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I basically want to know if anyone has any concrete knowledge of Jesus being in the tomb any time beyond the end of the Sabbath day. I am not looking for any assumptions. Assumptions as in the case of assuming: 1. there were one Sabbath between the burial and resurrection, and making an argument based on that point. 2. One visit by all women at once. 3. That the resurrection took place when the tomb were found empty. 4. The day of crucifixion as day one, etc. And if any contend for a translation for 'OPSE' in Matthew 28:1 as a preposition "after", should give a solid reason. Another is Luke 24:21, this verse eliminates a Friday crucifixion and has it either on Thursday or Wednesday, because 'the third day' is the third day since the crucifixion.

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The confusing passage here seems to be Matthew's account, which we will come to in due course. The other accounts, including the apocryphal Gospel of Peter give rather clear indications of timing, so we begin by examining them:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.'

Mark 16:2-6 NIV (emphasis mine)

Mark gives us two chronological markers, which I have emphasized above. The first is "when the Sabbath was over", but then he introduces it again with, "Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise." While the timing of the resurrection itself is not noted, the implication from Mark's text seems to be that Jesus rose at dawn.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

Luke 24:1-6a NIV (emphasis mine)

Luke's account likewise places the arrival of the women at the tomb shortly after dawn on the first day of the week. He, likewise, continues the tradition of noting that it was the first day of the week.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

John 20:1-2 NIV (emphasis mine)

Again, it is the first day of the week, and John's account likewise indicates that it is morning; the phrase "while it was still dark" indicates that if it is not dawn already, dawn is close and darkness is about to pass. This is easily reconciled with Mark and Luke simply by noting the theme of light and dark in John's gospel. Likely he emphasizes the darkness to illustrate Mary of Magdalene's transition from "blindness" to "sight" (so Carson).

We can consider as well the relevant passage in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which you have alluded to in your question. I believe it is a later gnostic work of the mid-to-late second century, and hence derivative of rather than formative to the four canonical gospels, but it still might afford some insight into how early Christians conceived of the resurrection for our purposes:

But early when the Sabbath was dawning, a crowd came from Jerusalem and the surrounding area in order that they might see the sealed tomb. But in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. But that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered.

And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding). And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, 'Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?' And an obeisance was heard from the cross, 'Yes.'

The Gospel of Peter translated by Raymond Brown (emphasis mine)

The temporal markers at the beginning are a bit confusing since it introduces a crowd but then seems possibly to back up into the night. Yet, it's clear that several watches have already happened, that people have been sleeping for some time and need to be awoken, and that the resurrection itself is seen as the dawning of a new day. Together what we have seen so far then indicates that the early Christians conceived of the resurrection happening at or near dawn on the first day of the week following Jesus' crucifixion.

So what about Matthew's account? Matthew 28:1 begins:

Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων, ἦλθεν Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ ἡ ἄλλη Μαρία θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον.

Most modern translations have something like:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

Based on your question, though, it seems you consider the proper English translation to be something like: "Late on the Sabbath..." The grammar is not easy, but there are at least two possible solutions, which would allow Matthew's account to be harmonized with the other accounts. The first is followed by A. H. McNeile: that "Late on the Sabbath" is the correct translation, but that Matthew is using the Roman way of starting/ending days at dawn rather than at sunset. Given the distinctly Jewish character of the rest of Matthew's gospel, though, it is probably better to adopt the view of most modern commentators and BDAG (3), who take ὀψέ as a preposition ("after") rather than an adverb ("late"). The strength of the other traditions placing the resurrection at or near dawn recommends one of these two approaches.

All of this places the bounds on the resurrection as sometime after the Sabbath sundown and before the women arrive early on the first day of the week. While the strong implication of all of these texts is that Jesus rose shortly before the women arrived, further evidence for this can be deduced by the place of "dawn" and its association with resurrection in early Christian thought.

Jesus, "the resurrection and the life", was referred to as the "morning star" (Rev. 22:16). He is said to fulfill Isaiah, who writes that a light has dawned on those dwelling in darkness (Matt. 4:14-16), and he is called the "rising sun" come to us from heaven (Luke 1:78). In other words, Jesus himself was symbolically linked in early Christian thought to the dawning of a new day.

We know as well that the ideas of sleeping and waking were often used by early Christians (and Jesus Christ) of death and resurrection. For instance, in Matthew 9:24, Jesus refers to the dead girl as only sleeping because his plan is to wake her up (i.e. resurrect her). The same is found in John 11, where Jesus tells the disciples "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up" and when pressed on this he says, "Lazarus is dead" and we of course later see him resurrected. So too the analogy is seen clearly in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 where Paul writes, "For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."

We see in 1 Thessalonians 4 as well the clear link between an eschatological new day and resurrection. So also in Romans 13 we read, "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here." The Romans are therefore to live in light of the resurrection as one living in daylight.

