The Good Friday-Easter Sunday Question

How do the biblical three days and three nights after Jesus Christ's crucifixion fit between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning? Or do they?

A man reading a Bible.

In the northern hemisphere, the spring of each year brings several of Christianity's most important religious observances. The Lenten period from Ash Wednesday to Easter is observed by some with fasting and penance. Good Friday, or Holy Friday, as it is sometimes called, is celebrated two days before Easter as a commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday is revered as the day of Jesus' resurrection, sometimes by sunrise services.

These practices are so much an ingrained tradition in the church calendar that many would consider it heretical to question them. But most of the world is scarcely aware that the original apostles did not institute or keep these customs, nor were they observed by the early Christian Church. Try as you might to find them, Lent, Good Friday and Easter are not so much as mentioned in the original Greek wording of the New Testament. The word Easter appears only once in the King James Version of the Bible (Acts:12:4) in a flagrant mistranslation of the Greek word pascha, which should be translated "Passover," as most versions render it.

The justification for the Lenten 40-day preparation for Easter is traditionally based on Jesus' 40-day wilderness fast before his temptation by Satan ( Harper's Bible Dictionary , "Lent"; Matthew:4:1-2; Mark:1:13). The problem with this explanation is that this incident is not connected in any way with Jesus' supposed observance of Easter. The 40-day pre-Easter practice of fasting and penance did not originate in the Bible.

Pre-Christian practices adopted

Many people still follow such practices, assuming that such activities honor God and are approved by Him. But, we should ask, how does God regard such extrabiblical customs? Consider God's instructions to those who would worship Him:

"Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy:12:30-32, emphasis added throughout).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia notes: "The term Easter was derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'Eostre,' the name of the goddess of spring. In her honor sacrifices were offered at the time of the vernal [spring] equinox" (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1982, Vol. 2, "Easter").

Many battles were fought over its observance date, but the Council of Nicea finally fixed the date of Easter in A.D. 325 to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox (March 21).

Not generally known is that "the preparation for Easter season, beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing for a week after Easter Day, was filled with pagan customs that had been revised in the light of Christianity. Germanic nations, for example, set bonfires in spring. This custom was frowned on by the Church, which tried to suppress it . . . In the sixth and seventh centuries [monks] came to Germany, [bringing] their earlier pagan rites[,] and would bless bonfires outside the church building on Holy Saturday. The custom spread to France, and eventually it was incorporated into the Easter liturgy of Rome in the ninth century. Even today the blessing of the new fire is part of the Vigil of Easter.

"Medieval celebrations of Easter began at dawn. According to one old legend, the sun dances on Easter morning, or makes three jumps at the moment of its rising, in honor of Christ's resurrection. The rays of light penetrating the clouds were believed to be angels dancing for joy.

"Some Easter folk traditions that have survived today are the Easter egg, rabbit and lamb. During medieval times it was a tradition to give eggs at Easter to servants. King Edward I of England had 450 eggs boiled before Easter and dyed or covered with gold leaf. He then gave them to members of the royal household on Easter day. The egg was an earlier pagan symbol of rebirth and was presented at the spring equinox, the beginning of the pagan new year.

"The Easter rabbit is mentioned in a German book of 1572 and also was a pagan fertility symbol. The Easter lamb goes back to the Middle Ages; the lamb, holding a flag with a red cross on a white field, represented the resurrected Christ [rather than the sacrifice of His life, as a fulfillment of the Passover lamb, that paid for the sins of the world (John:1:29)]" (Anthony S. Mercatante, Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend , New York and Oxford, 1988, "Easter").

Passover out, Easter in

Easter traditions are embraced by many who profess Christianity. However, none of these practices are to be found in the Bible or the customs of the early Church. Jesus and His apostles did not establish or perpetuate such practices, which obscure the true biblical meanings and observances of this time of year. In fact, a 4th-century church historian, Socrates Scholasticus, wrote in his Ecclesiastical History that neither the apostles nor the Gospels taught the observance of Easter, nor did they or Jesus give a law requiring the keeping of this feast. Instead, "the observance originated not by legislation, but as a custom" (chapter 22, emphasis added).

Even as early as the close of the 2nd century, the theologian Irenaeus bore witness in his letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, that some early Roman bishops forbade the observance of Passover on the 14th of Nisan. This was the date of the biblical observance practiced each spring by Jesus and the apostles. At the time that the Nisan 14 Passover observance was banned, ecclesiastical authorities introduced Lent and Easter into Christian practice.

