"Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, the middle day of the week. He died shortly after 3 p.m. that afternoon; was buried before sunset Wednesday evening. Now count three days and three nights. His body was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in the grave - three nights. It also was there through the daylight part of Thursday, Friday and Saturday - three days. He rose Saturday - the Sabbath - late afternoon, shortly before sunset, at the same time of day that He was buried!"
-Herbert W Armstrong, "The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday", 1972, p.12
"There is only one possible explanation: After the annual high-day Sabbath, the feast day of the days of Unleavened Bread - which was Thursday - these women purchased and prepared spices on Friday, and then they rested on the weekly Sabbath, Saturday, according to the commandment (Ex. 20:8-11)."
-Herbert W Armstrong, "The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday", 1972, p.13
"2. seven days, a week"-New Testament Greek Lexicon, Copyright © 2001-2010, Heartlight, Inc.
"By synecdoche (naming a part for the whole), the term "Sabbath" also came to mean simply a seven-day week in Jewish sources by the time of the Septuagint, namely, the interval between two Sabbaths. Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the Publican describes the Pharisee as fasting "twice a week" (Greek dis tou sabbatou, literally, "twice of the Sabbath")."-"Sabbath". WikiPedia. 3-20-2010 at 12:35 PM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbath
"In the end of the Sabbath - Οψε δε σαββατων. After the end of the week: this is the translation given by several eminent critics; and in this way the word οψε is used by the most eminent Greek writers."-Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, chapter XXVIII, Commentary on Matthew 28
Still, I would feel much better if I had some contextual support for this. Do we have any insight into the context? Yes!
And in that context, what Matthew is telling us, in his peculiarly Hebrew way, is "at the end of the previous week, as the first day of the next week began to dawn..." Matthew is saying nothing at all that the other Gospel writers did not also say. He simply says the same thing in a different, and very Hebrew, fashion.
I want you to know that there are some Armstrongists who claim that Matthew 28: 1 supports a Saturday resurrection. This is simply not possible. The phrase "in the end" literally means "after" not "during". I have read people who assert "began to dawn" is a forgery added later. Based on what scholarly evidence? None. In their minds, if the Bible does not support their belief, then the Bible is wrong. But for us who take a less ideologically fundamentalist approach to the pursuit of truth, Matthew 28: 1 precludes a Saturday resurrection. As do all of the other Gospels.
Want more evidence? OK! I'd love to!
A SECOND SABBATON
Look at the very same phrase once again, this time we'll put the Greek into the NKJV English:
"Now after the Sabbath [sabbaton], as the first day of the week [sabbaton] began to dawn..."
So, sabbaton can be "week" after all, and it is… in this very verse!
This is entirely consistent with the Strong's Concordance definition of the word. It can be singular or plural, one Sabbath or … a whole week.
4521 Sabbaton: the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se'nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: - sabbath (day), week.
LOST IN MISTRANSLATION
Let us now transliterate this into HWA's thinking in order to illustrate something:
That is how HWA sees things. And he didn’t just redefine the first instance, he redefined them both! He knew and accepted that the second sabbaton was best translated "week." So he simply redefined what week means. The first sabbaton becomes "Sabbaths" (meaning one annual Holy Day and one weekly Sabbath), the second sabbaton becomes "weeks" (plural).
The main problem? Neither of those are valid translations.
How can he explain why the first sabbaton means "a Holy Day and a Sabbath", but the next appearance of sabbaton means "the first of several weeks of Sabbaths" - especially when the day we’re talking about was a Sunday? Sunday isn't the Sabbath!
The answer is simple and straightforward: he just assigned a meaning to it that isn't there. Our ignorance of the Greek takes care of the rest.
After redefining the first appearance of sabbaton, he now had to explain the second. He said the second appearance of sabbaton refers to the seven-Sabbath count to Pentecost. See that? Week became weeks, plural, and then weeks became the seven week count to Pentecost. Now, it all makes sense, right?
TIMING IS KEY
Did I lose you? To simplify - the second sabbaton can't be referring to the first Sabbath in the count to Pentecost because that day was a week later.
A Thursday holy day can't be the first Sabbath in the count.
The Saturday prior to the resurrection can't be the first Sabbath in the count.
