In many parts of the world, the week of Jesus coming into Jerusalem, partaking of the New Testament Passover, being betrayed, killed, and resurrected is called "Passion Week" or "Holy Week." However, the term "week" should be considered as approximate as most consider that it lasted 8-10 days, and the Bible itself never states that the period was an actual week.
While the general events of what occurred during that time are fairly well known, there appears to be a lot of misunderstanding about what happened on which day of the week.
Some, for example, believe that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a Sunday, held His Last Supper on a Tuesday night, was arrested before sunrise on Wednesday, was crucified during the day on Friday, buried late afternoon on Friday and resurrected before sunrise on Easter Sunday. Many believe that Jesus had his "Last Supper" on Thursday night, was crucified on Friday afternoon, and was resurrected sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Others teach that Jesus observed the New Testament Passover on a Tuesday night, was arrested before sunrise on Wednesday, was killed during the day on Wednesday, buried late afternoon on Wednesday, and resurrected three full days and three nights later on Saturday.
This article will look to the Bible and mainly focus on the days of the week for the Passover, execution, resurrection, and some of the events near then. It will also give perspective of various scholars, historians, and others in order to explain what happened on which day of the week.
Was The Day of the Execution a Wednesday or the Resurrection on Sunday?
Here is one explanation, primarily using New Testament texts, about the day of the crucifixion and the day of the resurrection, from the 1952, the old Radio Church of God booklet titled The RESURRECTION was NOT on Sunday by the late Herbert W. Armstrong explaining this:
It is commonly supposed, today, Jesus was crucified on FRIDAY, and that the resurrection occurred about sunrise on Easter Sunday morning.
It would seem that no one, until recently, ever thought to question or to PROVE this "Good-Friday-Easter" tradition. Yet the Bible tells us to PROVE all things. And you will be literally astounded by this proof.
For PROOF there is but one dependable authority; a sole historical record -- the Bible...
The doubting Pharisees were asking Jesus for a SIGN-- a supernatural evidence -- in proof of His Messiahship.
Jesus answered: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:38-40). Now consider, please, the tremendous import -- the overwhelming significance -- of Jesus' statements!
He expressly declared that the ONLY SIGN He would give to prove He was the Messiah was that He should be just THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the rock-hewn sepulchre in "the heart of the earth."
The Significance of the Sign
These Christ-rejecting Pharisees demanded PROOF. Jesus offered but one evidence. 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 Saviour 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, He would PROVE Himself the Saviour -- 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!...
The BIBLE Definition
But the BIBLE definition of the duration of "nights and days" is simple.
Even these same 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 72 hours -- three twelve-hour days and three twelve-hour nights.
Notice Jonah 1:17: "And Jonah was in the belly of the fish THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS!" This, they admit was a period of 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 marginal reference, Jonah 2:2) 72 hours, after which he was supernaturally resurrected by God, by being vomited up, to become a saviour to the people of Ninevah upon proclaiming the warning to them, so should Jesus be 72 hours in His grave, thereupon being resurrected by God to become the saviour of the world!
Did Jesus know how much time was in a "day" and in a "night"? Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in a day ... but if a man walk in the NIGHT, he stumbleth." (John 11:9-10).
Notice 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."
In Genesis 1:4 God "divided the LIGHT from the DARKNESS. And God called the LIGHT Day, and the DARKNESS He called Night. And the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were THE FIRST DAY ... and the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were THE SECOND DAY, ... and the evening (now three periods of darkness called NIGHT - three nights) and the morning (now three periods of light called DAY -- three days) were THE THIRD DAY." (Gen 1:4- 13).
Here we have the ONLY BIBLE DEFINITION which explains and COUNTS UP the amount of time involved in the expression "THE THIRD DAY." It includes three dark periods called NIGHT, and three light periods called DAY -- three days and three nights, and Jesus said they contained TWELVE HOURS for each period -- a total of 72 hours!
That ought to be conclusive! Any seven-year old, near the end of the second grade, could figure it easily. We praise God that His plain truths are revealed UNTO BABES, and hidden from the wise and prudent!
What Is Wrong?
What is wrong with these plain, simple words of Jesus? How do these wise and prudent theologians KNOW Jesus was crucified "Good Friday" and rose "Easter Sunday?"
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! Jesus warns against making "the Word of God of none effect through your TRADITION." (Mark 7:13).
We have examined two scriptural witnesses, in Matthew and in 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 72 hours of time. Now let us examine four other Scriptural witnesses the PROVE THE SAME THING.
Notice Mark 8:31 "And He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and AFTER three days rise again."
Our young second grader can figure this. 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 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 Saviour! If He rose AFTER THREE DAYS, it might have been more than 72 hours, but it could not have been a second less!
Notice now Mark 9:31. "... they shall kill him; and AFTER that he is killed, he shall rise THE THIRD DAY." The duration expressed here must be between 48 and 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 36 hours, carrying us into the middle of the second day, AFTER He was killed.
In Matthew 27:63 Jesus is quoted as saying, "AFTER THREE DAYS I will rise again." This cannot possibly be figured as less than 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 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 -- 72 hours in the grave or the only supernatural proof He gave must fail.
The TIME OF DAY of the Resurrection
Now notice carefully this fact: In order to be three days and three nights -- 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!
Let us realize that very 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, was 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 was 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; John 19:14). 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 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.
Therefore -- notice carefully -- 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 OCCURRED, not at sunrise, but IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, near sunset! Startling as this fact may be, it is the PLAIN BIBLE TRUTH!
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 TRUTH which has been preserved through the dark ages, so that the true light may now shine forth, if our hearts and minds are still 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!"
What Day Was the Resurrection?
Now which DAY OF THE WEEK was the resurrection day? 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 SUPPOSED stated the resurrection was at sunrise Sunday morning. But they do not say that!
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, near SUNSET!
And since we know the resurrection was just shortly prior to that Sunday morning, and that it occurred in the late afternoon of the day, we now may know THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST 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 Sabbath resurrection!
Three days prior to Saturday afternoon is Wednesday afternoon. Hence, since Jesus was killed on a Wednesday and resurrected on a Saturday, there is no biblical reason for "Easter" to be on a Sunday. The resurrection was not on Sunday.
Now some have question the statement about being buried in the late afternoon, so perhaps the following scriptures can help clarify this:
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. (Mark 15:42-47)
Apparently, towards the beginning of the evening, Joseph asked for Jesus' body, it was taken down in the late afternoon and buried prior to the Sabbath, which occurred after sunset.
More Scholars Now Admit That Jesus May Not Have Been Resurrected on Sunday
Some Protestant scholars have long realized that there is biblical support that Jesus' resurrection may have been on Saturday. Notice what one wrote in 1907:
...the Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Friday. It is said that Jesus was crucified on "the day before the Sabbath"...Now, the Bible does not leave us to speculate which Sabbath is meant in this instance; for John tells us, in so many words, in John 19:14, that the day on which Jesus was tried and crucified was "the preparation of the Passover" (emphasis added). In other words, it was not the day before the weekly Sabbath (that is, Friday), but it was the day before the Passover Sabbath, which came that year on Thursday--that is to say, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified was Wednesday. John makes this as clear as day...
