Three Days and Three Nights: Literally, Three Days and Three Nights

In this post I will lay out what I have discovered to be the perfect fit for the sign of “three days and three nights” that Jesus left to those asked Him for “one more sign”. When He spoke of three days and three nights, it is literally what He meant, three literal complete days and three literal and complete nights. No more and no less.

We noticed in an earlier post that the verses dealing with the “three days and three nights” around the death and resurrection of Jesus hold different statements: “the third day”, “after three days”, and
“three days and three nights”. Somehow, all of these statements must
coincide.

In yet another post, we looked at the Sabbath day connection and were
left with the following question: “How is it possible for the women to
buy the spices AFTER the Sabbath (Mark 16:1) AND prepare the spices
BEFORE the Sabbath (Luke 23:56)?

And in yet anther post, we looked at the buying and preparing of the
spices as a clue to the chronology of events between the death and resurrection of Jesus.

And in one more post, we looked at how Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection fulfilled the first three Feasts of Jehovah; the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits.

If you have not done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: According to the Scriptures before continuing.

If you have not done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: The Women Hold the Key before continuing.

If you have not done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: A Spicy Solution before continuing.

If you have not done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: Every Jot and Tittle before continuing.

The Time of Jesus’ Burial

The Gospel accounts are clear that Jesus was buried in the evening at the time of the setting sun. This corresponds to the moment when the Jewish calendar went from the 14th to the 15th. View the study on the Day According to Genesis 1:5 for more details on this concept (link pending). In a literal sense, after Jesus expired (died) at 3pm on the 14th, he was buried at 6pm on the 14th literally at the start of the 15th (which was a Sabbath high day).

Remember that the sign that Jesus gave was, that the Son of Man would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. This sign did not start at the moment of His death, but at the moment of His burial.

The Moment of Jesus’ Resurrection

When the women went to the tomb around the break of dawn, it was likely somewhere around 6 am. Many often confuse the time of the women going to the tomb as the time when Jesus rose from the dead. As a side note, many also confuse the time of the earthquake with the time when Jesus rose from the dead.

As the Scriptures teach us, Jesus had already risen prior to the women going to the tomb in the early morning. Additionally, the earthquake was not to let Jesus “out” of the tomb but rather to let people see “into” the tomb. Jesus did not need the rock to be moved in order for Him to rise from the dead, but the people certainly needed the rock to be moved in order to be able to see that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Let us consider again the three statements: “the third day”, “after three days”, “three days and three nights”. These three different statements must mesh, otherwise the Scriptures contradict themselves. Let’s look at them one by one.

“the third day”: when considering the meaning of this statement, we can look at what it would mean if it said “the first day” after the burial of Jesus. In practical terms, if the burial day was “day zero”, then the first day after would be “day one”. If we considered “the second day” after the burial of Jesus, it would be considered “day two”. Following along, “the third day” after the burial of Jesus we would be “day 3”. Observe the following chart.

“after three days”: when considering the meaning of this statement, we can look at what it would mean if it said “after one day” from the burial of Jesus. Remember that Jesus was buried literally at the change of the day, as one day went into the other. Therefore, if we consider the day that Jesus was buried as “day zero”, “after one day” would not mean “day one”, but “day two”, after one day had passed from His burial. Likewise, “after two days” would not mean “day two”, but “day three”, after two days had passed from His burial. So when we look at “after three days”, it does not mean “day three”, but “day four”, after three days had passed from His burial. Observe the following chart.

When we combine the two charts, there seems to be a contradiction. Remember that both statements MUST be true.

The only moment of time that makes both statements true is the moment of transition from the one day to the other. Literally, the time of the setting sun on the Sabbath day, the moment when the first day of the week was about to start.

Why does it matter? Because we still have one more phrase that MUST be included in the solution: “three days and three nights”. As you look at the following chart, consider how the Spirit of God was able to use the “looseness of telling time” of that age, to confirm the exact time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, fulfilling to “the minute” the sign of the prophet Jonah. It was not “around three days and three nights”, it was exactly three days and three nights.

The Day of Jesus Death

After determining the details as to the day and time of the resurrection of Jesus, it is only a matter of going backwards to find out on which day Jesus actually died. If we count back from 6pm Saturday (the Sabbath) to Friday 6pm, we have one day. If we continue to Thursday 6pm, we have two days. If we continue back to Wednesday 6pm, we have three days.

As you try to assimilate all this information, take a deep breath. The Scriptures are loaded with information, but by searching them, we find out that God has given us more than enough to find out these precious realities.

Simply stated: Jesus died at 3pm on Wednesday, was buried at 6pm on Wednesday and rose again at 6pm on Saturday fulfilling EXACTLY 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is spoken of as God’s seal of approval for the work Christ did on the cross to save sinners. I would suggest that the exact fulfillment of the sign of the prophet Jonah serves as a great big exclamation mark.

