In Its Verse
II Peter 1:20 is a Scripture that I ordinarily begin
with in my classes. In this book I have gone into
more background to point out the accuracy of The
Word so that now we are ready to study this verse.
II Peter 1:20:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the
scripture is of any private interpretation.
This is the first thing one must know if he is
going to understand the greatness of God’s
revelation in His Word. No prophecy, not one verse
of Scripture, is of any private interpretation.
If I say, “This is what I think it means,” I am
giving my private interpretation. If you say, “This is
what I think it means,” or if any denomination
writes, “This is what our denomination says it
means,” we have private interpretation. Give two
men the same Scripture verse and, by privately
interpreting it, they will come to two completely
divergent conclusions. All our splits in Christianity
come because we do not study The Word from its
inherent accuracy. It matters nothing what we think,
what our opinions are. The crucial element is what
The Word says. You and I have to do our thinking
according to the accuracy of The Word.
II Peter 1:20 is the only place that idios is
translated “private.” At the other places in the Bible
it is translated either “one’s own” or “his own.” The
word “interpretation” is the Greek word epilusis
which occurs at no other place in the Bible. The
Greek verb form of epilusis is epiluō meaning “to
let loose upon,” as a hunting dog is let loose upon
game. Idios plus epilusis equals “of no personal
letting loose.” One does not just let his mind run
vagrantly as when turning a dog loose upon the
game; one does not let his mind wander and give all
kinds of interpretations to the Scripture. “Knowing
this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any
personal letting loose.”
After eliminating private interpretation, two
alternatives remain in interpreting God’s Word:
(1) either there is no interpretation possible or
(2) The Word must interpret itself. If there is no
interpretation possible, then we might as well forget
the whole project of understanding The Word. But
this is not the case. There is another answer – The
Word interprets itself.
The Word interprets itself in one of three ways:
(1) it interprets itself in the verse where it is written;
or (2) it interprets itself in its context; or (3) the
interpretation can be found by its previous usage in
It was a remarkable revelation to us who do
Biblical research to discover that the vast majority
of the Word of God does interpret itself right where
it is written. I would estimate that from Genesis to
Revelation 85 to 90 per cent of the Word of God
interprets itself in the verse.
If the interpretation is so obvious, why have we
not understood it? First of all, we have not read it;
and secondly, we have not remembered what we
read. We get sloppy and read “thoroughly” instead
Let us look at some examples where Scripture
interprets itself in the verse.
In the beginning God created the heaven and
Where does this verse interpret itself? One needs
no commentary to understand this verse.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Where does this verse interpret itself? Right
where it is written. Verse after verse is just like that.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.
. . .I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
A person doesn’t need commentaries, seldom
even a dictionary, to understand these verses.
One note which we must heed is that the words
must be understood according to the definitions at
the time the translation was made. The meanings of
words change. We would have a problem three
weeks from now if a new translation were published
today because of changed definitions and usage of
To illustrate a change in expression, check Isaiah
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an
abomination unto me; the new moons and
sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot
“I cannot away with” Biblically means “I cannot
tolerate them.” The Lord could not tolerate all the
ritual of the incense, the new moon and the sabbaths
that everybody was going through in the holy days.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the
commandment of God, that ye may keep your
“Full well” means “with full knowledge” in King
James usage. “With full knowledge you reject the
commandment of God.”
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for
your miseries that shall come upon you.
When the Bible tells somebody to “go to” it
means “come now.” A current translation would
read, “Come on now, you rich men, weep for your
Doth he thank that servant because he did the
things that were commanded him? I trow not.
“I trow not” means “I imagine not” according to
King James usage.
But when ye shall hear of wars and
commotions, be not terrified: for these things
must first come to pass; but the end is not by
The words “by and by” in the King James mean
“immediately.” “But the end is not immediately.”
When you and I think of “by and by,” we think of
“eventually” or “in due time,” or of the old song “In
the Sweet By and By.” That is an example of how
drastically expressions can change.
I Thessalonians 4:15:
For this we say unto you by the word of the
Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto
the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them
which are asleep.
