In my previous Bible Contradiction article, I explained the difference the hour of day at which John says that Jesus’ trial before Pilate ended and the hour at which Mark says that He was crucified, but there is another aspect of the timing of the crucifixion which is often claimed to be contradictory. According to several atheist websites including the Skeptics Annotated Bible, John’s account says that Jesus died before the Passover meal while Mark’s account places Jesus’ death after the Passover meal. It is claimed by these sites that these two accounts do not agree and must therefore be false. However, this apparent disagreement disappears once we understand what actually takes place during the Passover.
The Passover celebration is described in several Old Testament passages, but let’s begin with the account found in Numbers 28. There we read the following:
And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. In the first day shall be an holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work therein: But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year: they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil: three tenth deals shall ye offer for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram; A several tenth deal shalt thou offer for every lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one goat for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer these beside the burnt offering in the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering. After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering. And on the seventh day ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work. (Numbers 28:16-25)
This passage tells us several things about the Passover which are helpful in understanding the events of the crucifixion. First, we note in this passage that the Passover proper is on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan. However, this day of the Passover is then followed by the feast of the Passover which is a seven day period of sacrifices and feasting beginning on the fifteenth of Nisan. We can also see in this passage that only unleavened bread was to be eaten during the seven days of the Passover feast.
When we compare Numbers 28 with Exodus 12, we learn further that the first Passover meal occurs on the evening of the fourteenth, and this first meal is also supposed to be eaten with unleavened bread. Thus the fourteenth is sometimes referred to as the first day of unleavened bread. Exodus 12:19 also tells us that, during the seven days of feasting beginning on the fifteenth of Nisan, the Jews were not only to eat unleavened bread, but they were also to have no leaven anywhere in their homes. Thus the seven days of feasting beginning on the fifteenth are sometimes referred to as the days of unleavened bread. The fact that the Jews were not allowed to have leaven in their houses during the week of feast days also explains why the fourteenth was referred to as the day of preparation. The evening of the fourteenth was spent in celebration of the Passover proper with a meal of lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while the following day of the fourteenth was spent removing all leaven from the home in preparation for the Passover week.
Now when we return to the accounts in John and Mark, we can see that both accounts are accurate. Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM on Thursday, the fourteenth of Nisan. The Passover meal would have been eaten during the evening of the fourteenth which, according to the Jewish method of counting time was the night before Jesus was crucified. The night following the crucifixion was the evening of the fifteenth of Nisan which was the first day of the seven days of feasting which made up the Passover week.
Therefore, when John mentions in John 18:28 that the Jewish leaders did not want to defile themselves because they wanted to eat the Passover, he was referring to their desire to participate in the seven days of feasting which would begin that evening. When John writes in John 19:14 that it was the day of preparation, he was referring to the preparations conducted on the fourteenth in order to remove all traces of leaven from the homes of the Jews. And when Mark mentions in Mark 14:12 that the Last Supper was on the first day of unleavened bread, the day when the Passover was killed, he was referring to the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan.
Thus the comparison of the crucifixion account with the instructions regarding the Passover that are found in the Old Testament reveals to us that both John and Mark are correct. Jesus died during the day of preparation which was after the evening of the Passover proper but before the first feast of the Passover week. There is no contradiction between the two accounts. They are simply describing an event which the average, gentile American knows practically nothing about.
If you would like a much more detailed explanation of the crucifixion week, you can click here to read an excellent collection of research by Lori Eldridge answering the question “What Day of the Week Was Christ Crucified?”
6/6/2014 03:30:43 am
Wow! Well done on your explanations for the hour and day of crucifixion. I've read several commentaries on the internet and even one of Geisler's books on biblical answers but found them too convoluted, incomplete or deceitful with "christian lies" (to assuage the prospect of actually engaging their or other's brains). As a former atheist, agnostic, and, now, follower of Christ, I appreciate those who don't just spout off the too familiar statement, "you just have to have faith". That intellectual drivel is an absolute road block to those true seekers who would like to attempt a rational landing into our Christian belief system. Furthermore, attempts like yours exemplify the biblical mandates of I Peter 3:15 as well as Matt 28:16+ (I love Jesus for giving my resistant, slow brain v. 17). Thanks for helping me counter the likes of Bart Ehrman and Dan Barker (and…) who have placed impediments before some of my well-intentioned but agnostic friends. I will share your info w/ them.
9/5/2019 08:47:30 pm
Wow amen to that
8/19/2021 03:29:57 am
Thank you for the information
10/24/2014 12:51:09 pm
Thank you for this excellent explanation.
