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What Day did Christ Die?

By Dr. Brook Stockton
Jesus predicted, “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.”  [Matthew 12:40]. How is it possible for this to be fulfilled if Jesus died on what we call “Good Friday”? There is another possibility and that possibility is that Jesus died on a Wednesday afternoon, the 14th of Nissan.

If we use August 14 A.D. as the date Tiberius Caesar began his reign [Luke 3:1], then Christ was about 30 years old when He was baptized in the fall of 29 A.D. [Luke 3:23]. Since Christ’s ministry lasted 3 ½ years, we know he died in the spring of 33 A.D.  29 A.D In the fall, Christ was baptized and entered His ministry.  33 A.D.  In the spring of 33, Christ died.
One of the difficulties in determining the day of Christ’s death is the difficulty of determining if the Biblical writers were using Jewish time, which they probably were, or Roman time. For example, Mark says the Passover was two days away [14:1]. This notation happened during the day on Tuesday of Passover Week. In Roman time, this would mean the Passover would be on Thursday. In Jewish time, the Passover would be the next day; i.e., the Jews would count Tuesday as one day, and Wednesday as the second day. Wednesday, therefore, was the day of the Jewish Passover.
A second difficulty in determining the day of Jesus’ death is that the Jewish day started at 6:00 PM instead of 12:00 midnight.
A third difficulty in determining the date of Christ’s death is that the Jews had two calendars, a lunar calendar and a solar calendar. The Essene Community at Qumran used the solar calendar and the priests used the lunar calendar. The Scripture is clear that Jesus ate the Passover and yet had to be taken down before the Passover [John 18:28]. The Pharisees were taking care to not be unclean so that they could eat the Passover. The only logical possibility is that there were two Passovers—an Essene Passover and the Passover of the Jews [John 6:4].
If I have figured the dates correctly using the lunar calendar, Christ died on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan, 33 A.D. If the 1st of Nissan [the new moon] was on Thursday, March 19, 33 A.D., then the 14th of Nissan would start on Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM and end at 5:59 PM on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan. The daylight hours of the 14th of Nissan would have been on Wednesday, April 1, 33 A.D. The date of Christ’s death could have been on Wednesday, April 1, 33 A.D.; i.e., the 14th of Nissan, 33 A.D.
Christ celebrated an Essene Passover on TUESDAY EVENING, the 14th of Nissan. The disciples were apparently led by an Essene carrying a jug of water late Tuesday afternoon to a room used by Essenes while they were in Jerusalem [Mark 14:31]. There the Lord celebrated a Passover meal and infused it with new meaning — the Lord’s Supper. Jesus was arrested and tried Tuesday night by the temple police. On WEDNESDAY MORNING at 9:00 AM, the 14th of Nissan, our Lord was crucified. At 12:00 PM, our sins were imputed to Him. Christ died at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan, April 1, 33 A.D. The Passover lambs were slain about 3:00 PM on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan. Jewish families ate the Passover meal on WEDNESDAY EVENING, the 15th of Nissan. Thus, is revealed the glorious truth, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” [1 Corinthians 5:7].
From WEDNESDAY EVENING at 6:00 PM till THURSDAY at 5:59 PM would be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a high holy day in Israel, a special Sabbath.
The daylight hours on FRIDAY would be the 16th of Nissan, a regular business day. During the daylight hours on Friday, the Jewish leaders petitioned Pilate to post a guard at the tomb [Matthew 27:64]. Also on Friday, the women purchased more spices to complete the burial of Jesus [Mark 16:1]. After the big day of shopping, the women prepared meals in advance for the Sabbath, SATURDAY, the 17th of Nissan, April 4th. The women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath, the 17th of Nissan according to Luke [23:56]. On Saturday night, 18th of Nissan Jesus rose from the dead and the guards fled the tomb [our Saturday night, either April 4th if it was before midnight or April 5th if it was after midnight]. Regardless in that the Jewish day ended at sundown the Lord Jesus rose on the first day of the week.
Dr. Brook Stockton currently leads an unregistered home church in Albuquerque, N.M.  His e mail address is: nikeresearch@comcast.net.
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4 Comments in Response to

Comment by Karen Valentine
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You are mistaken.  You're work does not meet the litmus test in Daniel.  If you include the time frames given by Daniel he died in 31AD (AD means 'year of our  Lord).  You need to review your notes. 