The word “prevent” in its seventeenth century
usage meant “precede.” Today when we prevent
someone, we hinder him. In the times of King
James if you prevented someone, you went before
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I
was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a
stranger, and ye took me in.
To “take someone in” means “to give hospitality.”
II Timothy 3:6:
For of this sort are they which creep into
houses, and lead captive silly women laden
with sins, led away with divers lusts.
Today when we talk about silly people, we think
of people who show little sense. When the King
James uses the word “silly,” it means “harmless.”
These examples illustrate that we must understand
that Scripture interprets itself in the verse
where it is written, but that sometimes the word or
words must be understood according to their usage
when the translation was made.
There is another point. Verses that are self-interpreting
must be in harmony with all other
Biblical references on the same topic. In Matthew
27 is a verse that sticks out in the Word of God like
a sore thumb. Every Easter when the “seven last
words” are sermon topics, this one verse is
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a
loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou
This verse of Scripture should have arrested our
attention from the beginning. Why did the
translators leave in the foreign words? This should
have caused us to make an inquiry as to the
translators’ deviation from the usual.
We understand this verse word by word except
for the foreign words. Yet this verse contradicts
other verses in the Word of God. It would appear
that God forsook Jesus because Jesus became sin
and God could not stand sin; consequently, God left
Jesus to die by Himself.
Let us go to The Word and see exactly what The
Word says. Look at John 16:32.
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come,
that ye shall be scattered [Jesus is talking to His
apostles.], every man to his own, and shall
leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because
the Father is with me.
Jesus was talking about the time of His
crucifixion and of His death; He said, “the Father is
with me.” Yet in Matthew 27:46 it says, “My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
I and my Father are one.
II Corinthians 5:19:
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the
world unto himself....
How can one be separated? Check Colossians 2:9.
For in him [in Christ] dwelleth all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily.
How are we going to separate the fullness of the
Godhead which dwelt in Christ’s presence on earth?
How could Jesus say, “My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?”
There are many examples in The Word which are
blatantly contradicted by Matthew 27:46. Matthew
cannot do this if it is the Word of God.
What Christ said at the time He was taken
captive is recorded in Matthew 26:53.
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my
Father, and he shall presently give me more
than twelve legions of angels?
One has to be on “talking terms” with God to get
that kind of assistance. The Father would have
given Jesus 72,000 angels. Jesus could have walked
right out from among this group of men if He had
wanted to. Why? Because “I and my Father are
one,” “the Father is with me,” “I always do the
Father’s will.” Jesus must have been doing God’s
will when He was dying upon the cross. Yet
Matthew 27:46 says, “Jesus cried with a loud voice,
saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
This verse contradicts the rest of The Word.
What is the problem? First of all, the foreign
words inserted in that verse are Aramaic words.
Jesus spoke Aramaic. (Aramaic is called Hebrew in
the King James Version. It might more accurately
have been called Syro-Chaldee.) These Aramaic
words are left in this particular Scripture because
the translators really did not know what to do with
them. They let the verse set and added the English
interpretation. There are a few other examples in
the New Testament to this day where the translators
have allowed the Aramaic words to remain in the
The word eli means “my God,” but there is no
Aramaic word like the word lama. There is a word
lmna. Lmna is always a cry of victory, a declaration
of “for this purpose,” or “for this reason.” The root
of sabachthani is shbk. Shbk means “to reserve,”
“to leave,” “to spare” or “to keep.”
It was about the ninth hour, three o’clock in the
afternoon, when Jesus spoke from the cross.
Hanging on the cross at that crucial hour, Jesus
came forth with this utterance from the depth of His
soul. “My God, my God, for this purpose was I
reserved, for this purpose was I spared.” The last
words that He uttered were “It is finished.” What
was finished? Your redemption and mine. Jesus
Christ had given His own life. He who knew no sin
had become sin so that you and I might become the
righteousness of God in Him. Your redemption and
mine was then finished. The next chronological
verse of Scripture is John 19:30, “...and he...gave up
the ghost.” They did not take His life. It was not the
nails driven through His hands that held Him to the
cross, nor the rope tied around His midriff nor the
nails driven through His feet. Why did He keep
hanging on that cross? Because Jesus Christ loved
us. He could have walked off that cross: He could
have had twelve legions of angels at His command.
