Reading in Matthew 28:1 (ESV):

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

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

But the word here is σαββάτων (sabbaton plural), so one would think it would be Sabbaths? However all major translations have it just "Sabbath" (ESV, KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, NET, RSV, ASV, and DBY among them).

Looking closer, this exact form of the word is translated as Sabbath singular in English some places and elsewhere it is referring to the week as a whole. (Mt 28:1, Mk 16:2, Lk 4:16, Lk 24:1, Jn 20:1, Jn 20:19, Acts 13:14, Acts 16:13, Acts 20:7, 1Cor 16:2, Col 2:16)

Why is it being translated this way and how should Matthew 28:1 be translated in light of it?

I'm particularly interested in the parallel verses of Mark 16:2 and Luke 24:1. They describe it as the first day of the week, while Matthew says after the Sabbath. Is it simply a matter of sentence construction?

This question is possibly related in how it was translated, but it is obviously not about the Peshitta text:

In the Peshitta, what is the difference between the original word translated "Sabbath" and that translated "week?"

  • Why do you see a Greek construction as about the Peshitta text? Nearly all scholars agree Matthew was written in Greek. The Peshitta, at the earliest, represents fourth century Syriac ... Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 6:42
  • @DickHarfield This is not about the Peshittta... My mistake. I'm missing a not in that sentence. I'll edit. My meaning was how it was translated from the Greek.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 11:34
  • Is this the same question: "Why is 'Sabbath' often plural in the Greek text...yet translated as if it were singular?"?
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 11:44
  • @Susan At first I thought yes, but though the question seems to be asking the same thing, the answers and comments are entirely unhelpful. And the verses I'm applying it to are the parallel passages that match with Matthew 28:1. If you think the other question fits but it just doesn't have satisfactory answers yet we could close this and I'll bump the other one. But this is a bit more specific in its application and is not about LXX specifically, though I would have and will welcome answers that include it.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 11:56
  • Also, "after the sabbath(s) toward the dawn of the first day of the week" is extremely confusing because "after the sabbath(s)" would suggest it just got dark in the evening and "toward the dawn of the first day of the week" suggests that it is still dark or just dawning so it would be morning. So either way, since Jesus died just as the sabbath was approaching, "toward the dawn of the first day of the week" means he was only dead either a few hours (sunset to sunrise) - hardly 3 days and nights.
    – user10231
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 18:44

14 Answers 14


Matthew 28:1 is an obscure use of the preposition ὀψὲ, which means "after" when taking the genitive plural. This is explained in Blass et al., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press, 1961), pp.90-91. It is also discussed in Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature under the entry for ὀψὲ. ὀψὲ itself only appears 7 times in the entire Greek Bible (New Testament plus Septuagint).

So the answer to your key question, "How should Matthew 28:1 be translated?" is probably "after the Sabbath", as most versions have it, and not "after the Sabbaths", as it occasionally appears (e.g. ISV).

I don't think there is any inconsistency in the parallel passages of Mark 16:2-5, Luke 24:1-4 (and also John 20:1). The first day of the week according to Jewish reckoning, is the day following the Sabbath. All four accounts agree the event described took place on the first day of the week. Mark says it was very early in the morning. Matthew adds the additional detail - not really necessary perhaps - that the new day was beginning as the Sabbath was ending (after the Sabbath).


All four accounts use the same word to identify the day of the Resurrection:

Now after the Sabbath (σαββάτων), toward the dawn of the first day of the week (σαββάτων)... (Matthew 28:1) [ESV]
And very early on the first day of the week (σαββάτων)...(Mark 16:2)
But on the first day of the week (σαββάτων)...(Luke 24:1)
Now on the first day of the week (σαββάτων)...(John 20:1)

Therefore, there is no contradiction in any record as to which day it was. The meaning of the word σαββάτων is unquestionably Sabbaths (plural) and so "first day of the week" interprets the word, which in this case happens to agree with the day of the week (see below).