Distorting Jesus' words

A century later the Syriac Didascalia recorded the attempts of teachers in Rome to reconcile Jesus' words that He would be entombed "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew:12:40) with a Friday-afternoon crucifixion and a Sunday-morning resurrection. According to their reasoning, Jesus' sufferings were part of the three days and three nights of Scripture. Friday morning from 9 to noon was counted as the first day, and noon to 3 p.m. (which was darkened) was considered the first night. Three in the afternoon to sunset was reckoned as the second day, whereas Friday night to Saturday morning constituted the second night. The daylight part of Saturday was the third day, and the night portion to Sunday morning was the third night.

In other words, the three days and three nights in the grave that Jesus said would be the sign that He was indeed sent from God were transformed into a period of two days and two nights, or a total of no more than 48 hours. This has subsequently been reduced even further in modern times by figuring from late-afternoon Friday to early Sunday morning, which takes away another 12 hours or more. Such reasoning has to discount or somehow explain away Jesus' clear promise that He would be entombed three days and three nights.

Easter and Lent are nonbiblical and were not observed by the apostles or the 1st-century Church. The biblical record shows, however, that the early Church diligently kept other observances, the New Testament Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, just as Jesus and the apostles had done (Matthew:26:17-19; Acts:20:6; 1 Corinthians:5:8; 1 Corinthians:11:23-26). These were supplanted in later years by the customs and practices of Easter and Lent.

Passover is an annual reminder of Jesus' sacrificial death to pay the penalty for our sins (Matthew:26:26-28). The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a celebration that focuses on a Christian's need to live in sincerity, truth and purity (1 Corinthians:5:8). The nonbiblical festivals of Lent and Easter, added decades after the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles, only cloud the true significance of Christ's life, death and resurrection and the purpose of His coming.

The Passover was instituted in Exodus 12 and continues, by Jesus Christ's example and command, but with a change of symbols. Jesus' death fulfilled the symbolism of the sacrificial Passover lamb (Matthew:26:17-28; John:1:29), but the New Testament Passover has been improperly replaced as an annual memorial of the resurrection of Christ by Easter. We are commanded to commemorate Christ's death, not His resurrection (1 Corinthians:11:23-28).

Facts about Jesus' last days

Jesus Christ's promise was fulfilled exactly as He said, a fact that is made clear when we study and compare the Gospel accounts. These records give a clear, logical explanation that is perfectly consistent with Christ's words. Let's focus on Jesus' last days on earth to gain the proper perspective and understanding of how and when these events occurred.

Jesus said that, like the prophet Jonah, He would be entombed three days and three nights and that He would be raised up the third day after His crucifixion and death (Matthew:12:39-40; Matthew:17:23; Matthew:20:19). Putting these scriptures together, we see that He was resurrected at the end of the third day after His death. Luke:23:44 shows that He died around the ninth hour (Jewish reckoning), or 3 p.m. He would have been buried within the next few hours so that His body could be entombed before the approaching Sabbath (John:19:31).

Jesus' resurrection could not have been on a Sunday morning because John:20:1-2 shows that He had already risen before Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, arriving "while it was still dark." Therefore, neither could His death have occurred Friday afternoon, since that would not allow for His body to be in the grave three days and three nights. Clearly, the Good Friday-Easter Sunday explanation and tradition is without scriptural foundation.

Notice also that John:19:31 mentions that the Sabbath immediately after Jesus' death was "a high day"—not the weekly seventh-day Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening), but one of the annual Sabbaths, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (see Leviticus:23:6-7), which can fall on any day of the week.

In fact, two Sabbaths—first an annual Holy Day and then the regular weekly Sabbath—are mentioned in the Gospel accounts, a detail overlooked by most people. This can be proven by comparing Mark:16:1 with Luke:23:56.

Mark's account tells us, "Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him" (Mark:16:1). However, Luke's account describes how the women who followed Jesus saw how His body was laid in the tomb. "Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils" for the final preparation of the body. "And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment" (Luke:23:56).

Mark tells us that the women bought the spices after the Sabbath, "when the Sabbath was past." Luke, however, tells us that they prepared the spices and oils, after which "they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment." How could the women have bought spices after the Sabbath, yet then prepared them and rested on the same Sabbath?

That is obviously impossible—unless two Sabbaths are involved, with a day between them. Once we realize this, the two accounts become clear (see " The Chronology of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection "). Christ died near 3 p.m. and was placed in the tomb near sunset that day—a Wednesday in 31. That evening began the "high day" Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which fell on Thursday that year.

