Jesus’ Crucifixion Date and the Number 3
There are several clues from scripture that indicate the precise year, month, day, and hour when Jesus died. These clues are as follows:
1. The High Priesthood of Caiaphas: The Gospels suggest that Caiaphas, the high priest of the first century, instigated the Crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 26:3-4, Jhn. 11:49-53). Historical records confirm that he held the position of high priest from 18 to 36 A.D., placing Jesus’ death within that period.
2. The Governorship of Pontius Pilate: The four Gospels concur that Pontius Pilate ordered the Crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 27:24-26, Mrk. 15:15, Luk. 23:24, Jhn. 19:15-16). Historical records confirm that he held the position of governor of Judea between 26 to 36 A.D. Thus, we can limit the time range for Jesus’ Crucifixion to a few years within that period.
3. After “the Fifteenth Year of Tiberius Caesar”: The Gospel of Luke specifies that John the Baptist’s ministry began in 29 A.D., the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign when the Word of God came to him in the wilderness (Luk. 3:1-2). Based on all four Gospels, which indicate that Jesus began His ministry after John the Baptist (Matt. 3, Mrk. 1, Luk. 3, Jhn. 1), we can further narrow down the time range. Therefore, Jesus’ Crucifixion must have happened within a seven-year period, from 29 to 36 A.D.
4. Crucified on a Friday: The four Gospels concur that Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Matt. 27:62, Mrk. 15:42; Luk. 23:54; Jhn. 19:42), shortly before the Sabbath, which preceded the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1, Mrk. 16:2, Luk. 24:1, Jhn. 20:1). The mention of “the day of preparation” on which Jews made necessary preparations for the Sabbath confirms that it was a Friday. Therefore, we can narrow down the possible days for Jesus’ Crucifixion to Fridays occurring between 29 and 36 A.D.
5. A Friday at Passover: The four Gospels concur that Jesus was crucified during the annual Passover feast (Matt. 26:2, Mrk. 14:1, Luk. 22:1, Jhn. 18:39). John notes that on the morning of Good Friday, the Jewish authorities had not yet eaten the Passover meal (Jhn. 18:28-29), suggesting that the Passover would have begun at sundown on Friday. This narrows down the possible dates for Jesus’ Crucifixion to April 7 of 30 A.D. or April 3 of 33 A.D., as these are the only two Fridays between 29 and 36 A.D. on which Passover began at sundown.
6. John’s Three Passovers: The Gospel of John records three Passovers during Jesus’ ministry: at the beginning (Jhn. 2:13), middle (Jhn. 6:4), and end (Jhn. 11:55). This indicates a ministry of at least two years, but likely closer to three and a half. Therefore, the 30 A.D. date is unlikely as there isn’t enough time between 29 A.D. and the next Passover to accommodate a ministry of at least two years. Based on this evidence, Jesus’ death is most likely to have occurred on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.
7. “The Ninth Hour”: Matthew, Mark, and Luke all note that Jesus died at about “the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45-50, Mrk. 15:34-37, Luk. 23:44-46), which is equivalent to 3:00 p.m. Using this information, we can pinpoint the exact time of Jesus’ death to around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.
Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks Prophecy
The prophecy of the “seventy weeks” in Daniel 9:24-27 provides additional evidence for the date of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Specifically, Daniel 9:25 states:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks...”
It is a historical fact that King Artaxerxes of Persia gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem on March 5, 444 B.C., which is recorded in the book of Nehemiah. Adding 173,880 days to this date leads us to March 30, 33 A.D. If this is indeed the day when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, then it further supports the date of Jesus’ Crucifixion as Friday, April 3, 33 A.D., which occurred four days later (Jhn. 12:1-19).
1 Akin, J. (2020, April 10). 7 Clues Tell Us *Precisely* When Jesus Died (the Year, Month, Day and Hour Revealed). National Catholic Register. https://www.ncregister.com/blog/7-clues-tell-us-precisely-when-jesus-died-the-year-month-day-and-hour-revealed↩
2 ICR. (1995, October 18). Sixty. Institute for Creation Research (ICR). https://www.icr.org/article/sixty/↩
3 Austin, S. A. (2010). Greatest Earthquakes of the Bible. ICR. https://www.icr.org/article/greatest-earthquakes-bible/↩
4 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (n.d.). Significant Earthquake Information. National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazel/view/hazards/earthquake/event-more-info/8178↩
5 Phlegon. (2nd century CE). Fragment from Olympiades he Chronika 13, as cited in Keller, O. (Ed.). (1877). Rerum Naturalium Scriptores Graeci Minores (Vol. 1, p. 101). Leipzig Teubner.↩
6 Newswire.com. (2015, August 26). Researcher Claims Discovery of 'Jesus in the Stars'. Newswire. https://www.newswire.com/news/researcher-claims-discovery-of-jesus-in-the-stars↩
7 Faulkner, D. (2014). Did the Moon Appear as Blood on the Night of the Crucifixion?. Answers Research Journal, 7, 27-30. https://www.answersingenesis.org/arj/v7/moon-blood-night-crucifixion.pdf↩
8 NASA. (2009, June 7). Partial Lunar Eclipse of 0033 Apr 03. https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEhistory/LEplot/LE0033Apr03P.pdf↩