10/26/2014 08:55:55 pm
Thank you for pointing that out, Mark.
3/25/2016 03:03:51 pm
Check out the jubilee (gods calendar) , night is first then day Jesus had Passover and died but King Herod ( non believers had Easter . Two days different from gods calendar and King herods calendar .so some people think there was a misprint in acts Kjv acts 12:4
Passover does not last 7 days. Passover is one night. Unleaven Bread is 7 days. Unleaven bread is essentially a seperate festival. The reason no leavening is had at Passover is because it occurs at the start of unleaven bread. During this week we also have First Fruits and begin the counting of the Omer which leads us into Shavuot aka Day of Pentecost.
3/17/2020 06:37:38 pm
10/27/2014 06:17:53 am
Thank you for helping to clarify this. I'm still new to the faith and count every bit of knowledge as a blessing. There is something I still don't understand though, was The Last Supper the Passover meal?
10/31/2014 09:10:32 pm
Yes, the Last Supper was eaten on the evening of Nisan 14 which was when the Passover meal was to be eaten.
12/20/2014 01:18:12 am
I'm sorry, but now I'm confused. In the article you stated "Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM on Thursday, the fourteenth of Nisan", but here you say "the last supper was eaten on the evening of Nisan 14". Wouldn't that place the last supper after Jesus death? What am I not understanding?
12/20/2014 03:28:25 am
12/20/2014 08:20:56 am
Ah, yes. Of course. Thank you!
6/5/2015 07:22:53 am
You state that Jesus was crucified at around 9 AM on Thursday....Not Friday? If He was taken down from the cross and buried before 6 PM that evening, then the day count would be 4 days as counted by the Jews. Day one is always the day you are in, thus Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, being day 4 and not day 3.
11/25/2014 10:36:21 pm
The problem with a Friday crucifixion is that there are not three nights between Friday and Sunday morning.
7/11/2015 09:18:44 pm
The third "night" was the time when the darkness was for 3 hours.
3/18/2018 06:38:24 am
An interesting explication... I'm not qualified to pass judgement on the merits of this model until I have thoroughly reviewed it.
3/17/2020 07:14:54 pm
The 14th of Nisan or Abib in the year Christ
3/18/2015 03:17:38 am
Absolutely awesome!!! Thank You!!!
3/29/2015 12:25:43 pm
So if He didn't die at the passover day, His death has less significance to the symbol of sacrificial lamb on passover... (I'm okay with this)..
7/29/2015 03:53:25 pm
Many of you are leaning to your own understanding (lean not). If you accept the Bible as TRUTH and no mistakes are in it. You also believe Jesus could not and would not lie. He him self said he would be in the earth 3 days and 3 nights.
3/17/2020 07:23:27 pm
You were doing well with your explanation except that Christ was buried at sunset. He dies as we learn around 3:00 in the afternoon and you are correct in this. However he was taken down and placed in the tomb right at sunset. Remember he said 3 days and 3 nights and those nights start at SUNSET. He didnt say a 24 hour period. He specifically used the phrase 3 days and 3 nights.Look it up and see what that means......
8/9/2015 03:05:08 am
Beautifully done, thanks for your message. I enjoyed it. Sometimes I get so caught up in the details that I need to remind myself that the most important thing is that Christ lived and that He lives today. May we keep His words in our minds and in our hearts and always remember him.
9/13/2015 05:00:50 am
Beautiful explanation! Praise the Lord, He is risen indeed!!
10/25/2015 09:02:48 am
I want to know why does some pastor say jesus was in his grave. When the bible says he was in the heart of the earth
2/18/2016 06:28:56 am
That was spiritually.... Spiritually He went to paradise which in the was in the earth. Later we could go to heaven
11/16/2017 01:18:00 pm
Or was he, what about the preaching in hell interpretation?
1/15/2016 08:12:34 pm
Roman calendar: 12am to 11:59pm
1/15/2016 08:48:02 pm
Whoops, 3 nights is mentioned, my apologies...so the 3rd night by Jewish calendar must be the Roman Thursday night which was part of the Jewish Friday even though Christ wasn't buried at the time? This is interesting. We know the bible says they had to take Jesus down before the Sabbath (Roman Friday at sundown - Jewish Saturday) began.
1/15/2016 09:01:13 pm
I wish there was an edit button, I meant
3/17/2020 07:26:25 pm
You are calculating incorrectly. This was not a weekly SABBATH. It was a high Sabbath which is an annual Sabbath. They can fall on any day. See my explanation elsewhere
Michael W Cuber
3/7/2016 05:59:44 pm
Messiah was taken down on the evening of the Preparation Day. Gentiles automatically assume this is Friday evening. The Preparation day begins on evening of Thursday, so its becomes obvious that He was killed on Thursday.
