What was the significance of Jesus being dead for three days?
QuestionAnswer There are a variety of reasons why it is noteworthy that Jesus was dead for three days prior to His resurrection. First and foremost, Jesus’ opponents were convinced that He had genuinely risen from the grave after three days of death because of his resurrection after three days of death. Why? Jewish tradition holds that the soul or spirit of a person remains with his or her dead body for three days after death. After three days, the soul/spirit was no longer with us. If Jesus’ resurrection had taken place on the same day, or even the following day, it would have been much simpler for His opponents to claim that He had never actually died in the first place.
The fulfillment of biblical prophecy was a second reason why it was necessary for Jesus to be dead for three days before rising again.
Some interpret Hosea 6:1–3 as a prophesy of the Messiah’s resurrection after three days, saying, “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He will resurrect us after two days, and on the third day, he will restore us so that we may live in the presence of the Lord.
It is certain that he will arrive, just as certain as the sun will rise; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring showers that water the ground.” These three days were crucial in other ways as well, according to the text Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 15:4 when he says that Jesus “was risen on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Jesus died on a Friday, Nisan 14, the day of the Passover lamb’s sacrifice, marking the end of the Jewish year.
- His death reflects the death of a flawless, immaculate sacrifice made on our behalf by the Father in heaven.
- Hence the importance of Jesus being dead for three days prior to His resurrection, as explained in the Gospel of John.
- (2) Because Jesus Himself said that it would take three days.
- Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) The fact that Jesus had been dead for three days had a significant meaning.
Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead?
You are here: Home/Redeeming Theology/Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead? Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead? This may seem like an inconsequential topic, but why did Jesus have to wait three days before rising from the dead? By this I mean that when He died, He had totally atoned for all the sins of the entire human race. He could have risen right then and then, jumped down from the cross, brushed himself off and called it a day. But why didn’t He simply do it?
Fine. But why do we have to wait three days for the resurrection? Why not cover yourself in burial clothing and rise at some point during the first night? Here are some plausible explanations, but to be honest, I don’t find any of them really compelling.
To prove He was dead
Some would claim that He had to remain in the tomb for three days in order to demonstrate that He was no longer alive. There is, after all, the “swoon theory,” according to which Jesus did not actually die, but rather became unconscious while on the cross. I guess that if Jesus “resurrected” from the dead two minutes after he died on the cross, this explanation would be much more compelling. However, once Jesus is buried in the tomb for three days, this idea is rendered completely ineffective.
Why didn’t Jesus simply wait seven days to demonstrate that He was no longer alive?
Although these lengthier times may be ignored, I believe they should be because God did not want Jesus to see degradation (Ps 16:10; Acts 2:27).
To fulfill prophecy
It has been suggested that Jesus needed to spend three days in the grave in order to fulfill prophesy. Which prophesy are we talking about? a sign from Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a massive fish (cf. Matt 12:39-40). However, we must proceed with caution since the narrative of Jonah is not actually a prophecy in the traditional sense. No doubt, Jesus foretold that He would be dead for three days, just as Jonah was imprisoned in the fish for three days, but if Jesus had never stated anything like this, there would have been no such thing as a prophesy about spending three days in the grave.
Why couldn’t Jesus have made a connection between His death and the creation of the world, and spoken a prophecy along the lines of “Just as the world was created in six days, and on the sixth day, Adam was raised from the dust of the earth, so also, after six days, the Son of Man will rise from the dust” (Genesis 1:26-27)?
What was it about the narrative of Jonah that drew His attention?
To increase faith
Another probable explanation is that Jesus wished to boost the trust of His disciples by this event. They were forced to examine why they had followed Him and if He was indeed the Messiah as a result of His failure to revive immediately. Their sadness at having lost Him, as well as the issues of what would have occurred if they had not followed Him, or if they had defended Him more vigorously, or whether they had just been tricked, were all difficult to deal with. Through his decision to wait three days, Jesus gave them the opportunity to work through some of their difficulties and questions.
However, this begs the question once again. It is reasonable to assume that three days will accomplish this; yet, why not seven, twelve, or forty days, all of which are major biblical numbers?
Could not rise during the Sabbath
As resurrection is seen to constitute labour, it may be claimed that Jesus could not rise on the Sabbath, but instead had to wait until the Sabbath was finished. This is an argument that does have some validity. However, Jesus was constantly engaging in activities on the Sabbath that were frowned upon by other Jewish people, like healing on the Sabbath. As a result, it appears He may have been reared on the Sabbath as well.
