By Buel Hallpike
(Note: All Scripture quotations are shown in blue italics. Unless otherwise indicated, they are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Substitution of words, phrases, Hebrew names and titles in Biblical quotations has been made at the discretion of the author and are inserted within square brackets […] for identification. Parts of some quotations are shown in bold or capitals for author’s emphasis. Non-Biblical quotations are indicated in brown.
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Most persons, who believe in the death and resurrection of the Messiah, would say that He arose from the dead after three days. But among these there are conflicting theories of the actual days of His burial and resurrection.
The popular view is that Yahshua was impaled on a Friday and rose from the dead on a Sunday morning. But does this agree with the Messiah’s own prophecies? Can we be sure today, of the day of His death and resurrection some two thousand years since those events had taken place?
What did Yahshua prophesy about His entombment?
Yahshua had taught, "the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again" Mark 8:31.
He also explained what He meant by three days, when He gave the added detail that "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" Matt 12:40.
Yahshua regularly said that He would return to life on the third day. Matt 16:21 From that time [Yahshua] began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Referring to the destruction of His body in death Yahshua said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" John 2:19.
So we have the four phrases "after three days", "three days and three nights", "the third day", and "in three days", which could each be taken to support one view or another of when Yahshua actually arose. But was it really Yahshua’s intention to give us four different and unrelated time intervals for His entombment? If we accept the infallibility of Yahshua as fact, then we are compelled to agree that He could not have been giving four different times for His resurrection; otherwise His prophecy would have been without meaning. But since Yahshua Himself used these four different expressions, He must have meant the same thing by each of them.
Let us look more deeply into similar expressions in other parts of the Bible and see whether they were all synonymous.
Three days = third day
Gen 40:13, 20-21
13 Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler.
20 Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21 Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.
17 So he put them all together in prison three days.
18 Then Joseph said to them the third day, "Do this and live, for I fear [Elohim]". Joseph released his brothers on the third day, so “three days” in both of these examples meant the same as on "the third day".
After three days = the third day
2 Chron 10:5,12 he said to them, "Come back to me after three days.” And the people departed… So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, "Come back to me the third day."
Matt 27:62-64 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day"
In both of these cases after three days had the same meaning as the third day.
Three days and three nights = three days
1 Sam 30:12-13 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights. Then David said to him, "To whom do you belong, and where are you from?" And he said, "I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick".
Three days and three nights = third day
Esth 4:16 Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise.
Esth 5:1 Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house.
Esth 5:4 So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him."
Observe that on the THIRD day Esther had a banquet even though she had vowed to fast three days and three nights. Clearly two days and part of the third day together with the intervening nights, fulfilled her commitment to fast for three days and three nights, but it appears that she had not fasted for 72 hours. It could be argued that although Esther arranged the banquet, there is no evidence that she herself actually ate on the third day. Even allowing for this possibility, and excluding therefore our reference to Esther, we have still proved the symmetry of these four expressions through the other Bible references quoted.
The foregoing examples have shown that each of the four expressions is interchangeable. They confirm as we had expected, that Yahshua was giving the same intervals in all four different expressions! "Three days and three nights” is the same as "in three days", "after three days", and "the third day". But this can only be so, if Yahshua in the expressions after three days and three days and three nights was applying the Hebrew idiomatic meaning which is well understood among the Jews, whereby any part of a day is counted as whole day. Otherwise, after three days would mean that three full days would have had to pass before He was resurrected. Three days and three nights taken precisely as said, suggest that He would be resurrected at the end of three full days and nights, just before the fourth day would begin. The expression that he would arise on the third day however means that His resurrection would take place at any time on the third day. In three days could mean at any time not later than three days. These four phrases would thus be expressing four completely different periods of time. We cannot attribute such inconsistencies, ambiguity or contradictions to Yahshua. Regardless of one’s preference of when Yahshua was impaled and resurrected, it has to be conceded that He would have meant the same in all expressions, and this is the stance taken in this article.
Friday to Sunday Theory
Returning now to the popular view of a Friday death and Sunday resurrection, ‘Friday night to Sunday morning’ is not three full nights and two days plus part of the third day, but is in fact barely two nights and one full day. So if Friday to Sunday morning is the correct interval of His entombment, then the expressions "three days and three nights", or "the third day" or "after three days", or "in three days" are meaningless. Yet one has to ask, why did not Yahshua say some other number of days and or nights? "One day and two nights" would have sufficed and be more accurate if He had meant Friday evening to Sunday morning. So why did He not give some other interval of time?
The Companion Bible in Appendix 148 gives the following possible answer why three days or (third day) was used in Yahshua’s prophecies:
"Herodotus testifies that embalmment did not take place until after three days (Herod. ii. 86-89)."
