Three Days and Three Nights…or Two Nights and a Day?

Bible belonging to Laughlin P. Farris, (December 23, 1843 – December 9, 1925). White’s Cove, New Brunswick, Canada.

Matthew 12:39: “But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall be no sign given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

When Jesus said he would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, did he mean to say Friday night, Saturday day and Saturday night, or are we just interpreting this with a Roman mindset and calendar? Did the early church celebrate Good Friday or Easter? In order to better understand, we need to define a day and night, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the type of calendar Jesus was using. We will start by establishing day and night.

Gen 1:5 And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

We use the Gregorian calendar, where a day begins and ends at midnight. With the Hebraic calendar, a day begins and ends at sundown. So, Friday would start on Thursday at sundown, and stop Friday at sundown, which would start Saturday. One night, sundown Thursday to sunup on Friday, one day, sunup Friday until sundown on Friday. Next, we have to understand יהוה God’s feast days.

Lev 23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
Lev 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.
Lev 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
Lev 23:7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Lev 23:8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

When you see all capitals, LORD, in Bible translations, it is a substitution for his name, יהוה. Pronunciation is not clear, but Josephus, a first century historian, claims it is four vowel sounds in his War of the Jews book five, chapter five. The preface of modern Bibles usually explains LORD is a substitution for יהוה, that happens over 6000 times. It could be pronounced Ee-ah-ew-ah, ee-oh-wa-ah, like Iowa for example. So when the scripture says, “These are the feasts of the LORD”, it really says “These are the feasts of יהוה”. Please see my blog What’s in a name for more on this.

Lev 23:14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Lev 23:13 is speaking of the feast of First Fruits. “Forever” here, is the Hebrew word, עלם, Strong’s H5769, olam, which means eternity, always was, is, and will be. This is all important to understand three days and three nights. When we get to the days before Jesus death, we will see we are at the feasts of Passover, Unleavened bread and First Fruits.

Mat 20:17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Mat 20:18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
Mat 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mat 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
Mat 26:18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

Mar 15:6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
Mar 15:7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.

Joh 19:31 The 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.
Joh 19:32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

Lev 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.
Lev 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
Lev 23:7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

The first day spoke of in Lev 23:7 is the Sabbath spoke of in John 19:31. It was not a regular seventh day Sabbath, but the first day of Unleavened Bread, a high Sabbath. Thankfully, John clarified which Sabbath was being spoke of that Jesus was buried before, the high Sabbath of Unleavened bread. This clears up when they rested, when they bought spices and when they went to the tomb and found that Jesus was not there.

Luk 23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
Luk 23:54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
Luk 23:55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

Mar 16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Luk 23:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

So to summarize what we know so far, Jesus ate with the disciples the evening of the 14th day (Sunset of the 13th day), prayed in the garden after supper, was arrested, brought before Pilot, and put on the cross on the day of Passover, dying with the sacrificial lambs, then being taken off the cross before sundown, which would start the first day of Unleavened Bread, a high sabbath day, the 15th day of the month. They rested on the 15th day, high sabbath of Unleavened Bread, and taking Mark 16:1 into consideration, the spices were obtained and prepared, likely returning day two to anoint the body. It was not until after day three, the weekly Sabbath, did they go to the tomb to find it empty. Therefore, Jesus rose on the weekly Sabbath before sundown, which completed the three days and three nights.

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 other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mat 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
Mat 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Mat 28:4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
Mat 28:5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
Mat 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Here, the two Mary’s came to the tomb after the weekly Sabbath, early Sunday morning. If Jesus rose at the end of the Sabbath day, then he would have been put in the tomb on Wednesday at the end of Passover, before Unleavened Bread, stayed Wednesday night, Thursday day, Thursday night, Friday day, Friday night, Saturday day, giving us the three days and three nights that are required. It is difficult to reconcile the traditional Roman Friday evening burial and a Sunday morning resurrection, given the passages of scripture we looked at, taking in account two sabbaths during Unleavened Bread, and maintaining three days and three nights, the only sign Jesus gave. Jesus also defined a “day” for us.

