When Did Jesus Die?

In What year Did Jesus Die?

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On What Day Did Jesus Die?

Most Christians, of course, celebrate the crucifixion on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. But what about Jesus saying that, like Jonah, He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth? Friday morning to Sunday morning could be counted as three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) but not three nights.

Assuming Jesus was not wrong, there are only two possibilities: either that was a figure of speech (i.e. it wasn't literally three days and three nights) or we have the timing wrong.

There are many conflicting views on this. Before digging deeper, here are some things to note:

  1. The Jewish day starts at sunset the previous day. This might be important for reckoning the days.

  2. As with all things on the internet, it is important to consider people's credibility.

    1. Does this person know what he/she is talking about?

    2. Does this person have an agenda that is biasing his/her point of view?

      1. Some represent groups with unorthodox beliefs and are defending those.

      2. Some people are motivated by a desire simply to challenge orthodoxy.

  3. Because there are various possible explanations, there is no need to conclude that Jesus was wrong.

  4. Any uncertainty about how long Jesus was in the tomb does not change the basic facts that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. In some ways this is an unimportant detail. It is important only in that it raises questions about how we are to understand scripture.

This difficult issue gives us a good opportunity to practice our critical thinking and our discernment.

In Favour Of A Figure Of Speech (An Idiom)

i.e. it does not mean a literal 72 hours.

Suggestions 1: "Day and night" just means "day" and "day" means any part of a day

"Three days and three nights" suggest three full 2-hour days i.e. Jesus was in the tomb for 72 hours. That accords with the passages that say he rose "after three days" but it appears to conflict with the passages that say "on the third day". After three days would mean on the fourth day. The use of these various phrases all to mean the same thing suggests that they are not to be take strictly literally.

In favour of It Being Literally Three Days and Three Nights

In Favour Of Jesus Dying On The Thursday

This theory suggests that the three hours of darkness from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. were a night and that Jesus was crucified on the Thursday..

Let's think this through.

  • The speaker says "The Bible tells us that Thursday was preparation day". Where is that? John 19:31 does not say it was Thursday. It depends on which day was the Sabbath. He assumes it was the Friday. He might be right but we have no way of knowing.

  • Defining the three hours of darkness as a night seems irrelevant since he doesn't include that in his reckoning that starts with Jesus' death after the darkness.

  • For Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to sunset to be counted as the first day, those 3 hours have to be understood as a "day".

  • How is Sunday the third day if Thursday is the first day?

I am left confused.


  • He says that Jesus could not have been raised on the Saturday night since the word translated "early" means "in the morning" but that passage is about when the women visited the tomb, not when Jesus rose.

In Favour Of Jesus Dying On The Friday

Suggestions 1: The Jews Counted Their Days Differently

i.e. it does mean a literal three days and three nights but they are understood as part-days, starting at sunset.

Suggestions 2: The Time Period Is Not Referring To Jesus' Burial Only

What Do You Think? Be Berean

Doug Batchelor might be right about the time period but what do you think of his reasoning?

  • He equates "the heart of the earth" to general references to the earth to discredit the idea that it refers to the tomb. What we really need to know is what that phrase meant at the time.

  • He says "the heart of the earth" (Matt 12:41) means "the clutches of evil" but he gives no evidence. The word used (ge) means the physical earth not spiritual worldliness. The same word is used again in the next verse. The Queen of Sheba came from the ends of the earth i.e. she travelled a long distance.

  • It is most unlikely that Jesus was referring to His arrest when He told Mary that His hour had not yet come. What would that have to do with whether or not He would provide wine for the wedding? Presumably, He was referring to the moment when His public ministry would begin. "The hour" simply means the appointed time for something. It is not restricted to Gethsemane.

    • Gethsemane did mark the start of the time of Jesus' suffering but not every use of "the hour" refers to that.

Mr Bachelor uses very tenuous links, based on the use of a particular word (earth and hour) in quite different contexts, to reach a conclusion. Are those links sufficient to support that conclusion? You decide.

An Unconventional View

Be aware, this speaker, John Schoenheit, leads Spirit and Truth Fellowship International, a breakaway group from The Way International. Both groups have some unconventional beliefs. For example, they do not believe in the Holy Spirit i.e. they are not Trinitarian.

What Do You Think? Be Berean

Do not accept everything you hear. Christians can be unbelievably gullible at times. We need to test what we hear and here is a good chance to practice some discernment. Listen to the above talk and note down what you find convincing and what makes you suspicious.

The speaker says that Jesus rose on the Saturday evening (i.e. the beginning of Sunday), but...

  • What is the evidence?

  • All of the gospels talk of the women coming to the tomb (at dawn", "very early... just after sunrise", "very early in the morning", and "early... while it was still dark".

    • But how much earlier had Jesus risen? Could it have been on the Saturday night?

      • Matthew (28:1-2) describes the resurrection after saying that the two Marys went to look at the tomb. Did they see the stone roll away and the angel descend or had that happened earlier?

Was Jesus Raised From The Dead On Saturday Or Sunday? - Wayne Jackson (Christian Courier)

The speaker says that Jesus was arrested on the Monday night, but...

  • What is the evidence?

  • When then did Jesus share the Last Supper with the disciples? The Monday night is a long way from the Passover.

This video presents the same view but, again, comes from a group with unorthodox views. Tomorrow's World is an agency of The Living Church of God which doesn't believe in the Holy Spirit and says that Jesus is less than God among other things.

Views that differ from orthodox Christianity need to be viewed with considerable suspicion.

  • What if Jesus did not die in the year 31 A.D.? That would undermine this whole theory. The Passover would have fallen on a different day.


There is a lot of uncertainty. Any conclusion is likely to have not answered all of the questions. For the time being, I am open to the idea that Jesus died on the Thursday and that both the Friday and the Saturday were sabbaths (although that works for only one year). On the other hand, the fact that "on the third day" and "after three days" are used interchangeably suggests that the expressions are somewhat idiomatic.