I receive the Probe-Alert and read an interesting response to another email: "If Jesus Was Crucified on Friday, How Was He Dead for Three Nights?" I use a Dake's Bible and although I try to keep an open mind when studying his (Finis Dake) interpretations, I thought his explanation of the Wednesday crucifixion was quite compelling. Dake refers to many verses in support of his interpretation. I will endeavor to include as many of the pertinent ones (admittedly my opinion) as possible. If you have access to a Dake's Bible, the references are included beside each verse.
Matt. 27:63 -- "...after three days I will rise again."
This shows how the Jews understood the three days and three nights of Matt. 12:40
This verse refers to the special Sabbath two days before the weekly Sabbath.
Mat. 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
John 19:31 "...for that Sabbath day was an high day."
This is another reference to the special Sabbath.
Although this verse merely says that He will be raised on the third day, Dake gives another perspective on the three full days and three full nights interpretation:
• When days and nights are both mentioned, then it cannot be parts of three days, but full days and nights (Ester 4:16 with 5:1; 1 Sam. 30:12 with 13; Jonah 1:17 with Mat. 12:40). See also Rev. 11:9-11.
• The Jews understood Christ to mean "after three days" or three full days and three full nights (Matt. 27:63), hence the soldiers had orders to guard the tomb at least that long.
• It was the custom to mourn for the dead three full days and nights, called "days of weeping," which were followed by four "days of lamentation," thus making seven days (Gen. 27:41; 50:10; 1 Sam. 31:13; Job 2:13). According to rabbinical notion the spirit wandered about the sepulchre for three days hoping to re-enter the body, but when corruption set in the spirit left. This was believed to be on the fourth day when the loud lamentations began. Hence, on the fourth day Lazarus was supposed to stink (John 11:39).
• Herodotus testifies that embalmment did not take place until after three days when the spirit was supposed to be gone (Herod. ii. 86-89). This is why the women were taking sweet spices to anoint Jesus (Mk. 16:1; Lk. 24:1)
• The Jews did not accept evidence as to the identification of a dead body after three days, for corruption took place quickly in the East. Hence, this period of three full days and three full nights was wanted by God, so as to preclude all doubt that death had actually taken place, and shut out all suggestion that Christ might have been in a trance. Jews would legally have to conclude His death, should He remain dead the full three days and three nights.
Thank you for your e-mail.
As you may know there is some controversy/discussion about Passover meal and whether it was celebrated Wednesday night, or Thursday night, and some evidence which argues for both days.
I am inclined to agree with the full three days, and the Wednesday night theory.
I appreciate your sending this information (some of which I already have) and your nice summary.
If you go with Thursday, you just have to accept the fact that the Lord was in the tomb some PORTION of three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
As far as theology and/or interpretation is concerned, either (in my judgment) is acceptable since the rudimentary facts of the death, burial, and resurrection are not affected.
Jimmy Williams, Founder
About the Author
James F. Williams is the founder and past president of Probe Ministries International, and currently serves as Minister at Large. He holds degrees from Southern Methodist University (B.A.) and Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.). He also has pursued inter-disciplinary doctoral studies (a.b.d.) in the humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. Over a thirty-five year period, he visited, lectured, and counseled on more than 180 university campuses in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the former Soviet Union. He also served on the faculties of the American, Latin American, and European Institutes of Biblical Studies.
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