4/8/2016 05:20:50 am
Michael, did you mean at sundown on Thursday instead of evening? Because the way I read scripture, the evening of a day is still that same day.Jewish new days start sometime around/after sundown. Your thoughts?
Michael W Cuber
8/8/2016 01:48:57 pm
Yes, Tee. The evening of the Preparation Day would be Thursday Evening; what would be Friday evening would be Shabot Evening to a Jew.
3/26/2016 02:06:06 am
Judaism is confusing enough without the expanded universe fan fiction!
4/8/2016 05:25:39 am
Great dialogue. Thanks for sharing.
4/11/2016 04:48:18 am
It does not make sense that he had the Last Supper one afternoon and then was apprehended, taken to 3 different authorities, judged, tortured, carrying the cross to the crucifixion location, and crucified at 9 am and died at 3 pm. They must be "early risers" and Pilate, Caifas, etc started to work "very early". Do you believe that in a high level government employee? Transportation from one place to the other does not take time? Torturing does not take time. It seems that the process takes many hours or more than one day.
4/23/2016 07:56:22 pm
This is the very discussion we just came out of.
12/30/2016 09:39:41 am
Short comment, if we take all the preconceived ideas out and just read we see in Luke 22:15,16 Jesus said With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat therof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. John 18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall' lest they should be defiled: but they might eat the passover. They are other scriptures but just these two show it was before they ate the passover. The Lords supper was not passover. The first passover was done before they left Egypt and was told to say in the house until sunrise. The passover is killed at the ending of the day of the fourteenth not the beginning.Jesus is the passover lamb and died at and when they were killing the passover lambs this was the end of Wednesday. The Lords supper was at the beginning of Wednesday. Matt.28:1 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 sepulcher. This is around sunset Saturday evening. The only contradictions are those we create trying to make the bible fit all the things we have painted in our minds over the years. We try to include Friday and Sunday when they don't. The first day after the sabbath after passover is the waving of the first fruits which Jesus is the first fruits. It is also the day they start counting the days of 7 sabbaths till the second harvest. that we call the day of Pentecost which is also the first day of the week after the last sabbath equals 50 days. Sorry did not mean to be this long.
7/8/2020 09:09:07 pm
Gotta give you a fat NO GO here. If Matt 28 account is on Saturday as you have stated. With Mary Magdalene and the other Mary going to the tomb on Sat at the end of the Sabbath, they saw Jesus and worshipped Him in the same account on the road. Right? So. Why would the same Mary Magdalene in John 20, a few hours later, on the First Day of the Week, tell Peter and John that the body of her Lord had been STOLEN and she did not know where it was? ACCORDING TO YOU, SHE HAD JUST MET HIM ON THE ROAD WITH THE OTHER MARY AND BEFORE THAT, AN EARTHQUAKE AND ANGEL!
4/8/2017 06:36:34 pm
Here is one thing I don't understand. The author says "The evening of the fourteenth was spent in celebration of the Passover proper with a meal of lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while the following day of the fourteenth was spent removing all leaven from the home in preparation for the Passover week." and "The Passover meal would have been eaten during the evening of the fourteenth which, according to the Jewish method of counting time was the night before Jesus was crucified".
4/8/2017 07:16:52 pm
Exodus 12:6 declares that the Jews were to kill the Passover lamb on the evening of the fourteenth which means that they were to both kill it and eat it during the same evening.
4/8/2017 08:01:57 pm
Thanks for the quick answer Bill.
4/9/2017 03:54:34 pm
It sounds like you're making some unnecessary assumptions. For example, you are assuming that the lambs were cooked whole on a spit over the fire, but they could have been cut into small pieces which would then cook much faster. Cooking times for meat always depend on how large the pieces are.
4/10/2017 11:15:56 pm
I am trying not to make assumptions. I do not assume the lambs are cooked whole on a spit over the fire. Instead the Bible tells me that. Exodus 12:9 says "Don't eat any of it raw or boiled in water. Instead, roast it over the fire, with its head, legs, and internal organs." Seems pretty clear to me. Multiple commentaries at biblehub.com also say it was cooked whole. Exodus 12:46 says that not any bones were to be broken. That is hard to do, not impossible, if you cut up the lamb before cooking. I think you are assuming it was cut up in order to fit your timeline.
