When Does a Day Begin and End in the Bible?

When does a day begin and end? Some have said that a day begins and ends as is accepted in that society, 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 Christ was raised especially to silence unbelievers, many have wondered on what day was Christ crucified, what day He was raised, and at what time of the day was Jesus resurrected. Then regarding the day of Assembly closely related to the Resurrection, some ask about assembling one Saturday night if the day begins and ends at sunset. The idea that a day starts and concludes at sunset a belief completely foreign to the Scriptures as will be shown here. On what is commonly known as Saturday night, some churches assemble having the Lord’s Supper and the Assembly as “the first day of the week”. See, 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, “Now late [end, Greek: opse] on [unto, Greek: eis] the Sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward [unto, Greek: eis] the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”
  • Mark 16:1-2, “And of the elapsing of the sabbath, 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? If it were sunset, then the day would have been more than half over and it would not have been early.

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

  • Genesis 1:5, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning [sunrise, Heb. boqer], one day” (cf. Genesis 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. 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 (& Mark 14:12), “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?’” It is the first day of unleavened bread when Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover even though the Passover Lamb was roasted at twilight and eaten in the night. As in the Old Testament, the daytime before the night of the Passover was considered the first day of the Passover Feast presenting the day before the night in a complete day.
  • Mark 4:35, “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, “When therefore it was evening [nightfall, Greek: opsios], 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.’” See, “on that day” is referring to the day when Christ rose on the morning of the 1st day of the week and now it is the same day called “evening”. According to this passage, the first day of the week was day and then by night.

Did not Mary Magdalene come unto Jesus’ tomb on the 1st 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 was raised, 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 be up and it still be much darker in the vales where the land blocks the sun’s light in some places especially where a tomb is carved into a rock. Darkness after dawn is evidently possible, and reasonable to those of us 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 regarding Leviticus 23:32 where the Day of Atonement was to be held on the 10th day of the 7th month, but the Sabbath began on the 9th because the Sabbath was to be 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 9th day and the 10th day of the month, and it speaks of the sunset of the 9th day being the time to start the Sabbath for the 10th 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, Ex. 12:18 18:13, Lev. 6:20).

About Scott Shifferd Jr.

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

  1. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    Ok Scott, lets review ALL of the resurrection accounts, shall we:

    Matthew 28:1,2,6 Now after the Sabbath, toward dawn on the first day of the week, Miryam from Magdala and the other Miryam came to see the tomb. 2 – And see, there was a great earthquake, for a messenger of YHWH came down out of heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 6 – “He is not here, for He was raised, as He said. Come, see the place where the Master lay.”

    Ok so here we see that they came to the tomb as it was dawning towards the first day of the week, right? But according to verse 6 of Matthew 28, The Messiah was gone before it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. As we will see, the other accounts agree with this account as well. Lets go to Mark:

    Mar 16:1-4 And when the Sabbath was past, Miryam from Magdala, and Miryam the mother of Yaaqob, and Shelomah bought spices, to go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who shall roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb for us?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was extremely large.

    Again, we find that they came to the tomb at a time when they would have definately witnessed the resurrection of The Messiah if He rose on early first day. But yet, again, we see that the Scriptures teach that the stone was rolled away BEFORE they got there very early on the first day of the week. So how could he have risen on the first day and they not see the account if they were there at the start of the first day? Let move on to Luke 24:

    Luk 24:1,2 And on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

    You made a comment about how you don’t see how I can reject Luke 24. But according to Luke 24, they came to the tomb at early dawn and found the stone had been rolled away. So how can I reject Luke 24 by saying He did not rise from the tomb on the first day of the week? On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb and found that the tomb was already rolled away. That can only mean that He rose before the early dawn could come. That would then mean that He rose on the night of the seventh day of the week, or the Sabbath. And this is why Matthew and Mark mentions The Sabbath. Read it again brother, its there in black and white… Let’s go to John:

