I am wondering if two Seder meals were eaten during Jesus' time the way it is today outside Israel. If so that might help explain why the gospel of John mentiones eating the passover the night he was crucified and yet other gospels say the last supper was when the evening of the day the lambs were sacrificed. This link answers the question regarding today but how was it during Jesus' time?


These are the references to the so-called contradiction. In the Synoptics, Jesus is eating Passover before He suffers. John portrays the Passover yet to come after He suffers.

Luke 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

John 18:28 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.

This fairly well-known "contradiction" has been explained in a number of ways ranging from the idea John was written centuries later, for religious purposes, to a different type feast (Passover or other), and to the 7 or 8 day view of which this post is about.

Is Passover 7 or 8 Days?

  • I think you need to better explain what 'problem' you are trying to reconcile. I am not familiar with any difficulty involving slaughtering and eating the lamb in the evening between the four gospel accounts. This might be better asked on SE-Biblical Hermeneutics.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 19:05
  • The explanation in the link Is Passover 7 or 8 Days always struck me as odd. There are two reasons. The moon would be the same whether one was in Jerusalem or Egypt; they didn't need a signal fire. More importantly Passover was one of the three observances that they were required to observe in Jerusalem and no where else (Deu 16:6, 2 Ch 30:5). And yes you are right there is a conflict about the day/date of the Last Supper and whether they ate the Passover before He suffered (Mt, Mk, Lk) or after He suffered (Jn). The answer isn't found in the 7 or 8 day "explanation", but elsewhere.
    – SLM
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 5:30
  • @SLM Why do you state 'after he suffered' for John's account ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 7:31
  • @NigelJ Pretty sure he's referring to John 18:28 Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 11:44
  • 1
    @NigelJ It's early morning at this point and the Jews accusing Jesus have yet to eat Passover. Not sure if this is what SLM is referring to but there is a well known timing issue between the synoptics and John's account. Some solutions suppose that John is using the Babylonian calendar as a referent. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


There is no 'contradiction' between the the evangelists once all factors are properly taken into consideration.

The following synchronisation of all four gospel accounts in relation to the sabbath and the passover (at the time of crucifixion) is given by an extensive document available from Academia, written by James Bejon, who occasionally submits articles to SE-Bible Hermeneutics :

A Chronology of Jesus Ministry

Matt. 27.62, Mark 15.42, Luke 23.54, John 19.31, 19.42. ‘The day of Preparation’ (paraskeu¯e) is the day when people prepare for the Sabbath (Fri.n/Sat.d), as is clear from paraskeu¯e’s employment in extra- Biblical sources (Ant. 16.6.2, Did. 8.1, etc.) as well as eqvt. expressions in Aram. (Torrey 1931:234-237).

In fact, the word paraskeu¯e still designates a Friday in modern Greek today. Some scholars (after Zeitlin 1932:263) take the ‘day of preparation’ to denote ‘the day when people prepared for the Passover meal’, i.e., 14th Nis., which allows them to assign the crucifixion to a day other than a Friday. But, while such claims are linguistically possible (cf. BDAG paraskeu¯e), they are doubtful given how standardly the term ho paraskeu¯e is employed to denote a Thu.n/Fri.d in ancient literature (Bacchiocchi 2001:23-24).

Besides, they do not fit the context of the passion narratives.

Consider, for instance, John’s explanation of why Jesus’ legs would have been broken: “because it was the day of Preparation” and “[because] the Jewish leaders did not want [Jesus’ body] left on the cross on the Sabbath, since that Sabbath was a high day (lit. ‘the day of that Sabbath was great’)” (John 19.31). John’s point is as follows: Jesus’ body was taken down because the Sabbath (Fri.n/Sat.d) after Jesus’ death coincided with the start of the feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23.6-7), which made that Sabbath a day of rest for two reasons, and hence an especially significant one (cf. John 7.37, where the last day of the feast of Tabernacles [Lev. 23.34-36] is likewise referred to as a ‘great [day]’). No other interpretation of John 19.31 really adds up.

Some commentators think John refers to the day after Jesus’ death as a Sabbath because it was the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. But, aside from Yom Kippur, no ‘rest day’ other than a Fri.n/Sat.d is referred to as a ‘Sabbath’ (Gr. sabbaton) in Scripture. (In general, the OT refers to a high day as a šabb¯atôn [LXX anapausis], while it refers to the 1st day of Unleavened Bread in particular as a miqr¯a c q¯odeš [LXX kl¯etos hagios].) And, even if the 1st day of Unleavened Bread could be referred to as a Sabbath, it would still not explain John’s statement; indeed, it would reduce it to a mere tautology (‘the feast day happened to be a feast day’), akin to a statement like ‘Christmas day happened to coincide with a festive holiday’.