The women rested on that day, then on Friday purchased and prepared the spices and oils for Jesus' body, which could not be done on either the Holy Day or the weekly Sabbath. They then rested again on the weekly Sabbath before going to the tomb before daybreak on Sunday morning, at which time they discovered that Christ had already been resurrected.

Two Sabbaths confirmed in text

The fact that two Sabbaths are involved is confirmed by Matthew:28:1, where the women went to the tomb "after the Sabbath." The Sabbath mentioned here is actually plural in the original Greek and should be translated "Sabbaths." Some Bible versions, including Alfred Marshall's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament , Ferrar Fenton's translation, Green's Literal Translation and Young's Literal Translation , make this clear.

Once we realize that two Sabbaths were involved—first an annual Holy Day, which was observed from Wednesday evening until Thursday evening, and the normal weekly Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening, the fulfillment of Christ's words becomes clear.

The Savior of all humanity died near 3 p.m. on Wednesday and was buried shortly before sunset that day. From Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset is one day and one night; from then until Friday sunset is two days and two nights; and from then until Saturday sunset is three days and three nights. Jesus Christ was resurrected at the end of this three-day and three-night period, near sunset on Saturday. Thus He was already risen long before the women came to the tomb before daylight on Sunday morning.

Jesus Christ's words were thus perfectly fulfilled, as verified by the Gospel accounts. He was not crucified on Friday afternoon, nor was He resurrected on a Sunday morning. The biblical evidence shows the Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition to be a fabrication.

A correct harmonization of all the facts demonstrates that Jesus died near 3 p.m. that Wednesday afternoon, was entombed near sunset and was resurrected near sunset on Saturday, exactly three days and three nights later—just as He had stated. These are the facts, the correct biblical chronology that verifies the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The biblical festivals

Actually, the principal festivals and holidays observed by mainstream Christendom are a poor and pale reflection of true biblical teachings. Easter and Lent are a poor substitute for the wondrous truths revealed by keeping God's feasts.

The New Testament Church continued to observe the annual Passover to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ, but used the new symbols of bread and wine that He instituted (1 Corinthians:11:23-28). Today some continue to commemorate this eminently important event in the same manner, in accordance with Christ's instructions.

Again, the Bible contains no record of the Church observing Easter or Lent during the time of the apostles, nor any biblical command to observe Good Friday or Easter Sunday, especially since Christ did not die on Good Friday and was not resurrected on Easter Sunday. Instead, the apostles faithfully followed Christ's instructions to observe the biblical Passover "in remembrance" of Him (Luke:22:19; 1 Corinthians:11:24-25).

The marvelous plan of God has been obscured by theologians and religious leaders trying to merge nonbiblical practices with biblical events. To better understand why Jesus instructed His followers to observe Passover along with the other biblically defined festivals, read the Bible study aid God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind


The Chronology of Jesus Christ Death, Burial and Resurrection

Pit Bull Boricua

Pit Bull Boricua's picture

First I would like to start by saying that by what I have been studying by comparing the different Bible versions with the Greek manuscripts I have personaly come to the conclusion and belife that our LORD JESUS THE MESSIAH did in fact resurected on a Sabbath not the first day of the week. Now what I would like to point out is that from the Bibles that I have read in English only the Young's Literal Translation translates the four Gosples pointing out to the Sabbath resurection. Yet it does translates Acts 20:7 & Corinthians 16:2 with the traditional "first day of the week" yet both verses should say "the first of the Sabbaths". This amazed me, to think that there is not one single English Bible (from the ones that I have read) that truly translates this verses like they supose to be translated. Now to my suprise I found one Bible that those verses Acts 20:7 & Corinthians 16:2 and all of the four Gosples with the correct wording of "the first of the Sabbaths" this Bible is a Spanish Bible known as "Las Sagradas Escrituras".

Now the comment that I have to make about this article is that it concludes that the women came to the tumb on Saturday at sundown, yet when we look at the Greek manuscripts we see very clearly that the writer specifically states that they came during the morning at dawn. In Matthews account we find the Greek word (ἐπιφώσκω) which means dawn or dawning. In Marks account we find the Greek word (πρωΐ) which means morning or day break. In Lukes account we find the Greek word (ὄρθρος) which means dawn or sun rise. In Johns account we find the Greek word (πρωΐ) the same word as in Marks account. My question is, how is it the you have come to the conclusion that the women came to the tumb at Saturday sundown? When it is clearly seen that it was in the morning of the Sabbath.