The Companion Bible continues in Note 5 of this Appendix,
"The Jews did not accept evidence as to the identification of a dead body after three days. This period seems, therefore, to have been chosen by [Yahshua] … to associate the fact of resurrection with the certainty of death, so as to preclude all doubt that death had actually taken place, and shut out all suggestion that it might have been a trance, or a mere case of resuscitation. The fact that Lazarus had been dead "four days already" was urged by Martha as a proof that Lazarus was dead, for "by this time he stinketh" (John 11:17, 39).
We have to remember that corruption takes place very quickly in the East, so that "the third day" was the proverbial evidence as to the certainty that death had taken place, leaving no hope."
Yahshua clearly meant what He had said in all four expressions and He knew why He had said it.
The Hebrew idiom whereby three days could mean two days plus a part of the third day, has to be accepted as the most likely meaning of Yahshua’s expression, since it is the only way that there can be symmetry between all of the four phrases He used, and we have already seen confirming evidences in other parts of the Bible for such usage. But it still does not enable us to get two days and part of a third day plus three nights fitting into the time span from Friday evening to Sunday morning.
In order to enhance their argument some persons supporting the Friday to Sunday theory, contend that since the Jewish day was from evening to sunset, the burial on the Friday before sunset would have been part of the first day from Thursday evening to Friday sunset. Day two would have been from Friday evening to Saturday sunset, and day three would have been a part day from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. A good try so far! But then the only nights would have been Friday night and Saturday night. There is no way we can squeeze a night or part night into this interval, so accepting this theory would nullify Yahshua’s prophecies of the length of His entombment.
If however we give to Yahshua’s words the credence they deserve, then we can only conclude that the popular Friday to Sunday reckoning is erroneous. We will however prove that Yahshua had been entombed for three full nights, two days and at least a part of the third day, and as we have shown this equates to each of the other time spans that Yahshua had specified.
It is only by understanding and accepting the meanings and significance of the intervals Yahshua had prophesied that we could accurately determine the day on which He died and also that on which He rose again.
SABBATARIANS SUNSET RESURRECTION
The Seventh Day Adventist Church also holds the popular Friday to Sunday view. However, most other Sabbatarians who believe that Sabbath begins in the evening of the sixth day and ends at sunset on the seventh affirm that Yahshua was buried on a Wednesday just before sunset and arose before sunset had ended the weekly Sabbath. The problem with this however is that a sunset resurrection conflicts with the following evidence of the men travelling on the Emmaus road.
The Emmaus men
The account of the meeting of Yahshua with the two men from Emmaus provides very important and irrefutable confirmation that the day of resurrection was THE THIRD DAY.
Here is Luke’s account of that meeting:
Luke 24:13-24, 28-29
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 [Yahshua] 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 [Yahshua] of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before [Yahweh] and all the people,
20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and [impaled] 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".
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent". And He went in to stay with them.
Observe the following:
- The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus was seven miles (verse 13)
- The men had started the journey on the "same day" that Yahshua arose (verse 13), and after they themselves had learned of Yahshua ‘s resurrection (verses 22-24)
- They told Yahshua of "the things" that happened recently concerning the arrest, trial and death of the Messiah and added "today is the third day since these things happened" (verses 19-21).
- They arrived at Emmaus when it was nearly evening (verse 29)
Persons sometimes have a problem with regard to the expression "the things which happened" (See verses 14, 18-20 and third bullet above). They reason that since the Emmaus men had included the arrest as one of "these things" then that day on which they were travelling would have been the fourth day, because Yahshua was impaled the day following His arrest. But the Emmaus men said quite plainly, "this is the third day", and it was also the day on which Yahshua arose from the dead. How can we reconcile this seeming contradiction?
Yahshua had said, "after He is killed, He will rise the third day" Mark 9:31. Again He said in Matt 17:23 "they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up". When the Jews had asked of Him a sign, Yahshua answered, "destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" John 2:19.
Repeatedly Yahshua had said that on the third day AFTER HAVING BEEN PUT TO DEATH He would rise again. The counting of the three days would begin AFTER he had been put to death and buried. Mark gives us the following account: And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and AFTER three days rise again Mark 8:31. In other words, three days after having been killed He would return to life. He had to be killed first before the counting could begin. This is corroborated in Matt 27:63 and Mark 9:31. The day ON WHICH He was put to death is not the same as the DAY AFTER He was killed. Day 1 AFTER His death would have been the day following His death and burial, and so on to the third day. Therefore although the Emmaus men had discussed all "the things" that had happened to Yahshua, when they said "today is the third day, since these things happened", their reckoning of the three days must of necessity be on the same basis as Yahshua had declared when He said for example, that in three days the destroyed 'temple' would be rebuilt. The 'temple' had to be first destroyed, before the counting could begin.
