On the THIRD day – getting it right

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Icon of the Resurrection
Icon of the Resurrection

Over the Easter weekend last year, I engaged a few people on Twitter. I got into a friendly discussion with someone who thinks Jesus died on a Wednesday and rose from the dead on the weekly sabbath.

Think about this quickly. Jesus died on a Wednesday. He rose on the sabbath. The next day, Sunday, was the third day since the Crucifixion, which was five days previously. And Jesus rose on the third day.

Huh? That makes no sense, you say? Quite right, it doesn’t. Yet some people, especially the Church of God (CoG) movement derived from Herbert Armstrong, get it muddled to that degree.

Let’s get into the Twitter discussion.

From the Church of God (CoG) lady:

“If today is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, then the third day is Sunday.” So where’s the third night in this theory?

If all Jesus had said was that he would rise ‘on the third day’, then a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection would be plausible. But he specifically stated that, as Jonah was in the belly of the fish *three days and three nights*, so would the Son of Man be in the earth.

In fact, seeing as it appears that he rose sometime during the night – the tomb was empty by the time that Mary arrived in the morning – a Friday crucifixion wouldn’t even give him time to complete two nights, let alone three.

My response:

Andrea del Castagno - Crucifixion
Andrea del Castagno – Crucifixion

Easy – all the rest just confirms that 3 days and 3 nights is not a literal time period. If it were literal, the rest of the Bible’s clearly literal statements would be wrong.
Full explanation here – http://blog.theotokos.co.za/?p=4343

Jesus DID say he rose on the third day – Luke 24:46 – “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”
Luke said the first day of the week was the third day – Luke 24:21 – “to day is the third day since these things were done”

The Bible itself doesn’t allow for 3 nights. The biblical timeline – today/tomorrow/3rd day (compare Luke 13:32, Exodus 19:10-11) – never, ever has a 3rd night.
Read up on the concept of idiomatic expressions here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiomatic_expression

From the CoG lady:

But it is a literal time period in this instance. Jesus drew a parallel with the prophet Jonah, the only other instance where it was literal.

He did indeed – but that was not all he said. He stated that he would be in the earth *three days and nights*, as Jonah was in the fish. I ask again: where’s your third night?

My response:

Crucifixion from Santa Maria Antiqua
Crucifixion from Santa Maria Antiqua

You’re assuming that was literal. Nowhere does the Bible include an inspired footnote that says “This passage is literal”. What does the rest of the biblical evidence say? No way to have Sunday as the 3rd day if Thursday was day 1.

Bible counting: Today, then tomorrow, then 3rd day. See Luke 13:32 and Exodus 19:10-11.
Bible counting: Today, tomorrow, the next day, then 4th day. See Acts 10. Count the days.
Therefore, by biblical counting, Friday/Saturday/Sunday = first/second/third days.

Since we can prove from the Bible how to count till the third day, we can also prove that the 3 days/3 nights was a figure of speech, and therefore with Jonah it was a figure of speech too. Therefore no need for a 3rd night.

Wednesday crucifixion: Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun makes Sunday the 5th day.
Thursday crucifixion: Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun makes Sunday the 4th day.
But Luke said Sunday was the 3rd day.

Acts 10:3 – he fasted till 3pm, when he had a vision
verse 9 – refers to the day after verse 3
verse 23 – refers to day after verse 9
verse 24 – refers to the day after verse 23
verse 30 – occurs on the day in verse 24 – “4 days ago”
Now compare to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

From the CoG lady:

The Sacrificial Lamb - Josefa de Ayala, ca 1670
The Sacrificial Lamb – Josefa de Ayala, ca 1670

[Mark 8:31 KJV] And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things… and AFTER [emphasis mine] three days rise again.
– ‘on the third day’ and ‘after three days’ were often interchangeable.

If Jesus rose sometime shortly after sundown (the end of that day) on Saturday, he would be quite in keeping with ‘after three days’.

Nowhere is it suggested that he didn’t rise until well into Sunday morning – only that Mary, when she arrived then, found the tomb already empty.

