Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Two Sabbaths of Matthew 28

"A vital text proving that there were two Sabbaths in that week has been obscured by almost every translation into English."
-Herbert W Armstrong, "The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday", 1972, p.13

I think HWA had a fine little thing going with the "two Sabbaths" argument. It was quite convincing. One of his premier arguments! It certainly convinced me for a number of years. But can it hold up to our intense scrutiny here at ABD?

What Herbert Armstrong did was to make a huge deal about the Greek word “sabbaton” that is improperly translated as "Sabbath" in Matthew 28: 1 [KJV]. He assigned an unconventional explanation to the verse, and with that wedge he attempted to split apart almost 2,000 years of Christian tradition. Before we start, I need to fill in a small background detail regarding how HWA viewed the timing of the death and resurrection of our Lord:

"Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, the middle day of the week. He died shortly after 3 p.m. that afternoon; was buried before sunset Wednesday evening. Now count three days and three nights. His body was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in the grave - three nights. It also was there through the daylight part of Thursday, Friday and Saturday - three days. He rose Saturday - the Sabbath - late afternoon, shortly before sunset, at the same time of day that He was buried!"
-Herbert W Armstrong, "The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday", 1972, p.12

Anyone who has spent any time in Adventism knows this depiction. But there becomes an issue between understanding how time is counted by the modern American mind, and the ancient Hebrew mind. Some people treat the Bible as if it was originally written in English. Also, there is an issue regarding Sabbaths. The Gospel accounts only mention one Sabbath, but then we come to Matthew 28: 1. It is clear that the word "Sabbath" in this one verse can be plural under the right circumstances. 
At any rate, what Herbert Armstrong concluded was this:

"There is only one possible explanation: After the annual high-day Sabbath, the feast day of the days of Unleavened Bread - which was Thursday - these women purchased and prepared spices on Friday, and then they rested on the weekly Sabbath, Saturday, according to the commandment (Ex. 20:8-11)."
-Herbert W Armstrong, "The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday", 1972, p.13

HWA said "There is only one possible explanation," and with that I take exception!
It is not the only explanation.

The word "Sabbath" is translated from the Greek word "sabbaton." What can we see about this word?
According to the New Testament Greek Lexicon, the second definition of this word is thus:
"2. seven days, a week"
-New Testament Greek Lexicon, Copyright © 2001-2010, Heartlight, Inc.
Seven days? A week? What is that supposed to mean? 
Turns out it means the word translated as "Sabbath" can represent all 7 days of the week, as well as just the seventh day, depending on context. This is much the same thing as calling your car your “wheels.” Wheels are only part of a car, but they represent the whole thing.
This from a Wikipedia article on the Sabbath:
"By synecdoche (naming a part for the whole), the term "Sabbath" also came to mean simply a seven-day week in Jewish sources by the time of the Septuagint, namely, the interval between two Sabbaths. Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the Publican describes the Pharisee as fasting "twice a week" (Greek dis tou sabbatou, literally, "twice of the Sabbath")."
-"Sabbath". WikiPedia. 3-20-2010 at 12:35 PM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbath
Now that you understand what we’re dealing with here, can we be confident that it affects Matthew 28: 1? The answer to that is, yes! Adam Clarke’s Commentary can help us here.
"In the end of the Sabbath - Οψε δε σαββατων. After the end of the week: this is the translation given by several eminent critics; and in this way the word οψε is used by the most eminent Greek writers."
-Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, chapter XXVIII, Commentary on Matthew 28
So, “Sabbath” in Matthew 28: 1 is plural, not because it represents two Sabbaths [Thursday and Saturday], but it is plural because it represents the week [Saturday and Saturday].
Still, I would feel much better if I had some contextual support for this. Do we have any insight into the context? Yes!
The entire point of this verse is to tell us when these things happened.

(MAT. 28: 1) Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn...
(MAR. 16: 1) Now when the Sabbath was past...
(MAR. 16: 2) Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week...
(LUK. 24: 1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning...
(JOH. 20: 1) Now the first day of the week... 
*All of these are from the NKJV.

I want you to know that there are some Armstrongists who claim that Matthew 28: 1 supports a Saturday resurrection. This is simply not possible. The phrase "in the end" literally means "after" not "during". I have read people who assert "'began to dawn' is a forgery added later". Based on what scholarly evidence? None. In their minds, if the Bible does not support their belief, then the Bible is wrong. But for us who take a less ideologically fundamentalist approach to the pursuit of truth, Matthew 28: 1 precludes a Saturday resurrection. As do all of the other Gospels.