Nevertheless, the plural form of Sabbath had a different meaning for anyone who was Jewish:

  • More than one weekly Sabbath. For example, all months have four weekly Sabbaths but occasionally a month will have five.
  • Some weeks will have an annual feast day on which no work is to be done. These days can be called a "Sabbath" and a week with an annual day will have "Sabbaths."1

With the exception of the Day of Atonement, the annual days are not called Sabbath using the exact language; rather they are specified as days on which no work is to be performed:

  • The 15th of the first month, the first day of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6)
  • The 21st of the first month, the seventh day of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:8)
  • The Feast of Weeks, the day after the 7th Sabbath following the Passover (Leviticus 23:21)
  • The 1st of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:25)
  • The 9th of the seventh month, the Day before the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32)
  • The 10th of the seventh month, The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:28)
  • The 15th of the seven month, the first day of Sukkot (Leviticus 23:35)
  • The 22nd of the seventh month, the "eighth" day of Sukkot (Leviticus 23:36)

The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) is observed on the day after the weekly Sabbath. Adding the other days of the week as they are known today illustrates an annual reoccurring "Sabbaths:" enter image description here

In this case the day after "Sabbaths" is always a Monday. So, unless the context specifically points to the weekly Sabbath, the day after "Sabbaths" does not always mean the first day of the week. In fact, no Jewish writer would have that meaning in mind as the annual observance of Shavuot makes such a meaning impossible. Moreover, if a writer wanted to convey the first day of the week, the proper way to do so is so say the day after the Sabbath (singular). For example, Shavuot is observed on the day after the Sabbath.

Resurrection Sunday
With respect to the Resurrection, it is possible to force Sabbaths to refer to more than one weekly Sabbath. In this case the writers have in mind the final week which began with a Sabbath (likely the Triumphal Entry) and His final day in the tomb, also a Sabbath. So Jesus rose from the dead following the Sabbaths (of His final week), the first day of the week (Sunday).

On the other hand, the most likely explanation is Sabbaths refers to two consecutive Sabbaths: the weekly Sabbath and the 15th day of the month, the first day of Unleavened Bread. Depending on which day of the week the 15th day of the month fell, there are two possible sequences: enter image description here

Setting aside the issue of the beginning of a day, whenever the first day of Unleavened Bread is on a Friday, this annual day of rest precedes the weekly Sabbath and the day after these two Sabbaths is Sunday, which coincidentally is the first day of the week. In this case, the interpretation of Sabbaths as the first day of the week places the day of the Resurrection on Sunday.

Additional support for this meaning comes from Luke:

23:55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath (σάββατον - singular) they rested according to the commandment. 24:1 But on the first day of the week (σαββάτων - Sabbaths), at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (Luke)

The preparation of spices and ointments, which would be considered as breaking the Sabbath, took place on the first day of Unleavened Bread, a day in which no ordinary work is to be done (Leviticus 23:7). What the women did was not "ordinary" work. The next day, the weekly Sabbath, they did no work according to the commandment. On Sunday, the after the two Sabbaths, they went to the tomb. Additionally, after specifically identifying the Sabbath (singular), the next day is either the next day (cf. Acts 20:7) or the day after the Sabbath (singular). The explanation for Sabbaths is two in number: 1) the first day of Unleavened Bread 2) the weekly Sabbath.

Correctly placing the Resurrection on a Sunday, however accurate, obscures the fact the day of the resurrection was already on the calendar:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:9-14)

The Resurrection was on the day of the Feast of Fruits, a day in which work is permitted.

Recognizing "Sabbaths" as two consecutive days which end after the Sabbath places the Resurrection on Sunday, the first day of the week; it also prevents placing the death on a Friday. Yet, placing the death on Friday requires the day after the Sabbaths to be Monday which conflicts with the tradition the day was the first day of the week. Thus, the more lasting impact of rendering "Sabbaths" as the first day of the week or simply as the day after the Sabbath, is that it obscures the fact the death cannot be on a Friday.

1. Just as “Passover” became synonymous for the day of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread (cf. Luke 22:1), any day on which work was prohibited was a "Sabbath" of rest and assembly.

