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TorahTimes Messianic Ministry

Teaching Truths about Torah, Time, and Messiah

Acts 20:7; Paul’s meeting on Sabbath

Abstract: Acts 20:6-7 was mistranslated by the Sunday Church so that it could use the text as an example of a Sunday meeting on the first day of the week. The text says On the first of the Sabbaths in the original Greek. This refers to the first of seven Sabbaths after Passover, which were counted, leading up to the feast of Shavuot, the 50th day (Lev. 23:15).

And we sailed from Philippi with1 the days of unleavened bread. And we came to them into Troas, up to2 five days, where we completed3 the seven days. 7And on the first of the Sabbaths4, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul was talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8And there were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9And there was a certain young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor, and was picked up dead. 10But Paul went down and fell upon him and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” 11And when he had gone back up, and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12And they took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.

Troas to Miletus

But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for thus he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land.

GNM, 4th edition.


There were seven days of unleavened bread. Paul and his companions sailed during the feast from Phillipi. This would have been after the 14th of Nisan and the 15th of Nisan. Likely, they would not have sailed on the 16th of Nisan either, since this was the wave sheaf day, and they would have stayed up all night after the 15th day keeping watch (Ex. 12:42; Deut. 16:7). Knowing they would have wanted to sleep after the feast day, they would have set the departure date for Nisan 17, which was the third day of the feast.

The passage from Philippi to Troas was usually two days (Acts 16:11). The text indicates that they arrived in Troas on day five of the feast, which means they sailed for either the 17, 18, and part of the 19th, or just the 18th, and part of the 19th of the month (days 3-5, or days 4-5 of the feast).

They spent the rest of the feast in Troas, finishing it with an Annual Sabbath, on the seventh day of the feast, which fell onto Friday that year, because of the unsual circumstance of the first of the Sabbaths falling immediately after the seven days of unleavened bread. This only happens when the first day of unleavened bread is on the weekly Sabbath (Nisan 15) and the last day (Nisan 21) is on Friday. This allows us to pinpoint the year of Paul’s voyage to AD 57. Here is the calendar for the year and the first month:

[Image: GoogleEarth Map w/ Calendar]
AD 57, First Month

Paul began his teaching on the Sabbath day, that is the first of the Sabbaths after Passover, which is marked on the calendar as 22 Nisan (April 16) in AD 57. But he continued his lecture late into the night following the Sabbath, and he departed by land on the first day of the week.

Here is an interesting quote from Calvin’s Commentaries on Acts 20:7:

7. And upon one day of the Sabbaths, when the disciples were come together to break bread, Paul disputed with them, being about to take his journey on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
7. And in one day. Either doth he mean the first day of the week, which was next after the Sabbath, or else some certain Sabbath. Which latter thing may seem to me more probable; for this cause, because that day was more fit for all assembly, according to custom. But seeing it is no new matter for the Evangelists to put one instead of the first, according to the custom of the Hebrew tongue, (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) it shall very well agree, that on the morrow after the Sabbath they came together. Furthermore, it were too cold to expound this of any day. For to what end is there mentioned of the Sabbath, save only that he may note the opportunity and choice of the time? Also, it is a likely matter that Paul waited for the Sabbath, that the day before his departure he might the more easily gather all the disciples into one place. And the zeal of them all is worth the noting, in that it was no trouble to Paul to teach until midnight, though he were ready to take his journey, neither were the rest weary of learning. For he had no other cause to continue his speech so long, save only the desire and attentiveness of his auditory.

As worthless as Calvin is (a murderer, a heretic, a gnostic, an Augustinian Catholic, and general perverter of the knowledge of God, and purveyor of the lawless doctrine of forensic justification), he managed to stumble onto the truth here because the text plainly says Sabbaths, and being outside the context of the resurrection day of Messiah, he did not think to apply the tradition of the Sunday resurrection. He does not seem to realize that the Greek is exactly the same in the resurrection passages, or if he does, he does not realize the danger to the traditional Sunday resurrection by supposing that the phrase may mean a Sabbath day!

