( Many other articles were used and combined to create this article )
( i.e. not all investigation for this article was soley on my own )
Words from the Bible are in " Maroon "
Words of Jesus Christ are in " Red "
Greek words are in " Purple "
Text in " Dark Blue " are hightlighted points
As a young Christian, I first came across this verse in a weekly bible study that was held every Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. in a local restaurant during the mid-1970's. The study included about 10 other " older " Christian men. When I say " older " what I mean was that I was about 25 years old and everyone else in the study were 55+ years old. Two of these men were local fundamentist pastors of churches, one was a Christian man from Greece ( who spoke fluent Greek and eventually taught me how to interpret Koine Greek ), one was a devout Catholic, and the last one was a Methodist. They all had been Christians for many years. I felt very lucky as a new Christian and a young man to be included in this group.
I need to note that this group, which lasted for years, became my foundation of my faith! I learned more about Christianity from these men than from any other source, except for the Bible itself. Today, to my knowledge, I'm the only one who has still not gone on to see our Lord and Savior in person ! I have no doubt that all of these men were indeed men " After God's Heart ", men who lived " For their Lord " on a daily basis.
We were studying the book of Matthew when the above verses came up. ( Matt. 12:38-40 ) When I left that week's study I started to think about these particular verses over and over again since one of the men said, " These verses are some of the most important verses in the bible! It's our Lord's proof that he was exactly who he said He was ! " If it was His " proof " then I needed to know everything about them ..... I needed to be able to tell others about these verses and be able to explain them.
As I thought about and studied these verses, of course, Good Friday and Easter came to mind and I started to do the math ..... let's see ..... hmmm ..... Jesus was crucified on Friday around 3:00 pm ..... and then he rose from the dead on Sunday morning. So he was in His tomb Friday night, Saturday night ..... wait a minute that's only two nights ..... okay ..... he was in his tomb Friday during the day, and Saturday during the day ..... wait another minute ..... that's only two days ! He said " three days and three nights ", how does that work ? I decided to wait until the next weekly bible study and ask everyone there ..... surely they would know the answer.
At the next Wednesday Bible Study I asked the question just as soon as everyone was there noting that I couldn't do the math and make it come out right. I few of them looked at the verse ..... thought about it ..... and then the answer that I got was ... " As a young Christian you have to realize that some things you simply have to accept by Faith. Every question that you have can't always be answered. "
That answer wasn't what I wanted to hear ..... but the Bible Study went on for years and I did learn a lot about my Lord and about Christianity. But that verse continued to plague me for years to come. I studied it hard and continued to ask others about it that I met along my road of Christianity ..... but never with any answers.
Over many years I continued to read and study many books and articles on this subject. And then I read one article on the internet where a pastor ( whose name I don't remember at this time ) noted that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday instead of Friday. I tried to contact that pastor without any luck.
However .... if he was crucified on Wednesday ..... Three days and three nights would have our Lord rising on Saturday and not Sunday ? The Bible tells us to " Prove all things; " ( I Thes. 5:21 ). And everyone will be literally astounded by what the Bible has within it’s pages as " proof ".
a sole historical record;
" God’s Holy Word "
There were no eye-witnesses to the resurrection. Even so-called " apostolic fathers " had no source of information save that record which is today available to us.
Tradition, then, must be " dismissed ". Tradition, in fact, is very often based on " fiction " rather than fact.
Be very careful that you " don't confuse " tradition for fact.
The doubting Pharisees were asking Jesus for a sign, a supernatural evidence in proof of His Messiahship. And Jesus answered:
Did you notice that Jesus " repeated the length of time " that He would be in the tomb ? If necessary, re-read that Scripture, which was Jesus’ answer ! Please observe that the " sign " He gave, the " proof of His Messiahship ", was " not " the fact that He would rise again, but the " length of time " He would remain in the grave. Yet, this one and only sign He gave is basically " rejected ", scoffed at or " ignored " by most of Christendom.
If you are not able to answer each and every one of the above questions with a " resounding Yes ", than you are " wasting your time reading on ". You had just as well pass this on to someone else who will appreciate it.
If you do believe Jesus Christ knew exactly what would happen, then " read on ". You just might be " amazed " at what God’s word has to say concerning this subject.
I would ask here that you set " traditions, teachings, or any of man’s ideas aside at this point. " Always study God’s word seeking the truth ". Never, under any circumstances attempt to make The Word of God " FIT " your belief’s. What you believe should and " must agree " with His Word. First ask the Holy Spirit to make clear God’s Word to you. Above all, " do not " take this author’s writing as absolute authority. Read for yourself what God has to say.
let us consider the tremendous importance,
the overwhelming significance,
of " Jesus' statement ".
