2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It is most important that when we read and study the Bible that we leave our denominational and school of theology blinders off and read the text for what it actually says.
Most of us initially “get it wrong” on some very important Bible teachings. In my studies of the Bible I have learned that most readers and most Bible scholars have a totally mistaken understanding of what the Bible teaches regarding the Atonement of Christ. This is a crucially important issue.
Another issue about which very few are aware is the matter of just what day of the week was Jesus crucified. I ran across that issue today when reading a challenge on this topic posted in a Facebook site titled “Christian and Muslim Theological Discourse.” Here is the response I just wrote:
Unfortunately, the Muslims do not understand the Bible correctly. Many Christians do not understand the Bible correctly either.
But Muslims more than 500 years after the fact mistakenly believe they can legitimately rewrite history to their liking. Obviously, they are logically, historically, and factually wrong.
Most certainly from the primary historical documents found in the New Testament, the record shows Jesus died on the cross of Calvary.
As for the question about three days and three nights, this is a complex question which would take a full book to explain. It turns out that I discovered I have a book in my personal print library that fully explains this issue. I believe I bought the book more than 50 years ago. Apparently, this book is now very rare. It was published in 1942 in an edition of 2000 copies. The author is Roy M. Allen. The book is titled Three Days in the Grave. This hardbound book is 159 pages long. It contains a fold-out chart which graphically presents the full chronology of the events of the Passion Week. The author was a scientist who wrote an article on optics for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Some students of the Bible believe Jesus died on Wednesday. Most students of the Bible believe Jesus died on Friday. The biblical evidence when considered fully and accurately shows the Bible records that Jesus died on the cross on Thursday.
The author was motivated to conduct his exhaustive study of this issue when he carefully considered two verses: Matthew 12:40 and Luke 24:21.
Mat 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 the earth.
Luk 24:21 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 done.
If Sunday (the First Day of the week) is the third day SINCE these things were done, then:
Saturday, the Seventh Day of the week is the second day since these things were done;
Friday, the sixth day of the week is the first day SINCE these things were done.
Therefore, “these things” were done on Thursday. “These things,” of course, were the events of the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
It is NOT stated in Scripture that the body of Jesus Christ was interred for three days and three nights. Rather it is His soul or spirit (these are accounted as being the same in Scripture) was to be “in the heart of the earth” for this time period. The body of Jesus was not buried in the heart of the earth but in the rock-hewn new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea where it was embalmed and laid to rest above ground.
Jesus promised the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that “today thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Before the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ “paradise” was in Hades (Greek) or Sheol (Hebrew), spoken of as in the heart of the earth, and revealed and explained by Jesus Himself as having two divisions, between which there was a “great gulf fixed” (Luke 16:26), one division or side was for the unrighteous dead, the other division was the abode of the righteous UNTIL the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day (see Ephesians 4:8 and related passages in the Bible).
Therefore, the time that the body of Jesus was dead involved a longer period of time than the time the body was interred in the grave until His resurrection, and this difference helps to account for the literal three days and three nights of Matthew 12:40.
So, Adeleke Issa, it is not the body of Jesus that is involved in this question, for it was not in the tomb for the full three days and three nights, as you correctly state. Rather, the time specified pertains to how long Jesus was dead until His bodily resurrection. And that time span does correspond to the specified “three days and three nights.”
So Why Does It Matter?
Jesus commanded us to share His Gospel to every person (Mark 16:15).
We make it far more difficult for others to believe the Gospel if we do not have the details of the Gospel correct ourselves!
That is why every Christian must study the Bible carefully to learn how to “rightly divide the word of truth” in a manner that is correct and understandable to others. That is what Real Bible Study is all about!