To sum it all up, Jesus died just about sunset on Wednesday. Seventy two hours later, exactly three days and three nights, at...Saturday at sunset, He arose again from the grave. (Torrey R.A. Difficulties in the Bible. Originally published 1907; Whitaker House; Updated edition, October 2003, pp. 168-169, 173).
It may be of interest to point out that a portion of the New Testament on this matter has been translated improperly and the fact that many do not understand that apparently has affected both Catholics and Protestants:
A key to counting this time correctly is found in a proper translation of Matthew 28:1. The Ferrar Fenton translation correctly renders this verse: "After the Sabbaths [plural], towards the dawn of the day following the Sabbaths [plural], Mary, the Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to examine the tomb."
There were, in fact, two Sabbaths that particular week. Putting all the information together, Jesus died in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday afternoon, and was laid in the tomb close to sunset (John 19:31-42). He had to be laid in the tomb by sunset because the night and day that followed were holy (verse 31), the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-7), a Holy Day Sabbath that could fall on any day of the week.
Then came Friday, a regular work day, followed by Friday night and Saturday daytime as God's weekly seventh-day Sabbath. Ferrar Fenton gets it right, translating the plural Greek word sabbaton in Matthew 28:1 as sabbaths.
Once we understand that two different Sabbaths were involved, it becomes clear that Jesus was indeed three days and three nights in the tomb, fulfilling the only sign He gave that He was the Messiah. From sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday was the first night and day; from sunset Thursday to sunset Friday was the second night and day; and from sunset Friday to sunset on the weekly Sabbath was the third night and day—three days and three nights, just as He said (The Length of Jesus' Time in the Tomb Proves He Was the Messiah. Good News, Mar-Apr 2007).
One of the reasons for the mistranslation is that since most of the translators do not keep the biblical holy days, they did not think much about their impact during Jesus' final week (prior to the resurrection).
Yet, even some modern Protestants are wondering about the majority view within Protestantism. Notice the following:
Time is relative in determining chronology of Holy Week
by Michael Miller
There's a possibility that Good Friday should actually be Good Thursday - or maybe even Good Wednesday.
And there's a probability that Easter Sunday should be considered Easter Saturday Evening.
Whether the events of Holy Week, the days leading up to Jesus's death and resurrection, occurred as they are now celebrated continues to be an occasional topic of discussion and study, scholars like Kevin Zuber of Moody Bible Institute say.
The traditional chronology has Jesus having his Last Supper with his disciples on Thursday night, being crucified on Friday afternoon and being resurrected sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.
But the only clear time references of the events in the Gospels are that he was crucified on "preparation day" for a Sabbath and his tomb was found empty early "on the first day of the week." Jesus's own prophecy is that he would be in the "heart of the earth" for "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:40).
Different calendars and understandings of time have to be taken into consideration, though.
Jewish days begin and end with sunset, meaning the "first day of the week" starts at sunset Saturday. Also, with the Feast of Unleavened Bread beginning that fateful week, there may have been Sabbaths on two separate days that week - first the annual Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and then the regular, weekly Sabbath on the seventh day of the week - much like there was recently. That means there could have been two separate preparation days in the same week. http://www.bendweekly.com/Living/3733.html (Miller M. Bend Time is relative in determining chronology of Holy Week. Weekly News for Oregon. March 16, 2007).
While we in the Churches of God would not agree that "time is relative" in this case, we believe that because Protestants and others do not keep the biblical Holy Days, that this is one of the reasons that they have not given much thought in the past to the idea that there were two days of preparation mentioned in the Gospels concerning Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.
But it is nice that Moody Institute (a Protestant-supporting organization) finally is realizing that the idea that Jesus died late Friday and was resurrected early Sunday appears to be problematic.
Furthermore, see what the late Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeper, and others have admitted:
The Bible is actually silent on the precise moment of resurrection. Jesus’ followers came to His tomb before dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday), but they did not witness Him coming back to life. They merely found an empty tomb.
Even the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeper and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., agreed with that timetable, telling WND in 2001, “I personally believe He was crucified on Wednesday evening … and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening.”
Most Christians today think Jesus died on a Friday and rose on Sunday. They point to Scriptures indicating a Sabbath day followed Jesus’ execution. But Sabbath-keepers claim it was not the weekly Sabbath of Saturday approaching. Rather, they say it was an annual Sabbath, a “high” holy day in the Hebrew calendar known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which supposedly occurred on a Thursday the week Jesus was killed. The Gospel of John mentions that Sabbath was the annual type.
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) … .” (John 19:31)
In other words, Sabbatarians say there was more than one day of rest that week. Their timeline has Jesus slain on Wednesday – the day before the “high day” annual Sabbath on Thursday. They believe Jesus was in the grave for a full three days and three nights, finally arising Saturday evening, the second Sabbath of the week.
The mention of “three days and three nights” is important for many, as Jesus used that phrase to prove His divine identity:
“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:40, New Living Translation) (Kovac, Joe. ‘Deception’: Christians war over worship day. Posted: March 16, 2008 5:24 pm Eastern. WorldNetDaily).
I wonder how many will consider that it was the Passover meal which Jesus (or Yeshua as He is called in Hebrew) celebrated in what has become known as the 'Last Supper'? It was on this date, 14th Nisan in the Biblical calendar, that Yeshua asked His followers to remember His death, yet very few actually do this.
Rather Gentile (later non-Jewish) Christians replaced the Passover of the Lord as set in place by God with its rich symbolism of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and God freeing His people, with the man-made institution of 'Easter' named after a pagan deity 'Eostre' (invariably appearing as 'Ishtar,' 'Astarte,' or the Old Testament 'Ashtoreth'). 'Easter' emphasised the Resurrection, not Yeshua's death. There were other examples of people being raised from the dead in the Bible but only one substitutionary and atoning death of Yeshua.
Yeshua gave only one sign "to an unbelieving generation" and that was the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish and Yeshua predicted that He would also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth before rising from the grave – a total of 72 hours. However, if we calculate from Friday afternoon to Sunday dawn we can count only 36 hours, so who is telling the truth – Yeshua the Messiah, or traditional Christendom? Like the ugly sisters trying on Cinderella's glass slipper, it just won't fit!
When the women came to the tomb before dawn on Sunday they found Yeshua had already risen, making it likely that it was at the end of the Saturday Sabbath. If we count back from the end of the Saturday Sabbath (which ends at sunset) 72 hours we will arrive at Wednesday afternoon, the time which according to His own words, Yeshua would then have been crucified. Tradition states that Yeshua died on a Friday, but the word Friday is not mentioned in the Gospel accounts. (Nevin C. The real dates of the resurrection Bristol Evening Post, UK - April 5, 2012. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/real-dates-resurrection/story-15722780-detail/story.html )
Hence, some do know the truth (though I should add that the faithful Gentile Christians in Asia Minor did not change Passover to Easter, this was a change of the Greco-Roman "Orthodox" confederation and not adopted by the true Church of God).
And it is not just some Protestants.
Jesus Kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan/Abib
While the New Testament records that some of the Jews observed the Passover on the 15th of the month of Nisan (also called Abib), it shows that Jesus kept His Passover service one day earlier.
Let's start by looking at both Matthew's and Luke's account:
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" 18 And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." ' " 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. 20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve (Matthew 26:17-20).