It is not often that a passage of literature can have a completely opposite meaning from what tradition says it has. It may be that the tradition is the original lie, and that the reason that the truth fits so easily as an explanation of the text is because it is the truth. Let us consider the confluence of convienient circumstances that align to lead us back to it.

  1. It turns out that they sailed with the days of unleavened bread is the likely meaning of the text according to the Greek language, and rules.
  2. It turns out to be possible that the five days are counted according to the days of the feast, and not as a long voyage that is well outside the norm for usual conditions and that time of year.
  3. It turns out that they used up all the feast days after they arrived in Troas, and that the next day after the seventh day of unleavened bread is the weekly Sabbath.
  4. The Greek looks like it says “first of the Sabbaths” for that weekly Sabbath, and
  5. Lev. 23:15 provides a ready explanation for the existence of a known “first of the Sabbaths” after Passover, and
  6. The chronologically most likely year is AD 57, and it just so happens that the calendar fits perfectly for the sequence just described, and
  7. The phrase, “first of the Sabbaths” is used nowhere except between Passover and the feast of Shavuot, and always immediately after Passover.

The traditionalist has no explanation for all the above coincidences that point toward the Sabbath day in Acts 20:7 other than to:

  1. Deny that Greek verbs of motion used with an μετὰ mean “along with”,
  2. Deny that five days are reckoned according to the feast,
  3. Deny that διετρίψαμεν means “we consumed” and insist that it only means “stayed” or “abode” an extra seven days, and
  4. Deny that the Greek plainly says “first of the Sabbaths”,
  5. Deny that it has anything to do with counting seven Sabbaths after Passover in Lev. 23:15,
  6. Deny that AD 57 fits, where other scholars favor it,
  7. Deny that the occurence of “first of the Sabbaths” only immediately after Passover has any significance.

Even more incredible with the traditional chronology is that it puts Paul in Jerusalem after the feast of Shavuot, which he was trying to get to. The traditionalist adds 14 days to the time spent at the beginning of the journey, which does not explain the relaxed timetable toward the end of the journey. When Paul arrived at Tyre, there was no more reason to hurry up, because they had made good time in the first part of the journey. The extra two weeks, however, supplies every reason to make haste at the end of the journey. But there is no evidence of haste at the end of the journey. There is only evidence of it in the beginning (Acts 20:16).

All the facts here, and the ability to put together the true timeline, without a glitch, without a strain, in the most natural way, agreeing with the Scriptures, points to one ginormous lie in the traditional paradigm. The faithful must realize the abyssal depth of false doctrine taught by the Church, a treachery so deep, as to cause centuries of blindness and darkness in the Church. For the main excuse for worshipping on Sunday, and sanctifying the day as the special and customary day of worship is a lie.

Therefore, the house of Israel needs to repent of this traitorous doctrine, and return to sanctifying the Sabbath, and counting the seven Sabbaths according the the divine Law. This evil can only be overcome on an individual and family basis, heart by heart, person by person, until the house of Israel can be restored in the land of Israel.

End Notes

1. They “sailed with the days of unleavened bread.” This is similar to saying “The flowers bloomed with the spring days.” Or “We set out with the first days of spring.” The Greek preposition “μετὰ” when used with a verb of motion means “into the middle of”, “during”, “along with”. Even when the preposition governs the accusative case, it is used in this manner, so long as it may be viewed as going along with the motion. If the action cannot logically go along with the motion, then the sense is “after” when used with the accusative, i.e. Mark 8:31: And after three days arise. (καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστῆναι). In this latter case, the rising is not stretched out over the time period indicated, and therefore, the sense is with three days already completed. When used without a verb of motion “μετὰ” usually means “after” the completion of the time period. For example, Gen. 5:4: Then had been the days of Adam after his begetting Seth 800 years. The LXX uses μετὰ. Adam had Seth in his 130th year. He lived 930 years. So the 800 years are counted after the completion of the 130th year. So Messiah rose after three days, which is to say after three literal days, because his resurrection was in the third night after the third day. On the other hand, he rose on the third (calendar) day, counting a day as usual in scripture from daybreak to daybreak. A calendar day is a day and a night.

2. The Greek term ἄχρι means 1. marker of continuous extent of time up to a point, until, 2. marker of extension up to a certain point, as far as. (BDAG, 3rd) The sense here is “as far as” or equivalently “up to”. According to the mistranslated text we sailed after the days of unleavened bread, the five days would have to give the duration of the voyage, and not the date of the feast they arrived on. The problem with this interpretation is that the voyage does not take five days. It only takes two days or three at most. If conditions were so bad that it took five, then the hazard of the trip would surely have been mentioned. For it would take a mighty wind storm to make the voyage last that long. The typical voyage only takes two days, and not just because Acts 16:11 indicates this, but because a maritime study of passage from Philippi to Troas will show this. The Pulpit Commentary remarks, An unusually long voyage, owing, doubtless, to unfavorable winds. On the former occasion when he sailed from Troas to Neapolis he was only two days […] to justify the duration. Gill’s commentary recognizes the problem and justifies the time as follows, not that they were five days sailing from Philippi to Troas; but either they were so long in all, from their first setting out into Asia, to their arrival at Troas; or rather, they came to Troas within five days after the above six persons had got thither; so that they waited at Troas but five days for the apostle, and those that accompanied him. Gill’s explanation is ad hoc, and requires us to abandon a simple sequential narrative. Ellicott’s Commentary also calls for unusual conditions, The voyage from Troas to Philippi (see Notes on Acts 16:11-12) had taken only three days, but the ship had now to contend against the south-west current that set in from the Dardanelles, and probably also against the Etesian winds blowing from the north-east that prevail in the Archipelago in the spring. Ellicot has got his facts wrong. It was two days. It took one day to sail from Troas to Samothrace, and one day to the port of Neapolis. Philippi was inland. It did not require an additional day on the ship.

The surface currents in the Aegean Sea are roughly counter-clockwise: they flow towards the north up the Asian coast and then turn west and southwest but because of the many islands and narrow channels between the islands the flow can change and is at times the opposite of the general flow. In general this current is not very strong and it rarely exceeds 1.2 knots. You can get up to date maps of surface current, temperature, and water elevation (tides) from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research.

Season North Aegean Middle Aegean South Aegean
April-May N to NW 4 N NW 5-6 N NW 5-6
June-midJuly NW N NE 4-5 NW 4-6 NW W 5-7
midJuly-August N NE 5(6) N NE 5(6-7) N NW 5(7-8)
Sept.-October N NE 3-5 S SE 5-6 S SE 5-6
(during "Meltemi" period)

The wind blows from the N and NW in the spring, during the Passover season. For this reason the prevailing wind would favor Paul and his companions. Observe that the Meltemi blows in the summer from the N and NE. Even these would not be contrary sailing south east from Neapolis to Troas. Ellicot has overestimated the effect of current, and estimated the effect of the Etesian wind in the wrong direction. There are no obvious reasons why the voyage should last five days. Matthew Henry supplied us with this mindless platitude, Paul thought it worth while to bestow five days in going to Troas. Right. Who wants to stay on a ship in those days for five days by choice. The Expostor’s Greek New Testament explains away in this fashion, In Acts 16:11 the journey only lasted two (three?) days, but here probably adverse winds must be taken into account; or the five days may include a delay at Neapolis, the port of Philippi, or the land journey to the port; Again,the commentator is making assumptions contrary to the norm to explain their rendition of the text.

3. The word διετρίψαμεν means “we ate through”, “we used up” or “we consumed”. The other English translations such as “we stayed” or “we abode” are not literal. The sense here is that they completed days 5, 6, and 7 of the feast in Troas. The seventh day of the feast was an Annual Sabbath, which is followed immediately by the first of the Sabbaths that year. This is an unusual circumstance when the seven days of the feast are all used up before the first of the Sabbaths. Usually, the first of the Sabbaths falls during days 2 to 7 of the feast. It is so noted by Luke that they completed the feast before the first of the Sabbaths. This circumstance shows that the seventh day of the feast fell onto Friday that year, and the first day of the feast fell onto the weekly Sabbath before.

4. The word σαββάτων means “Sabbaths” as it is plural in Greek. The first Sabbath day after Passover is so noted because it is the first of seven Sabbaths which are counted in the interval between Passover and the feast of Shavuot (cf. Lev. 23:15).