Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday or Wednesday Day of Debt ?

Friday or Wednesday?

The Day of Debt

by Chuck Missler





The observances of Good Friday and Easter Sunday have perpetuated the traditional chronology that the crucifixion took place on a Friday, and that the Lord's body was buried on that day at about 6:00 p.m., and that he rose from the dead early on the following Sunday morning.

There are some, however, that feel this tradition is at variance with the Scriptural record. The traditional view seems to conflict with certain prophetic and legal facts.

"Three Days"

One of the problems is reckoning "three days" between Friday evening and Sunday morning. I was once co-hosting a national TV show which had the famed apologist John Warwick Montgomery as a guest. This issue came up, and John rendered the traditional rationalization, pointing out that the Jews reckoned a partial day as a whole day.

I turned to my co-host and explained, "You must remember that John is an attorney, and that's the way they bill!"

(John almost fell out of his chair laughing - he hadn't realized that I was well aware of his distinguished legal background.)

But the difficulty remains. Our Lord's definitive statement is one of the problems:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. -Matthew 12:40

The mention of nights, as well as the number of days, makes it hard to render this as simply an idiomatic rhetorical device rather than a statement of fact.

Further, when Paul declares the resurrection of Christ to be "according to the Scriptures" in 1 Corinthians 15:4, if this isn't an allusion to Jonah 1:17, then where else? (Perhaps, in Genesis 22, the three days between the "death" of Isaac - when the commandment came - and his "return" to Abraham may have been the macrocode, or typological allusion, that Paul might have had in mind.1 )

Intensifying this controversy was the "three days" issue at the trial of Jesus.

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, [yet] found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This [fellow] said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. -Matthew 26:59-61

What did Jesus really say?

Destroy this temple, [of His body] and in three days I will raise it up. -John 2:19

The same phrase reoccurs in the gospels a dozen times.2 It also seems to frequently reoccur in prophetic patterns.3

The Sabbaths

Nowhere in the Gospels does it assert that Christ was crucified on a Friday. In Mark 15:42, it refers to "...the day before the sabbath." This may be the root of the misunderstanding.

The Jews had other sabbaths in addition to the weekly shabbat (Saturday). In addition to the weekly sabbaths, there were seven "high sabbaths" each year, and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of Nisan, was one of them.4

Further, Matthew 28:1 should read, "At the end of the sabbaths ,"5 (which is plural in the Greek), implying there was a plurality of sabbaths that week.

If Passover, the 14th of Nisan, fell earlier in the week, the 15th could have been any day prior to Saturday, the weekly sabbath. "When the sabbaths were past" would, of course, be Sunday (actually, Saturday after sundown), in accordance to the Feast of First Fruits. (Some hold to a Thursday crucifixion on a similar basis.)

The 17th of Nisan

Jesus had declared that He would be in the grave three days, and yet was to be resurrected "on the morrow after the sabbath," on the day of the Feast of First Fruits.6

It is interesting that the authorities, anxious to get the body off the cross before sundown, unknowingly were fulfilling God's predetermined plan, "according to the Scriptures."7

Noah's flood ended on the 17th day of the 7th month.8 This month becomes the 1st month at the institution of the Passover.9 Our new beginning in Christ was on the anniversary of the Earth's "new beginning" under Noah!

Israel's new beginning, the crossing of the Red Sea, is believed to have been on the 17th of Nisan. Also, in their flight after Passover, Israel retrieved the body of Joseph from his tomb. After Passover, Jesus was retrieved from another Joseph's tomb on this date.

The Jericho Journey

Another problem with a Friday crucifixion is John 12:1: "Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany..." (from Jericho). If the Friday view can be accepted, then six days earlier was the weekly shabbat , and on this day such a journey was legally out of the question for a devout Jew.


As for the Friday or Wednesday issue, there are many good scholars on each side of this controversy. I personally have become rather cynical toward any tradition that is not supported by Scripture.

Good Friday is the "traditional" view. The Wednesday crucifixion is known as the "reconstructed view." This article is intended to stimulate study and constructive conversation during this precious season. One attempt to reconcile the chronology of the entire week is shown in the inset boxes [Friday-Tuesday] and [Wednesday-Sunday].