All of these verses tell us about Sunday morning hours right before sunrise - the timing of the resurrection. Timing is key! All of these verses are telling us about the time Jesus was resurrected. The weekly Sabbath came and went, and now, early on Sunday morning we focus. That is the context. Matthew is focusing on this time. This timing is key! Because the context is "when did we first know Jesus had risen?"
And in that context, what Matthew is telling us, in his peculiarly Hebrew way, is "at the end of the previous week, as the first day of the next week began to dawn..." Matthew is saying nothing at all that the other Gospel writers did not also say. He simply says the same thing in a different, and very Hebrew, fashion.

We get no mention whatsoever from the other Gospel writers about there being two Sabbaths at the end of that week. (Just because it doesn't say anything, doesn't mean it didn't happen. But we have learned to require more than HWA's word.) But given this information that you now know, doesn’t this silence speak volumes? The other Gospels aren't saying anything about timing that Matthew didn't say, and Matthew isn't saying anything about timing that they didn't say. We don’t need to invent elaborate scenarios if we simply stick to the simple and well known explanation.

Want more evidence? OK! I'd love to!

Let's look at the beginning of Matthew 28: 1 in Greek: "Opse de sabbaton, ho epiphosko eis heis sabbaton..."
Notice anything odd in there? That's right! "Sabbaton" appears twice! What this means is astoundingly bad for HWA. 

Look at the very same phrase once again, this time we'll put the Greek into the NKJV English: "Now after the Sabbath [sabbaton], as the first day of the week [sabbaton] began to dawn..."
So, 'sabbaton' can be "week" after all, and it is… in this very verse

This is entirely consistent with the Strong's Concordance definition of the word. It can be singular or plural, one Sabbath or … a whole week.
4521 Sabbaton: the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se'nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: - sabbath (day), week.
If one instance can be translated “week,” why on earth not both instances? In fact, wouldn’t uniformity in translation make far more sense?

Let us now transliterate this into HWA's thinking in order to illustrate something:
"Now after the Sabbaths [sabbaton], as the first day of the weeks [sabbaton] began..."

That is how HWA sees things. And he didn’t just redefine the first instance, he redefined them both! The first becomes "Sabbaths" (meaning one annual Holy Day and one weekly Sabbath), the second becomes "weeks" (plural).

But how can he explain why the first 'sabbaton' means "a Holy Day and a Sabbath", but the next appearance of 'sabbaton' means "the first of several weeks of Sabbaths" - especially when the day we’re talking about was a Sunday? Sunday isn't the Sabbath!

The answer is simple and straightforward: he just assigned a meaning to it that isn't there, of course! Our ignorance of the Greek takes care of the rest.
Here's what he did --
After redefining the first appearance of sabbaton, he now had to explain the second. He said the second appearance of 'sabbaton' is innocently pointing to the seven-Sabbath count to Pentecost! Now, it all makes sense, right? 
Wrong! Why? Timing!

According to LEV. 23: 9-16, Deuteronomy 16: 9, and Armstrong’s own understanding, the count to Pentecost is initiated by the Wave Sheaf offering - which, by the way Jesus is the fulfillment of. It is plain that the first of the seven Sabbaths in the count to Pentecost is the first Sabbath after the Wave Sheaf offering. That Sunday morning, the morning of Jesus' appearance, the same morning Matthew and the other Gospels are referring to here, was the morning of the Wave Sheaf offering. That was the marker that designated the following Sabbath, not the prior, to be the first of the seven-Sabbath count to Sukkot/Pentecost.
A Thursday holy day can't be the first Sabbath in the count. The Saturday prior to the resurrection can't be the first Sabbath in the count. The first day of this week cannot be the first Sabbath in the count. Sunday isn't the Sabbath. What this proves is that the second 'sabbaton' cannot be translated "Sabbath(s)"; it has to be "week". Thus, it cannot be translated, "first of the Sabbaths." Therefore it cannot mean what Herbert Armstrong says it means.

To work around this crippling problem, HWA points to Deuteronomy 16: 9 and proclaims this seven-week count to Pentecost itself, and not any specific Sabbath, must be what Matthew is talking about. This is grasping at straws, as neither the direct words of Matthew nor the context gives us any indication at all that the count to Pentecost is what is being referred to. Nor is there any tradition, at that time or any other, of referring to the count to Pentecost as 'sabbaton'.
Sadly, in order to make this change, HWA is forced to improperly pluralize the already plural 'sabbaton' to become "weeks" as in "first of the weeks."
I remind you, astute reader, 'sabbaton' literally means "Sabbaths" (plural), and can mean "Sabbath" (singular) or figuratively "week" (singular), not "weeks" (plural). "Weeks" is not an option. What HWA did to work around his dilemma is wholly improper! Therefore it absolutely, positively cannot mean what he says it means.
It cannot mean "Sabbaths" since Sunday isn't the Sabbath, and it cannot mean "weeks" since that is a mistranslation. His explanation cannot stand.

