Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 6, 1962
NUMBER 31, PAGE 7b,11

Our Lord's Crucifixion Day

N. W. Allphin

On Sunday, Sept. 18, after a brother had read Mark 12:28-34, our local preacher began his sermon by saying: "This conversation between Jesus and the scribe took place two days before the Passover; it was on Tuesday before he was crucified on Friday." He offered no proof of his statement. Evidently he learned this from his, college text-book of his teacher (he is a graduate of ACC), because he most certainly did not get it from the Bible.

Since there may be many readers of the G.G. who have not seriously studied the question, whose minds are yet unsettled about this matter, I would like to submit a brief dissertation on the subject. Too, there may be others, including some of the younger preachers, who "have settled" for this Roman Catholic delusion, as set forth by the brother in the above quotation. For the sake of brevity, most of my remarks and quotes are not fully documented, First, in NO Bible reference to this tragic event is the day of the week given; hence, his "Friday" statement is false. His naming of Tuesday as the day of that conversation, being entirely unsupported by the Bible, is also false. The only "authority" I know of that Jesus was crucified on Friday is Roman Catholic Tradition. And it flatly contradicts our Lord's own words, as shall be seen very soon.

Next, if I should affirm, as does Mark 18:9, that ".... he (Jesus) was risen early on the first day of the week." surely none would deny it. And here arises the question: How long a time was his body in the tomb or grave? I think any third grade student knows that from late Friday evening till early Sunday morning can be no more than two nights and one day, or about 38 hours. But how long did Jesus say he would be there? His Jewish enemies — who denied that he was what he claimed; one greater than Jonah or Solomon, their promised Messiah, the son of God — asked of him a "sign." (See Math 12:38-40) His answer was to that evil generation, ....there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Here, the Lord employed a most impressive figure of speech, the simile. The basis of the analogy here drawn is the "type," which was a known fact of history as given in Jonah 1:17, which says, "....and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." The scholarship of the world says that Jonah's experience here involved three 24 hour periods. Scholars also agree that the Lord's statement, "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:40) refers to the time that his dead body would be in the grave. In this expression is a clue that goes far toward establishing the day of the week on which Christ was crucified; and it will not be Friday.

Again, if, as Catholics say, Jesus was buried late Friday evening and arose early Sunday morning, being in the tomb some 36 hours instead of 72 hours, these questions arise: Must we say he did not know how long he would remain in the grave? or that he did know the length of time, but purposely mis-stated it? Which horn of the dilemma shall we take? Obviously, all true believers must answer, he did know the time and correctly stated it. So he arose early the first day of the week, after being in the grave three days and three nights.

Now, let us know and remember that the passover was celebrated always on the night of the 14th day of the month Nisan, not on any certain day of the week. And, like our July 4th, the 14th did not fall successively on the same day of the week. We are not told the day of the week when Jesus died; but we are told both the day and time of day that he arose. Note this also, if he was in the grave either more or less than three days and nights, his prophetic sign would have failed him. Do you believe his sign failed? Neither do I. However, despite this evidence against the Friday crucifixion, those who accept the popular theory that part of Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday constitute the three day period, offer this argument, that the sabbath followed "Preparation day," and that the body must not remain on the cross on a sabbath; therefore he must have been buried on Friday.

Well, let us look further into the sabbath day question. First, what does the term mean? how is it defined? It was a day of rest from all occupational labor; in it no "servile work" was to be done; no activity except religious services. Are there yet constant Bible readers who do not know that the Israelites observed sabbaths other than the seventh day, the sabbath of the Decalogue? If so, they may be in for a surprise, because they certainly did keep other sabbaths. What, more than one kind of Sabbath? Yes, and you will find sabbaths (plural) in Lev. 19:3 and 23:38. Any "holy convocation" day was reckoned as a sabbath. (See chapter 23:31,32)

There were three annual memorial periods called "set feasts." (Lev. 23:2) The first one is described in verses 4-8, which was the passover. The next, the feast of weeks, verses 10-16. The third was the tenth day of the seventh month, day of atonement. All about this is found in verses 27-39, followed by a seven day feast of tabernacles, etc. These are repeated in Num. chapters 9, 28 and 29. In at least two of these it is not only possible that two sabbaths could occur within one week, but it is most certain that such did happen. Remember that "holy convocation" days are called sabbaths. Remember also that Passover week did not start on a certain day of the week, but on a certain day of the month, the 14th, at night. Someone may reply that Mark 15:42 says that Jesus' body was taken down and buried on the evening of "preparation day," the day before the sabbath, because it was unlawful to leave it on the cross on the sabbath. That is true; but it still does not prove that preparation day or crucifixion day was Friday.

All seventh day sabbaths were of equal stature, rank or significance. But there were other sabbaths that were of higher rank; and one of these came within the week of the passover, the week in which Christ was put to death. Don't forget that according to the law, in Lev., the next day after the supper, the 15th, was a holy convocation day; a sabbath of feasting. And there is no doubt that this is the day that John spoke of when he said in John 19:31, "for the day of that sabbath was a high day."

Regarding days, it is said that the Jews' civil (working) day was from sunup till sundown. But from their beginning their 24 hour legal day was from evening to evening, as it is expressed in Gen. 1:5, "there was evening and there was morning, one day." Jesus asked his disciples, in John 11:9, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" That is literally true at equinox; and that was the time of year when Christ was crucified. As stated before, the legal day began at 6 pm and ended at 6 pm the next day (not as ours, from midnight to midnight). So, if Jesus' body was buried after 6 pm — which is more than likely — say 10 minutes after 6, then 72 hours later would be 10 minutes after the sabbath ended, which would be 10 minutes after the beginning of the "first day of the week." To me the matter sums up about like this: Jesus died after 3 pm Wednesday, was buried after 6 pm, or after Thursday began, and arose after 6 pm Saturday, which would be early Sunday morning.

(Editor's Note: For students interested in a full and complete study of this long-debated question as to whether or not Christ was crucified and buried on a Friday, we recommend J. W. McGarvey's scholarly work, entitled "Jesus and Jonah." It sells for $1.50, and is carried by the Gospel Guardian Company. McGarvey sets forth the reasons for the Friday date in contrast to brother Allphin's article.)

— Tahoka, Texas

(Continued on page eleven)