Please have a Bible beside you as you read this piece. Many Bible references are given – don’t just skim over them but take pains to look them up as they occur. You will then have a better and deeper understanding of what is being discussed. Happy reading and God bless you!
CHAPTER ONE: KNOWN BIBLICAL FACTS
Some Christians usually question the accuracy of the days chosen for the observance of Christ’s death and resurrection. But this need not be the case. The Bible has given sufficient information on those events for us to arrive at the truth. It has even made plain, direct statements in the Gospels.
We shall here first list some facts about Christ’s death and resurrection as stated in the Bible. Please, note ALL that is written. Next, we shall consider the implications of these listed facts. As you read those various deductions, remember they are based on the previously stated facts, and if you have any difficulty, please refer again to those facts.
1) Jesus died and was entombed on the day before the Sabbath:
See Mark 15:42-43 and Luke 23:54.
John 19:31 gives the additional information that the Sabbath was also a High Day. That is, one of the annual High Days of rest. In Leviticus 23, we see the calendar of the various annual feasts and their associated days of “Holy Convocation” and “Rest” instituted by God. One such High Day was the day after the Passover, i.e. the first day of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5-7).
2) Jesus died on Passover day:
Two days before that day, Jesus told his disciples he would be crucified on that day (Matthew 26:1-2). John 18:28 says he stood before Pilate on Passover day, and 1 Corinthians 5:7 affirms that he is the true “Passover Lamb.”
3) Jesus died at 3pm (or moments after):
All the Gospel writers agree on this. See Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46.
(NOTE: Ninth hour means 3pm. Throughout Bible times, a day began at 6pm and ended the next 6pm. From 6pm to 9pm was the ‘first watch’ of the night, 9pm to midnight was the ‘second watch’ of the night, midnight to 3am the ‘third watch,’ and 3am to 6am the final night watch. From 6am to 6pm were counted the twelve hours of daytime.)
4) Jesus was entombed before 6pm of that same day:
John 19:31 states that, according to Jewish law, the bodies were not to be still hanging on the trees on Sabbath day, which was about to begin at that 6pm. So, Jesus was entombed that late afternoon by Joseph of Arimathea. Read Mark 15:4246 and Luke 23:50-54.
Hence, we are sure that Jesus was entombed sometime between 3pm and 6pm on that Passover day.
5) Jesus specified when he would rise:
(a) When the Jews demanded for a sign of his Messiahship, Jesus gave the following answers:
(i) He would remain entombed for 3 days and 3 nights (Matthew 12:39-40).
(ii) He would raise again his temple (body) in 3 days, when destroyed (John 2:18-22).
(b) Jesus said he would rise after 3 days (Mark 8: 31). However, after 3 days could mean 4 days, 5 days, 6, 7, 8 … days, etc. But could it be that long? No! For, that would contradict the sign of Jonah who was just 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish, and was then vomited out. Moreover, Jesus also made another statement, further limiting the time, as follows:
(c) Jesus said he would be raised on the 3rd day (Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22). Not the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, etc. It would happen on that very day on which the 3 days and 3 nights were completed! It would not pass into the next day. Right on the 3rd day; the 4th day would not yet begin!
6) Earliest visit to the tomb was on early dawn of the first day of the week:
All the four Gospels are agreed on this (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
In addition, and very importantly, the PLAIN statement in Mark 16:2 shows that the “dawn” time of the visit did NOT refer to moments after 6pm of Saturday when the first day started, but specifically to early on SUNDAY MORNING “when the sun had risen.”
7) Visitors met an empty tomb:
All the four Gospel writers consistently state that by the time the earliest visitors came to the tomb, the Resurrection had ALREADY taken place. No writer says any visitor met it happening; they met an already rolled-away stone, met an empty tomb with Jesus already out. Angels told them the thing had already happened before their visit (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-9; John 20:1-10).
