One of the most debated topics involving Biblical chronologies has been the dating of the crucifixion of Jesus. The date of His crucifixion was foretold in Daniel 9:25,26 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, These passages tell us that Jesus the Messiah would be "cut off" or crucified after 69 weeks of time. What year was that?
Many have put forth various dates too numerous to mention ranging from the late 20s to the late 30s A.D. Without going into detail if one considers the decree of Artaxerxes which most place in either 444 or 445 B.C.--which is discussed in The Coming Epiphany--the accepted range for the birth of Christ, that He started his ministry when He was about 30, and the approximately 3½ year ministry of Christ, the only 2 years that are possible for the crucifixion are 32 and 33 A.D. The facts will tell us which date is the correct one.
The first issue that we must address is that some of the Biblical data concerning the timing of events surrounding the crucifixion and for that matter the resurrection seem to be in contradiction. For example in Mt 28:1 it says “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.” This verse indicates that Mary came to the tomb on the Sabbath or Saturday and thus Jesus rose from the dead on a Saturday. But in John 20:1 it says “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” This verse indicates that Mary came to the tomb on a Sunday and that Jesus could also have arisen on a Sunday. So we see that on the one hand the Matthew passage seems to indicate that Jesus rose from the dead on Saturday while the Mark passage seems to indicate that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. So there seems to be a contradiction.
I assure you that there is no contradiction or error in the passages and that there is a logical explanation to the apparent contradiction. The explanation that reconciles both of these passages has to do with the different chronological methods used to mark the start of a day. Galileans started their day at sunrise and the Jews in Jerusalem started their day at sunset. Matthew, Mark and Luke were written using Galilean timing and John was written using Judean timing. Thus in the John passage above the first day of the week started at sundown and the following sunrise is when the day started in the Matthew passage. Mary came to the tomb just at the start of dawn just before sunrise, so in the Matthew passage which was written in reference to Galilean timing it was still Saturday because Sunday did not begin until sunrise and in the John passage, written in reference to Judean timing it was already Sunday because Sunday had started at sunset the day before. Thus one can readily see how these passages are reconciled.
This dual timing is evident in other passages in the gospels also. Matthew 26:17-20 says; “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18. And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. This passage indicates that Jesus and His disciples would eat and celebrate the Passover during what we know as the last supper. Now look what Jn 18:28 says: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.” And Jn 19:14 says “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” These verses in John indicate that the Passover had not yet occurred at the time of the trial of Jesus. So how could Jesus have eaten the Passover with his disciples as indicated in the Matthew passage and yet the Sadducees had not yet celebrated the Passover?
The answer is, as we have already seen, that the two groups used a different time reckoning. Thus the Galileans celebrated the Passover the day before the Judeans. The Galileans day had started at sunrise and thus they would celebrate their feast that night. The Judeans, on the other hand, started their day at sunset and thus the Passover would not be celebrated until the next day. For a more extensive examination of the chronology of the Passion Week I would recommend reading Hoehner’s excellent and scholarly work, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ.
The reason for going over this information is that I wanted to establish the fact that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, the day of the Judean Passover. “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.” Jn 18:28. This verse makes it clear that Jesus was crucified on the day of the Judean Passover. The day of Passover was always on Nisan 14. Thus Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14 (Judean timing).
As a matter of fact we also know the time of the crucifixion. We know from Mk 15:25 that the crucifixion began at the third hour, which was about 9 A.M. “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” And it continued to the ninth hour, which is about 3 P.M. “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” Mk 15:33. We also know that Jesus died at about 3 P.M. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35. And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. 37. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. Mk 15:34-37.
On Passover day, Nisan 14, between 3-5 P.M. is the traditional time that observant Jews would sacrifice the Passover lamb for the feast of Passover. Thus the time of the death of Christ coincided exactly with when the Passover lambs were slain. That speaks beautifully to the fact that Christ is our Passover lamb. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor 5:7) These passages lead us to emphatically conclude that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, the day of the Judean Passover.