The summation of this points to a deep link in Christian thought between resurrection and the dawn of a new day, which in turn should lead us to believe that the authors of the gospels all intend their readers to grasp that Jesus' resurrection came at the dawn of a new day and a new week (both historically and symbolically).

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Thanks for the reply. The visit of the women only puts a limiting factor, it does not account for the night from nightfall to morning. You have to leap to that conclusion. – Simons Aug 20 '13 at 11:36
@Simons Yes, of course. I started to mention that at the beginning but then forgot to include it later. None of four canonical gospels describe the resurrection event itself as the Gospel of Peter does. I think there is evidence that resurrection is linked in early Christian thought with dawn, though. Off the top of my head, I think of Romans 13 and 1 Thes. 5. When I have time I will try to edit this in as well. Thanks for your remark. – Soldarnal Aug 20 '13 at 13:08

An alternative view of the resurrection of Christ holds that Jesus rose from the dead late on, or at the close of, the Sabbath day. Although Matthew 28:1 is generally used as support for this minority opinion a comparison of related accounts should dispel any such notion.

Looking at Mt 28:1 (KJV):

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

The Greek word translated "In the end" is ὀψέ (opse Strongs 3796), which according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has the following meaning:

"long after, late, late in the day, at evening" (in contrast to proi, "early," e.g., Mat 20:1), is used practically as a noun in Mar 11:11, lit., "the hour being at eventide;" Mar 11:19; 13:35; in Mat 28:1 it is rendered "late on," RV, for AV, "in the end of." Here, however, the meaning seems to be "after," a sense in which the word was used by late Greek writers.

As related, the word in Mt 28:1 generally means "late" but can connote "after" as the context demands. Admittedly it's English translation in the only other two occurrences in the NT (Mk 11:19; 13:35) that I'm aware of further supports the general meaning "evening." And Liddell-Scott-Jones notes likewise, although they concur with Vine regarding Mt 28:1. Even in the Greek Septuagint the word is used four times and is translated "late" (Gn 24:11; Ex 30:8; Is 5:11; Jer 2:23). In the Apostolic Bible Polyglot I'm referencing it's sole disparity is its translation of Jer 2:23 as "evening" otherwise in the other passages it's translated "late" as well.

Looking at the Greek word ἐπιφωσκούσῃ (epiphosko Strongs 2020) translated "as it began to dawn" Vine's explains its meaning thus:

"to grow light" (epi, "upon," phos, "light"), in the sense of shining upon, is used in Mat 28:1; in Luk 23:54, "drew on" (of the Sabbath-day); RV, marg., "began to dawn."

This particular word, therefore, denotes "to grow light, to dawn." It's only other occurrence in the NT is Lk 23:54 wherein it's translated "drew on." And Liddell-Scott-Jones concurs. For comparison, however, an online Greek Interlinear translates it thus:

And day was preparation and sabbath on-lighted

While Young's Literal Translation has it: "And the day was a preparation, and sabbath was approaching." Even with Mt 28:1 the Greek Interlinear translates it:

evening yet of-sabbaths to-the on-lighting into one of sabbaths

While YLT translates it: "And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre." Again I confess it can appear confusing somewhat especially for a Biblical novice like me. But, I know I don't know it all and won't this side of heaven (1 Cor 8:2).

I don't, however, see any contradiction in the various resurrection accounts. Looking at Mt 28:1 and comparing it with the other gospel writers it seems evident that all are referring to the same event i.e. the women's arrival at Christ's tomb at the same time i.e. around sunrise Sunday morning:

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun (Mk 16:2)

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them (Lk 24:1).

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre (Jn 20:1).

If Mt 28:1-10 is suggesting that Mary Magdalene visited Christ's grave at the close of the Sabbath and witnessed Christ's resurrection take place at that very moment, then it contradicts the testimony of the other gospel writers who state:

  1. Mary Magdalene, along with some other women, procured spices to anoint Christ's body after the Sabbath ended i.e. Saturday night (Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1).
  2. At sunrise Sunday morning Mary Magdalene pondered, along with the other women, who
    would open the tomb for them (Mk 16:2-3; Lk 24:2).
  3. It was at sunrise Sunday morning Mary Magdalene sees the tomb open (Jn 20:1).
  4. Mary Magdalene was the first one whom the resurrected Christ revealed Himself to
    (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:11-18).

And in response we must ask,

  1. Why would Mary purchase more spices for anointing Christ if she had supposedly just been witness to His resurrection earlier that evening?
  2. Why would she ponder the following morning how to open the tomb when she saw it supernaturally opened the night before by an angel of God?
  3. How could she have seen the tomb supernaturally opened both on Saturday evening and early Sunday morning?
  4. Why would Christ have revealed Himself to the women as a group on Saturday evening
    before revealing Himself to Mary Magdalene, as the first witness, early on Sunday morning?