Ken Graham

Ken Graham's picture

Hi Pit Bull:

Indeed Jesus did rise Saturday evening, not Sunday morning. I have no argument with that either. However, I've always believed the gospel records show that the women came to the tomb very early on Sunday morning only to find the stone rolled and Jesus gone. My apologies if the article says they came Saturday night. In Matthew 28:1 we find the women coming to the tomb at dawn on Sunday morning. We have the Greek word Sabbatone used twice in verse 1. It is the plural of Sabbath, but can also imply the word "weeks" because weeks were counted then by counting Sabbaths. The second use in verse 1 can best be translated as, "first from the Sabbaths" or "first of the weeks." Because there were two Sabbaths that week. Thursday was an annual Sabbath the first Day of Unleavened Bread, and Saturday was the regular weekly Sabbath. Hence, the phrase, "first from the Sabbaths" or plural of sabbaths. So the opening phrase clearly states this took place after the sabbaths or after both Thursday and Saturday were complete. The only dawn that comes after they are complete is on Sunday morning. The phrase is stated in the Genitive case in Greek or more specifically the Ablative case or this is the first day to be counted FROM the sabbaths or weeks. In other words this is the first day of the following week (Sunday) when the women came. The "first from the Sabbaths" is Sunday. So as Sunday began to dawn we see the women coming to the tomb. But this is not when the Bible says that Jesus Rose. He rose the night before - Saturday night. He was placed in the tomb on a Wednesday evening just before sunset,so he rose 72 hours (3 days) later just before sunset on Saturday night.

Hope this helps clarify it a bit.

Best Regards,

Pit Bull Boricua

Pit Bull Boricua's picture

The thing with stating that the Greek word(σαββάτων)can be translated as either "week or seventh" is that the Greek word used for "week or seventh" in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint aka LXX)is a different word and not (σαββάτων). When we look at Genesis 2:2, we find that the word translated as seventh is the word (ἑβδόμῃ), then when we look at Genesis 2:3 the word there translated as seventh is the word (ἑβδόμην), and when we look at Daniel 9:26 the word translated as week is (ἑβδομάδος),in Daniel 9:27 the word translated as week is the word (ἑβδομὰς), in this same verse the word (ἑβδομάδος) is once again translated as week.

So why would the New Testament writers use (σαββάτων) to represent the word week when clearly the words ἑβδόμῃ,ἑβδόμην,ἑβδομάδος and ἑβδομὰς are the Greek words for week or seventh.

Now concerning the plural meaning of the word (σαββάτων) in Matthew 28:1 and in all of the other Gosples. This represnts the 7 Sabbaths from the Passover to the Day of Atonement, hence why it is actualy translated to "the first of the Sabbaths" indicating that it is the first of the Sabbaths out of the seven Sabbaths of those 50 days.

Young's Literal Translation
Matthew 28:1
And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,

Mark 16:1-2
And the sabbath having past, Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James, and Salome, bought spices, that having come, they may anoint him,
and early in the morning of the first of the sabbaths, they come unto the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun,

Mark 16:9
And he, having risen in the morning of the first of the sabbaths, did appear first to Mary the Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven demons;

Luke 24:1
And on the first of the sabbaths, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bearing the spices they made ready, and certain [others] with them,

John 20:1
And on the first of the sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene doth come early (there being yet darkness) to the tomb, and she seeth the stone having been taken away out of the tomb,

John 20:19
It being, therefore, evening, on that day, the first of the sabbaths, and the doors having been shut where the disciples were assembled, through fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith to them, `Peace to you;'

As we can see JESUS resurected in the morning of the first of the Sabbaths of those 7 Sabbaths.

This same translation are made in the Spanish Bible (Sagradas Escrituras) I would quote them but I'm not sure if you now Spanish.

Ward Shamblin

Ward Shamblin's picture

Hi, Pit Bull:

Your comment about the conclusion of the article stating that the women came to the tomb after sundown on Saturday may have been because you read the article in haste.

Your comment:
"Now the comment that I have to make about this article is that it concludes that the women came to the tomb on Saturday at sundown,"

I did not understand the article that way.

The article:

"The fact that two Sabbaths are involved is confirmed by Matthew 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, where the women went to the tomb after the Sabbath.'"

My comment:
Early Sunday morning is after the Sabbath.

The article:

"They then rested again on the weekly Sabbath before going to the tomb before daybreak on Sunday morning, at which time they discovered that Christ had already been resurrected."

