Dates of the Lord’s Resurrection and Pentecost

Most denominations in Christianity follow the Catholic way of determining the dates to commemorate the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Lord, which they name “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday”, respectively. Also, the Pentecost was set on the eighth Sunday after Easter Sunday. However, the modern day traditions and the timing of these three ceremonies are Biblically unfounded. Sadly, most of the people of God follow the traditions of Christianity without examining whether the tradition is true to the Bible. The Word of God teaches that whatever the people of God do, they must do it for the glory of God and in the name of Jesus:

Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31).

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17).

If the people of God celebrate the resurrection of Christ and Pentecost according to the unbiblical traditions of Christianity, how can those celebrations be done for the glory of God and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? To make it even worse, they call the resurrection of the Lord by the name of a pagan god, Easter! Let’s briefly cover how Christianity incorrectly determined these dates.

In 325, through the First Council of Nicaea, the Catholic Church decreed that the remembrance of the Lord’s Resurrection would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox [1]. The vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the March or spring equinox. It marks the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, the imaginary line above the Earth’s equator, from south to north. This happens on March 19th, 20th, or 21st every year. The Catholic Church also decreed that the remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion would be commemorated on the Friday before that Sunday.

Their Pentecost is celebrated on the eighth Sunday from Easter Sunday. Thus, their Easter and Pentecost are always on Sunday. Due to this arrangement, it is possible that their Easter is preceded by the Passover or sometimes long after the Passover. For example, Easter of 2017 was set to be on Sunday, April 16th even though the Passover of 2017 was on April 10th. The true date for the Resurrection in 2017 was on Thursday, April 13th, not April 16th.

To figure out the true dates of the Lord’s resurrection and of Pentecost, we will be referencing the Jewish calendar, a calendar that God gave to Israel (Exodus 12:1-2).

According to the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ died on Passover, the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar. After three days and three nights, He resurrected on the 17th of Nissan. As mentioned in the Bible, Pentecost is 50 days after the first Sabbath of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:15-21). Therefore, when we take into consideration that Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, contains 30 days and Iyyar (Iyar), the second month, contains 29 days, Pentecost must fall on the 6th of Sivan, the third month. Also, the Resurrection day and the day of Pentecost do not always fall on the first day of the week.

Date of the Resurrection

First of all, we must remember that the Lord Jesus Christ must die and be buried in the earth for three full days and three full nights according to His own prophecy:

For as Jonah 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).

Compare the previous verse to the Old Testament:

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).

Day is the time from sunrise to sunset. Night is the time from sunset to sunrise. Together, one day and one night is a period of about 24 hours in which the earth revolves around itself in a circle.

If anyone says that after death, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for less than three days and three nights, less than 72 hours, that person is speaking against the Scripture, against the prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, it is obviously impossible to have the Lord Jesus Christ die on Friday afternoon, be buried in the ground before sunset on Friday, and then be resurrected before sunrise on Sunday. In this case, the Lord was only in the ground for two nights and one day; *Christ was only buried for one night on Friday plus one day and one night on Saturday, totaling only about 36 hours. The reason why Christianity believes that the Lord Jesus Christ died on Friday is because they mistake the first Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, which is the day after the Passover, for the Sabbath on Saturday. They think that the next day after Christ’s death was a Sabbath of the weekend. Thus, they conclude that the day the Lord Jesus Christ died must be Friday. However, according to the Bible, the next day is actually a special Sabbath, not a Sabbath of the weekend:

The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, and so that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that Sabbath day was a high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.” (John 19:31).

The Sabbath after the day Christ died is called a “high day” because it is the Sabbath that begins on the first day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of Nissan (Exodus 12:1-2). It is important to note the following:

The Bible never states that the Lord Jesus Christ died on Friday. The Bible simply states that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Passover, the 14th of Nissan, before the Sabbath that begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

To avoid further confusion, we should also mention that the Bible never mentions that the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected early in the morning of the first day of the week, contrary to what some may believe. The Bible only records that after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread and the weekend Sabbath, some women came to the tomb in the early morning of the First Day to anoint of the body of the Lord. Additionally, the Lord appeared first to Mary Magdalene on that day. The following are the Bible verses related to the matter, closely translated from biblical Greek:

(Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible)

And on the eve of the Sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the Sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,” (Matthew 28:1).

