How do we know for sure Jesus was crucified in 3 days



Consider this a novice question; we know of Jesus’s death and him rising again. What I am wondering about is the timeline.

How do we know for sure it was 2 1/2 to 3 (24) days? Time in the Bible in many instances is relative so I want to know if indeed Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Password) that on Sunday he rose again.

I am using sources like this to try to get an idea on the exact timing.

Thank you for your time.


Like much of scripture exegesis, there is a mixture of guidance from different disciplines. A tapestry is woven from knowledge of Jewish customs, corroborating history, etc…

There are a couple of different scenarios for the timeline and events involved. A search of the forum should turn up good info.


Luke 23:52. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.54. It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin.

The sabbath is Saturday, the day of preparation was the day before, Friday. So we have Friday as the first day and Saturday as the second day.

Luke 24:1. But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; 3. but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. 5. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? 6. He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, 7. that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.

The first day of the week is Sunday, which is the third day, which is just what Jesus said, that he would rise “on the third day”.

I am not sure what is relative about this time line.


The apostles were eyewitnesses.

Some of the letters of the apostles themselves date back to Jesus time don’t they and they mention this too

The Early Church Fathers kknew the apostles first hand. And their writings survive. And they mention three days also.

It is historical.


Consider this a novice question; we know of Jesus’s death and him rising again. What I am wondering about is the timeline.

How do we know for sure it was 2 1/2 to 3 (24) days? Time in the Bible in many instances is relative so I want to know if indeed Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Password) that on Sunday he rose again.

I am using sources like this to try to get an idea on the exact timing.

Thank you for your time.


There are very few details that all the gospels have exactly the same. However, there are a few things that they completely agree on. (Okay, John’s gospel states that the Passover started in the evening on Friday - which in Jewish custom would have been the beginning of Saturday; while the synoptic gospels have Passover starting in the evening on Thursday - which in Jewish custom would have been the beginning of Friday - regardless). Most of the details that all the gospels agree on are in the Passion.

(1) Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.
(2) A disciple cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John mentions the servant’s name; Luke & John mention the disciple as having been Peter himself; Luke mentions that Jesus healed the servant’s ear).
(3) Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was 3 times, and all the other disciples abandoned Jesus (John has the “beloved disciple” continue to follow Jesus to the cross.
(4) Jesus was tried by Caiaphas, who brought out false witnesses.
(5) After Caiaphas had convinced the rest of his people of Jesus’s “guilt” and Caiaphas’s people decided Jesus deserved the death penalty with regard to the Torah, they brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate.
(6) Pontius Pilate wanted to release Jesus.
(7) The crowds asked for Barabbas to be released instead, and insisted on Jesus’s crucifixion.
(8) Pilate caves to the pressure and condemns Jesus to death.
(9) Soldiers mocked Jesus, scourging Him, and dressing Him in “royal garments”, and placed a crown of thorns on His head.
(10) Jesus is crucified with two other men.
(11) Jesus dies rather rapidly - as far as crucifixions go, within 3-6 hours (depending on the gospel).
(12) The charge against Jesus read “King of the Jews”.
(13) Joseph of Arimethea buried Jesus in a new tomb close to the crucifixion site, and female disciples of Jesus saw where Joseph laid Jesus.
(14) On Sunday, the same female disciples came to the tomb and saw it empty, with angels declaring the resurrection.

Since all 4 gospels are in agreement about these basic things, we can be sure that these things did happen in this way. Other traditions about Jesus varied, but details of the death and resurrection were pretty much passed on intact - without revision - from the apostles onward. And this is important, as the apostles considered the Passion, Death, and Resurrection to be at the heart of the Gospel and the most important part of the Gospel.



Thank you for quoting scripture; here is my problem.

Isn’t it us simply assuming that the Sabbath was on a Friday? It isn’t documented in the Bible that they are using the same calendar that we are using.

That is the same issue as with the “first day” of the week. How are we sure that they are actually referring to a “Sunday”?


Here is a direct quote concerning what I am talking about. See the bolded section below.

Speculation about the day and year timing of Christ’s crucifixion and death stems from the lack of direct day-to-day correlation in the gospel accounts. In the present world, dates have become imperative for adequate news coverage. But the gospel writers concerned themselves with the events themselves and not the specific timing. They aimed to present Jesus to various audiences and not provide a detailed biography.