My comment:
I know that some people believe that Matthew 28:1 says that it was right after sundown. However, that is not what the article said, unless I misread it.

I do like your research about the phrase "the first day of the week." I think that you need to do a little more research, but it is a good start.

Many quotes from the Old Testament are quotes from the Septuagint, and it used a different word for "week." The Jewish historian Josephus also used a different word for "week."

The New Testament writers had to know the Greek word for "week," but they did not use it. If they meant week, it would have been nice if they had used the greek word for week. That would have brought the discussion to and end. It seems that in their culture the point of reference when counting time was the Sabbath.

Personal note:
Nearly 50 years ago when I was researching the truth about the Sabbath vs Sunday. One writer stated that in Acts 20 a Sabbath had past but there was no mention of it. A few years ago when I learned in the greek it said "one from the Sabbaths", I was elated.

Note of interest:
In the Septuagint when it translates Exodus 20 concerning the Sabbath, it uses the plural for Sabbath.

However, I do believe that you have reached an incorrect understanding about the seven Sabbaths leading up to Pentecost.
I think that you meant Pentecost instead of Atonement.

Keep studing and reading the articles on this webpage concerning the subject you are interested in. There is a goldmine of knowledge on this webpage.

H.G. Hennis

H.G. Hennis's picture


Congratulations on recognizing the obvious differences between the Greek word for Sabbath (σάββατον) and the Greek words for a seven-day week, seventh, etc. (εβδομάδα, έβδομος, etc.). The same distinction that was used in the OT Greek Septuagint (before the NT existed) still exists today between these words which have retained very similar forms in Modern Greek. There are also numerous OT Scriptures and historical Greek documents that support your observation about the differences between these words. Thanks for addressing what you have learned so far.

With regard to your comments about morning, dawning, etc., the article explicitly agrees with you that the women came to the tomb in the "morning," but what you may have accidentally overlooked was the general summation of the principle, "He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said..." (Matthew 28:6, NET). In other words, their visit to the empty tomb the next morning "while it was still dark" (John 20:1) did not coincide with the exact time of Jesus' resurrection (as others have pointed out) since He had already gone out from the tomb by the time they got there, saw the angels, etc.

With regard to the YLT translation of the Greek phrase "τη μια των σαββάτων" as "the first of the Sabbaths" (as it is written in Mark 16:2, NA27/UBS4, etc.), it appears that their English wording has led you to a slightly incorrect conclusion. This phrase cannot be correctly understood as a day that was the "first Sabbath." The Greek grammar indicates that "τη μια" ("on the one") in the feminine singular dative form is not directly modifying the neuter plural genitive "των σαββάτων" ("from the Sabbaths"). If "first Sabbath" was intended, then we would normally expect the word selected for "one" or "first" to agree with the neuter "σαββάτων." Instead, every variant of this phrase in the New Testament uses the feminine word for "one" (μια), except for Mark 16:9 which uses a feminine form of "first" (πρώτη). In the context of this phrase, the feminine singular adjective μια or πρώτη appears to reflect the implicit understanding of an ellipsed feminine singular noun such as "ημέρα" ("day") that is not explicitly written in the original text, but is suggested by most translators -- including the Modern Greek Bible of 1850 CE. By comparison, when Acts 17:2 mentions "three Sabbaths," the Greek words τρία ("three") and σάββατα ("Sabbaths") are in grammatical agreement with each other and have the same gender, number and case (neuter plural accusative).

As was pointed out by a couple of other posts, the English preposition "of" is more clearly understood as an ablatival "from" in this context ("on [day] one from the Sabbath[s]). This understanding is corroborated by the use of "από" ("from") in the old ecclesiastical Greek names of the weekdays such as Monday being given the name "Δευτέρα από εορτής" ("second from festival") which has been shortened to "Δευτέρα" ("second") in Modern Greek today and was described as "Δευτέρα σαββατου" ("second from Sabbath") in the Greek Septuagint equivalent of Psalm 48:1. The other ecclesiastical Greek weekday names followed suit with Tuesday being called "third from festival," Wednesday "fourth from festival" (compare "four from Sabbath" in Psalm 94:1 of the Septuagint which numbers it as 93:1), etc. With the exception of Friday and Sunday, the Modern Greek weekday names still reflect a shortened version of the same numerical counting for the days of the week, and Saturday is still called "Σάββατο". Sunday was called "first" or "one from (the) Sabbath(s)" in the New Testament, and the identical form of "μιας σαββάτων" that appears in the Byzantine Greek manuscripts for Mark 16:2 also appears in the Septuagint equivalent of Psalm 24:1 (numbered in the LXX as 23:1). This OT parallel also confirms that Sunday was not a New Testament "Sabbath," but was instead the day after the Sabbath. Similar numbering systems for the weekday names are found in modern Hebrew and other languages such as Portuguese.