The next premise that we will establish is that Jesus was crucified the day before a Sabbath. In other words that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. It is quite evident that the day of the crucifixion was on a Friday. Several passages point this out. “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,” (Mk 15:42) And yet another one; “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. 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 23:53-56.
The Sabbath was held on the last day of the week, which in Jerusalem the Sabbath ran from sundown, on what we call Friday to sundown on what we call Saturday. As we can see both passages indicate that Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath. Thus He was crucified on a Friday. Some claim that the Sabbath talked about in these verses refers to a feast day, which were also considered Sabbaths. Thus they assert that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday in 32 A.D., the day before Passover, which was a Sabbath with Passover being on Thursday. This is cannot be true. The reason that it is false is as follows; For the two years in question 32 and 33 A.D. we can examine the new moon data to see when the month Nisan started and then determine what day Nisan 14, Passover, fell on. The U.S. Naval Observatory had the new moon data listed for the years in question on their website. The data for the two years in question are as follows;
Year Calculated Zero: (Julian) (Gregorian)
32 A.D. 3/29 8 P.M. 3/27 8 P.M.
33 A.D 3/21 10 A.M 3/19 10 A.M.
The dates and times above are for the calculated exact time of the new moon. The data on the website is given in Julian dates; I have converted them to Gregorian as listed above. All modern day dating is in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. But these dates are not the dates for the beginning of the month Nisan, but for the zero point of the new moon. Remember a Hebrew month did not start until the sighting of the crescent moon. Scientists have calculated that the new moon must be at least 11 degrees above the horizon to be visible in Jerusalem. Fotheringham calculated the time of the sighting of the crescent moon as listed below under Calc. Observed. He originally calculated the times in Julian; I have converted them to Gregorian. Thus, as indicated, if the crescent moon was observed at sunset, the next day, would be Nisan 1. I have also calculated Nisan 14 based on the Nisan 1 date.
Year Calc. Zero Calc. Observed Nisan 1 Nisan 14
32 A.D. 3/27 8 PM 3/29 3/30 4/12 (Monday)
33 A.D. 3/17 10 AM 3/18 3/19 4/1 (Friday)
(ALL DATES ARE GREGORIAN)
In the Gregorian calendar, which all dates above are in, Passover, which always occurs on Nisan 14, in 32 A.D. was on April 12, which was on a Monday, and in 33 A.D. it was on April 1, which was on a Friday. Thus it is readily seen that 32 A.D. cannot be a possible date for the crucifixion. There is no way to reconcile a Monday crucifixion with clear Biblical facts about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ which place his resurrection as occurring on the first day of the week, Sunday. Those who claim that Nisan 14 was on a Wednesday in 32 A.D. have failed to take into account the Julian to Gregorian conversion and have transposed a Julian date onto a Gregorian calendar and have come up with the wrong day of the week.
Thus with the 32 A.D. date eliminated we can conclude that Christ was crucified on Passover on Friday April 1, 33 A.D.
Some say that Christ could not be crucified on a Friday because of Mt 12:40 which says; “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.” They contend that Christ could not have been crucified on a Friday and still meet the qualifications for this verse because Friday would not have left enough time for the three days and nights. However I assert that yes Christ was dead for three days and nights, and I also assert that He was crucified on a Friday. This apparent contradiction is easily reconciled when you consider two facts. First, in Hebrew counting any part of a day is counted as a whole day. This is called inclusive reckoning. Thus the three days and three nights do not necessarily refer to 3 entire days consisting of 72 hours, though it could. But the term three days and three nights can refer to parts of three days and nights.
The second fact that we need to consider is the astronomical events that took place at the time of the crucifixion. What I am specifically referring to is recorded several times in the New Testament. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Mt 27:45). “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” (Mk 15:33). It is clear from these accounts that darkness was over all the land from about noon to 3 P.M. We know that a solar eclipse with the moon did not cause the darkness, because at the time of Passover there is always a full moon and you cannot have a solar eclipse at the time of a full moon. Also from lunar data, which is also listed on the Naval observatory site, we know that on April 1, 33 A.D. there was a lunar eclipse. You cannot have a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse by the moon on the same day. So what caused this darkness?