In other words the day on which they were travelling was THE THIRD DAY AFTER YAHSHUA'S IMPALEMENT. We are compelled to come to that conclusion if we believe Yahshua's words. When in doubt, believe Yahshua! It is that simple!
These foregoing points are important in helping us to resolve beyond any doubt that the day on which Yahshua had arisen; on which the women went to the tomb; and on which the men from Emmaus met the risen Saviour was the third day after Yahshua's death, just as He had said, many times before. This is useful knowledge when considering the doctrines of those persons who claim that Yahshua arose just before the end of the weekly Sabbath.
The men on the Emmaus road, pinpointed the day when speaking to the resurrected Messiah, whom they had not yet recognised and said, "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" Luke 24:21.
Whatever day it was, that was the day on which Yahshua was expected to rise and did rise. We also know that Yahshua arose at a time, which was definitely NOT near sunset for the following reasons:
These men while in Jerusalem and before setting out for Emmaus had already heard of the women’s amazement in finding an empty tomb. They said, "certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive" (verses 22-23).
Afterwards they heard it confirmed by others. "Certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said" Luke 24:24.
Some time later they set out on their seven-mile journey to Emmaus. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them Luke 24:28-29.
It would have been impossible for all these activities to take place in the limited time between sunset and evening when the FOURTH day would have begun!
If Yahshua had arisen at the end of three full days and three full nights, then on the day He spoke to the men on the Emmaus road COULD NOT have been the "third day", but rather the fourth day. But that is incorrect. In addition to being inconsistent with the words of the Emmaus men, it is contrary to the words of the angels at the tomb who asserted that Yahshua had risen as He had said on the third day. It would also conflict with the words of Yahshua Himself who had repeatedly said He would rise on the THIRD day. The briefest moment immediately after seventy-two hours had passed would no longer be in the THIRD day, but the fourth day.
In spite of this there are Sabbath keepers who, holding the view that the Sabbath ends at sunset, believe that Yahshua was put to death on a Wednesday and arose just before the weekly Sabbath ended at sunset. But they cannot possibly explain how so many events could have taken place in the short interval between that end-of-Sabbath sunset and the evening. The average interval between sunset and evening in Jerusalem is about one hour. Therefore the trips to the empty tomb and the Emmaus men’s travel for seven miles after learning of the resurrection would have all had to fit into the hour or so between sunset and evening, so that the Emmaus men with Yahshua, would have arrived at Emmaus while it was still the THIRD DAY. This would have been IMPOSSIBLE! The sunset resurrection is indefensible and is in fact demolished by Luke’s impregnable and indisputable account of the Emmaus men. For this reason many of those who maintain that Yahshua arose near sunset on the weekly Sabbath, tend to ignore, hastily pass over, or are tripped up by this record of Luke.
A sunset resurrection and the Emmaus conversation are irreconcilable, and are as contrary as the belief that Yahshua was put to death on a Friday and arose on a Sunday. In both cases some Scriptures have to be ignored or twisted so as to fit their predetermined, traditional and defenceless stance. This is not acceptable. We need an answer that fits ALL Scriptures without discarding or bending the words of Yahshua, the angel(s) or the Emmaus men.
So when was Yahshua put to death and when did He rise? We can find out the day of His death by working backwards from the day of His resurrection. We have already shown from Scripture that "after three days", "three days and three nights", "the third day", and "in three days" all have the same meaning, so we can substitute one for the other. We will choose the third day, which is used considerably more frequently than any of the other phrases.
The Third Day
The following fourteen verses say that He would rise or had risen on the "third day".
Matt 16:21 From that time [Yahshua] began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Matt 17:23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up. And they were exceedingly sorrowful.
Matt 20:19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to [execute Him on a stake]. And the third day He will rise again.
Matt 27:64 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.
Mark 9:31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day."
Mark 10:34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.
Luke 9:22 The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Luke 13:32 And He said to them, "Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’"
Luke 18:33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.
Luke 24:7 saying, "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be [put to death], and the third day rise again."
Luke 24:21 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.
Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the [Messiah] to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day".
Acts 10:40 Him [Yahweh] raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly.
