- What does sabbaton deuteroproton in Luke 6:1 refer to?
- Do Idioms Used in the Crucifixion Narrative Resolve the "3 Day/3 Night" Objections?

1. Question:

Homilies on Matthew (Chrysostom), Homily 39 - But Luke says, On a double Sabbath. Now what is a double Sabbath? When the cessation from toil is twofold, both that of the regular Sabbath, and that of another feast coming upon it. For they call every cessation from toil, a sabbath.

How should "Coming Upon" be interpreted?

Is Chrysostom saying that a "Double Sabbath" is:

  1. One Calendar Day: A Weekly Sabbath that is also a Festival Day?
  2. Or, Two consecutive Calendar days: A Festival day followed by the Weekly Sabbath, (Friday and Saturday)?

2. Context:

If both Chrysostom and Luke understood "Double Sabbath" to mean "one calendar day" - would this be consistent with the assertion that Luke's Passover Narrative indicates there were actually two Sabbath days that week? Because he didn't use the same phrase he used before?

Luke 6:1, Byzantine Text - And it came to pass on the Double Sabbath that Jesus was passing through the grain fields ...

... but Luke doesn't use "Double Sabbath" in the Passover Narrative.

  • @susan - A.) I edited this question to more clearly distinguish it from the other - which is very, very, closely related; B.) That Question: Is examining the text of Luke - and this one is examining Chrysostom's text, in order to examine the text of Luke; C.) Granted, its a very, very, fine distinction - but very significant, (I think); D.) The answer of that question, may be influenced by this one; E.) The closely related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5480/… Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 2:54
  • @JoshuaBigbee - To be fair - A.) My first version of this was very, very, close to the other. B.) This was always my intent - but, I originally framed it to tackle the other question too; C.) But, Because Susan marked it as a duplicate - I took out all of the other stuff - to focus on just this aspect - So, I understand why it was marked that way; D.) For the record, I think my question is actually an answer to the other one. :) Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 3:53
  • I don't think this is truly a duplicate...but after further consideration perhaps it would be better for ChristianitySE if it's going to focus on Chysostom's text and understanding. If it is focused on Luke then it is a duplicate. Though the other question is entirely unhelpful on the core question.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 3:55
  • @JoshuaBigbee - A.) You are right though, it could be off-topic - But, I hope it isn't. It is certainly in the context of hermeneutcs. B.) This is a perfect example of a good way to expand the Scope of Hermeneutics.Stack; Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 3:58
  • @JoshuaBigbee The original title question was "In Luke, What does a "Double Sabbath" Mean?", so I'm pretty sure that was a duplicate, but agreed that now it's not. I'll re-open and let the community decide the topicality issue.
    – Susan
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


As noted the meaning of the phrase σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι may be indirectly related to Luke’s description of the resurrection and if so raises a question of Luke's Passover narrative:

Chrysostom's Homily indicates two consecutive Sabbath days - then one would expect the same construction in the Byzantine version of Luke's Passion narrative - if-and only-if : the Weekly Sabbath was preceded by the Passover Sabbath.

While this question has been posed as different from a similar question: What does sabbaton deuteroproton in Luke 6:1 refer to? it requires an understanding of the phrase σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι to answer. In addition, Chrysostom’s description of “come upon” confuses the issue of Chrysostom actually means. Does he see σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι as a single day where an annual day of no work coincided with a weekly Sabbath? Or does he see it as two consecutive days, an annual day of no work followed by a weekly Sabbath (what Luke describes after the crucifixion)?

While Chrysostom’s meaning is uncertain and an answer as to what he meant is speculative, the question can be answered at least in a general sense. In other words, if Luke chose to describe the events of disciples picking ears of corn (which occurred on two Sabbaths) does his choice of language there have any bearing on how he chose to describe the events after the crucifixion?

The first thing to note is that while Luke uses the phrase σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι, he is in fact describing something that took place on a single day:

Luke 6:1, Byzantine Text - And it came to pass on the Double Sabbath that Jesus was passing through the grain fields ...

This differs from the events after the crucifixion which Luke describes as taking place on consecutive days:

One day: And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the σάββατον (Sabbath day) according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56 KJV)

The Next Day: Now upon the first day of the σαββάτων (week – Sabbaths), very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (Luke 24:1 KJV)

Even if the meaning of σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι is the same in both situations, describing events on each of the different days requires a different use of language. σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι following the crucifixion would not make sense since something was done on one day and something different done on the next day. Therefore, regardless of how Chrysostom understood Luke 6:1, it should not have any bearing on the two consecutive Sabbaths found in the Passover narrative.

