The exact date of Christ’s crucifixion and death
Neverthirsty: Our first clue as to the time of Jesus’ death comes from John 2:20 where we are told that construction of the temple had already been in process for 46 years. Since the construction of the temple started in 20/19 B.C. which means Jesus’ ministry began after A.D. 27/28. We also know from Matthew 26:3 that Jesus ministered while Caiaphas was the high priest (A.D. 18 to A.D. 37) and Pontius Pilate was governor (Luke 3:1) from A.D. 26 to A.D. 36. Consequently, we conclude that Jesus’ ministry and death occurred between A.D. 30 and A.D. 36. However, it is highly doubtful that Christ lived past A.D. 34 given the year of His birth and the length of His ministry. Now we have the range of years in which Jesus died, but not the exact day.6
Evidence-for-the-bible: Christians commemorate Good Friday and Easter, the yearly events of Jesus’ death (the Day of Crucifixion), and resurrection. All of us understand that this occurred in Jerusalem in the 1st century. That separates Jesus from mythological pagan gods, who were expected to reside in areas or times that none can define. Exactly how certain can we be about the death of Jesus? Can we figure out the precise day? With some mathematical and scientific evidence for the day of crucifixion, we can.
Here’s how …
1: The High Priesthood of Caiaphas
The gospels suggest that Jesus was crucified at the instigation of the 1st-century high priest called Caiaphas (Matthew 26:3 -4, John 11:49 -53).
We understand from other sources that he functioned as high priest from A.D. 18 to 36, so that puts Jesus’ death during that timespan.
However, we can get more certain with scientific evidence for the day of crucifixion. A lot more.
2: The Governorship of Pontius Pilate
All 4 gospels concur that Jesus was crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:24 -26, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:24, John 19:15 -16).
We understand from other sources when he functioned as governor of Judea – A.D. 26 to A.D. 36 – so we can narrow the time span by a number of years.
However, how are we going to get it down to a precise day and year?
3: After “the Fifteenth Year of Tiberius Caesar”
The Gospel of Luke informs us when the ministry of John the Baptist started:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar … the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness [Luke 3 -2]
This identifies a particular year: A.D. 29.
Considering that all 4 gospels portray the ministry of Christ starting after that of John the Baptist had actually kicked off (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1), this indicates that we can shave a couple of more years off our time span. The death of Christ needed to remain in a range of 7 years: in between A.D. 29 and 36.
4: Crucified on a Friday
All 4 gospels concur that Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42; Luke23:54; John 19:42), right before a Sabbath, which was right before the 1st day of the week (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1). We understand that it was a Friday due to the fact that it is described as “the day of preparation”– that is, the day on which Jews made the preparations they required for the Sabbath, given that they might refrain from doing any work on that day. Therefore they prepared food ahead of time and made other needed preparations. That gets rid of 6 of the days of the week, however there were still many Fridays in between A.D. 29 and 36.
Can we find out which one? Again, with more scientific evidence for the day of crucifixion, we definitely can!
5: A Friday at Passover
The gospels likewise concur that Jesus was crucified in conjunction with the yearly feast of Passover (Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:1, Luke 22:1, John 18:39).
Here we come across a small problem, due to the fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke talk about the Last Supper on Holy Thursday as a Passover meal (Matthew 26:19, Mark 14:14, Luke 22:15). That would indicate that Good Friday was the day after Passover. Nevertheless, when explaining the early morning of Good Friday, John reveals that the Jewish authorities had actually not yet consumed the Passover meal:
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium [i.e., Pilate’s palace] It was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover. So Pilate went out to them [John 18:28 -29 That proposes that the Passover would have started on sundown Friday. Referring to John’s declaration about Jesus’ captors as an indicator of what the Jewish authorities or the mainstream Jewish practice was: They were commemorating a Passover that started on what we would call Friday night. That lets us shorten the range of possible dates to simply a handful. Here is a total list of the days around A.D. 29 and 36 on whose evenings Passover started:.
Monday, April 18, A.D. 29.
Friday, April 7, A.D. 30.
Tuesday, March 27, A.D. 31.
Monday, April 14, A.D. 32.
Friday, April 3, A.D. 33.
Wednesday, March 24, A.D. 34.
Tuesday, April 12, A.D. 35.
Saturday, March 31, A.D. 36.
As you can see, we have simply 2 prospects left: Jesus was either crucified on April 7 of A.D. 30 or April 3 of A.D. 33 Which was it? The conventional date is that of A.D. 33. You will discover quite a variety of individuals today promoting the A.D. 30 date. Do the gospels let us choose among the two?