CHAPTER TWO: DEDUCTIONS
Any view that places the time of entombment of Jesus’ corpse after 6pm (of whatever day) is incorrect.
Mark 16:3 PROVES that the visit of Mark 16:1-8 was the maiden visit by those mentioned women, because they wouldn’t ask that question if they had already visited earlier and seen what had happened. Hence, it was not a later visit. And, indeed, there was no earlier visit (xref. Known biblical fact no. 6 above).
FRIDAY – SUNDAY VIEW:
This is by far the most popular view.
This view begins by faithfully accepting the PLAIN statement in Mark 16:9 that Jesus was risen early on the first day of the week. However, it seems to disregard the fact that since days were reckoned as of then from sunset to sunset, it means that even two or three hours after 6pm of Saturday was still ‘early on the first day of the week’ and a possible time of the Resurrection itself, even though the discovery was made at the maiden visit in the early morning of Sunday. But this view asserts that it was a Sunday morning resurrection, even though Mark 16:9 does not specifically state so.
The knowledge that Jesus died on a Friday comes from the PLAIN statement in Mark 15:42 that it was “the day before the Sabbath.” (See also Luke 23:54). John 19:31 also affirms firstly that it was the preparation for the Sabbath, before giving additional information that that Sabbath was a High Day. This view does not deny the existence of two Sabbaths in the Holy Week, but only affirms that, in that year, the High Day after Passover fell on the weekly Sabbath day, Saturday. The scripture in John 19:31 does not give any impression or hint of a separate day but rather explains in parenthesis that the one Sabbath day was ALSO a High Day!
Moreover, this view can also satisfactorily resolve the seeming ‘contradiction’ between Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 as follows:
Jesus is entombed sometime between 3pm and 6pm of Friday; in the little time between entombment and 6pm Friday, the women prepared spices (that they had at home) (Luke 23:56); from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday was both the Passover High Day and the usual weekly Sabbath. After 6pm Saturday, but before nightfall, the women bought some spices (probably what they had prepared before at home was not enough) (Mark 16:1). Then, very early on Sunday morning, they were at the tomb. Hence, reconciliation of Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 does not necessarily demand existence of two separate Sabbath days in the Holy Week! Notice that in the reconciliation, this view treats them as separate events, which is somehow supported by the fact that Luke says the women “prepared spices…” while Mark says they “bought spices.”
This view insists on the system that says that, biblically, numbers of days were stated using the ‘inclusive reckoning’ of calendar days, in which parts of days (especially of the first and last days) – however short – were counted as whole days; and that the statements “after three days” and “on the 3rd day” were equivalent. (See some examples at 1 Kings 12:5 & 12; 2 Chronicles 10:5 & 12; Exodus 19:10-11 & 16; Matthew 27:63-64). Hence, Friday, Saturday, Sunday would fulfill Jesus’ statement of “after three days” and “on the third day.” (This is also strengthened by Luke 24:21.) However, this reckoning still cannot satisfactorily fulfill “3 days and 3 nights.” Under such reckoning, from late afternoon of Friday is taken as 1st day. Full nighttime of Friday is the 1st night. Full daytime of Saturday is 2nd day, and full nighttime of Saturday is 2nd night. The tiny section of Sunday morning is taken as 3rd day. So we have 3 days and 2 nights. Where is the 3rd night?
The passages given in attempt to equate ‘3 days and 3 nights’ with ‘on the 3rd day’ are Esther 4 :16 & 5:1 and 1 Samuel 30:12-13. In Esther 4:16, firstly, there is the fact that Esther said “3 days, night or day” and not “3 days and 3 nights.” Secondly, the BibleHub Hebrew Interlinear shows that her exact words were “and so will I go to the king,” and states that the word “so” is an adverb. This adverb is rendered as “thus” in the NASB. Hence, “so” likely means ‘in that condition.’ It indicates that she went to the king (Esther 5 :1) ‘in that condition of the fast.’ She hadn’t yet broken the “3 days, night or day” fast before going to the king. (See also Matthew Poole’s Commentary, and Aben Ezra cited in Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible.)