Acting as our High Priest
Perhaps Jesus was occupied with “doing something” in paradise, hell, and heaven at the same time. Typical High Priestly duties include things such as sprinkling blood on the altar in heaven, victorious victories over sin, death, and the devil, and preaching to spirits in prison, among other things (Hebrews 9; 1 Pet 3:19). This is something that I believe is possible. It just does not explain why these tasks took three days to do.
It doesn’t matter
Maybe it doesn’t make a difference. Perhaps everything happened at random. Perhaps Jesus chose a number out of thin air and chose Jonah as a method of making a prophesy about it in order to demonstrate that He could anticipate the future, which would then demonstrate that He was a prophet of God when the prophecy came true. The number of days spent in the grave, on the other hand, is meaningless. It just so happens to be the one that Jesus choose. All I can say is that I’m having trouble with this since the biblical authors seem to lay so much emphasis on Jesus’ three days in the grave.
But that’s all right since.
The important thing is that Jesus rose
We can all agree on this point. Perhaps the question of why Jesus remained in the tomb for three days is a pointless one that only theologians should consider. The key thing to remember is that Jesus resurrected from the grave, and for this we may give God praise and thanks for all of eternity. It is difficult to comprehend why Jesus remained in the tomb for three days. But the most crucial thing to remember is that He rose from the dead! Theologians enjoy asking these kinds of questions about Scripture, theology, and Jesus, but at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is trusting God for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, even if we do not understand all of the specifics of what God has done.
The cross of Jesus is CENTRAL to everything!
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Did Jesus Rise on the Third Day?
I have implicitly assumed that Jesus was executed on Friday in my Answers Magazine article and in my book (co-authored with Justin Taylor) The Final Days of Jesus (both written with Justin Taylor) (though our main argument was that Jesus died most likely in AD 33 rather than in AD 30). Some have objected to the fact that such a view appears to be at odds with Jesus’ declaration in the Gospel of Matthew that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40, ESV).
- After all, if Jesus was crucified on a Friday, he would have been in the tomb for at least three days and two nights, which would be in conflict with Jesus’ own affirmation in Matthew.
- When it comes to addressing this subject, we come to a fork in the road.
- Of course, the date on which Jesus died is not nearly as important as the fact that he, the God-man, died on the cross in our place as a sacrifice for our sins.
- As a result, this is less of an atheological concern and more of a hermeneutical and exegetical difficulty.
- Before we proceed, allow me to make one more remark, which is connected to tradition.
- Tradition can, in fact, be incorrect!” Yes, I am aware of the situation.
- In spite of this, there are frequently valid reasons for a particular custom, and in this case at least, I believe the rationale for the “Good Friday” tradition is anchored in the fact that Jesus was killed on a Friday, as attested to by the Gospels themselves.
In the first place, the Gospels consistently attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified and rose again “on the third day” (for example, Luke 24:7; see also Luke 24:21, where the two disciples on the road to Emmaus inform Jesus that it is “now the third day since these things happened”; this later became part of the gospel message, as we can see in passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:4 and later still in the Apostles’ Creed).
- Nowhere in the Gospels does it indicate that Jesus was crucified and rose again “on the fourth day” or “on the fifth day”; it is always said that he rose on the third day.
- Jesus resurrected from the dead on the third day, precisely as he had prophesied on several occasions.
- Now, it appears to me that those who attempt to fit the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection “on the third day” into a “three days and three nights” plan will certainly claim that Jesus rose on the fourth or fifth day.
- If Jesus had risen on Thursday, he would have done so on Day 4.
- Any of these scenarios is in direct contrast with the consistent biblical evidence that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.
Therefore, it may be preferable to investigate whether there is a legitimate way to account for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12:40, according to which “just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” What is the difference between “three days and three nights” and “three days and two nights”?
- There’s a rationale for this: in Semitic language, any component of a 24-hour period of time might be referred to as “one day and a night” (in the sense that one “day and a night” is equal to one day and a night = 1 day).
- In addition, read the relevant comments on Matthew’s Gospel for supporting evidence.
- These idioms and other literary techniques will be quickly recognized by people who are open to the presence of such devices, but those who cling to a more literal interpretative approach will most likely not notice that this resolves the dilemma.
- I am aware that several highly scholarly arguments have been advanced in support of a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion, but none of them seem persuasive to me at this point (or many others).
- While at the same time, I believe that there is a reasonable approach to address the seeming challenge, which serves as a good case study demonstrating that not every apparent contradiction is actually a genuine contradiction.
