Was Jesus REALLY in the Tomb 3 Days & 3 Nights?

by Steve Ray on April 2, 2007

HolySepulchreTomb.jpgWas Jesus REALLY in the Tomb
3 Days & 3 Nights?

 

Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb for three full 24-hour periods like he prophesied. He was buried Friday afternoon and rose early Sunday morning.being only one full day and two nights. Has the sceptic found an error in the Bible? How does one respond?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Shenandoah Brown, SFO April 11, 2007 at 12:19 PM

As I recall, Jesus said, “three days”; he did not specify 3 full 24 hour days. From Friday 3pm to Sunday morning @ 6am spans three days. The span is only lacking nine hours. From Friday 3pm to Sunday 3pm w/b three 24 hour days. 24×3=72 hours. 6am to 3pm=9 hours short. So what?
I don’t think 9 hours difference is relavent. Tell whoever it is getting hung up on the math to get over it. It isn’t important. The events spanned three days.

Sources: Mt 27:63, Mk 8:31; 9:31 & 10:34

reynor May 18, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Ive read somewhere that back in those days, an event does not have to take place for 24hours to call it a day. In the Philippines where i came from, loosely we count days by days and not by the exact number of hours. When the light of day had shone that is considered a day regardless of the hours the sun was up when it happened. Like what you said, which I agree with, “The event spanned three days”.

Tom Perry March 21, 2008 at 9:14 AM

There was an annual Sabbath, the feast of Unleavened Bread, which fell on Thursday of the week Christ died. He died on Wednesday, late in the afternoon. His body was placed in the tomb before sundown on Wednesday, because their days began at sunset then (not at 12:01 AM), and he had to be buried before the Sabbath. He was in the grave Wed. night, Thurs., Thurs. night, Fri., Fri. night, and Saturday. He rose on the first day of the week, which would have been just after sunset on Sat. night.

STEVE RAY HERE: Yours is a very novel approach. Two things: it is contrary to the vast majority of scholars, historians, and biblical experts and second, you offer no proof or documentation for your unusual suggestion.

jan April 8, 2009 at 8:50 PM

Jesus in hell – Where did He go while His body was in the tomb?

Some believe that while Jesus’ body was in the tomb, His spirit was in hell. Scripture does not support that position when it is taken in context and we look at the meaning of the word “hell.” In the Old Testament, the place of the dead or the place of departed souls was called “Sheol.” It was to this place that all souls of the dead went to await resurrection.

In the New Testament, we find the story of Lazarus and the rich man who both died and went to Hades (Luke 16:19-31). The King James translates the Greek word “hades” as hell but most other translations use the Greek word. Hades had two separated parts. Those who died in faith believing in God’s promise waited for the resurrection in Abraham’s Bosom. Those who died spiritually separated from God wait in torment for the resurrection unto death, or eternal separation from God. The rich man was on the torment side and Lazarus was in Abraham’s Bosom, which was called “paradise” by the LORD Jesus Christ when He addressed the thief who found faith the day Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:42-43).

We are not given all of the details about where Jesus was during the time between His burial and resurrection morning, but we can say that Jesus did not descend into hell, which is the final abode of the lost. The word “Hades and Sheol” do not mean hell and so we cannot place the Spirit of Jesus in hell while His body was in the tomb. We do know that Jesus did not see the corruption that man goes through in the grave (Psalm 16:10-11) even through Jesus said that He would spend three days and night in the “heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

We know that Jesus did go and “preach unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). The use of the word “spirits” and not souls in this passage would seem to indicate that these were not the unsaved. Rather, it would seem that these are not human at all. The word used by Peter in this passage that is translated “prison” means a cage, a guarding, ward, or imprisonment. Scripture tell us that unclean spirits are “chained” in prison. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). The word translated “hell” here is not the Greek word “hades” but is the Greek word “tartarus” meaning abyss or the lowest regions. This could very well be the “gulf” that was fixed between the place of torment and Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16:26).

Therefore this preaching of Jesus in hell was probably a message of victory over Satan and those spirits held prisoner in chains, not in hell itself where souls wait, but in the abyss beneath. This truth is reinforced by a passage in Ephesians that also speaks about Christ leading captivity captive. “Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8-10). Leading captivity captive seems to refer to Jesus taking all those that waited in Paradise to heaven to be with Him. The descending into the “lower parts” then refers to Jesus’ mission of declaring victory to the prisoners in the abyss.

Although we cannot be completely dogmatic about all of the events of the three days, we do know that Jesus in hell is not a Biblical concept. We can say that Jesus’ body was recognizable by the women that came to the tomb so the facial disfiguration that occurred during His scourging must have gone and Jesus told the women not to touch Him because He had not yet “ascended” to the Father (John 20:17). However, that same day at evening Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples and invited Thomas to not only touch Him but to reach into His side (John 20:27). In this life we look through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12) and all of the answers to the questions that arise may not satisfy us completely, but what a comfort to know that one day we shall know as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Learn More about the Case for Christ!

David August 26, 2009 at 11:19 AM

A Jewish day ends, and the next day begins at SUNSET.

While Jesus and the disciples ate their passover meal the sun set (Judas when he left ‘went out into the darkness’). This was the start of Friday: –

DAY 1 HAD BEGUN. Christ’s arrest, kangaroo court, trial before Pilate, crucifxion, death on the cross, and burial in the tomb all happened on this day, before sunset Friday,when the Sabbath would begin.

DAY 2, THE SABBATH ended, and the third day started at sunset on Saturday.

DAY3, ‘EARLY IN THE MORNING, WHILE IT WAS STILL DARK, the women set out for the tomb. When they arrived (at first light) the tomb was empty.

So Jesus rose from the tomb sometime between sunset Friday and first light on Sunday. Since He himself had said he would rise ‘on the third day’, I believe it can be narrowed down further to between sunset Saturday and first light Sunday.

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