Mark 15:25, 18 KJV

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.


And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!

John 19:14-16 KJV

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

How can Jesus be crucified on the 3rd hour but Pilate asked for his crucification at the 6th hour?

  • 2
    Is it possible that they crucified him the next day?
    – 2pietjuh2
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 14:36
  • It sure is possible. Can you show where that may be possible from the scriptures? Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 15:05
  • 3
    You might check out this answer: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/25243/… It appears that the Jews may have thought about hours differently than the Romans, but John may have been written for a broader audience than just the Jews, as Matthew was. So, Matthew may use the Jewish manner, but John may use the Roman/Greek manner.
    – Narnian
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 15:17
  • 2
    Please consider migrating to hermenuetics if it is determined that the third hour is in fact the sixth hour depending on interpretation of time (Narnia's point). Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 18:30
  • FYI, if you're interested in the Hermenutic answer Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 20:02

6 Answers 6


John operates on a different chronology than Mark.

Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7-9 all have the disciples asking Jesus where to prepare the Passover supper on first day of the feast of unleavened bread, with the crucifixion the next day. But John 19:14 has the crucifixion itself taking place on "the preparation of the passover" which is the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. So the day that Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us Jesus had the disciples prepare the Passover, is the day he was crucified according to John. So John makes the whole thing take place a day earlier than the Synoptics. Once you realize that, it won't seem so important to be stuck on a difference of 3 hours.

There's an obvious theological reason why John does this. We are told in Mark 14:12 that the passover lamb is killed on the preparation day

"And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?"

In the Synopics, then, Jesus' death does not correspond directly to the killing of the Passover lamb. Rather, on the day the lamb is killed, the disciples are preparing for the Last Supper, and Jesus then eats an actual Passover seder with the disciples that night.

But John, who alone among the gospel writers speaks of Jesus as "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29, 1:36), wants Jesus' death to correspond exactly to the time that the Passover lamb is killed. So John moves the Last Supper to a day earlier, thus having Jesus' crucifixion on the day of preparation when the lamb is killed. Or does he?

The question is which is historical and which is merely theological spin. Its possible the Synoptics are historical here and John is the spin because he wants Jesus' death to correspond exactly to the Passover lamb. However, its also possible that John is historical and the Synoptics are spinning because they wanted Jesus to eat a real Passover meal as his last meal. [In John he's crucified while Passover is being prepared, so he doesn't get to eat a Passover meal.] You will note that in John, there is no institution of the Lord's Supper (Communion, Eucharist) at the Last Supper as in the Synoptics. Rather, John deals with this subject in John 6 when he has Jesus declare in the Synagogue at Capernaum that he is the bread from heaven. It could be that the Synoptics moved the date of Jesus' crucifixion in order to accommodate having Jesus institute the Lord's Supper at the Last Supper during a real Passover, or it could be that John moved the date in order to have Jesus' death correspond to the killing of the pascal lamb, and we'll never know this side of heaven which it is.

  • 2
    If John said something different from Matthew,Mark & Luke regarding the hour of Jesus crucifixion,eihter John is a liar or Matthew,Mark & Luke are.Is this what you are supporting? Jesus could not have been crucified both at noon and at the third hour.There must be another explaination that does actually make sense.To say that John wanted to highlight that Jesus was the Lamb of God because of a theological spin and therefore moved the death of Jesus three hours later (when actually, as you said, the lamb died the day before and Jesus ate of it),or that the Synoptics did so,is mere speculation.
    – clami219
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 9:56
  • I didn't say anyone moved anything a mere 3 hours if you'll notice. I said somebody moved things an entire day. We still do this today, by the way, with some people insisting on Thursday, others on Friday. Why can't we figure out whether it was Thursday or Friday? Because the Synoptics and John disagree on that. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 14:48
  • One voice in favor of non-contradiction between John and the Synoptics: ronconte.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/… I have not yet digested what this theologian teaches, but he seems to have a legitimate point of view, buttressed by some solid reasoning. As for his quoting of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, I'm a little leery; nevertheless . . .. Don Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 23:02
  • One of the paragraphs of that article begins with "To the contrary, the Magisterium has infallibly taught..." What has it taught? That Jesus was crucified on something called Good Friday, meaning you don't have a full three days between the crucifixion and resurrection. But many Protestants believe he was crucified on Thursday, thus having 3 actual days there. The RCC's "Magisterium" has followed John, and these Protestants have followed the Synoptics, or is it the other way around? That's another dimension to the thing. Can we gauge which is correct by which gives us a real 3 days? Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 2:05

