Skip to main content
DoctrineHistorySermon

Good Friday or Good Thursday? When was Jesus actually crucified?

“For 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).

This prophetic word from Jesus gave a chronology of His death and resurrection that called for three days and three nights for Him to be in the grave. The chronology of the passion week, which puts Jesus on the cross on Friday morning, does not allow for three days and three nights, but rather for three days and two nights. I have heard many explain that because of the nature of the Hebrew reckoning of days and nights (they begin and end at sunset), a Friday crucifixion is workable in fulfilling literally and accurately this prophetic word.

The purpose of this article is not to dispute a Good Friday crucifixion, but to lay forth a Thursday crucifixion of our Lord, which meshes with Scripture and harmonizes the Matthew 12:40 prophecy. In order to do this, I have attached an article I have compiled that lays forth this chronology of the passion week. One of the key elements in harmonizing a Thursday crucifixion is a recognition that Passover fell on the 14th of Nisan (Exod. 12:18, 19) and it was followed immediately by a High Day or a High Sabbath Day (John 19:31). In the year of Jesus’ crucifixion there was a Friday Sabbath or High Day followed by the weekly Saturday Sabbath day. Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1 both use a plural form of Sabbath, which if translated properly would read, “In the end of the Sabbaths” and “And when the Sabbaths were past.” This back-to-back Sabbath days allows for a Thursday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection that puts Jesus in the grave for three days and three nights.

Friday—Nisan 8—Supper in Simon’s house (Matt. 26:6–13)

Sunday—Nisan 10—Jesus enters Jerusalem as the Passover lambs enter the town (Exod. 12; Matt. 21:1–11)

Monday—Nisan 11—Second cleansing of the temple (Matt. 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19)

Tuesday—Nisan 12—Olivet Discourse and debates with religious leaders (Matt. 21:23—23:39; 24:1—25:46)

Wednesday—Nisan 13—Jesus makes ready for the Last Supper (Matt. 26:17–20)

Wednesday (Eve)—Nisan 14—Last Supper, Upper Room Discourse, Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:17–29; John 13:2—14:31; Matt. 25:30–46)

Wednesday Eve—Thursday—Nisan 14—Religious trials, Peter denies Jesus, civil trials, crucifixion (Matt. 26; 27)

Thursday Eve before 6 p.m.—Nisan 14—Jesus is removed from cross and buried before the Friday Sabbath

Thursday Eve after 6 p.m.—Nisan 15—Passover Lamb eaten and Feast of unleavened bread begins (Exod. 12; Lev. 23:5)

Thursday (6 p.m.)—Friday (6 p.m.)—Nisan 15—High Sabbath Day

Friday (6 p.m.)—Saturday (6 p.m.)—Nisan 16—Weekly Sabbath Day

Sunday Morning—Nisan 17—Jesus rises from the grave! (Matt. 28:1–10)

Attached is a detailed chronology along with some notes. Enjoy!

Chronology of Passion Week | PDF

9 Comments

  • Mike Augsburger says:

    Very impressive work! You’ve spent a lot of time and effort to put this together. Definitely something to add to my files.

  • Pat Park says:

    Thanks for the detailed work presented in this post. It will prove to be a useful tool.

  • Bob Bee says:

    I have not read this whole article, but I had to laugh when I read the following sentence:

    “The purpose of this article is not to dispute a Good Friday crucifixion, but to lay forth a Thursday crucifixion of our Lord”

    Really? Isn’t that a bit like saying “I’m not calling your sister fat. I am simply affirming that most human beings are drastically thinner than her”.

    One sort of goes with the other.

  • David King says:

    Bob,

    My verbage could have been better:) What I was trying to communicate is that I wasn’t intending to argue the point or belittle those who believe otherwise. I was simply putting forth my understanding of the chronology for others to view and either accept, reject or study further.

    The Thursday crucifixion is not a matter of separation or heated debate in my mind. that is what I was trying to communicate by using the word “dispute.”

    Glad I was able to give you a laugh…

    David

  • Thank you for your article. I have actually leaned toward a Wednesday crucifixion, but that would mean that Thursday would have had to be the high Sabbath and then the women would have bought and prepared the spices and ointments on Friday after the Thursday Sabbath before bringing them to the tomb on Sunday morning after the regular Saturday Sabbath. If in fact, the high Sabbath was on a Friday that year, it would definitely change my theory. Is it possible that it could have been a Thursday on a different year and that we are off a year in calculating when it occurred?

  • Brian Dare says:

    These are very helpful things to think through. Thank you for your work, and you are probably right. I’m still happy to celebrate his death on the day that the church historically has set aside for remembering His death – Good Friday. Sounds very high church, I know. Our church held a Good Friday service this year which was the first time our church has done this in very very long time and people really appreciated it. I think we should do a better job as Baptists setting aside time to remember these very holy events.

  • Aaron Hand says:

    Yes, Christ did use Jonah as an example for the time he would be dead – 3 days and 3 nights … while He was only dead 1 day and 2 nights. It’s important to understand that Christ was using a Jewish idiom that meant “soon” or “shortly,” simply a short period of time. It didn’t specifically mean 3 days and 3 nights.

    It’s like when we say, “He preached forever, I thought he would never reach a conclusion.” We didn’t use “forever” really thinking he would preach for all eternity. That’s an idiom.

    How dare we think of abandoning the belief that Christ was crucified on Friday and Resurrected on Sunday.

    For further study, see pages 87-91 of Michael Licona’s book, “Paul Meets Mohammed,” published in 2006.

  • SeekerofTruth says:

    Great exposition, but I challenge you to look into the dates of Nisan back in 32 AD. Wednesday was actually Nisan 14 – which would move your time line forward and have Christ rise at the eve of Yom Roshee which is Day 1 in Hebrew or Saturday at sunset for us. Christ was crucified on a High Sabbath and rose at the end of the weekly Sabbath. Mary did not find him gone until morning, not becuase he had just risen but because she had not gone out before dawn.

  • Adam says:

    Isn’t the passover meal before the day before the feast of unleavened bread because of this timing?: Wednesday night 6pm (start of the day of passover – 14th) kill the lamb and smear the blood on door posts – Wednesday night Angel of Death passes over. Thursday day (passover day/preparation day) Hebrews prepare to leave Egypt & make unleavened bread. Thursday night(beginning of the 15th)the Hebrews are lead out of Egypt – Exodus 12:42. This, Exodus 12:18 and the first part of chapter 13 is the institute the Holy feast of unleavened bread Making the High Sabbath the day after Passover.

Leave a Reply