Archive for the ‘Resurrection’ Category

Three Days and Three Nights – Hebrew Idiom for Three Consecutive Calendar Days

April 19, 2017

Jonah’s use of “three days and three nights” repeated by Jesus in prophesying his own death, burial, and resurrection has led to some confusion. As you may recall, in Jonah, it is written:

Jonah 1:15-17
So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Similarly, Jesus states:

Matthew 12:38-41
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Some people have taken this expression as expressing emphasis on both daylight and and dark periods, instead of understanding the expression as simply meaning three consecutive calendar days. Interestingly enough, the same expression is found in one other place, where it is fairly clear that three calendar days is meant:

1 Samuel 30:1 & 11-14
And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; … And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.

The point of “three days and three nights” is just that the Egyptian had been continuously without food and water for three calendar days. The point is not the day and light portions, but the continuity. We see that from the fact that David returned “on the third day” (vs. 1) and from the fact that the Egyptian had only fallen sick “three days agone.”

The way that “on the third day” worked for the Hebrew way of counting days can be seen from Jesus’ own use:

Luke 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Similarly, in Leviticus:

Leviticus 19:6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.

Even in 1 Samuel, we see the same way of counting:

1 Samuel 20:5 And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.

Regarding the use of days and nights, the point is not to emphasize the period of darkness, as though the Egyptian had been 72 hours without food, but simply to emphasize the continuity of his involuntary fast. We see the same principle employed in other situations where continuity is the point:

  • “forty days and forty nights” of the rain in the great flood (Genesis 7:4 and 12).
  • “forty days and forty nights” of Moses’ fasts on the mount (Exodus 24:18 and 34:28, Deuteronomy 9:9, 11, 18, and 24, Deuteronomy 10:10).
  • “forty days and forty nights” of Elijah’s fast on his journey to Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
  • “seven days and seven nights” of Jobs’ friends’ silence (Job 2:13)
  • “forty days and forty nights” of Jesus’ fast in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2)

We also see the same thing in the use of the expression “day and night,” which is used to mean “continuously.” A few examples:

Leviticus 8:35 Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.

Deuteronomy 28:66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

1 Kings 8:59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:

1 Chronicles 9:33 And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.

2 Chronicles 6:20 That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psalm 32:4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

Psalm 42:3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

Luke 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

Acts 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

Acts 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

Revelation 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Finally, recall that Jesus prophesied explicitly that he would rise “the third day”:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 17:23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Matthew 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew 27:64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

Mark 9:31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Luke 18:33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Luke 24:7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Moreover, Jesus himself confirmed that this was true:

Luke 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

Moreover, Paul tells us the same thing:

1 Corinthians 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

So, it is clear that the reference to “Three days and three nights” refers simply to three successive or consecutive calendar days, as opposed to meaning three periods of light and darkness. Otherwise, Jesus would rise on the fourth day after having been buried for 72 hours.

Finally, of course, we know that Jesus was killed on Friday, which is also called “Preparation”:

Mark 15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

Luke 23:54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

John 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Moreover, we know that Jesus rose in the morning on the first day of the week:

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

John 20:1The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

John 20:19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

So, again, we can see that the three consecutive days were Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

In short, while the expression “three days and three nights” is a little unfamiliar as an idiom to our English-listening ears, with all the Biblical data, it becomes clear what was meant, and that what was meant was fully consistent with the rest of Scripture.

Is There Any Evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection?

April 16, 2013

Someone recently kindly suggested a debate on the topic of “whether there is any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.” The most surprising thing to me is that anyone would think such a topic is debatable. Normally the question people have is over the weight or credibility of the evidence, not whether there is evidence or not.

There certainly is evidence. The most obvious evidence is the New Testament, which records a variety of testimony. That testimony includes purported eye-witness testimony of Jesus being crucified, dying, and rising again on the third day. Now, a skeptic may fail to accept the claims of this testimony, but that does not change the fact that the evidence is evidence.