I found an interesting hypothesis that could actually explain the reason of this apparent discordance among the gospels. I go a bit into the Greek language, so I apologize for that, since this post would be more appropriate for hermeneutics (in fact I would suggest to move there).

In John 19:14 the KJV says that

it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour

Now, the word in the original translated here as "hour" is the Greek word hora (ὥρα), which is many times translated in this way in the NT.

The interesting thing that I found is that this is not the only possible translation for this word. Here follows a quotation from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, regarding G5610 - hora:

ὥρα, ὥρας, ἡ, from Homer down, the Sept. for עֵת and in Daniel for שָׁעָה;


2 . the daytime (bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun), a day: ὥρα παρῆλθεν, Matthew 14:15; ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης (or γινομένης) (A. V. when the day was now far spent), Mark 6:35 (see πολύς, c. (but note that in the example from Polybius there cited πολλῆς ὥρας means early)); ὀψίας (ὀψέ T Tr marginal reading WH text) ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας (WH marginal reading brackets τῆς ὥρας), Mark 11:11 (ὀψέ τῆς ὥρας, Polybius 3, 83, 7; τῆς ὥρας ἐγιγνετο ὀψέ, Demosthenes, p. 541, 28).

So the word hora could also be translated as day or daytime, bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun.

To make sense with this possible translation, the word hosei (ὡσεί) which is translated here as "about", should be fixed too. According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, this word (G5616) can have the following possible translation:

b. about, nearly: α. before numerals: Matthew 14:21; Luke 1:56 (R G); ; John 6:10 (R G L (others ὡς)); Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4 (R G); (in L T Tr WH it is strengthened here by the addition of περί); ; also, Rec. in Mark 6:44; R G in John 4:6; John 19:14 (G?), 39; Acts 5:36; Lachmann in John 6:19 (Judges 3:29; Nehemiah 7:66; Xenophon, Hell. 1, 2, 9; 2, 4, 25). β. before a measure of space: ὡσεί λίθου βολήν, Luke 22:41.

So, when the word hosei is before a numeral, it could be translated as "nearly".

And this is exactly the case, since the word hosei, in John 19:14 (TR), is right before the numeral hectos (sixth):

ωρα δε ωσει εκτη

(hora de hosei hectos)

So, if we consider this possible alternative translation, the verse would sound something like this:

It was the preparation of the Passover, and nearly the sixth daytime

Now the sixth daytime sounds much like Friday morning in the Hebrew culture. So it could also be translated as:

It was the preparation of the Passover, and nearly the sixth day's morning

Now, there is a good reason why somebody (as the apostle John) would want to specify that it was nearly the morning of the sixth day, and it is that Friday was normally called the Preparation (see Mark 15:42 and Luke 23:54) and the time before the Passover was also called a time of preparation. So, to give a right chronology of the facts, it would have been important to specify that it was the preparation of the Passover AND the preparation of the Sabbath, or in other words the sixth day. John may have chosen to say that it was nearly the sixth day's morning to imply both that it was Friday and also that it was early in the morning, as the other gospels say.

So, according to what I found, it could easily be that when Jesus was presented before the Jews by Pilate with the words, "Behold your king", it was nearly Friday morning and then, at the third hour Jesus was crucified (around 9 am). This would harmonize the account of Jesus' crucifixion in all the four gospels, placing it on Friday morning.