The important thing is that the tomb was empty . The authorities made sure that this was indisputable. Indeed, He is risen!

The most important chapter in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 15. We encourage you to study it very carefully. (Also, note our special briefing packages, Agony of Love and From Here to Eternity.)

* * *

Next month we'll explore the issue of "The Seventh Day." Anyone who thinks that it's simple to resolve the "Sunday Sabbath" hasn't studied it.


The Easter Story - DVD - Chuck Missler

Most reasonably informed Christians are well aware that many of the traditions that surround the Christmas holidays have pagan origins and very little correlation with the actual events as recorded in the Bible.

Click for more information - DVD


  1. Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 22:2-4, 8, 14. See Cosmic Codes , Chapter 12 for a exposition of this astonishing "Macrocode."
  2. Matthew 27:40; 27:63; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:58; 15:29; Luke 9:22; 18:33.
  3. The deliverance of Isaac after three days at Abraham's offering, Genesis 22; the crossing of Israel after Passover, etc. Also prominent in Joseph's prophecies (also introducing the bread and wine!) Genesis 40:12-19; (Cf. 42:17!); Moses' darkness upon Egypt three days, Exodus 10:22, 23; three days without water in the wilderness, Exodus 15:22; Paul was without sight for three days, Acts 9:9.
  4. Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:5-7; Numbers 28:17.
  5. Jay P. Green, The Interlinear Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA 1985, p.766. Also, C. I. Scofield, Scofield Study Bible , notes on Matthew 28:1: The term is plural in the Greek.
  6. Leviticus 23:10-11.
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. See our briefing package, The Feasts of Israel, to explore the prophetic implications of these amazing elements of God's plan for mankind.
  8. Genesis 8:4.
  9. Exodus 12:2.
  10. A Textual Surprise:

    The Empty Tomb

    by Chuck Missler




    [Personal note: I recently had an unusual experience while in my library that I cannot resist sharing with you. From time to time this happens and these incidents constitute some of the most exciting and satisfying experiences in my lifetime of adventures! I hope you find this as interesting as I have. -Chuck]

    Many of us who have visited Israel regard the visit to the "Garden Tomb" as one of the major highlights of the trip. It invariably ranks highest on our feedback surveys. The people in charge of the British trust that manages the site always present it as simply "representative," rather than insisting that it is the actual tomb. However, we feel they are understating the actual facts. Even though I harbor a skeptical cynicism toward most "traditional" sites, for a number of reasons I personally regard this tomb as the actual one referred to in the Gospel accounts.

    Notes From Leviticus

    In my study I was digging through my library on the Book of Leviticus and, in particular, was digesting the commentary by Andrew Bonar (a classic that I particularly treasure regarding this particular book of the Torah). I was reviewing the many detailed specifications of the various categories of offerings - every one of which profiles or foreshadows the various aspects of Christ's person and work. I was particularly intrigued with the following:

    And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar. - Leviticus 1:11

    Like so many of the textual details, this one was also expressly fulfilled by the fact that the ultimate sacrifice to which it points was, indeed, offered on the north side of the city, just outside of what is now called the "Damascus Gate." However, a footnote also caught my eye that included some unusual details about Joseph of Arimathea, which proved strikingly instructive.

    Joseph of Arimathea

    Andrew Bonar's footnote noted: "A rich man, one of the most honorable and esteemed in Jerusalem, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a disciple, unexpectedly appears at Calvary. This was Joseph of Arimathea, without exception the most singularly noble character introduced to us in the Gospels. This rich man had been driven into concealment by the plots formed against him by the Jews, on account of his defending Jesus in the Sanhedrin openly (Luke 23:51)." In the Gospel of John we find a subtle but significant mistranslation:

    And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews... - John 19:38

    "...being a disciple": "kekrummenoV de dia ton fobon twn ioudaiwn" not [the adverb] "secretly," for it is not kekrummenwV but [the adjective] "secreted," or forced to hide, by reason of their plots. This makes his appearance before Pilate even more unexpected.

