I am not a published theological scholar. I do like to read and study the bible and theological writings. What I am about to share with you will not change your salvation. It is my hope that it will give you a new perspective. I will teach about how Jesus fixed our sin problem and the world fixed the time of Easter.
The Biblical Account
Here is a timeline of the death, burial and resurrection according to the gospel of Matthew and Mark. Mark is one of the earliest gospels recorded from an oral tradition. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gospel-According-to-Mark; https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gospel-According-to-Matthew
|Event||Scripture||Bible Time||Our Time||Good Friday|
|Before Passover||Matt. 26:17||Day Fourth Day||Wednesday||N/A|
|Passover, Betrayal, Arrest||Matt. 26:20||Evening Fifth Day||Wednesday||N/A|
|Trial||Matt 27:1||Daybreak Fifth Day Passover day||Thursday||Yes|
|Noon to 3 p.m. crucifixion||Matt. 27:45||Passover day||Thursday||Yes|
|Burial after crucifixion||Matt. 27:57 Mark 15:42||Evening of Preparation Day||Thursday|
|Preparation Day||Sixth Day||Friday||Yes?|
|Sabbath||Matt. 27: 62||Sabbath begins at evening||Saturday||N/A|
|First Day of the Week||Matt. 28:1 Mark 16:1||After Sabbath begins at evening||Sunday||Easter Sunday|
Telling the Days and Times in the Bible
I read an article by Dr. Kim Papiaoannou from Cyprus in Ministry Magazine about the days of the week. In bible times they didn’t have months like January named after Janus or days of the week like Thursday named after Thor. There was one day of the week named and that was Sabbath. She asserts that we misunderstood the language to be the first day of the week. It was more like the first day after Sabbath or the first day toward Sabbath. Her article is entitled “Naming the Days of the Week: Overlooked evidence into early Christian Sabbatarian practice”. You can find this article and her other articles on this page: https://www.ministrymagazine.org/authors/p/papaioannou-kim.
Months of the year are determined by the lunar calendar with fluctuating dates. (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/months-of-the-jewish-year/). According to an article in Christianity Today entitled “Why Does Easter’s Date Wander?”, the Julian Calendar was established in 45 BC. (https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/why-does-easters-date-wander.html) This means that there was a lunar and solar calendar being kept in the days of Jesus. The lunar year has 12 cycles of 29.53 days or 354.36 days (Brown, Christianity Today). Passover is always on a full moon. Easter is always on a full moon. (Correction: Easter is always after the full moon). This year, the full moon appeared on Wednesday which is when Passover began.
The Fix for Good Friday
An article by BBC News published on 18 Apr 2014 explains that Good Friday is a designation given by a church as signification of a Holy Day (https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27067136). Passover is a holy day established by God. So, the early church commemorated the crucifixion on that day. Scripture supports this practice with Jesus stating that we should “do this in remembrance of me”( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+14%3A22-25%2CLuke+22%3A18-20%2C1+Corinthians+11%3A23-25&version=ESV). Therefore, Passover is God instituted feast day and Good Friday is holiday made by man.
So how did this happen. The Nicaean Accord in 325 AD under Emperor Constantine decreed that Easter (celebration of Christ’s resurrection) must never fall on the Jewish Passover date (Brown, Christianity Today). Furthermore, Brown goes on to write that Easter was decreed to fall on the first full moon following the spring equinox. The spring equinox is when the length of the day and night are approximately equal. However, there was still a schism in the church. The eastern churches of Antioch and Syria were using a lunar calendar. The western churches of Alexandria and Rome were using a solar calendar. The Encyclopaedia Britannica explains the schism between the eastern and western churches here with a map: https://www.britannica.com/event/East-West-Schism-1054.
Farrell Brown also describes the 1563 Council of Trent papal bull by Pope Gregory establishing the Gregorian calendar. That is the calendar that we use today which is based on a solar year with a fix of 365 days. This made deciding on the holiday schedule more uniform. However, discrepancies still exist. You still ask about the date for Easter each year. Full moons and other calculations for the day just aren’t the same each year. All over the world, the crucifixion and the resurrection are celebrated or commemorated differently. Just as there are different time zones, there are different calendars being used to decide Passover, Good Friday and Easter.
Brown concludes that the early church didn’t record the exact date that Jesus resurrected so that we could celebrate that date. If you remember, the disciples were still reeling from the fact that Jesus died. Even though he stated that he would die and resurrect, they just weren’t expecting him to come back. It is my supposition that Jesus resurrected on the Sabbath out of human view. The scripture tells us that he was discovered to have arisen on the first day of the week early in the morning while it was still dark (John 17). It is important that our faith is in the fact that he was crucified. That is verified by not only the bible, but by history recorders. He was resurrected. He is coming back again. These are the tenets of our faith.
Keep Romans 14: 1-3 in mind that it isn’t important for us to argue over small issues. With our central belief, we honor God whether we feast in his name or don’t feast in his name. We participate in communion at different times, but we all believe in the salvation of the Christ.
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