But He kept hanging on the cross because He so
loved us that He gave His own life for us. When He
was dying upon the cross He did not cry, “My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” but “My
God, my God, for this purpose was I reserved, for
this purpose was I spared.”
Translations from the Far East read of Matthew
27:46, “...My God, my God, for this purpose was I
spared.” The Occidental or the Western translations
wrongly read, “...My God, my God, why hast thou
Suppose you had an only son and right now your
son was dying, would you be sitting reading this
book on the accuracy of God’s Word or would you
be with your son? And yet your son has not always
done your will. Your son has done things contrary
to what you would like for him to do. Still you
would want to be with him. Do you think that God
Almighty is not as good as you are? Jesus Christ
was God’s only-begotten Son and always did the
Father’s will. When He was dying upon the cross,
where do you think the Father was? With Him.
God stayed with His Son. This was not only their
triumphal hour, but our also for it was at this point
that Jesus Christ, the second Adam, fulfilled all the
legal requirements for our redemption and salvation.
This was Christ’s purpose. Now we have an
accurate translation o Matthew 27:46, one of the
most difficult verses of Scripture in the King James.
Now this verse fits with the other passages in the
Word of God.
To reiterate points: (1) Scripture usually interprets
itself in the verse in which it is written; (2) the
vocabulary must be understood in the terms of the
day in which the translation was made; (3) all
Scripture must be in harmony with itself; that is,
Scriptures relating to a given subject cannot contradict
Now let us proceed to the issue of narrative
development. Narrative development means that
several passages of Scripture on an identical
incident or subject may augment the information
given in each other. Each passage of Scripture
relating to the same incident may not give the same
details but the Scriptures must complement and
agree with each other or we do not have the true
Word of God.
One pitfall which we must now avoid is that we
do not call situations identical that are only similar.
For instance, if in one Gospel there are two men
coming out of a certain city talking to Jesus and in
another Gospel there is one man coming out of the
city talking to Jesus, these are not identical situations.
Did you have supper today and yesterday?
Let us suppose you had a bologna sandwich and tea
yesterday and today you had a bologna sandwich
and tea again. Was the supper identical or similar?
It could not be identical because you did not eat the
same sandwich to-day or drink the very same tea
today that you drank yesterday. The timing was
different – twenty-four hours apart – so the situations
were similar but not identical.
In studying the development of identical situations
in various passages of Scriptures it becomes
vitally important to observe The Word with a keen
eye and perceptive mind to see the depth of it. For
example, Matthew may say something regarding a
situation; Mark, on the other hand, talking about the
identical situation, might not say that which
Matthew said, but he could mention other details
which Matthew did not give. However, what Mark
would add to Matthew would not dare to contradict
that which Matthew had said or the situation would
not be identical. If the situations are identical, that
which is set forth in one Scripture cannot contradict
that which is set forth in the other.
Let us observe a highly developed narrative
pertaining to the crucifixion of Christ. Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John speak of the very same
incident, but each record gives different details
about the crucifixion. Once all four narratives are
put together, we get a total, expansive picture with
no flaws in it.
And they crucified him [Jesus], and parted his
garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the prophet, They parted
my garments among them, and upon my vesture
did they cast lots.
And sitting down they watched him there;
And set up over his head his accusation written,
THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Here is the sequence of events according to time:
(1) they crucified Jesus, (2) they parted His
garments, (3) they set up over His head an
accusation. After the soldiers parted the garments,
they sat down. In the East when a person sits down,
he stays awhile. After sitting for a while, the
soldiers put up over His head His accusation. To get
this accusation, they may have had to go back to
Jerusalem to get permission and then they had to
make the sign. All of this takes time. That is exactly
what Matthew is pointing out.
Then [after all that] were there two thieves
crucified with him, one on the right hand, and
another on the left.
