Was Christ really in the tomb for three days?

By April 8, 2015 16 Comments

Full Question

If Christ died on a Friday and was raised on a Sunday, how come the Bible speaks of his being in the tomb for three days and three nights before his Resurrection (Mt 12:40; Mk 8:31)?


Christ died around three in the afternoon on Friday and was entombed shortly thereafter. The Resurrection occurred by dawn on Sunday. Thus he was in the tomb less than nine hours Friday (by the modern reckoning), twenty-four hours Saturday, and less than six hours Sunday–at any rate, far less than the seventy-two hours that comprise three full days and nights.
Is there a contradiction here? No, because the ancient Jews counted as a whole day any part of a day, so “three days and three nights” (which means the same as “three days” in modern usage) could be as little as twenty-four hours plus a few seconds on either side–if there had been, back then, clocks that could register seconds.
In our way of reckoning things, from lunch time today to lunch time tomorrow is one day. Ancient Jews would have counted it as two days because it includes parts of two distinct days.


  • gabrielj53 says:

    I’m sorry but that is completely false information! The Jewish people have followed a custom of keeping days and weeks all the way back to Abraham, they keep with the Genesis scenario of evening to evening being one day. They would only consider “lunch” time one day and “lunch” time the next day two days because in Hebraic thought this actually occurred in two different days. Furthermore, Jesus specifically said that he would be in the grave for three nights, so no matter how you want to spin it you cant get three nights in between Friday to Sunday! If you haven’t figured it out yet the whole “Good Friday” idea is completely bogus.
    The Following is an excellent excerpt on how exactly the passion week played out.
    “Six Days Before The Passover” (John 12:1).
    This Is Appendix 156 From The Companion Bible.
    We are furnished by Scripture with certain facts and fixed points which, taken together, enable us (1) to determine the events which filled up the days of “the last week” of our Lord’s life on earth; (2) to fix the day of His crucifixion; and (3) to ascertain the duration of the time He remained in the tomb.
    The difficulties connected with these three have arisen (1) from not having noted these fixed points; (2) from the fact of Gentiles’ not having been conversant with the law concerning the three great feasts of the LORD; and (3) from not having reckoned the days as commencing (some six hours before our own) and running from sunset to sunset, instead of from midnight to midnight.
    To remove these difficulties, we must note :-
    I That the first day of each of the three feasts. Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, was ” a holy convocation”, a “sabbath” on which no servile work was to be done. See Leviticus 23:7, 24, 35. Compare Exodus 12:16.
    II “That sabbath” and the “high day” of John 19:31, was the “holy convocation”, the first day of the feast, which quite overshadowed the ordinary weekly sabbath.
    It was called by the Jews Yom tov = (Good day), and this is the greeting on that day throughout Jewry down to the present time.
    This great sabbath, having been mistaken from the earliest times for the weekly sabbath, has led to all the confusion.
    III This has naturally caused the futher difficulty as to the Lord’s statement that “even as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). Now, while it is quite correct to speak according to Hebrew idiom of “three days” or “three years”, while they are only parts of three days or three years, yet that idiom does not apply in a case like this, where “three nights” are mentioned in addition to “three days”. It will be noted that the Lord not only definitely states this, but repeats the full phraseology, so that we may not mistake it. See the subject fully discussed in Appendix 144.
    IV We have therefore the following facts furnished for our sure guidance:
    1 The “high day” of John 19:31 was the first day of the feast.
    3 The “first day of the feast” was on the 15th day of Nisan.
    5 The 15th day of Nisan, commenced at sunset on what we should call the 14th.
    7 “Six days before the passover” (John 12:1) takes us back to the 9th day of Nisan.
    9 “After two days is the passover” (Matthew 26:2. Mark 14:1) takes us to the 13th day of Nisan.
    11 “The first day of the week”, the day of the resurrection (Matthew 28:1, etc.), was from our Saturday sunset to our Sunday sunset. This fixes the days of the week, just as the above fix the days of the month, for:
    13 Reckoning back from this, “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40), we arrive at the day of the burial, which must have been before sunset, on the 14th of Nisan; that is to say, before our Wednesday sunset.
    15 This makes the sixth day before the passover (the 9th day of Nisan) to be our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
    V Therefore Wednesday, Nisan 14th (commencing on the Tuesday at sunset), was “the preparation day”, on which the crucifixion took place: for all four Gospels difinitely say that this was the day on which the Lord was buried (before our Wednesday sunset), “because it was the preparation [day]” the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, “for that sabbath day was a high day”, and, therefore, not the ordinary seventh day, or weekly sabbath. See John 19:31.
    VI It follows, therefore, that the Lord being crucified on “the preparation day” could not have eaten of the Passover lamb, which was not slain until the evening of the 14th of Nisan (that is to say, afternoon). On that day the daily sacrifice was killed at the 6th hour (noon) and offered about the 7th hour (1 p.m.). The killing of the Passover lambs began directly afterwards. Thus it is clear, that if the killing of the Passover lambs did not commence until about four hours after our Lord had been hanging upon the Cross, and would not have been concluded at the ninth hour (3 p.m.) when “He gave up the ghost;” -no “Passover lamb” could have been eaten at the “last supper” on the previous evening.
    VII With these facts before us, we are now in a position to fill in the several days of the Lord’s last week with the events recorded in the Gospels. By noting that the Lord returned to Bethany (or to the Mount of Olives) each night of that week, we are able to determine both the several days and the events that took place in them.
    Basically, Jesus died Wednesday at 3, was buried by 6, Wednesday Night to Thursday Night Day 1, Thursday Night to Friday Night Day 2, Friday Night to Saturday Night Day 3, Jesus rose sometime between sunset Saturday and before Mary came to the tomb before sunrise on Sunday. Most likely he rose at the time period which is called between the evenings which would be during the transition between sunset Saturday and the beginning of evening which would have started the Jewish day of Sunday. Read the Gospel accounts, everyone who comes to the grave on the first day of the week finds it empty they don’t find him rising from the grave therefore he had already risen prior to them coming there, the earliest person being Mary before dawn had even come because scripture says it was still dark.
    If you don’t understand the aspects of the Old Testament Feasts and Sabbaths you cant understand the New Testament you will lose so much that is needed for a proper understanding and application of scripture. To clear it up the day after Passover is a Sabbath it is the First Day of Unleavened Bread, therefore all the scriptures that traditionally use the Saturday Sabbath as the basis for understanding how the crucifixion played out are wrong which is why they cant get three days and three nights into Friday to Sunday.

