Vol.VIII No.X Pg.6
December 1971

Counting Days

Robert F. Turner

Since childhood I have watched brethren draw evenings and mornings on the board, and argue about the time Christ was in the grave. This is certainly a Bible subject, and one in which Christians have a legitimate interest; but it hurts me to see some brethren in senseless harangue over any subject — and especially so when fundamental factors in the subject are scarcely recognized.

Christ died the day before the sabbath (Mk. 15:42), also called the preparation day, (Lu. 23:54 Matt. 27: 62). If this sabbath was the seventh day, Christ died on the sixth, and no argument can change that. If it was not the seventh, but a special Jewish feast day called sabbath the contender must demonstrate that. (It is in order to point out here that Christ apparently partook of the Passover ahead of time (Jn. 19:14) in preparation for his death, the real Passover. (1 Cor. 5:7).

Mark 16:9 says Christ arose on the first day of the week. Marshalls interlinear translates: And rising early on the first day of the week. While it is true that Matt. 28:1-f., Mk. 16: 1-f., Lu. 23:53-24: 1-f., and Jn. 20:1-f., all speak of the time the woman arrived at the tomb; doesnt it seem a bit strange that the time of their arrival would be given such attention if it had nothing to do with the time of Christs resurrection? Mark makes this an academic matter.

But what about the three days and three nights of Matt. 12:40? They must be reckoned with, but not to the ignoring of all else said about the time in the tomb. Jesus also said he would be raised again the third day (Matt. 16:21): the third day rise again, (Lu. 24:7). Paul said he rose again the third day — (1 Cor. 15:4) adding, according to the Scriptures or — in keeping with what had been written concerning Him.

We must not fail to recognize an idiom of speech by which partial days are often counted as a whole. It is in the New Testament, with reference to counts other than our subject. One day, about 3: p.m., a man named Cornelius had a vision. He was told to send for Peter. For convenience, let us call that Monday. (See Acts 10:3).

On Tuesday (v.9) his men arrived in Joppa, seeking Peter. On Wednesday (v.23) Peter began the return journey with them; and on Thursday (v.24) they arrived at Cornelius house. There, Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour... Now draw this out on the board, and lets see the experts (?) stretch that into four 24-hour periods. Peter was in Cornelius house the fourth day or on the fourth day (compare the third day re. Christ) but certainly not four 24-hour periods following the vision.

Pushing the crucifixion back to the 4th. day (Wednesday) means one ignores preparation day passages (see above); and resurrection on the First Day makes too much time in the tomb. Crucifixion on Thursday solves some problems (in minds of some) but we must still accept the idiom illustrated above.. Must brethren dissipate their energies in such contentions?