6: John’s Three Passovers.
The Gospel of John records 3 various Passovers throughout the ministry of Jesus:
Passover # 1: This is captured in John 2:13, near the start of Jesus’ ministry.
Passover # 2: This is captured in John 6:4, in the middle of Jesus’ ministry.
Passover # 3: This is captured in John 11:55 (and often talked about later on), at the end of Jesus’ ministry.
That suggests that the ministry of Jesus needed to cover something over 2 years. A fuller treatment would uncover that it stretched over about 3 and a half years. However, even if we presume it started right away prior to Passover # 1, the addition of 2 more Passovers reveals that it lasted more than 2 years at a bare minimum. That suggests the A.D. 30 date is out. There are insufficient time anywhere between the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar– A.D. 29– and the next year’s Passover to accommodate a ministry of at minimum 2 years. The numbers do not add up. As a result, the conventional date of Jesus’ death– Friday, April 3, A.D. 33– need to be considered as the proper one. Can we be a lot more accurate with scientific evidence for the day of crucifixion?
7: “The Ninth Hour”.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record that Jesus passed away about “the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45 -50, Mark 15:34 -37, Luke 23:44 -46). “The ninth hour” is what we, today, would come to know as 3:00 p.m This enables us to shorten the time of Jesus’ death to a remarkably precise point in history: around 3:00 p.m on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. On a final note, even the stars in heaven point exactly to the date that we have concluded here. It is highly suggested that you also view our Prophetic Evidence For The Star Of Bethlehem and have zero doubt as to the 3:00 p.m on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33 date!!
Jeffrey L. Edwards (2017): One significant date used to establish Peter’s travels includes the timing attributed to Christ’s crucifixion. The best method to determine when the Romans crucified Christ requires the process of elimination. Humphreys and Waddington summarize the three main components to use to establish the correct date regarding Christ’s crucifixion:
There are three main pieces of biblical evidence for dating the Crucifixion:
1. Jesus was crucified when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea during AD 26–36 (all four Gospels; also Tacitus, Ann. 15:44).
2. All four Gospels agree that Jesus died a few hours before the commencement of the Jewish Sabbath, that is, he died before nightfall on a Friday. In addition, the earliest writings that explicitly state the date of the Crucifixion all have it as a Friday.
3. All four Gospels agree to within about a day . . . that the Crucifixion was at the time of Passover.
Christ’s crucifixion took place on a Friday afternoon, between A.D. 26 and A.D. 36, and on or near Passover. The following details utilize this and other previous research to verify the exact date for Christ’s crucifixion.
Exodus 12:6 fixed Nisan 14 as the Passover date. They killed a lamb each Nisan 14 “in the evening” (Ex 12:1–8 ). They measured a day from evening to morning, but that practiced changed to a morning reckoning. This evening reckoning or morning reckoning calculation permits Passover to fall either on Nisan 14 or Nisan 15. Between A.D. 26 and A.D. 36 only A.D. 27, 30, 33, and 34 place Nisan 14 or 15 on a Friday. The first step to determining which date the Scriptures state as the crucifixion Passover requires a simple reason that eliminates A.D. 27. John the Baptist’s ministry began in Tiberius Caesar’s fifteenth year, or A.D. 29. Christ’s crucifixion occurred after his ministry began in A.D. 29, thereby eliminating A.D. 27. The second step means eliminating A.D. 34 as a possibility. This requires eliminating Nisan 15 as an option. The reason scholars entertain Nisan 15 relates to which weekday Christ celebrated the last supper. The Synoptic Gospels state that Christ celebrated the last supper as a Passover meal, so it took place on Thursday, Nisan 14, which places Christ’s crucifixion on Friday, Nisan 15. John, however, never calls the last supper a Passover meal, so it took place on Thursday, Nisan 13, which places Christ’s crucifixion on Friday, Nisan 14. The solution to this dilemma requires examining how the Jews measured their days.
