#2.2 JESUS WAS LITERALLY THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE GRAVE
This is a very thorough bible study about Jesus being three days and three nights in the grave. We have included every scripture with Greek and Hebrew so that
people can see the truth of what is taught here. The common belief that Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday cannot be true if Jesus was three
whole nights and three whole days in the grave. At the most it comes to one day plus part of a day and one night plus part of a night. The Sunday sunrise had not
happened when the women came to the tomb because they came "while it was still dark" (John 20:1). Therefore dear reader, please study carefully and
prayerfully, and when you realize the truth every scripture will fit.
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 16:21 - English Translation|
|Ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς δεικνύειν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἀπελθεῖν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ πολλὰ παθεῖν ἀπὸ τῶν
πρεσβυτέρων καὶ ἀρχιερέων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι|| 21
||From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and be raised again the third day.|
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 17:22-23 - English Translation|
|ἀναστρεφομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Μέλλει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοσθαι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων|| 22
||And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men.|
|καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθήσεται καὶ ἐλυπήθησαν σφόδρα|| 23
||And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.|
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 20:18-19 - English Translation|
|Ἰδού, ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθήσεται τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ γραμματεῦσιν καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτὸν θανάτῳ|| 18
||Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,|
|καὶ παραδώσουσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εἰς τὸ ἐμπαῖξαι καὶ μαστιγῶσαι καὶ σταυρῶσαι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστήσεται|| 19
||And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.|
|Greek Text - MARK 9:31 - English Translation|
|ἐδίδασκεν γὰρ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι Ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοται εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν καὶ
ἀποκτανθεὶς τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστήσεται|| 31
||For he taught his disciples, and said to 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.|
|Greek Text - MARK 10:32-34 - English Translation|
|Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο καὶ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἐφοβοῦντο καὶ παραλαβὼν πάλιν
τοὺς δώδεκα ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς λέγειν τὰ μέλλοντα αὐτῷ συμβαίνειν|| 32
||And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again
the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen to him,|
|ὅτι Ἰδού, ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθήσεται τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ τοῖς γραμματεῦσιν καὶ
κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτὸν θανάτῳ καὶ παραδώσουσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν|| 33
||Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered to the chief priests, and to the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:|
|καὶ ἐμπαίξουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ μαστιγώσουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐμπτύσουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτὸν, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστήσεται|| 34
||And they shall mock him, and scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.|
|Greek Text - LUKE 9:21-22 - English Translation|
|Ὁ δὲ ἐπιτιμήσας αὐτοῖς παρήγγειλεν μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν τοῦτο|| 21
||And he strictly warned them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;|
|εἰπὼν ὅτι Δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ ἀρχιερέων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι|| 22
||Saying, 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.|
|Greek Text - LUKE 18:31-33 - English Translation|
|Παραλαβὼν δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Ἰδού, ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ τελεσθήσεται πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα διὰ τῶν
προφητῶν τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου|| 31
||And he took to him the twelve, and said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all thing that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.|
|παραδοθήσεται γὰρ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν καὶ ἐμπαιχθήσεται καὶ ὑβρισθήσεται καὶ ἐμπτυσθήσεται|| 32
||For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spat on:|
|καὶ μαστιγώσαντες ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ ἀναστήσεται|| 33
||And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.|
|Greek Text - LUKE 24:6-7 - English Translation|
|οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε ἀλλ᾽ ἠγέρθη μνήσθητε ὡς ἐλάλησεν ὑμῖν ἔτι ὢν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ|| 6
||He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galilee,|
|λέγων ὅτι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθῆναι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ σταυρωθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστῆναι|| 7
||Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.|
|Greek Text - LUKE 24:46 - English Translation|
|καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι Οὕτως γέγραπται καὶ οὕτως ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ|| 46
||And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:|
|Greek Text - ACTS 10:39-40 - English Translation|
|καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν μάρτυρες πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν ἔν τε τῇ χώρᾳ τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ ὃν ἀνεῖλον κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου|| 39
||And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:|
|τοῦτον ὁ θεὸς ἤγειρεν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὸν ἐμφανῆ γενέσθαι|| 40
||Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly;|
|Greek Text - 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-4 - English Translation|
|παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφάς|| 3
||For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;|
|καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς γραφάς|| 4
||And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Note 1: In every one of these scriptures except one (Luke 18:33) the expression "the third day" is
translated from the Greek words τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ (Gtr. te trite hemera), which are the singular of the dative case,
the adjective being in the "Attributive Intermediate Position" (Ward Powers p85). In Greek the dative describes a point in time when it is used in
reference to time, and "te trite hemera" literally means "on the third day" (D.F. Hudson p105; Ward Powers p112; H.P.V. Nunn p47), that is, at
some particular point in time on that day. That translated "the third day" (Luke 18:33) is the Greek expression
τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ (Gtr. te hemera te trite), which mean exactly the same thing
as "te trite hemera", but has the adjective in the "Attributive Post Position" (Ward Powers p85; H.P.V. Nunn p60).
