When Does a Day Begin and End in the Bible?

When does a day begin and end? Some have said that society decides when a day begins and ends, so for the U.S. that would be midnight. Then, there are others like the Jews who hold the Talmud’s position that a day begins and ends at sunset. Some have said that it really does not matter.

When considering the day that God raised Christ, many have wondered on what day the Romans crucified Christ, what day did God raise Him, and at what time of the day was Jesus resurrected. The day of assembly is the day of Christ’s Resurrection. Some ask about assembling on Saturday night if the first day of the week begins and ends at sunset.

The following Scriptures show that the idea of a day starting and concluding at sunset is a belief that is foreign to the Scriptures. On what is commonly known as Saturday night, some churches assemble having the Lord’s Supper as “the first day of the week.” Knowing when a day begins and ends is important. Consider what the Scriptures present as when a day begins and ends. This study may surprise many.

The following Scriptures present clearly that a day begins at sunrise:

  • Matthew 28:1 reveals, “Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” (ASV 1901, emp. added).
  • Mark 16:1–2 depicts, “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was risen.”
    • How could it be “very early” if the day started at sunset or midnight?

Genesis 1 shows that the day consisting of day and night is one that starts at sunrise.

  • Genesis 1:5 reports, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (cf. Gen 1:8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
    • The Hebrew word for morning is boqer, which means “sunrise”, “end of night”, “coming of daylight”, and “beginning of day”. Therefore, note the order of the day, “And there was evening (sunset) and there was morning (sunrise), one day”, which means the day ended and then came night then sunrise started a new day. Each day consisted of a day, an evening, and then morning. That is the biblical day from the genesis of days. Clearly, the complete day does not end at sunset or midnight, but the day started at dawn in the beginning.

Also notice these passages confirming the day starts before sunset when a day goes on through sunset into evening:

  • Matthew 26:17 notes, “Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where will you that we make ready for you to eat the Passover?’” (cf. Mark 14:12).
    • This is the first day of unleavened bread when Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover although Israel roasted the Passover lamb at twilight and ate it in the night. As in the Old Testament, the first day of the Passover Feast include the day and the preceding evening.
  • Mark 4:35 depicts, “And on that day, when evening was come, he said unto them, ‘Let us go over unto the other side.'”
    • Again, the evening followed daylight within the day.
  • John 20:19 tells, “When therefore it was evening [nightfall, Greek: opsios], on that day, the first day of the week, and when thedoorswere shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said unto them, ‘Peace be unto you.'”
    • See, “on that day” is referring to the day when Christ rose on the morning of the first day of the week and now it is the same day called “evening.” According to this passage, the first day of the week was the day and then the night.

Did not Mary Magdalene come unto Jesus’ tomb on the first day of the week when it was dark according to John 20:1?

  • John 20:1 states, “Now on the first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and sees the stone taken away from the tomb.”
    • If it was dark without the sun raised, then John 20:1 would disprove or present another understanding that a day starts on another time other than sunrise in contradiction to the Scriptures above. Note John 20:19 again which states, “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said unto them, “Peace be unto you.'” How could it be evening on the first day of the week, the very day that Jesus rose, if a day started at sunset and the day would have changed? Also consider that Luke 24:1 makes it clear that the women came at early dawn, so though it was dark though it was not night. In mountainous areas, the sun can dawn and there is still darkness in the vales where the elevations block the sun’s light in some places. This is especially true where people have carved a tomb from rock. Darkness after dawn is evidently possible, and reasonable to those of who go out early.

Did not all Jews at this time believe that day was from sunset to sunset?

  • No. The idea that a day was sunset to sunset came from man’s tradition and thinking based upon Leviticus 23:32 where the Day of Atonement was held on the tenth day of the seventh month, but the Sabbath began on the ninth because the Sabbath was kept on this occasion from evening unto evening. Even in this passage from Leviticus, one can easily notice the reference to two different days, the ninth day and the tenth day of the month. Leviticus 23:32 speaks of the sunset of the ninth day being the time to start the Sabbath for the tenth day. Evidently, a day did not start at sunset and this was a special occasion of simply keeping the high Sabbath for the Day of Atonement. The regular Mosaic day began with the rise of day through the setting of the evening (Gen 1, Exod 12:18 18:13, Lev 6:20).

About Scott Shifferd Jr.

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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212 Responses to When Does a Day Begin and End in the Bible?

  1. Luke 24 says that Jesus rose on the third day being the first day of the week as shown before. There is no discussion over this. Luke 24 is conclusive.

    Thursday day, night 1, Friday day, night 2, Saturday day, and night 3.

    I’m surprised that you think Daniel 9 is peaking of weeks when the word for “seven” is used.

    The seventh day sabbath is not the only holy day. You overlooked the days of convocation, high day sabbaths, and other feast days.