Jesus placed in tomb before sundown, Wed
Sundown on Wed to sundown on Thur – 1 day & night
Sundown on Thur to sundown on Fri – 2 days & nights
Sundown on Fri to sundown on Sat – 3 days & nights
Jesus rises just after sundown, fulfilling ‘after 3 days’

Also from your page: “Nowhere does the Bible state clearly that there were two sabbaths that week.”
[Matthew 26:17] Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning with the Passover, WAS taking place.

My response:

Counting 3 days - Friday
Counting 3 days – Friday

No, “after 3 days” doesn’t mean on the 4th day. You seem to read English usage into the word “after”. The Greek word doesn’t require Jesus to wait until the 3rd day is over. “Meta” refers to proximity to an event, not a preceding event, so it means “on the third day” …

“3rd day”, which is what the rest of the Bible tells us. But you seem to agree there – you say “on the third day” & “after 3 days” are interchangeable. Correct. You can’t have it both ways, though. “Once three full days were over” and “on the third day” are incompatible concepts.

So the Bible is internally consistent with Jesus rising on Sunday, and Sunday being the third day. That even works whether he rose before dawn, at dawn, or after dawn. But we agree, he rose before dawn. Still the 3rd day which began at sunset.

Counting the way the Bible does, or even if you want to count the way westerners do, there is no way Sunday can be the third day if Wednesday is the first. Wednesday crucifixion: Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun makes Sunday the 5th day. But Luke said Sunday was the 3rd day.

As for 2 sabbaths, “preparation day” is simply a Greek phrase that meant Friday. “Preparation of the passover” is how they described the Friday of passover week. That is further evidence for a Friday crucifixion, the only timing that makes biblical sense.

Passover and ULB are not called sabbaths in the Bible. It’s important to understand biblical language, and not read our own English expressions into the Bible. The only sabbath that week was the 7th day, on which the high day of passover fell.

Are you referring to days here as approx 12 hours of light? No. Days = the entire day or part thereof. Friday = the first day, which started at sunset and ended at sunset. Saturday = day 2, sunset to sunset. Sunday = day 3, sunset to sunset. 3 days. Easy.

From the CoG lady:

“you say “on the third day” & “after 3 days” are interchangeable. Correct.”
– If you agree that that’s correct, then a Sunday resurrection following a Wednesday crucifixion doesn’t make Sunday an incompatible ‘fourth day’.

My response:

Quite right. It makes Sunday an incompatible 5th day. Wednesday is impossible because that would make Sunday the 5th day. Thursday is impossible because that would make Sunday the 4th day.

If #Jesus rose after sunset & before sunrise, he still rose ON the 3rd day that began the previous sunset. Thus the Bible says Jesus rose ON the third day. The very end of the night portion of the third day. Not once in the Bible to we see anyone count days the way you do.

Counting 3 days - Thursday
Counting 3 days – Thursday

If something happened on a Thursday, that is day 1, till sunset.
The next day, mostly “Friday”, is day 2, sunset to sunset.
The next day, mostly “Saturday”, is day 3, sunset to sunset.
The next day, mostly “Sunday”, till sunset, the #Bible calls the fourth day. See Acts 10.

So, a Thursday #crucifixion:
Thursday event till sunset = the first day
Thurs sunset to Fri sunset = 2nd day
Fri sunset to Sat sunset = 3rd day
Sat sunset to Sun sunset = 4th day
But Jesus rose on the 3rd day.
No way for Wed or Thurs to work with biblical counting.

Counting 3 days - Wednesday
Counting 3 days – Wednesday

And a Wednesday #crucifixion:
Wednesday event till sunset = the first day
Wed sunset to Thurs sunset = 2nd day
Thurs sunset to Fri sunset = 3rd day
Fri sunset to Sat sunset = 4th day
Sat sunset to Sunday sunset = 5th day
But Jesus rose on the 3rd day.

There it ended.

Further reading in this series:

Part 1 – 3 days and 3 nights – from when till when?
Part 3 –
3 days and 3 nights – timeline charts
Part 4 – When did Jesus die and rise from the dead?

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