Regarding HWA's treatment of the first 'sabbaton', I remind you, valued reader, that 'sabbaton' does not refer to a combination of different types of Sabbaths, like a Holy Day and a weekly Sabbath. It's not a grab-bag. 'Sabbaton' is never translated 'holy day'. In Colossians 2: 16, Paul separates "Sabbath day" (sabbaton) from "holyday" (heorte) in the same sentence. They are separate. The only annual high day in the entire Septuagint (the Old Testament that the Apostles used) that is ever called 'sabbaton' is the Day of Atonement (LEV. 23: 32). The Greek 'sabbaton' is never used in reference to the first day of Unleavened Bread. In the New Testament no annual high day is ever referred to as 'sabbaton'. No, not one. Rather 'sabbaton' is always translated "Sabbath" "Sabbaths" or "week".

Add to that the testimony of Mark who says "Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath" (MAR. 15: 42). The entire phrase "the day before the Sabbath" is from one Greek word: 'prosabbaton'. Mark went out of his way to ensure we understand the preparation day mentioned was the day before the weekly Sabbath.

Since this is how the Bible, including Matthew, consistently treats 'sabbaton' we would be remiss to insist otherwise. Again, his explanation cannot stand.

If we pay incredibly close attention to the Greek, the Hebrew use, the context, and the related Bible evidence, we come to the conclusion that this second appearance of 'sabbaton' means, "[at the beginning of the] week," or "Sunday."
This is in all ways similar to the first appearance of ‘sabbaton’, which means “[at the end of the] week,” or “Saturday.”
The first phrase means "Saturday" and the second phrase means "Sunday."
All of this complexity for something so simple!

So, what is a good translation of Matthew 28: 1?

(MAT. 28: 1)[MKJV] But late in the week, at the dawning into the first day of the week

MKJV gives you a good feel for what the Greek means. I would object that the first part should not be “late in the week” because the Greek and the context both indicate the week had ended. How can it be “late in the week” if the week is over? It cannot. But anywho….

If you really are interested in getting down and gritty with the Greek, see this article by Jerry Griffin entitled "The Idiomatic Use of Sabbaton for Week" which is hosted on the Toledo COG7 website. Be prepared for your head to hurt, however. And don’t say we didn’t warn you ahead of time.

If HWA is right, what we can do any time is just think up a nice theory and assign our own private interpretation into Matthew 28: 1, making a word mean one thing here, and another thing there, regardless of context or proper use of the language. And so we turn a simple word meaning “week” into “a holy day and a Saturday in one week.” Again we turn the same word into "one of several weeks."

Yet, if this is what Matthew meant, there should be some other evidence for it somewhere else in the Bible. There is none. Silence. There is a butchered translation of Matthew 28: 1 and nothing besides.
However if I am right, and it does mean “week”, then there should be some kind of evidence somewhere. Other than the fact that the three other Gospels are silent on HWA's interpretation, which works in my favor, and other than the fact that history is silent on HWA's interpretation, which again works in my favor, and other than the fact that I have already shown you from the Wikipedia article mentioned above precisely what I've described also happening in Luke 18: 12, and aside from the fact that respected commentaries align against Armstrong, which should be evidence enough, I can present additional supporting evidence from the earliest Christian writings:
"We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" 
-Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, 15: 9
"But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration."
-Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter LXVII [67] (130-165 A.D.)
"On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathæa had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection."
-Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians (98-117 A.D.)
With this latest quote from Ignatius, keep in mind that Ignatius was the Apostle John's student. John was an eye-witness; he knew the timing. If indeed John taught Ignatius anything at all regarding the timing, certainly Ignatius would have no reason to distort it so grossly, especially with the timing of his Epistle not being 85 years from the actual occurrence. Yet we have here what Ignatius said, and claimed he received from John, and we have others who agree with Ignatius, and still yet we have no recorded dissenters.

There are many people who will be quite upset that these are quotes from “Catholic” writers. It is their opinion that all Catholic writers are deceitful. They couldn’t possibly be any more deceitful than HWA! To borrow a quote from the Saturday Review, “The most lying legend which the Vatican has ever endorsed stands on better authority than the history which is now the ground of a charge against it.” But I contend these men were not members of the Catholic Church as we know it today. They were members of the Body of Christ. That is how they saw themselves. There were no denominational squabbles in their minds. So to label them solely Roman Catholic is entirely inappropriate. Plus, if one insists, then one admits the Catholic Church is as old as it claims to be, and includes in its members the disciples of the Apostles. I have a hunch that isn't what the people making these kinds of claims had in mind.
(We know and have proven that Alexander Hyslop’s swill regarding the ancient origin of the Catholic Church is wholly inaccurate and entirely unreliable garbage.)