    • Alden says:

      By Luke 13:32-33, if today was that Passover (Thu-Fri evening), then there’s tomorrow (Fri-Sat evening), & the 3rd day (Sat-Sun evening).

      The Greek word for rest is “sabbatismos” in Hebrews 4:9. So, “There remaineth therefore “a keeping of the Sabbath” to the people of God.”


  2. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    Right but most of the feast days ARE Sabbaths, Scott. Unleavened Bread, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles all have Sabbaths. So that fact also validates the Sabbath is still very a principle of one of the Ten Commandments we should live by. But I’ll leave the conversation at that, peace Scott.


    • g says:

      chr-stians, and others dont bother to read the Tanach, they stay in their ‘nt’ and ONLY go by that. They do not understand that the Renewed Covenant is just that, renewed,yet only is an extension of the Scriptures. They would rather follow after false teachers and their teachings and they seem not to even care to know The Eternal One Name They would rather stay in the FALSE “JES-S,” “THE LO-D”, “CHR-ST”, “G-D”, etc, which are ALL terms for Ba’al which=”L-RD” ! yup, they stand in their little circe and give praise to zeus=jes-s, then go out to eat their ham/swine which Yahushua forbids !! So, these people must want to come out of one of the biggest lies ever told !!!

      chazon/rev12:9 (the whole world is deceived)
      yarmayahu/jeremiah52:23:27(My people forget My Name for Ba’al)
      If people take the time to see that most of the prophets have part of Abbas Name in their names , they WILL start to begin to read this book in a whole different Light, right now its just darkness. Their names were CHANGED intentionally!! You , scott, must SURELY be aware of that. Time to put the TRUE Creator back into His own Word which ‘they’ covered up intentionally !!!!

      B’ruch H’ba B’Shem Yahuwah !


      • g says:

        correction for the yarmayahu scripture. its yarmayahu/jeremiah ch23:27…..also,verse 16:21 and in hosea ch2:16-17……Abba makes it clear that He will NOT tolerate people calling Him Ba’al anymore in these very last days !!!

        for the ‘nt’ people..mattithyahu/matthew ch28:19-20, “Therefore, go and make talmidim of all the nations, immersing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Ben and of the Ruach ha’Qodesh , teaching them to guard all that I have commanded you. And see,I am with you always, until the end of age.” Amein.

        notice He said Name, NOT nameS !! ONE Name, there is NO trinity, nor ever was..even in all these bib-es, it says the singular Name, yet people are blaspheming His TRUE Name by replacing/substituting His Qodesh Shem with all of these FALSE names/titles !!

        malachi ch3:7 ( “turn back to Me, and I shall turn back to you, said Yahuwah of hosts”)


        • Judywire says:

          You can kick against Jesus Christ all you want but the truth will always remain; He is the Son of Almighty God.

          On Trinity, the bible makes it clear that there are 3 that bear record in heaven: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
          Father is God Almighty
          Son is Jesus Christ
          Holy Spirit are the Angels
          According to the Bible, the Angels are not God and therefore the idea of Trinity as god heads is false. We have God the Father and the Son and these two are one and indivisible. One God.

          About Jeremiah 23:27 you quoted, when Israelites left Egypt and was in the wilderness, Moses went up to get the commandments and after he had stayed up there for 40 days, the people thought he was gone and asked Aaron to make them a Golden Calf to worship. Aaron took their jewelries and made them a golden calf Baal and the people danced around it and said it was the God that brought them out of Egypt.

          Malachi 1: 4-6 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. 5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel. 6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

          According to the above verse, God is talking to the Pastors, Priests, Rabbis who hate his name. God has a name and HE will give you a clue of what his name is. If you have understanding and truth in you, you will know what name HE is talking about.

          Now lets go to the book of Malachi again and see what He says his name is.

          Malachi 1: 11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.

          Let me ask you a question: Is the name you are promoting here great among the gentiles or heathen?

          If not, you are one of the people who hates his name according to the above verse. I know you must be a religious leader but do not forget that the Bible interprets itself and Children of the Holy God do not have to go to the Greeks or outside the bible to get interpretation of what God is saying.

          Finally, you said Christians are worshipping Baal. Are you a Christian and if not what are you? I am asking you this question because the book of Acts tells me that the Apostles were first called Christians in Antioch. There is nothing that indicates that these Apostles who were Christians worshipped Baal.

          I am a Christian and what are you please?


  3. Pastor J says:

    Thank you Scott for your clarification. Do you have other reference material surrounding this subject?


    • I don’t any support secondary sources that I recall, but my usually commentaries are Coffman and also Barnes. I should have cited by primary sources of Thayer’s and also Strong’s lexicons for Greek and Hebrew.


  4. rcharmon says:

    God makes it really clear when the sabbath begins and ends, no need for confushion. Lev. 23:29-32, 29“If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30“As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31“You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”


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