(John need merely have said, ‘Since it was the day of Preparation, and since the bodies should not remain on the cross on a high day...’.) The order of events set out in the synoptic Gospels underlines the point. Jesus dies on the “preparation day”, which is explicitly stated to be “the day before the Sabbath” (Mark 15.42, etc.), and, once “the Sabbath [is] over” (a reference, one would assume, to the same Sabbath mentioned six verses beforehand), the women come to anoint Jesus’ body with spices on “the 1st day of the week” (16.1-2 cf. Luke 24.1, etc.). That the Synoptics would refer (without a word of explanation) to the 1st day of Unleavened Bread simply as “the Sabbath” is hard (though not impossible) to imagine.

Besides, the Gospels only mention the passage of a single ‘Sabbath day’ between the crucifixion and the 1st day of the week. The sequence of events is clear: Jesus dies on the preparation day; the next day is the Sabbath; and the day after it is the 1st day of the week as well as “the 3rd day” since the crucifixion (Matt. 16.21, Luke 9.22, 24.21, 24.46, Acts 10.40, 27.19, 1 Cor. 15.4, Bacchiocchi 2001:22-28).

  • your citation begins with the assumption that Christ died on Friday the 14th of Nisan with the 15th 1st day of unleavened bread coinciding with the weekly Sabbath. Basically he aligns with John's supposed timeline. Alexandria (and later Orthodox) adopts that view from roughly 200-500ad. Bacchiocchi then defines the Synoptic accounts Passover word (as cited in the OP), not as a Passover, but as a pre-Passover meal. I mention this view in my edit of the OP. Needless to say, it is also a wrong view.
    – SLM
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 16:47
  • 1
    Could it be that Jesus, as creator of everything, ate the Passover meal with His disciples on the correct day while the Jews who were condemning Him had once again allowed their traditions to usurp God's commands? Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 13:44

Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts. I agree that there is no contradiction and I will share how the pieces seem to fit together to me bellow. I am particularly grateful to Nigel Johnstone for understanding why I would ask such a question and greatly respect his work.

But my question actually is just a basic, simple question on historical, archeological data. Specifically, is there any historical, architectural evidence on whether in Jesus’ day, Passover was celebrated for 7 days as it is Israel today or for 8 days as do most Jewish communities outside Israel today. There may be no such historical data.

But regarding how I answer the “contradiction” this is how the pieces seem to fit together to me: Beginning with the foundation that the Bible is the infallible word of God and begin with what the Bible seems to be clearly saying and then look to fill in the blanks after that.

Unless I am misunderstanding what the Bible seems to be clearly saying is:

1.The first day of the week after a day of rest the women found the tomb empty which had to be Sunday.

Mat 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

2.Jesus ate the last supper on the day lam was sacrificed which had to be the Seder the evening of Nisan 14.

Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when [d]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?

Luke 22: 7-8 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”

3.The crucifixion happened as people were anxious for things to finish because a day of no working was coming up which was had to be a Saturday --- NOT because the term Sabbath and no work only applies to Saturday--- but because of the fact that the women went there and found the grave empty on Sunday. Hence the crucifixion had to have happened on a Friday (unless you want to consider the idea that the women waited for more than one day before bringing the spices on Sunday morning).

4.There was a Passover meal to be eaten after Jesus was crucified. (This is why I ask if it could be 8 days in Jesus’ time from historical evidence-- though I realize many other things could explain this meal such as a continuation of the feast, other sacrificial meals related to the feast… which I won’t list now)

John 18: 28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover

So the above is what we know for sure from the Bible as far as I can understand it.

Now for what seems to me to be a likely interpretation to me as I try to fill in the blanks:

(I should note that these are not my own original ideas but were informed or inspired by comments and answer made on https://christianity.stackexchange.com/ https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/ https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5040/can-johns-passion-chronology-be-reconciled-with-that-of-the-synoptics and the sources that they quoted.) Also I should note that I can’t back these ideas up for sure with scripture so it is just my own attempt to fill in the blanks and I’m sure could be improved or corrected:

Hence the likely explanation could be that:

Thursday evening the Lord’s supper was taken and Jesus offered His body and bread as the blood of the covenant, wishing to have the meal with His disciples before He went to the cross and teach communion.

After that from the moment Jesus was betrayed with a kiss the time of being in the “heart of the earth” began. Like a fish swallowed Jonah, the evil world swallowed Jesus. The earth had not been allowed to capture Him before but this time. He was beaten and degraded. The first night in the heart of the earth. Jonah was swallowed because of His and Jesus was swallowed because He was carrying our sins.