1 Cor 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
These many references all say that at some point on the third day, that is, before the third day ended, Yahshua would rise or had risen from the dead. Yahshua Himself repeatedly taught this. (See above verses in Matt 16:21, Matt 17:23, Matt 20:19, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:34, Luke 9:22, Luke 18:33, Luke 24:46.) Luke records that the angels in the tomb said to the women "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be [impaled], and the third day rise again'" Luke 24:5-7. Clearly the day of His resurrection was to be the THIRD day after His impalement.
On which day of the week was the Resurrection?
So let us now try to discover on which day of the week was that memorable third day on which He arose.
All four evangels state that early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women who went to the tomb discovered that He was not there.
Matthew states: Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of [Yahweh] descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it… But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek [Yahshua] who was [put to death]. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where [He] lay.
And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you" Matt 28:1-2, 5-7.
Mark records in Mark 16:1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek [Yahshua] of Nazareth, who was [impaled]. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
7 But go, tell His disciples--and Peter--that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."
Luke writes in Chapter 24
1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.
3 Then they went in and did not find the body of [Yahshua].
4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.
5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,
7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be [put to death], and the third day rise again.'"
John’s account is as follows:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance John 20:1 NIV.
The Complete Jewish Bible's translation of this verse is almost identical with the NIV:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Miryam from Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb John 20:1 CJB
Both translations succeed in clarifying an issue that is often raised regarding the expression "while it was still dark", since in other translations, the inference is that Mary arrived at the tomb while it was still dark and found the stone had been already removed. These two translations however by their word sequence suggest that she had set out for the tomb while it was still dark. We accept this to be correct since it allows for an agreement with Matthew, Mark and Luke who have stated that the women arrived at the tomb, "early in the morning" or as it "began to dawn". However any controversy regarding the phrase "while it was still dark" can be easily dismissed, since John's account clearly states that it was early on the first day of the week. That statement would only be valid, if dawn had already occurred!
There is therefore unanimity in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that early on the first day of the week it was found that He had arisen. Although opinions vary concerning the meaning and importance of the Greek word ‘sabbaton’ that in these evangels has been translated as ‘week’, the same contention does not hold with regard to Mark’s and Luke’s recording that this happened Very early in the morning. All translations have consistently described this time in phrases such as 'at sunrise', 'when the sun had risen', 'just after sunrise', and 'the sun being now risen'.
So far we can be confident that the women went to the tomb very early on the first day of the week and found that Yahshua was not there. Nevertheless that by itself does not tell us when He actually arose. The time of discovering the empty tomb is not necessarily coincidental with the time of His resurrection. So when did Yahshua really arise?
The answer to this is inseparably linked to that of another question, 'when does the Biblical day begin?' Knowing when a Biblical day begins and ends is absolutely essential in order to fully and correctly comprehend at what part of a day certain Biblical events took place. Doors open very easily when we use the right key. We have already seen that Sabbatarians who claim that Yahshua arose at or about sunset cannot possibly fit all the events of the resurrection day into the very short interval between sunset and evening of that day. We have pointed out that any moment after the end of the third day is no longer the third day, but the fourth day. Try as hard as you may you will find it is impossible to reconcile all of the resurrection details given in the first four books of the New Testament, with a sunset resurrection. Something is definitely wrong. What is it? A wrong key placed in a lock will not open a door. Whenever assumptions are made about what the Bible teaches, rather than what it really says, the result is invariably muddled thinking and error.
If you assume that because the Jews observe Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday at sunset; or because Genesis 1: 5 KJV says "the evening and the morning were the first day"; or because fasting for the Day of Atonement begins from the previous evening, it therefore follows that all days begin and end at evening, you will be getting into all sorts of unscriptural tangles. Traditional assumptions even from the highest non-Biblical sources are not proofs. You need to study the Bible in depth for yourself, and formulate your beliefs based only on what the Bible explicitly teaches. The Biblical day is not from evening to evening but from dawn to dawn. We appeal to you to check this out for yourself.
We return now to address the question of the time of day when Yahshua arose, as distinct from the time of the discovery of the empty tomb.
Although no one in this life will be able to prove the precise moment of His resurrection, we are able to find out from the Bible the day and the approximate time of the day when He arose.
The Emmaus men’s narrative will once again prove helpful. It was on the first day of the week as the two men were travelling to Emmaus that they told Yahshua, "today is the third day since these things happened" Luke 24:21. Also at the dawning of this day, the women were told by the angel(s) that He is risen as He had said on the third day, and that He was ahead of them going into Galilee. Since that day of His resurrection was and had to be the third day, and the women arrived at the tomb as the first day of the week began to dawn, it follows that He had to have risen on that day, at dawn, either before or at the time when the women got to the tomb.