To uncover the day of Jesus’ death on the cross, we must assemble the evidence from the four Gospels and what we know of the culture at the time. Over the years, scholars have produced several models of what events happened during the days of the week leading up to the cross. These models variously propose that Christ died on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

While a Wednesday crucifixion allows Jesus to have been buried for three full days and nights, this would also mean He rose on the fourth day. In addition, the Triumphal Entry would have happened on Saturday, the day of Sabbath rest. A Thursday crucifixion moves the Triumphal Entry to Sunday, which makes more sense, and eliminates the need for a “silent day” (a day during the Passion Week when no events were recorded). However, we know that the Pharisees rushed to have Jesus in the tomb on the day of preparation (John 19:34-42), which is Friday, and before the Sabbath began at nightfall (the Jews measured days from nightfall to nightfall).

When we examine the evidence, Friday fits best with the gospel accounts and the historical context. For example, the New Testament says that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day—not necessarily after three days (e.g., Matthew 16:21; Acts 10:40). As mentioned above, Jesus had to be rushed into the tomb on the day of preparation. While a Friday crucifixion would necessitate a “silent day” (probably Wednesday), this day allows time for the Sanhedrin to plan for Jesus’s arrest and the subsequent trials. So, the day is only “silent” because we have nothing specifically recorded.


St Justin Martyr, writing about 155 A.D., said:

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration. (Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter 67.)

St Justin Martyr was an adult convert to Christianity about 130 A.D. which is early enough to have been taught by a disciple of an Apostle.


Not only that, but in other languages (such as Spanish, Greek, and many others), the word used for Saturday literally means “Sabbath (day)” and the word used for Sunday literally means “Lord’s Day”. This means that, traditionally, our Saturday aligns with the Jewish Sabbath and that our Sunday aligns with the day that Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week.


No, it is not us assuming the Sabbath was on a Friday. First, the Sabbath is Saturday, not Friday. Our word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning “day of rest” which Genesis tells us comes from God resting on the 7th day after 6 days of creation. So counting back 7 days from Saturday we get Sunday. If Saturday was the last day of the week (last because of the last day of the creation story) then Sunday would be the first day of the week.

Also, just because the Bible does not specifically document something does not mean we can not know it from other historical sources.


The Jewish clock starts at sunset. The Jewish clock has 12 night hours (6pm to 6 am) and 12 day hours( 6am to 6 pm). Jesus died at the 9th hour which is approximately 3 pm civil time Friday. Day starts at 6am + 9 hrs => 3pm which is before the Sabbath Day. Mk 15:42. This is Day 1. Day 2 is Sabbath day Friday 6 pm to Sat 6pm. Day 3 is Sat 6pm to Sun 6pm. It is not clear exactly what time did Jesus rose on the 3rd day. It is clear his body was not there on Sunday morning.



Does this mean that he Jews had their Sabbath on the Sunday and not the Saturday as they started in the evening?


Sorry to resurrect a slightly older thread, but I just read something on this in an older book that offers an explanation of this matter I had not heard before, based on the documents recovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It’s mentioned in “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Primitive Christianity” by Fr. Jean Danielou (Mentor Books, 1958). There were more than one set of calendars in use at the time of the Crucifixion, and the Essene sect of Jews used a different calendar than the Pharisaic and the Sadduccee Jews.

As powerofk noted, there have been problems for scriptural interpreters over the years, as the synoptic Gospels describe the Last Supper as a paschal meal and fix the date as the 14th of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish priestly calendar, corresponding to March/April. But per St. John, the Crucfixion took place before Passover, so He would have been crucified on the day of the 14th of Nisan and He instituted on the Eucharist on the evening of the 13th, in which case the meal would no longer be a Passover banquet.

However, the Essene Jews of the Qumran area (of which St. John the Baptist, as well as at least some of the apostles, were members) used a different priestly calendar of 364 days, containing four trimesters of 91 days, each of which had 13 weeks, Since there were exactly 52 weeks in the year, feastdays, according to the Qumranic calendar, necessarily fell on the same day of the month and *the same day of the week. * On the Qumranic calendar, Passover always fell on a Wednesday. The night before, therefore, was a Tuesday.