These Christ-rejecting Pharisees demanded proof. Jesus offered but " one " piece of evidence. As has been previously stated that evidence was " not " the fact of the resurrection itself -- it was the " length of time " He would repose in His grave, before being resurrected.
Think what this means. Jesus staked His claim to being your Savior and mine upon remaining " exactly three days " and " three nights " in the tomb. If He remained just " three days " and " three nights " inside the earth as He claimed, He would " prove " Himself the Savior -- if He failed in this sign, He must be rejected as an imposter!
No wonder Satan has caused unbelievers to " scoff " at the story of " Jonah and the Whale ! " No wonder the Devil has set up a tradition that " denies " Jesus is the Messiah !
This " one and only " supernatural proof ever given by Jesus for His Messiahship has greatly bothered the commentators and the higher critics. Their attempts to " explain away " this " sole proof " for Christ's divinity are " ludicrous in the extreme ". For explain this away they must, or their " Good Friday-Easter " tradition "collapses"!
One commentator says, " Of course we know that Jesus was actually in the tomb only half as long as He thought He would be ! " Some expositors impose upon our credulity to the extent of asking us to believe that " in the Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, the expression 'three days and three nights' means three periods, either of day or of night ! " ( This is not true ~ There are some other things that we shall look at later in the Greek language as well. )
was placed in the tomb shortly before sunset Friday,
and rose at sunrise Sunday morning
" two nights and one day "
But the Bible definition of the duration of " nights and days " is actually very simple.
Even these same, so called, higher critics " admit " that in the " Hebrew language ", in which the book of Jonah was written, the expression " three days and three nights " means a period of " seventy-two" (72) hours ( that is ) three twelve-hour days " and " three twelve-hour nights ".
Now let me pose the following question: " Why did Jesus bring up the account of Jonah and his journey in the belly of that great fish ? " It is this author’s opinion, that by so doing, it made it " impossible " for anyone to " attempt " to explain the length of time spent in the grave as " Three periods of time " or any other time period! To do so, one must realize that they " are calling Jesus A LIAR ".
God knew what was going to happen concerning the " Easter tradition ". Yes, God in His wisdom, " set the stage " so that we must either believe " His word, or man’s tradition ".
Which are " you " willing to stake " your " future on ?
" God’s " word " or man’s " tradition " ?
" God’s " word " or man’s " tradition " ?
Notice this verse:
This, they admit was a period of seventy-two (72) hours. And Jesus distinctly said that " AS " Jonah was three days and three nights in the great fish's belly, so " He would be the same length of time in His grave ! "
As Jonah was in the " grave " ( see Jonah 2:2 ) " seventy-two (72) hours ", after which he was supernaturally resurrected by God, by being vomited up, to become a savior to the people of Ninevah upon proclaiming the warning to them, so should Jesus be " seventy-two (72) hours " in His grave, thereupon being resurrected by God to become the Savior of the world !
Did Jesus know how much time was in a " day " and in a " night " ! Jesus answers this by saying:
Notice also the bible definition of the expression, " the third day ". Text after text tells us that Jesus rose the " third " day. See how the BIBLE defines the time required to fulfill " the third day ".
Here we have the " only " bible definition which explains and counts up the amount of time involved in the expression in the bible of "the third day". It includes "three dark periods" called "night", and "three light periods" called "day", three days and three nights, and Jesus said in John 11:9 above that they contained "twelve hours" for "each" period -- "a total of seventy-two (72) hours" !
The simple answer is, they " do not " know it, for it is " not " true ! It is merely " tradition ", a tradition we have been taught from childhood, and " carelessly assumed " was correct! Jesus warns against making traditions:
We have examined two " scriptural " witnesses, in the books of Matthew and Jonah, both " setting the duration " of the body of Jesus in the tomb as " three days " and " three nights ", which the Scriptures plainly define as " seventy-two (72) hours of time ". Now let us examine four other Scriptural witnesses that " prove " the same thing.
If Jesus had been killed on Friday, and then after one day He had risen, the resurrection would have occurred on Saturday evening. If after two days, it would have occurred Sunday evening, and if after three days, it would have occurred "Monday evening"!
Examine this text carefully. You cannot, by " any " process of arithmetic, " figure any less than a full seventy-two (72) hours ", three days and three nights, in a resurrection which occurred three days " after " the crucifixion !