  • I appreciate your work and I'm not saying I disagree, but I'm asking for a solution to the translation part. It's like I'm asking for you to solve for A but you've skipped ahead to solve for B and C.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 22:31
  • My point is that the words are not being translated. A translation would be "Sabbaths." The "translation" is an interpretation of "Sabbaths." Sunday is the day after the Sabbath and also the first day of the week. So either interpretation points to the same day of the week on a translators calendar. The issue is the translators calendar was not the one Jesus used when He lived, was crucified and resurrected. Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 23:09
  • I'm not sure exactly what is new, I'll have to check later on the PC, but this seems like it answers my question much better than I remember it did before. +1 for now. You still have some extraneous material in there (would love to chat regarding the Christian Sunday "Sabbath" misunderstanding sometime).
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 22:25

Being surrounded by answerers who may have spent a few years formally studying the Greek language at Bible College I shall largely limit myself to quoting from a Greek expert, Bill Mounce, who is/was on the translation committee for the NIV and was Committee Chairman for the very worthy English Standard Version. In the postscript I shall draw attention to the typical significance of "after the sabbath".

Acts 20:7 reads, “On the first day of the week (μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων), when we were gathered together to break bread ….” (ESV).

There is an obvious question for the Greek newbie as to why μία is translated as “first” when we learned it as “one,“ and why σαββάτων is translated as “week” when we learned it as “sabbaths”? Why “first day of the week” and not “one of the sabbaths”?

Part of the key is in the nature of the word σάββατον. It is not as straight forward as one might expect. A quick perusal of BDAG show these options.

  1. “the seventh day of the week,” hence, the “Sabbath.” It can be used in the singular but also the plural, and here is the interesting part; in the plural it can refer to multiple days but it can also refer to a single day. Why, you say, would they do that? I have no idea. The attestation given in BDAG is significant and the point can’t really be debated. There is evidently something idiomatic in how the word is used such that a plural can refer to a single day.

  2. “Week.” Again, it can be both singular (Lk 18:12; Mk 16:9; 1 Cor 16:2) and plural.

Combined with this is the use of numbers with σάββατον.

  • πρωτη σαββατου, first day of the week (Sunday), Mk 16:9
  • κατα μιαν σαββατου, every Sunday, 1 Cor 16:2
  • μιας σαββατου, Sunday morning, Mk 16:2 (v.l.)

In the plural we see the same thing.

μια σαββατων (i.e. ημερα) the first day of the week Mt 28:1 (also Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; J 20:1, 19; Ac 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2 v.l.)

Most significant is the Didache 8:1, which says that the Judeans fast δευτερα σαββατων και πεμπτη on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday).

Also, if you check BDAG on the Greek word for “one” (εις), you will find that it can be a marker for something that is first; hence, it has a wider range of meaning than just “one.”

So what do we make of all this?

  1. The Didache passage shows that when numbers are used with σαββατον, it is idiomatic and the numbers are referring to certain days during the week. And so in Acts 21:7 “one of the sabbaths” means “the first day of the week.”

  2. It explains why my definition in BBG is “Sabbath, week.” The word has a wider range of meaning than might be expected, and when you see a gloss like this for a Greek word, it should signal that there is something a little different going on.

  3. It should cause the Greek newbie to be respectful of the language. The glosses that you are memorizing in the vocabulary sections are only approximations, and even at that they do not cover all the uses of the term. In the first year of Greek, the day’s trouble is sufficient — I’m sure Jesus was thinking of Greek class in Matt 6:34 ;-) — and so simple glosses are adequate; but part of second year Greek is learning to broaden your understanding of words and not to rely solely on your memorized glosses.

  4. Especially for the person who is limited to using the language tools, caution is urged. Words are rarely simple; they are usually nuanced and sometimes idiomatic. The fact that every modern translation goes with “first day of the week” shows that here is an idiom at work, and no theological doctrines should be drawn from this usage (other than the fact that the early church saw no conflict in worshiping on the first day of the week and not the last, probably as a reflection of the significance of Jesus’ resurrection on the first day).

Taken from "Sabbath(s) and Sunday (σάββατον)" by Bill Mounce.

