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When was Jesus Crucified?

Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?


There are 3 issues that need some study.

  1. What day did Jesus die?

  2. What day was Jesus raised from the dead?

  3. How should we calculate the time between his death and resurrection?

Facts on which most can agree:

  1. Jesus was on the cross from the noon (sixth hour) and died at about three in the afternoon (ninth hour).

  2. Matthew 27:45-50

  3. Mark 15:33-37

  4. Luke 23:44-46

  5. Sabbath was coming. (Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42)

  6. John called it a “high day.” (John 19:31)

  7. Jesus said he would be in the “heart of the earth” for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:40)

  8. Jesus said he would be dead “three days” and be raised. (John 2:19-20)

The main problem:

  1. How could Jesus be in the earth a literal “three days and three nights” when he is put in the ground just before sunset and rises just before sunrise?

  2. Was Jesus in the tomb a full 72 hours?

  3. If Jesus remained in the tomb a full 72 hours, he would have to be raised just before sunset (not sunrise).


On what day did Jesus die?

If Jesus Died on Friday

  1. He would be buried just before sunset on Friday.

  2. He would be in the heart of the earth Friday night, Saturday day and night, and Sunday early day.

  3. This would be a total of 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) and only 1 full day (Saturday).


If Jesus Died on Thursday

  1. He would be buried just before sunset on Thursday.

  2. He would be in the heart of the earth Thursday night, Friday day and night, Saturday day and night, and early Sunday morning.

  3. This would be a total of 3 nights (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and 2 days (Friday and Saturday).


If Jesus Died on Wednesday

  1. He would be buried just before sunset on Wednesday.

  2. He would be in the heart of the earth Wednesday night, Thursday day and night, Friday day and night, Saturday day and night, and early Sunday morning.

  3. This would mean a total of 4 days and 3 nights.


Three Scenarios – Same Problem

  1. Was this a full 72 hours (That is 3 complete 24-hour days.)? (Matthew 12:40)

  2. If Jesus remained in the tomb a full 72 hours, he would have to be raised just before sunset (not sunrise).

  3. No matter what day you choose for the death and burial, you cannot have an exact number of 24-hour periods.


What about the claim for a Wednesday crucifixion?

OBJECTION: Wednesday advocates claim that Mark 16:1 is speaking of the women coming to the tomb on a day between the “high Sabbath” and the weekly Sabbath. They contend that verse 2 is speaking of coming a second time on the first day of the week when the sun was risen. They try to make verses 1 and 2 describe two separate trips to the tomb.


  1. The tomb was sealed and Roman guards would not have permitted access.

  2. If there had been a day between Sabbaths, the disciples would have come and completed the embalming on that day.

  3. The scriptures do not allow for a day between the Sabbaths.


OBJECTION: It is claimed that at night following the Sabbath, the women could not have purchased the spices they needed. (Mark 16:1)


  1. There is no reason they could not purchase spices after the Sabbath.

  2. Night is not a problem.

    1. The apostles thought Judas was sent to purchase things for the feast. (John 13:29-30)

    2. Parable of foolish virgins went to buy oil at midnight. (Matthew 25:9)

    3. The church had services at night. (Acts 20:7)

  3. It was possible to buy things after dark.


OBJECTION: Daniel 9:27 says the Messiah was to be cut off “in the midst of the week.” That would place the crucifixion on Wednesday.


  1. Daniel 9:24-27 is speaking of a prophetic period of 70 weeks.

  2. The count begins with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

  3. They are said to be “weeks of years”.

  4. At the end of the 70 weeks, the sacrificial system would end.


What about a Thursday crucifixion?

OBJECTION: Some have argued that a Thursday crucifixion with a Sunday night resurrection most closely fits the days and nights of Matthew 12:40.


  1. A Thursday crucifixion has Jesus raised on the 4th day.

  2. There are many passages that teach that he was raised “on the third day.”


When was he raised?


Was Jesus raised on Saturday?

Sabbath keepers have tried to claim that Jesus was raised on Saturday. Here is their argument.

Mark 16:9 – Now when he was risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…

OBJECTION: Move the comma to follow “risen” rather than “week.” The will make the passage tell us when Jesus appeared to Mary, not when he was raised.


  1. There is no grammatical basis for this claim. All translators and scholars disagree with this view. It does not solve the problem of counting days.

  2. It is very clear that the church met on the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

  3. All of the early church writings indicate that the early church met on Sunday, not Saturday.


OBJECTION: Mark 16:9 is in doubt as being in the original.


  1. Some of the ancient manuscripts are missing the ending of Mark. (Mark 16:9-20)

  2. Most accept these verses as the correct ending.

  3. Others believe the original ending was lost and this was an early substitute.


Is there any evidence for a Saturday resurrection?

OBJECTION: Some give an alternate reading to Matthew 28:1 “Late on the Sabbath day” (ASV)


  1. Most translate this phrase – “after the Sabbath” (RSV, KJV, NKJV, etc.)

  2. Even ASV says, “Now late on the Sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” indicating the transition from Saturday to Sunday.

  3. Note the next phrase, “as it began to dawn.” This sounds like early in the morning. This is exactly what the other gospels teach. (Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1)

  4. John says the women came “while it was yet dark.”

  5. Luke says the women came to the tomb “at early dawn.”


OBJECTION: None of these passages tell when Jesus was raised. They only tell when the women came to the tomb and discovered he was not there.