It makes no sense and is totally contradictory to the testimony of the other gospel writers (2 Cor 13:1).

That's why I'm personally in favor of the following suggested solution since there is no punctuation or chapter and verse divisions in the original Greek MSS, and it attempts to reconcile the difficult wording of Mt 28:1 by simply reorganizing Mt 27:66 and Mt 28:1 and thus compliments, rather than contradicts, the other gospel writers account of Christ's resurrection on the day of the wavesheaf (Lv 23:9-14). Notice the context starts with Mt 27:62 wherein the Jewish religious leaders meet with Pilate on the Sabbath day and request of him a "watch" or Roman guard to secure Christ's tomb:

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

Thus, according to this explanation Mt. 27:66 and 28:1 should be divided as follows:

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch in the end of the sabbath. As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

The implication is that the Roman guards hired to secure Christ's tomb began their watch at the end of the Sabbath since the Jewish religious leaders anticipated Christ's body being stolen by His disciples sometime on the third day or Sunday.

Therefore, it's likely to me that Christ's resurrection took place in between Saturday sunset (after the watch was set on Saturday night) and Sunday sunrise (when the women visited Christ's tomb). It's possible that He simply walked invisibly away (cf. Lk. 24:31; 36; Jn. 20:19, 26). This further explains why the Roman guards were bribed by the Jewish religious leaders into saying, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept" (28:13) since throughout the night that they were stationed at Christ's tomb they witnessed nothing out of the ordinary until daybreak when the earthquake occured and the angel rolled away the stone revealing to them that Christ's body had supernaturally disappeared (Mt. 28:2-6).

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. Just to add, the context only 'demands' an "after" translation based on the Friday/Sunday tradition. When I initially asked the question I was a bit unsure whether the Sabbath was day three, now I'm more sure. You also pointed out a possible contradiction, because you assumed there was one Sabbath, and acted around that assumption. – Simons Sep 10 '13 at 4:58
Hi Simons, I'm of the belief Jesus is the Christ and He fulfilled the sign of His messiahship. Whether He was crucified on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and rose on Saturday (Sabbath) or Sunday (Wavesheaf) is difficult to say seeing they each have pros and cons. In the past I admit I was in favor of the Wednesday crucifixion-Saturday resurrection theory, but I've re-studied it of late and am no longer so adamant. As regards the Sabbath, at present I'm of the view both the weekly and annual Sabbaths occurred on the same day (Saturday) making that Sabbath a "great day" or "high day" (Jn 19:31). – Nate Sep 11 '13 at 3:52
Nate, I do appreciate your reply, but I was not looking for a view on the issue. And to begin with, I do not favor a certain day of the week. According to Luke 24:21 the third day is the third day "from" the day of crucifixion, that would be, if it was on Wednesday, the third would be Saturday, and Thursday would likewise be Sunday, both of which appear to be a possiblity scripturally. But Friday falls short. The third day would fall in line with the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15). – Simons Dec 7 '13 at 15:18

Οψε is an adverb meaning – “Late”, it has an implied verb. Therefore the line should read: “Yet, it was late on the Sabbath, at the lighting on unto…”

Referring to a rendering inspired by tradition (as in the case of Vine’s “long after”) that developed long after this writing is certainly not plausible. Is there any reason to render “Οψε” as a preposition, as in a position (“after”) relative to the Sabbath day, and not part of the Sabbath day, as is the normal use of this adverb? The contemporary Mark obviously uses it as “it was late”, why should Matthew be different?

The Greek word “επιΦωσκω” – “on-lighting” that are used for dawn in Greek, which is fitting since the day to them started when the sun is lighting up. But the word carries the meaning of a ‘commencement’ or ‘revealing’ of something new. As in the case of Luke, He uses it as the Sabbath “lighting up” from that evening, when the Preparation day was over. It can be used as “dawn of a new era”. Even the so-called “Gospel of Peter” used the word for beginning of Night and the beginning of Day. It has the meaning of ‘revealing’.

I asked the question whether there is any accounting for the night after the Sabbath, without the presupposition that the resurrection did take place on the first day of the week. Matthew explains something very different in his account, while the other three only presents the empty tomb the next day. The ‘major earthquake’ and the guards is hard to reconcile with the other three accounts, and I see the attempt to ‘harmonize’ Matthew with the others by changing the meaning of ‘Οψε’ and ‘επιΦωσκω’. Matthew could have used the word ‘μετα’ to mean ‘after’, in the accusative form, but instead uses the adverb that means ‘late’. The real meaning of the word ‘Οψε’ harmonizes with the Hebrew day that ‘lights up’ from evening.