There is an old, somewhat neglected tradition in which Christ is supposed to have partaken of the Passover meal on Tuesday evening, and to have been arrested on Wednesday and crucified on Friday.

Thus, if the Christ must have celebrated the Last Supper on the eve of the Passover, according to the Essenian calendar. On the other hand, He was supposed to have been crucified on the eve of the official Passover which in that year fell on a Saturday.

Once the calendar of the Essenes fell into disuse, however, this date of the Last Supper was established either on Wednesday, according to St. John the Apostle or Thursday, per the synoptics. Using the calendar that the Essenes used at the time, it becomes apparent that the multiple confrontations Christ had with Annas, with Caiaphas, and with Pilate took up the days of Wednesday and Thursday, which is more reasonable than trying to shoehorn them all into a single night.

Fr. Danielou goes into detail on the links between the apostles and the Qumranic Essenes, and also helps explain why both Josephus and Philo both described the three great Jeiwsh sects of Christ’s time as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, but while St. John the Baptist and others condemn the Pharisees and to a lesser extent, the Sadducees, but never mentions the Essene sect - in fact, they are not mentioned anywhere in the Gospels. This is likely because St. John the Baptist identified with the Essenes, and was likely raised by the monastic Essene community of Qumran. Jesus recruited his first disciples from the area around Qumran (and the mountain to which Jesus was tempted by Satan was not far from the Essene community where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. St. John the Apostle held to views that seemed to have been influenced by the Essene Jews, based on similarities between his writings and those of the Essenes, and possibly came from that tradition. It seems likely that he would have used the Qumranic calendar.

Although not mentioned by Fr. Danilou, that same Qumranic calendar has been used to fix the date of the birth of Jesus to circa December 25, based on the date St,. John the Baptist’s father’s priestly line would have been in the Temple to make the offering, the date of conception of his wife, and doing the math from the events described to establish the likely date of Mary’s conception and Jesus’ birth - which would place the event in late December, by our calendar.

I find this fascinating. Thoughts?


In Hebrew the days of the week don’t have names, just numbers. Sunday is “yom rishon,” the first day, Monday is “yom sheni,” the second day, and so on. Only Saturday has a name, Shabbat, from which we get the English word Sabbath.

As other posters have pointed out, the Jewish day runs from sunset to sunset instead of from midnight to midnight, like ours. The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday. Sunday, “the first day,” begins at sunset on Saturday.


I’ll answer this first.

The problem with this theory is that we really don’t have any real evidence that John the Baptist - or any other person connected to Jesus we know of - was an Essene. Heck, it’s even unclear whether the Qumran Community were really Essenes, or at least, the kind of ‘Essenes’ known from the writings of authors like Josephus.

That theory was originally proposed in the 18th-19th century when some writers were trying to look out for possible influences for Jesus. It was popular in those days to assume that Jesus could not have been influenced by the Jewish thinking of His day. They believed that Judaism is really a kind of a backward tribal superstition fixated on apocalyptic fantasies; there’s no way it could have engendered the higher moral teaching of Jesus. So they tended to look for sources outside Judaism for the influences that would have shaped Jesus’ ethics. (This thinking also gave rise to the ‘Jesus went to India’-type ideas, BTW.) The Essenes happened to be one of the candidates, because the available descriptions of them make them seem to be ‘exotic’ or ‘different’.

In fact, people back then thought that they were actually a sort of Greek-influenced group. A few popular writers even gave them a sort of secret society-like air: so basically, the Essenes became this sort of Freemason-like secret cabal of enlightened teachers who ran everything behind the scenes. They groomed Jesus to be the messiah (in a few versions, just about every other relation of Jesus was actually an Essene :p), they stagemanaged His ‘miracles’, they took Him down from the cross and revived Him. :shrug:

This idea sort of experienced a revival when the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran were discovered. But later, many scholars thought the arguments trying to make an explicit connection between Jesus or John the Baptist and Qumran are rather flimsy and contrived.