Your assumption that the phrase "μια των σαββάτων" refers to the "first Sabbath" in counting "seven Sabbaths" up to Pentecost is a variation of a common mistake (so you're in good company), but a closer study of several Scriptures related to that subject show that phrase clearly does not refer to the first of seven Sabbaths leading up to Pentecost in any of the Gospel accounts or in Acts 20:7. In the Gospel accounts that use this phrase, we find that this day was actually the "morrow" or "day after the Sabbath" that is mentioned in Leviticus 23:11,15 with reference to the "sheaf of the wave offering." So, instead of being a "first Sabbath," it is a Sunday morning that falls between the two annual "high" Sabbaths of the Days of Unleavened Bread (compare John 19:31's "high day" Sabbath with the principle of Luke 6:1's "second chief Sabbath," GLT). The UCG has also generally believed that this symbolic wave-sheaf offering which began the counting for Pentecost was fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the morning that the empty tomb was discovered, when Jesus made a brief ceremonial ascension to the Father (mentioned in John 20:17). This fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering occurred weeks before the more public ascension of Acts 1:9 that Acts 1:3 indicates was ten days before the 50th day known as Pentecost in Acts 2 in which the Holy Spirit was given.

There is no way to honestly reconcile a "first of the [seven] Sabbaths" or "first of Weeks" wave-sheaf interpretation for Acts 20:7, since the context of Acts 20:6 very clearly refutes it. Acts 20:7 occurs at least 12 days after the end of the Days of Unleavened Bread, which would put the so-called "first of Weeks" wave-sheaf day misinterpretation for this verse into a different lunar month than the Passover, for which there isn't a single Biblically-sanctioned example that supports such a conclusion.

The popular misconception that a plural form of the Greek word for Sabbath (σάββατον) can be literally translated as plural "weeks" in English, is not quite right. Although, seven Sabbaths and seven weeks could both refer to a period of 49 days (depending on how you count), that does not make the Greek words 100% interchangeable, in a similar way that the English words "Sabbath" and "week" are not synonyms that are 100% interchangeable. As the Greek scholar Troy Martin correctly noted in one of his books, as well as a journal article published in "New Testament Studies," with regard to a plural form of σάββατον that is used in Acts 17:2's phrase σάββατα τρία: "The RSV's translation 'three weeks' is incorrect. The text reads, 'three Sabbaths.' Since the Jews number inclusively, three Sabbaths [could] designate [approximately] two weeks." Interestingly, the NRSV revision has corrected the RSV's mistake and translated the same phrase in Acts 17:2 as "three Sabbath days."

As was brought up by one of the posts, Exodus 20:8, 20:10, and other verses in the Septuagint use a plural form of σάββατον (such as σαββάτων, σάββατα, etc.) as a translation for the singular "שבת." This is due to a Classical Greek practice of using the plural form for the names of festivals as Blass Debrunner, Thayer's, Turner, and other Greek reference works substantiate. In the Modern Greek Bible, the plural forms in Exodus 20:8,10 have been replaced with a singular form. Realizing that festival names can be plural with singular intent makes context very important in determining if the plural form is intended as a literal plural (like Acts 17:2) or if it is referring to a singular day (like Exodus 20:10). The context surrounding Matthew 28:1 and the corresponding Gospel accounts could refer to literally plural Sabbaths as this article correctly points out.

In summary, you are correct about the differences between the Greek words for Sabbath vs. week, seventh, etc. However, the phrase "μια των σαββάτων" does not refer to a "first Sabbath" out of a group of seven Sabbaths, and it is *not* calling Sunday a Sabbath. It simply means "one from the Sabbath(s)" and refers to the day (or night in the case of Acts 20:7) after the Sabbath.


chronister's picture

I am very curious about something. I am new in my walk in Truth and Spirit, and am trying to put all I can into studying God's word. According to the above article and others I have found the word Easter is supposedly a misprint/typo in the KJV.

I found this article explaining why Easter is indeed the correct term. I would love to have others read and share what you think about the information it gives supporting that Easter is the correct term opposed to Passover.

Your brother in Christ,


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