So, what do we have here? In a word: exegesis! We have the proper translation, we have the proper context, we have corroborating evidence from the other Gospels, and we have corroborating evidence from history. 
What does Herbert Armstrong have? In a word: eisegesis. He has completely improper translation, distortion of context and Biblical narrative, no support from the other Gospels, and outright condemnation of historical evidence.

Therefore, we conclude, dear reader, that there are not two Sabbath days, one on a Thursday and one on Saturday, hidden in Matthew 28: 1. We conclude HWA's greatest and “final proof” is no proof whatsoever other than proof that he is dead, dead wrong. And we also conclude that Herbert Armstrong’s accusations against history and a billion+ Christians are baseless and worth nothing. We are certain that you, our esteemed and intelligent reader, are already beginning to see the implications of what we have shown you here. Far-reaching implications that, unfortunately, exceed the scope of this post. Pursue them!

Now, we may strenuously disagree with HWA, but we are not here to judge and condemn, so rather than make crass comments - returning his condemnation upon us for some of our own upon him - we ask you to pray with us for all of those bound and imprisoned in Armstrongism, that they might see the light of Christ’s glorious mercy, and ask Him for release, and step boldly and permanently into the New Covenant.
May your remembrance of His death and resurrection be blessed and Spirit-filled!



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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.
Acts 17:11
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31 comments:

Luc said...

I think it needs to be made clear that it is the KJV that says "Mat 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..." Herbert would say, do you see it? It was still sabbath, and he had already risen.

I heard him say this, but I didn't find this argument in the literature I have.

The word dawn here is what is given the unconventional meaning in that it's supposed to refer to the beginning of night that is counted as the start of the next day. As xHWA shows us, The KJV is mistranslating the plural of the word for sabbath that is used here, which refers to a week, which is at an end.

In the interlinear Matt 28:1 is rendered "evening yet of sabbaths (the week) to the lighting into the one of sabbaths (first day of the week) came Mariam..." Herbert relied on the KJV (except when it didn't fit his purposes)and didn't check the checkables . He was flat wrong that it was still sabbath evening.

The term "the lighting(interlinear of Matt28:1)is not metaphoric, it means the sun is rising. The sunset to sunset reckoning of a day was used for sabbath observance, but not for regular purposes, where the day begins with sunrise. Jesus died near the ninth hour, which is 3 pm because the day started at 6 am.

Jesus died over 4 hours before sunset. Jesus was probably buried long before evening. The KJV has Joseph asking for the body of Jesus "as evening approached" but the interlinear says in Matt 27:57 "Of-evening yet becoming came rich from Arimathea...." the word for evening is (G3798 opsios op'-see-os from G3796;late; feminine (as noun) afternoon (early eve) or nightfall.) it can mean evening but late afternoon is as likely.

Why would Jesus be left hanging for four hours when Pilate suffering in his conscience because of the Innocent mans brutal death would be anxious for the spectacle to end, and Joseph wasn't likely to have been dodling around in low gear. Herbert said Jesus was buried at the twilight of Sabbath, but the symbolism has the lamb being killed at that time not buried, Jesus died a little after 3 pm, the symbolism cannot be used to argue for the twilight burial, and again revealing a hole in HWA's reasoning.

Luc said...

I've wondered, if Jesus had been raised as the waning rays of the sun were about to disappear over the horizon on the Sabbath, why did he wait until after the women met him Sunday morning to present himself to the Father?

Was he wondering around during the night? It seems that going to the Father would be first priority. What other business did he need to attend to since he had said three days earlier that "it's finished".

I suppose he could have hung around and roasted marshmallows over an angels flaming sword, after all, it seems that resurrected people were usually hungry if my memory serves me correctly.

xHWA said...

Perhaps He went to Denny's.

xHWA said...

Thanks a bunch for those comments, Luc! I think you make very valuable points.

I read that the Jews at that time pretty much called the day over at about 6 PM. Jesus had to be awake before that - according to HWA.
Jesus must have been somewhere in that garden doing something for the better part of 12 hours. He couldn't possibly have folded his tomb clothes and sat around for 12 hours.

HWA's scenario simply does not fit. I used to be dead set in believing that it was the only possible explanation. But now, knowing what you and I studied to write this article, I can no longer accept his view of things.

Now, I can see why the Jewish idiom for "three days and three nights" being another synecdoche makes complete sense.

Seeker Of Truth said...

I've never believed Jesus rose on Saturday. Scripture is quite clear that Sabbath was over and the sun was just on the rise- Sunday. But I've always believed He died on Thursday. (Jesus clearly said, Three days and three nights.)