If you believe that the days begin and end at sunset, then you cannot possibly also agree with the Biblical explanation that the women went to the tomb early on the first morning of the week. This detail would be irrelevant to you since the third day would have already ended at the Sabbath sunset the previous day, and the first day of the week, would have been the fourth day after His burial! On the other hand, if you agree that the days begin and end at sunrise, then you will find there is no problem in accepting and believing the gospels’ account of all the details of the resurrection day including the Emmaus men, without twisting or evading any of the facts. But that is not the reason for believing that a day ends and begins with the first rays of light. When you have studied this topic for yourself with an unbiased mind, you will find it is the only conclusion you can arrive at that is unequivocally supported throughout the Bible without having to make assumptions.
With this newly found knowledge, suddenly the bits of the puzzle come together. When Matthew wrote after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, he was giving an apt description of the timing. The weekly Sabbath began at the first ray of light on the morning of the seventh day and ended at the emergence of daylight on the morning of the first day (See Exod 16:14-35 for unassailable confirmation of when a day begins). So Matthew was in fact saying, "When the first rays of light on the first day of the week brought the weekly Sabbath to an end, …" There is no need to twist an early morning dawn to mean the previous evening at dusk. It is incredibly simple! The women had come to the tomb after the weekly Sabbath ended at dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday). They experienced the earthquake and were told He had already risen. No one knows the exact time when Yahshua arose, but the witness of the angels and of the Emmaus men, make it clear that it had to have been some time very early at dawn on the third day, and before the women discovered the empty tomb.
Now at last you can fully accept the words of the Emmaus men and other records that have consistently said the day of Yahshua’s resurrection was indeed the third day. All of a sudden the events recorded in the evangels as having happened on the day of Yahshua’s resurrection can be accommodated. There is harmony between the accounts in the evangels. The men on the Emmaus road would have had enough time to arrive at Emmaus at evening – still on the third day! There is now no Scripture referring to Yahshua’s resurrection that cannot be explained and reconciled. We can now recognise why the chief priests bribed the soldiers to say "His disciples came AT NIGHT and stole Him away while we slept" Matt 28:13. This could not have been used as an excuse if Yahshua had risen at sunset, before the night had come! There is enough time to allow John’s account of Yahshua’s meeting with the disciples, "the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut ... for fear of the Jews" (John 20:19) The truth has dawned (come to light)!
It seems clear that the first day of the week, which is called Sunday is the day on which He arose and it was also the third day after He had been put to death. (Note: This does not signify and is no reason to believe that the weekly Sabbath is changed to Sunday. Please read our article ‘Is the Biblical Sabbath now Sunday’).
Those who feel it necessary to defend the belief that Yahshua arose at or near sunset, do not accept that "dawn" in Matthew 28:1 means the same as "very early in the morning" in Mark 16:2 and Luke 24:1, and also "on the first day of the week … early, … while it was still dark", as recorded in John 20:1. The Bible indicates in many places that "dawn" or "day break", or some similar wording refers to the early morning (e.g. Song of Solomon 4:6, Gen 32:26, Job 7:4). It is unscriptural to hold or support the popular and traditional Sabbatarian view that the dawning of the day is when the shades of night are falling and it is an affront to the creation record and to Yahweh Himself to disbelieve that His first day began with the emergence of LIGHT!
The evidence thus far is conclusive: Yahshua arose on the third day after His burial, and that day was the first day of the week, which is now known as Sunday. But when did He die? Since Sunday is the third day, the second day was Saturday and the first day Friday. And how about the three nights? They would have been Saturday night, Friday night and Thursday night. This means He would have been put to death on a Thursday and rose on the Sunday, three days later! It is humbly submitted to you that this is the ONLY answer to the question of when Yahshua died and arose that fits ALL the recorded Scriptures, without bending or evading the facts. Yahshua did not arise at or near the Sabbath sunset and was not impaled on a Wednesday. Neither was He entombed for the short interval of Friday to Sunday, which discards the length of entombment that Yahshua had specified.
Anyone who promotes or believes that Yahshua's death and resurrection took place on any other days should search the Scriptures again. It is impossible to prove such theories are compatible with the Scriptures without twisting the Bible or omitting salient Biblical facts relating to these events including when the Biblical days begin. We encourage all readers to make an in-depth and dispassionate study of the Bible and to seek the truth for themselves. Each of our articles is based on such an unbiased study. We are not bound by the doctrines of any organised religious denomination. We are free to research, find, practise and declare the truths of Yahweh as contained in the Bible. This is our commitment to Yahweh and to you. May Yahweh bless you as you seek to unravel and know His truths.
"Our beliefs must fit in with the Scriptures especially when the Scriptures do not support our beliefs".
© Buel Hallpike February 2011