And on the first of the Sabbaths, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bearing the spices they made ready, and certain others with them,” (Luke 24:1).

And on the first of the Sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene doth come early (there being yet darkness) to the tomb, and she seeth the stone having been taken away out of the tomb,” (John 20:1).

(Literal Translation of the Holy Bible by Jay P. Green, Sr.)

But late in the Sabbaths, at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary came to gaze upon the grave.” (Matthew 28:1).

And the first of the Sabbaths, while still very early, they came on the tomb, carrying spices which they prepared; and some were with them.” (Luke 24:1).

But on the first of the Sabbaths, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, darkness yet being on it. And she saw the stone had been removed from the tomb.” (John 20:1).

There were two Sabbaths between the time of the Lord’s death and resurrection.

Now, we look at Mark 16:9 (KJV):

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.”

Compare the previous verse to the following biblical Greek version (The Greek New Testament Textus Receptus):

(risen) ανασταςG450 V-2AAP-NSM (now) δεG1161 CONJ (early in the morning) πρωιG4404 ADV (first day of) πρωτηG4413 A-DSF-S (week) σαββατουG4521 N-GSN (He appeared) εφανηG5316 V-2API-3S (first of all) πρωτονG4412 ADV-S (Mary) μαριαG3137 N-DSF (the) τηG3588 T-DSF (Magdalene) μαγδαληνηG3094 N-DSF (out of) αφG575 PREP (whom) ηςG3739 R-GSF (He cast out) εκβεβληκειG1544 V-LAI-3S (seven) επταG2033 A-NUI (devils) δαιμονιαG1140 N-APN

Per biblical Greek context, that verse should be translated as the following:

Now Jesus was risen, early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.”

Note the difference in meaning between “risen early on the first day of the week” and “was risen, then early on the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene”. When the verse is correctly translated, we can make the correct assumption that our Lord was risen at the end of the Sabbath weekend.

Now, let’s find out when *Christ died and was resurrected in terms of the days of the week.

We know that Passover is on the 14th of Nissan, which begins after the sunset of the 13rd until the sunset of the 14th.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats. And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” (Exodus 12:5-6).

The following is a list of events from the time our Lord ate the Passover meal with His disciples until the time He appeared to Mary Magdalene:

1. After the sunset on the 13rd of Nissan, the 14th began, and the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples ate Passover:

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said unto Him, “Where wilt Thou have us go and prepare, that Thou mayest eat the Passover?” ” (Mark 14:12).

The first day of Unleavened Bread is the 14th of Nissan, which is the Passover. It is not the first day of the Unleavened Bread Festival, which is the next day of the Passover, the 15th of Nissan. The Israelites start to eat unleavened bread one day before the Unleavened Bread Festival.

2. At the Passover meal, the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins…”” (Matthew 26:26-28).

3. After the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples sung a hymn and went up to the Mount of Olives, into the garden of Gethsemane, to pray:

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30).

Then Jesus came with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, “Sit ye here while I go and pray yonder.”” (Matthew 26:36).

4. After the Lord Jesus Christ prayed, Judas Iscariot led the soldiers of the temple to arrest Him, taking Him to the house of Caiaphas the high priest:

And those who had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.” (Matthew 26:57).

5. Early in the morning of the 14th of Nissan, the chief priests and elders of Israel gathered at the Sanhedrin. They then delivered Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate, the governor of the Roman government:

When the morning had come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor.” (Matthew 27:1-2).

6. Pilate delivered the Lord Jesus Christ to King Herod, but King Herod sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:6-12).

7. Pilate knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was innocent, but because he could not overcome the pressure of the Jews, he gave the Lord Jesus Christ to his soldiers so that they would crucify Him on Golgotha. (Matthew 27:15-37).

8. From the sixth to the ninth hour of the 14th of Nissan, all of the land was darkened. The Lord Jesus Christ took His last breath at about the ninth hour:

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”” (Matthew 27:45-46).

And Jesus having again cried with a great voice, yielded the spirit;” (Matthew 27:50 – Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible).

The sixth and ninth hour are equivalent to 12 noon and 3 p.m., according to the Roman method of counting time, which we use today. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross at about 3 p.m. on the Passover, the 14th of Nissan.