The King James says “two thieves”; the Greek
words are duo lēstai of which duo is “two,” lēstai is
“robbers.” The Greeks used an entirely different
word for a thief, kleptēs. A thief is one who acts
stealthily while a robber is one who deliberately
plans and openly does his dirty work. In legal terms
robbery is a worse crime than thievery. Thieves
would be punished but not by such an extreme
sentence as crucifixion. Robbers could receive a
crucifixion sentence because of more extreme
actions. Duo lēstai, two robbers, were crucified
with Jesus after an interim of time.
Matthew tells us that the soldiers took Jesus and
crucified Him; they sat down and they watched
Him; they placed over His head His accusation; and
then they crucified two robbers, one on the right
hand of Jesus and the other on the left.
There is another interesting observation which
should be made about Matthew 27:44.
The thieves [the robbers, the duo lēstai] also,
which were crucified with him, cast the same in
The gallery of people at the crucifixion were
saying, as the verses before indicate, “He trusted in
God, let Him save Himself; soon the two robbers
became involved in the conversation and both of the
robbers “cast the same into his [Jesus’] teeth.” They
said to Jesus, “If you are really the Son of God, why
do you not come down off that cross?” Both of the
robbers reviled Him. This is the record which
Matthew sets forth.
The next Gospel record on the crucifixion is
found in Mark 15:26, 27, 32. Mark wrote no further
information which is not given in the other Gospels.
So to conserve time, let us go to Luke 23:32.
And there were also two other, malefactors
[kakourgoi, malefactors, not robbers], led with
him to be put to death.
When Jesus Christ was led out of Jerusalem
toward Calvary, they led with Him, Luke tells us,
two malefactors. A malefactor is an evil-doer. A
robber, for instance, would be a malefactor; but not
every malefactor would be a robber. A murderer,
for instance, is an evil-doer; but not every evil-doer
is a murderer. When Jesus was led out of Jerusalem,
according to the Gospel of Luke, two malefactors
were led with Him to be put to death.
And when they were come to the place, which
is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and
the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the
other on the left.
The word “malefactor” is the word kakourgoi;
the word “robbers” is lēstai. Luke uses an entirely
different word because entirely different people are
involved. They were not two robbers; they were
two kakourgoi, malefactors, who were brought at
the same time as Jesus to be crucified.
Luke 23:39, 40:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged
railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save
thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him [the first
malefactor], saying, Dost not thou fear God,
seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
Both of the robbers, according to Matthew, “cast
the same in his teeth.” But in the Gospel of Luke,
only one of the malefactors spoke revilingly to
Jesus; the other said to the malefactor, “You had
better be quiet because you are in the same
condemnation as He is.” How can anybody
logically say that the two robbers as recorded in
Matthew are the same as the two malefactors in
Luke. In Matthew the soldiers crucified Jesus,
parted His garments, sat down, put up His accusation,
then they brought the two robbers. While
according to Luke, the soldiers led the two
malefactors with Him to be put to death.
Putting together the two records of Matthew and
Luke is simple. When Jesus was led out to be
crucified, they led two malefactors with Him. The
soldiers crucified Jesus and the malefactors, one on
the right hand and the other on the left. Both of the
robbers reviled Jesus, but only one of the
malefactors reviled Him. To the conscientious
malefactor who said to Jesus “...Lord, remember me
when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Jesus said,
“Verily, I say unto thee To day thou shalt [future
tense] be with me in paradise.”
According to the accurate Word of God, how
many men were crucified with Jesus? Two
malefactors plus two thieves makes four people. All
the teaching that we have had saying Jesus was on
the center cross with one culprit to the right and the
other to the left is proven faulty. The reason we
have believed this is that rather than reading The
Word, we believed the paintings we have seen.
When a person goes to the Word of God and sees
the narrative development of Matthew and Luke on
an identical situation, he sees very plainly that there
were four crucified with Jesus.
The crucifixion record from the three Gospels is
an example of how the Scripture interprets itself in
Scriptural or narrative development. Watch the time
and notice the place of action. One Scripture may
tell some details and another may tell others; but the
one Scripture dares not contradict what the other
Scripture says. From Matthew, Mark and Luke one
observes that there were four men finally crucified
We have one Gospel record, John, left to consider.