The day of the resurrection cannot be the first Sabbath in the count because Sunday isn't the Sabbath.
What this proves is that it cannot be translated, "first of the Sabbaths" as Herbert Armstrong said. The second sabbaton cannot be translated "seven Sabbaths" or "weeks"; it has to be "week." Sadly, in order to make this change, HWA is forced to improperly pluralize the already plural sabbaton to become "weeks" as in "first of the weeks." Therefore it cannot mean what Herbert Armstrong says it means.
To work around this crippling problem, HWA points to Deuteronomy 16: 9 and proclaims this seven-week count to Pentecost itself as a whole, and not any specific Sabbath, must be what Matthew is talking about. But that does not solve the problem.
This is grasping at straws, as neither the direct words of Matthew nor the context gives us any indication at all that the count to Pentecost is what is being referred to. Nor is there any tradition, at that time or any other, of referring to the count to Pentecost as sabbaton.
I remind you again, astute reader, sabbaton literally means "Sabbaths" (plural), and can mean "Sabbath" (singular) or figuratively "week" (singular), not "weeks" (plural). "Weeks" is not an option. "The count to Pentecost" is not an option. What HWA did to work around his dilemma is wholly improper! Therefore it absolutely, positively cannot mean what he says it means. His explanation cannot stand.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
I remind you, valued reader, that translating languages is not a grab-bag. Sabbaton does not refer to the count to Pentecost. Sabbaton does not refer to a combination of different types of Sabbaths, like a Holy Day and a weekly Sabbath. Sabbaton is never translated 'holy day'.
In Colossians 2: 16, Paul separates "Sabbath day" (sabbaton) from "holyday" (heorte) in the same sentence. They are separate. The only annual high day in the entire Septuagint (the Old Testament that the Apostles used) that is ever called sabbaton is the Day of Atonement (LEV. 23: 32). The Greek sabbaton is never used in reference to the first day of Unleavened Bread in the Septuagint. In the New Testament no annual high day is ever referred to as sabbaton. No, not one. Rather sabbaton is always translated "Sabbath" "Sabbaths" or "week".
Add to that the testimony of Mark who says "Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath" (MAR. 15: 42). The entire phrase "the day before the Sabbath" is from one Greek word: 'prosabbaton'. Mark went out of his way to ensure we understand the preparation day mentioned was the day before the weekly Sabbath.
What you will never completely glean from the Bible, but can glean from other ancient sources, is that the Jews referred to every day by a number according to its relation to the weekly Sabbath. Sunday was the first day. But more specifically, Sunday was the first day after the Sabbath. Monday was the second day from the Sabbath. And so forth.
What we were told in Armstrongism is that only the seventh day had a name - Sabbath. But that's not entirely true. In time Friday also received a name. Friday was called "prosabbaton" and it was called "paraskeue." Both of these words mean preparation day. We can know from other documents that paraskeue and prosabbaton refer to Friday, not the least of which is a decree from Caesar Augustus declaring that no Jew could be compelled to go to court past the 9th hour on Friday (paraskeue). When Mark uses the phrase prosabbaton, that is the name for the sixth day of the week - Friday. Herbert Armstrong said we can just take "preparation day" and just move it all around; put it in front of a holy day. We have seen that you cannot translate sabbaton as holy day in the first place. We have seen how prosabbaton and paraskeue refer to Friday. How can he take Friday and put it in front of any holy day? He cannot.
Since this is how the Bible including Matthew, as well as external documents, consistently treat the language, we would be remiss to insist otherwise. Again and again we see that Armstrong wasn't getting his doctrine from the Bible, he was trying to force his doctrine into the Bible.
This is in all ways similar to the first appearance of sabbaton, which means “[at the end of the] week,” or “Saturday.”
The first phrase means "Saturday" and the second phrase means "Sunday."
All of this complexity for something so simple!
So, what is a good translation of Matthew 28: 1?
Yet, if this is what Matthew meant, there should be some other evidence for it somewhere else in the Bible. There is none. Silence. There is a butchered translation of Matthew 28: 1 and nothing besides.
"We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead"-Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, 15: 9
"But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration."-Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter LXVII  (130-165 A.D.)
"On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathæa had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection."-Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians (98-117 A.D.)