a cross: When was Jesus crucified?When Jesus Was Crucified

When was Jesus crucified? Was it on a Wednesday, a Thursday, or a Friday? The Scripture does not directly answer this question.  However, let us examine the Scripture and see what it tells us.

Most Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.  Was He?

Old Testament Passages

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. 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. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 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. (Leviticus 23:1-8)[1]

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

New Testament Passages
Prior to the Crucifixion

And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, (Luke 3:23)

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

At Jesus' Death

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 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. (John 19:30-31)

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. (Mark 15:37-45)

Joseph of Arimathaea

And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 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. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. (Luke 23:50-54)

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (John 19:38-42)

The Women and the Spices

And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. (Luke 23:55-56)

So When Was Jesus Crucified?

Jesus was crucified on the preparation day, the day before the sabbath (Mark 15:37-45 [2], Luke 23:50-54, John 19:30-31), so called because the Jews had to work to prepare for the sabbath, when no work could be done. He was crucified on the Passover Day, and the next day was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, which was also a sabbath, although this could fall on a Saturday, the Jewish sabbath day (Leviticus 23:1-8).

The stone enclosing Jesus' tomb was rolled away near sunrise on Sunday, according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (see Empty Tomb Passages).

According to Matthew 12:39-40, Jesus would be dead three days and three nights. Although the majority of Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, others believe that it could have been Wednesday or Thursday. Scripture itself does not specify what day of the week the crucifixion occurred.

Wednesday Crucifixion?

A major problem with a Wednesday crucifixion is that, according to Luke 23:55-56, the women bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus and rested on the sabbath. If the sabbath for the feast of unleavened bread occurred on Thursday, when would the women have gone to anoint Jesus' body? Friday, of course. They did not need a whole day to prepare the spices, as John 19:38-42 clearly shows. Another problem with a Wednesday crucifixion is that, with how the Jews counted days, Jesus would have been dead part of the day on Wednesday, Wednesday night, Thursday day & night, and Friday day and at least part of Friday night; then the three days and three nights stated in Matthew 12:39-40 are spent. Jesus would have had to have been resurrected before sunrise on Saturday morning.

Friday Crucifixion?

The problem with a Friday crucifixion is that Jesus clearly stated that He would be dead three days and three nights (Matthew 12:39-40). Allowing for the way the Jews counted days in that epoch (any part of a day was one day), a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection can encompass three days; however, it would still only encompass two nights. Another problem with a Friday crucifixion is apparent with the Passover dates in the table below. According to Luke 3:23, Jesus was about 30 years old when His ministry began. If He were born in 4 BC as is commonly believed, started ministry at 30 years of age, and ministered 3 1/2 years, the earliest Friday Passover in the table below is 33 AD, which would make Jesus too old. However, Jesus' birth in 4 BC is attributed to the assertion that Herod died in 4 BC. This date is arrived at by a lunar eclipse listed in the Works of Flavius Josephus (Book XVII, Chapter VI). This eclipse is believed to have occurred on March 13, 4 BC. Two lunar eclipses occurred on January 10 and December 29, 1 BC, which could also be when Herod died (the lunar eclipse on July 5, 1 BC was not visible in Palestine). If a logical explanation can be formulated for the fact that Jesus was dead only two nights instead of the three that He stated in Matthew 12:39-42, the Friday date of Jesus' crucifixion would have more credence.

Thursday Crucifixion?

A Thursday crucifixion does satisfy the three days and three nights that Jesus stated in Matthew 12:39-40, provided that He was resurrected before sunrise on Sunday. Also, the possible years of His crucifixion are either 26 AD (probably too soon) or 30 AD. This would more likely agree with Jesus beginning His ministry when He was 30 and ministering for 3 1/2 years before being crucified. If, as explained in the previous paragraph, Herod died later than 4 BC, this date of 30 AD could be too early.

Passover Dates 22 to 37 AD

Year (AD) Day Date
22 Sunday April 22
23 Thursday March 25
24 Wednesday April 12
25 Sunday April 1
26 Thursday March 21
27 Wednesday April 9
28 Monday March 29
29 Sunday April 17
30 Thursday April 6
31 Tuesday March 27
32 Monday April 14
33 Friday April 3
34 Tuesday March 23
35 Monday April 11
36 Friday March 30
37 Thursday April 18



[1] All scripture references are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Please see my about page for why I chose this translation.↩

[2] I am adding the ability to link to scriptural references for convenience, especially for users of mobile phones. You will not leave this page by using these links.