Seeing his beloved queen so emaciated in the fasting condition is among the things that quickly and greatly moved the king to know that something MUST be seriously wrong, and he readily admitted her so as to learn of it and solve it by granting her any request. In 1 Samuel 30, verse 12 talks about going without food and water, whereas verse 13 talks about falling sick and being deserted! Hence, the passages do not sufficiently establish what was intended.
This ‘3 days and 3 nights’ issue is the perceived ‘weak point’ of the Friday-Sunday view and is what has led to the emergence of some other views.
I think a very good (and simple) way to resolve the ‘3 days and 3 nights’ issue is to consider that since three of Christ’s statements about the time of His resurrection (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 2:18-22) have been satisfactorily seen to be equivalent to each other, then the fourth statement must also be equivalent to the other three because it was made still about the time of that same event, and Jesus could not make diverse and inconsistent statements about the same one event, namely His own resurrection.
Note that in the current standard form of this Friday-Sunday view, the Triumphal Entry is fixed on Monday because John 12:1 & 12 together prove that the Passover was on the fifth day from the Triumphal Entry, counting inclusively. Friday is the fifth day from Monday, and if Friday was 14 Nisan, then Monday was the required 10 Nisan (see Exodus 12:2-6). Hence, this view features a Palm Monday, not Palm Sunday. Notice, too, that this automatically eliminates the problem of a “silent Wednesday.”
In the New Testament, 1Corinthians 5:7 says that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” and 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 say that “Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” This Friday-Sunday view fulfills the Old Testament type that the Resurrection, the antitype of the wave sheaf of firstfruits (see Leviticus 23:11), happened on the morrow after the Sabbath (i.e. on the first day of the week, Sunday).
[By the way, some people have wrongly claimed that the word “preparation” was used in reference to only the weekly Sabbath. This is debunked by John 19:14, which also speaks about “the preparation of Passover.” The day before the first day of Unleavened Bread was also always a preparation day for that High Day. It was called the preparation of the Passover (John 19:14). Whenever Passover High Day did not fall on a Saturday, its preparation would not fall on Friday; but the day of preparation for the weekly Sabbath (Mark 15:42) was the sixth day, Friday.]
WEDNESDAY – SATURDAY VIEW:
In this view, it is believed that the specification of “3 days and 3 nights” made by Jesus himself meant that he would spend a literal 72 hours in the tomb, during which period he would complete the rebuilding of his destroyed temple (body), and would then rise. It is asserted that: “When the word ‘day’ (yom) is used with a number, such as day one, day two, etc., it always refers to a literal, 24-hour type day. This is true 100% of the time. This holds true all 359 times that ‘day’ is used with an ordinal modifier (number) outside of Genesis chapter 1” (Taylor et al, 11 Oct. 2017: ‘What Is A Day?’, WebBible Encyclopedia, ChristianAnswers.Net).
72 hours from the time of Jesus’ entombment meant exactly that same time of the day, but three days later. Therefore, Jesus would rise again any moment after that same time three days later. Moreover, it had to happen on the 3rd day after that Passover day of death and entombment; the 4th day would not yet have arrived or commenced at 6pm. Thus, the Resurrection would also occur sometime between 3pm and 6pm on whichever day of the week it happened! Otherwise, Jesus would have failed to fulfill what he himself specified.
If the Resurrection was on Sunday, it had to be between 3pm and 6pm of Sunday. But all records say that by Sunday morning the tomb was already empty. This would immediately rule out a Sunday Resurrection, since the Resurrection was supposed to happen sometime between 3pm and 6pm on whichever day it occurred. Hence, in this view, the verdict of an empty tomb as of the dawn of Sunday is not only that Christ arose, but also that that Resurrection was not on Sunday!