Why does any of it matter?

Before the idiom The devil is in the detail came about, there existed an idiom that said “God is in the details”. And a truer idiom could not have existed. Many say they believe in God, and some will go as far as to say that they believe God.

But why can mankind believe God and take Him at His word?, because God is in the details. A careful study of Scripture will reveal an amazing message written to man from His Creator. All kinds of “Easter Eggs” are hidden in plain sight in the Scriptures to be found by those who take the time to look. Clues left by the Creator so that we would know without a doubt that He was communicating to us.

Search the Scriptures, find the gems, share the treasure is the theme of this website. These events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are just that. They are a hidden treasure that serves to confirm the authenticity of the author of the Scriptures as the Creator of all.

Redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” 1 Peter 3:19 – 21.

Action Point:

  1. This was a pretty intense study and I encourage you to go back and start over from Three Days and Three Nights: According to the Scriptures
  2. Download and print the Three Days and Three Nights PDF Summary chart
  3. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

8 thoughts on “Three Days and Three Nights: Literally, Three Days and Three Nights”

  1. This is one of the most revealing write up i have read about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The breakdown is too interesting to overlook. I have no doubt about how God pays attention to details, even the slightest details as this that gets overlooked too often. Thanks Mitchguy for this awesome reminder.

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the read and pray that you will be encouraged to dig. God has left us so many little jewels to find in His word. If we don’t dig for them, we miss out on them. God bless.

  2. Very good post and good info.

    This post really made me think you know, with the details you have shown, with the dates, I never was aware so much about it.

    We know about Eastern and this things, but actually, looking in the history, this is one of the most important things that happened when we talk about Jesus and the life after us.

    My sister is a real catholic person, everything is about Jesus, I will share this post and I’m confident she will like it.

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Yes, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important thing that has happened in all of history. Sadly, the meaning is often lost in the celebrations and traditions that surround it.

      I am glad that you want to share what you discovered. Please feel free to pass it along.

  3. Well explained. Thanks for pointing, or if I may say, proving this out. I completely agree that God is indeed in the details. This article clearly explains that the Scripture did not contradict itself. Sometimes people interpret the Bible out of context, which is what usually misleads us. Understanding the context, the culture and, for this topic, even how the Jewish time works would give a better understanding of the Bible.

    And I guess the next question for us the reader is, now that it is clear that the Bible is indeed correct and accurate, that essentially means that Jesus indeed rose from the dead, how would or should we respond? If we just think about that for a moment, that should rock our world and our realities. Someone actually did rose from the dead. It’s up to us whether we will believe it or not but the evidence is there. Jesus rose from the dead and he offers hope to those who will believe.

    I am a believer in the Lord Jesus myself and I for one can attest how amazingly beautiful and wonderful He is and nothing in this world can ever compare or even come close to Him and what He offers to those who will believe and put their faith in him.

    1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

    Have a blessed day everyone! Thanks again Mitchguy for sharing this.

    1. It is a pleasure to meet you brother and I am encouraged by your appreciation of the work of Christ. There is definitely some wonderful things ahead for those who believe, thanks for included that reminder from 1 Cor 2:9.

      The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been a controversial subject ever since it happened. From first denial by the religious leaders of the day, to continued denial in our day and age.

      I am so glad that God left us so many clues beforehand as to what would happen, and I am glad that the disciples who witnessed his death and resurrection were so bold in proclaiming it.

      Everyone will need to decide what to do with this reality. Believe, or not believe. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a dividing issue as witnessed in Acts 17:32 – 34 (ESV) “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed..,”

      Th resurrection event should rock our world and have us take a very close look at what God has done to save mankind.

      God bless you.

  4. It is a quite interesting triple statement about ‘three’. As we know, the number 3 is the number of the Trinity and an auspicious sign for anyone. 

    So if I have understood correctly Jesus rose the 3rd day? Because when we pray we say ‘the 3rd day He rose from the dead’. That means on the third day. Thus, the most accurate would be to say ‘the third day’. 

    Thanks for an interesting article and discussion. 

    Regards

    Tomas 

    1. The number three certainly has an interesting significance in Scripture. Both in its relation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and with the who God is.

      As for how to use “the three days” or “third day” in prayer or in Bible teaching, the Scriptures themselves use both phrases “after three days” and “the third day”. In your prayer, you could use either and be accurate. The interesting conclusion that I found with these seemingly contradictory phrases, is that the Spirit of God used them purposefully to help us understand how the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happened. It actually pinpoints the moment of His resurrection which corresponds literally to three days and three nights after the moment of His burial.

      The primary truth to understand is that Jesus died and rose again. Getting to the truth as to why he died and rose again is the next part. From there, it is important to understand that He rose again according to the Scriptures. Then, it is up to us to figure out what it is exactly “according to the Scriptures” means.

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