Six Hours?

It usually took a few days for someone crucified to die. What is the reason Jesus died so quickly on the cross?

And given the fact Jesus died only six hours after being crucified, can we be certain he was really dead? If so, how?

John 19:31-17

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[a] 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”****

Your profile says you are Catholic. If that is correct then how can you possibly have doubts?
Being Catholic you know it is true.

In the garden of olivesJesus was under immense stress, his sweat became as drops of blood, therefore ruptured blood vessels.
Major blood loss was caused by the horrific scourging that he received and by the crowing of thorns. He was completely exhausted and still had to bear the weight of the cross. He was in danger of going into shock. Then nailed horrifically to the cross. Further loss of blood. His body had lost a lot of fluid through all this loss of blood and sweating, only one outcome, total organ shutdown.

We just don’t know.

As sure as we can be.

What causes you to raise the question?

Jesus dying so quickly is a testament to the brutality (and probably blood loss) of the scourging he received earlier that morning. He couldn’t even carry his cross to the execution without assistance from someone else.

We can be sure that he was dead because the Romans pierced his heart with a spear to be sure.


Most victims of crucifixion had not had the skin almost flogged off their bodies.

The Roman flagrum or scourge was not a minor painful punishment, but a means in itself of torture unto death.

As a result of it, Our LORD was so weak from bleeding that He almost didn’t make it to the cross, hence the involvement of Simon of Cyrene.


I’ve read a couple books about Muslims who converted to Christianity. In the second book the author talks a little about the “swoon theory.”

His physical torture weakened him. Here is a good read on what his human body went through:

Pilate ordered that the 3 condemned be killed (have their legs broken) so that they would die that day and his soldiers would take them down. You know, those Roman’s were pretty good at killing - like, world class killing, so what do you think happened? Do you think the guards, after thrusting a spear into our Lord, took Jesus down, pulled the nails from His feet and hands and gave him to Joseph of Arimathea and did not once realize He was alive? Really? C’mon, Really?

Ok, I get it.

Ok, I get it.

What’s bothering me is that Jesus died approx. 6 hours after being nailed to the cross when it could take days for other people.

Ok. Did other people who were crucified receive the same degree of torture prior to their crucifixions as Jesus did? And if so, why did it take up to days for them to die but not Jesus?

Yeah but what do you have to say about why Jesus died so quickly?

Faith, why does this trouble you?

Have you talked to your pastor about this, it sounds like your compulsive thoughts are focused in on this and not letting go. Please talk to your pastor.

Or 3 hours, depending on how one reads the narrative.

You are not the only one who was amazed. Pilate was shocked too.

One could perhaps offer several theological reasons for the time of death, but a biological one is that the stresses of the Passion began well before the actual crucifixion. How stressed do you think you need to be to sweat blood?

Remember that Our Lord had, at every moment, the power to free Himself from pain. Each second of the Passion was willed by Him in His human nature, to conform with His Divine Will as Son and with the Father’s Will. THAT is real stress.

The stress, combined with a particularly bad pre-crucifixion regimen which included a brutal beating and a hike of some 400 meters up a hill with a 100 or so pound hunk of wood after a sleepless night enduring all kinds of mental agony, was enough to prepare His heart for danger. After this and the stresses of the Cross, and given the act of the loud yell before giving up His life, it is probable that His heart burst. This is also quite theologically fitting, not only for the poetic nature of it, but also because the same part of the heart that would have ruptured is the part that tends to show up in Eucharistic miracles, if I am remembering correctly.

There are also different ways of crucifying someone. Depending on how stretched out the arms are, or if there is a seat, or a very flat foot rest, the death can be slower. Then delirium might set in, with dehydration, hunger, the elements, or even wild animals being the ultimate cause of death rather than asphyxiation or some cardiac event.

Swoon theory is hilariously unrealistic for all kinds of reasons, some of which have been offered. Here’s another - you and I break a toe and will not walk right for a month. Jesus had open holes in both feet, and would have stayed in a cave bleeding for 2 days with no medical care, and then is walking all around. How is that realistic? Same goes for the hands and side (which certainly would be enough evidence for anyone… if you don’t react to having a spear shoved into your torso, then you are not faking anything… you must be at least comatose… but blood AND water come only from dead bodies, thus the emphasis in John’s gospel and first letter on the water).

By the way, the orthodox Muslim position is that it was a look-alike that went in Jesus’ place, not that he faked it. (How important it is then, that Thomas the Apostle was a TWIN and would have known about this kind of trick, which he probably had played with his brother as a kid! But if you can see the wounds… then it must be the same man. But there is never question about whether someone actually died.)

Faith, read the Scripture. Pilate’s plan was to have him scourged and then release him.

He took Jesus out to the crowd after scourging and they shouted for his death.

Yes but did other people crucified receive the same degree of scourging as Jesus did?

e_c made a great post.

It’s my understanding that scourging was the norm for crucifixion victims, though I don’t know if that was at all times or during certain periods of Roman history. The Gospels themselves do comment on Jesus dying rather quickly (Pilate expresses surprise) and they detail Christ having a particularly hard journey to Calvary.

Consider this: Suppose that crucifixions were still common. You read a report that one victim was scourged, had a hard time carrying his cross to the execution site (compared to others), and was confirmed dead six hours later. You are not provided further detail. Do you say to yourself “that’s unusual, it normally takes days, this report must be false”? Or do you instead use your intuition and determine that there were some additional factors either not reported or only hinted at? Poor health, an especially brutal scourging compared to the norm, and other stresses. It’s perfectly reasonable to do the latter and conceivable that this was the case, and the gospel certainly shows us this in many places, even if they don’t tie it together in a succinct conclusion. It’s not unbelievable that a victim could die sooner in any case.

In addition to all of the other stresses Jesus dealt with, it’s essentially held that his scourging was probably beyond the norm in brutality. Perhaps it was an attempt to placate the Jewish authorities so as to avoid sentencing him to death. Perhaps those carrying out the scourging felt a particular need to mock Jesus claims (which was attested to) and so they were more brutal with him. Perhaps this popular preacher who entered the city in a fashion that made clear in no uncertain terms he was claiming the title of the long awaited Messiah and King of Israel made the Roman authorities view him as a clear enemy of the state, and so were extra brutal in their punishment. Perhaps it was unintended but still especially brutal just by accident.

There are plenty of possible reasons. Jesus died quickly. It was outside the norm for this type of execution. But it is conceivable and no reason to doubt.

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