Well, the late afternoon just prior to the dawn of the first day of the week is Saturday late afternoon. Or, can the time of the great event be extended further back to Friday late afternoon or Thursday late afternoon? No, it can’t! The description of events during those earliest visits to the tomb conveys that the Resurrection was still very recent. In fact, on reading Matthew 28:1-4, one can mistakenly think the women had witnessed the events. However, verses 5 to 7 confirm otherwise. Verse 6 confirms that Jesus had already risen just “as He said”; that is, according to his specifications of “after 3 days” and “on the 3rd day.”
Hence, in this view, it is concluded that Jesus arose sometime between 3pm and 6pm on Saturday.
Notice that the above conclusion is reached without debating about whether Matthew 28:1 should read “In the end of the Sabbath” or “After the Sabbath.” Nor is it debated whether “dawn” meant 6pm or 6am. All those debates are not yet critically needed to reach this conclusion. It only uses the view that the Resurrection had to be sometime between 3pm and 6pm, and that by the dawn of Sunday it had already happened. (Moreover, Matthew 28:1 does NOT state the time of Jesus’ resurrection; it simply states when some women VISITED the tomb. But it’s true too that no Jew could go to do work “in” the Sabbath, when Sabbath was not yet completely over).
Counting backwards 72 hours from Saturday leads to Wednesday. Hence, Jesus died and was entombed sometime between 3pm and 6pm on Wednesday.
In this view, Wednesday was the Passover day of Crucifixion, the High Day after Passover was on Thursday, while the usual weekly Sabbath came on Saturday. This reconciles Mark 16:1 which says the women bought the spices AFTER the Sabbath, and Luke 23:56 which shows that they prepared the spices BEFORE the Sabbath. That happened on Friday, which came after Thursday High Day and before Saturday weekly Sabbath. In this reconciliation, this view treats Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 as referring either to the same event or separate events that happened on the same day.
It can be seen that the statements (‘entombed for three days and three nights,’ ‘raised in three days,’ ‘rises after three days’ AND ‘rises on the third day’) made by Jesus about the time of His resurrection are satisfactorily SIMULTANEOUSLY fulfilled in this Wednesday-Saturday view. This fulfilment – even when the statements are taken to mean distinct things – is considered not coincidental but a proof that the view is right. Moreover, the view correctly takes into account the FACT that, as of then, days were reckoned from sunset to sunset. It is asserted in this view that much of the misconception had today about this matter arises from the fact that reckoning of days from sunset to sunset had later been replaced by Rome with reckoning of days from midnight to midnight.
Although this view does away with the ‘silent Wednesday’ issue, it creates the problem that if Wednesday was 14 Nisan, then 10 Nisan of the Triumphal Entry would be on Saturday before 6pm, on which Sabbath day it was not possible to do such works. (But we know that during the Triumphal Entry, opposing Jews didn’t raise any complaint of Jesus holding a procession on the Sabbath; they only complained about people singing his praises.)
This view does not satisfy the PLAIN statement of Mark 15:42 about the day of Crucifixion. Another minus is that here Resurrection (antitype of “firstfruits,” see 1 Corinthians 15: 20, 23 and Leviticus 23:11) did not occur on the morrow after a Sabbath (whether High Day or weekly).
Though this view leaves a rather long time interval between the Resurrection and the maiden visit on Sunday morning, it can simply be explained that the women chose not to go do the work of anointing a corpse in a tomb when darkness was gathering but when day would break, unaware that something had already happened. Attempts to bridge the interval by claiming that the “dawn” time of the maiden visit to the tomb was some moments after 6pm of Saturday are defeated by Mark 16:2, while claims that the Mark 16:1-8 visit was another or later visit are defeated by Mark 16:3.
However, the greatest problem of this Wednesday-Saturday view is that it flies in the face of the DIRECT statement made in Mark 16:9, which is the only Scripture that makes a very direct statement of WHEN Jesus WAS RISEN. (All other places talk about times of visit.)