I believe that this darkness was caused by the sun actually setting, which was probably caused by a geo physical pole shift. There are several reasons why I believe this. One of the main reasons concerns the fact that the lunar eclipse that occurred on that day was recorded as being fully observed. Peter makes mention of this fact in Acts 2:20 “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.” Here Peter implies that miraculously the moon was already turned to blood and the sun darkened at the time of the crucifixion. Also the historical letter of The Report of Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea, Which Was Sent to Tiberius Caesar in Rome record the full observance of a blood red moon, which occurs when the moon is eclipsed. “Now when he was crucified, darkness came over all the world, And the moon, which was like blood, did not shine all night long, although it was at the full.”
However lunar data tells us that the lunar eclipse should not have been fully observable in Jerusalem on that day. “On Friday 3rd (Passover) AD 33 [April 1 Gregorian] there was a partial lunar eclipse. It commenced, at 15h 40m local time in Jerusalem, and terminated at 18h 31m local time in Jerusalem. In normal circumstances this eclipse would not have been visible in Jerusalem at the time when it actually began, but the last traces of the eclipse would have been visible for about half an hour.
The only way for Peter and others to have observed a full blood moon lunar eclipse was for a pole shift to have occurred. Another reason why it is believed that a pole shift occurred on that day was because of the worldwide shaking of the earth. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (Mt 27:50-54).
Historians also tell us that earthquakes were recorded in many other parts of the world at that time. The historical account of The Report of Pilate the Governor says this And amid this terror the dead appeared rising again, as the Jews themselves bore witness and said that it was Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs, and Moses and Job, who had died before, as they say, some three thousand five hundred years. And there were very many whom I myself saw appearing in the body, and they made lamentation over the Jews, because of the transgression which was committed by them, and because of the destruction of the Jews and of their law. The terror of the earthquake continued from the sixth hour of the preparation until the ninth hour.
It is theorized that earthquakes occur during a pole shift. There is evidence that throughout the history of the world the earth has undergone pole shifts. Even Einstein promoted this theory. Many believe a pole shift occurred at the time of the crucifixion and caused the darkness and the other anomalies that occurred from the 6th to 9th hour. Isn't this what Amos 8:9 tells us happened? And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:
So if the darkness was caused by a pole shift then the sun would have actually went down and then after the darkness it would have rose again. That is why it was dark enough that the stars could be seen. ( I recommend reading the fascinating article (pdf) "The Catastrope of the Crucifixion") So literally the day of the crucifixion was a day of 2 nights. Therefore since Jesus was dead for part of that “darkness” it can be counted as the first night, then there was light for the about 3 hours between 3 P.M. and 6 P.M., that was the first day. The second night then ensued with the setting of the sun and then the second day followed the next morning. The second night and day was the Sabbath. Then the third night and then Jesus arose just after sunrise on the third day, which was Sunday morning. Thus we have 3 days and 3 nights in which Christ was dead. Please see the chart entitled The 3 days and 3 Nights above for a pictorial representation of the data.
There are many other supporting facts from history, which also support a Friday April 1, 33 A.D. crucifixion. Much supporting data comes from historian’s accounts of the crucifixion. Their accounts also support a 33 A.D. crucifixion and refer to other phenomena that occurred at the time of Christ’s passion. The Epistle of Pontius Pilate, which is a letter from Pilate to Tiberius Caesar. In the letter Pilate states that Jesus had been crucified. The date given at the end of the letter is “The 5th of the Calends of April.” Thus this letter indicates that Jesus was crucified before April 5th. If this letter is to be regarded as authentic then it would also eliminate 32 A.D. as the date of the crucifixion because Passover was on April 12 in 32 A.D. This letter is part of the Apocrypha, which has not been accepted as canonical, but has been regarded as containing trustworthy historical information. The manuscript is owned by the British museum, they deem it as authentic.
