By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Updated March 26, 2016


Note: If you disagree, don’t simply tell me I am wrong. Please write me a detailed rebuttal and cover every point as I would do with your article.  Thanks.


  1. Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas 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.


Only once, in Mathew 12:40, the Bible records Jesus saying that He would be resurrected after “three days and three nights.” So the cry goes out “if this is not literally true, then Jesus is a liar. Absolutely no other explanation can be accepted.”


However, Matthew alone subsequently records SEVEN TIMES Jesus’ words that He would be resurrected “in three days” (26:61; 27:40), “after three days” (27:63) and “the third day) (16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64).  Why, why, why do not these same people cry out saying the same words about these texts? — “if these are not literally true, then Jesus is a liar”???


When Mark, Luke and John are added to Matthew’s list, a total of 17 (SEVENTEEN) statements of Jesus read “in three days; after three days” and/ or “the third day.” That 17:1.  Every word is inspired.  However, rather than reconcile all 18 references, those who insist on Matthew 12:40 (by their actions) teach that the 17 other quotations of Jesus are wrong.


Book In three days After three days The third day
Matthew 27:63 (12:40 & 3 nights) 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64
Mark 8:31 9:31; 10:34
Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 21, 46
John 2:19-21


It is obvious from the above chart that “in three days,” “after three days,” “the third day” and even “three days and three nights” are all equivalent.” Matthew uses all four phrases for the same period. Mark. Luke and John have 10 (TEN) phrases among them and do not repeat Mathew 12:40 even once. The interval from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is three days and three nights, by inclusive reckoning.


  1. INCLUSIVE RECKONING: The common mode of counting employed in the Bible is shown to have been inclusive reckoning, that is, counting both the first and the last unit of time in calculating an interval.The following commentaries agree with the inclusive majority reckoning position: Adam Clarke; Barnes Notes; Jamieson, Fausset and Brown;  Mathew Henry; and The Bible Knowledge Commentary. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary takes the 72-hour position and Wilmington’s King James Bible Commentary is neutral.


  1. JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA: [This should not be ignored.] “A short time in the morning of the seventh day is counted as the seventh day; circumcision takes place on the eighth day, even though, of the first day only a few minutes after the birth of the child, these being counted as one day.” Vol. 4, p. 475.


Scores of contradictions would appear in both Old and New Testament if this principle were ignored –especially with the kings’ list of accession and regnal years in Kings and Chronicles.


  1. EGYPT, GREECE AND ROME: Inclusive reckoning was also used generally by other ancient nations.


(1) An EGYPTIAN inscription recording the death of a priestess on the 4th day of the 12th month relates that her successor arrived on the 15th, “when 12 days had elapsed.” Today, we would say that when 12 days had elapsed after the 4th, the date would be the 16th.


(2) The GREEKS followed the same inclusive method. They called the Olympiad, or the four-year period between the Olympic Games, a pentaeteris (five-year period), and used other similar numerical terms.


(3) The ROMANS also, in common usage, reckoned inclusively; they had nundinae (from nonus, ninth), or market days, every ninth day, inclusive, actually every eight days, as indicated on ancient calendars by the letters, A through H.


(4) TODAY our current musical OCTAVE (8) is actually only 7 notes long since the 7th note of one octave is the first note of the next octave.




  1. Genesis 17:12 A Hebrew boy was circumcised when “eight days old”, that is, “in the eighth day” (Levites 12:3).


Luke 1:59; 2:21 Similarly Luke speaks of circumcision “on the eighth day” or “when eight days were accomplished”. Evidently “when eight days were accomplished” does not mean eight full days from the date of birth, but eight inclusive.


  1. I KINGS 12:5, 12; 2 CHRONILE3S 10:5, 12 When, at the death of Solomon, Rehoboam was petitioned to lighten the tax burden, he told the people to depart “for three days” (1 Kings 12:5) and then return for his decision “after three days” (2 Chronicles 10:5). They came “the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day” (1 Kings 12:12; cf. 2 Chronicles 10:12).