This is another point on which those of us who maintain a high regard for the Bible should be able to come to terms with one another.
Why Resurrection on the Third Day? Two Cultural Insights
I have implicitly assumed that Jesus was executed on Friday in my Answers Magazine article and in my book (co-written with Justin Taylor) The Final Days of Jesus (though our main argument was that Jesus died most likely in AD 33 rather than in AD 30). I’m not the only one who believes that Jesus died on a Friday (also known as “Good” Friday), but some have taken issue with the fact that such a belief appears to be at odds with Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of Matthew that “just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40, ESV).
- As a matter of fact, I can understand why those who adhere to a strict literalist interpretation of Scripture are troubled by this passage.
- As we will see, and as is so frequently the case, hermeneutics is essential when attempting to resolve this seeming paradox.
- (2) Is it our intention to begin with a word-for-word reading of Matthew 12:40 and then, on the basis of a high view of Scripture (inerrancy), attempt to make the rest of Scripture conform to a literal “three days and three nights” interpretation?
- It goes without saying that the exact day on which Jesus died is not nearly as significant as the fact that he, the God-man, died on the cross for our sins.
- The issue here is not one of theology per such, but rather one of hermeneutics and exegesis.
- I’d want to make one more remark about tradition before we go on.
- Yes, I get what you’re saying.
- The reality is that there are frequently legitimate reasons for a particular custom, and in this instance, I believe the rationale for “Good Friday” tradition is anchored in the actual Gospels themselves, which testifies to the fact that Jesus was killed on a Friday.
In the first place, the Gospels consistently attest to the fact that Jesus was crucified and rose again “on the third day” (for example, Luke 24:7; see also Luke 24:21, where the two disciples on the road to Emmaus inform Jesus that it is “now the third day since these things happened”; this later became part of the gospel message, as we can see in passages such as 1 Cor 15:4 and later still in the Apostles’ Creed).
- Every time Jesus is killed and raised from the dead, the Gospels state that he did so on the third day, never on the fourth or fifth.
- In accordance with his countless predictions, Jesus resurrected from the dead on the third day.
- If he died on Wednesday, as some have speculated, Wednesday was the first day, Thursday the second, Friday the third, Saturday the fourth, and Sunday the fifth of the month.
- Any of these scenarios is in direct contrast with the consistent biblical evidence that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day of the week.
Therefore, it may be more appropriate to investigate whether there is a legitimate way to account for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12:40, which states that “just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth.” What is the difference between “three days and three nights” and “three days and two nights” in this context?
Well, the answer is not nearly as impossible as those who employ a very literal, word-for-word hermeneutic in the interpretation of this verse might suggest (and let me emphasize that a literal interpretation is certainly one I generally advocate, except in cases where we’re dealing with anidiomin Scripture; see below).
Considering that Jewish days begin and conclude at sunset, it leaves us with around 3 hours on “Friday,” 24 hours on “Saturday,” and up to roughly 12 hours on “Sunday” – three days, or, in Semitic terminology, “three days and three nights,” respectively.
I understand that this is in contrast to the way we communicate in English, but this is what happens when translating from one language into another: we have to accept that people in other languages, cultures, and times communicate in a different way, and that idioms may not come across perfectly clearly to speakers of other languages when they are translated.
In the end, finding a reasonable explanation for the “three days and three nights” reference in Matthew 12:40, such as the one offered above, is preferable to revising the rest of the Gospel evidence about the day of Jesus’ death, which is what I believe is being done here.
As previously said, our salvation does not depend on our ability to reconcile Matthew 12:40 with the Gospel chronology of Jesus’ death, which is a great blessing!
We should be able to agree on this as well, as all of us who hold a high regard for the Bible should be able to.
Why do we say that Jesus ‘rose on the third day’?
The fresco of “The Resurrection” by Renaissance artist Pintoricchio, which can be seen in the Vatican’s Borgia Apartments, may be seen in this photo given by the Vatican Museums. (Photo courtesy of the Vatican Museums courtesy of the Catholic News Service) To answer your question, the Nicene Creed states that Jesus “suffered death, was buried, and was raised on the third day.” The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ statement that “the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (12:40).
- Could you please explain what you mean?
- Answer: The phrase “three days” in the text does not always refer to 72 hours in the strictest sense.
- The ancient Jews were quite content with counting half days as if they were a whole day.
- For example, I may remark, “Last month, I was at my hometown with my family.” When I say “on the first of the month,” it does not always imply that I came and left on the same day of each month.