Joh 11:9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
Joh 11:10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Luk 24:46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
Luk 24:47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

So how did we loose track of the feasts of God that are forever, and not take Jesus at his word that he would be in the grave three days and three nights? Below is a letter from Constantine, the Roman emperor, to all the Bishops who couldn’t make it to the Concil at Nice in 325AD.

On the Keeping of Easter.
From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council.
(Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18–20.)
When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom,113 we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week]. We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired [to establish] only one Catholic Church

In the first Canon of the Fathers assembled at Antioch in 341 AD, they proclaimed everyone must celebrate Easter as the Emperor declared, not as the Jews did, or be excommunicated. It is worth noting that Easter is a made up English word from early translators around the fourteenth century. The word Paschae is the Latin word, which is translated Passover in English. Paschae would have been the word used in these Roman canons that has been translated to Easter. The emperor was not battling “Jews” here so much as he was trying to stamp out earlier followers of Jesus who still kept the feasts and sabbaths as the apostles and Jesus modelled.

The Canons of the Blessed and Holy Fathers Assembled at Antioch in Syria.167 Canon I.
Whosoever shall presume to set aside the decree of the holy and great Synod which was
assembled at Nice in the presence of the pious Emperor Constantine, beloved of God, concerning the holy and salutary feast of Easter; if they shall obstinately persist in opposing what was [then] rightly ordained, let them be excommunicated and cast out of the Church; this is said concerning the laity. But if anyone of those who preside in the Church, whether he be bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall presume, after this decree, to exercise his own private judgment to the subversion of the people and to the disturbance of the churches, by observing Easter [at the same time] with the Jews, the holy Synod decrees that he shall thenceforth be an alien from the Church, as one who not only heaps sins upon himself, but who is also the cause of destruction and subversion to many; and it deposes not only such persons themselves from their ministry, but those also who after their deposition shall pre- sume to communicate with them. And the deposed shall be deprived even of that external honour, of which the holy Canon and God’s priesthood partake.

After years of debate for the placing of Easter, it finally got placed on the Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after the spring equinox. It will usually fall on the Feast of First Fruits, which occurs the Sunday after the regular sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread. Therefore, celebrating Jesus as the first fruits of the resurrection, even though those who set the dates, and most of those celebrating Easter today, neither know nor care. Please read my blog, What are the Feasts of the Lord, יהוה?

1Co 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
1Co 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast; not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1Co 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1Co 15:21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
1Co 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

In these above passages, Paul is shown keeping feasts by the letter and by the spirit of the law. So we can physically not eat leavened bread during the feast of Unleavened Bread, and spiritually not partake in “old leaven” continually, operating in the Spirit. Next, Paul tells us Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection. For those that would say he keeps the feasts because he is Jewish, Paul says himself there is neither Jew or Greek, we are all Abraham’s seed.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Some try to use this following verse in Galatians to say that Paul was upbraiding the Galatians for observing God’s feast days.

Gal 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
Gal 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Gal 4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!
Gal 4:11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

The church father, Socrates in the fifth century wrote the following: (The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Series II Volume II)

Book V, Chapter XXII.—The Author’s Views respecting the Celebration of Easter, Baptism, Fasting, Marriage, the Eucharist, and Other Ecclesiastical Rites.
“As we have touched the subject I deem it not unreasonable to say a few words concerning Easter. It appears to me that neither the ancients nor moderns who have affected to follow the Jews, have had any rational foundation for contending so obstinately about it. For they have not taken into consideration the fact that when Judaism was changed into Christianity, the obligation to observe the Mosaic law and the ceremonial types ceased. And the proof of the matter is plain; for no law of Christ permits Christians to imitate the Jews. On the contrary the apostle expressly forbids it; not only rejecting circumcision, but also deprecating conten- tion about festival days. In his epistle to the Galatians768 he writes, ‘Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?’ And continuing his train of argument, he demonstrates that the Jews were in bondage as servants, but that those who have come to Christ are ‘called into the liberty of sons.’769 Moreover he exhorts them in no way to regard ‘days, and months, and years.”