But you pretty much say that Jesus died on Friday. So I dug in and started searching for evidence for Friday. Biblical evidence. (I like accounts of history if they coaberrate the Bible, but not as stand-alone "proof").

What I found is this:
Lk 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
[So I see it's Sunday]

:13 Now that same day two of them were going...
[I see it is still the same day - Sunday]

:15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
[Jesus shows up - but they don't recognize him - and they discuss the events]

:21 ...And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
[Still Sunday. And they are refering to Sunday as the third day, rather than Saturday being the third day and evening. Meaning That if Sunday is the third day, then Friday must be the first day.]

:22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning
[Sunday]
:23 but didn't find his body...

I surprised by this, because I was sure He died on Thursday (day 1 and night 1) and that Friday was day 2 and night 2 and Saturday, day 3 and night three... but, (according to the above scriptures) it appears this could be true, that He died on a Friday.

BUUUT... There is this: This guy says, on Sunday, "It is the third day since..."
So I can back up and say on Saturday, "It is the second day since..." and back up more, and say on Friday, "It is the first day since..." or "It's been one day since all this took place." Putting the death of Jesus, as I have always believed, on Thursday.

Those are my thoughts on the matter.

I'm still scratchin' my head. I'm gonna have to give this more time and attention to be sure. ...not that this is a salvation issue, just curiosity. (Since I never believed the Saturday thing anyway).

Good article! Made me do some digging.

xHWA said...

Thinking is good!

It all starts to come back down again to the Hebrew idiomatic expressions.

Luc said...

The name of the day Jesus was resurrected has been related to goddess worship since alexander Hislop wrote his book 'the Two Babylons,published in 1916.

His ideas have worked their way through the American psyche to where his explanation is the dominate explanation given by virtually all sources including authoritative media outlets e.g. the History Channel which loves an opportunity to malign the Christian foundations, and plant the idea that the whole thing is a deception. There are other explanations for the name 'Easter'.

The Origin of the name of Easter 1

The Origin of the name of Easter 2

xHWA said...

Those are some good links, Luk. You know what, I think that's gonna be my next topic.

xHWA said...

Luc,

You mentioned wondering what Jesus supposedly did all night long. I wonder what on earth those women supposedly did all day Friday?

Think about this a bit. HWA says there was a Sabbath on Thursday. OK. Let's assume for a moment that's true.
So, Thursday night about 6 PM the Sabbath ended. The women were free to buy and prepare spices at that time. They were desperate to get there and finish the embalming process, and say their final goodbyes. Why didn't they?
Not only that, but they could have bought and prepared spices Friday morning. What on earth were they doing all Friday?

Now look at this:

(JON. 19: 39-40) 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

From the time Jesus died to the time they took Him to the tomb, Nicodemus was able to buy and prepare 100 pounds of spices. Now that's a load of spices!
There is nothing to indicate that it would take from Thursday night at 6 PM and all Friday until 6 PM, plus all of Saturday evening after 6 PM to obtain and prepare spices.

If the ladies were so anxious just to go to the tomb and see Jesus, let alone bring spices, that they would travel out there Sunday morning before it was even dawn - what on earth did those ladies wait for???

HWA's timing makes little sense at all after we see the proper meaning of 'sabbaton'.

Steve said...

What I don't understand is how those who believe in the Friday/Sunday scenario can get "3 days and 3 nights" out of a late Friday burial to an early Sunday resurrection. If you look at the example of Jesus fasting for "40 days and 40 nights", did He just fast a partial day on the first day and night, and a partial day on the last day and night? Just wondering.

Steve

xHWA said...

I wish there existed a way to determine what the Holy days were from 30 AD to 33 AD.

I know there are many, many opinions out there. I know many people would like to say "I can prove it." But after 70 AD I simply have no faith in anyone's ability to accurately determine what the timings of years, seasons, months, and days were before 70 AD.
Even astrological sightings don't accurately prove. The timings were determined by sight. They may have been off for a number of reasons. And a day makes a world of difference here!

Does any record exist from pre-70 AD that might help out?

I think Wednesday is ruled completely out. Thursday is a possibility and Friday is a possibility.

If the Jewish idiomatic expression idea pans out, then Friday is the clear front-runner. "Third day since these things" would still be Friday in this scenario.

john said...

Hello, and thanks for a great article! It's nice to find people who try to understand what the Bible actually says, which is so often not what we have been taught.

For the better part of two years I have been trying to understand the timing of the events of Jesus last 24 hours, and I too came to the astonishing conclusion that Jesus probably died on a Friday, not on a Wednesday. You can read my article on this subject at christianity.winvada.com/pdf/ntpasstm2.pdf - pages 14 through 17.