It also suggests an alternative explanation to the meaning of phrase σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι. Luke uses this to describe an event similar to one in Matthew and Mark:

Now it happened on the second Sabbath (σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι – Sabbaths double) after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath (σάββασιν - Sabbaths)?” (Luke 6:1-2 NKJV)

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath (σάββασιν - Sabbaths). And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath! (σαββάτῳ - Sabbaths)” (Matthew 12:1-2 NKJV)

Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath (σάββασιν – Sabbaths); and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath? (σάββασιν – Sabbaths)” (Mark 2:23-24 NKJV)

Each of the three accounts describe similar events which take place on the Sabbaths plural, not Sabbath singular as found in English translations. In each case the Pharisees ask why Jesus permits His disciples do do something which they believe should not be done on the Sabbaths (plural). In each case Jesus gives an answer and in each case the answer is different.

If the language is taken for what it says, then Luke, Matthew, and Mark are describing similar events which took place on different Sabbath Days. If that is the case then Luke’s σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι which means Sabbaths double could be Luke’s way to place the event he is describing in the context of Matthew’s or Mark’s. In other words, Jesus permitted His disciples to do what the Pharisee’s saw as a violation of Sabbath ordnances and He did this on more than one Sabbath.

Therefore Luke records something which occurred (again) after what took place on the Sabbaths found in Matthew and Mark; the next (consecutive) Sabbath it happened again that Jesus let His disciples do something the Pharisees saw as wrong.

  • - Revelation Lad: Thanks! A.) Are you suggesting that in the Gospels, "Double Sabbaths" means "for two consecutive Sabbaths, week after week". Are there examples in ancient literature where "Double" indicates "Consecutive"? B.) +1 You said: ""This differs from the events after the crucifixion which Luke describes as taking place on consecutive days:" perhaps to point out that the contexts are innately different in this manner; and so, Luke's word choice could be explained by that, making the issue unknowable? C.) Is your answer that "Come Upon" is too vague to make inferences? Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 4:26
  • A. I mean if Mark and Matthew describe something that happened on 2 different Sabbaths, Luke would need to use different language to describe a third event. B. Yes. In the later one, he is purposeful to report the events took place on two consecutive (Sabbath) days. C. Yes. I'm not sure what Chrysostom means, and ultimately I do not think it is significant as the real issue is what does Luke mean in 6:1 Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 5:12

Not a Jewish term

The "double sabbath" seems to be a Christian concept not a Jewish one. However, I may have found a solution the problem : namely, the term refers to the Sabbath after the first Sabbath during the week of Passover. (see below)

A Christian view: the day after a High Sabbath

In a Christian context, this might be cleared up by distinguishing between the Double Sabbath on the one hand and "High Sabbaths" on the other. Some among the Messianic Jews commemorate seven Jewish festival days which they designate as High Sabbaths. According to the Chicago Jewish Times:

It is a double sabbath when there is a weekly sabbath as well as a holy convocation the following day... It refers to the time when a holy day falls on the day after a sabbath, when a holy day falls on a day after a sabbath.

If we assume (without much basis) that this is the Double Sabbath that Chrysostom and Luke are talking about, neither of the choices offered in the OP is correct. It is neither a Weekly Sabbath that falls on the same day as a Festival day, nor is it Festival day followed by the Weekly Sabbath. Instead it is a Festival day that comes after the Sabbath. (disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the article cited above. It could be that it oversimplified the Messianic Christian practice.)

The Sabbath after the First Sabbath of Passover

In the meantime, I have discovered a better solution, although once again I cannot confirm it yet. Namely, the "double sabbath" is actually a "second first sabbath," which is closer to the Greek as I understand it. This article equates it to the "sabbath after the first sabbath during the week of Pesach."

The second first Sabbath is the first Sabbath after the first Sabbath of Passover. The first Sabbath of Passover is used as a starting point for counting the seven weeks (and seven Sabbaths) until the Feast of Weeks. The day after the first Sabbath of Passover is day one in that count... [There is also] the first Sabbath in the count of seven Sabbaths to the Feast of Weeks (which is held on the day after that 7th Sabbath, i.e. the fiftieth day, or Pentecost). So there are two first Sabbaths: the first Sabbath during Passover... and the first Sabbath after Passover, which is the second first Sabbath.

The theory fits very well with the timing of the barley harvest, which would have begun a week or so before the sabbaton deuteroproton.

Pesach is also called Hag Aviv (Spring Holiday), which marked the beginning of the barley harvest. The practice was to cut the first sheaves of barley the day before Pesach, and to bring an offering from this early harvest on the second day of the festival. Until this was brought, it was forbidden to eat from this new crop.

If this is correct then what Luke referred to was the Sabbath immediately following the first Sabbath of Passover. This fits with the two consecutive Sabbath days of Chrysostom as well.

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