The New Testament also records the miracles that accompanied the people who taught the resurrection, including those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection but also those who were apparently not, particularly Paul. These miracles provided secondary evidence – evidence of the truthfulness of the witnesses, God using the sign gifts to show that they were divinely sanctioned.

The Old Testament also provides evidence of the resurrection. The form of this evidence is prophecy. In other words, the Old Testament prophesied that the Christ would rise again from the dead. For example:

Psalm 16:10
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Is there any direct physical evidence of the resurrection? No. Things like the “Shroud of Turin” or the “Sudarium of Oviedo” are just pious frauds, like so many other supposed relics.

Is there any other extra-biblical evidence of the resurrection? Other evidence is very attenuated. There is evidence of the willingness of Christians to die for their faith, which included (and was based on) belief that Jesus rose and that all men will one day rise. This is evidence that the belief was sincerely held. But, of course, such sincerity is primarily of value with respect to the martyrdom of the eyewitnesses (such as James the brother of Jesus) and not so much of 2nd or subsequent generations of believers.

Indeed, there is evidence of the resurrection in a very attenuated way in the lives of believers (i.e. true Christians) today. Our lives show the work of the Spirit in our lives and confirm the truth of Scripture in a general way.

So, yes – there is evidence. For someone to argue that writings aren’t evidence would seem to be absurd. So, I’m not sure that the topic (as proposed) is really a debatable.

A related question might be whether someone should believe that Jesus rose again based on the weight of the evidence. And of course, that question depends on a number of prior considerations. Given that the Scriptures are the inspired and infallible Word of God, they are the best possible evidence for anything. If it says it in the Bible, you can rightly trust that it is true. That’s a higher level of reliaiblity than something as otherwise reliable as radiometric dating, DNA testing, polygraph, or eyewitness testimony. God’s word is even more reliable than your own senses.

Of course, a skeptic may refuse to accept that the Scriptures are the Word of God, but that does not change the objective reality that they are. It just means that the skeptic is shutting himself off from the most reliable evidence.


Echos of the Great Earthquake?

April 16, 2013

In Matthew’s gospel, we are treated to the only direct account of a remarkable resurrection:

Matthew 27:51-53
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

We don’t have any other direct accounts of this resurrection, leading some to doubt that it happened.

But I wonder whether we may have some indirect evidence – some echos, as it were, in this passage:

2 Timothy 2:18
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Isn’t the great earthquake resurrection the most obvious candidate for this belief? After all, if a significant number of people rose from the dead at the same time, that might appear to be a big enough miracle that people might forsake any expectation of a general resurrection. And what alternative basis could there be? A limitation of the resurrection to Jesus himself? A fulfillment of the resurrection in Tabitha and Eutychus or Lazaraus? It’s hard to understand this “resurrection is past already” hyper-preterism (so to speak) aside from the great earthquake resurrection.

Still, I have to acknowledge that as fun as this explanation may be, it is just speculation. I don’t know the basis for the false claim that the resurrection is already past – I just know that the claim is false. The resurrection, both of the just and the unjust is still to come.


Christ is Risen!

April 4, 2010

Truly he is Risen!

1Co 15:14 & 20
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. … But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Romans 8:33-34
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.