Thanks again!
John

xHWA said...

Steve, we're still sorta wondering that ourselves. We're still figuring things out.

But it really is appearing more and more clear that "three days and three nights" is a Hebrew idiomatic expression. What I mean is that "three days and three nights" was a well excepted expression that did not have to be 72 hours. Just as "sabbath" can mean a whole week.

We'd heard about this before, but our ministers did everything they could to throw it out. They told us it was a Greek idiomatic expression. But they were wrong. The expression is Hebrew, and Luc has identified other places in the Bible where it appears.

With the "two sabbaths" teaching, we accepted what those ministers said. But with that "two sabbaths" teaching now clearly being false, there is no reason to believe they had the truth. They just reasoned out whatever they had to in order to not accept what appears to be reality.

Steve said...

xHWA, thanks for your response, but you didn't answer my question. Is it possible that Jesus just fasted for an hour or less on the first day of His fast, and then say that He fasted for "a day and a night"? I don't see that being the case. How could "a day and a night" consist of just one hour or less? There's definitely something wrong with this picture. I understand about a Jewish idiomatic expression, but this is certainly stretching that belief. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was put in the tomb right before the sabbath, actually indicating that Joseph and Nicodemus only had very little time before the sabbath began, probably even minutes, not even an hour. How could that very short span of time be considered "one day and one night"? I think too many people accept the Friday/Sunday scenario on face value.

Luc said...

Steve.
There in no precedent for a 'forty day and forty night' figure of speech. There is one for the three days and three nights as I've included in a comment above (1Sam 30:12-13).

We don't know that there was only minutes before the sabbath, Matt 27:46 seems to indicate that Jesus died shortly after the ninth hour which is 3 pm.Sundown is a little after 7pm during this time of year in Israel. The concern about getting Jesus off the cross (by the Jews)may have been because they wanted to go tend to their preparations and didn't trust the Romans,who would not have cared if Jesus hung there for a week.They would want to verify his being taken down before they could leave.

Also,the interlinear shows that it's the plural form of sabbaton that is used in Luke 24:1. The word translated sabbath (as close as English letters can replace Greek) is 'cabbatwn'(H7676); which is the plural form of 'cabbatw' which is the singular form.

It is the plural form that is an idiomatic term for a week i.e. from sabbath to sabbath.

Luc said...

Check out all the verses referring to the three days. I borrowed this from Three Days and Three Nights

The phrase "three days and three nights" appears in a single verse in Matthew's gospel and does not appear in any of the other gospels. All the other references count only the days, and not the days and nights, as follows:

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matt.16:21)

And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (Matt. 17:23)

And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Matt. 20:19)

... This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. (Matt. 26:61)

... Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. (Matt. 27:40)

... Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. (Matt. 27:63-64)

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. (Mark 9:31)

And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Mark 10:34)

We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. (Mark 14:58)

And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. (Mark 15:29-30)

... The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. (Luke 9:22)

And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. (Luke 18:33)

... The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (Luke 24:7)

But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. (Luke 24:21)

... Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. (Luke24:46)

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:19-22)

xHWA said...

Steve, I'm sorry if I didn't answer your question to your satisfaction. I'm going to direct you to Luc's comments for more detail.

At this point, I don't find anything idiomatic about the 40 days and 40 nights expression, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was idiomatic. It wouldn't affect my faith in the least. I couldn't care less if it were 38 full days and 2 partial days. Jesus is risen either way.

Have you ever studied Mandarin Chinese (language)? Lots of things don't make sense in Mandarin (to me). But it makes perfect sense to the Chinese.
It's not about making Hebrew conform to my way of thinking, which seems to be what our largest roadblock. It's about understanding the Hebrew mind. It is what it is.

If you don't understand something, does that make it untrue?

xHWA said...

"I think too many people accept the Friday/Sunday scenario on face value." -Steve

I don't recommend accepting anything just on face value.

Good thing accepting that scenario on face value has no application here whatsoever.
Considering the studying we've done, and the alternatives we are considering even now, and that we have not said that we've concluded anything solidly... "accepting on face value" is about as far from what we're doing here as one can get.

Luc said...

Amen xHWA

Steve said...

Luc, thank you for your input, but I've read all of those Scriptures before. They do not negate Matt. 12:40. It's still there! I don't care what the Romans did or thought. The Scriptures indicate that Joseph and Nicodemus had to bury Jesus in haste.(Matt. 27:57). The evening was upon them, and they had to bury Him at a tomb nearby because of the time factor involved.(John 19:42)

xHWA, thank you for your patience. I think there is much that we all don't understand, otherwise we wouldn't be looking for understanding. Even if we THINK we understand something, does not make it true either. We should have all learned that from our past experiences in the WCG.