If Jesus was in the grave only from Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, then this text too, must be " torn out " of your Bible or else you must " reject " Jesus Christ as your Savior ! If He rose after three days, it might have been " more " than seventy-two (72) hours, but it could not have been a second less!
The duration expressed here must be between forty-eight ( 48 - two days would be 48 hours ) and seventy-two (72) hours. It could not be one second past 72 hours, and Jesus still rise the third day. And it could not be Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, because that is only thirty-six (36) hours, carrying us into the middle of the second day, after He was killed.
In Matthew 27:3 Jesus is quoted as saying, " after three days I will rise again. " This cannot possibly be figured as less than seventy-two (72) full hours.
And in John 2:18-22, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.... But He spake of the temple of his body." To be raised up in three days after being destroyed, or crucified and buried, could not be more than seventy-two (72) hours.
If we are to accept all the " testimony " of the " Bible ", we "must" conclude that Jesus was "exactly three days" and "three nights," three full 24-hour days, seventy-two (72) hours in the grave or the "only" supernatural proof He gave must fail.
Now notice carefully this fact: In order to be " three days " and " three nights," seventy-two (72) hours, in the tomb, our Lord had to be resurrected at " exactly " the " same time of day " that His body was buried in the tomb!
As has been stated, " God is a God of precision. That is a vital fact.
If we can find the " time " of day of the " burial ", then we have found the " time " of day of the " resurrection " ! If the burial, for instance, were at sunrise, then in order to be left an even three days and three nights in the tomb, the resurrection likewise had to occur at sunrise, three days later. If the burial were at noon the resurrection was at noon. If the burial were at sunset, the "resurrection" was at "sunset", three days later.
Jesus cried on the cross soon after “the ninth hour" or "three o'clock" in the afternoon. ( Matt. 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44-46 ).
The crucifixion day was called " the preparation ", or day before " the Sabbath ". ( Matt. 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54 ). This day " ended " at " sunset ", according to Bible reckoning. ( Lev. 23:32 ).
Yet Jesus was buried " before this same day ended, before sunset ". ( Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:52-54; John 19:42 ). John adds, " There laid they Jesus, therefore, because of the Jews' preparation day ". According to the laws observed by the Jews all dead bodies must be buried before the beginning of a Sabbath or feast day. Hence Jesus was buried " before " sunset on the " same day " He died. He died shortly after 3 p.m.
the Burial of Christ’s body was in the " late afternoon " !
It was between 3 p.m. and sunset as these Scriptures prove.
And since the resurrection had to occur at the " same time of day ", three days later, the resurrection of Christ’s occurred, " not " at sunrise, but in the " late afternoon, near sunset " ! Startling as this fact may be, it is the " truth " straight from " God’s Word "!
If Jesus rose at any other time of day, He could " not " have been three days and three nights in His grave. If He rose at any other time of day, He " failed " to prove, by the " ONLY SIGN HE GAVE " that He was the true Messiah, the Son of the living Creator! Either He rose near the " end " of a day near sunset, or else He is " not " the Christ! He staked His claim on that "ONE and ONLY sign"!
So a time-honored " tradition " must be " shattered "! Let us praise God for His Word, which has been " preserved " through the dark ages, so that the " true light " may now shine forth, if our hearts and minds are "willing" to receive it! Praise His name! Do you love the truth as it is revealed, or despise it and love the "traditions" you have heard! " Whosoever despiseth the Word shall be destroyed ! " Let us say with David, " How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God ! "
Now let us investigate " which " day of the week the " resurrection " occurred on!
The first investigators, Mary Magdalene and her companions, came to the sepulcher on the first day of the week ( Sunday ) very early, while it was " yet dark ", as the sun was " beginning " to rise, at dawn ( Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1 ) .
Now here are the texts most people have " presumed " stated the resurrection was at sunrise Sunday morning. However the Scripture does " not " state that at all! When the women arrived, the tomb was " already " open ! At that time Sunday morning while it was yet dark, Jesus was " not " there ! Notice how the angel says " He is not here, but is risen ! " ( See Mark 16:6; Luke 24:3; John 20:2; Matt. 28:5-6 )
Jesus was " already " risen at " sunrise " Sunday morning ! Of course He was. He rose from the grave in the " late afternoon " the day before, near sunset, " not " sunrise on this day ! And since we know the resurrection was just " prior " to that Sunday morning, and that it occurred in the late " afternoon " of the day, we now may know the resurrection of Christ’s occurred " late SATURDAY afternoon ".