Comment by Greg J Dixon
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Robert, The following answer is from Dr. Brook Stockton. 

 Sincerely in Christ,



Thank you for your submission. Though your document is not a comment or criticism about my article titled "The Day Christ Died," there is much to commend about your presentation. It is obvious Grace H. Todd, the author, engaged in a serious academic pursuit regarding the historicity of our Lord's death, burial, and resurrection.

While Christians are not in agreement about the day Christ died due to conflicts between tradition, the Bible, and a lack of knowledge, you and I are in agreement that our precious Savior died  circa 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan per the Essene Calendar. Furthermore, we are in agreement on many of the facts surrounding the events and times of that historic week. 

However, your record appears to state that the triumphant Savior rose sometime on Friday night on the 17th of Nissan or on the Jewish Sabbath. Your paper then insinuates (p. 4) that   anyone who believes that the Lamb of God rose on Saturday night after the Jewish Sabbath or Sunday by the Jewish Calendar is a "heathen" involved in "Baal worship." Whoa!! That is strong language which is the reason for this response.

First, though Christians may disagree with each other on certain historical details surrounding the eye witness testimony of the N.T. affiants, it is not in the interest of truth or Christian love to label those who take a different position as "Baal worshippers" or "heathen" or apostates. Ad hominem assaults on historic Christian tradition create heat but does not shed light on debate.  

For, this reason I must ask this question: Who are you and to what sect or denomination do you belong?  It appears that you are a strict Sabbatarian. Is that true? Please come into the light. Thank you.

In response to your proposition that Christ rose Friday night (the Sabbath night) instead of Saturday night (the first day of the week), I offer the following in refutation of your proposal: (1)  The text in John 19:1 clearly says the women came "on the first (mia) day of the week" and "while it was still dark.”This would be Sunday morning; and,  (2) Mark says the women came "when the Sabbath was over" (16:1) and Matthew states that it was "after the Sabbath" (28:1) and that would be Sunday morning; and, (3) It is difficult to conceive of women coming on the Saturday Sabbath early in the morning carrying bags of spices. They risked being stoned by strict Jewish Sabbatarians; Likewise, it is difficult to imagine good Jews like Peter and John running anywhere on a Sabbath day (John 20:4). They were excited to be sure, but they weren't crazy. Running on the Sabbath during a crowded Passover week was sure to bring down the wrath of religious authorities upon them if caught--authorities that had just terminated their Leader; (4) Luke also notes that it was the "first day of the week" (24:1); and, (5) Our Lord's resurrection anytime after 3:00 P.M on Saturday would have been a literal fulfillment of His prophecy that He would remain three days and three nights in the grave and then rise again (Mt. 12:40). Rising Saturday morning instead of the first day of the week would truncate our Lord's prediction; and, finally, historic scholarship though not always correct on every matter of the faith is uncontentious about the resurrection of our victorious Savior taking place "after the Sabbath" on our Sunday morning. Therefore, Christians who celebrate our Lord's victory over the grave on Sunday, do so with good authority and are hardly "Baal worshipers" or "heathen" for doing so. Furthermore, even if as you say, Sunday was the day pagans worshipped the Sun, so be it. Christianity is redemptive bringing all days and seasons under His authority. Thus, Sunday being called "The Lord's Day" is quite appropriate.

May the Lord use these thoughts to strengthen our convictions that the fundamentals of historical Christianity--the Lord's literal death, burial, and resurrection are historical events--primary evidence that Jesus conquered man's fundamental problem (death) giving hope to all that He is the true Savior and Lord of all who place their trust in Him.

 Dr. Brooks

Brook Stockton, Ph.D.




Comment by Robert Todd
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please read and write me back  k7vhq@earthlink.net


Comment by Robert Todd
Entered on:


Three days and three nights.  Died on Wednesday and Raised on Saturday, the Sabbath.