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." 9 So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?" 10 And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready." 13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. 14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."(Luke 22:7-19)
Here we see that Jesus kept the Passover and that He broke bread and that He wanted that practice followed. Then as the next passages show, He left and was arrested:
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane...
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people (Matthew 26:36,47).
The next morning would be the same date on the Hebrew calendar (days were reckoned from sunset to sunset):
27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor (Matthew 27:1-2).
Later that same day He was crucified:
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left...
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"...
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit (Matt 27:38,45-46,50).
Now, let's go back slightly and pick up the sequence from John's account. Notice that John calls the day Jesus died the "Preparation Day of the Passover":
14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover...
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit (John 19:14,30).
But as previously shown, Jesus had taken the Passover the night before. Many of the Jews, however, did not take the Passover until the next night (the 15th; see also TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th?). They kept it on the Holy Day (also called a "high day") also called the first day of unleavened bread.
Notice the account from the Old Testament:
5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it (Leviticus 23:5-7).
The day for the "holy convocation" was the high holy day--and that was the 15th. And while many of the Jews kept that, Jesus kept the 14th (for more information, please see the article Passover on the 14th or 15th?). The execution portion of the 14th was on a Wednesday. This points to a year of Jesus' killing in 31 or 30 A.D.
Clement of Alexandria (c. 180 A.D.) wrote:
Accordingly, in the years gone by, Jesus went to eat the passover sacrificed by the Jews, keeping the feast. But when he had preached He who was the Passover, the Lamb of God, led as a sheep to the slaughter, presently taught His disciples the mystery of the type on the thirteenth day, on which also they inquired, "Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the passover?" Matthew 26:17 It was on this day, then, that both the consecration of the unleavened bread and the preparation for the feast took place. Whence John naturally describes the disciples as already previously prepared to have their feet washed by the Lord. And on the following day our Saviour suffered, He who was the Passover, propitiously sacrificed by the Jews...
Suitably, therefore, to the fourteenth day, on which He also suffered, in the morning, the chief priests and the scribes, who brought Him to Pilate, did not enter the Prætorium, that they might not be defiled, but might freely eat the passover in the evening. With this precise determination of the days both the whole Scriptures agree, and the Gospels harmonize (Clement of Alexandria. XI.—Fragments Found in Greek Only in the Oxford Edition. From the Last Work on the Passover. Quoted in the Paschal Chronicle).
The chronology above is consistent with what those in the real Church of God believe.
But it is not just the chronology, Jesus broke bread as part of Passover. He wanted that practice continued (Luke 22:19). Article 3, under the Seven Sacraments of the Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the eucharist. Section II asks and answers the question, What is this Sacrament Called? Several names are listed, including "The Breaking of Bread" (#1329).
This is important to realize as that while bread is broken during a Passover ceremony (per the Bible, cf. Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19), it is no longer broken as part of the Catholic eucharist. For details about where the round host and other eucharistic practices seem to have originated, please see Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? So, this is something else that happened during the crucifixion week that many no longer follow.
Palm "Sunday" was Not On Sunday
Although many now observe it, Palm Sunday was not observed by the early church. Some believe that it began in Mesopotamia in the late fourth century. However, Roman Catholics did not seem to adopt it until much later.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:
Binterim, V, i, 173, on the authority of Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, and of Josue Stylites, states that Peter Bishop of Edessa, about 397 ordered the benediction of the palms for all the churches of Mesopotamia. The ceremonies had their origin most probably in Jerusalem. In the "Peregrinatio Sylviæ", undertaken between 378 and 394...
In the three oldest Roman Sacramentaries no mention is found of either the benediction of the palms or the procession. The earliest notice is in the "Gregorianum" used in France in the ninth and tenth centuries.
Growing up Catholic, I remember getting palm leaves on "Palm Sunday". Palm Sunday is claimed to be the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. But was that a Sunday?
Let's start the sequence:
1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany...(John 12:1).
Since Passover is on the 14th of Nisan, subtracting six days bringing us back to the 8th of Nisan (if it was six nights before the evening of 14th, as Jesus arrived for dinner, technically it could have been on the 7th in the evening). Jesus apparently arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey the next day (which is either the morning of the 8th or 9th):
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'
The King of Israel!"
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey's colt." (John 12:12-15).
Since Jesus died on what we call Wednesday on the 14th of Nisan, the 8th of Nisan would have been a Thursday and the 9th of Nisan would have been a Friday. Thus, there was no "Palm Sunday." It seems to have been a "Palm Thursday" or "Palm Friday."
It would seem that next day (Friday/Saturday) is when He went to the Temple, overthrough the money-changers, and was praised by the children (Matthew 21:12-16).
The Old Testament Passover lamb was selected on the 10th of the month (Exodus 12:3), and this may have been symbolically fulfilled by Jesus by entering the Temple on the 10th. Another reason, to conclude that this is so, is because in the Old Testament the lamb was kept until the 14th (Exodus 12:6), and in Luke's account, Jesus continued teaching daily in the Temple (Luke 19:47; 22:53), until the time He partook of Passover (which was the 14th).
Was There Ever Any Type of Sunday Observance? Jesus was the Wave-Sheaf Offering!
In the Hebrew scriptures, there was an offering on the Sunday after Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14).
Ronald Dart of Christian Education Ministries noted that there apparently was a Jewish/Christian observance on the Sunday after the Passover crucifixion (which would have been the 18th of Nisan the first time):
On the evening after the Sabbath was over, the very first sheaf of grain of the early harvest was cut from the ground. It was prepared that night by threshing the barley from the chaff and then parching it over a fire. The next morning, the priest lifted an omer of the grain to God as the presentation of the firstfruits of the harvest. Now, compare this to Christian theology of the resurrection.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
It is clear enough that, in referring to “Christ the firstfruits, Paul is referring directly to that first sheaf offered on the morning after the Sabbath by the priest. His wording leaves no room for doubt. James will refer to this as well: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). What we see here is Christ as the first of the firstfruits in the resurrection, with the remainder of the firstfruits to follow at his coming.
So this particular Sunday was important to both Jews and Christians. To Jews, it was the day of the offering of the firstfruits, the first day of the seven weeks to the Feast of Firstfruits. To Christians, it was the morning of Jesus’ presentation to the Father and of his first appearances to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead. And it was the first day of the seven weeks to Pentecost.
For the first Christians, the symbolism of the Jewish observance was seen to point directly to Christ. The connection was clear and strong from the start. The early church had not adopted a calendar different from that of the Jewish majority in the first century, the calendar was crucial, because it defined the time of observance of the feasts. There is not a word in the New Testament to suggest any change from the Jewish observance...so the comparison between liturgy and events was, to them, even more apparent.
Now consider this carefully. This Sunday was celebrated early on as the day of Christ’s first appearances after his resurrection. It was an anniversary that appeared on the Jewish calendar on the first Sunday after Passover every year. As explained in the last chapter, every place in the New Testament where you see the expression “The first day of the week” it is referring, not to a Sunday, but to a singular day of the year. The first day of the seven Sabbaths or weeks leading up to Pentecost. It is an annual, not a weekly observance. It was, for want of a better term, “wave sheaf Sunday” (Dart R. From Passover to Easter. April 12, 2006).