Take John for example: there’s really no need to think that John derived all the elements that he supposedly has in common with the Essenes / the Qumranites - immersion, ethics, and eschatology - from them, because they’re really common to many Jews. (All that makes the Qumranites unique is their very scrupulous, legalistic approach to purity laws that other Jews would even find excessive.) In fact, there are differences in these elements between John and the Qumranites: for one, John’s immersion/baptism is a once-for-all event, whereas the Qumranites immersed themselves frequently; you had to have John immerse you, whereas for the Essenes (like other Jews) a ritual bath was self-administered. The Qumranites were kind of a reclusive, exclusive community, but John’s movement was public and evangelistic in nature. John being in the desert is not necessarily a connection either: it was actually a pretty common fad in those days for self-proclaimed prophets and messianic claimants to be in the desert, because of all the symbolism the desert has in Jewish thought (the forty years’ wandering by the Israelites, for example).


It’s mentioned in “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Primitive Christianity” by Fr. Jean Danielou (Mentor Books, 1958). There were more than one set of calendars in use at the time of the Crucifixion, and the Essene sect of Jews used a different calendar than the Pharisaic and the Sadduccee Jews.

Oh yeah, this.

Fr. Danielou is here repeating an idea expressed around the same time by a writer named Annie Jaubert. Jaubert tried to solve the discrepancy between the synoptic and the Johannine chronologies by appealing to the fact that the Qumran community followed a different calendar than that used by the temple priests and most other Jews, based on two works, 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees (both of which were well-read in Qumran, judging by the number of copies found there). The ‘official’ Jewish calendar was lunisolar (the months are lunar - strictly following the phases of the moon - but the years have to be aligned with the seasons of the year, which are governed by the sun). The Qumran community however, had a 364-day purely solar calendar.

(What makes Jaubert interesting is that she came up with this theory before any Qumran text that mentioned this calendar had been identified.)

Jaubert theorized that the discrepancy between the chronology was because the synoptics were following the solar Qumran/Jubilees calendar while John followed the lunisolar temple calendar. That’s why, in her idea, Jesus would have celebrated the Passover one day early than the Jewish leaders: He and His disciples were using the Qumran calendar. She assumes that Nisan 14 in the Qumran calendar fell just before, and in the same week as, Nisan 14 in the official calendar. (Qumran Nisan 14 always fell on a Tuesday, so Jaubert assumed that Jesus held the Last Supper and was arrested on Tuesday night-Wednesday midnight before being crucified around three days later, on a Friday, which happened to be Nisan 14 according to the official calendar.)

While her idea is attractive because it’s simple, the problem with it is that it assumes too much. The two calendars would rarely have worked out in such a way that the synoptic date for the supper would have been on the same day in the Qumran calendar as John’s in the lunisolar one. There’s also no evidence that Jesus or any other early Christian used the solar calendar of Qumran or any other calendar that made them noticeably different from other Jews. (In fact, as I mentioned,we have no solid undisputable evidence explicitly tying Jesus to the Qumran community at all.)

In addition, Jaubert’s thesis that Jesus’ passion lasted for three days (Tuesday/Wednesday to Friday) doesn’t have much support within the gospels themselves, which imply that the action occurred within a short lapse of time. (Jaubert handwaves this by saying that it was the gospels who altered and compressed the chronology.)

Jaubert recognizes this, so she instead looks to other sources in support of her idea. She invokes a 3rd century Christian document, the Didascalia Apostolorum, which asserts that Jesus had “eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even” and was arrested “on the fourth day of the week” - Tuesday/Wednesday - and was crucified on a Friday, thereby giving an explanation to the early Christian custom of fasting during those two days (already attested in the Didache). Some other early Christian writers also repeated this claim (Sts. Victorinus of Pettau and Epiphanius of Salamis are two).

But here’s the problem: did the historical memory of Jesus’ arrest really give rise to the Wednesday fast (as Jaubert claims)? Or did the fast actually come first, and only later did some Christians invent a reason for it, one which admittedly contradicted a plain reading of the gospels? (Jesus was crucified on a Friday (before the Sabbath), which could explain the Friday fast, but the Wednesday fast didn’t have anything to explicitly connect it with any event from Jesus’ life, unlike the Friday fast.)


John Allegro, recognized as a leading expert on the subject, says in his book *The Dead Sea Scrolls *that the Qumran community used the so-called Enoch calendar of 364 days. However, that assertion has been challenged. Nobody really knows whether they used it or not and in fact the problem goes deeper than that: nobody really knows for certain whether the Enoch calendar was ever actually used by anybody, anywhere, at any time.


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