Passover could be reckoned from sunset to sunset or sunrise to sunrise. . . . Josephus . . . seems to indicate a sunrise to sunrise reckoning. The Mishnah states that the Passover lamb must be eaten by midnight which would seem to indicate that the new day began . . . at sunrise. . . . Since there were two systems of reckoning the day . . . this would be a solution to the disagreement between the synoptics and John. . . . The Galileans and Pharisees used the sunrise to sunrise reckoning whereas the Judeans and Sadducees used the sunset to sunset reckoning. Thus, according to the synoptics, the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Since the day is to be reckoned from sunrise, the Galileans, and with them Jesus and His disciples, had the Paschal lamb slaughtered in the late afternoon of Thursday, Nisan 14, and later that evening they ate the Passover with the unleavened bread. On the other hand, the Judean Jews who reckoned from sunset to sunset would slay the lamb on Friday afternoon which marked the end of Nisan 14 and ate the Passover lamb with the unleavened bread that night which had become Nisan 15. Thus, Jesus had consumed the Passover meal when His enemies, who had not as yet had the Passover, arrested Him. This gives good sense to John 18:28 that the Jews did not want to enter the Praetorium so as not to be defiled since later that day they would slay the victims for those who reckoned from sunset to sunset. After Jesus’ trial, He was crucified when the Paschal lambs were slain in the temple precincts. This fits well with the Gospel of John. . . . This solution would mean that there were two days of slaughter. This would solve the problem of having to slaughter all of the lambs for all of those participants at the Passover season. . . . Although one cannot be overly dogmatic, it does fit well with the data at hand. It is simple and makes good sense.
This eliminates Nisan 15 and thereby A.D. 34 as a possible crucifixion date, reducing the options to A.D. 30 and A.D. 33.
The third step requires eliminating A.D. 30. Christ’s ministry began, as stated previously, between his baptism in the summer or fall A.D. 29 and his first ministry Passover in A.D. 30. Jesus celebrated Passover at least three times during his ministry (John 2:13, 23, 6:4, 11:55). Christ’s crucifixion, therefore, took place in at least A.D. 32. That leaves A.D. 33 as the only viable option to list as the crucifixion year, or as Finegan states: “According to
the foregoing analysis . . . the crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on Friday, Apr 3, A.D. 33, corresponding to Nisan 14.” 15
The history data surrounding Lucius Sejanus favors the AD 33 date
James M. Rochford (2022): If the AD 27 is too soon and the AD 36 date was too late, this leaves us with only AD 30 and AD 33. Scholars have pointed to a historical figure to solve our dilemma: Lucius Sejanus.
Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor of Judea) was appointed by Lucius Sejanus. Sejanus was arguably the most powerful man in the Roman Empire—second only to emperor Tiberius. Sejanus commanded the imperial guard, and he had almost complete control of the Roman military. Emperor Tiberius had retired to the island of Capri, and for all intents and purposes, he was politically out-of-commission. He had given stewardship of the military over to Sejanus—his first in command.
Sejanus was a horrid anti-Semite, and Pilate implemented his anti-Jewish policies in Judea. Pilate raised up embossed statues of the Emperor in Jerusalem; he seized money from the Temple treasury (the Corbanus); he put down Jewish protests with covert Roman soldiers, who wore plain clothes and wielded clubs. Pilate killed or oppressed many Jews under his reign. Together, Sejanus and Pilate ran an anti-Semitic regime.
By Roman law, the Jews had a right to appeal to the emperor for this injustice, but Emperor Tiberius was isolated, gallivanting on the island of Capri. He never heard any of these complaints, because Sejanus interrupted any attempt to appeal to him. Hoehner writes:
How could all these insults continue without the protest of the Jews to the Roman government? This was not a problem as Sejanus was in full control. Any complaint sent to Tiberius would be destroyed by Sejanus before reaching the island of Capri.
All was going well for Pilate until Sejanus finally overstepped himself with the Emperor. Sejanus sought to displace Emperor Tiberius, slowly killing off all of the heirs to the royal throne before he tried a coup d’état on the Emperor himself. Eventually, Tiberius pieced together the fact that Sejanus was responsible for the insurrection, and he realized that he was positioning for an assassination. On October 18th, AD 31, Emperor Tiberius executed Sejanus for the capital crime of treason, beheading him on the spot. After this insurrection was put down, Tiberius became incredibly suspicious of all of Sejanus’ friends, cynical that anyone could be a part of Sejanus’ treason.
Remember, one of Sejanus’ close friends was Pontius Pilate.
Because Sejanus (a traitor to the Emperor) had appointed Pilate, Emperor Tiberius became incredibly suspicious of Pilate. Anyone connected with Sejanus was viewed as another potential assassin or insurrectionist.
Paranoid that the Emperor would execute him next, Pilate pledged his allegiance to the throne by placing shields with Tiberius’ name on them in the former palace of Herod the Great. The Jews complained about this, probably because these shields referenced the Emperor’s divinity, and they complained to Tiberius. When Tiberius heard about this act, he suspected that Pilate still held anti-Semitic (and thus, pro-Sejanus!) directives, and it made him even more suspicious of Pilate’s loyalty.