What professing Christians forget is that the Bible shows that Jesus ascended to the Father on the Sunday after the Passover the year He was crucified. And that, not the resurrection itself per se, was observed by some Christians.
In the fourth century, this wave-sheaf was alluded to in a song by a Greco-Catholic supporter called Ephraem Syrus who died 373 A.D.
A wave-sheaf of words offer unto Him from thine imagination, hymns also as first-fruits, and send up clustered hymns thy tongue hath culled (Ephraem Syrus. AD CLERUM: ON SPEAKING OF The DIVINE MYSTERIES).
The wave-sheaf offering occurred on a Sunday after the Passover and during the Days of Unleavened Bread and was used to count until the day of Pentecost, the feast of first fruits (more on the meaning of the wave-sheaf and its connection to firstfruits is included in the article Pentecost: Is It More Than Acts 2?).
Jesus fulfilled this Himself on a Sunday and would not at first allow Himself to be touched. Notice the following:
On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb...Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' " (John 20:1,16-17)
However, after He ascended to the Father as the wave-sheaf offering, He did allow Himself to be touched:
Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." (John 20:27)
UCG's Jerald Aust explained it this way:
Let's notice a few scriptures that demonstrate these points. The Israelites' harvest season could not begin until the wave-sheaf offering was made to and accepted by God. In like manner, the Holy Spirit was not poured out on humanity until after Jesus returned to the Father (Acts 1:1-8; 2:1-4). Jesus Christ Himself had told His followers that He had to leave before the Holy Spirit could come to them (John 16:5-14). Even after His resurrection, Jesus Christ had to tell His followers not to touch Him until after He had gone to His Father (John 20:17). Only after Jesus had risen to the Father and returned to them again were they allowed to touch Him (verses 19,26,27). Notice the apostle Paul's depiction of Christ, our resurrected wave-sheaf offering: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1,3,4). Paul reveals that our Savior occupies a place for us in the very presence of our Father and that we are accepted by Him through Christ Jesus (Aust J. The Wave Sheaf Offering-A Ceremony Foreshadowing Salvation).
Where Did Easter Sunday Come From?
What many do not seem to understand today, is that which is now called Easter, was initially a change in the date of Passover from the 14th to the Sunday after the 14th. Since so many non-Christian practices were later added to that Sunday observance, it bears no real resemblance to the original Passover or other observations of the early Christians.
The shift of Passover on the 14th to a Sunday, according to historical accounts was made by Roman leaders.
Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):
The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)...
The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians...
A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.
Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to "the inclination to break away from Judaism." In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid "even the semblance of Judaism" (Bacchiocchi S. God's Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).
However, those in Asia Minor, did not change the date in the second century.
Around 155 A.D. Polycarp of Smyrna went to Rome to deal with various heretics and he tried to persuade the Anicetus not to change Passover to an Easter Sunday holiday. Irenaeus records this about Passover:
And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).
For it was in Rome and Greek Jerusalem that the habit of changing the date of Passover began.
Apollinaris was a church leader of Hierapolis in Phrygia of Asia Minor. Around 180 A.D. he wrote:
The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).
One Anglican scholar noted:
...there is no doubt that Apollinarius was a Quartodeciman...Those who kept Passover in the evening understood it to be a repetition of the Lord's Supper (Stewart-Sykes A. Melito of Sardis On Pascha. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood (NY), 2001, p. 81).
Nearly four decades Polycarp's death, Roman Bishop Victor tried to enforce the preferred Roman Sunday date for Passover and stop Christians from following the biblical date of Nisan 14.
The Orthodox Church reports this brief explanation of events in one of its timelines:
193 A.D. - Council of Rome, presided over by Bishop Victor, condemns the celebration of Pascha on Nisan 14, and addresses a letter to Polycrates of Ephesus and the Churches in Asia.
193 A.D. - Council of Ephesus, presided over by Bishop Polycrates, and attended by several bishops throughout Asia, reject the authority of Victor of Rome, and keep the Asian paschal tradition (Markou, Stavros L. K. An Orthodox Christian Historical Timeline. Copyright © 2003 OrthodoxFaith.com).
The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who, as the previous writing showed, wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Sunday:
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man' (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Notice that Polycrates said that he and the other early church leaders (like the Apostles Philip and John, and their Gentile successors like Polycarp, Thraseas, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito) would not deviate from the Bible, and that they knew the Bible taught them to keep the Passover on the correct date, and not on a Sunday. Also notice that they always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. Polycrates also reminded the Roman bishop that true followers of Christ "obey God rather than men."
Hence it is clear that throughout the second century, the churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan (and for doing so, they were labeled as Quartodecimans by the Romans), unlike the Romans, and they refused to accept the authority of any Roman bishop over scripture.
Notice that Polycrates specifically claimed that he followed what John did. Now notice that John calls those who do not follow what he taught as antichrists:
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:18-19).
Thus, this subject of Passover is important (see also the article Doctrines of Antichrist).
The Third Century
The third century saw the rise of the Roman Church and its allies. During this time, the true Church became harder to locate. However, even some who later became associated with the Roman Church still resisted observing a Sunday Passover.
Anatolius of Laodicea wrote circa 270 A.D. about how the Roman Easter/Passover date were calculated:
And, in accordance with this, Moses is charged by the Lord to keep seven days of unleavened bread for the celebration of the Passover, that in them no power of darkness should be found to surpass the light. And although the outset of four nights begins to be dark, that is, the 17th and 18th and 19th and 20th, yet the moon of the 20th, which rises before that, does not permit the darkness to extend on even to midnight.
To us, however, with whom it is impossible for all these things to come aptly at one and the same time, namely, the moon’s fourteenth, and the Lord’s day, and the passing of the equinox, and whom the obligation of the Lord’s resurrection binds to keep the Paschal festival on the Lord’s day, it is granted that we may extend the beginning of our celebration even to the moon’s twentieth. For although the moon of the 20th does not fill the whole night, yet, rising as it does in the second watch, it illumines the greater part of the night. Certainly if the rising of the moon should be delayed on to the end of two watches, that is to say, to midnight, the light would not then exceed the darkness, but the darkness the light. But it is clear that in the Paschal feast it is not possible that any part of the darkness should surpass the light; for the festival of the Lord’s resurrection is one of light, and there is no fellowship between light and darkness. And if the moon should rise in the third watch, it is clear that the 22d or 23d of the moon would then be reached, in which it is not possible that there can be a true celebration of Easter. For those who determine that the festival may be kept at this age of the moon, are not only unable to make that good by the authority of Scripture, but turn also into the crime of sacrilege and contumacy, and incur the peril of their souls; inasmuch as they affirm that the true light may be celebrated along with something of that power of darkness which dominates all. (ANF06, The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria, VI,VII. THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS translations of The Writings of the Fathers down to a.d. 325. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D., EDITORS. AMERICAN REPRINT OF THE EDINBURGH EDITION. Revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. T&T CLARK, Edinburgh. Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. VOLUME VI--Schaff P. Nineteenth Century).
Notice that he claims that there is a certain difficulty in calculating the Roman date. Also notice that the Roman date was not only hard to determine, that it was somehow based upon the biblical date. It was based upon the Days of Unleavened Bread, which while kept by true Christians, was not then observed by the Roman or Eastern Catholics (nor is it observed by most Protestants today--an article of possible interest may be Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).