Now I will only add a few thoughts which I think are pertinent, after first quoting the ESV:

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (Matthew 28:1, ESV)

It looks at first sight as if Matthew is repeating himself. Why say "after the Sabbath" if the time approaching is the dawn of the first day of the week?

For the Jews the new day began at sunset: that was the time when the date of the month/year was incremented.

For the Romans the new day began at midnight: that was when the date of the month/year was incremented.

But these two examples are not true of all cultures. For example, for the ancient Egyptians Egyptologists are still, in 2021, divided over when the day precisely started. They agreed that it either started at dawn, or it started later at sunrise (when the first part of the sun's disk becomes visible over the horizon).

The point then is this: for cultures where the day begins at either dawn or sunrise Matthew's sentence is not mere repetition. He wants to make it abundantly clear, even for societies who have a calendar similar to that of the ancient Egyptians, that our Lord did not rise on the Sabbath day. No one should be allowed to imagine that he rose from the dead on the Sabbath day.

Why is this of any importance? Maybe because the Lord would have us know that he is changing the day of worship from the Sabbath day to the first day of the week.... "the Lord's Day". (Revelation 1:10; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 4:8).

In Matt 28:1, because it was the time of the full moon, there was enough light for the women to get up before dawn and go to the tomb.

So Matthew includes "After the sabbath" so that we know that before the dawn of the first day of the week is not to be thought of as the Sabbath day. Not ever. Not in any culture. He rose the first day of the week, either before dawn or shortly after dawn.


It took six days to make the heavens and the earth and the Lord rested on the seventh day. The idea is then that seven days is representative of this world, I mean these old heavens and the old earth which will be destroyed by fire, as opposed to the new heavens and the new earth which God will one day create, the resurrection world for our resurrection bodies.

Now baby boys were to be circumcised "on the eighth day" of their life (Genesis 17:12). Andrew Jukes in his classical book "The Law of the Offerings", pages 37-38, tells us that the typical meaning of circumcision happening on the eighth day is that it is a picture of the believer being made fit for the new heavens and new earth, it is a picture of our receipt of a resurrection body. And so after the children of Israel crossed the waters of the Jordan and entered into the Promised Land the first thing they did was be circumcised at Gilgal: a new body suitable for the new world in which they would live.

Another example is the waving of the first fruits "on the morrow after the Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:11): the first fruits offering was to be symbolic, a type, of the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20). And so it could not happen during the seven days because "seven days" are representative of this world, the old heavens and the old earth: it must happen after the sabbath day, outside of this world.

"After the sabbath" in Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1, then, emphasises the event that happened on the eighth day, the day beyond the creation of the old heavens and the old earth. To fit the typology of the seven days Christ's resurrection obviously had to happen on the eighth day. The phrase is not found in Luke or John, presumably because these were written more for the Gentiles, who would be less likely to see the typological meaning.


There were two Sabbaths on the week of the death of the Messiah. Chag HaMatzot, Aviv 15 and the weekly Sabbath on Aviv 17. The preparation day on that week, Aviv 14 was on our Wednesday, the fourth day of the week. The 15th on Thursday, a Sabbath, skip a day and on the 17th, the weekly Sabbath. "After the Sabbaths and toward the first day of the week." Shortly after His resurrection, just as the 18th was ending, the first day of the week began.

One can verify the timing, counting backward from the day of preparation to the 9th of Aviv, and then count forward again.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please remember to take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. Unfortunately, this answer ignores the many times that "Sabbath" occurs in plural form and so you answer does not address the problem. See hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/4144/3555
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 11:31

The same word Sabbath is used for Week. The Saturday Sabbath actually means the weekend, and when the phrase is used with numerical adjectives, it means the day or days of the week. All those parallel verses says the same, they are referring to Sunday as the first of sabbath (Week). Friday had a name, Παρασκευή f (Paraskeví, “Friday”) i.e. preparation (for the Sabbath) day. But, Sunday kyriaki (Lord's day) may not have invented then.