Matthew, Mark and Luke were specifically
concerned about time while John is concerned
about the place of action.
Where they crucified him, and two other with
him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
Matthew informed us that there were two robbers
crucified; Luke informed us that there were two
malefactors, which totals four men. But John says,
“Where they crucified him, and two other with him,
on either side one.” If there was only one on either
side, one plus one makes two. Now we have an
Remember when there is an apparent discrepancy,
the first place we look is in our minds. Do we
understand what is written? If we understand what
is written, as we do here, then the error can only be
at one other place and that is in translation for the
true Word of God cannot contradict itself.
John tells us, according to King James, “Where
they crucified him, and two other with him, on
either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” One small
word from John 19:18 should immediately attract
our attention, and that is the word “midst.” It means
“middle.” The word “midst” is a key word because
grammatically one individual would not be
crucified in the “midst” of two. With the use of the
word “midst,” four, six or eight are indicated. When
a person is situated with one on either side, he is not
in the midst; he is between. A person is between
two, but in the midst of four.
An interlinear translation of the Stephens Text,
from which the King James was translated, reads in
John 19:18, “and with him, others two on this side
and on that side.” Then there is the word “one” in
English, but no corresponding Greek word is above
it. To indicate that the translators added the word
“one,” it was put in brackets. The King James
translators, therefore, also added the word “one.” If
the word “one” is not in the critical Greek texts,
why is it in the King James? Because by 1611 the
Western world had been so indoctrinated by a
picture showing Jesus on a cross with one evil-doer
on either side of Him that, when the translators
were translating this particular verse of the
nineteenth chapter of John, they inserted the word
Take out the commas and the word “one,” and
read the verse again. “Where they crucified him and
two others with him on either side and Jesus in the
midst.” The same words, enteuthen kai enteuthen,
are used in Revelation 22:2.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either
side of the river....
Enteuthen kai enteuthen is translated “on either
side.” These are the same words as in the Gospels
with the exception that John has the word duo. Duo
enteuthen kai enteuthen equals “two on this side
and two on that side and Jesus in the midst.” What a
great accuracy from God’s Word.
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of
the first [one of the robbers], and of the other
[one of the malefactors] which was crucified
with [The prefix sun means “in close proximity
with.”] him [meaning the first robber].
To illustrate how we have been mistaught about
how the soldiers went about breaking the legs of the
miscalled two thieves: the soldiers broke the legs of
the first; then they must have by-passed Jesus and
gone around His cross which was really a tree to the
second miscalled thief. Finally these soldiers came
back to Jesus and said, “My goodness, he is dead
already.” This type of routine is not very
reasonable. As a matter of fact, it is senseless.
When you read the accuracy of The Word, the
soldiers came and they broke the legs of the first
(robber) and of the next (malefactor) progressing in
the row; when the soldiers came to Jesus in the third
place, they found him already dead.
“Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of
the first, and of the other which was crucified with
him.” Who was “the other who was crucified with
[with] him”? Luke said that when they led Jesus out
of Jerusalem, they led two malefactors with Him.
“...The soldiers came and brake the legs of the first,
and of the other which was crucified with him,”
who was the malefactor.
The word “other” in verse 32 – and of the other
which was crucified with him” – is another key to
add to the proof that four men were crucified with
Jesus. There are two different words translated
“other” in John 19 and Luke 23. One word is
heteros, and the other Greek word is allos. Both
heteros and allos are translated “other,” but heteros
means “other when only two may be involved,”
while allos means “other when more than two may
be involved.” The word “other” in John 19:32 is
Allos is used when more than two may be
involved. Two malefactors, two thieves and Jesus
are involved, making five. So the soldiers broke the
legs of the first and of the other (allos) of the five
In Luke 23:32, “other” was also used.
And there were also two other, malefactors, led
with him to be put to death.
Which Greek word had to be used to have the
true Word? The word is heteros because only two
categories are involved, Jesus and malefactors. This
is the sharp accuracy of God’s Word.