    • gabrielj53 says:

      Hi Mario, this link is the best most concise explanation of the Passover Week I have ever seen
      I do not know of any book that deliberately covers this topic and the link above really gives the greatest amount of condensed detail on the subject, but others who talk about this are
      This is the best illustration I have ever seen on this specific issue:
      Hope all this gives you some guidance. Take off the glasses of what you think you know, of the perspectives that were taught to you and read the Bible while thinking for yourself and you will see all is not what it appears to be!

    • Vicki says:

      Mario@gabrielj53 -My reply is the best you have ever seen is because it is the truth. You ask about books on the subject…the best thing to do is watch Marcus Grodi on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) or find it on the internet. He has a program called The Journey Home and is very knowledgeable in all things to do with Christ’s teachings. He can tell you which books are best & where to get them.
      My knowledge mainly comes directly from God. When my husband died a few years ago, his spirit did not want to leave me. He kept calling my name at night until I told him he had to go to heaven. After that, he continually let me know that he was there until I learned how to communicate with him. So I asked him if he wanted to pray with me like we used to do before he died. I would pray out loud & knew he was there in spirit. Soon, my Mom & Dad asked if they could join us. Then, Jesus said, (yes, through messages in my mind) we needed some rules as other spirits wanted to join us. All I have to do is think of someone who has died, or speak their name & I can converse with them. If they want contact me, they do it by the scent of my candle or flowers, etc.
      Fairly well every one who dies, that I have any bit of information about them, comes to me to join our prayer group. One even asked me to invite his family who were still living, which, of course, I could not do. Anyway, I can communicate with ALL spirits. One day, The Apostles Creed will be changed to the truth. Right now it is said that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The truth is… Jesus was conceived by God the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified & died. He descended into hell & on the 3rd day, He ascended into Heaven. That is the part that will be changed. Yes, there are a few things that even the Catholic church has not got quite right. just a few things, but they do teach the truth, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who established the one & only true Catholic Church whereas, other churches have eliminated 7 books from the Bible & changed other scripture to conform to what they wanted to believe.
      I hope this answers your questions. There are also books on what the Church Fathers have taught but I have not read them. Marcus Grodi is one of the best to go to for the truth. He learned about many religions & was bound & determined not to believe in the Catholic Church, but found it to be the only one with all the truths.