  1. 2 KINGS 14: 2, 17, 23Jeroboam II of Israel succeeded his father Jehoash in the 15th year of Amaziah of Judah (2 Kings 14:23), and Amaziah “lived after the death of Jehoash … of Israel fifteen years” (2 Kings 14:17). A modern reader would mentally add 15 to 15, reaching Amaziah’s 30th year, yet Amaziah reigned only 29 years (verse 2). Inclusive reckoning is again the most logical explanation, since 15 years, inclusive, from the 15th year is the 29th, in which he evidently died.


  1. 2 Kings 18:9-10. The siege of Samaria lasted from the fourth to the sixth year of Hezekiah, which is equated with the seventh to the ninth year of Hoshea, and yet the city is said to have been taken “at the end of three years.” In modern usage we would say two years, by straight subtraction. Obviously the Bible writer reckoned inclusively (years four, five, and six totaling three years).


  1. ESTHER 4:16; 5:1Esther asked the Jews of Shushan to fast, and by implication, to pray, for her before she went in to the king unbidden, and then she approached the king “on the third day” (Esther 4:16; 5:1). Obviously a period of “three days” ended on the third day, not after the completion of the three days, as we would reckon it.


  1. JOHN 20:26 “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”


“After eight days” – not “seven days later” or “a week later”—means “the following first day of the week. This extremely evident use of inclusive reckoning is attested by the all eight commentaries at my disposal – including Wycliffe which supports the 72-hour theory: Adam Clarke; Barnes Notes,  Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; Matthew Henry; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Wiersbe’s Bible Exposition Commentary; and Wilmington’s King James Bible Commentary.




The Hebrew lunar year is about eleven days shorter than the solar cycle and uses their own 19-year cycle to bring it into line with the solar cycle, with additional months every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years. Even with this, the average Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 40 seconds than the current mean tropical year, so that every 216 years the Hebrew calendar will fall a day behind the current mean solar year; and about every 231 years it will fall a day behind the Gregorian calendar year. When to add extra months was based on observation of natural agriculture-related events.


The system was gradually displaced by the mathematical rules used today. The principles and rules were fully codified by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah in the 12th century. Maimonides’ work also replaced counting “years since the destruction of the Temple” with the modern creation-era Anno Mundi.




According to, this is the sequence of events for the 72-hour crucifixion theory. It is true that Jewish months began at the first sighting of the new moon. While this did not affect the day of the week or the weekly Sabbath, it did affect the timing of all non-weekly holy days such as Passover, Firstfruits and The Day of Atonement. Passover always fell on the 14th day of the first month determined by the new moon and was always on a full moon. Since non-weekly holy days did not normally fall on the weekly Sabbath (one to seven chance), they were called High Sabbaths. Historically the Passover which followed Jesus’ crucifixion coincidentally also fell on the weekly Sabbath. However, the 72-hour-crucifixion theorists teach that Jesus was crucified in the middle of the week on a Wednesday and the Passover which followed was a Thursday High Sabbath.





(1) Jesus was placed on a cross at the 3rd hour of the day at 9 AM (Mark 15:25); darkness covered the earth between the 6th and 9th hours between 12PM and 3PM; He died at the 9th hour at 3PM on Wednesday, the preparation day for the High Passover Sabbath (Mt 27:45-46; Mk 15:33-34; Lk 23:44; Jn 19:14).


(2) Joseph bought linen and wrapped Jesus’ body (Mk 15:46; Mt 27:59; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:40).


(3) The women observed Joseph’s entombment (Mt 27:61; Mk 15:47; Lk 23:55). .




(4) PASSOVER, the 14th day of the first month, is determined by the first sighting of the new moon. Since it must be on a full moon, the odds are one in seven that it will fall on the weekly Sabbath day (Ex 12:1-6).


