After noon on the day before the Passover meal
Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
John 18:28 NASB – text 1

14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”
15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:14-16 NASB – text 2


Mid-morning on the day after the Passover meal
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
Mark 14:12 NASB – text 3

It was the third hour when they crucified Him.
Mark 15:25 NASB – text 4

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath.
Mark 15:42 NASB – text 5

SAB Contradiction 341


Two problems
There are actually two problems
– the hour of the crucifixion
– the day of the crucifixion
These two statements seem to be contradicting each other in the gospel of John and Mark.

The hour of the crucifixion and death of Jesus
In John we read of the sixth hour of Jesus’ sentencing – text 2
In Mark we read of the third hour of Jesus’ crucifixion – text 4

The day of the crucifixion
We read in John that Jesus was crucified on a day that the Pharisees wanted to eat the Passover. For that they didn’t want to enter Pilate’s palace to avoid becoming unclean for the Passover that evening (text 1). That day was also named the day of the Preparation for the Passover (text 2).
However we read in Mark that the Passover had been eaten by Jesus and his disciples the evening before (text 3).


The question of the hour
There was a common way of time indication counting the 12 hours of daylight from sunrise (about 6 a.m. our time) to sunset, as Jesus said: “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9). Of course there was also the need to count the hours at night. The critic seems to have the odd presupposition that everybody slept at night in classical times without a need to count the hours then. However one counted six hours of the first part of the night (sunset to midnight; compare Acts 23:23) and also six hours after midnight (till sunset) for the second part of the night. The sixth hour mentioned in John 19:14 was at the end of the night, at dawn or early in the morning (John 18:28 – Greek: prooi). This was the end of the fourth night watch (three hours till sunrise), the period that day laborers were hired at the marketplaces (Matth. 20:1). The sixth hour was as each hour numbered at the end of the period of one hour. So the sixth hour of (the latter part of) the night stood for the zeroth hour of the day and as that was certainly not proper use of language one spoke of the sixth hour (6 a.m.) as the end of the night and the beginning of the day.

Jesus was brought before Pilate very early while it was still at night, at the beginning of the fourth (last) night watch of three hours (John 18:28). At the end Jesus was sentenced, round the end of the night and the beginning of the day (6 a.m.) It is fairly reasonable that within three hours before daytime Jesus was interviewed by Pilate as well as by Herod (Jesus refused to answer him) and that he had returned to Pilate for the final sentence at the beginning of the day.

The third hour (crucifixion, Mark 15:25) is 9 a.m. After the sentence of 6 a.m. it took still three hours before the crucifixion. Preparations had to be made: two criminals were taken, necessary formalities had to be completed, a second mockery of Jesus (Matth. 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20), the walk to the cross with delays and the crucifixion.

Many scholars suppose that John followed a special Roman time indication in 19:14. I.e. counting the hours from 1 up to 12 from midnight to noon and again 12 hours until midnight (just as we count). However there are two objections against this view: (1) John seems to use the common time indication as he refers to that in John 11:9, (2) the other time indications in John’s Gospel does not seem to follow this so called Roman time indication. The question of John 19:14 seems to lie in the absence of the term zeroth hour of the day.

See the article: At what time was Jesus Crucified?

9.00  a.m.                 Crucifixion (Mark 15:25, third hour)
12.00 – 3.00  p.m.    Darkness (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44, sixth – ninth hour)
3.00  p.m.                 Jesus dies (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, ninth hour)


The question of the day
(updated 2022)
To solve this question we have to realize that there existed two Seder evenings and both were called Passover. John followed in his description the first Seder evening (John 13-17). On this evening the slaughtered lamb was eaten by the people in and near Jerusalem (evening 14 Nisan). However John also mentions the second Seder evening (John 18:28) of 15 Nisan following daytime. The second Seder evening no lamb was eaten, only unleavened bread. 16 Nisan was a Festival Sabbath and 15 Nisan was the day of liberation out of Egypt, but it was not a day of rest (Sabbath).
Moreover after the second Seder evening a full festival week followed (of Unleavened Bread) and that is still the tradition in Jewish culture. This week was (and is) also named the week of Passover. This week began (begins) with an extra Sabbath, a day of rest. This Sabbath day (16 Nisan, Leviticus 23:6) followed the day of 15 Nisan, which was therefore a day of preparation (for the Festival Sabbath, John 19:14, 31).


14 Nisan

15 Nisan

16 Nisan

17 Nisan

18 Nisan

Preparation for the Passover meal, Seder evening Preparation for the second Seder evening (also named Passover) and for the extra Sabbath
Crucifixion and burial
Extra Sabbath for week of unleavened bread (Feast of Passover) Normal Sabbath First day of the week.
Resurrection at sunrise

Day 1 in grave (partly)

Night 1 and Day 2 in grave

Night 2 and Day 3 in grave

Night 3 in grave

Looking at the overview it becomes clear that there is no contradiction. There are indeed two moments of preparation:
– on 14 Nisan for the first Seder evening (Passover),
– on 15 Nisan for the Festival Sabbath on 16 Nissan (a. o. second Seder evening), the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also named Passover). And 15 Nisan was indeed the day of crucifixion in Matthew, Mark and Luke as well as in John. Day of Liberation out of Egypt.

No Contradictions


Traditionally the fixing of the day of crucifixion is on 14 Nisan on a Friday, without the Extra Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This counting is not in accordance with Jesus’ announcements that he would be three days and three nights in the grave. Only two days and two nights remain in that case: Friday ↓ Burial  | night Saturday (Sabbath) | night ↑ Resurrection.

It doesn’t seem appropriate to find out the year of Jesus’ crucifixion by answering the question in what year were 16 and 17 Nisan two Sabbaths in succession (one Great Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, John 19:31; and a normal Sabbath therafter). We simply don’t know how the months of the Jewish calendar were fixed in New Testament times; were they the same way as ours today?