Another reason some say that the crucifixion cannot be in 33 A.D. is because of what Luke 3:1-3 says; Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, 2. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
This passage cites the start of John the Baptistï’s ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius. When was the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius? We know for certain that Caesar Augustus died on August 19, 14 A.D.; that is when the reign of Tiberius began. There are different methods for the reckoning of the years of a king’s reign. Using the accession-year system August 19 to December 31, 14 AD is considered the accession year and is not counted and then January 1 to December 31, 15 AD is considered Tiberius’ first year of reign. Thus the fifteenth year would have been from January 1 to December 31, 29 AD. Using the regnal year method then Tiberius’ fifteenth year would have been from August 19, 28 AD to August 18, 29 AD. Taking both of these methods into account would yield Tiberius’ fifteenth year, and the start of John’s ministry to be between August 19, 28 AD and December 31, 29 AD. If you take into account that Jesus did not start his ministry at the same time as John, because John had already gathered a large following by the time Jesus started His ministry, but several months thereafter, and that the ministry of Jesus began in the fall, because half a year before Passover brings you to the fall; then you would have to conclude that Christ began His ministry in the fall of 29 A.D. With a 3.5 year ministry of Christ, that would bring you to the spring of 33 A.D. for the year of the crucifixion. The only way that you could come up with 32 A.D. as the year of the crucifixion was if you used the regnal method and had Christ begin his ministry about 1 month after John started his, which I do not think was likely. Therefore to cite Luke 3:1-3 as conclusive evidence that Christ was crucified in 32 A.D. is not correct. I agree that it allows for that hypothesis but it more likely points to 33 A.D as the date of the crucifixion.
Luke 3:23 is claimed by some to indicate the crucifixion was in 32 A.D. It states “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.” This verse says that when Jesus was baptized He was about 30 years old. Some take this to mean that Jesus was exactly 30 years old when he began His ministry and taking into account his birth date of 9/11/ 3 BC would have the start of His ministry in 28 A.D. and the crucifixion in 32 A.D. But Luke 3:23 only says that He was about 30 years old. I believe if He was exactly 30 years old then it would have said “He was 30 years old. It does not say that, it says He was about 30 years old indicating that Jesus’ age was near 30. Thus Luke 3:23 allows for several possible crucifixion dates. If one insists on maintaining that Jesus was 30 years old when He began His ministry, the 29 AD date still works. For if He was born on 9/11/3 BC then He would have been 30 years old from 9/11/28 to 9/10/29. Thus He could have started His ministry in early September of 29 AD and still have been 30 years old, 3 and a half years later would have been Passover of 33 AD. (For an excellent article about dating the birthday of Jesus see Roy Reinhold’s article “Exact Date of Yeshua’s Birth at: http://www.ad2004.com/prophecytruths/Articles/Yeshua/yeshuabirth1.html
In summary; with the citing of the decree of Artaxerxes in 444 BC and then calculating forward 69 weeks (476 years, 25 days) you come to 33 AD for the year of the crucifixion. (Note: In The Coming Epiphany I show how the time of 476 years and 25 days comes to the exact day of the crucifixion.) Some cite the decree in 445 B.C. and come to 32 A.D. We showed by new moon data that 32 A.D. could not be the correct year because Passover (Nisan 14) was on a Monday in 32 A.D. And there is no way to reconcile a Monday crucifixion with the scriptural record. We also showed that scriptures cited by some to indicate a 32 A.D. crucifixion, upon proper analysis do not necessitate a 32 A.D crucifixion and also allow for a 33 AD crucifixion. From scripture we know that Jesus was crucified on Passover and on a Friday. Passover was on a Friday in 33 A.D. With a proper understanding of the “three days and nights” a Friday crucifixion is in agreement with the scriptural record. Many historical accounts such as the epistle of Pilate also indicate a crucifixion in 33 A.D. Since we have shown that all scriptural facts allow and point to a crucifixion on Passover Friday April 1st, 33 A.D. and that the new moon data only allows for 33 AD thus we have provided conclusive evidence that proves that the crucifixion had to take place on Friday April 1, 33 AD.
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 Hoehner pp.88,9
 ibid. pp. 86,7
 The First Church of Rome, Appendix 1. The Catastrophe at the Crucifixion (pdf)