- Consequently, even if Jesus was not in the tomb for precisely three days, he was there for at least a portion of three days.
- Although the Scriptures were written in Greek, it seems more probable that Jesus spoke in Aramaic when he spoke to the disciples.
- As a result, it is possible that the text is attempting to represent in Greek a Jewish idiom that, as previously stated, counts partial days as complete days but also considers the night as part of the day.
- As a result, the notion of “night-days” was developed.
- Because Friday is considered “night-day one,” Saturday is considered “night-day two,” and Sunday was designated as “night-day three,” Jesus was in the tomb for three days and nights, according to these assumptions.
Jewish understanding of heaven
Question: In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of a “third heaven.” Can you tell me more about it? (12:2). What is the proper interpretation of this? —Peter Tate, a resident of Long Beach, Calif. Answer: There were several subtleties to Jewish cosmology that are too lengthy to get into here. However, in general, the Jews believed there were three “heavens.” The first heaven was located where the clouds were and the birds were able to soar. The second heavens were the locations of the stars and planets.
As a result, when Paul says he was “caught up to the third heaven,” he is referring to the fact that he was brought up to or given an experience of the heaven where God resides.
As a result, he was able to witness the splendor of heaven.
Theologians generally agree that we are not in a position to contemplate the brightness of the Holy Trinity in our current condition of affairs.
The Old Testament made several allusions to the difficulty of staring into the face of God in various forms (cf. Is 6:5). There are certain exceptions, such as Moses and Isaiah, but even in those cases, it is not certain that they saw God’s face in its true form (cf. Ex 33:23).
Question:There was a time when some sins were considered fatal, period. It looks to be subjective at this point. You have to believe it’s grave for it to be mortal. So, if a person does not feel that the situation is terrible, is he exempt from prosecution? • James Jeson (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Answer:There are three things that must happen in order for someone to incur grave sin: The offense is a serious one, and there is adequate knowledge of this fact, as well as complete and unconditional permission of the will.
- When the Church teaches that certain sins might be fatal, she is merely referring to the actual seriousness of the situation at hand.
- Certain things, on the other hand, may mitigate one’s sense of responsibility.
- This may help them to feel less guilty about their actions.
- Modern catechesis is more concerned with one’s ability to comprehend and exercise freedom.
- Pastor of Holy Comforter-St.
- Questions can be sent to [email protected].
Did Jesus Rise “On” or “After” the Third Day?
The most common allusion to Jesus’ resurrection shows that He emerged from the graveonthe third day of His entombment. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus as prophesying that He would rise from the tomb on this day in history. The apostle Paul stated in his first letter to the Corinthians that Jesus resurrected from the tomb “on the third day, according to the Scriptures,” referring to the third day of the week in which he died (1 Corinthians 15:4). To add insult to injury, when preaching to Cornelius and his household, Peter preached that God brought Jesus up “on the third day” from the dead (Acts 10:40, emp.
- On the other hand, Jesus also taught (and Mark reported) that “the Son of Man” would be crucified before being “raised from the dead after three days” (Mark 8:31, emp.
- Furthermore, Jesus predicted that He would remain at the center of the Earth for “three days and three nights” in another passage of Scripture (Matthew 12:40).
- Is it true that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day or that he rose after three days?
- It was possible to compute for the entire day and the next night in the first century by taking any section of a day and multiplying it by 100.
- Lightfoot, 1979, pp.
- Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who lived in the year 100 A.D., is recorded in theJerusalem Talmud as saying: “A day and a night are an Onaand the share of an Onah is as the entire of it” (fromJerusalem Talmud: Shabbath ix.
- 248-249, bracketed comment in orig.).
The Scriptures provide several examples that demonstrate unequivocally that throughout biblical times, a portion of a day was frequently comparable to the entire day.