(5) “And they [the women] returned … (Luke 23:56a)

The 72-hour-theorists teach that there are 5 (FIVE) days and two Sabbaths involved in Luke 23:56 and 24:1. They returned home Wednesday before sunset

(6) [and rested Thursday during the High Passover Sabbath] (no texts!).




(7) “… and bought and prepared spices and ointments” Luke 23:56b [on Friday following Thursday Passover] (no texts)


(8) [and did nothing else all day Friday] (no texts)




(9) “… and rested [a second] Sabbath day [that week] according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56c).


(10) Jesus arises on the weekly Sabbath just before sunset exactly 72 hours after he was buried on Wednesday.






(10) The women come to anoint the body which is gone.




(1) There is no proof that “preparation day” does not refer to the day before the weekly Sabbath in Mt 27:62; Mk 16:42; Lk 23:54 and John 19:14, 31, 42. One must reason in reverse in order to force the texts to refer to Wednesday rather than Friday. Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke, nor John mention or allude to more than one Sabbath.


(2) The fact that Joseph bought linen late on the day before the Sabbath proves that stores stayed open until the last moment. Sunset dates for Easter allowed for at least four hours of daylight before sunset.


(3) A plain simple literal reading of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John reveals that the women intended to anoint the body at the earliest possible time.


(4) Literal conservative Christians almost always reason from God’s Word outward and reject scientific methodology. Yet here some get their “proof” from a Naval Observatory. Even then they disagree about the exact year of Christ’s crucifixion. The odds are that sometime between 30 and 33 AD Passover fell on the weekly Sabbath.


(5) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all say that the women rested on the Sabbath. None say that they rested TWICE that week as is taught by the 72-hour theorists.


(6)  This is fabrication to force God’s Word to agree with the 72-hour theory. The Bible does not tell us “when” the women bought their spices. Since there were about 4 hours between Christ’s death and sunset, there was time to buy them (as Joseph had done in Mark 15:46) before sundown on Friday.


(7) This is a very weak point in the 72-hour theory. If the women had bought their spices at the earliest opportunity on Friday following a Thursday High Sabbath Passover, they would have certainly gone directly to the tomb on that Friday to anoint the body. They would not have wasted all day Friday.


(8) This is another very weak point in the 72-hour theory. A very careful reading of the last two chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reveals nothing about a mid-week Thursday Sabbath, two preparation days, two Sabbath days and the women resting twice before finally reaching the tomb to anoint it.


(10) Common sense should alert the Bible student of error in logic.  It makes no sense to teach that the women would not go to the tomb after buying spices on Friday after a Thursday High Sabbath, yet they rush at the very earliest possible moment 3 ½ days after a Wednesday crucifixion to anoint the body on the following first day of the week. Why the great rush when there was no rush the preceding Friday?





Matthew 27:57 to 28:1


Matt 27:57-61 “When the even was come”
Joseph “took the body, wrapped it, and placed it in his own tomb” while the women watched 27:57-61). “Now the next day” (Saturday) the soldiers guarded the tomb (Mt 27:62-66). “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (Matt 28:1).



Mark 15:42 to 16:2


Mk 15:42-47 only adds that Joseph “bought fine linen.” The next verse, 16:1-2 says “And when the sabbath was past” the women came on “the first day of the week.”



Luke 23:54 to 24:1 reads “the preparation day” of “the Sabbath” (23:54). “The women returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment” (23:56). They returned “the first day of the week, very early in the morning.”


  1. 72-hour theorists must conclude that either:


  1. Jesus told the truth in Mt 12:40 and lied 17 other times.
  2. Jesus lied in Mt 12:40 and told the truth 17 times.
  3. All 18 references are to the same time using inclusive reckoning as was common to Jews.


  1. “” errs when he says that the women bought spices on a Friday following a Thursday High Sabbath. This makes no sense. After buying spices they had the almost all of Friday to go to the tomb to anoint the body; thus it would have been unnecessary to rest during the weekly Sabbath!!! Think this through.


