The Hebrew calendar in Jesus’ time consisted of 12 months based on the lunar cycle. The Sanhedrin declared when each month started by taking
observations of the new moon.
A lunar year only had about 354 days in it so the first month ‘Nisan’ (March -
If it was too early in the year the barley might not be ready so towards the end of Adar it would be inspected. If it was not yet ripe, a leap year would be declared and an extra month would be added. These last two months would then be named Adar l and Adar ll.
For this reason Nisan, having moved forward each year, would then go back a month. Easter, coming at the start of Passover, similarly moved as well.
The Jews had always been happy with this method of calculating Passover, but the First Council of Nicea in AD 325 decided they needed a more scientific formula for the date of Easter, and so it is now no longer strictly tied to Passover.
Passover always fell on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which had to start on 15th Nisan, regardless of what day of the week that was. But the festival had to start and end with a Sabbath. These were then simply imposed on a normal week, so often the feast would have had three Sabbaths, one normal weekly one and the two special ‘Festival’ Sabbaths.
Following Pentecost, the first Christians seemed to meet on the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 20:7). During the first years of the Christian church, with no written Gospels to guide them, Christians became divided into those who celebrated Christ’s Resurrection, (the first day of the week following Passover), and those who remembered his death (the day before Passover Sabbath).
But with Christians scattered from Jerusalem, some into predominantly Gentile areas (Acts 2:9-
A problem arises when we try to fit the biblical narrative concerning the last days of Jesus into our current calendar. Some have since argued that it fits the scriptures better for the crucifixion to have been on Wednesday, but personally I feel that Thursday is actually the most likely.
The greatest problem stems from Matthew 12:40 where Jesus said ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’. (It’s not only the Matthew passage that speaks of three days: Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27:63-
In the calendar that follows I have attempted to arrange all the Bible verses that seem to indicate dates, days and times in chronological order.
The biggest confusion for us comes when trying to understand the Hebrew concept of Days. Their day starts at sunset, goes through that evening and night, through the next morning and afternoon and stops at sunset the next day:
I’ve arbitrarily decided to show sunrise and sunset at 6 o’clock to make it easier to demonstrate.
The calendar is designed to be viewed by scrolling right and left. The first panel contains entries with vague day/dates leading up to the last week. The following panels each represent one day.
All verses are available to read together on a separate webpage – click on the ‘Bible Passages’ button on each calendar page and the narrative page will open at the appropriate day. You can then scroll up or down to read more. To return to the calendar choose the previous tab. If you prefer to see the verses and commentary as a PDF file -
Another option is to listen to the verses and commentary read aloud -
(Unfortunately some devices or browsers cannot reproduce audio files. Also only more recent versions of popular browsers will work -
Click the picture below to enter the calendar
If you would like to PRINT or copy this study, click HERE for the PDF version, then Rt Click, and select ‘Print’, or ‘Save as’