Steve said...

Considering the studying we've done, and the alternatives we are considering even now, and that we have not said that we've concluded anything solidly... "accepting on face value" is about as far from what we're doing here as one can get.-xHWA

I said, "many accept it on face value". I didn't say "all". I think you're doing a great service here. Please keep it up. I enjoy this website. It has served me well.

xHWA said...

You're welcome, Steve. I need patience a lot, myself.
I'm glad you find the site useful.

We are just a bunch of people trying to make sense of the things we were taught.
Especially with this particular subject.

Luc said...

I'm not making a case for the Friday scenario, but I am saying that there is enough missing information to back off of the,"those so called Christians get their beliefs from somewhere other than the bible." John 19:42 is unspecific enough to where there is room for other possibilities such as I described.

The truth is always better understood from a matrix of verses. Whole cult movements can sprout from getting hung up on a single verse that might just suggest something else.

This has been one of my most frustrating problems when trying to reason with certain Weinland followers. I can provide a dozen or more scriptures, and they'll only reply "but there remains a rest for for the people of God" as an example.

The scripture taken alone could suggest the obligation to keep Sabbath, but only suggest, yet it outweighs everything else.The matrix principle is necessary.

Laurie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
xHWA said...

On, October 24, 2010 8:11 PM, "Laurie" said,

"Although the Bible is clear on the Sunday resurrection, I have often wondered about the possibility of a Thursday crucifixion."

We have wondered that, too, Laurie. We're not finding much support for that, however.

"I stumbled on this site some months ago while researching something else entirely."

I'm glad we could be of help, even though our target audience are Adventists; Armstrongists more specifically.

"He does present a fascinating possibility that he claims to be able to confirm from the Scriptures, as well... His conclusion is that the crucifixion was in 32 A.D., and that in that year, the 'High Day' Sabbath was on Friday, making the crucifixion on Thursday. You would have to read it yourself to see if you agree with his conclusion. [hyperlink removed]"

I am highly skeptical of any group that claims to have prophecy figured out, that's why I am removing the link. I don't want to promote them here.
And as I said in earlier comments, I don't think there is a chance of knowing for certain when things happened in ancient Israel prior to 70 AD when the temple was destroyed.

Things were declared somewhat arbitrarily by site. The Sanhedrin sent people to the hills to the east of Jerusalem, they spotted the right conditions (or didn't spot them) and reported back to the authorites who then declared (or didn't declare) the days, seasons, months, and years.
After 70 AD, even the Jews had a difficult time keeping track like they used to. After 135 they were banned from Jerusalem, so it only got harder.
So, unless someone shows me an actual document proving what happened that year in Israel and unless that document shows what day that was on the Julian calendar, then I cannot accept what anyone says as definitive - only speculative. Interesting perhaps, but not certain. To this day I have never heard of such a document.

xHWA said...

I have updated a few paragraphs in the middle section of this post.

I was unhappy with the portion where I explained why HWA's translation of 'sabbaton' into "weeks" does not work. I have changed the wording to make it more clear.

A Right Mind said...

One more supporting scripture that might be good to toss in is John 19:31
King James Version (KJV)
31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
Thanks John - you TOLD us that he died on a Friday, all we had to do was listen.

Anonymous said...

There has been no comments for over a year....I wonder why.
In any case here is my reasoning:

OK! Let’s start at the beginning.

Genesis 1:4-13
4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

So, there are three days.

John 11:9-10
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

So it is safe to say Jesus knew there was 12 hours in the Night and 12 hours in the Day.

Matthew 12:38-40
The Sign of Jonah
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 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.

That would be 6 time 12 hours which gives 72 hours.
Any less or more than 72 hours would prove Jesus untrue!

Mark 8:31
Jesus Predicts His Death
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

I have more but my HTML is too long.

Anyway that's my view.

xHWA said...

Thanks for sharing your view. We certainly don't want to say anyone is not entitled to their view. We don't demand people agree with us.

We do have a view on the Three Days and Three Nights that might interest you. We go into some depth on the matter.

In that article we planned to address that Jesus knew there were 12 hours in a day. We decided to cut that from the post since it was superfluous. To briefly address it since it came up here --
If we say that "Jesus knew there were 12 hours in the day so 'day' must be 12 hours long" we create other problems.

For example, if "day" is 12 hours long, then the First Day of Unleavened Bread is 12 hours. As is the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Also the Day of Atonement. The Last Great Day. Also the Day of the Lord -- 12 hours. None of these say "and night", so night is not included and it's just 12 hours.