The problem with this theory is first, both Jesus and Paul kept the feasts, and second, the Galatians were not Jews. As he said, “Formerly, when you did not know God”. The Galatians were of the nations who were serving other gods, “the weak elementary principles of the world”. Does anyone suspect Paul would call God’s law, ordinances and precepts weak and worthless? First, let’s show Paul keeping feasts again:

Act 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Act 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

Next, let’s discuss the days, months and years the Galatians were going back to. It could not be God’s feast days because they couldn’t return to something they never celebrated in the first place. The word for elementary is Strong’s G4747.

Thayer Definition:
1) any first thing, from which the others belonging to some series or composite whole take their rise, an element, first principal
1a) the letters of the alphabet as the elements of speech, not however the written characters, but the spoken sounds
1b) the elements from which all things have come, the material causes of the universe
1c) the heavenly bodies, either as parts of the heavens or (as others think) because in them the elements of man, life and destiny were supposed to reside

1d) the elements, rudiments, primary and fundamental principles of any art, science, or discipline

The stoicheion were the heavenly bodies in this case. Also, the elements of water, air, fire etc. A study of the stoicheion and Galatians would include talking about fairies and even leprechauns. The Galatians were Celtic peoples. The antinomians, those who are against God’s commands, precepts and laws, want to use these verses to show Paul is advocating lawlessness, just as Peter warned:

2Pe 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
2Pe 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
2Pe 3:16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

There were also Jews who were convincing the Galatians that salvation had to be obtained through circumcision. This is equally wrong as salvation is obtained through faith, not by circumcision or any other one of God’s laws. We follow God’s laws because of our faith, salvation, obedience and the Spirit living inside of us. Again, Paul would never refer to God’s laws as weak and worthless. In Romans he calls them righteous and good.

Rom 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Rom 7:13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”. Jesus was the Passover lamb, sacrificed on Passover, and resurrecting three days and three nights later to be the first fruits of the resurrection. Jesus was the only lamb without blemish. The inspection of the Passover lambs was described in Exodus.

Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.
Exo 12:4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,
Exo 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

If the lambs were picked on the tenth day, that was four days before the death of Jesus on the 14th day which was Passover. What was Jesus doing four days before he would die at the close of the 14th? He was being inspected during the triumphal entry.

Joh 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Joh 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.
Joh 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
Joh 12:14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
Joh 12:15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

What is this word Hosanna they were shouting? Strong’s G5614; related words of Hebrew origin H3467 and H4994. If you put the two together it is Yahshana in Hebrew, or ישענא.

Thayer Definition:
1) hosanna
2) be propitious
Part of Speech: interjection
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: of Hebrew origin H3467 and H4994

BDB Definition:
1) to save, be saved, be delivered
1a) (Niphal)
1a1) to be liberated, be saved, be delivered
1a2) to be saved (in battle), be victorious
1b) (Hiphil)
1b1) to save, deliver
1b2) to save from moral troubles
1b3) to give victory to

BDB Definition:
1) I (we) pray, now, please
1a) used in entreaty or exhortation

I discuss the name of Jesus and how it is the transliterated name of Joshua in the Greek in my blog, What’s in a name. Jesus’ Hebrew name was Yahshua, יהושוע, which means the salvation of Yahweh, יהוה. The Apostle John describes a scene in Revelation that shows the Lamb was the only one worthy of opening the book because he was slain and was able to redeem.

Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Rev 5:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Rev 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

I realize that by discussing this, I am not only going against the Roman emperor, I am also questioning Roman law and facing 1695 years of the church’s tradition of the Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. I am suggesting that as those who are followers of Jesus, we are no longer under the bondage of Roman law, and are not required to keep Roman canons. This is what Jesus says about replacing the commandments of Yahweh with the traditions of men and teaching them as doctrine.

Mat 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
Mat 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Mat 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The Bible pictured belonged to Laughlin P. Farris, (December 23, 1843 – December 9, 1925) from White’s Cove, New Brunswick, Canada.

Please check out some of my other blog posts.

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