9. The next day, the 15th of Nissan (after the sunset of the 14th), is the first Sabbath of the Unleavened Bread. The body of Jesus Christ must have been buried before the sunset on the 14th.

The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, and so that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that Sabbath day was a high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.” (John 19:31).

10. After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene early in the morning of the first day of the week, when she visited His tomb:

Now Jesus was risen, early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9).

Since the Lord Jesus Christ must be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, we can draw the following conclusions: the Lord died around 3 p.m. on Passover, the 14th of Nissan, so He was buried before sunset on the 14th of Nissan.

  • From the sunset on the 14th to the sunrise on the 15th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full night (the first night).

  • From the sunrise on the 15th to the sunset on the 15th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full day (the first day).

  • From the sunset on the 15th to the sunrise on the 16th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full night (the second night).

  • From the sunrise on the 16th to the sunset on the 16th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full day (the second day).

  • From the sunset on the 16th to the sunrise on the 17th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full night (the third night).

  • From the sunrise on the 17th to the sunset on the 17th, the Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth for a full day (the third day).

  • Since the Lord was buried before sunset on the 14th and then resurrected before sunset on the 17th, He was in the earth for three days and three nights. Early in the morning of the 18th, He appeared to Mary Magdalene.

Since the 18th was the First day of the week, that means that the 17th was the Seventh day, the 16th was the Sixth day, the 15th was the Fifth day, and the 14th was the Fourth day of the previous week.

We can conclude that the Lord Jesus Christ died and was buried in the earth in the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan before sunset, which was the Fourth day of the week. He was resurrected and came out of the earth on the afternoon of the 17th of Nissan before sunset, which was the Seventh day of the week. The first person to see the Lord after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene early in the morning of the First day of the week, the 18th of Nissan.

Now that we’ve figured out when these events happened according to the days of the week, we will figure out what year the Lord died and resurrected in, next.

To know what year the Lord died and resurrected in, we must find the year in which the Passover was celebrated on, which was the Fourth day of the week when the Lord Jesus Christ was about 33 years old.

Luke 3:23 said that the Lord Jesus was about 30 years old when He was baptized to be Christ:

And Jesus Himself had become about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, who was the son of Heli,”

The time from the beginning of His ministry to His death was only about 30 months. He began His ministry at about 30 years old and completed His ministry at around 33 years old.

The Bible records that the Lord Jesus was born under the reign of King Herod, who tried to kill Him when He was about two years old (Matthew 2:16). History records Herod’s death between March 13, 4 BCE (Before Common Era), the day of the eclipse occurring in the skies of Jerusalem, and April 11, 4 BCE, which was the Passover of that year [2]. Thus, the Lord Jesus must have been born about three years before Herod’s death, around the fall (October) in 7 BCE.

Between the fall of 7 BCE to the fall of 24 CE (Common Era) is 30 years, the age that Jesus would be when He was baptized. When making these calculations, we must also remember that there is no year 0. Thus, 7 BCE to year 1 BCE equals 6 years. Year 1 BCE to 24 CE equals 24 years. These two periods of time make up 30 years.

So, using the information above, the Lord must have been baptized around fall of the year 24, when He was about 30 years old, to begin His ministry; the Lord spent three Passovers throughout His ministry:

  • The first Passover (John 2:13) was during the year 25, after He was baptized.

  • The second Passover (John 6:4) was during the year 26, after He performed the miracle of feeding about five thousand people with fish and bread.

  • The third Passover (John 13:1) was during the year 27, when He died on the cross on the Passover.

The Passover of the year 27 was the Fourth day of the week, the 14th of Nissan of the year 3787, according to the Jewish calendar, which is Wednesday, April 7, 27, according to the Gregorian calendar we are using. The day of the Resurrection was the Seventh day of the week, the 17th of Nissan of the year 3787 of the Jewish calendar, which is Saturday, April 10, 27, according to the Gregorian calendar we are using.

So, is the year 27 truly the year that Christ died and resurrected? To answer that question, we must take into consideration that Pilate was the governor of Judea from the year 26 to the year 36. During those 11 years, only the year 27 and the year 30 had Passover on the Fourth day of the week. The Lord Jesus Christ could not die and resurrection in the year 30, because that will make Him begin His ministry when He was about 33 years old, and that’s not true according to Luke 3:23.