After explaining that figuring out what day was Passover was hard for those that observed the Roman Sunday practice, Anatolius wrote:
But nothing was difficult to them with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when tile fourteenth of the moon happened after the equinox. Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia—as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who leant on the Lord’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt—were in the way of celebrating the Paschal feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews after the equinox was past; not acquiescing, so far as regards this matter, with the authority of some, namely, the successors of Peter and Paul, who have taught all the churches in which they sowed the spiritual seeds of the Gospel, that the solemn festival of the resurrection of the Lord can be celebrated only on the Lord’s day. Whence, also, a certain contention broke out between the successors of these, namely, Victor, at that time bishop of the city of Rome, and Polycrates, who then appeared to hold the primacy among the bishops of Asia...
The one party, indeed, kept the Paschal day on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the Gospel, as they thought, adding nothing of an extraneous kind, but keeping through all things the rule of faith. And the other party, passing the day of the Lord’s Passion as one replete with sadness and grief, hold that it should not be lawful to celebrate the Lord’s mystery of the Passover at any other time but on the Lord’s day (ANF06, The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria, X. THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS translations of The Writings of the Fathers down to a.d. 325. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D., EDITORS. AMERICAN REPRINT OF THE EDINBURGH EDITION. Revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. T&T CLARK, Edinburgh. Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. VOLUME VI--Schaff P. Nineteenth Century).
Notice that calculating the biblical date, the date that the Apostle John clearly kept was easy.
Notice that it was those that claimed succession from Peter and Paul (though I should add that even Roman Catholic scholars admit that there was no direct connection) that insisted on Sunday, while those that did descend from the Apostle John kept the biblical date. Also notice that they do not have clear scriptural authority for the change. And, it needs to be understood that there is NOT one piece of evidence that Peter or Paul kept a Sunday Passover.
The Fourth Century
In spite of the condemnations, Passover was always kept on the 14th of Nisan by those who claimed to be faithful to the practices of the Apostle John and the Bible.
However, even after condemnations from Bishops Victor and Hippolytus, even many of those with a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox background, continued to keep Passover on the 14th of Nisan until at least sometime into the fourth century.
But Emperor Constantine did not like that at all and convened the famous Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. to decide on a universal date:
...the emperor...convened a council of 318 bishops...in the city of Nicea...They passed certain ecclesiastical canons at the council besides, and at the same time decreed in regard to the Passover that there must be one unanimous concord on the celebration of God's holy and supremely excellent day. For it was variously observed by people... (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp.471-472). A Sunday date was selected, instead of Nisan 14 (which can fall on any day of the week).
Notice what Constantine declared about this:
The commemoration of the most sacred paschal feast being then debated, it was unanimously decided, that it would be well that it should be everywhere celebrated upon the same day. What can be more fair, or more seemly, than that that festival by which we have received the hope of immortality should be carefully celebrated by all, on plain grounds, with the same order and exactitude? It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. By rejecting their custom, we establish and hand down to succeeding ages one which is more reasonable, and which has been observed ever since the day of our Lord's sufferings. Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. For we have received from our Saviour another way... (Theodoret of Cyrus. Ecclesiastical History (Book I), Chapter IX. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Actually, the Saviour observed Passover on the 14th of Nisan. It is those who reject that ways of our Saviour who accept the decision of the Roman Emperor over the Bible who do not observe it then. Notice that the first consideration was to not follow the Jews--and they were the ones who followed the Bible. Second, he claimed that people always accepted his Sunday date, but there is absolutely no evidence of this--Sunday Passover was something that second century Romans implemented--there is no proof whatsoever that any observed it on Sunday prior to that, thus Constantine's second reason is also in error.
According to Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, a more accurate translation of that last line above from the Roman Emperor Constantine should be:
Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.
I do not recall Jesus indicating that Jews were detestable (He was a Jew) and that He changed the date of Passover. But apparently Constantine felt otherwise. And the Sunday observance is now known as Easter (a related article of interest may be Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter?).
But not everyone accepted the degree of the sun-worshipping emperor. The Roman Catholic supporting Epiphanius noted:
The Quartodecimans contentiously keep Passover on the one day, once per year...They keep the Passover on whichever day the fourteenth of the month falls...Christ had to be slain on the fourteenth of the month in accordance with the law (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section IV, Verses 1,3;1,6;2,6. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp. 23-25).
It is of interest to note that Epiphanius recognized that Jesus HAD to be slain on the 14th of the month. It is sad that he and others did not believe they needed to observe it when and how Jesus taught.
The Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.:
In speaking about this feast of the Passover, the Law says to them something such as this: "You will not be able to keep the Passover in any of the cities which the Lord your God gives to you." The Law bids them keep the feast on the fourteenth day of the first month and in the city of Jerusalem. The Law also narrowed down the time and place for the observance of Pentecost, when it commanded them to celebrate the feast after seven weeks, and again, when it stated: "In the place which the Lord your God chooses." So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles. (4) Now let us see which of the two, time or place, is more necessary, even though neither the one nor the other has the power to save. Must we scorn the place but observe the time? Or should we scorn the time and keep the place? What I mean is something such as this. The Law commanded that the Passover be held in the first month and in Jerusalem, at a prescribed time and in a prescribed place...But the Passover comes to an end on the twenty-first of that month. If they began the feast on the fourteenth day of the first month and then continued it for seven days, they then come to the twenty-first ...the Law said they must not observe those rituals outside Jerusalem (John Chrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3-4,V:4,5. Catholic Christians of Antioch. Turning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.).
Although he is correct that the Bible specifies the dates of the Holy Days, John Chrysostom is incorrect that Jerusalem is the only place.
That is never taught in the law--hence John Chrysostom is clearly making an assertion that the Bible states something it does not say.
To the contrary, the Bible teaches that the Jews were not even in Jerusalem when God listed the holy days in the books of Exodus and Leviticus (Jerusalem was not taken by the children of Israel until after the death of Joshua, see Judges 1:1-8)--hence they kept Passover outside of Jerusalem for at least 40 years.
It is also clear from the testimonies of Polycarp, Melito, Apollinaris, and Polycrates, that the New Testament second century Christians observed Passover outside of Jerusalem, as they ALL lived in Asia Minor and none lived in Jerusalem.
The fifth century historian Socrates Scholasticus noted:
In Asia Minor most people kept the fourteenth day of the moon...Moreover the Quartodecimans affirm that the observance of the fourteenth day was delivered to them by the apostle John (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Any way, throughout history, the true Church of God kept Passover on the 14th, in spite of Roman pressures to change to a Sunday observance (more is documented in the article Passover and the Early Church).