  • Intriguing possibility, but I'd want an explanation for why he didn't use the more typical word ἡμέρα as he does elsewhere with numbers (John 2:1, 2:19, 4:40, 4:43, 11:6, 11:17, 12:1, 20:26).
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 1:00

Saint Augustine gives an explication of this in his De consensu evangelistarum (3, 13).

If Jesus was given up to the Jews to be crucified, when Pilate sat down at his tribunal about the sixth hour, as John relates, how could He be crucified at the third hour, as many persons have thought from not understanding the words of Mark.

First then let us see at what hour He might have been crucified, then we shall see why Mark said that He was crucified at the third hour.

De consensu evangelistarum (3, 13)

The hour of the Crucifixion

It was about the sixth hour when He was given up to be crucified by Pilate sitting on his judgment seat, as has been said, for it was not yet fully the sixth hour, but about the sixth, that is, the fifth was over, and some of the sixth had begun, so that those things which are related to the crucifixion of our Lord took place after the finishing of the fifth, and at the commencement of the sixth, until, when the sixth was completed and He was hanging on the cross, the darkness which is spoken of took place.

De consensu evangelistarum (3, 13)

Why Mark says “It was the third hour

Let us now consider, why Mark has said, "It was the third hour."

He had already said positively, "And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments;" as also the others declare, that when He was crucified His garments were divided. Now if Mark had wished to fix the time of what was done, it would have been enough to say, "And it was the third hour," why did He add, "and they crucified Him," unless it was that he wished to point to something which had gone before, and which if enquired into would be explained, since that same Scripture was to be read at a time, when it was known to the whole Church at what hour our Lord was crucified, by which means any error might be taken away, and any falsehood be refuted.

But because he knew that the Lord was fixed to the cross not by the Jews but by the soldiers, as John very plainly shews, he wished to intimate that the Jews had crucified Him, since they cried out, "Crucify Him," rather than those who executed the orders of their chief according to their duty. It is therefore implied, that it took place at the third hour when the Jews cried out, "Crucify Him," and it is most truly shewn that they crucified Him, when they so cried out. But in the attempt of Pilate to save the Lord, and the tumultuous opposition of the Jews, we understand that a space of two hours was consumed, and that the sixth hour had begun, before the end of which, those things occurred which are related to have taken place from the time when Pilate gave up the Lord, and the darkness overspread the earth.

Now he who will apply himself to these things, without the hard-heartedness of impiety, will see that Mark has fitly placed it at the third hour, in the same place as the deed of the soldiers who were the executors of it is related. Therefore lest any one should transfer in his thoughts so great a crime from the Jews to the soldiers, he says "it was the third hour, and they crucified Him," that the fault might rather by a careful enquirer be charged to them, who, as he would find, had at the third hour cried out for His crucifixion, whilst at the same time it would be seen that what was done by the soldiers was done at the sixth hour.

De consensu evangelistarum (3, 13)


Therefore he wishes to imply that is was the Jews who passed sentence concerning the crucifixion of Christ at the third hour; for every condemned person is considered as dead, from the moment that sentence is passed upon him. Mark therefore shewed that our Saviour was not crucified by the sentence of the judge, because it is difficult to prove the innocence of a man so condemned.

De quæst. Nov. et Vet. Testam (chap. 65)

Source: Catena Aurea of Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • 1
    This should be the correct answer...
    – Alfa Bravo
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 13:41

Mark (15:25) said that Jesus was crucified in the third hour. John (19:14), on the other hand, said that it was in the sixth hour it happened. We have here what looks like a contradiction. However, it is more a paradox than a contradiction, because there seems to be a logical explanation to this dilemma.

According to Wikipedia, people of the ancient world used stationary sundial clocks, or other clumsy devices, like water clocks, to determine time. We have to assume that this was also the case in Jerusalem, in Jesus' time; and that 'out & about' people simply used rough estimation in time-telling. Mark's third hour (9am) would then mean anything between 7.30 and 10.30, and John's sixth hour (noon) anything between 10.30 and 1.30.