The next day on Friday the Lord was crucified and placed in the tomb so that night was the second night in the “heart of the earth.”

The following day Saturday and the coming evening was the third night in the heart of the earth.

And on Sunday on the third day He rose.

If Jews took Seder twice then as they do outside Israel today, the first Seder meal which was the eve of the 14th of Nisan when the lambs were killed was the last supper which He had with His disciples. There is nothing we don’t have fellowship with God in. He offered the wine as His blood and bread as His broken body. Then the second Seder was after He was crucified on the evening of Nisan 15 also the beginning of the Sabbath.

The hours of the day are very well explained by others on this wonderful website which I copied bellow so you can find it easily--- but can be better read by visiting the actual page.


14 Short Answer: Yes, it is definitely possible for John's chronology to be reconciled with that of the Synoptics. As the following chart shows, the sequence of Passion events recorded in John is in perfect harmony with the sequence in the Synoptics. When John's terminology is properly understood, it becomes clear that John's chronology does not contradict that of the Synoptics, but actually strengthens and adds further clarity to it -- particularly for the audience he was writing to.

The difficulty is not in the sequence of events, but in properly understanding the terms John used to locate those events in time. The key to understanding John's choice of terms lies in the historical context of the Gospel. Historical Context of the Gospel of John Audience: The best we can tell, John probably wrote his Gospel somewhere around 85 AD in Asia -- probably Ephesus.1 We can get a bit more specific about his audience by examining literary clues: John explained Jewish customs, translated Jewish names, and located Palestinian sites. These facts suggest that he was writing for Gentile readers who lived primarily outside Palestine.2 Of course, Rome ruled the land in those days, so John would have had to translate much of this Jewish material before his Gentile ("Roman") audience could understand it. Relationship to the Synoptics: As mentioned in the question, there is strong evidence that both John and his intended audience were intimately familiar with the Synoptic tradition. John's Gospel was thus supplementary in nature, written for a theological purpose, rather than to rehash the historical details they were all already familiar with. This is why John doesn't spend his time rehashing Jesus' genealogy, birth, baptism, temptation, calling of the twelve, exercising demons, parables, transfiguration, agony in Gesthemane, ascension, etc. In fact, it is estimated that 93% of the material in John is unique to John.3 He focused on Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem, the Jewish feasts, Jesus' private conversations with individuals, and His preparation of His disciples.4 John 18:28 This verse indicates the Jews feared that they might be defiled, and thus precluded from eating the Passover. The semantic range of the term "the Passover" includes "the Feast of Unleavened Bread", as seen elsewhere in Scripture: Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. -Luke 22:1 This view is supported by both modern commentators and ancient Jewish sources. For example, one esteemed commentator (citing the Mishnah) recently explained: The "Passover" was the name that the Jews used to describe both the Passover proper, and the entire festival that followed it, which included the Feast of Unleavened Bread . . . Part of the feast was the offering of two peace offerings, called the Chagigah—one on the Nisan 14 and one on Nisan 15, the latter being the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jewish law was very strict that no one who was defiled could offer the Chagigah.5 Thus, John 18:28 seems to simply be indicating that the Jews were concerned that they would not be able to eat the Feast / offer the Chagigah. Why did John use the term "the Passover", rather than "the Feast"? Probably to highlight the irony of the situation: the Jews go to great lengths to preserve their participation in the Passover Feast while, at the same time, going to great lengths to betray the True Passover. John 19:14a The beginning of the verse says that it was now "the day of preparation of the Passover." The term "the day of preparation" is a single word in Greek (παρασκευὴ) that normally referred to "Friday" (which is the day of preparation for "Saturday," the Sabbath.)6 In John's day, παρασκευὴ had become the colloquial name of the 6th day of the week. 7 So, the most natural rendition of the statement would be "the Friday of the Passover." Given that this is the preferred interpretation exegetically, and that it aligns perfectly with the chronology of John, as well as the Synoptic witnesses, there is no reason to suspect that it means anything different. This apparent contradiction only exists in modern English. Why did John use the term "the day of preparation" of the Passover? Probably to help his readers understand the Jews' request to break the legs of the condemned in verses 31-36; they couldn't have people hanging on crosses on that Sabbath, "for the day of that Sabbath was great" (being associated with the Passover.) Again we see the irony of the Jews' high view of the Passover festival, and disregard for the True Passover. John 19:14b The verse goes on to specify that "it was about the sixth hour" when Pilate brought Jesus out and told the Jews "Behold, your King!" The important question to answer here is: by which clock? At the time of the writing of the Gospel of John the Romans were using a system of reckoning time which would have placed "the sixth hour" at about 6:00 AM,8 as evidenced by recovered Roman legal documents.9 So, was John using the Jewish calendar, the Roman legal calendar, or did he just goof up on a very specific timestamp? There are a number of reasons to favor the view that John was using the Roman legal calendar here: • Recall that John's late-century, Gentile audience was most likely more Roman than Jewish in culture, and so it is likely that the term "the sixth hour" would mean 6:00 AM to them -- especially in reference to Roman legal matters. • Recall that John and his readers were already familiar with the Synoptic tradition. It would be very odd for John to blatantly contradict that tradition with no explanation. (It would be even more odd for John to accidentally make such a specific mistake!) • Recall that most of John' material served to supplement the Synoptic tradition. The idea of John adding a "Roman legal" timestamp to clarify the timing of this event for his readers is highly consistent with the nature of this Gospel. • "The sixth hour" (by the Roman legal calendar) was the exact time at which the Romans typically began their legal work.10 Given the haste of the Jews in capturing Jesus and bringing Him to Pilot, and the fact that Jesus was captured in the middle of the night, it makes perfect sense for them to get him to Pilot first thing in the morning -- and for John to highlight this! • This would not be the first time that John's Gospel displayed a more "Roman" focus than the Synoptics. In fact, we have another example in the very next verse: The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." -John 19:15 This reference to Caesar only appears in John. • If John was using the Roman legal calendar, John's Passion chronology aligns perfectly with that of the Synoptics (refer to chart.) We're not talking about a solution that makes it possible to reconcile the accounts, we are looking at a legitimate, historically-vetted definition of the term that fits exactly with everything else we know about the Passion chronology. Why did John use the term "the sixth hour" to refer to 6:00 AM? Because that was the term his audience would have been familiar with in regards to Roman legal matters, and being the start of the Roman legal workday, it highlighted the Jews' haste in driving Pilot to sentence Jesus first thing in the morning.