The 19th Century
It is interesting to note that even into the 19th century, there was a ceremony in Rome that indicated a Saturday resurrection. Notice:
This ceremony is thus graphically described by the authoress of Rome in the 19th Century:"...the Pope himself, who walked beneath a crimson canopy, with his head uncovered, bearing the Host in a box; and this being, as you know, the real flesh and blood of Christ, was carried from the Sistine chapel through the intermediate hall to the Paulina chapel, where it was deposited in the sepulchre prepared to receive it beneath the altar...I never could learn why Christ was to be buried before He was dead, for, as the crucifixion did not take place till Good Friday, it seems odd to inter Him on Thursday. His body, however, is laid in the sepulchre, in all the churches of Rome, where this rite is practised, on Thursday forenoon, and it remains there till Saturday at mid-day, when, for some reason best known to themselves, He is supposed to rise from the grave amidst the firing of cannon, and blowing of trumpets, and jingling of bells...*"
* The above account referred to the ceremonies as witnessed by the authoress in 1817 and 1818. It would seem that some change has taken place since then, caused probably by the very attention called by her to the gross anomaly mentioned above; for Count Vlodaisky, formerly a Roman Catholic priest, who visited Rome in 1845, has informed me that in that year the resurrection took place, not at mid-day, but at nine o'clock on the evening of Saturday. This may have been intended to make the inconsistency between Roman practice and Scriptural fact appear somewhat less glaring. Still the fact remains, that the resurrection of Christ, as celebrated at Rome, takes place, ...on the day of Saturn...(Hislop, Alexander. Two Babylons. Loizeaux, Neptune (NJ), Second American Edition, 1959--originally expanded in 1858).
Whether the above ceremony still exists, this writer does not know. But it is interesting that at least one Roman ceremony involving the pope acknowledged a Saturday resurrection that late. Perhaps, this ceremony was originally adopted by Rome partially because the early Romans knew that Jesus was actually resurrected on Saturday.
Irrespective of that celebration, it is clear that there is evidence outside the Bible that among those that professed Christ, there were some who understood that the crucifixion was on a Wednesday and the resurrection was on a Saturday.
How Long is Three Days and Three Nights According to Sunday Resurrection Believers?
In order to justify an Friday crucifixion and a Sunday morning resurrection, most who do so have relied directly or at least indirectly on the personal opinions of a late fourth/early fifth century writer named Augustine, who wrote:
Scripture again witnesses that the space of those three days themselves was not whole and entire, but the first day is counted as a whole from its last part, and the third day is itself also counted as a whole from its first part; but the intervening day, i.e. the second day, was absolutely a whole with its twenty-four hours, twelve of the day and twelve of the night. For He was crucified first by the voices of the Jews in the third hour, when it was the sixth day of the week. Then He hung on the cross itself at the sixth hour, and yielded up His spirit at the ninth hour...But from the evening of the burial to the dawn of the resurrection are thirty-six hours which is six squared. And this is referred to that ratio of the single to the double wherein there is the greatest consonance of co-adaptation. For twelve added to twenty-four suits the ratio of single added to double and makes thirty-six: namely a whole night with a whole day and a whole night, and this not without the mystery which I have noticed above. For not unfitly do we liken the spirit to the day and the body to the night. For the body of the Lord in His death and resurrection was a figure of our spirit and a type of our body. In this way, then, also that ratio of the single to the double is apparent in the thirty-six hours, when twelve are added to twenty-four (Augustine. On the Trinity (Book IV), Chapter 6. Translated by Arthur West Haddan, B.D. Revised and annotated by the Professor W.G.T. Shedd, D.D. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1887. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Augustine admits that Jesus is to be in the grave for three days, yet decides that he can calculate using a non-accepted form of mathematics. Notice that Jesus clearly said He would be in the grave for three days AND three nights and this would be the sign religious leaders should pay attention to:
39 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For 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 (Matthew 12:39-40).
Jesus being the Messiah was to be proven by Him being three days and three nights in the heart of the earth like Jonah was in the belly of the great fish.
Should we believe the Bible or human tradition? Does anyone really believe that single and double ratios of 12 are how Jesus expected His words to be understood?
Notice what the Book of Jonah states:
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).
Does any one really feel that Jonah was only in the belly of the fish for less than three days and three nights?
Yet, many Protestant commentators hedge on this and claim that parts of days is acceptable so 49 hours is possible (e.g. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).
Of course the problem with this is that even with 49 hours, it is not possible that Jesus was buried before sunset (about 6:00pm) on Friday and rose prior to sunrise (about 6:00am) on Sunday as that only adds up to 36 hours. Furthermore, if one takes the fact that Jesus died about 3:00 pm (as opposed to the time He was buried) that only makes 39 hours.
However, a common Roman Catholic position seems to be that 3 days and 3 nights is at the most 40 hours. Notice:
Christ lay forty hours in the tomb (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).
However, their celebration of the Good Friday-Easter Sunday time period does not allow for Jesus to have been in the tomb for more than 36 hours as they teach that Jesus was placed in the tomb late Friday (just prior to sunset) and that when Mary Magdalene left for His tomb while it was still dark (John 20:1, hence probably a half hour or so before sunrise), He already was gone.
Even Pope Benedict XVI did not seem to know how long Jonah or Jesus were "swallowed up." Notice what he stated:
Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, so too Christ crucified was swallowed up into the heart of the earth (cf. Matthew 12:40) for the length of a Sabbath (Benedict XVI. Jesus Is Risen, and He Gives Us Peace. Easter Message, April 16, 2006. © Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana as reported by www.zenit.org/english).
The length of a Sabbath is one day and one night--about 24 hours. It is not three days and three nights. But Jesus and Jonah were "swallowed up" for 72 hours!
Martin Luther, who had been a Roman Catholic, also did not accept that Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights as he wrote,
How can we say that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and a half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that be was in the state of death for at least a part of all three days. For he died at about two o'clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about two hours on the first day. After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true Sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as if we say that something occurred on Easter-day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that be rose on the third day (Luther M. Of Christ's Resurrection from volume II:238-247 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI). It was originally published in 1906 in English by Lutherans in All Lands Press (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 11).
Hence the only way to have a "Good Friday" crucifixion and a pre-dawn Sunday morning resurrection is to twist what Jesus taught and deny that He would be buried for three days AND three nights.
Some have claimed that one of following scriptures (vs. 21) proves a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection:
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"
18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?"
19 And He said to them, "What things?"
So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."
25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:13-27)
But it does not. The strongest evidence in favor of Wednesday as the crucifixion is Jesus' own words about being in the grave three days and three nights, plus the fact that the Sabbath He was interned prior to was a high day. As far as the counting of three since since, different people use different expressions to mean things. For example, in modern times, to say something will happen next Sunday may mean tomorrow or a week from tomorrow, hence I do not believe that the "third day since" argument is adequate to discount Wednesday.
Furthermore, notice this explanation from the late Herbert W. Armstrong:
Another passage that might confuse is Luke 24:21: "... And beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done." "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. Study verses 18-20, telling of "these things" and also Matthew 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. 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. (The RESURRECTION was NOT on Sunday, Radio Church of God, 1952)
Notice that "these things" were not limited to placing Christ in the tomb. Yet some have erroneously concluded otherwise.
Notice the following:
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first."
65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. (Matthew 27:62-66).
The day "which followed the Day of Preparation" was a Thursday and the third day since that would be Sunday.
Herbert Armstrong's Final Proof
In the booklet titled The RESURRECTION was NOT on Sunday By Herbert W. Armstrong also wrote:
The Final Proof
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 it says, "In the end of the Sabbath," or more correctly, "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," although the remaining part of the verse he has not translated quite correctly. In a foot-note to this text, he says, "The Greek original is in the plural, 'Sabbaths'."