Note 2: How then do we understand this? Jesus died on the day of the Passover, which was the
14th of the month (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:5; Ezra 6:19), and the preparation for the feast of unleavened bread (John 19:30-31). He died around the
ninth hour (Matthew 27:46-60; Luke 23:44-46), which would be around 3
p.m. in the afternoon (See #2.16 Note 2), and was buried the same day (Luke 23:50-56). There are different ways that we can interpret the phrase
"the third day". One way is to count the days after his death on the 14th. The first day would be the 15th, the
Sabbath of the feast (See #2.14), the second day would be the 16th, and the
third day would be the 17th. Thus, counting these as whole days, according to every one of these scriptures, Jesus had to rise on the 17th
day of the month. Another way would be to understand "the third day" as meaning "the third day of the feast of unleavened bread", in which case
it would still mean that Jesus would rise on the 17th day of the month.
|Greek Text - JOHN 2:19-21 - English Translation|
|ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν || 19
||Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.|
|εἶπον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι τεσσαράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν ᾠκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος καὶ σὺ
ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς αὐτόν|| 20
||Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?|
|ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἔλεγεν περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ|| 21 ||But he spoke of the temple of his body.|
Note: In both of these verses the words translated "in three days"
(Gr. ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις, Gtr. en trisin hemerais) are the plural of the dative case. As the
dative specifies a point in time (See #2.21 Note 1), this phrase means "at some point in time during a three day period".
In agreement with the previous section, we know that it was more specifically at a point in time on the third day of that period, which was the 17th day of the month.
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 26:59-61 - English Translation|
|οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ τὸ συνέδριον ὅλον ἐζήτουν ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ὅπως αὐτὸν θανατώσωσιν|| 59
||Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witnesses against Jesus, to put him to death;|
|καὶ οὐχ εὗρον καὶ πολλῶν ψευδομαρτύρων προσελθόντων οὐχ εὗρον ὕστερον δὲ προσελθόντες δύο ψευδομάρτυρες|| 60
||But found none: yes, though many false witnesses came, yet they found none. At the end came two false witnesses,|
|εἶπον, Οὗτος ἔφη Δύναμαι καταλῦσαι τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν οἰκοδομῆσαι αὐτόν|| 60
||And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.|
|Greek Text - MARK 14:55-58 - English Translation|
|οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον ἐζήτουν κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ μαρτυρίαν εἰς τὸ θανατῶσαι αὐτόν καὶ οὐχ εὕρισκον|| 55
||And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. |
|πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν|| 56
||For many bore false witness against him, but they agreed not together. |
|καί τινες ἀναστάντες ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ᾽ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες|| 57
||And there arose certain, and bore false witness against him, saying,|
|ὅτι Ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν αὐτοῦ λέγοντος ὅτι Ἐγὼ καταλύσω τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον τὸν χειροποίητον καὶ
διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἄλλον ἀχειροποίητον οἰκοδομήσω|| 58
||We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.
Note: The words translated "in three days" (Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58) are the Greek words
διὰ τριῶν ἡμερῶν (Gtr. dia trion hemeron) which are in the genitive case. In this case the
preposition "dia" literally means "through", and as the genitive case stands for "time during which" (D.F. Hudson p105; Ward
Powers p108; H.P.V. Nunn p43), these statements speak as if he would be building throughout the three days. This was not what Jesus said, he used the dative case
indicating a point in time during three days (See #2.22 Note), and in accordance with the best principles of interpreting the word of God
(See RP 301 #4.16), as these are stated to be false witnesses who made these statements (Matthew 26:60; Mark 14:57), we can safely ignore their testimony altogether.
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 27:62-63 - English Translation|
|οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν|| 29
||Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together to Pilate,|
|λέγοντες Κύριε ἐμνήσθημεν ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ὁ πλάνος εἶπεν ἔτι ζῶν Μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἐγείρομαι|| 30
||Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.|
|Greek Text - MARK 8:31- English Translation|
|Καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς ὅτι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ
ἀρχιερέων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστῆναι|| 31
||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.
Note 1: The words translated "after three days" in both of these scriptures are the Greek words
μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας (Gtr. meta treis hemeras) which are in the accusative case. As far as time is concerned, the accusative
case deals with "duration over a whole period" (D.F. Hudson p105; Ward Powers p106; H.P.V. Nunn p40), not "duration within a period", that
would be genitive case (See #2.23 Note). As the preposition "meta" literally means "after", these statements make it clear
that Jesus could not rise within this three day period specified, it had to be some time after it. If you count a day as a period of light, "God called the
light day" (Genesis 1:4), that is "twelve hours" (John 11:9), then where are your thee periods of light if you believe Jesus died on Friday afternoon
and rose on Sunday morning? If you count a day as a 24 hour day, then where are the three days, which equals 72 hours, between 3 p.m. Friday afternoon and 6 a.m. on Sunday morning?