As also Clami219 pointed out, another important piece in the puzzle seems to be the word "about" in John's time statement. The Easy-to-Read Version and the Good News Translation also interpreted the original Greek word "ωσεί" (Strong's) to mean "almost" instead of "about". According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, in timekeeping the word "almost" means that an event has not yet happened (p.31), while the word "about" means "near", either before or after a stated point in time (p.3). Accordingly, John's statement "it was about the sixth hour" is in some christologians' minds better read: "it was almost the sixth hour". If so, then John's accuracy window slips back a bit, say an hour, to become 9.30 - 12.30 instead of 10.30 - 1.30

Consequently, the answer to the question: "At what time of the day was Jesus crucified?" is, I believe, to be found somewhere in the convergence of Mark and John's accuracy windows, which would be sometime between 9.30 and 10.30 in the morning.


E. G. Richards describes in Mapping Time how shadow clocks were used to divide the hours of daylight up into exactly 12 hours of variable length according to the season. It was not until the invention of mechanical clocks that we changed over to a variable number of hours of daylight, each of fixed length throughout the year.

Using the universal shadow clock, the third hour was the third of daylight and the sixth hour was precisely noon. We find not one but two differences between Mark (and the other synoptic gospels) and John, not only in the time at which Jesus was crucified, either the third hour (9 o'clock) or the sixth hour 12 o'clock), but even the day. Mark says that the Last Supper, on the evening before the crucifixion, was also the Passover feast. John 19:14 tells us that the crucifixion took place on the day of preparation for the Passover. For theological reasons, the author of John has changed both the date and time of the crucifixion, to coincide with the time that Jews killed the sacrificial lamb for the Passover. In John's Gospel, Jesus is, by analogy, the lamb of God.

All other things being equal, the time given in Mark's Gospel - the third hour, or nine am - is more likely to be correct. John's account of the crucifixion occurring at the sixth hour is too obviously influenced by theology.

  • 1
    "...too obviously influenced by theology." Sounds like you're challenging the inerrantcy of the gospel. Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:19
  • Sounds more to me like he's not beginning with the assumption of inerrancy, but rather taking the text at face value. This means he can read it without doing mental gymnastics to avoid the clear chronological disparity between the Synoptics and the Johannine account. +1 (and PS, you can still believe the text is "inerrant" and still allow John to change the chronology for theological reasons -- it's only our modern post-Renaissance definition of "historicity" being anachronistically read back into the text that doesn't allow for such disparities).
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 16:04

Jesus was crucified at noon

He was led unto the hall of judgment in the morning, the gospels are quite clear here:

Matthew 27:1 (KJV)

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

Mark 15:1 (KJV)

1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

Luke 22:66 (KJV)

66 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,

John 18:28 (KJV)

28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

However, there seems to be some problem with the time of the crucifixion. Was Jesus crucified at noon, third hour, or sixth?

Matthew 27:45 (KJV)

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Matthew 27:45 (NIV)

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

Mark 15:25 (KJV)

25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

Luke 23:44 (NIV)

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,

Luke 23:44 (KJV)

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

John 19:14 (NIV)

14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

John 19:14 (KJV)

14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

There is a conflict somewhere between the third and sixth hour. More information about this subject is given in this question, and also the comment below explains this more.

If we look from the other way, it was dark for three hours before he died. Jesus was buried before sundown, because it was the preparation day for the sabbat, and at sabbat it was not allowed to work.

Therefore Jesus was crucified around noon, making it possible to be dark for three hours, the crowd to leave the site, and Josef to take the body before sabbat.

  • The NIV translates the "hours" beginning at 6 AM. Therefore, third hour=9 AM, sixth hour=noon, and ninth hour=3 PM.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 19:07
  • Counting of hours of the day in Israel starts around sunrise (about 6 a.m.). So Jesus' crucification took place about 9 a.m. (third hour of the day) and he died about 3 p.m. (ninth hour of the day). Side-by-side comparison of the related Gospel texts can be found here: son-of-god.info/good-news-150719.html#203 Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 22:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .