I have read in numerous commentaries on John 20 that Thomas first met the resurrected Christ on Sunday, the first day of the week. Here is one illustrative example, though others I've looked at are similar in substance:

Verses 26-31 We have here an account of another appearance of Christ to his disciples, after his resurrection, when Thomas was now with them. And concerning this we may observe,I. When it was that Christ repeated his visit to his disciples: After eight days, that day seven-night after he rose, which must therefore be, as that was, the first day of the week. Matthew Henry's commentary on John 20 [emphasis is mine]

Here are the relevant verses from the Bible:

John 20 (NKJV)

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”

Perhaps I'm being naïve, but starting from the Lord's day, Sunday, I count "and after eight days" (Greek: "καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ") to mean the Monday of the following week, that is, eight days after the first Sunday. It seems that the commentaries I've read interpret it to mean "on the eight day", which would indeed work out to the following Sunday. However, I'm having difficulty understanding how "after eight days" can be understood in this way.

So, my question is: On what day of the week did Thomas first meet the resurrected Christ? Was it on a Sunday, a Monday, or some other day of the week?

My main interest in this question is to understand if these verses in John 20 are indeed a valid support for the practice of Christians meeting on Sunday. I don't question the practice (there are many other verses in Acts, 1 Corinthians and Revelation that support it); I am simply trying to understand whether John 20 indeed displays the first case of Christians meeting as Christians on two consecutive Sundays. I'm having a hard time seeing this in this particular chapter.

3 Answers 3


The quick answer is Thomas met the resurrected Lord on a Sunday, eight days, counting inclusively from when the others had met Him.

There are a few ideas being presented that only make sense from an 8 day counting inclusive understanding. One is between the first day (Sunday) and the eighth day (Sunday), from old creation to new creation. Two is for the count to Pentecost. Three would be a priest connection. I'll only look at number two.

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week... John 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: ...

At John 20:19, as it's phrased, the first day after the Sabbath (week) is Sunday at 20:19.

At John 20:26, the word translated "after" is meta, which may also be translated "with", as in with the eight days, a full period, from the previous Sunday to the next Sunday. And with the eight days, the disciples had gathered again. Jesus again appeared to them.

One might ask why did they gather again 8 days later (counting inclusively) on the next Sunday? Did they have Christians in mind? They had begun their count of 7 weeks plus the one day to get to Pentecost (50 days). They would have gathered to count on the morrow of the Sabbath, as they had done the previous Sunday. Christ was fulfilling the shadows (Tabernacles, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First fruits, Pentecost). Don't miss it.

Lev. 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

Sunday (tomb empty), Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sabbath is 1 week and 1 Sabbath. Sunday (Thomas present), Mon .... Sabbath is 2 weeks and 2 Sabbaths.

This count of course led to the well-known pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2.

Is this a reason to meet on the first day aka the eighth day? Absolutely. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. Sunday, not because of resurrection, but because its the day the Spirit was poured out.

  • This is a great elaboration on the counting with Pentecost in view. Could you please elaborate on the other two ideas you briefly mentioned (old creation to new creation, and "a priest connection")?
    – Ochado
    Jan 3, 2018 at 9:53
  • Also, your highlighting of the fact that "meta" in John 20:26 can also mean "with" is a vital key to this puzzle that I hadn't noticed.
    – Ochado
    Jan 3, 2018 at 9:55
  • I understand your argument, but I fear it's not clear to someone not used to inclusive counting. If you establish that the Jews have always counted days to Pentecost inclusively ("50th" day always the same day of the week as the day counted from, the day of firstfruits) this should be convincing. In English, we count music inclusively. C-G is a "fifth", for example, counting from note 1 to note 5: C, D, E, F, G.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jan 3, 2018 at 20:40

It would seem to me that the reason the disciples were meeting on the Sunday is that it is the third day after the crucifixion and a Jewish holiday called coincidently enough the "The Feast of First Fruits". This is a picture of Christ as the first fruits 1Co_15:20 of those risen from the dead and is symbolized by the priest waving the sheaf in the presence of the congregation as Christ was displayed risen to the congregation. You have Passover followed by the 7 days of unleavened bread in which they would have met every day. I also agree with another poster in that the eighth day is a metaphor for a new beginning and could refer to the time period following the 7th day/millennium. In either case I think it was a Sunday.

It is also dangerous in my opinion to rely upon a translation especially of a dead language and be dogmatic about a definition. It seems to me that the word "meta" in this case has many shades of meaning including "among" and "within". As examples I will cite Mat_1:23, Mat_9:15, Mat_18:23, Mar_14:62, Luk_1:58, Luk_1:72, Luk_9:39, Luk_17:20, Luk_22:37 as alternate meanings.

The point being context is king and you would want to translate with the local context of the passage and within the context of the gospels. It is the method of the atheist who wants to translate a passage which would create a contradiction when an alternative definition doesn't create one.

An example of this is Mar_8:31 where this word is translated "after" when the scriptures plainly tell us that Christ would be raised ON the 3rd day, not AFTER the 3rd day. So by translating the word "during' would have not caused a contradiction.

So applying the prevalent definition which is with/within/among to this passage would render the eighth day Sunday. I would translate it: Joh 20:26  So afterward, eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 

Meaning on the eighth day.


The answer to the OP question is - Tuesday.

After his crucifixion and death, Jesus was buried late on Friday evening in the sepulchre John 19:42. Early on Sunday morning (the third day) John 20:1 the women, then Peter and John, found the sepulchre empty after which Jesus appeared, first, to Mary Magdalene John 20:16

Late on that same day, the first day of the week (Sunday) Jesus appeared to the ten, Thomas being absent John 20:19. After a further eight days, he appeared again to all eleven John 20:26.

Some have attempted to say that Thomas was the eighth apostle and that this is relevant but the facts do not support this theory. The table on Wikipedia plainly shows that in all five accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts) Thomas is numbered seventh.

After the appearance to the ten on the third day, there is a pause of eight full days ("after eight days"). The next day, therefore, is the twelfth day, numbered from the death of Jesus Christ.

So Jesus appeared to Thomas on the twelfth day, which would have been a Tuesday.

Since Thomas had been absent, he was not (yet) a witness of the resurrection of Jesus. But he was an apostle. So on the twelfth day - a significant day - Jesus appears again and Thomas, calling him 'My Lord and My God' testifies to the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Whatever the reason for his absence, and whatever the reason for his doubting, Thomas, neveretheless, together with his fellow apostles, receives a visitation on the twelfth day of Jesus' rising from the dead - a significant event. And there were twelve present, Jesus and the eleven, Jesus himself being an Apostle, Hebrews 3:1.

Thomas would have been numbered with the rest of us who receive the testimony of the apostolic witnesses, and who are especially blessed (having not seen, but believed).

But he did not rise to that, so he required a special visitation (apostolic in significance) and he thus takes his place as a seeing witness, not an unseeing receiver of apostolic testimony, which is our privilege, if we so believe.

I wanted to cite a reference to what I have just written but I cannot find one, so it remains my own observation of the facts on record.

  • I don't follow your reasoning. According to your reasoning, wouldn't "after eight days" be the 11th day (Monday)? Why do you interpret it as "the day after eight days" (which is the only way I can work out the 12th day, Tuesday, from your explanation)? It almost seems as if you are trying to force some significant meaning from reading the number 12 into the count, but I probably misunderstand you. Please clarify.
    – Ochado
    Jan 3, 2018 at 21:55
  • @Ochado In the same way as Sunday is the 'third day', the day of resurrection, so 'after eight days' that is to say, a full eight days having passed, then the next day is the day reported. Thus it is the twelfth day. I am not trying to force anything, I assure you. I simply observe facts, no more.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 3, 2018 at 22:02
  • But if you count Sunday as the third day inclusively, then why would you add eight days exclusively? The eight day (inclusively) counting the first Sunday would be the next Sunday, as SLM's answer clarifies. Even then, eight days exlusively after the first Sunday should be the eleventh day, which is Monday. I still don't follow your logic. Please see this little chart to see what I mean; perhaps you could that as a basis for helping me to understand your perspective: snag.gy/gZLjKq.jpg
    – Ochado
    Jan 4, 2018 at 12:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .