Crucifixion of Christ: Wednesday or Friday?


I was challenged by a reader a while back to examine a long-held assumption by many Christians that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion occurred on a Friday. The individual cited several passages in the Bible they believed proved that Wednesday was the true date of the crucifixion. I examined the issue fairly as I could and now present the results of my study in this article.

Crucifixion General Timeframe

Christ’s crucifixion took place sometime during the time Pontus Pilate served as governor of Judea province for the Roman Empire between 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. Jesus’s crucifixion took place on the Eve of Passover, which is on the 14th day of Nisan of the Jewish calendar (Passover is on Nisan 15). Most Christian scholars believe that the crucifixion took place on either a Wednesday or a Friday between 30 A.D. and 33 A.D.1 This criterion leaves two possible dates as the true date of the crucifixion: Wednesday April 3, 30 A.D., Friday April 1, 33 A.D.

Buying and Preparing the Spices

A heavily debated item between those who support a Wednesday crucifixion and those who support a Friday crucifixion is the timing of when Mary and others bought and prepared spices before they went to anoint Christ’s body. Here are the two verses driving this debate:

“(54) And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. (55) And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. (56) And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:54-56)

“(1) And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. (2) And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” (Mark 16:1-2)

Proponents of a Wednesday Crucifixion and proponents of a Friday Crucifixion both can provide acceptable explanations for what happened. Here is what each side can argue:

  • Wednesday Proponents: The women prepared some spices and ointments before the high Sabbath (Passover). After Passover the women bought and prepared more spices before they rested on the weekly Sabbath.
  • Friday Proponents: Some spices and ointments were prepared just before the weekly Sabbath and the Passover high Sabbath (both fell on the same day) and more spices were bought and prepared Saturday evening following passage of the two Sabbaths.

Three Days and Three Nights

The key detail driving the Wednesday vs. Friday crucifixion date debate is Matthew 12:40. In this verse Christ told the Pharisees that he would spend “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”:

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 12:40)

Many supporting the Wednesday crucifixion state that the term “three days and three nights” translates to mean a literal 72-hour period. I can see why people would instinctively do that, but the term “three days and three nights” was not a phrase that signified seventy-two hours. The term was an idiom whose basic meaning in New Testament days was equivalent to the meaning of the term “day after tomorrow” nowadays. We can see that “three days and three nights” does not equate to a literal seventy-two hour period by looking at a comparable term: “the third day”. Christ told His followers that He would rise from the dead on “the third day”:

“(33) Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: (34) And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Mark 10:33-34)

“The “third day” is comparable to “three days and three nights” because they both represent the amount of time that Christ would be dead. “The third day” does not represent a literal seventy-two hour period. In fact, Luke 13:32 strongly suggest that “the third day” covers a span of time equivalent to the day after tomorrow:

“And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day [today] and to morrow [the next day], and the third day [the day after tomorrow] I shall be perfected.” (Luke 13:32)

Given this and the interchangeability between “three days and three nights” and “the third day” to describe the amount of time Christ would be dead, we can conclude that the term “three days and three nights” is equivalent to the day after tomorrow. Therefore, the crucifixion likely occurred on a Friday instead of a Wednesday since Sunday, the date of Christ’s resurrection, fell on the day after tomorrow from Friday.

Regardless of whether you agree with my conclusion or not, it is important to recognize that Wednesday crucifixion proponents and Friday crucifixion proponents recognize that Christ was crucified since not every believes He was crucified.

  1. Some argue that the Crucifixion should have taken place in 31 or 32 A.D. The problem with these years is that Nisan 14 took place on a Monday: Monday March 24, 31 A.D. and Monday April 12, 32 A.D.

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Hi Wayne, Like most who comment, I’ve looked at many things on this topic, & have found the best source (for me) to be the Lords Festivals of the Old Testament (Lev 23), since the New Testament had not been written at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, & Jesus Himself said He was there to fulfill the Fathers will (probably refering to His written will in the OT). For the Passover to be properly fulfilled, we have to look at Nissan the 10th for the selection of the Lamb. I’m only a layman, but I believe that the Triumphal Entry… Read more »


Have you looked into the crucifixion being on Thursday? Just curious. If the 14th was on Thursday (ending at sundown) then Friday the 15th would have been the Sabbath of Passover, Saturday the 16th the Sabbath of the week, (two Sabbaths in a row) and Sunday would have been the 17th. Thursday part of the day in the grave, plus Friday and Saturday days – 3 days, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, 3 nights. Christ had already arisen by the time Mary got there at dawn so He rose before the day came so Sunday can’t count as part… Read more »


1) Connie, can you show me the verse in the Gospels where the Lord’s Triumphal Entry is stated to be on a Sunday?? also 2) If Nissan the 14th (Lambs sacrifice/crucifixion) is a Thursday, the Friday is then Nissan the 15th (1st day of Feast of Unleavened Bread) and the Saturday is Nissan the 16th (normal Sabbath), BOTH of these days would be days of Holy Convocation (Sabbaths) and as such, would not allow the buying or selling of anything throughout the land of Israel (see Leviticus 23:3-7). When would the women be able to buy spices “after the sabbath”… Read more »


Interesting ….

Prophecy Viewpoint
Prophecy Viewpoint

Look at the story of Cornelius. He said to Peter “four days ago I was praying until this very hour”. If you track it back, 72 hours had passed. Lazarus was said to “stink” after 4 days (72 hours in Jewish time), yet Jesus did not “see corruption”. In the ancient Law, an animal sacrificed could be eaten of on the first day, and on the day following. But on the “third day” it was considered “unclean”. I doubt our LORD would have been left to be “unclean”. PS: A Thursday crucifixion would put Jesus walking 12 miles uphill from… Read more »


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. Matt 12:39-40 The scribes sure love to invent lies. They should have wrote 2nights and 2days instead. Why such nonsense can be found in New Testament? Well the answer is scribes put made up stories at their own will in Greek text as Aramaic Logia have been eradicate entirely. Thus no men could perform a check on changed words of God. ~~~ Is Greek texts pure word of God.… Read more »