1

I was reading Luke 24:7 just now. The verse is about an angel who tells the disciples that Jesus was going to rise the third day. I noticed that it didn’t say on the third day, or after the third day. It was like a word was missing. I checked other passages and some has it that Jesus rose on the third day, but other places indicated that he should rise again after the third day, which is on the fourth day. I went to Strong’s Hebrew/Greek Bible Concordance to check on the word “on”, but I couldn’t see anything that indicated that there should be an “on” in the applicable passages. I do remember that Jesus said that he was going to be in "the heart of the earth" for three nights and days, which would point at that he actually must have risen on the fourth day.

Acts 10:40 (NIV) but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.


Mat 12:40 (NIV) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

  • 1
    The English word "on" is unimportant ("I'll visit you Sunday / I'll visit you on Sunday" mean the same thing), and even the Greek may be unimportant if we're talking about inclusive time, but FWIW, the word in Acts 10:40 is ἐν and the one in Matt. 27:63 it's μετά. The first one probably means "on, at the time of" the third day and the second one probably means "after" three days. – Luke Sawczak Feb 2 at 15:10
  • +1. Thx for your comment. It enlightened a bit. – Constantthin Feb 3 at 0:28
  • The ancients counted inclusively, since they lacked the concept of zero. Secondly, the expression a day and a night is a Jewish idiom, which, as the Talmud explains, refers to partial days as well, and not just to complete ones. – Lucian Feb 4 at 23:47
  • @Lucian. Would that also have applied to Queen Ester when she told her friends to "not eat or drink for three days, night or day". That that could mean that some of them actually fasted for a lot less than that? – Constantthin Feb 5 at 0:08
  • @Constantthin: Fasting usually starts at sunrise and ends at sunset. Whether they ate each day before dawn or after sunset, I don't know. Whether they fasted continuously from the sunset of the first day to the sunset of the third, I don't know. In both of these cases, whether the first day was complete or not, I don't know; but I am sure that the last one was, until dark. – Lucian Feb 5 at 0:16
3

The English versions are correct in translating "on the third day."

To take Matthew 16.21 as an example, this is the relevant section in the Greek.

καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι
[Jesus began to explain that] on the third day he would be raised to life.

The key to translating this clause is to understand the declension or form of the words. In English the general principle is that words have a single grammatical form, and meaning is determined by the word order. Thus "The man loved the woman" has a different meaning from "The woman loved the man." But in Greek the words themselves have different forms which determine the meaning. If a Greek writer wanted to say that the man loved the woman, he would give the word "man" a specific ending to indicate that. Word order would then be irrelevant.

(An analogy might be if in English we marked the subject of a sentence by putting that word in capitals. "The MAN loved the woman." Then "MAN woman loved" and "woman MAN loved" would mean the same thing.)

Now in NT Greek there were four main forms of a noun:
1. Nominative.
2. Accusative.
3. Genitive.
4. Dative.

In the above clause the words τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ are in the dative form. In general terms this form marks the indirect object of an action.
"John bought the present for his wife."
"John bought the present at the mall."
"John bought the present at 4 pm."

In each case John is the one who did the buying (nominative) and the present is the thing bought (accusative). The remaining words will be in the dative case because they say something extra about the action: why, where or when it happened. They relate to but are not the same as the object of the action.

In Matthew 16.21 Jesus says only three words in the Greek. But to bring out the form of those words in English we need to add another word. The Greek words are dative and in context are describing WHEN the action will take place. The third day is the point at which there will be a resurrection, says Jesus. The only way we can read that in English is by saying "on the third day."

We see the same process in other passages. In John 19.2 we read that the soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus head (ἐπέθηκαν αὐτοῦ τῇ κεφαλῇ). The object is the crown of thorns; "his head" is in the dative form and in context tells us where they put it. So we need to add "on" to get the same sense - "on his head". In the same way Mark 16.2 records the women going to the tomb "(on) the first day of the week." The dative form tells us this is when they went.