The Sabbath day ended at " sunset ". It was late on that day, " before " the " beginning " of the first day of the week. It was " not " then, a Sunday resurrection at all. It was a " SATURDAY " ( Sabbath ) resurrection ! Remember Jesus' statement to the woman of Canaan:
Jesus wanted to prove to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" who he was. What better day than the Sabbath itself to send a sign to the Jew's that he was exactly who he said he was. And what better time of the year then passover itself. Of course we read later in Acts chapter 10 when Jesus let Peter know that not only was the house of Israel included in His salvation but also " ALL " mankind as well:
Now all this is based on the supposition that Jesus " did fulfill " His " ONLY " sign of being " three days " and " three nights " in the grave. All our evidence is based on the " claims of Jesus " before His crucifixion. But some of the higher critics and doctors of divinity tell us that " Jesus made a mistake ", He was only in the tomb " half " as long as He " expected " to be.
who was PRONE TO MAKING MISTAKES ?
Notice that in Matthew 28:6, the angel of the lord gives this testimony, which we now present as evidence! " He is not here: for He is risen, as He said ". And He certainly did not rise " as He said " unless He rose at the " precise time " that " He had said "! So we have the " proof " of the " angel of the Lord ", recorded in the sacred Word of God that Jesus " did " fulfill His sign, He was " three days " and "three nights" in the earth; He did rise late "Saturday afternoon", and " not " Sunday morning!
Another proof that Christ was in the grave the full length of time He expected to be is found in I Corinthians:
I believe that it is appropriate at this point to remind all that the " Scriptures " referred to in those verses, is " Gods Holy, and accurate Word. " If there is " ANY " part of it that one can not believe, then " none " of it could be believed. I believe " each and every word of God ". It has been said:
Yes, His death and burial were according to the scriptures, not contrary to them.
The " third day " following His Wednesday burial was the Sabbath; " three full days " spent in the grave ended late " Saturday afternoon " just prior to sunset, " not " Sunday morning.
It is not difficult now to determine the day on which Jesus was crucified. Counting back three days from the Sabbath when He rose, we come to the day we know as " Wednesday ", the fourth or very middle day of the week.
Jesus was therefore crucified on " Wednesday ", the middle day of the week, He died on the cross shortly after 3 p.m. that afternoon, was buried before sunset " Wednesday evening ".
Now count the three days and three nights. His body was in the grave " Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 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 ! And Sunday morning at sunrise He was " not " there as the angel had said, He was " already " risen!
It is significant that in Daniel's prophecy of the " Seventy weeks " ( Dan. 3:24-27 ), Jesus was to be cut off " in the midst of the week. " While this prophecy has the application of a day for a year, so that this 70th week became a literal seven years, Christ’s being " cut off " after three and a half years' ministry, as He was, yet it is significant that He was also " cut off " on the " middle day " of a " literal week " !
Now we come to an objection some may raise, yet it is also the very point which " proves " this truth ! Perhaps you have noticed that the Scriptures say the day " after " the crucifixion was a " Sabbath " ... " Hence, for centuries, people have blindly assumed the crucifixion was on Friday ! "
Now we have shown by all four Gospels that the crucifixion day, Wednesday, was called " the Preparation Day. " The Preparation Day for the Sabbath. But for " what Sabbath " !
John's Gospel gives the definite answer: "It was the preparation of the Passover."
Just what is a " high day " ! Ask anyone that is Jewish ! He will tell you it is one of the " annual Holy days ", or feast days. The Israelites observed " seven " of these every year, every one called " sabbaths " ! Annual Sabbaths, falling on certain annual calendar dates, and on " different days of the week " in different years, just like the Roman holidays now observed. These Sabbaths might fall on Monday, on Thursday, or on Sunday.
If you will read and notice the following texts, you will see these annual Holy days were all called Sabbath days: Lev. 23:24; Lev. 16:31; Lev. 23:39; Lev. 23:15; Lev. 23:26-32.
Notice the words of Christ in Matthew:
And if you will follow through this chapter of " Matthew " you will see that Jesus was crucified on the " Passover " !
And what was the " Passover " ? It was the ancient day of Israel commemorating their deliverance from Egypt, and picturing to them the crucifixion of Christ and their deliverance from sin. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus you will find the story of the original Passover. The children of Israel killed the lambs, and struck the blood over the door-posts and on the side-posts of their houses, and wherever the blood had thus been applied the death-angel " passed over " that house, sparing it from death. Following the Passover, was a holy convocation or " annual Sabbath ".