When Jesus was led forth, they led two
malefactors with Him. Later, after the soldiers had
crucified Jesus, they parted garments, they cast lots,
they sat down, they put up an accusation, then
finally they brought two robbers and they crucified
them. When the soldiers came, they broke the legs
of the first and of the other (the allos, more than
two involved); but having come to Jesus, they
found that He was dead already. Why? Because the
prophets of old had prophesied that no one would
ever break the Messiah’s legs. (Psalm 34:20,
Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12). The Jews and
soldiers did not take Jesus’ life upon Calvary’s
cross; He laid it down, He gave up His life. He did
not die because they crucified Him; He died
because He gave Himself for you and for me. This
is the accuracy with which the Word of God fits,
and this is the remarkable usage of The Word as it
develops the Scriptures by interpreting itself right
where it is written. In comparing Scriptures on an
identical incident, the Scriptures can complement
each other but never contradict each other if we
have the true Word.
While studying how Scriptural passages concerning
identical situations develop, we must study
the great accuracy of the day Jesus Christ died and
arose again from the dead.
A number of years ago when I was teaching in
India, a reputable government leader, a Hindu
educated in an American mission school, asked me,
“Dr. Wierwille, on what day did Jesus Christ die?”
The man continued, “I have asked missionary after
missionary to explain to me how he gets three days
and three nights from Good Friday to Easter Sunday
morning.” Although this intelligent man had been
trained in a mission school, he was still a Hindu
because the missionaries understood less of The
Word than the Indian. The man pointed out
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
“Furthermore,” he said, “what about the record in
I Corinthians 15:4, where your Bible declares that
Jesus Christ was ‘...buried, and that he rose again
the third day according to the scriptures.’ ” How
could Jesus be dead three days and three nights
from Good Friday to Easter Sunday morning and
still rise the third day?
The Indian official and I had a good discussion
unfolding The Word with the principles that one
Scripture doesn’t necessarily tell the complete
story, but that complementary Scriptures about an
identical situation cannot contradict each other.
First, let us examine traditional teaching concerning
the death and resurrection of Jesus. The
record in Matthew said that Jesus would be three
146 How the Bible Interprets Itself
days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew does not say that Jesus would be in the
heart of the earth from the time He died, but from
the time He was buried. We will give people the
benefit of the doubt, though, and grant them from
the time He died, which would be from 3:00 P.M.,
Good Friday. If time is marked from Friday 3:00
P.M. to Saturday, 3:00 P.M., we have a day and a
night; now if Jesus arose early on Easter Sunday
morning – squeezing time for all it is worth – the
most we can come up with is three days and two
nights. The traditionalists say that Matthew did not
literally mean three days and three nights – it means
“segments,” any portion of a day may be counted as
a day. This is fallacious teaching for whenever the
Word of God mentions a day and a night, it is not a
portion of time; a day and a night or a night and a
day is a literal period of twenty-four hours. The
reason night comes before day in the Word of God
is that Jewish reckoning of time started with Jewish
sunset so the night preceded the daylight hours of a
day. Matthew 12:40 said “three days and three
nights” which would mean three periods of twenty-four
hours each. How can three days and three
nights be figured from Good Friday 3:00 P.M. until
Easter Sunday morning? By early Easter Sunday
morning (which would be the third day) Jesus
Christ had already risen; so where is the third night?
This teaching does not fit. What are we going to
do? We are going to study it in the same way in
which we researched the men crucified with Jesus.
When the Word of God fits, there are no
contradictions, no errors. We must go to the Word
of God to find the day, the hour and the details
involved in Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection
to have the Word of God rightly divided.
According to the Word of God, the first day of
the Passover was always a holy convocation, a high
day, a Sabbath. For instance, if the first day of the
Passover came on a Tuesday, that Tuesday was a
Sabbath day. If the first day of the Passover came
on a weekly Sabbath, on a Saturday, then it still was
a high day and it would have pre-eminence over the
weekly Sabbath. This is similar to our holidays. For
example, if Christmas happens to come on a
Tuesday, it is a holiday; but if Christmas comes on
a Sunday, the special day of Christmas takes
priority over the weekly Sunday. This point has
bearing upon the death and resurrection of our Lord
The first day of the Passover was always on the
fifteenth of Nisan.