According to Mark 16:1, Mary Magdalene and her companions did not buy their spices to anoint the body of Jesus until AFTER THE SABBATH WAS PAST. They could not prepare them until AFTER this - - yet after preparing the spices THEY RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT! (Luke 23:56).
Study these two texts 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 20:11).
A comparison of these two texts PROVES there were TWO Sabbaths that week, with a DAY IN BETWEEN. Otherwise, these texts contradict themselves.
The truth is that a review of the scriptures disproves both a Friday execution and a Sunday resurrection. Many scholars realize this, but most people ignore what the Bible really teaches.
Some Amazing Side Details
Interestingly, there was a shortened (Jesus was in the grave a full 72 hours), Friday to Sunday resurrection holiday to Osiris. A recent author wrote some of how a descent story about Ishtar and a descent story for Jesus became mixed:
Somewhere after 100 A.D., a false gospel, The Gospel According to Nicodemus, surfaces...in which Jesus is made to go on a quest into the Netherworld during the three days between His death and Resurrection, to fee some Old Testament saints. The gospel of Nicodemus is never accepted, but it is a well-known fact of Church history that this idea of Jesus going on a quest, exactly like Ishtar, to free souls from imprisonment...ultimately approaches the level of official Church doctrine. This raising of the tale from superstition to dogma occurs at a politically correct time...Clement espouses both story and the Friday crucifixion. In discussing Clement's acceptance of the "Descent of Christ" as true, one author cautioned: "It is important to realize that Clement drew upon Pagan religion more systematically than any other Christian source before or since". Critical historians candidly admit that the "Descent" was derived from Pagan myth...The "other pagan religions" that the Descent Myth appears in are our most familiar stable of Sun gods:...Dionysus, Orpheus, Osiris, Hermes, Krishna, Balder...All of them are derivatives of Tammuz (Alfieri A. The Darkness at the Crucifixion, Volume I. Ngenium LLC, New Jersey, 2005, p. 367).
The Clement above is the Clement of Alexandria, who around 190 A.D. blends Nicodemus and pagan sources in his writing known as the Stromata. Hence certain pagan stories about a descent into the Netherworld became blended with Christ, and this may have been a factor in the final adoption of an Easter Sunday resurrection holiday, instead of a Nisan 14 Passover.
It may be of interest to note that writings prior to Augustine show that it was known that Jesus was arrested early on a Wednesday. The following was written around the late second/early third century:
For when we had eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus. And the next day, which was the fourth of the week, He remained in ward in the house of Caiaphas the high priest. And on the same day the chiefs of the people were assembled and took counsel against Him. And on the next day again, which was the fifth of the week, they brought Him to Pilate the governor. And He remained again in ward with Pilate the night after the fifth day of the week (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21, verse 14. R. Hugh Connolly, version Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).
Now although the above account later states that the crucifixion was actually on Friday, that end portion of the Didascalia Apostolorum account does not agree with the scriptures. The Bible account does not allow for a holding period of a couple of days before the actual crucifixion (the biblical account specifically discusses the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread and this would not allow for such a delay). However, it was understood in the second century that Jesus' arrest occurred Tuesday night--therefore He must have been crucified on the following Wednesday.
Furthermore, notice what else was understood by some in the late second/early third century:
And again (there was) the day of the Sabbath; and then three hours of the night after the Sabbath, wherein our Lord slept. And that was fulfilled which He said: The Son of man must pass three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [Mt 12.40], as it is written in the Gospel. And again it is written in David: Behold, thou hast set my days in measure [Ps 38.6 LXX] (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21. R. Hugh Connolly, version. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).
Notice that the above account teaches that Jesus was resurrected late evening on a Saturday. And while we in the COGs (Churches of God) would suggest that the resurrection occurred a few hours earlier, the above account (which is often used by Roman Catholics and others) shows that Jesus was NOT understood to have been resurrected on a Sunday!
Now there was some confusion in the third century as to when Jesus rose. However, to answer that Dionysus explained that Jesus arose Saturday evening. Notice:
For the evangelists have given different descriptions of the parties who came to the sepulchre one after another, and all have declared that they found the Lord risen already. It was "in the end of the Sabbath," as Matthew has said; it was "early, when it was yet dark," as John writes...It is admitted, however, that those who came to the sepulchre in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, found Him no longer lying in it. And let us not suppose that the evangelists disagree or contradict each other. But even although there may seem to be some small difficulty as to the subject of our inquiry, if they all agree that the light of the world, our Lord, rose on that one night, while they differ with respect to the hour, we may well seek with wise and faithful mind to harmonize their statements. The narrative by Matthew then, runs thus:
"In the end of the Sabbath as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said."
Now this phrase "in the end" will be thought by some to signify, according to the common use of the word, the evening of the Sabbath...And Luke says:
"They rested the Sabbath-day, according to the commandment. Now, upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared; and they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre."
This phrase "very early in the morning" probably indicates the early dawn of the first day of the week; and thus, when the Sabbath itself was wholly past, and also the whole night succeeding it, and when another day had begun, they came, bringing spices and myrrh, and then it became apparent that He had already risen long before. (Dionysus. The Epistle to Bishop Basilides, Canon I. The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325. ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME 6. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius the Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius and Minor Writers, Methodius, Arnobius. Edited by Alexander Roberts, D.D. & James Donaldson, LL.D. Revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes, by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY. GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN).
Furthermore, according to a Roman Catholic nun and saint named Anne Catherine Emmerich, Jesus was resurrected by 9:00 pm on a Saturday evening:
At the close of the Sabbath...I saw an angel appear to the Blessed Virgin. He announced to her that the Lord was near...It may have been almost nine o'clock when, in a solitary place near the gate, I saw the Blessed Virgin suddenly halt in her hurried walk...I saw the most holy soul of Jesus, resplendent with light and without a trace of wound...He uttered the words: "Mary, My Mother!" and appeared to embrace her. Then He vanished...
And I now had another vision...The risen Redeemer held in His hand a delicate white staff...At the instant the angel shot down to the tomb and the earth quaked, I saw the risen Lord appearing to His Blessed Mother (Emmerich AC. Edited by Carl E. Schmoger and translated by an American nun. The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations: From the Visions of the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich as recorded in the journals of Clemens Brentano, Volume IV. Nihil Obstat: Em. De Jaegher Can lib. cens. Brugis, 14 Februarii 1914. Imprimatur: A.C. De Schrevel Vic. Gen. Brugis, 14 Februarii 1914. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 2004, pp. 357,363,364).
And while there are many scriptural errors in the above accounts, this is an approved vision from the Roman Church and it too teaches seems to teach that Jesus was resurrected before the time we now commonly call Sunday. Later portions of the suggest that other "holy women" learned that Jesus was resurrected sometime on Sunday. Thus, it appears from A. Emmerich's account that she believes she saw Jesus resurrected on Saturday, Jesus appeared to Mary on Saturday, and that on Sunday He appeared to others.
In the third century, the Catholic bishop and saint Victorinus wrote:
Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour, or even to the evening, or why there should be a passing over even to the next day...