To overcome this great weakness, the following explanation is given:
The interlinear translation of Mark 16:9 from the Greek is:
“Having risen now early [the] first [day] of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.” – (BibleHub Interlinear)
“Having stood up but early to first [day] of Sabbath, he appeared first to Mary the Magdalene, beside whom he had thrown out seven demons.” – (KIT)
Two important facts should be noted about it:
- Evidently, the problem of Mark 16:9 is that of Punctuation. In most Western Bible translations since the Vulgate, a comma is inserted after the word “week,” whereas this comma does NOT exist there in the original Greek text.
This insertion is considered too expensive, as it has given the sentence an entirely different meaning – a meaning considered at variance with other scriptures.
On analysis, Mark 16:9 contains four things:
- 1st: Jesus having risen.
- 2nd: Time element – “early on the first day of the week.”
- 3rd: Jesus appearing to Mary.
- 4th: Additional information about demons having been cast out.
The 2nd thing (time) is written between the 1st (having risen), and the 3rd (appearing to Mary). From the truths established from other Bible portions, it is seen that the “time” is for the “appearing” and NOT for the “rising” (John 20:1; Matthew 28:1 & 6; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2). Therefore, a comma should rightly have been put after the word “rose” or “risen” instead of putting the comma after the word “week,” because, after all, in the original Greek text there is NO comma after the word “week.”
Hence, the corrected punctuation of Mark 16:9 would be:
“After he rose, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had expelled seven demons.” (– after KIT)
OR “Now when Jesus was risen, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” (– after KJV).
This corrected punctuation would clear the confusion, whereas the current punctuation is considered to convey something that is out of tune with other Bible portions.
Indeed, some Bible versions like the Christian Standard Bible have found it very wise to render Mark 16:9 as –
“Early on the first day of the week, after He had risen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons.” – (HCSB)
- Most Bibles state openly that “the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20,” and do “not recognize it as being authoritative.” (See NIV, KIT, RSV, NEB.) These statements indicate that it was likely a later interpolation. Most scholars affirm that the portion was added in early second century A.D., which was also the time at which Pope Sixtus 1 had introduced weekly Easter Sunday observance, and Emperor Hadrian decreed against Sabbath observance.
Interestingly, the original Greek text of this later interpolation does NOT have that ‘misleading’ comma in verse 9. The ‘misleading’ comma first appeared in the Latin Vulgate written in A.D. 405 by the Roman Catholic Saint Jerome as the official Roman Catholic Bible version – and, of course, it’s true that prevalent popular beliefs and biases could influence people to punctuate sentences in ways that support certain ideas. It has since then been perpetuated in nearly all Western Bible translations. However, in September 1943, Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, alluding to some imperfections in the Vulgate, encouraged the composition of new translations of the Bible, based on the original languages rather than on the Vulgate.
This does not mean that one should not believe that portion of the Word of God. We should! We should not throw the baby out with the bath water. It may have been a later addition that much later had some punctuation inserted at some point to suit Roman Catholic Easter Sunday tradition then imposed, but it is still canonical. There is no need for controversy. God has been watching over His Word.
- First, he made men realize that Mark 16:9-20 was a later addition, so as to lead men to discover that a ‘misleading’ punctuation had been later inserted where it did not exist in the Greek original.
- Second, even though that portion of His Word was missing for some time, he caused it to be re-discovered, be recognized and accepted as Holy Writ, and be restored. Jesus Christ actually made the true promises in verses 17-18, and He has continued to fulfill them for all his beloved children today just like he did for his Apostles (verse 20).
Be that as it may, it must be noted that many have commented that the above explanation relies heavily on “modifying” of Scripture and on “doubts created about Mark 16:9-20 by theologians.” However, don’t we have around us many accepted revisions of the Bible that have been made as new truths and knowledge were being uncovered?
THURSDAY – SUNDAY VIEW:
This view incorporates the relative ‘strengths’ of the above two views, and aims to avoid their ‘weaknesses.’