- It rained on the Earth for “forty days and forty nights,” according to Genesis 7:12, at the time of the Noahic Flood. In verse 17 of the same chapter, it is said that it was only on Earth for “forty days.” Who would argue that it had to rain for exactly 960 hours (40 days x 24 hours) for both of these assertions to be accurate
- In Genesis 42:17, Joseph imprisoned his brothers for three days before they were released. In 1 Samuel 30:12,13, the phrases “three days and three nights” and “three days” are used interchangeably
- When Queen Esther was about to risk her life by going before the king uninvited, she instructed her fellow Jews to follow her example by not eating “for three days, night or day.” The phrase “three days and three nights” is used interchangeably in 1 Samuel 30:12,13. (Esther 4:16). The narrative continues by informing us that Esther entered the palace “on the third day” (5:1, emphasis added)
- And that she met with the king. The book of 2 Chronicles has one of the most striking Old Testament passages that plainly demonstrates that the ancients (at least occasionally) treated a portion of a twenty-four-hour period “as the whole of it.” In response to Israel’s appeal for relief from their responsibilities, King Rehoboam desired time to consider their request. As a result, he directed Jeroboam and the people of Israel to return “afterthree days” (2 Chronicles 10:5, emp. added). Jeroboam and the people of Israel, according to verse 12, returned to Rehoboam “on the third day, as the king had instructed, saying, “Come back to methethird day,” ” as the king had directed” (emp. added). That even though Rehoboam told his people to return “afterthree days,” they interpreted this to mean “on the third day” is fascinating, isn’t it? Furthermore, Acts 10 provides additional insight into the ancient practice of counting successive days (in part or in whole) as entire days. Cornelius was visited by an angel at “around the ninth hour of the day,” according to Luke’s account (approximately 3:00 p.m
- Acts 10:3). “The next day”(10:9), Peter was visited by a vision from God and welcomed people sent by Cornelius to the church. “The next day”(10:23), Peter and the slaves of Cornelius set off towards Caesarea, according to the Bible. “And the next day they arrived at Caesarea,” where Peter spent time teaching Cornelius and his family about the Gospel (10:24). Cornelius told Peter about his meeting with an angel of God at one point during Peter’s stay. Please pay close attention to how he began the rehearsal for the event. “Four days ago, exactly at this time, I was praying in my home at the ninth hour.” he explained. The NASB adds an emphasis at 10:30. Despite the fact that the incident had taken place just 72 hours (or three literal days) earlier, Cornelius referred to it as having taken place “four days agoto this hour” in his speech. Why are there four days rather than three? The reason for this is because according to the way of measuring time used in the first century, a portion of the first day and a portion of the fourth day might be considered as complete days. Anyone who has studied the Bible may easily understand how this knowledge corresponds precisely with Jesus’ burial on Friday and His resurrection from the dead the following Sunday. When it comes to ancient times, a portion of Friday, all of Saturday, and a portion of Sunday would be regarded three days, not one or two.
Despite the fact that some people in current times may find this logic a little strange, comparable idiomatic phrases are nevertheless often employed today. Consider the following example: A baseball game that concludes after only 81.22 innings is referred to as a “9-inning game.” Furthermore, despite the fact that the losing pitcher on the visiting team only pitched 8 innings (as opposed to the winning pitcher on the home club who pitched 9 innings), he is considered to have completed a complete game.
- on Wednesday and checks out at 5:30 p.m.
- Was the man in the hotel for a single day or for two days?
- check-out time.
- Another piece of evidence demonstrating that Jesus’ remarks about His burial were not inconsistent revolves around the fact that even His opponents did not accuse Him of contradicting Himself over His burial.
- In fact, the chief priests and Pharisees addressed Pilate the day after Jesus was executed, saying, “Sir, we recall how that liar stated, while He was still alive, ‘I shall rise after three days.'” Because of this, instruct that the tomb be secured until the third day” (Matthew 27:63-64, emp.
- The term “after three days” must have meant “after the third day,” otherwise else the Pharisees would have demanded a guard of soldiers until the fourth day, which would have been impossible.
- The use of metaphorical terms by Jesus and the Bible writers to indicate how long Jesus would be buried do not imply that He was buried for a literal period of seventy-two hours.
“Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ—Part IV: The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion,” in Hoehner, Harold W. (1974), “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ—Part IV: The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion,” in Hoehner, Harold W. Bibliotheca Sacra, volume 131, pages 241-264 (July). John Lightfoot is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom (1979 reprint), Using the Talmud and Hebraica, a commentary on the New Testament is presented (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Originally published on May 26, 2004. REPRODUCTION PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMERS:We are pleased to offer permission for this material to be used in part or in its full as long as our conditions are followed. Prerequisites for Reproduction
Did Jesus rise on the third day or after three days?
When it comes to the Easter story, one of the most often asked questions is how many days Jesus was in the tomb before he was raised from the dead. In one sense, it’s fairly straightforward: from Good Friday, when he was crucified, to Easter Sunday, it’s only three days, albeit only partial days, from start to finish. The apparent discrepancies that individuals detect in diverse Gospel stories, on the other hand, are where they become stuck. It has been said that Jesus resurrected on the third day; nevertheless, other sources have said that he rose after three days.