    An Unrecorded Conversation

    I cannot resist including the unrecorded conversation that occurred between Joseph of Arimathea and Pontius Pilate, who was, of course, shocked by Joseph's request for the body in the passage above. Pilate responded: "Joseph, I don't understand. You're the richest man in the region; you have made this brand new tomb for your family; and, you're going to give it to this criminal?"

    "Oi Veh! It's just for the weekend!" Joseph responded.

    (I have this on good authority: from Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel.)

    Where was His Tomb?

    Andrew Bonar points out that in Isaiah 53 we find some very significant prophetic details:

    He made his grave with the wicked [plural], and with the rich [singular] in his death; - Isaiah 53:9

    I had always assumed that the "transgressors" in Isaiah 53:9 simply pointed to the two thieves who were crucified with Him. It was Bonar's insight that this refers to the burial itself, which included both the wicked and the rich. Another of the Levitical specifications deals with the offering being "...without the camp unto a clean place ..." (Leviticus 4:12; 6:11). It was this detail that actually gave rise to the Andrew Bonar's footnote: 1

    Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. - John 19:41

    The very spot that criminals were put to death was where Joseph's new tomb was hewn out of a rock! The stony sides of the tomb - the new tomb - "the clean place," where Jesus was laid - were part of the malefactor's hill. His dead body is "with the rich man and with the wicked" in the hour of His death! His grave is the property of a rich man; and yet the rocks which form the partition between His tomb and that of the other Calvary malefactors, are themselves part of Golgotha."

    Anyone who has visited the Garden Tomb recognizes the validity of Bonar's perceptions: the site of Golgotha is topologically identifiable as at the peak of the ridge system between the Kidron Valley and the Tyropean Valley; midway between the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. It is also a very short walk to the tomb, and the tomb itself seems to fit a number detailed specifications from the Gospel texts:

    1. It is proximate to Golgotha (Jn 19:41).
    2. It was a new tomb hewn in the rock (Mt 27:60; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:41).
    3. It was a garden area (Jn 20:41, 42). The enclosed cistern of 250,000 gallons implying a single, very wealthy, owner.
    4. It was adjacent to a wine press.
    5. It had a rolling stone door (Mt 27:60; 28:2; Mk 16:3; Lk 24:2).
    6. The tomb itself was just to right of a wailing chamber (Mk 16:5).
    7. And, it is empty! (Lk 24:6, 12; Jn 20).
    8. Gordon's Calvary

    The present site of the "Garden Tomb" is often called, derisively, "Gordon's Calvary." It remains controversial despite the evidences that favor it. General Charles George Gordon was a British general who distinguished himself with assignments in the Crimean War and other exploits in the Far East. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1852, and eventually found himself assigned in Palestine. One day from his hotel he noticed the features of a "Skull Hill" and became convinced, despite church traditions to the contrary, that this was the true location of the crucifixion. His discovery was based on the physical features of the area, derisively called "Gordon's Calvary" by those who still favor the traditional site.

    (The "Church of the Holy Sepulchre" is on the traditional site at another location that was selected by Queen Helena in the fourth century and was protected until 1009 A.D., when it was destroyed by Khalif Hakem. The Greek Orthodox Church and the Russians erected the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1810, where it stands today.)

    General Gordon's discovery of what we now know as the "Garden Tomb" was in 1883. What struck me about Andrew Bonar's observations, from the text, was that his commentary was published in 1846, almost 40 years before the discovery of the present site that so vividly presents the drama that is the very cornerstone of the entire Christian faith!2 It is inspiring to realize that the clarity of the situation was perceived by Andrew Bonar strictly from the text itself, without the physical benefits which we can presently enjoy on our visits to Jerusalem!

    What an encouragement to all of us to pay close attention to details and to take them seriously! "Not one jot or tittle," indeed!3

    * * *


    The Easter Story - DVD - Chuck Missler

    Most reasonably informed Christians are well aware that many of the traditions that surround the Christmas holidays have pagan origins and very little correlation with the actual events as recorded in the Bible.

    Click for more information - DVD


  11. Andrew Bonar, Leviticus , Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh 1846, footnote, p.116-117.
  12. Paul presents the discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 as the most important issue in the entire Bible (Cf. vv.13ff).
  13. Matthew 5:17, 18.

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