" Observe the dates " :
The Passover lamb, killed " every " year on the 14th of the first month called " Abib, " was a type of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Christ Is our Passover, sacrificed for us. ( I Cor. 5:7 )
Jesus was slain on the very " same " day the Passover lamb had been " slain " every year ! He was crucified on the " 14th of Abib ", the first Hebrew month of the year ! And this day, the " Passover ", was " the day before ", and called the " preparation " for, The Feast day, or annual " high day Sabbath ", which occurred on the 15th of Abib.
This " Sabbath " might occur on any day of the week. Frequently it occurs, even today, and is observed by the Jews, on " Thursday ". The Jews observed this " high-day Sabbath " on " Thursday " ( as a matter of record ), in " 1352 " and in " 1955, 1959 " and " 1962 " and so on.
And the " Word Of God " itself shows that in the year Jesus was crucified, the 14th of Abib, Passover day, that the day Jesus was crucified, was indeed based on our current calendar " Wednesday ". And the annual " Sabbath " was " Thursday ". This was the Sabbath that "drew on" as Joseph of Arimathea hastened to bury the body of Jesus late that Wednesday afternoon. There were " two separate Sabbaths " that week!
by the "Word Of God"?
Someone is sure to notice " Mark 16:9 ", thinking this text says the resurrection was on Sunday. But if you read the whole sentence, it " does not say that at all ". The expression " was risen " is in the Greek " perfect tense ". What was Jesus' " status " early the first day of the week ?
Does it say He " was rising " or that He " did rise " from the grave?
" NO ", early the first day of the week, at the time He appeared to Mary Magdalene, it states that He " WAS RISEN ". Of course He was! " He had risen the late afternoon before ", so naturally He " WAS RISEN " Sunday morning. The text does " not " in any way refute the scores of other texts we have given.
" these things " included " all the events " pertaining to the resurrection, the " seizing " of Jesus, " delivering " Him to be tried, the actual " crucifixion ", and, finally the " setting of the seal " and the " watch over the tomb " the following day, or Thursday. Read & study verses 18-20, telling of " these things " and also Matt. 27:62-66. " these things " were " not " completed until the watch was set, Thursday. And the text says Sunday was the third day " since " these things were done. " these things " were not done until Thursday, and Sunday truly was the " third day " since " Thursday ". But it was " not " the third day since " Friday ", so this text could not prove a Friday crucifixion.
There is yet one final clinching proof of this amazing truth!
A " vital text " proving that there were " two Sabbaths " in that week has been obscured by " almost every translation " into English. Only " Ferrar Fenton's " version has this point correct.
Turn to Matthew 28:1. In the common versions, including the KJV, it says, " In the end of the Sabbath, " or in more correct English, " after the Sabbath. " Notice that both of these renderings use the " singular ", Sabbath.
But in the " original Greek " the word is in the " plural " . Fenton renders it correctly by saying, " After the SABBATHS ". In a foot-note to this text, he says, " The Greek original is in the plural, Sabbaths. " The following is taken from " The Interliner Greek-English NEW TESTAMENT by The Reverend Alfred Marshall D.Litt. and The Reverend Prebendary J.B Phillips M.A. "
Please compare these two texts very carefully !
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 their spices on " Friday ", and then they " rested " on the " weekly Sabbath ", Saturday, according to the Commandment ! ( Exodus 20:8-11 ).
" PROVES "
there were " two Sabbaths " that week, with " a day in between "
Otherwise, these texts " contradict " themselves !
We should all praise God that though the " truths " of His Word became " trampled upon " and lost through the dark ages of " superstition ", " apostasy ", and " counterfeit doctrines ", that the " original truth " has been carefully preserved in " The bible itself ". We can " study " to show ourselves approved unto God, and " seek out " and find these " long-hidden truths " in God’s Word, the bible.
How wonderful it is to " study " God’s Word ! How precious is His word ! All the Truth has " not yet been discovered ". Let us press on, and seek and find more and more ! Let us feed upon the pure Word of God ! Let us not reject the truths that the Holy Spirit reveals to us, or God will certainly reject us !
Let me bring this study to a close by urging the reader to study these truths from the " ONLY " true source, " God’s Word ". As you prayerfully read, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truths to you. Please do " not " take anything that I have written for truth, until you " verify " it with " God’s Holy Word ".
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Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2020