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even
[evening] is the Lord’s passover.
The fourteenth day at even is the fifteenth for the
fifteenth of Nisan begins at sunset, the even. The
fourteenth is the day before the Passover.
Leviticus 23:6, 7:
And on the fifteenth day of the same month is
the feast of unleavened bread [which is the
Passover] unto the Lord: seven days ye must
eat unleavened bread.
In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation....
The first day of the Passover, the fifteenth, will
always be a holy convocation, a Sabbath day, a high
But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto
the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an
In other words, the first day of the Passover and
the seventh day of the Passover were Sabbath days,
holy convocation days.
Let us gather more verses of Scripture to
understand the Jewish reckoning of time.
This month [Abib or Nisan] shall be unto you
the beginning of months: it shall be the first
month of the year to you.
This day came ye out in the month Abib.
The name of the month of Abib was later, after
the Babylonian captivity, changed to the month of
Nisan. In Esther 3:7, which was written after the
Babylonian captivity, it says, “In the first month,
that is, the month of Nisan....” The month of Abib,
the first month, is the only month God named in the
Bible. God refers to all other months as the second,
the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh
month and so on. When man changed the name of
the first month from Abib to Nisan, he also gave
names to the other months which God had only
numbered. In the first month of the year and on the
fifteenth day was the Passover. So the day before
Passover was logically the fourteenth day of Nisan
There is further documentation of the time of
Jesus’ death in the Gospel of John.
The Jews therefore, because it was the
preparation [the day before the fifteenth of
Nisan], 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
The Word plainly states that it was the
preparation day, which would be the day before the
Passover, the fourteenth of Nisan; the bodies could
not remain on the cross on that high day. The
greatest point of confusion among scholars has been
their not differentiating between the Sabbath day,
the first day of the Feast of the Passover, and the
weekly Sabbath. The day before the weekly
Sabbath was Friday; therefore the teaching has been
that Jesus died on Friday. But the Passover was not
the weekly Sabbath, as John says. This point is even
in parentheses in the King James: “(for that sabbath
day was an high day).” Jesus was crucified the day
before a special holy convocation, before a special
day, the high day, which was the first day of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover. On which
day of the week Jesus was crucified is yet to be
Concerning the time of the resurrection of Jesus
Christ, all four Gospels clearly agree.
In the end of the sabbath [this is the weekly
sabbath], as it began to dawn toward the first
day of the week [which you and I know as
Sunday], came Mary Magdalene and the other
Mary to see the sepulchre.
This is early Sunday morning. In verse 6 the
report was that “He is not here: for he is risen....” It
does not say in verse 6 that He arose on what we
call Easter Sunday morning. It says that by the time
the women got to the tomb, the report of the angel
to the women was that Jesus was not there for he
had already risen.
Mark 16:1 and 6:
And when the sabbath was past, Mary
Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and
Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they
might come and anoint him.
And he [the angel] saith unto them, Be not
affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which
was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold
the place where they laid him.
It does not say that He just arose. The declaration
of the angel again was, “He is already up.”
In Luke 24:6 the angel declares to those at the
sepulchre on Sunday morning, “He is not here, but
is risen....” Again, The Word simply declares that
He was already up.
It does not tell in Matthew, Mark or Luke exactly
when He got up. but it does tell that by the time the
women came, which was very early, Christ had
already risen. Not one of the Gospels – Matthew,
Mark, Luke or John – states that Christ arose on
Easter Sunday morning. That is tradition, not The
In order to put the pieces together; we are going
to have to go other places in The Word to find out
precisely when Jesus Christ died and when He
For as Jonas [Jonah] 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 Bible occasionally uses the word “day” as an
idiom meaning a portion of time; but when “day
and night” are used together, the time is to be taken
literally. Jesus was to be buried three days and three
nights which equals seventy-two hours.