4/15/2017 10:34:08 am
Thanks. this clarifies a lot of the silly articles out there that obfuscate the simplicity of the gospel and the scriptures. It seems clearly, that Jesus had his last dinner time with the disciples on the day prior to the day the typical passover meal would be celebrated. whether they ate unleavened bread or not is irrelevant. For timing reasons, Jesus died on the appropriate day when lambs were slain so that he could be called The Lamb of God. Jesus trial, suffering and crucifixion and death is on the preparation day. It is also required that Jesus be in the ground 3 days and 3 nites. The only way this can happen is a crucifixion and burial on that Thursday almost at sunset: (Thur nite, Friday day/nite, Sat day/nite. Sun day—3 days, 3 nites.
4/24/2017 09:13:35 pm
3/25/2018 07:11:31 pm
Arnie, Luke says clearly that the Last Supper meal was the Passover meal, not the day before: Luke 22:7-8,15.
5/1/2017 12:10:17 pm
Mathew 26:17-19 passover Jesus ate with his disciples... at the same time it calls that day Feast of unleavened bread....John 19:14 another day of preparation for passover...And Jesus chained ..what day was the Lord supper?
9/4/2017 06:32:18 pm
This is very clear, as we Gentiles don't think Hebraic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-R7mlK9uRA
9/5/2017 11:09:43 am
Many put passover and feast of unleavened bread as an eight day feast. Passover is the 14th day from around 6PM our time to 6PM the next day. The 7 day feast of unleavened bread starts at the end of the 14th around 6PM. In the first passover the lambs were killed at end of the 14th from around 3PM on, and blood was put on the door posts of the children of Israel. It was cooked and eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread in haste, fully dressed and with staffs in hand, in the dark at the beginning of the 15TH the same time the first born of Egypt was killed. Pharaoh rose up in the night and told Moses and Aaron to get Israel and all they have out of Egypt that morning of the 15TH. They left so fast the bread was not leavened so the 7 day feast. Now when Jesus and the disciples were coming from Bethany Jesus sent two of his disciples to get the upper chamber where they were to eat the passover. this was on the 13TH and at sundown they set down to eat this started the 14TH. The Lords Supper, garden, betrayal, beating, Pilot, and Crucifixion and burial all on the 14TH. The Passover was eaten at night on the 15TH before sunrise just like the first passover. As in Luke 22:14-16 Jesus told them he would not eat of the passover before he suffered. The Lords Supper is the only thing Jesus said for us to do in remembrance of him. Jesus is the Lamb of God, the bread is his body that was given for us and the wine is the new testament in his blood that was shed for us. All done before the passover was eaten.
3/4/2018 06:28:43 am
I am confused. You said "Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM on Thursday, the fourteenth of Nisan. The Passover meal would have been eaten during the evening of the fourteenth which, according to the Jewish method of counting time was the night before Jesus was crucified."
2/28/2019 07:49:48 am
For those who absolutely require something to be true, they will go to the greatest lengths to spin irregularity into alleged coherency.
4/21/2019 10:57:43 am
Thanks for using my page as a reference to this article. I have a chart near the top of my article that clearly shows the difference between Jewish and Roman methods of keeping time which may help eliminate some of the confusion re "evening" and "day" etc.
4/27/2019 06:49:17 pm
Just clarifying. Are you saying Jesus was crucified while the Passover lamb were sacrificed? Or are you saying He was crucified after the Passover lamb were crucified?
2/28/2020 09:40:30 am
If Jesus WAS the Passover Lamb, then he had to be killed BEFORE the Passover meal. On a day of preparation. Because it takes time to prepare, cook and serve the lamb, he could not have eaten the Passover meal at the Last Supper. Because it hadn’t happened yet. The last supper was just that, the last time Jesus ate with his disciples and not a Seder or Passover meal.
8/4/2020 01:05:37 pm
Seems to me according to Luke's gospel, is fairly obvious Jesus lived through the day when the passover lamb was killed (Nisan 14th) and eaten the during the night (Nisan 15th):
9/30/2020 05:56:23 pm
there is a big problem with that interpretation. 1. If Yahushua ate the passover meal on the 13th day evening (beginning of 14 day) that would also mean that the feast of unleavened bread also started on that time. Now there's a problem bc the lamb was killed on the 14th day not 13th day and also they ate the lamb at evening of the 14th day not 13th day.
3/14/2022 11:05:31 am
your explanation is wrong.you have to look at it from the jewish perspective not christian perspetive... there were 2 sabbaths..a high and a weekly sabbath. the weekly sabbath was a sunrise to sunset event...as there are no sabbath nights..
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Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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