Herod Antipas reported Pilate’s anti-Semitic attitude to Tiberius, ratting him out and making him look like a pro-Sejanus traitor. These two men were enemies, because of Pilate’s history of persecuting the Jews, and Herod Antipas held severe leverage over him with the emperor. 22
How does this historical information about Sejanus explain the biblical account?
Knowing all of this history, consider how this resolves the difficulties in several biblical texts.
(Lk. 23:6-12) “When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.”
For years, commentators wondered why Pilate—a man of such horrific anti-Semitism—would bend to the Jews in such a way.
This whole event makes sense in light of an AD 33 date for the crucifixion. If Christ was executed in AD 30, Sejanus would’ve still been in power. Pilate would’ve still been an aggressive tyrant against the Jews, and he would’ve spit in their face, when they tried to push him around politically.
But, if Christ was killed in AD 33, then Pilate would’ve been terrified of offending the Jews! Remember, Pilate was already in hot water with Tiberius, because his anti-Semitism appeared to be pro-Sejanus loyalty, and Pilate was trying to distance himself from Sejanus’ failed insurrection. This would make sense why Pilate was trying to be friendly with Herod: he was trying to get on his good side. Pilate didn’t want to make another wrong move that would give Herod the opportunity to rat him out again.
(Jn. 19:12) As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”
Before the death of Sejanus, Pilate probably would’ve scoffed at the Jewish religious leaders’ political posturing. But, if Sejanus had been killed already, then Pilate would not have wanted any more accusations getting back to Caesar; therefore, he succumbs to their demands. Hoehner writes:
The phrase “friend of Caesar” is a technical phrase which meant that such a one was among the elite in the Roman government who were loyal to the emperor. To lose the status of “amici Caesaris” meant political doom. Pilate realized that he had overstepped himself in the shields episode and could not afford to get into more trouble with Tiberius.
This threat would have been completely null and void, if it was given in AD 30. Sejanus would’ve intercepted any potential petition to Tiberius, and Pilate could’ve quelled any disobedience, as he had in the past (Luke 13:1). But, if this threat came in 33 AD, quickly on the heels of Sejanus’ squashed treason, it would’ve held tremendous weight to Pilate’s already paranoid demeanor. Again, Hoehner writes:
If the crucifixion occurred in AD 30 the Jews’ threat would be empty indeed since Tiberius could not be reached except through Sejanus. However, in AD 33 this is a loaded threat… After the death of Sejanus, Tiberius’ new policy was not to disturb the Jewish customs and institutions. Without the historical data about Sejanus, we are left with a question as to why Pilate would be so passive toward the Jewish religious leaders. On the other hand, given the data, the picture of Pilate in the NT makes perfect sense if these events occurred in AD 33. 16
Oxford Scholars Consult the Stars to Date Crucifixion to 33 A.D.
Four dates have been proposed by scholars as the historical date of the Crucifixion of Christ, but only one--Friday, April 3, in the year 33 A.D.--is backed up by astronomical history, two Oxford University scientists say.
Colin J. Humphreys and W.G. Waddington, writing in the prestigious British journal Nature, present fresh evidence that the Crucifixion took place on the first Friday of April, 33, based on a calculation that a partial eclipse of the moon could be seen in Jerusalem on that date. Humphreys and Waddington say that this eclipse appeared to be "blood red" and followed a dust storm that "darkened the sun," just as the apostles said in the Gospels.
"Presumably, this eclipse was considered irrelevant to the date of the Crucifixion since it was believed to be invisible from Jerusalem," the two Oxford scientists declare. "However, the more accurate calculations presented here prove that this eclipse was visible." For centuries, scholars have argued whether Christ was crucified on one of four April Fridays in the first century: April 11, in the year 27; April 7, in the year 30; April 3, in the year 33, and April 23, in the year 34. The Oxford scientists use Biblical history to dismiss 27 as being too soon and 34 as being too late.
They add: "The only eminent advocate of 23 April, 34, is Sir Isaac Newton, whose chief reason seems to have been that 23 April is St. George's Day," a high Anglican holiday. Between the remaining two dates--April 7, 30, and April 3, 33--Humphreys and Waddington come out for the latter because it is the only Friday in April (at Passover time) when the moon was eclipsed by the Earth in any year from 26 to 36, the years Pontius Pilate served as Roman governor of Jerusalem and could have ordered the execution of Jesus.
Time after time in Biblical history, scholars wrote that the "sun turned to darkness" while Jesus died on the cross and the "moon to blood" just after He died. The Oxford scientists say the sun turned to darkness April 3, 33, because, according to accounts in Roman literature, a massive dust storm occurred that day. So much dust was spewed into the air from the storm that it caused the moon to look blood-red when it became visible to Jerusalem residents late in the day.