1: D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991, 82-87; Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on John: 2013 Edition, http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes.htm (accessed February 6, 2013), 2-3 2: Constable, 6 3: Constable, 4 citing Edwin A. Blum, "John." In Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, 267-348, Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1983), 269 4: Constable, 4 5: Constable, 281 citing Pesahim 6:3 from The Mishnah. Translated by Herbert Danby (London: Oxford University Press, 1933) . . . cf. Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, Translated by William Whiston (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1866); reprint ed. Peabody, Mass.: (Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), 14:2:1; 17:9:3; See also Carson, 589-590 6: Carson, 603 citing Charles C Torrey, "The Date of the Crucifixion According to the Fourth Gospel", Journal of Biblical Literature, 50:4 (1931), 241; A. J. B. Higgins, "The Origins of the Eucharist", New Testament Studies 1 (1954-55), 206ff; Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, New International Commentary on the New Testament series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), 776-777 7: Constable, 292 citing Torrey, 241; Higgins, 206-8; B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorised Version with Introduction and Notes (London: James Clarke & Co., Ltd., 1958), 1:343; Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives series (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977), 70 8: Constable, citing Westcott, 2:324-26; and R. V. G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960), 209 9: Constable, citing Morris, 708 10: Constable, citing A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), 45 shareeditfollow edited Apr 13 '17 at 12:56

Community♦ 1 answered Jun 9 '13 at 3:37

Jas 3.1 10.8k33 gold badges5151 silver badges113

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2198/how-is-it-that-jesus-could-be-three-days-and-three-nights-in-the-heart-of-the-e "The heart of the earth" is not a reference to the grave;……. answered Mar 19 '18 at 3:21

Messyanic 444

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/21512/do-idioms-used-in-the-crucifixion-narrative-resolve-the-3-day-3-night-objectio The trouble with contradictions is that they are caused by not reading scripture as a whole. Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? The heart of the earth is the deceitfulness and wickedness of the earth. Count back three days and nights and you come to the day that Judas agreed to betray Jesus. Jesus was entered into the deceitfulness and wickedness of the earth from there. Pr 17:15 ¶ He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both [are] abomination to the LORD. shareeditfollow answered Sep 2 '17 at 18:40

Bob Jones 5,27211 gold badge1414 silver badges39

I should add there are other sources about the “heart of the earth” not being the grave on this beautiful website, and I tried to find them to quote them but couldn’t find them the second time I looked for them.

  • FWIW, I have long argued that "heart of the earth" does not mean tomb, but rather refers to the period as Jesus put it from sufferings to resurrection. Sources of the tomb interpretation is Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome. Rather Scripture---God is my king, working salvation in the midst (heart) of the earth..............................And as mentioned, the Chagigah idea IMO does not begin to align with all the details...…..christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/67907/…
    – SLM
    Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 17:05

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