On Which Day Did Christ Die?

On Which Day Did Christ Die?

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For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth…and the third day he shall be raised again. (Matt 12:40, 17:23 KJV)

Some Things To Think About

  • Like Mark 8:31’s “after three days “, Matt 12:40’s “three days and three nights ” cannot refer to a 72 hour period (i.e. three full days and three full nights) because in Matt 17:23 Christ was also prophesied to rise on the 3rd day. [2, 7, 10]
  • If one allows for the accepted Hebrew idiom of regarding any part of a 24 hour day as a whole day [2] , then Friday would satisfy Matt 17:23’s “the third day ” but still fail Mark 8:31’s “after three days ” & Matt 12:40’s “three days and three nights .”
  • Likewise, even if one explains Matt 28:1’s plural Sabbath as referring to overlapping Sabbath days, John 12:1’s Ephraim to Bethany 20-mile trip occurring six days earlier (i.e. on a Sabbath) clearly violates the expectations for a Sabbath day’s journey [5] .

A Thursday crucifixion is the only option which satisfies Mark 8:31’s “after three days “, Matt 12:40’s “three days and three nights”, Matt 17:23’s “the third day “, Matt 28:1’s plural Sabbath and John 12:1’s trip to Bethany occurring 6 days earlier.


  1. It may be observed that the Jews, speaking of their Passover, sometimes speak according to their civil computation, wherein they measured their days from sun-rising to sun-rising. Sometimes according to their sacred computation, which was from sun-set to sun-set. (TSK Mt 28:1)
  2. The Jewish idiom “three days and three nights” allowed for any portion of a day or night to be reckoned as the whole (See 1 Samuel 30:12-13; Ester 4:16; Ester 5:1; Judges 14:17-18, Matthew 27:63-64 etc.). If “three days and three nights” is taken literally to mean seventy-two hours,
    there would be an apparent contradiction with the many prophecies and records that He would rise on “the third day” (Mat 16:21, 17:23, 20:19; Mark 9:31, 10:34; John 2:19; Luke 13:32, 18:33, 21:7,21,46; Acts 10:40; 1Co 15:4; etc.) Henry Morris DSB.
  3. In Matt 28:1, the Greek word for Sabbath (i.e. Sabbaton) is plural (e.g. YLT, ISV). This is not the first time translators have neglected to rightly render the Sabbath as a plural noun. For instance, Mark 1:21 & Luke 4:31 are both parallel verses with a plural Sabbath but for some reason, the plurality only appears in Luke.
  4. At the evening, between the evenings or both? Verses like Numbers 9:5, Deut 16:6 & Joshua 5:10 would suggest that the command to kill and eat the Passover was understood to convey an evening sacrifice, however the Hebrew text (of Exodus 12:6) actually states: beyn haarbayim , “between the two evenings.” (Clarke)
  5.  Six days from a Friday turns out to be the preceding Sabbath day. As the trek from Ephraim to Bethany (i.e. 20 miles) was longer than what a “Sabbath day’s journey” (i.e. about a mile or two in Acts 1:12) permitted, it seems clear that Nissan 14th could not be (Good) Friday (Missler)
  6.  John 19:14’s “the third hour” means the third hour after sunrise or 9:00 a.m. using the Jewish civil computation of a 24 hour day. John, writing mainly for Gentile readers, used the Roman computation of a day, commenting that Jesus was before Pilate at “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14). Since the Roman day started at midnight, this would have been about 6:00 a.m. (Morris). Moreover, “the preparation of the Passover” must refer to the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread since in John 13:1-2, the “feast of the Passover [i.e. the seven-day Feast of Unleavened bread]” was approaching with “supper [i.e. Passover supper] being ended.”
  7. Only Thursday allows for three Days and three Nights: 1. (Day 1 was Nissan 14th’s Morning, Night 1 was Nissan 15th’s Evening) 2. (Day 2 was Nissan 15th’s Morning, Night 2 was Nissan 16th’s Evening) 3. (Day 3 was Nissan 16th’s Morning, Night 3 was Nissan 17th’s Evening when Christ arose!)
  8. Nissan 14th would have been the Day of Preparation for both the High Sabbath (i.e. 1st day) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Friday, Nisan 15th) and the weekly Sabbath (Saturday, Nisan 16th). As such was the case, John 19:14 could refer to that day as the “preparation of the Passover.”
  9. The Feast of Firstfruits was always on Sunday or the “morrow after the sabbath.” The term “sabbath” in Lev 23:14 refers to the weekly Sabbath which fell within the 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and not to the High Sabbath of Nissan 15th (See Lev 23:10-16). This interpretation is confirmed by the implications of the Feast of Weeks’ (Shavuot or Pentecost) instructions to reach the 50th day by counting 7 (weekly) sabbaths from the starting point of Firstfruits. Any other interpretation of Firstfruits’ computation must equivocate on the term “sabbath” in Lev 23:11, 15 & 18 because the 49 days succeeding Firstfruits do not contain 7 High Sabbaths.
  10. The word “days” in Matt 17:23’s “three days and three nights” refers to the daylight portion of a day (i.e. 12 hours). A similar usage occurs in John 11:9 where Jesus asks: “Are there not 12 hours in the day?” However, regarding Acts 10:40’s “Him God raised up the third day” (like Matt 17:23 & 1 Cor 15:4) the word “day” there refers to a 24 period of time. Hence, Matt 27:63-64’s usage of both the 12 hour day (v.63) and the 24 hour day (v.64) proves that both interpretations of “day” were employed in the gospels. Adopting the correct understanding of the term “day” will protect the reader from forming invalid expectations.
  11. John 19:14’s the “preparation of the Passover” must refer to the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread since in John 13:1-2, the “feast of the Passover [i.e. the seven day Feast of Unleavened bread]” was approaching with “supper [i.e. Nissan 14th’s Passover supper] being ended.” Hence, “eat the Passover” in John 18:28 need only refer to whatever was to be eaten on the 15th of Nissan as a result of the Feast (See Num 28:17).