Was Jesus in the Grave Dead for Three Days?

Don Cole
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Many Bible students, including pastors, do not teach that Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday. They hold that He died on Wednesday or Thursday, and they defend their position in various ways. For example, some note that Jewish days began and ended at sundown, and that part of a day stood for an entire day.

Still others believe that the expression “three days and three nights” was, like “forty years in the wilderness,” a literary device, not to be taken as meaning three twelve-hour days and three twelve-hour nights.

The weightiest argument against the Friday-to-Sunday position, I would judge, is the fact that the weekly Sabbath (the seventh day) was only one of several Sabbaths the people were commanded to observe. According to those who place great importance on this fact, in the Passover week of the year Jesus died, there were two Sabbath days—the weekly Sabbath and a Sabbath for the Passover. The assumption that there was only the weekly Sabbath (day seven) led to confusion about the time of Jesus’ death.

What really matters is that for two millennia the Christian world has held that Jesus died on Good Friday and rose from the dead on a Sunday morning, and much weighty scholarship defends the traditional view. We don’t know the actual date of His birth, but we have celebrated it on December 25 for many years. In my mind, not knowing for sure on which day Jesus died does not negate the Christian observance of Good Friday, a time to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins.

For Further Reading:

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