According to Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and author of the book “Time”: A Novel, “We are a people preoccupied with time—and with exactness when it comes to time—down to the millisecond,” stated Witherington.
Many other regions of the world do not have a culture that is entirely devoted to the observation of the clock.
That would bring us up to the Monday after Easter.
According to Witherington, “This is only a part of a broad comparison to the account of what happened with Jonah and the whale,” and as such, “the temporal reference should not be emphasized.” It is simply stated by Jesus that “it will be like the ordeal of Jonah.” He writes for Bible History Daily, where he says: Furthermore, the term “after three days” in the New Testament might simply indicate “after a time” or “after a few days” without any obvious specificity other than to hint that multiple days, in this case portions of three days, would be engaged in the event.
Even the Hebrew Bible has some hints about the kinds of variations we might expect to encounter.
As a result, on the third day, everyone gathered to Rehoboam’s palace since the monarch had instructed them to “come to me again on the third day.” According to this literature, “after three days” and “on the third day” are both synonymous with “after three days.” Is this simply a case of carelessness, or is it an example of the common imprecision that occurs when discussing the passage of time?
When it comes to time, these books were not written in a way that would suit our present high expectations.
It is only a little more than a day after Good Friday that the Church begins to celebrate Easter, which takes place Saturday evening.” When it comes to interpreting time references in the New Testament, one of the most important things to remember is that most of the time they are not precise.
“Especially when one finds both types of references to the time span between Jesus’ death and resurrection in the same book by the same author, and in some cases even within close proximity to one another, one should take the hint that these texts were not written in accordance with our modern exacting expectations when it comes to time references,” writes the author.
On What Day Did Jesus Rise?
The May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is available online. Biblical Perspectives is a weekly column. Staff of the Biblical Archaeology Society On November 16, 20217, there were 106633 views. What day did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Is it better to wait three days or to wait until the third day? During his Biblical Views column, “It’s About Time—Easter Time,” which appeared in the May/June 2016 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review, Ben Witherington III explores this subject in further depth.
“It’s About Time—Easter Time”
Anachronism is a hazard that arises when reading ancient books like the Bible in the twenty-first century. By this I mean that we risk introducing damaging current notions and expectations into our readings. This challenge becomes much more serious when dealing with old manuscripts, which have significant historical significance and are thus difficult to interpret. What day did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning to anoint his corpse (Mark 16:1–2), as shown in Henry Osawa Tanner’s painting “The Three Marys” (1910).
- To provide an example, we are a people who are fascinated with time — and with accuracy when it comes to time — to the millisecond level.
- When it came to the passage of time, they did not stress over accuracy.
- Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead “after three days,” according to certain sources.
- In fact, the time reference should be avoided entirely.
In Mark 8:31, on the other hand, Jesus declares, “The Son of Man will rise from the dead after three days.” In John 2:19, he refers to the same event as taking place “in three days,” and the Gospel authors tell us that Jesus used the term “on the third day” on a number of occasions (see, e.g., Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 24:46).
- While it is feasible that both forecasts will be incorrect, is it really possible that both will be correct?
- Furthermore, the term “after three days” in the New Testament might simply indicate “after a time” or “after a few days” without any obvious specificity other than to hint that multiple days, in this case portions of three days, would be engaged in the event.
- “Come to me again after three days,” says the Bible’s Second Chronicles 10:5, 12.
- According to my interpretation, the term “after three days” is a more generic or imprecise way of expressing, but “on the third day” is a little more particular (albeit it still doesn’t tell us when it is on the third day).
When it comes to time, these books were not written in a way that would suit our present high expectations.
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Anachronism is a hazard that arises when reading ancient books like the Bible in the twenty-first century. By this I mean that we risk introducing unwanted current notions and expectations into our reading. When dealing with old works that have significant historical significance, this difficulty becomes much more serious. Was Jesus crucified and raised on what day? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning to anoint his body, as shown here in Henry Osawa Tanner’s “The Three Marys” (Mark 16:1–2).
- Tennessee’s Fisk University Galleries provided this photograph.
- Here, we are extremely different from the ancients, who did not walk around with miniature sundials on their wrists and did not speak in terms of seconds and minutes as we do now.
- Please consider a few instances from the Gospels that may assist us in understanding the accounts of Jesus’ final week of life.
- “On the third day,” according to some, he would arise.
- In fact, the time reference should be avoided altogether.
- “The Son of Man will rise again after three days,” Jesus declares in Mark 8:31, referring to his own resurrection.
- On the surface, this appears to be a blatant incompatibility between two ideas.