It affirms the PLAIN scripture of Mark 16:9. Counting backwards 3 days and 3 nights from early morning Sunday should lead to the time of entombment. If it is taken to be a literal 72 hours, one would arrive at early morning Thursday, which is not between 3pm and 6pm and hence is untrue. This view rather upholds that biblically part of a day could be inclusively reckoned as a calendar day, and concludes that Jesus was entombed on Thursday afternoon, sometime between 3pm and 6pm.
In this view, Thursday was the Passover day. In the little time between entombment and 6pm. Thursday, the women prepared spices (that they had at home) (Luke 23:56). From 6pm Thursday to 6pm Friday was the High Day. From 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday was the usual weekly Sabbath. After 6pm Saturday, but before nightfall, the women bought some spices (probably what they had prepared before at home was not enough). (Mark 16:1). Then, very early on Sunday morning, they were at the tomb. This view also treats Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 as separate events, which is somehow supported by the fact that Luke says the women “prepared spices…” while Mark says they “bought spices.”
In this Thursday-Sunday view, the time from entombment to Thursday 6pm is reckoned as the 1st day; from Thursday 6pm to Friday 6am, the 1st night; Friday 6am to Friday 6pm, the 2nd day; Friday 6pm to Saturday 6am, 2nd night; Saturday 6am to Saturday 6pm, 3rd day; Saturday 6pm to very early Sunday morning, the 3rd night. This would give “3 days and 3 nights,” and the moment of resurrection would be “after three days.”
It is also considered in this view that from Thursday 6pm to Friday 6pm is the first full day; Friday 6pm to Saturday 6pm is the second full day; the third day begins from 6pm Saturday, and the moment of Resurrection on Sunday morning would be “on the 3rd day.” Notice that though ‘inclusive reckoning’ would make Sunday to be the fourth day, this view applies the also biblical ‘sunset to sunset’ reckoning to make it to be ‘on the 3rd day.’
It can be seen that this view does not need to revise some Scripture. It also reconciles Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1. It takes into account that days were as of then from sunset to sunset, and it fulfills Jesus’ statements about the time of His resurrection. This view also does away with the ‘silent Wednesday’ issue. If 14 Nisan was on Thursday, then 10 Nisan was on Sunday. Hence, this view features a Palm Sunday. However, this view does not satisfy the PLAIN statement of Mark 15:42 about the day of Crucifixion.
CHAPTER THREE: SOME SO-CALLED ‘CONTRADICTIONS’
All we have discussed so far in Chapter Two above focused on the TIME of the events of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. However, some sceptics seem to see “discrepancies” between Mark 16:8 and the accounts of Matthew 28:8, Luke 24:9-10 and John 20:2, 18.
Concerning that, many Bible Commentaries have explained that Mark’s statement that the women told nobody anything because they were afraid does not refer to the disciples to whom the angel had sent the women but to all the townsfolk whom they came across on their way back. Of course, they couldn’t be afraid of their fellow disciples but were only afraid of those whom they feared could hand them over to the authorities. This is quite sensible because to be identified with Jesus and the ‘disappearance’ of his corpse was a very dangerous thing at that time.
For example, Darby’s Bible Synopsis says: “The women say nothing to any others. The testimony of Christ risen was committed only to His disciples, to those despised Galileans. Fear was the means employed by the providence of God to prevent the women from speaking of it, as they would naturally have done.”
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says: “That is, on their way to the Holy City they did not open their lips to any passers-by they chanced to meet. Joy opened them freely enough afterwards to the Apostles (Matthew 28:8).”
Hence, inserting added words like ‘on their way back’ in Translations would have been very explanatory. This obviously shows that Mark 16:8 is NOT the “contradiction” that sceptics have tried to make it appear to be!
