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What time was Jesus crucified? Explaining the difference between John's account and the other gospel writers

Updated on November 12, 2012

My world had changed since I was a teenager. The days of walking the countryside with Jesus were long gone. Everything about my heritage was destroyed. Our Jewish customs and way of life were obliterated after the destruction of the Temple. There were hardly any Jews in Jerusalem anymore. I had escaped long before the Temple burned to the ground. After that, nothing was left of our beautiful city but piles of rubble and ash. Those who weren’t slaughtered were mostly sold into slavery or scattered throughout the world.

Some have said that the Bible isn’t true because of the differences between my gospel and the other three. But that is not the case. The world I wrote my book in was a Roman world. There was no Jewish authority, no worship or sacrifice, gone were the Pharisees and Sadducees. There were no Jews to keep the festivals and celebrations alive in Jerusalem. Our way of life was fading into the memories of the old. Soon we would only be remembered by our writings. I wanted people to know who Jesus really was. My gospel would be different that the others already circulating among the Churches. Those were written soon after the death and resurrection of our Lord, when the Jewish culture still thrived. I knew Jesus better than anyone. I knew it was important that the world understand that Jesus was the Son of God.

One of the differences found in my book relates to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Mark writes that Jesus was crucified in the 3rd hour and darkness covered the land between the 6th hour and the 9th hour. Matthew and Luke both agree that darkness covered the land between the 6th hour and the 9th hour. While I state that Jesus was still before Pilate in the 6th hour.

John 19:13 – “When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement(which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the 6th hour.”

Mark 15:1, 25, 33 – “Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate… (25)It was the 3rd hour when they crucified him… (33)At the 6th hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour”

Luke 22:66 &23:1, 44 – “At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together and Jesus was led before them…. (23:1)Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. (44)It was now about the 6th hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.”

Matthew 27: 1, 45 –“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor… (45)From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.”

I can understand the confusion. Why would I say Jesus was before Pilate so long after he was crucified, when the others say he was on the cross and darkness filled the land? There is an explanation. Remember, the times were different when the others wrote their accounts. The Jewish religion and customs still thrived in Jerusalem and throughout all of Israel. One of their customs was the way they marked time. Unlike the Romans and the rest of the world, who started their clock at midnight, the Jews started their day after sunrise. Their 1st hour of the day was at our 6 am, which made their 3rd hour 9am on the Roman clock. By the time I wrote about the crucifixion their clock had been abolished. It was only natural that I would use the timeline common to the rest of the world. So my 6:00 hour was the same that you are accustomed to. Jesus was in front of Pilate soon after daybreak, between 6 and 7 am. It fits perfectly with the accounts by the other gospel writers who say Jesus was lead to Pilate early in the morning, soon after daybreak. Three hours later the verdict was carried out and three hours after that darkness covered the land for another three hours after which Jesus died. There is no contradiction. I simply used a different way of marking the time of day.


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