. Conf., II, 7) and Calvinists (Helvet. Conf., XXIV, 1-2) in favor of a literally apostolic freedom (Calvin even proposed to adopt Thursday in place of Sunday). The appearance of the opposite extreme of a genuinely "legalistic" Sabbatarianism in the thoroughly Evangelical Scotch and English Puritanism is an anomaly that is explained by reaction from the extreme laxity of the surroundings.
Sunday was fixed as the day for Christian worship by general apostolic practice, and the academic possibility of an alteration hardly seems worth discussing. If a literal apostolicity is to be insisted upon, however, the "breaking of bread" must be made part of the Sunday service. Rest from labor for the sake of worship, public and private, is intensely desirable, since the regaining of the general apostolic enthusiasm seems unattainable, but the New Testament leaves us quite free as to details. Rest from labor to secure physical and mental renewal rests on a still different basis, and the working out of details involves a knowledge of sociological and industrial conditions, as well as a knowledge of religious principles. It is the task of the pastor to combine the various principles and to apply them to the particular conditions of his people in their locality, in accordance with the rules that his own church has indubitably the right to lay down--very special attention being given, however, to the highly important matter of the peculiar problem offered by children. In all cases the general principles underlying the rules should be made clear, so that they will not appear as arbitrary legalism, and it is probably best not to use the term "Sabbath" for Sunday. Under certain conditions great freedom may be desirable, and such is certainly not inconsistent with our liberty in Christ. But experience, and not least of all the experience of the first churches of the Reformation, has abundantly shown that much general laxness in Sunday rules invariably results disastrously.
See further, ETHICS OF JESUS, I, 3, (1).
LITERATURE. For the linguistic matters, Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 1910, 361-66. Hessey’s Sunday (ed 1880) ("," 1860) contains a good summary of the history of the problems. Zockler’s "Sonntagsfeier," PRE, edition 3, XVIII, 1906, 521-29 is the best general survey. In Sch-Herz this article ("Sunday") is harmed by abbreviation, but an exhaustive bibliography is added.