Now that we know the truth about the Lord’s Resurrection, we must now think about what God would want us to do regarding these dates. The Lord does not teach us to celebrate His resurrection. He simply teaches us to remember His death every time we attend the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11: 24-25). Additionally, the Holy Spirit teaches us to proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus Christ until He comes (I Corinthians 11:26). However, there is nothing wrong if we want to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. As God’s people, we are free to do everything, as long as those things are useful, constructive, and for the glory of God:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.” (I Corinthians 10:23).

Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31).

It means that we can celebrate the Lord’s resurrection and Pentecost with other ceremonies as long as we do not follow the wrong traditions of Christianity, do not call the resurrection day by the name of a pagan god (Easter), do not mix up superstitious pagan practices into our celebrations, and choose the correct date to celebrate the Resurrection, which is always the 17th of Nissan, three days after Passover.

Let’s now go over the date of the Pentecost.

Date of Pentecost

The High Sabbath that began the Feast of Unleavened Bread after the Passover of the Year 27 was on the Fifth day of the week, the 15th of Nissan of the year 3787, according to the Jewish calendar. The 50th day after that day is the day of Pentecost:

And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete. Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days, and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

So, Pentecost of the year 27, also known as the day of the coming of God the Spirit and the day the Church was born, was the Sixth day of the week, the 6th of Sivan of the year 3787 of the Jewish calendar, which was Friday, May 28, 27 according to the Gregorian calendar we are using.

As previously stated, in the Jewish calendar, the first month, Nissan, always has 30 days and the second month, Iyyar, always has 29 days. Thus, Pentecost, the 50th day after the first day of the Unleavened Bread, always falls on the 6th of Sivan, the third month [3], and is not necessarily always on the First day of the week.

There are some interesting parallels related to Pentecost. The first one is that mankind was created on the Sixth day of the week, and the second one is that the Church was born on the Sixth day of the week.

Another parallel is that the Jewish people called Pentecost the Feast of the Weeks and considered it to be the anniversary of receiving the commandments and laws from *God at Sinai. Exodus 19:1 states:

In the third month after the children of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the Wilderness of Sinai.”

The idiom “the same day” means that the day is in the same order as the order of the month. That is, since this event occurred on the third month, the “same day” would be the third day of that month. The Israelites camped at the bottom of Mount Sinai on that day, and next day, the 4th of Sivan, Moses went up to the mountain to meet with *God. *God commanded the Israelites to keep themselves holy for two days (the fourth and fifth day of Sivan). Then, on the day after the two days the Israelites sanctified themselves (the sixth day of Sivan), *God came down and gave of the Ten Commandments and the law (Exodus 19-20)

The Church can view Pentecost as both the day the Church was founded and the day God the Holy Spirit recorded the commandments and laws of God into the hearts of God’s people (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Jeremiah 31:33).

Today, God’s people do not need to keep the seven festivals of *God as required in the Old Testament, for they foreshadow what Jesus Christ is going to do for the people of God in the New Testament (Colossians 2:16-23). However, if anyone wants to celebrate Pentecost, they should celebrate it on the day the Bible says it is, the 50th day after the Sabbath, which begins the Unleavened Bread, the 6th of Sivan of the Jewish calendar.

Conclusion

As the people of God, we live in the truth (John 14:6) and are sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). Therefore, we absolutely avoid what is not true. We should not keep the unbiblical traditions of Christianity and we should not be involved in superstitious practices during the holidays. Let us cleanse ourselves of the leaven of Christianity (Matthew 16:6; I Corinthians 5:7-8).

May the wisdom of God be with us. A-men!

Written by Pastor Timothy Christian Huynh and Priscilla Christian Huynh
Edited by Grace Christian Huynh
04/15/2017

Notes

Link to download the pdf file of this article: https://od.lk/f/MV8xNTU0MzM2MDJf

You can follow this link to utilize the online software I used to convert between the Jewish calendar and the Julian and Gregorian calendars: http://www.abdicate.net/print.aspx

[1] Philip Schaff, “History of the Christian Church,” volume 2, page 218. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2006.

[2] Flavius Josephus, “Jewish Antiquities,” 17.6.4.

[3] http://www.jewfaq.org/holidayc.htm

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