The Real Francis Turretin on: the Resurrection

May 3, 2008

Turretin on the Resurrection

Here, first of all, we ought to distinguish between the foundation on which the faith of the resurrection rests, and the arguments by which that faith is confirmed. The only foundation is the omnipotent will of God, revealed in His word. But the arguments are manifold, and are drawn partly from Scripture, and partly from reason. Some are primary and demonstrative, others secondary and probable; some which prove the resurrection in general, both of good and bad; others which prove only the resurrection of the righteous, but which necessarily imply that of the wicked. The first reason is from passages of Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments. The second from the resurrection of Christ. Because, the resurrection of Christ being granted, ours, which is inseparable from it, follows as a matter of course, 2 Cor. iv. 14; 1 Thess. iv. 14; Rom. viii. 11; 1 Cor. xv. 22. Hence, the ancients call the resurrection of Christ the example of our faith; the key of our sepulchres, and the pledge of our resurrection. Manifold reasons of this connexion may be given : 1. In respect of merit, Christ is our Redeemer, not of our souls only, but of our bodies also; therefore He ought to raise up the body that along with the soul it may be gifted with the life purchased by Him; whence the resurrection of the body is expected by the faithful, Rom. viii. 23. Otherwise He could neither be said to have redeemed our bodies, nor to have swallowed up death in victory. 2. In respect of efficacy, from the connexion of the Head and members; Christ rose as the Head of the Church, Eph. i. 20. If, therefore, the Head rose, why should He not draw after Him His own members? For of what kind were that body whose head were living but its members dead ? Yea, because I live, saith He, John xiv. 19, ye shall live also, because He is the resurrection and the life, that is, its foundation and principle. As in Adam all die, that is, derive the cause of death from him, so in Christ shall all be made alive, both meritoriously and effectively. Here belongs the type of the first-fruits, by which the whole harvest was sanctified ; whence, Paul says, “Christ by His resurrection became the first-fruits of them that sleep,” because He rose first by His own proper power, and brings it about that we also rise. 3. In respect of dominion, because Christ so rose that He might be the Lord and King of His Church, Rom. xiv. 9, of the dead and living. But what kind of a dominion were that whose subjects should remain in death? This relation of Lord may be viewed in a twofold aspect, either with respect to the faithful, of whom He is so the Lord that He is also their Father; or with respect to the wicked, of whom He is the Lord and Judge; whence the necessity of the resurrection of both depends, — of believers indeed upon Christ, as Redeemer and Head, in so far as He ought to be the Saviour of His body; but of the wicked upon Christ the Judge, who ought to render to every one what is his own. Hence Paul, Acts xvii. 31; 2 Cor. v. 10. 4. In respect of the mutual communion subsisting between Christ and us, which requires that there should be a conformity between both. That what has taken place in the Head should be effected, after His example, also in the members, and what is denied of the members be denied of the Head also. Hence it happens that the apostle, not only from the affirmation of Christ’s resurrection deduces ours, but also from the negation of ours infers the negation of His, 1 Cor. xv. 13, because the Head cannot be without the members. Third, from the covenant of God, which, since it necessarily imports perfect felicity and eternal life, cannot be fulfilled in us, unless with the immortality of the soul there be given also the resurrection of the body, that the whole man may partake of the benefits of the covenant for ever. Whither belongs the very formula of the covenant, “I am thy God,” from which Christ reasons against the Sadducees, Matt. xxii. 32, as most efficacious for stopping their mouths. Fourth, from the justice of God which enjoins that rewards be rendered to the good, and punishment to the wicked, even in the body that sinned. But since actions are of the whole suppositum and the organic body hath its own part in either kind of actions, it is equitable that the whole man, not a part of him only, should be rewarded or punished. And since this does not always happen in this life, where the lots of good and bad are often confounded, it must of necessity be effected after this life, in bodies raised from the dead, 2 Cor. v. 10 ; 2 Thess. i. 6, 7. Fifth, from the condition of our bodies. Because, since our bodies have been made temples of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. iii. 16; vi. 91, and have already begun to be glorified by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, it cannot be that they should perish and vanish into thin air, but is necessary that they remain forever sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit. To which also they are consecrated by the use of the sacraments; while in baptism is given the symbol of our burial and resurrection with Christ; and in the supper we are fed with heavenly meat, which perisheth not, but remaineth unto life eternal, John vi. 54. Sixth, from the examples of those who were raised in the Old and New Testaments, which were illustrious preludes of the last resurrection. Seventh, from the absurdities, urged by Paul, which oppress the contrary opinion, 1 Cor. xv. 13, 14, 15, 19, 30, 32, &c. So sinners might securely indulge in carnal lusts, since no punishments are to be feared after this life. Since all which are most absurd, that from whence they are deduced is also absurd. In a word, the negation of the resurrection is the overthrow of the whole of Christianity, of all faith, piety, and hope.

(Loc. xx., Quaest. I.)

(source – The Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, Vol. XX, 1868, pp. 345-347)

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