However, if you dance to the tune of the sceptics, you could be misled to go to great lengths to ‘resolve’ an inexistent problem. You could then start to feel that Mark 16 refers to a “later” or “different” visit, and you could then unsuccessfully try to give an alternative identity to the ‘visitors,’ thereby entangling yourself and further complicating the issues, to the great delight of the sceptics! (I must confess that I got entangled in that snare once upon a time).
Also, it is important to note that all the three views discussed above very easily reconcile Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1, showing that there is NO “contradiction” at all between those verses like the sceptics are trying to make it seem!
There is also the touted “inconsistencies” in the number of women who visited the tomb, the number/type of persons they met, etc. All those are flimsy issues, and the simple answer to all of them is the great truth that Bible portions are never contradictory but always COMPLEMENTARY. The different pieces of information on a matter are assembled, and they TOGETHER give the whole picture.
A classic example of this is that the various gospels give parts of the inscription put on Jesus’ cross. Assembling all these parts, we get that the full inscription was: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19).
Luke (24:10) gives a comprehensive list of those in the group of women who first visited the tomb with spices, while others name just some members of the group. Different peoples visited the tomb at different times, some even more than once.
It should be obvious, even to a little child, that the men in shining apparel seen in those visits were angels. There should be no question about that. About three angels were seen. The one who had earlier on rolled away the stone and was sitting on it, and, when the women arrived, led them to where Jesus had lain (Matthew 28:6). There were two angels seen inside the tomb (Luke 24:4), who also positioned themselves at the head and foot of where Christ had lain (John 20:12) and told the women that Jesus had risen and directed them to Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7; Luke 24:5-7). Mark mentioned one angel, but did NOT make any statement that excluded the existence of others.
Generally, angels, being spirits, can appear in different forms at different times to the same person or different persons. Indeed, they can even remain invisible if they choose to. Even one angel, not being a fixed statue, could be seen in different positions. When people saw an angel that appeared physically in human form, people normally thought that and said that they saw a man, until the angel did or declared something wondrous that people realized it was not an ordinary human. This still happens even today!
CHAPTER FOUR: SUMMARY
It can be seen that the Wednesday-Saturday view cannot stand unless the revision of the punctuation of Mark 16:9 is acceptable. Indeed, of the three views, it is the one with the highest number of unsatisfactory issues.
Of the remaining two views, the Thursday-Sunday view could have an edge over the Friday-Sunday view if it is insisted that, at least, parts (however short) of 3 DAYS and parts (however short) of 3 NIGHTS should still be present in the time Christ spent in the tomb. However, if one wants to be so literal, one should go the whole way. So, strictly speaking, even the Thursday-Sunday view does not FULLY satisfy a literal Matthew 12:40! Only the Wednesday-Saturday view does. Since three of Jesus’ distinct statements about the time of His resurrection have been found to be equivalent to each other, the remaining distinct one cannot be contradictory to them, but must be considered to also be equivalent to them because it still refers to the same time.
The Thursday-Sunday view satisfies only John 19:14 and does not satisfy Mark 15:42, whereas the Friday-Sunday view satisfies both of them. This is the edge that the Friday-Sunday view definitely has over the Thursday-Sunday view.
There are some attempts to use Leviticus 23:11 to give the Friday-Sunday view another edge over the Thursday-Sunday view. This is by insisting on the Pharisaic idea that the Sabbath meant in Leviticus 23:11 is the High Day (1st day of Unleavened Bread). However, if the Sadducean idea is upheld that the Sabbath of Leviticus 23:11 is the weekly Sabbath, then both the Thursday-Sunday view and the Friday-Sunday view are on the same footing. But is there no way to know which idea is right? Fortunately, our faithful God has once again not left Himself without a witness. He has given us the answer in Joshua 5:10-12.
“While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” – RSV.
The people had ‘triumphally’ entered the Promised Land after crossing the Jordan on 10 Nisan (Joshua 4:19) during the harvest season (Joshua 3:15 and 4:18). It is interesting to see that the God who gave the instruction in Leviticus 23: 9-11,14 had foreknown and foreordained the day and season He would get them into the Promised Land to start eating of the fruit thereof!
