Did Jesus Die on Good Friday and Rise on Easter Sunday?

Proof of a Friday Crucifixion and Sunday Resurrection

A crucifix with Jesus and Mary

It is an ancient and established tradition, based on the Bible, that Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday and rose from the dead on a Sunday. This chronology places the Last Supper on a Thursday night. Yet some modern religious groups question this long held tradition. Who is right?

Scripture teaches that Jesus rose from the dead "early in the morning the first day of the week" (Mark 16:2, KJV). It was on the same day (first day of the week) that Jesus met hHs apostles on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:1). The Gospel of John also confirms that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday (John 20:1).

The ante-Nicene Church Fathers (Christian writers from AD 100-330) universally held that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday and worshiped on Sunday, "The Lord's Day." The Fathers also testify to the Institution of the Eucharist on a Thursday and a Friday crucifixion of Jesus. Even though Jesus tells us that He was to be in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights, in ancient Jewish reckoning, this included partial days. Thus, Jesus was saying that his time in the Earth would span three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). Justin Martyr (writing in AD 150) testifies to both Sunday worship and a Friday crucifixion of Jesus:

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples... (First Apology 67)

The Didache (written around AD 70-90) also mentions Sunday worship and fasting on Fridays (likely connected to Jesus' crucifixion that day):

Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites... but fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday)...But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure (8, 14).

The  Apostolic Constitutions (late 4th century) verifies the same chronology. Note that, based on Scripture, this document provides the rationale for the dates of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

And on the fifth day of the week (Thursday), when we had eaten the Passover with Him, and when Judas had dipped his hand into the dish, and received the sop, and was gone out by night, the Lord said to us: "The hour is come that ye shall be dispersed, and shall leave me alone" (V:3:XIV).

...it being the day of the preparation (Friday), they delivered Him to Pilate the Roman governor, accusing Him of many and great things, none of which they could prove...[Jesus] commanded us to fast on the fourth and sixth (Friday) days of the week; the former on account of His being betrayed, and the latter on account of His passion (V:3:XIV, XV).

But when the first day of the week (Sunday) dawned He arose from the dead, and fulfilled those things which before His passion He foretold to us, saying: "The Son of man must continue in the heart of the earth three days and three nights" (V:3:XIV).

Virtually every Church Father who addresses the issue agrees with the traditional dating of a Thursday Last Supper, Friday crucifixion, and Sunday resurrection. This includes those Church Fathers and writings mentioned above, but also Ignatius (AD 105), Barnabas (AD 120), Clement of Alexandria (AD 195), and many others. This chronology is firmly based on Scripture, and is universally verified by Tradition.



Updated 02-21-2017