As for the rendering ‘… and setting a watch in the end of the Sabbath. As it began to dawn…’ has a problem because of the break in time (and/or thought) by the use of the conjunction ‘δε’, as in apart from what happened earlier.

“Yet, it was late on the Sabbath (at the lighting-on unto one of the Sabbaths), Maria the Magdalene and the other Maria came to behold the tomb. And behold! A great quaking erupted for the messenger of the LORD descending from heaven, came closer, rolled away the stone from the opening, and resided above it. His aspect was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: From fear of him the keepers did shake, and became, as if dead.”

Matthew is also the only one to mention the resurrection of others. He seems to have a good reason for this. He connects the resurrection(s) with the earthquake(s) for the sake of his Hebrew readers. For this cause his account is different than the other three. The other three only record the empty tomb, and that the resurrection has already occurred, but doesn’t say when it occurred. But according to Hebrew custom the first fruits of the harvest are reaped the evening of the weekly Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread. By conjunction the events of Matthew 28:1-4 happened around the same time. That would mean they were harvesting the first fruits at this time, when a major earthquake erupted. The Anointed One was the ‘first fruits’ according to Paul.

Are there therefore any valid source that say the adverb ‘Οψε’ should take on a virtually unprecedented prepositional form for one special case in Matthew 28:1, or I should say, for the sake of tradition?

On the first day of the week:

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and has not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them: What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Yahusha of Nazareth, which was a spokesman mighty in deed and word before the Mighty One and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have impaled him. 21 But we expected that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; but surely with all these, it is leading [from] the third day from which these things occurred.

“…Τριτην ταυτην ημεραν αγει αφ ου ταυτα εγενετο”

This is an interesting combination of words. The “Τριτην ταυτην ημεραν” (this third day) is a separation from the events on the day of crucifixion. This is demonstrated by the use of “αφ ου” (from which [the events occurred]). Therefore the day after the day of crucifixion began the count up till the third day. This eliminates a Friday crucifixion, which seems to be the argument here. The issue otherwise, is on what day are “this third day”. It is either referring to the present day (putting the resurrection on Thursday), or the day just past (putting the resurrection on Wednesday), but either way, Friday is eliminated. For this reason, can we honestly assume one Sabbath?

Cleopas refers to events that took place “these days” referring to past events. And goes on “with all these, it is leading…”. The verb αγει is in present tense active mood, third person. ‘It’ is the present time they are moving in. And this verb is acting in relation to “this third day”, and this in the thought of the speaker appears to separate the present moment from “this third day”. Aramaic translators has also noticed the same when they translated:

“Moreover, three days have already passed since all those events occurred” – MLB/NBV

“…and, lo, three days (have passed) since all these things were done.” – J.W. Ethridge

“And lo, three days [have passed], since all these things occurred.” – James Murdoch

And others would say, “three days ago”, etc. There seems to be in the Greek text a ‘missing’ but implied preposition that connects the verb αγει with the objective “this third day”, which one can pick up when reading this verse. There is a relation between the subject of the verb (in time: the present ongoing moment) and the objective of the verb (this third day). This strongly implies that the Sabbath being day three. Whichever day is day three here, Friday as the crucifixion day should fall away, since there is a separation from the three days and the day of crucifixion.

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It looks like about half of this post should probably be edited into the question itself. Why you are asking, what points you are confused on and what lines you would like further explanation on should be part of the question. The other half where you self-answer a few of the points brought up and state your conclusion should stay as an answer. Can we ask you to do some editing on both this and the question to separate these two types of content? Thanks... – Caleb Sep 8 '13 at 16:17
I had to ask additional questions since. My initial introduction was that I was assured that these are historical events, therefore tradition should not dictate how it is read, but someone had it edited, along with some mistake I made. All I got in return was assumptions driven by the Friday/Sunday tradition, which is clearly fictional. – Simons Sep 10 '13 at 4:41

Hello Simons Dies wednesday according to scripture and rises according to scripture on the sabbath-- Luke 24 is not so constrained as to not allow the guards posting on thursday- think of the trauma of that- they kill messiah and then you can not go a mourn without the ones who might have killed him telling you to stay back (Cleopas mentions this right?). Resurrection on Sabbath is not clear (Messiah just rose prior to women arriving- and they came after the 3 days the guards told them they would be there) in the Greek texts mentioned above but symbols and foreshadow are very clear. Rise on sabbath day of rest foreshadows our resurrection on a day that is the first of our eternal days of rest. Bread of the presence changed out on the sabbath - renewed on this day for a reason?. Lev 24. and of course as first fruits/ barley symbol fulfilled- messiah is not one second in delay to be first fruits prior to sun going down on sabbath. All points covered and simple with wed- sabbath- no constraining of the text- all witnesses agree.

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