Note 2: We cannot take this to be a period of three separate complete days, because that would mean that he rose
after the 17th day, at least on the 18th, and it would contradict many other scriptures (See #2.21). So in accordance with
the best principles of translating scripture (See RP 301 #4.08 "Make Sense of the Apparent Contradictions"), we can count this as a period of three whole
days in length, that is 72 hours. If we take it to start from the time of his death, around 3 p.m. on the 14th day, then he must have risen at some time
after 3 p.m. on the 17th day, but before 6 p.m. which would be the start of the 18th day for the Jews.
|Hebrew Text - JONAH 1:17 - English Translation|
| וַיְמַן יְהוָה דָּג גָּדוֹל, לִבְלֹעַ אֶת-יוֹנָה; וַיְהִי יוֹנָה בִּמְעֵי הַדָּג,
שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה לֵילוֹת|| 17
||Then the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.|
|Greek Text - MATTHEW 12:40 - English Translation|
|ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας οὕτως ἔσται ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς
τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας|| 40
||For as Jonah was three day 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.
Note 1: The sequence of events following Jonah's three days and three nights in the belly of the fish are as follows:
(Jonah 2:1) "Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God",
(Jonah 2:10) "And the Lord spoke to the fish,"
(Jonah 2:10) "and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
In each case here the underlined words "Then", "And", and
"and", are the same conjunction (Hb. וַ , Htr. va) which can mean "and", or
"but" or "or", depending upon the context (J. Weingreen, A PRACTICAL GRAMMAR FOR CLASSICAL HEBREW Page 40), and it can also mean "then".
It doesn't mean "prior to this", or "before this", or "during which time". We can see that it is being used here to join a sequence
of events which follow one another, from which we can conclude that Jonah spent three whole days and three whole
nights in the belly of the fish (Jonah 1:17), that is, at least 72 hours of time. After this the Lord spoke to the fish, and the fish vomited Jonah out on the dry land.
Note 2: In the New Testament, the expression "three days and three nights" (Gr.
τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας, Gtr. treis hemeras kai treis nuktas) (Matthew 12:40) is in the accusative
case, and as we have already seen (#2.24 Note 1), the accusative case denotes a complete period of time. It does not normally mean "a
time during which", that would be the genitive case, or "a point in that period of time", that would have to
be the dative case. The Greek is scriptural proof that Jesus was literally three days and three nights in the grave. So we can take this period of time to be at
least 72 hours, counting 12 hours in each day (John 11:9), and 12 hours in each night. This is literally three periods of darkness, and three periods of
light as we can see what God said in the beginning, "And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night." (Genesis 1:5). This was not the
time between his death and resurrection, but the time that he was "in the heart of the earth", that is, the time between his burial in the tomb, and his resurrection.
We have already shown that Jesus rose at some point in time on the 17th of the month Nisan (See
#2.21; #2.22), and that for other scriptures to agree it must have been between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on that day (See #2.24).
We can narrow the time down even more when we see that Jesus had to be buried for three whole days (See #2.25 Note 2). We do not know the exact
time of his burial, but we can estimate it from the following facts:
(1) He died around 3 p.m. in the afternoon (Matthew 27:46-50).
(2) The Jews sought Pilate to break the legs of those on the cross, and the soldiers broke the legs of the two robbers, and pierced the side
of Jesus with a spear (John 19:31-37).
(3) After this, Joseph of Arimathӕa went and asked for the body of Jesus at evening time (Matthew 27:57-58; Mark 15:42-43; Luke 23:50-52; John 19:38a).
(4) The centurion then had to go and check if Jesus was dead, and report back to Pilate (Mark 15:44-45).
(5) Joseph and Nicodemus then took the body, wrapped it up with spices (John 19:39-40), and took it and laid it in the tomb, and rolled a stone across the door (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; John 19:41-42).
(6) It was still the day of the Passover when he was buried (Luke 23:54; John 19:42).
(7) While he was being buried the women watched how he had been laid (Luke 23:55).
(8) The next day, on the feast day, the 15th Nisan, the priests and Pharisees came to Pilate (Matthew 27:62) and requested the tomb to be sealed, and Pilate gave orders to do it (Matthew 27:64).
(9) The next day, after the feast day Sabbath, that is the 16th Nisan, the women disciples bought spices (Mark 16:1), and went
and prepared them, and rested on the weekly Sabbath which followed, which was 17th Nisan (Luke 23:56), the day he rose from the dead.
We can assume from all of this that it was very late on the day of the Passover (14th of Nisan) when Jesus was buried, probably between 5 and 6 p.m.
He had to be buried for at least three days and three nights, that is, 72 hours (See #2.25 Note 2). We have already shown that he must have
risen of the 17th of Nisan (See #2.21; #2.22), so it was probably between 5 and 6 p.m. on that day, which was the weekly Sabbath day.