  1. Did Jesus arise on Saturday then go into hiding for 12 hours?

  2. The best clue is in Matthew 28:11. There were soldiers assigned to guard the tomb to make sure that his resurrection did not occur as he had promised. (Matthew 27:62-66. But in Matthew 28:11, the women discovered the empty tomb and went to tell the apostles. “Now when they were going, some of the watch came into the city.” The stone had not rolled away 6 or 12 hours earlier. It had just occurred.


Importance of the Scriptural Record

  1. Pay close attention to the phrase “day of preparation.”

  2. All attempts to have the crucifixion on any day other than Friday require two Sabbaths.

  3. Matthew tells us the guards were posted on the day after the preparation day. This had to be the Sabbath day.

  4. The very next words are “at the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn the first day of the week.” (Matthew 28:1)

  5. Mark places the crucifixion of the day of preparation, which was the day before the Sabbath. (Mark 15:42)

  6. Luke is also clear. Jesus was put in the tomb on the day of preparation and the Sabbath drew on. (Luke 23:54)

  7. John claims the crucifixion was on the day of preparation. (John 19:31)

  8. None of these accounts give any room for a second Sabbath.


How do you explain “three days and three nights”?

  1. There are three terms used interchangeably – “the third day”; “after three days”; and “three days and three nights.”

  2. J. W. McGarvey, Fourfold Gospels, page 306 – “Jesus was one full day, two full nights and parts of two other days in the grave. But, as the Jews reckoned a part of a day as a whole day when it occurred at the beginning or end of a series, he was correctly spoken of as being three days and three nights in the grave. The Jews had three phrases, viz.: “on the third day,” “after three days,” and “three days and three nights,” which all meant the same thing; that is, three days, two of which might be fractional days.”

  3. We have similar expressions – “He got married on Saturday” – even though it was 5 pm when the wedding took place. We have “4 day weekends” – Friday thru Monday, but we still work all day Friday and leave after a day of work.

  4. A person could be in an auto accident at 6 pm on Friday. Sunday am – “3 days later and I am still sore and in pain.”

  5. Strong’s Greek Concordance says of the word translated “day” “day, i.e. (literally) the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole 24 hours (but several days were usually reckoned by the Jews as inclusive of the parts of both extremes)”

  6. Study these passages – Esther 4:16 (3 days); Genesis 7:4 (40 days and 40 nights, 7 days); Exodus 24:18 (40 days and 40 nights); Exodus 34:28 (40 days and 40 nights); Jonah 1:17 (3 days and 3 nights); 2 Corinthians 11:25 (a night and a day).

  7. Any part of a day was considered a “day and a night.” It would be expressed as “3 days” even though the third day was only a part of a day.


Was the resurrection “ON” the third day or “AFTER” the third day

  1. Mark 8:31 – “After three days” Jesus would be raised from the dead.

  2. This phrase means, “After the third day has come” Jesus will be raised.


Scriptures that specify the resurrection was “ON” the third day.

  1. Matthew 16:21 – raised again the third day

  2. Matthew 17:23 – the third day he shall be raised again

  3. Matthew 20:19 – the third day he shall rise again

  4. Matthew 27:64 – until the third day

  5. Mark 9:31 – he shall rise the third day

  6. Mark 10:34 – the third day he shall rise again

  7. Luke 9:22 – slain and be raised the third day

  8. Luke 13:32 – today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected

  9. Luke 18:33 – the third day he shall rise again

  10. Luke 24:7 – and the third day rise again

  11. Luke 24:21 – today is the third day since these things

  12. Luke 24:46 – rise from the dead the third day

  13. Acts 10:40 – God raise him up the third day

  14. 1 Corinthians 15:4 – he rose again the third day



  1. The resurrection was not 72 hours after the burial.

  2. It was to occur on “the third day” after his death.

  3. Jesus was crucified on a Friday afternoon and buried just before 6 pm on Friday.

  4. The next day was the Sabbath.

  5. The next morning, just at daylight, Jesus was raised from the dead.

  6. The Roman guards reported to the Jewish authorities just as the women were going to tell the apostles.


= = = = =

Here is another way to look at “part of the day counted as a whole day.”

The Bible is sufficient proof. James Meadows compiled this brief list. There may be more to search out.

Genesis 42:17-18 Joseph put his brothers in ward for three days. Yet, he released them on the 3rd day, not the fourth day after tree full days.

1 Kings 12:5, 12 and 2 Chronicles 10:5, 12 Rehoboam told the people to "depart yet three days, then come again to me." "Jereboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day as the king bade saying, 'Come to me the third day.'" A part of the day he dismissed them, all the next day, and a part of the next day made three days.

Esther 4:16-5:1 Esther told Mordecai and the people to "fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day..." She said she would then go into the king "yet she went into the kin on the third day. The day she gave the order, all the next day, and part of the third, mad 3 days - day and night.

Acts 10:3, 7-9, 24, 30 Cornelius said to Peter, "four days ago, until this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer.." The time of the prayer was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. He immediately started the soldiers and two servants to Peter and they reached his lodging the next day at noon (v. 9). Peter had them stay all night and the next day at the 9th hour they met Cornelius. In order to make the four days, he counted less than three hours of the first day, and the whole of the second and third, and 21 hours of the fourth. In this instance we have to deduct exactly 24 hours from the number od days given in order to had the exact number.


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