A legal standard is involved in “the three days
and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In Biblical
times no one could be officially pronounced
dead until he had been interred for seventy-two
hours, three days and three nights. Why did God not
resurrect Jesus immediately after He was buried
since God obviously had the power? The reason
God did not raise the Lord Jesus Christ immediately
after His burial is that Jesus Christ had to fulfill the
law; that is, He had to be in the grave three days
and three nights and not just part of it.
Our failure to recognize that the first day of the
Passover was a high Sabbath Day, a holy day, a
special convocation, and our failure to understand
that the Jewish day began at 6:00 p.m. or sunset
have caused most of the difficulty regarding the
time of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says in John 19:31 that Jesus was
crucified and buried on the day of preparation, the
fourteenth day of Nisan. The Word tells us that
Jesus died about 3:00 P.M. our time, which is the
ninth hour by Jewish reckoning. Jesus had to be
buried before sunset because sunset began the next
day, which was the Passover. It was against the
Jewish law to be carrying on burial and other
servile activities on Passover thus the soldiers had
to break the legs of the others crucified with Jesus.
The soldiers had to get their work completed before
sunset which was the beginning of the fifteenth of
Jesus died at 3:00 P.M. and was buried before
sunset on the fourteenth of Nisan. Jesus had to be
buried three complete nights and days to fulfill the
law. To get three complete nights and days
beginning with sunset on the fifteenth of Nisan, the
seventy-two hour duration would end with the
afternoon of the seventeenth of Nisan. Jesus had to
have been buried between 3:00 P.M. and sunset on
the fourteenth of Nisan. So that was the time He
was resurrected on the seventeenth of Nisan –
seventy-two hours later. Now we must count
backward to see the days of the week. We know
that when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early
on Sunday, the first day of the week, the tomb was
already empty and Christ had already risen. So
Christ had to have arisen sometime between 3:00
and sunset on Saturday, the seventeenth of Nisan.
That means He would have had to have been buried
between 3:00 and sunset on Wednesday, the
fourteenth of Nisan, three days and three nights or
seventy-two hours previously. Jesus Christ literally
fulfilled the law; He carried out the Word of God by
being buried on Wednesday afternoon and being
raised seventy-two hours later on Saturday afternoon.
Now I am not going to advocate that we change
to Good Wednesday instead of Good Friday for the
book of Colossians says that we are not to be
observers of days or times or special hours. But I
am going to stick to the accuracy of God’s Word
and acknowledge its truth. The pieces of the puzzle
fall into place when the days of the months are
rightly divided, when the hours of the days are
rightly divided, and when the special days are
understood. These tie together the whole story of
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The
Word of God always is so accurate.
Studies in Abundant Living, Volume III contains
the minute study of this topic in the chapter entitled
“The Day Jesus Christ Died.”
In Luke 24:21 we read of two disciples on the
way to Emmaus the first day of the week.
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
This is the Scripture which unbelievers will
question after they have been taught the great accuracy
of The Word. In the language of King James’
day the usage of the expression “the third day
since” meant that it was the fourth day because on
the fourth day three days had gone by. Moffatt’s
translation has this Scripture very clearly and
accurately presented. He translated it, “and it is
three days ago.” The Aramaic has it as follows,
“And lo, three days have passed since all these
things have come to pass.” See how accurate The
Word really becomes.
Perhaps someone will now ask you as I have
been asked hundreds of times, “What difference
does it make if Jesus died on Wednesday and was
resurrected on Saturday; so what if there were four
crucified with Jesus?” Does it make any difference?
It makes all the difference between an unerring,
accurate Word and a crumbling jumble of writing.
Yes, it matters. We acknowledge the importance of
accuracy in every other field except in God’s Word.
When we go to the bank, we demand accuracy. If
we were astronauts in a capsule ready for the countdown,
we would want accuracy. How much more
we need accuracy and precision in the greatness of
God’s Word to get a cash reserve in the outer space
of heaven. If God thought it important enough to
sacrifice His only-begotten Son for the integrity of
His Word, then we ought to think it supremely
important to rightly and accurately divide that