Thayer lexicon:

  1. seven days, a week: πρώτη σαββάτου, Mar 16:9; δίς τοῦ σαββάτου, twice in the week, Luk 18:12. The plural is used in the same sense in the phrase ἡ μία τῶν σαββάτων, the first day of the week (see εἷς, 5) (Prof. Sophocles regards the genitive (dependent on ἡμέρα) in such examples as those that follow (cf. Mar 16:9 above) as equivalent to μετά with an accusative, the first day after the sabbath; see his Lex., p. 43 par. 6): Mat 28:1; Mar 16:2; Luk 24:1; Joh 20:1; Joh 20:19; Act 20:7; κατά μίαν σαββάτων (L T Tr WH σαββάτου), on the first day of every week, 1Co 16:2.

Is it possible that Passover is called a Sabbath (see John 19:31) and was actually on Thursday? That would make the day of preparation and Jesus' death on Wed. The women had to wait until after the Passover "high day" to buy spices and after the Saturday Sabbath to anoint his body (See Luke 23:56). Thus, the "Sabbaths" of Matt. 28:1 are Passover and the Saturday Sabbath.

  • 1
    It's possible, there are reasonable theories for the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday crucifixion. To accomplish what you're saying I think it would need a Friday Passover Sabbath going back to back with Saturday Sabbath. However, that's not really the aim of this question, it was more about the language usage of Sabbatg(s). There are many questions here and in Christianity SE regarding the theories on Passion timeline.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:08

Ferris Fenton translation has "After the Sabbaths,(1) towards the dawn of the day following the Sabbaths, Mary, the Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to examine the tomb." Note (1) The Greek original is in the plural, "Sabbaths," which is retained. Readers should remember that all the seven days of the Paschal week were "Sabbaths" in the old Hebrew Kalendar.--F. F. This fits in the Gospel of Peter verse 14 "Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going for, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved . . . ." In other words Jesus was under arrest and in an underground prison dungeon for days and was now and then going from prison to trial to another one until the following Friday on the sixth day of unleavened bread when he was crucified then rested in the tomb on the last Sabbath of that week then went arose on the Sunday after having gone into Sheol during those days that his body was wrapped up in his tomb. The following versions also have "Sabbaths"

  • 1
    Here are those versions that also have the word "Sabbaths": LITV (Literal Translation of the Bible) CLNT (Concordant Literal NT), YLT (Young's Literal Translation). Then TS2009 translation has a footnote: aGk Sabbaths for the first time it is mentioned and bGk. One of the sabbaths.for the second one. The the TSK (ITreasury of Scriptural Knowledge note for this verse has the end: The Hebrew word Schabbath . . . Οψε [G3796], σαββατων [G4521], does not signify "in the evening of sabbath," but "sabbaths." Hence, the great feast having been concluded, . . . "end of the sabbaths" . . ..
    – Clifford B
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 0:53
  • Now note about the term "High day." According to John 7:37 it is the last day of the feast: "And on the high day, which is the last [day] of the feast, Jesus was standing . . . . (Janet M Magiera's Aramaic Peshitta New Testament Translation).
    – Clifford B
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 0:54
  • Her John 19:31 has "Now the Judeans, because it was the day of preparation, said, "These bodies should not remain on their crosses, because the SABBATH is dawning, for the day of that SABBATH was a high day. . . . Check the Greek for those words for High, and great and whatever words were used in these two places and they agree with the Aramaic rendering. In other words the crucifixion is near the end of the feast of unleavened bread and not at the beginning. This allows time for Jesus to be tried by the Sanhedrin, by Pilate, by Herod, and then back to Pilate all on separate days.
    – Clifford B
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 0:56
  • @ Clifford B, when John 7:37 says it is the last day of the feast, "the feast" means the Feast of Tabernacles (see John 7:2), not the Feast of Passover. Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:27

How's about a translation that reads something like: "After the evening of (between) the Sabbaths (at the end of the High Sabbath and beginning of the Weekly Sabbath), at dawn on one of the (7 Omer) Sabbaths...