Passover was observed on 14 Nisan. The High Day (1st day of Unleavened Bread) was on the next day, 15 Nisan. But, lo, the Bible states that they ate BOTH unleavened cakes AND parched grain in the SELFSAME day. How could they eat the parched grain of the produce of the land unless the wave sheaf of firstfruits had first been presented as God required (Leviticus 23:14)?
And God stopped giving manna from then on because they started harvesting the produce of the land. Now, if Leviticus 23:11 meant the High Day, they would have waved the sheaf and started eating the parched grain on the following day of 16 Nisan, not on that SELFSAME 15 Nisan. How could they do such a thing on the High Day unless they were keeping God’s commandment and doing the lawful thing?
It means that that 15 Nisan was “the morrow after the Sabbath,” and that the previous day, 14 Nisan, fell on the weekly Sabbath. This is the only way!
This very early example in Joshua 5 PROVES that the “Sabbath” referred to in Leviticus 23:11 was the weekly Sabbath. Hence, BIBLICALLY, the wave sheaf of firstfruits occurs on the one and only Sunday that must invariably exist as one of the seven days of Unleavened Bread! We should go by this clear biblical example, rather than some rabbinical or Talmudic interpretations. The Bible as the Word of God is complete in itself. Our Bible has sufficient internal evidence to interpret and explain itself. The Bible itself is the one final authority on the interpretation of its contents, not human beings. Scripture verses are best interpreted by other Scripture verses.
From the foregoing, we see that in the matter of firstfruits antitype (Resurrection) the Friday-Sunday view has no edge over the Thursday-Sunday view.
After all the examination, what do you think, dear reader? It is evident that the Friday-Sunday view is the least problematic and most satisfactory of the three views, and thus should prevail.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, even amidst our limited human understanding that makes some to perceive so-called ‘inconsistencies’ in the Resurrection accounts, one fact is consistently stated by all the four Evangelists, namely that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead bodily, was seen, was touched, and interacted with His disciples. This is the really important thing. Christ’s perfect sacrifice in death and His total victory in resurrection suffice for any who would be SAVED!!
Many people strongly hold that we should speak only where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent; otherwise, we can greatly err. If the apostle Peter himself admitted that there are some things in Scripture that are “hard to be understood” (2 Peter 3:16), then who are we?
Bible portions are never inconsistent; only our limited human knowledge usually makes it seem so. The Bible says we humans now know things only partly and see things dimly, but that Day is coming when we shall have full knowledge of things and see all clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12). With our present limited human faculties, we should be very wary of having a sceptic’s attitude of jumping to malign the Word and character of the Almighty and all-wise God (2 Peter 2:10-12).
“The world in wisdom cannot know God” (1 Corinthians 1:21). God cannot be truly known in the way of intellectual inquiry and analysis; one would only be “ever learning but never able to get to the knowledge of the Truth” (2Timothy 3:7). If we wait till we totally decipher, comprehend, reconcile and certify everything in the Bible, we will be snared, will stumble and miss it and will never worship God (Isaiah 28:13). “Of making many books there is no end; but fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12: 12-13).
It has pleased the sovereign and infinitely wise God to ordain that salvation be through believing the preaching of the seemingly and so-called “foolish,” “inconsistent,” “irrational” and “outdated” Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:19-25). The Bible is not an intellectual work or merely a collection of historical records. It is a spiritual-mystical book containing many deep mysteries and having enormous powers. God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth. It is such worship that the Father seeks (John 4:23-24), and the Spirit Himself will guide such worshippers into all truth (John 16:12-14).
GOD BLESS YOU!
Date: Feb., 2020.
Bishop Raymond A.Ofonmbuk
Mount Olive Church of Christ
Ikot Ntung, Ubium,
Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.