- However, the difficulty with this type of contemporary thinking is that it implies that the Gospel authors intended to always write with accuracy on this subject.
- Even the Hebrew Bible has some hints regarding the kinds of variations that we might expect to encounter.
- As a result, on the third day, everyone gathered to Rehoboam’s palace since the monarch had instructed them to “come to me again on the third day.”” In this paragraph, it appears that “after three days” and “on the third day” both imply the same thing.
- According to my interpretation, the term “after three days” is a more generic or imprecise way of expressing, but “on the third day” is a bit more particular (albeit it still doesn’t tell us when it is on the third day).
It is unlikely that these books were composed in a timely manner to match our current expectations.
Read Ben Witherington III, Reading and Learning the Bible, for assistance in understanding how to read the Bible in light of its original settings (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014).
Related reading in Bible History Daily:
When Was the First Holy Communion Celebrated? Even yet, Jesus’ Last Supper was not a Passover meal. The Herod’s Jerusalem Palace Remains are on Display During a Seder Meal Tour— The site of Jesus’ trial is a possibility. And Why It Really Does Make a Difference The “Strange” Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Really Does Make a Difference What Method Was Used to Seal Jesus’ Tomb?
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How do we understand the timing of the Great 3 Days?
How can we make sense of three days if Jesus died on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday? Christians commemorate the salvific events of Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection over the course of three days, which we refer to as the “Great Three Days” (Triduum in Latin). The gospels all confirm that Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week, early in the morning.
Matthew 28:1 (NIV): “After the Sabbath, when the first day of the week was beginning to rise.” Mark 16:1-2 (NIV): It was “after the Sabbath had ended. quite early in the morning on Monday morning.” that things began to become interesting.
Have questions?We have answers!
Fill out the form below to ask your questions and to view further FAQs. Luke 24:1 (ASKFAQSLuke 24:1): “It was the first day of the week at the crack of dawn.” “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,” says John in verse 1. Sunday is the first working day of the week. The day begins with sunset in that culture, as it does throughout the Bible, rather than with dawn or midnight. Saturday’s Sabbath came to an end at dusk. Sunday officially began just after sunset. Three days may not always equate to 72 hours.
It entails three different days, which are distinguished by the arrival and departure of the sun.
- The Last Supper and the Great Commandment will be held on Thursday. The beginning of the first day is marked by the setting of the sun (Eve of Friday). Jesus is taken into custody and tried
- Friday morning: The first day continues with the execution of Jesus, his removal from the cross, and his burial
- Friday night at sundown: The second day has begun. Friday evening/Saturday morning
- Saturday (from dawn to sunset): Jesus is laid to rest in the tomb. The third day begins at sunset on Saturday. Saturday evening
- Sunday morning: The third day continues, and Jesus is risen from the grave
From at least the third century A.D., this method of determining the beginning and end of Holy Week has remained constant in Christian practice, both East and West. It was created by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, which may be found here.
How the Old Testament Prepares Us for the Third Day
Third Day was one of the trendiest new Christian bands when I was a teenager in the 1990s, and I was a fan of their music. Although the name appeared to be a play on the popular band Third Eye Blind, we all know where it came from in the first place. As recorded in Paul’s gospel, Christ was “resurrected on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” after being “delivered from the dead.” This is “of the utmost significance,” according to 1 Corinthians 15:3–5. We are well aware that Christ resurrected from the dead on the third day.
- Luke 24:46 quotes Jesus himself as saying, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and on the third day, he shall be raised from the dead.” Which begs the question, where exactly?
- If we want to uncover the solution, we must first recognize that the Old Testament does not only lead to Christ in one manner.
- Because, as far as I’m aware, there are none to be found.
- In addition, the Old Testament uses typological patterns to point to Christ in a variety of ways, including the slaughter of the Passover lamb and the construction of the tabernacle (1 Cor.
- These are also things that Jesus is able to accomplish.
We discover a trend in the Old Testament of God doing significant acts on the third day. Things that are redeeming. Things that are revelatory. And, yeah, there are things about resurrection. Here are four illustrations.
1. Sparing Isaac
We’re all certainly familiar with the narrative of Abraham presenting his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22). God put Abraham’s faith to the ultimate test when he instructed him to do the unimaginable only to supply a replacement at the last minute. This event represents God’s sacrifice of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday. In the book of Genesis, Isaac is characterized as Abraham’s “only son, whom he cherished” (Gen. 22:2; John 3:16). On the horizon, he can be seen carrying the log on which he will be killed (Gen.