The man Christ Jesus, the originator of these things whereof we have above spoken, was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion of soldiers. Therefore on account of His captivity by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works,--that the seasons also, wholesome to humanity, joyful for the harvests, tranquil for the tempests, may roll on,--therefore we make the fourth day a station or a supernumerary fast (Victorinus. On the Creation of the World. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
The above account shows that the fasting occurred the fourth day (tetras means fourth) at the ninth hour (3:00 pm). That is the precise time of the death of Christ according to the Bible. That is the precise time of the death of Christ according to the Bible. Victorinus is admitting that it was “passing over” (Passover) as does the Bible. He also clearly states that Jesus was arrested on Wednesday. And that is correct (what is not correct is that the Bible does not allow that Jesus did not die until Friday, with a Wednesday arrest, yet that is what it seems these non-biblical referencers tend to believe).
It may be of interest to note that, even in the 21st century, the Roman Catholics still teach that this Passover (which they call the Last Supper) was kept by Jesus on a Tuesday night and that He was betrayed on a Wednesday (Zanchettin L, ed. Meditations, Tuesday, April 11, Wednesday April 12. the WORD among us--The #1 Monthly Devotional for Catholics. 2006; Volume 25, Number 4, pp. 63-64). Many, however, seem to think that He was held for two days before He was killed, which differs from the biblical account.
I will state here that Jesus was not just arrested on a Wednesday, He was killed then too, just before the first day of unleavened bread. As that Sabbath was a high day (John 19:31), and since the day before the high days was considered to be a preparation day, it was that day, and not a Friday, that Jesus was crucified on. If professing Christians would keep the Holy Days, more would realize that.
I will state here that Jesus was not just arrested on a Wednesday, He was killed then too, just before the first day of unleavened bread. As that Sabbath was a high day (John 19:31), and since the day before the high days was considered to be a preparation day, it was that day, and not a Friday, that Jesus was crucified on. If professing Christians would keep the Holy Days, more would realize that.
It was also known, even by Roman supporters in the second century, that Jesus was buried for three days. Irenaeus wrote:
It was also known, even by Roman supporters in the second century, that Jesus was buried for three days. Irenaeus wrote:
For the Judge of the whole world is thus proclaimed, who, having been hidden in the heart of the earth in a tomb for three days (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, Fragment XXXI. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).
Since the Bible clearly shows that Jesus was resurrected well before sunrise Sunday morning, there is simply no way that there were three days from Friday afternoon to prior to sunrise Sunday--let alone three days AND three nights.
Even Pope Benedict XVI Seemed Confused
Pontiff Benedict XVI appeared to be somewhat confused as he announced a new hypothesis:
Pope Notes Hypothesis on Date of Passover Says Christ Likely Followed Essene Calendar Zenit - April 6, 2007
VATICAN CITY - It is likely that Jesus followed the calendar of the Essenes of Qumran, possibly explaining some contradictions within the Gospel accounts of the Passover, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope made this observation Holy Thursday in his homily during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
In his address, the theologian commented on the historical investigations on the manuscripts of Qumran, found in the Dead Sea in 1947.
"In the narrations of the Evangelists, there is an apparent contradiction between the Gospel of John, on one hand, and what, on the other hand, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us," said Benedict XVI.
The Pope continued: "According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely at the moment in which, in the temple, the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His death and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.
"This means that he died on the eve of Passover, and that, therefore, he could not have personally celebrated the paschal supper, at least this is what it would seem."
The Holy Father said that according to an interpretation of the texts, "still not accepted by all," Jesus "celebrated Passover with his disciples probably according to the calendar of Qumran, that is to say, at least one day earlier -- he celebrated without a lamb, like the Qumran community who did not recognize the Temple of Herod and was waiting for a new temple."
Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, explained that in Jesus' time the calendar of the Essenes was more traditional that the one more recently adopted by the priests of Jerusalem. He said that this doesn't signify that Jesus formed part of the Essenes.
Since they are calling the pontiff a theologian, it should not be necessary to remind him that Jesus kept the Passover on the correct night--that is--the night before most Jews now keep as many are confused about the Night to Be Observed (Exodus 12:42, KJV), which occurs the next night (cf. vss. 6,22,37) (the proper date is discussed in more detail in the article Passover on the 14th or 15th?).
Jesus kept the correct date that is in the Book of Exodus (12:6) and showed by His example that many Jews of His day observed it on the wrong day as they observed it on the 15th and not the 14th (and some did both, as some few still do today).
Of course the pontiff must know that early Christians who kept Passover on the correct date were called Quartodecimans- a term that signifies the 14th. There is no contradiction in the Bible--the contradiction is the Roman insistence that Jesus was put to death on a Friday and resurrected early Sunday and that this is THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.
Furthermore, the pontiff has another contradiction as other Catholic sources claim that Jesus was arrested a couple of days prior to the date of the crucifixion and then held--since Jesus observed the Passover BEFORE He was arrested, the Roman Catholics cannot get away with the explanation that Jesus somehow observed the Essene calendar, as even if He did, the Roman Catholic account still does not agree with either scripture or the Essene calendar.
Comments for Protestants to Ponder
While the average Protestant believes that they observe Easter as the commemoration of Jesus' resurrection, what most of them fail to realize is that they are really following traditions of men instead of the Bible--something that Jesus repeatedly condemned.
Recall that Jesus taught,
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8'These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' (Matthew 15:7-9).
Here are several facts for Protestants to ponder:
The Bible clearly teaches that the observance of Passover was on the 14th by Jesus. Will you obey God or men?
Jesus clearly taught that the sign He would give to prove who He was was that He would "be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth ". Three days prior to the sunrise of a Sunday would be prior to a sunrise on a Thursday. And since Jesus was killed and buried when it was still light out (John 19:31), that means that Jesus had to have been killed on a Wednesday.
Jesus was killed late afternoon on the 14th of Nisan which was a Wednesday. Adding three days and three nights gives a resurrection on late Saturday afternoon before sunset.
A change was made by those who prefer human reasoning to a Sunday observance of Passover apparently because of the desire to be distant from practices of the Jews. This first occurred in Rome, but was long resisted by the true Church of God which was apparently headquartered in Asia Minor in the second century (please see the articles History of Early Christianity and Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome).
It is only by accepting a twisted form of mathematics and/or the pronouncement of Roman Bishops that one can accept that Passover should have been switched to Sunday and that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Will you accept the one sign that Jesus gave or do you prefer to follow traditions of men instead of the Bible?
Back to Early Christianity page
Back to COGwriter home page
Thiel B. Ph.D. What Happened in the 'Crucifixion Week'? www.cogwriter.com/crucifixionweek.htm (c) 2007/ 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 0418
To learn what Jesus was killed on, see:
What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
Additional articles related to Holy Days/holidays include:
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord's Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true?
Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles which state that this should be a local decision. Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach?
Melito's Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? More Christians somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement". Does it have any relevance for Christians today?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians?
Last Great Day study paper Was Jesus speaking about the 7th or 8th day of the Feast in John 7:37? UCG says the 7th, but what does the Bible teach? This extensive paper reviews UCG's LGD study paper and includes comments as to where it erred.
Holy Days This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2012, with their Roman calendar dates.
Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world's New Year's day.
Valentine's Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine's Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true?
Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Why the Continuing Church of God Does Not Wear Green on St. Patrick's Day Should non-Catholics observe a Catholic holiday.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on "Good Friday"? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? How clearly endorsed Sunday?