      • gabrielj53 says:

        I’m saying this hopefully for your benefit if possible, but also for Mario and anyone else who may read this thread.
        Acts 16:16As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servantse of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
        Leviticus 19:31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.
        Leviticus 20:6 “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
        Leviticus 20:27 “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
        Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,e anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
        2 Kings:21:6 And he burned his son as an offeringa and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
        1 Chronicles 10:13 So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.
        Isaiah 8:19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
        What you have described is no less than being a medium, if you are deceived by these spirits and think you are doing something good you are sadly mistaken the Lord is against you and against the communication of the dead. I would not adhere to a single word you say and I strongly advise anyone else to do the same. You arent using scripture and no one with the spirit of God living within them would be participating in the practices you have described. You should seriously seek the Lord Vicki if you truly desire to have a relationship with him if not be warned that the Lord is against you and these practices and if you are trying to lead others down that path woe unto you!

        • Vicki says:

          In answer to all of you who commented on my posted reply. I am not a medium or anything of the sort. It is against the Catholic church to believe in psychics, mediums or any other type of divination or fortune telling. Jesus was not raised by God the Father or anyone else He is one person of the Blessed Trinity, which makes Him God. He rose under His Own Power. If you are not Catholic, you may not know or understand the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
          The links that were provided are from a pastor who can not know the truth of the Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church that was established by Jesus Christ if he has not learned the truth himself. What is this New church or bible stuff? There are enough churches & bibles already that Protestants have diluted & changed to conform to what they want to believe in. I am not involved with any “practices” I simply have the ability that God has given me, to communicate with spirits. All of you who simply believe in Scripture are way off base. Learn the Truth from the Church that Jesus established.
          I find those warnings rather funny. I have never been as close to God as I am now, & it is absolutely AWESOME. Oh yes, I can communicate with Satan, also. After all, he is also a spirit & has been trying to destroy me my whole life. He knew that I would have the ability I have, before I did. I can banish him for periods of time but he is very powerful & manages to come back to torment me & others. He wants to destroy the world, & is very good at what he does.
          Many believe that homosexuals are born that way. They are not. God does not make mistakes, but Satan is the greatest deceiver & leads them into that lifestyle. No one speaks about sin anymore & Satan loves that. Where do you think all that sexual perversion comes from? Why do you think there are so many pedophiles? That’s how Satan gets their souls.
          When Jesus told the thief on the cross that He would see him in Paradise, he spoke the truth. Paradise is what Protestants belief to be heaven
          but it is Purgatory, where spirits are purified before they can go to Heaven. Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven. It would do you all good to read my previous reply with an open mind & know that I speak the truth. May God bless you all.

  • Vicki says:

    After Jesus was laid in the tomb, He descended into hell. He rose by His Own Power and on the 3rd day, He ascended into Heaven.

  • cesar says:

    He descended into Hell and released all the prophets..bring them to heaven including the man whom was crucified with him, when he said “Today you will be with me in paradise “

  • noe' Zamora says:

    I hope Catholic scholars would change its views on the actual days of death base on the details expressed in the bible. It is justified within in only we misunderstood it. Scholars have revealed it already…

  • Anthony says:

    O boy here we go!

  • Benita Athukorala says:

    @ gabrielj53 explained very well. Thanks

  • gabrielj53 says:

    Thanks Benita! Shalom

  • Gedii says:

    That is just about the worst answer I have ever read. Christ died on Wednesday afternoon – on the Passover, was buried just before sunset. Thursday was an annual High Day Sabbath as John 19:31 brings out. Friday, after the Sabbath of the annual High Day, the women bought the spices to embalm Him with (Mark 16:1). Then they prepared the spices and rested for the normal weekly Sabbath (Luke 23:56). While it was still dark, Mary went to the tomb, and He was already gone – while it was still dark, before the sun had risen (John 20:1).
    He was in the grave Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night – 3 nights. He was also in the grave Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – 3 days. He was resurrected just before sunset on late Saturday afternoon – at the same time He was laid in the tomb on Wednesday late afternoon.

    • Gia Gennaro says:

      Wow. Someone who finally got it. You must go back and know what YEAR it was. There were two Sabbaths. I am tired of people trying to “stretch” the truth to make it work. It works! God is not a liar.

  • A new day starts at sundowne Not at sunrise.

  • Douglas says:

    Simple: respect for beliefs which are ordained by God and which often mankind cannot fathom or explain. This is the principle of FAITH!

  • DPJ says:

    Don’t you love it when people copy/paste entire pages of “stuff” in a reply? 🙂

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