For more information, see this link

  • +1. Thx for your input. You answered one of my queries by pointing out that only three words were used in the Greek language to say something that in English would need ten words. Very interesting. I can understand that Bible translations can differ quite a bit sometimes. Filling in the blanks between the Greek words may not always be so easy. – Constantthin Feb 2 at 23:43
2

As is well known, time periods were invariably counted using the inclusive reckoning method. This means that a time period counted part of the first day and part of the last day as full days, or weeks or years as the time period required. Similarly, this three-day period is also reckoned by the inclusive method, which means that if Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday morning, this is entirely consistent with three days (and nights). Such time periods should not be understood in the modern sense, but in the sense in which the Bible writers commonly used and intended. An excellent example of this occurs in 2 Kings 18:9, 10 where three years is actually two years by modern reckoning but is correctly three years by inclusive reckoning.

The Timing of Jesus’ Crucifixion

The timing of the crucifixion is clearly demonstrated by the following Gospel references:

Matthew:

  • Death on Friday (preparation day): Matt 27:57, 62
  • Sabbath rest: Matt 27:62-65 (Guard)
  • Resurrection on Sunday (first of the week): Matt 28:1, 4 (Notice here that the guard was undisturbed until Sunday morning. Further, the KJV in Matt 28:1 has an awkward translation that incorrectly implies that the tomb was found empty late on the Sabbath. Every modern version has it more correctly.)

Mark:

  • Death on Friday (preparation day): Mark 15:42
  • Sabbath rest: -
  • Resurrection on Sunday (first of the week): Mark 16:1, 9 (This latter text states unequivocally that Jesus rose on the first day of the week. The Greek is even clearer!)

Luke:

  • Death on Friday (preparation day): Luke 23:54
  • Sabbath rest: Luke 23:56
  • Resurrection on Sunday (first of the week): Luke 24:1-7

John:

  • Death on Friday (preparation day): John 19:41
  • Sabbath rest: -
  • Resurrection on Sunday (first of the week): John 20:1, 17

Notice that in all these cases, the day of Jesus’ death is described as the preparation day (paraskeue - see BDAG) – an invariant designator of what we now call Friday (BDAG), the sixth day of the week. There is not a single exception to this rule in any literature; in neither the New Testament nor any of the Apostolic Fathers. This practice is so wide spread that the same word for Friday was also adopted into Latin, Parascue.

As if to confirm this, Luke 24:22 records that Cleopas and his friend said, on Sunday afternoon, it was the third day since Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.

Therefore, Jesus appears to have risen from the dead on the third day.

  • There were two extra Sabbaths that week; Passover, and Unleavened Bread, with their own preparation days. This confuses the calculation a bit, I think. There has been a lot written about this issue, and it doesn't seem to be settled yet. So far comparisons of Bible verses has been the main way of go about it. My question is focusing on linguistics, and it concerns the interpretation of one, or maybe a few words. It shall be interesting to hear what the Greek language experts have to say about this issue. – Constantthin Feb 2 at 8:19
  • 1
    There is no evidence I can find for that view. In fact, there is much data to refute it just in the information above. Three days are three days. Further, "preparation day" only ever refers to "Friday" and not the day before an annual Sabbath. – user25930 Feb 2 at 8:22
  • 1
    See "paraskeue" in BDAG - this word always means "Friday" before the weekly Sabbath. – user25930 Feb 2 at 8:32
  • 1
    The site consists of a series of assertions that are unsupported such as, "From the New Testament we know that Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal on a Tuesday night. (Matt.26:17-19; Luke 22:13-20)" This is simply untrue! Much of the rest is in the same vein. The problem with all of this - it tries to make a "preparation" day the day before Passover for which there not a scintilla of evidence. – user25930 Feb 2 at 10:14
  • 1
    A death on Friday and resurrection on Sunday cannot include 3 nights. – Revelation Lad Feb 4 at 14:18
0

Could Jesus actually have risen from the dead on the fourth day, instead on the third day?

No Jesus did not rise on the fourth day. He rose on the third day, according to the scriptures.

Mat 20:19 (NIV) "and (they) will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Acts 10:40 (NIV) but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.

A slightly more difficult question to answer though is: "How did Jesus fulfill the Jonah prophecy about being in the heart of the earth for three nights and three days"? And the answer is that he did this in his fast between the Last Supper and his first meal on late Sunday afternoon.

Luke 22:14,15 (NIV) When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer".

Luke 24:29,42 (KJV) But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

Consequently, Jesus rose from the dead early on the third day after having been in the grave for only two nights and one day. And he broke his fast, which lasted three nights and three days, later on the same day, .

  • Luke 22:19,20 (NIV) And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”. – Constantthin Feb 4 at 6:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.