Point being there were several Sabbaths at play in this particular part of the year, and particularly if it was one of the occasions when the Sabbath of the first day of Pesach falls just before the weekly Sabbath. The above scenario would place Jesus in the Tomb Thursday evening just prior to sunset (Day #1), High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread in the Tomb on Friday (Day #2), Weekly Sabbath / Omer Sabbath #1 (Day #3), resurrected at some point between Saturday evening and Sunday before sunrise.

Let's also not overlook that it takes a very wide brush to fill in the missing words in the text to reach the standard "first day of the week" translation. The author obviously knows about the greek word protos for "first" (#G4413) which is used on earlier verses in Matt 22:38, 26:17 (in context of a day), 27:64. It should also seem odd that another term that is absent from the original text is imera "day" (#2250) which is included in several other verses such as 4:2; 12:40; 15:32; 16:21; 17:1,23; 20:19; 26:2,17,61; 27:62,64. Out of the seven occurrences included in other texts, photos is only found in Mark 16:9, which most agree is not original, and perhaps provides even better evidence for the attempts to force these verses to say something they are not with the goal of furthering the separation between the Sunday church and the Sabbath heritage.

Additionally when looking at the issue holistically it appears as though the typical biblical perspective is to state the particular day of importance in relation to the month (i.e. the 14th day of the month), and not in what we now consider the standard seven day week. For instance the counting of the omer (Lev 23:15-16) is based on 49 consecutive days which include seven Sabbaths. The important factor is based on the Sabbaths themselves, and not on the days between or after or it would read something more like "Now starting the day after the Sabbath, on the first day of the eighth Sabbath". It does not make that attempt, yet it still typically receives the "weeks" translation forced upon it. On the other hand the verse does adequately highlight another missing word from the Matthew text that would have been well suited and had been employed just prior (Matt 27:62) which is the word epaurion "the next day" (G1887). We must disregard the typical usage of several other words such as simeron "today" )G4594), auction 'tomorrow" (G2250), or oktaimeros "the eighth day" (G3637). Only in this portion of scripture dealing with the empty tomb do Matthew and all the other authors get so much leeway to disregard their normal terminology and just pick up a new "slang" which has appears to have no biblical or cultural basis.


The sabbaths (in plural, not singular) in Matthew 28:1 is the correct translation importantly hinting at a double sabbath. This matter is often overlooked in most translations. This is not merely a grammatical issue as you think but has huge implications for how we think about the three days, three nights of Jesus internment in the grave before He arose. This is further complicated by the fact that before we had clocks and designated out days by the hours on a dial, the Jews thought of a new day starting in the evening at sundown or twilight. This is how Genesis relates the beginning of the world in fact. The year AD30 had two Sabbaths back to back, one which was the Passover on Thursday Nisan 14 and Friday Nisan 15. The Jews identify the Passover as a kind of Sabbath, a rest day. So Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room on our Wednesday night but on the Jewish Thursday. He was betrayed and then on the morning of the Thursday, He was crucified at around 3pm. Thursday evening was the Jewish Friday or Nisan 15 which was their Passport, or "High Day." That is why the Priests wanted to hurry the prosecution of Jesus's trial so they could observe the Passover without becoming ceremonially unclean. This is also preparation day for the Jews for the Passover so you might also assume very few people who were not faithful followers of Jesus would have been at the cross on Golgatha. The Good Friday observation only came into place early on by a decree of the Roman Catholic Church. For a detailed examination of this, check out jamestabor.com/jesus-died-on-a-thursday-not-a-friday/ .

  • Welcome to the S.E. Q&A forum, and thank you for contributing.
    – Steve11235
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 13:18

Matthew 28:1 has:

KJV Greek Part of Speech literal
In-the-end opse adverb after a long time, late
de conjunction but, and, now, then, …
of-the-sabbath sabbaton noun, genitive, plural, neutral sabbaths, weeks

"sabbaton" is plural, so this should be translated as plural (and it is by LITV, CLNT, YLT, Fenton) as:

  • Now, after the sabbaths, …

Two sabbaths had just passed. Yesterday was the weekly sabbath, and two days before that was the annual high day, mentioned in John 19:31.

So it makes sense for the word to be plural.