See the issue it brings up? If we get bogged down in the Bible defining a day, then we need to get bogged down in arbitrary exemptions.
Just to really illustrate my point, let me present it another way.

II Peter 3: 8 says, "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
So the Bible defines a "day" as "1,000 years", so everywhere we see "day" it should be interpreted as 1,000 years.

Take what I just said with a grain of salt, of course. I don't literally believe the Day of Atonement is 12 hours or 1,000 years. I speak only to the argument that "the Bible defines a day, therefore...". I think the reasoning is not very strong. It's arbitrary and doesn't take into account any of the problems it raises.

At any rate, please do read the Three Days and Three Nights post for more about our perspective on this. I think that post is the one that better fits your comments.

God bless!

pilotdude57 said...

When God (Jesus) gives a prophecy, that prophecy comes true in every possible way, or Satan would be able to call God a liar. Daniel 9:27 says that "in the middle of the week he will cause sacrifice to cease". Jesus was killed in the middle of a 49-year period, in the middle of the final 7 years of the Daniel "70 weeks" prophecy, and in the middle of the actual week, on a Wednesday (even without HWA's reasoning).

The reason the women would not go to the tomb on Friday is that the Roman Guards were posted there for 3 full days, not allowing anyone to open the tomb.

When Jesus gave his Matthew 12:39,40 statement, he was in effect saying, "the resurrection will NOT happen on Sunday" (Giving no excuse to observe Sunday as a special day, as it came from paganism). Nowhere in the Bible does it say the resurrection happened on Sunday. The comma in Mark 16:9 is in the wrong place. Put it after the word "risen", or "rose" in some versions, NOT after the word "week". Then it reads correctly.

When one of the women said, "Who will help us roll the stone away?", they knew the Roman Guards would be gone, which is why they went at that time, Sunday morning. The Roman Guards were told to stay for three full days, so if the crucifixion happened on Friday, they would not leave until Monday. ASSUMING the resurrection happened right before they found the tomb empty is like me going on vacation for 30 days and I come home to find my house burglarized. Do I ASSUME it happened right before I got back, or could it have happened as soon as I left? Do not ASSUME anything.
The original scripture of Luke 24:21 is: "Besides, it is PAST the third day since these things have happened". There are mistranslations in the King James version to go along with the teachings of the Catholic church, which is 70% Roman Sun Worshipping paganism, and only 30% Christianity. Sunday observance as a special day came from Roman Sun Worshipping paganism, not from the Bible. Luc, what do you mean by "...to present himself to the Father?". What do you mean by "...going to the father"?

xHWA said...

pilotdude57,

Thanks for commenting.

I very much disagree with some of your conclusions. I do like your advice, "Do not ASSUME anything" however.

Satan can accuse God of lying all he wants; it doesn't mean anything. God need not play any games to prevent "The Accuser" from accusing. That's what he does. He accuses.

"When God (Jesus) gives a prophecy, that prophecy comes true in every possible way, or Satan would be able to call God a liar."
This is an assumption.

I find no Biblical support for your assertion. Most especially when Gabriel plainly told David the interpretation of "week". That interpretation was not "seven average days". The only way the prophecy has to be fulfilled is the way Gabriel explained it.

If your claim were true, then the Messiah would have to come within seventy average weeks of the "going forth of the command to restore Jerusalem" (Dan. 9: 25) as well as seventy weeks of years. Since that did not happen, your personal interpretation makes Him a false Messiah.
I can think of several other "possible fulfillments" besides this, and none of them happened either.

"The comma in Mark 16:9 is in the wrong place."
This is an assumption.

"When one of the women said, "Who will help us roll the stone away?", they knew the Roman Guards would be gone."
This is an assumption.

I find your conclusion based on no evidence at all. We have multiple articles addressing the timing. A Wednesday crucifixion is actually precluded by the Hebrew.

There were no commas at all in the Greek. Saying one or the other placement is "wrong" is an assertion. It is a matter of interpretation. It needs to be proved out. Armstrong gave his side, and I find it unconvincing.

"The original scripture of Luke 24:21 is: 'Besides, it is PAST the third day since these things have happened'."

Would you provide some evidence for your claim?
I find nothing in any interlinnear or literal translation or respected translation to support your claim.

"There are mistranslations in the King James version to go along with the teachings of the Catholic church, which is 70% Roman Sun Worshipping paganism, and only 30% Christianity."
This is an assumption.

Not only that, but it is demonstrably false.

"Sunday observance as a special day came from Roman Sun Worshipping paganism, not from the Bible"
This is an assumption.

Not only that, but it is demonstrably false. We have articles proving it false. Evidence proving it false are available from several sources.

Given my response, I trust you understand if I continue to disagree with you.