What is the “eighth day” you may ask; surely we know there are only seven days in a week!
But in ancient times, Sunday – which was also known as the first day of the week, was also referred to as the eighth day by Christians.
This day was considered a holy day from the earliest of times by Christians (despite some weak arguments that Constantine, or the Pope, “changed the Sabbath” some 400 years later), and this was because it was the day on which Christ rose from the dead!
I will make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. For that reason, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.
Barnabas, in his epistle, makes the first recorded mention of this day as specifically called the “eighth” which is as early as somewhere between 70 - 130 AD.
But the concept of an "eighth day" isn't new and is found throughout the Scriptures in the Old Testament, specifically in the last of the great feasts: the feast of booths (Leviticus 23:33 onwards), and circumcision on the eighth day after birth. The priests and Nazirites also had seven days of cleansing before offering sacrifices specifically on the eighth day (Numbers 6, Leviticus 8:33ff).
The apostles pick up on these themes, like with the eight people, including Noah, who were “saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20) and how we now have a spiritual circumcision of the heart instead of a physical procedure (Romans 2:29). But if we look back at the gospel in John 7:37-38 and also John 8:12, we can see that during the festival of booths Jesus used the symbols of that festival (water and light) to declare that he himself is the true fulfillment of that! You can read a more in depth explanation of that at jewsforjesus.org.
After Barnabas, we find scattered references in other early writings which show understanding of Christ's fulfillment in these things – such as Justin Martyr, who wrote saying that the eighth day “possessed a certain mysterious significance, which the seventh day did not”; and Cyprian who wrote that this was also the fulfilment of the Jewish practice of circumcision on the eighth day after birth (Genesis 17:12) which was a shadow of Christ rising from the dead to give us “the circumcision of the Spirit”. This symbolism and spiritual fulfillment carries on throughout various early authors too, and is also sometimes referred to as the “Lord’s Day”, which is a phrase you might recognise from Revelation 1:10 too.
But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.
As early as Acts, we can see the believers all began to gather and teach on a Sunday (the first day):
On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.
Praise and worship was held on Sunday’s because of the resurrection – this day was to be a celebration of what Jesus accomplished and what that now means for the rest of us who are in Christ: being a part of the New Covenant, which makes us a new creation through baptism and through our outworking of the faith, we reconcile the world back to God as co-workers with Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:9)!
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
Resting with God
This is God showing that things work differently now. No longer is he only found in a physical brick and mortar temple, or a specific holy place (as Jesus points out in John 4:21) – now God dwells with us and in us because our bodies ARE the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)!
Because of that, we have now entered the fulfillment of the Sabbath – which is Jesus, who is our Sabbath rest.
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all the types and shadows which the Old Testament predicted (Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-6), and that includes having a certain day for rest and worship.
Hebrews 4:3, 9-10
For we who have believed enter that rest … So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.
Dwelling with God
Compare what Paul says about believers being the temple, with what is declared in Revelation about this very concept:
2 Corinthians 6:16b
For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will live in them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.”
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them”
This is why everything is new! Heaven will never be the same again, and neither will the Earth! God has set up a new temple where he dwells now: in us!
Paul had grasped this concept and if you read through his letters you will notice that he really hammers this point home quite often! We need to stop viewing everything so physically, and look beyond to see what God has done in the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:17
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Made new by God
If we are “in Christ” then WE are that new creation! Hence why, in the preceding verse, Paul writes that we should “regard no one from a human point of view” if they are believers.
Again we see this theme in Colossians 1:19-20, where Paul writes that “God was pleased” to reconcile all things to himself, whether “on Earth or in Heaven” – in other words, all of Creation.
This again is echoed in Rev 21:5, where “the one on the throne” (ie. God) declares: “See, I am making all things new.”
Reconcile means “the restoration of friendly relations”, so now if God is on friendly terms with “all things” in Heaven or Earth, and has given us the “ministry of reconciliation” as “co-workers with Christ”, then this must make us think about what a new earth really means. You don’t destroy something you have reconciled with, do you?
This is why baptism was seen as so important in the early church, and not so much as a symbolic act of faith, and definitely not an optional choice if you wanted to be part of the Body of Christ!
The waters of baptism is where we see the new creation really taking place; this is where we become “in Christ” and are raised new in our spiritually resurrected bodies.
When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
…[God,] even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Also, just a interesting side-note here: baptismal fonts in the traditional Church buildings are often Octagonal in shape due to the symbolism of the eighth day and baptism representing new creation!
A new Kingdom with God
Not only are we within the new creation, raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenlies, but we are co-workers in this new ministry! We work together with God to bring all of Creation back to Him, and we do this as ambassadors for Christ because we are also now within the Kingdom of God and have that authority through the Spirit who dwells in us!
As Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 17:21, “the kingdom of God is among (or within) you”. Paul also writes to the Colossians (1:13-14) and tells them that God “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son”.
This is our reality. If we are in Christ, then we are made new, raised up and are in the Kingdom of God as ambassadors. This is the Eighth Day.
Take hold of this truth and let it transform you.
- Barnabas, ch 15:8-9 – http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/barnabas-lake.html
- Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 24 – http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html
- Cyprian, Epistle 58:4 – http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050658.htm
- Eighth day quotes – http://preachersinstitute.com/2013/06/05/the-eighth-day/
- Didache – http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html
- Sabbath was for Isreal: http://members.shaw.ca/homechristian/docs/articles/SabbathObservance.htm