Later in the same verse:

KJV Greek Part of Speech literal
toward eis preposition into, to, unto, …
the-first heis adjective, accusative, feminine, singular one
of-the-week sabbaton noun, genitive, plural, neutral sabbaths, weeks

Note that:

  • "heis" is singular and feminine
  • "sabbaton" is plural and neutral

so for two reasons "one" doesn't apply to "sabbaths". which leads to supplying the implied word:

  • "unto [day] one of the weeks".
  • or "unto the first [day] of the weeks".

The word "weeks", in plural, could be referring to the seven weeks that must be counted to Pentecost (50 days), starting with the first Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

If so, it makes perfect sense for the word to be plural here too.


It is important to understand that the Greek document was written by a Greek speaking Jew. Therefore, the Greek word is a transliteration of the Hebrew Sabbaton (Strong's 7677) in reference to REST, not the seventh day. It is plural in Greek because there were two days of rest in that week (15 Nisan, the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread and the weekly Sabbath). The gospel of Mark indicates the women purchased spices after a day of rest had past, while Luke states that they had already mixed the spices before resting the weekly Sabbath). This is fully explained at YEHOSHUASONOFGOD.BLOGSPOT.COM along with the complete dated calendar of events throughout Jesus' ministry.


Mat 28:1 is clearly "But the latter of the Sabbaths"

"the late [one] of Sabbaths

This is the normal usual rendition of this combination of words.

And the following phrase is "the first [day] of the Sabbaths"

"Day of the Sabbaths" is the usual idiom for "the day for the Sabbaths" ημερα των σαββατων

The later sabbath was the weekly Sabbath after the Passover Sabbath in passion week.

  • The first [day] of the Sabbaths according to Lev. 23:15 was the first of seven counted after Passover. This makes perfect sense in the Evangelists because it was on the first Sabbath after Passover --not Sunday.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 1:28
  • This theory is not necessarily consistent. For example, the parallel verses of Mark 3:2 and Luke 6:7 both reference the same day conceptually, and yet the former puts sabbath in the plural, and the latter in the singular. Many other instances of the plural form of 'sabbath' may be found in the NT that refer to the sabbath, and not a two-sabbath concept(e.g. Col 2:16). Also just because a word is grammatically plural does not mean it is strictly translated that way; a partitive genitive noun, or partitive substantive adjective, often have implied words(on one of all sabbaths - 'a' sabbath).
    – user21676
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 7:46

You provide the correct translation of Mathew 28:1, i.e., But "the latter of the Sabbaths" (also, "but [the] late of [the] Sabbaths."] It is permitted to supply the word "the" when English needs it. Which in English would also so mean "but the late one of the Sabbaths." The text is telling us that the later Sabbath in Passover week was the "resurrection day." After the Annual (High) Passover Sabbath the resurrection day just so happened to fall on Saturday the weekly Sabbath. The latter of the two. The reason for Sabbaths plural. It necessarily follows, why the translation on "first of the Sabbaths" is also correct. This is in keeping with Lev. 23:11-15 and in order to solve this one must understand two things, First, this amounts to a riddle in itself. Lev. tells us that seven Sabbaths were to be counted after the Passover Sabbath, which however has been mistaken or translated by many as meaning the weekly Saturday Sabbath. But in keeping EXACTLY with scripture, "the first of the Sabbaths" is the first of seven Sabbaths are counted each year after the Passover Sabbath. The translation does NOT mean "the first day of the "week" as main stream church conveniently asserts to support their claim of a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday Resurrection. The word translated week is indeed Sabbaths. The Friday to Sunday doctrine does not have three days and three nights nor does it satisfy "after three day" as stated in Mark 8:31. However, part two of my assertion is that a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday pre dawn Sabbath resurrection fulfills the three days and three night prophesy exactly. Furthermore, when Mary purchased the oils "after" the Sabbath this was on Friday. The day after the Annual High Sabbath or Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset) and the day before the weekly Saturday Sabbath. Interestingly, the Pope's 2007 Holy Thursday Homily stated a Tuesday Last supper and a Wednesday arrest was possible based on new evidence found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other means. However, in order to keep the Passion narrative the same it suggests Jesus would have remained in custody until Friday. I could go on but suffice to say I think I supported the true meaning of Mt. 28:1 to the satisfaction of the original Greek noted. Also, it is important to note I am a cradle Roman Catholic but extensive research and study has led me to these conclusions and felt compelled to share my views with others. God Bless All.

