Some people claim that Jesus Christ didn’t rise on Sunday but on Saturday.  This claim is based on that the Bible said that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb very early in the morning in the first day of the week, and Jesus rose before that, perhaps on Saturday.  They also claim that the crucifixion was on Wednesday, and there are two Sabbaths; the Sabbath of the Passover which was on Wednesday (saying that Passover is always called Sabbath regardless the name of the day), the other Sabbath is the Saturday (the seventh day of the week).  They say that this is the best solution to the problem of the “three days and three nights”  What’s your comment?  Did the Bible say that resurrection was on Sunday?


I have answered similar questions at the web site before.  You can do a search of my site to get some details I am leaving out in this answer.  The fact is that there is some reasonable doubt, both about the exact day Jesus was killed and about the day he was resurrected.  The apparent (apparent, not real, in my opinion) contradiction in John from the synoptic gospels adds to this confusion.  This question involves a few factors, which include interpreting the words used by the gospel writers, and the various ways the dates and names used for the various Sabbaths and Jewish holidays.  A major part of the potential confusion comes from the fact that the Passover is called a Sabbath.  So, is the Sabbath being mentioned in John or Matthew a Saturday or a Passover?  The most likely answer, in my opinion, is that it is both.  It is a “double Sabbath.”  A Passover on a Saturday is a “double Passover.”  This potential may help to explain John vs Luke.  I believe that, in the end, we cannot finally, absolutely, sort this out.  All we can do is say option X is most likely, option Y is possible and option Z is almost certainly ruled out.   I have spent a lot of time on this for various reasons, and for me the most likely (option X) is crucifixion on a Friday in AD 30, but a Friday in AD 29 has some possibility.

I have settled my mind, personally, that the “three days and nights” is an idiom for any part of three different days and nights.  So, Friday afternoon to early Sunday is, by this idiom, “three days and three nights.”   I know that some favor a Passover on Wednesday evening, a crucifixion on Thursday morning, and a resurrection on Sunday.  I am not one of those people, but I do not think I can “prove” this position to be wrong.

I do not agree with a resurrection on Saturday.  Personally, I completely rule this out, but that is my opinion.  The bottom line is that the Church, from the first century, has always celebrated the resurrection on Sunday.  There is no doubt about this historical fact, and those who celebrated the resurrection on Sunday included the apostles, who would certainly have known when the resurrection happened!  So, I am convinced that theories of a resurrection on Saturday are incorrect.  This would be option Z for me.  Technically, you can argue that the Bible does not literally say that the resurrection was on Sunday, but it is implied with virtual certainty.  The Church called Sunday the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1) for a reason, and this is because Jesus rose on Sunday.

Of course, our salvation does not depend on this question, but the claim of inspiration and infallibility of the Bible is at issue here, so this is not an unimportant question.  There is also the issue of fulfilling of Old Testament foreshadows such as the Passover and the Feast of Firstfruits.  I hope I have added more light rather than more confusion on this question!

John Oakes

Comments are closed.