  1. The argument that the women must have waited until Friday morning to buy spices has no biblical validity.


  1. All agree that Jesus died around 3PM. Passover is always a full moon.
  2. Passover (Easter) Sunset in Jerusalem this year is between 6:55 and 7:16. (Washington, GA is 6:43 PM, Wednesday, March 23, 2016).
  3. Therefore there was between 3 hours and 55 minutes to 4 hours and 16 minutes before sunset for Joseph to purchase the linen shroud and the women to purchase spices after Christ died.
  4. According to Mark 15:45-46, after Joseph of Arimathea had received permission from Pilate to have the body, he “bought” the “fine linen,” removed and wrapped the body. This must have occurred Friday before sunset.
  5. According to Mark 16:1 the women “had bought sweet spices”. The 72-hour advocates state categorically that the women could only have bought their spices on Friday following a Thursday High Sabbath. This is not true. Like Joseph of Arimathea, they still had time to buy spices after seeing the tomb and before sunset Friday. As previously mentioned, if the 72-hour theory is correct, the women had all day Friday to anoint the body and would not have needed to do so on the first day of the week.


  1. Vallowe very seriously errs when he uses Daniel 9:27’s “in the midst of the week” to argue that it pointed to Wednesday as the day of crucifixion. This is horribly wrong!!! “Week” and “weeks” in 9:24-27 (6 times) are “weeks OF YEARS” — not days of the week. Even worse, the reference in 9:27 is to ANTICHRIST, not Christ!!! “In the midst of the week” is 3 1/2 YEARS after ANTICHRIST makes his covenant with Israel in the last days. Vallowe is evidently not dispensational.


  1. Vallowe makes another error when he uses Leviticus 23:10-11 to argue that Christ arose on Sunday as the “firstfruits” of Pentecost –the 50th day after the second High Sabbath of Passover.


  1. This argument has no relevance to the 72-hour resurrection theory.
  2. This argument counters “BeyondToday’s” weekly Sabbath resurrection argument.
  3. The Passover Sabbath could fall on any day of the week – a full moon depending upon which day the New Moon began the New Month.
  4. Traditional interpretation (which I agree with) teaches that Christ was crucified on Friday when High Sabbath was also a weekly Sabbath.


  1. Vallowe errs when he categorically states that Jewish days are from 6 AM until 6 PM. In reality, even today Jewish days begin at sunrise and sunset which change every day.


  1. Vallowe greatly errs when he states that Jewish months are 28 days long. In reality, their months have always begun at the first sighting of the new moon and ends with no moon at all to be seen. Lunar months are 29.53days long, or 29 ½ days long. Thus each Jewish year is 11.5+ days shorter than a solar year. Because of this Jews add extra days 7 times every 19 years to keep current. [In 2016 there are Adar I and Adar II beginning the year.] Yet Vallowe plays games with “28” to reach 1512 years from the Exodus (when most scholars only guess at the correct date).


CONCLUSION: It is far easier to reconcile “three days and three nights” using inclusive reckoning than to ignore the 13 texts which state that Jesus would rise again on the third day itself (and not “after the third day”).




  1. And the women “returned” home Wednesday before sunset …
  2. and rested Thursday the High Sabbath Passover day
  3. “and prepared spieces and ointments”two days later on Friday
  4. and did absolutely nothing the remainder of that Friday
  5. “and rested the [weekly] Sabath
  6. but rushed to anoint the body following the weekly Sabbath




  1. [FRIDAY] They “returned and prepared spices and ointments” Friday evening before sunset
  2. [SATURDAY] “and rested the weekly sabbath day according to the commandment
  3. [SUNDAY] “and upon the first day of the week” rushed to anoint the body.
  4. Thus fulfilling 17 times Jesus promised to rise “the third day,” “on the third day” and “after three days.”


Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

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