  • Welcome to BHSE! Please make sure you take our Tour. (See below left) Thanks. Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 22:21

Almost every statement in the above arguments is based on Greek as the original language of the New Testament writings but where do we find in the Bible that all or if any of the first disciples spoke or could read Greek? We do not. As far as we know Jesus spoke Galilean Aramaic and very likely Hebrew as well. It appears only Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) could likely read and speak Greek according to Acts 21:37 but in 21:40 he was back speaking Hebrew. Josephus, the historian, said that hardly any of his people ever learned a foreign language and it was very hard for him to learn Greek. Aramaic was the linqua franca of the Middle East from Asia Minor, Assyria, and Babylon. On the cross of Jesus, words were written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Assyrian Christians like George Lamsa say that the New Testament was originally written in the very language of the Apostles, which was Aramaic but regarding Matthew's Gospel, Papias said, "Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and everyone interpreted them as he was able." (George M. Lamsa, New Testament Origin (St. Persburg Beach, Florida: Aramaic Bible Center, Inc. 1976. p. 50). So, this must have happened during the first and second centuries of Christianity, that trend of interpreting or translating the originals (either in Hebrew [for Matthew's Gospel and for the Letter to the Hebrews] or Aramaic for the rest of the New Testament by the Jewish Christian believers who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, into the native languages of the other believers in their respective house or church assemblies. That is why there are often about four of five versions in the Greek NT of difficult verses. Why? Because the Greek is a translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures. Please also see https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/rev-david-bauscher/peshitta-primacy-volume-1/ebook/product-15eygwyj.html and https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/rev-david-bauscher/the-discovery-of-the-new-testament-that-god-wrote-with-abundant-evidence-for-the-aramaic-original/ebook/product-1k8ene99.html. When one therefore considers that there are numerous Aramaic manuscripts of the NT but they are almost all the same while the Greek manuscripts are often quite different from each other, then we will then be able to understand passages like Mt 27:66-Mt 28:1 and John 7:36; 19:31; Mark 15:42 (Janet M Magiera's, Aramaic Peshitta New Testament Translation has this footnote: "(5) Culture: sunset began the Sabbath or high day, cf. Luke 23:54")." On discovering the meaning or placement of the term high day, I had prayed earnestly for its meaning, while in church one Sunday, when I looked at my copy of Magiera's NT, I suddenly saw that verse 37: "And on the high day, which is the last [day] of the feast, Jesus was standing and he cried out and said, . . . ." I saw this was my answer. Sure it was for the Feast of Tabernacles but why would that expression for a last day of the feast be only for the feast of tabernacles? Surely, it must be also for the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well. Plus consider the "Lost Gospel According to Peter" where it says at verse 14, "Now it was the last day of the unleavened, and many were going forth, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept, and were grieved . . . ." Verse 12 and 13 though, relate how Mary Magdalene and her friends had come to the tomb but found it empty except for a young man who told them. "He is risen and gone." In other words it took days and nights in dungeons for Jesus to be tried by the Jews, and then by Pilate, and then by Herod, and then back to Pilate until the preparation day before the last of the two Sabbaths of the feast of Unleavened Bread, then came the Crucifixion on that Friday. Is this not so?

  • 1
    Regardless of the content of this specific answer, most people won't waste time reading it in its current format as a wall of text. Sentences (single facts) should be combined into paragraphs (single larger ideas). Poorly structured answers tend to reflect poorly organized thoughts, sometimes as a meandering stream of consciousness. That generalization won't always apply, but it takes far too long for readers to find out, so we often don't bother. Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 14:22
  • 1
    I would definitely appreciate an answer, a good, well reasoned and logically presented answer, given the language background you present. But in its current form your answer is barely a footnote to your post. And it doesn't directly answer the real question.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 15:21

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