"Our calculations show that this eclipse was visible from Jerusalem at moonrise," Humphreys and Waddington write, contradicting scholars who thought the eclipse occurred out of sight of Jerusalem. "The moon rose above the Jerusalem horizon at about 6:20 p.m. (the start of the Jewish Sabbath and of Passover in 33) with about 20 percent of its disc eclipsed, and the eclipse finished some 30 minutes later at 6:50 p.m." Importantly, the scientists say, the Earth's shadow was near the top of the rising moon, making 65 percent of it to appear to be in eclipse. The color of the rising lunar eclipse would have been enhanced by the dust particles suspended in the atmosphere over Jerusalem by the storm.
"It might be thought curious that a crucifixion lunar eclipse is not mentioned in the Gospels," Humphreys and Waddington conclude. "In retrospect, this lunar eclipse would have seemed insignificant to the Gospel writers compared with the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The Gospel writers were not primarily interested in providing clues for chronologists." 17
Andreas Köstenberger (2014): We conclude that Jesus was most likely crucified on April 3, a.d. 33. 18
Colin Humphreys (2011): What I believe is conclusive is that we can rule out AD 30 as the year of the crucifixion, leaving April 3, AD 33 as the only possible date 19
Wikipedia: Recent astronomical research uses the contrast between the synoptic date of Jesus' last Passover on the one hand, with John's date of the subsequent "Jewish Passover" on the other hand, to propose Jesus' Last Supper to have been on Wednesday, 1 April AD 33 and the crucifixion on Friday 3 April AD 33 and the Resurrection on the third day. 20
The end date corresponds to the date the Messiah the Prince is cut-off. End Date of The Prophecy — April 3, A.D. 33
Neverthirsty: Jesus died on April 1, A.D. 33 in the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian calendar the date is April 3, A.D. 33 and in the Jewish calendar it is Nisan 14, 3793. 6
Jesus died, therefore, on Friday, April 3, AD 33 at about 3 p.m., a few hours before the beginning of Passover day and the Sabbath. This is the date in the Julian calendar, which had been introduced in 46 BC, and follows the convention that historical dates adhere to the calendar in use at the time.24
Jesus died, on Friday, April 3, AD 33 at about 3 p.m
While I do not give much weight to Biblical numerology, the following is noteworthy. Jesus dies on 3 April 33 AD, 3 pm. Lots of 3s there. What symbolic meaning does the number 3 have in the Bible?
In the Bible, the number 333 is not specifically mentioned or given any symbolic meaning. However, the number 3 is a significant number in the Bible and is often associated with divine completeness or perfection. For example, the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is a central doctrine of Christianity and represents the completeness of God's nature.
Additionally, some biblical events occurred on the third day, such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In some instances, the repetition of a number may be seen as emphasizing its symbolic meaning. So, while the number 333 is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, some people may interpret it as a repetition of the number 3 and associate it with divine completeness or perfection. For example, in the Old Testament, God is referred to as "holy, holy, holy" in Isaiah 6:3, which is a triple repetition of the word "holy," emphasizing the completeness and perfection of God's holiness. In the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day is seen as a symbol of his completeness and victory over death, and the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represents the completeness of God's nature.
Yes, the last words of Jesus on the cross, as recorded in the New Testament, are often translated as "It is finished" or "It is accomplished." These words are recorded in John 19:30 and are seen by many Christians as an expression of the completion of Jesus' mission on earth, which was to provide salvation for humanity through his sacrifice. The Greek word used in the original text is "tetelestai," which can also be translated as "It is paid" or "It is accomplished." The word was used in various contexts in ancient Greek, including to indicate the completion of a task or the full payment of a debt. The idea of completion or fulfillment is a recurring theme in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, where Jesus is seen as the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation for humanity. The words spoken by Jesus on the cross are seen as a powerful expression of this idea of completion and fulfillment.
There are numerous examples in the Bible where God is portrayed as starting and finishing what He decided to do. Here are two examples:
The Creation: In the book of Genesis, God is depicted as creating the world and everything in it in six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. At the end of each day of creation, it is said that God saw that it was good, indicating that He had completed His work for that day and was satisfied with the result.
The Exodus: In the book of Exodus, God is depicted as leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Despite various setbacks and challenges along the way, God is portrayed as fulfilling His promise to bring the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Last edited by Otangelo on Sat Feb 25, 2023 5:43 am; edited 5 times in total