- And when he says to his father, “Here is the wood, but where is the lamb?” he is referring to the lamb.
- 22:7–8), and God provides the animal.
- God spared Abraham’s son, but he did not spare his own Son, who was crucified for the sins of the whole world (Rom.
- There’s more to it than that.
- Abraham informs his servant that he and his son Isaac will both return (Gen.
- From this, the writer of Hebrews appears to infer that Abraham thought God would resurrect Isaac from the dead: “He considered that God was competent even to raise him from death,” which he did, figuratively speaking, “from which he did receive him back” (Heb.
- Isaac was offered up as a sacrifice, both literally and metaphorically.
The time frame for Isaac’s metaphorical death and resurrection is described in Genesis 22 as follows: And so Abraham got up bright and early in the morning, mounted his donkey, and set out with two of his young men, along with his son Isaac.
proceeded to the location that God had instructed him to go.
(Genesis 22:3, 4) This is the point at when everything went wrong.
The events in Isaac’s life all occurred on the same day (not on a Friday and a Sunday).
And, according to Genesis 22:4, this occurred on the third day of the creation.
2. Descending on Sinai
When God descended on Mount Sinai, it was one of the most powerful expressions of God’s presence recorded in the whole Old Testament. A watershed moment occurred when God imparted his Law to people who had been rescued by his grace. It was an experience that those who witnessed it will never forget, and Throughout the Old Testament, we see a trend of God performing significant acts on the third day. Things that are redeeming. Things that are revelatory. And, yeah, there are things about resurrection.
When the people have finally arrived at Mount Sinai, he instructs Moses to go to them and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and to allow them to wash their robes so that they would be ready for the third day on the mountain.
(See Exodus 19:10–11) In fact, that’s exactly what occurred. This was the most spectacular of all heavenly manifestations to date, and it will be a day that will be remembered forever. Moreover, it took place “on the third day.”
3. Raising Israel
The reunification of God’s people after their exile in Babylon is frequently referred to be a resurrection (Ezek. 37:11–14). The time range for this resurrection is described in Hosea 6:2 as follows: Coming back to the LORD is essential; because he has ripped us apart so that he may heal us; he has knocked us down so that we may be bound up. He will resurrect us after two days, and on the third day he will bring us to life so that we may live before him. 1–2 (Hosea 6:1–2) The Israelites are promised that God will raise them up on the third day after bearing God’s anger by being cut down and slaughtered while in exile (Isa.
Of course, the connection here is to Israel being resurrected rather than to the Messiah’s resurrection.
Moreover, God raised him up on the third day, just as he had done for Israel (for a close analogy, compare Matt.
4. Saving Jonah
Almost everyone is familiar with Jonah’s narrative, or at least with portions of it. He was swallowed up by a large fish, and we all know that he finally made it out alive and became an instrument of Nineveh’s redemption. But what about the rest of the story? It is revealed by the author how long Jonah was in the fish’s belly: “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:14). (Jon. 1:17). The inclusion of this time frame is a strong indication that Jonah will emerge from what he himself refers to as “the belly of Sheol” (Jon.
When we realize that God planned all of history with Jesus as the heart, and that every third-day deliverance points directly to him, it should deepen our confidence.
However, in this instance, Jesus connects the typological dots for us, making a comparison between Jonah’s escape from Sheol and his own resurrection: Despite the fact that a wicked and adulterous age is looking for a sign, no sign will be delivered to them save the sign given by the prophet Jonah.
(See Matthew 12:39–40) Avoid getting hung up on the idea that there weren’t actually three nights between Jesus’ death and resurrection as some people believe.
The point is that, just as Jonah was thrown out of Hades on the third day, so was Jesus (Jonah 2:2; Acts 2:27). As Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh, so Jesus was a sign to his generation when he appeared on the scene (Luke 11:30).
In Accordance with the Scriptures
When Paul claims that Christ was resurrected on the third day in line with the Scriptures, I believe he was referring to passages such as these—and there are others as well—in his statement (2 Kings 20:5; Est. 5:1). To be sure, the Jonah verse is the only one that is specifically referenced in the New Testament. The use of Jonah 1:17 by Jesus, however, should teach us how to read comparable passages that aren’t specifically cited in the Old Testament, rather than restricting our ability to make connections from the Bible.
It’s not as if the Israelites hadn’t made sufficient preparations.
And it wasn’t by chance that this happened.
Jesus is the highest being, having risen from the dead and ruling.
We will all experience the third day at some point in the future, “figuratively speaking.” During is something to keep in mind this Easter.