    John 20:1 And on the first day of the week Miryam from Magdala came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

    Ok so I think this pretty much settles it. John records the account in pretty much the same way the others do. But John says they came to the tomb when it was still dark (dark probably meaning the period of time when it was the seventh night of the previous week with a faint blue light in the eastern sky) and found that the tomb was, once again, already rolled away. This can only mean that He did not rise early on the first day of the week and that He was already gone when the first day of the week came. Therefore, we can only go by what the Scriptures teach and they teach that He rose sometime on the seventh night of the seventh day cycle and not on “Sunday”. So, Scott, I not only accept the account of Luke 24, but I accept ALL of the resurrection accounts and they all point to the fact that He did not resurrect on Sunday. So my question is this: If you critically analyze The Scriptures and determine that He did not rise from the dead on the first day of the week, why do you keep Sunday observance? The two pillars you have used so far to justify Sunday observance is the resurrection and the “breaking of bread” phrase found in Scripture. This post breaks down the first pillar and now only the “breaking of bread” stands which looks like its on its last leg as I read Mr. Barnetts posts. So, I say to you as you have said to me, please reconsider your position. And reconsider your position based on The Book, not tradition, or what a mere man has told you how to believe. Reconsider based on The Book and The Book alone my friend.

    • “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (Luke 24:1-2).

      “Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive” (Luke 24:21b-23).

      “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 24:30).

      “And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35).

  2. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    Great Scriptures Scott. I assume that you are posting them to justify the position of Sunday resurrection but lets examine them shall we? The first verse you posted recorded the resurrection account. Now, I just mapped out all of the resurrection accounts in all four gospels. So either Luke’s account is in disagreement with John’s account or they both agree with seventh-day resurrection. Now, lets look at Luke 24:21 where they said “but besides all this, today is the third day since these matters took place”. What does this comment have to do with The Messiah being raised from the tomb on the seventh day?

    • Christ was raised the third day when the women came to the tomb.

    • “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (Luke 24:1-2).

      “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:7).

      “Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive” (Luke 24:21b-23).

      “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 24:30).

      “And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35).

  3. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    Thats actually correct Scott, He was raised on the third day. He died in the middle of the week (on Passover) and three days later (Sabbath) He rose. But yet your religion teaches that He died on Friday which is not accurate. If He was “in the heart of the earth” for three days and three nights as He said He would be, and He died on Friday evening, then that would put Him resurrecting on a Tuesday. So you can see how this is inaccurate. The prophecy of Daniel 9 states that The Messiah will be impaled in the middle of the week and he shall put an end to slaughterings and meal offerings which is exactly what He did. Now the last time I checked, the middle of the week is on Wednesday. So when you do the math you will see that He died on Wednesday evening and was placed in the tomb late that night. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday day and night brings us to three days and three nights (when you include a portion of Wednesday night). And the Scriptures show that He was gone before the first day of the week came which means He resurrected sometime Sabbath night. Do the math and see for yourself.

  4. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    I know its something you’ve probably never heard before but look into and see for yourself.

  5. Min. Lionel Joseph says:

    Ok well do you believe the Scripture in Matthew 12:40 to be true?? The Messiah says “For as Yonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of the great fish, so shall the Son of Adam be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” So, if He died on Thursday and rose on Sunday as you have said, then that means He couldn’t have been in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. If He died on a Thursday and rose on Sunday, then He would’ve been in the heart of the earth for only two days and two and half nights. That math doesn’t check out with the words of the Messiah, Scott. Yet if He died in the middle of the week as the prophecy in Daniel 9:27 says He would, then that would put Him dying on a Wednesday. So if He died on a Wednesday, and was placed in the tomb late that night, we can count three days and three nights later and arrive at Sabbath night. Comparing this to Scripture we see that it checks out because they came to the tomb when it was still dark and found that the stone had been rolled away. This could only mean that He rose on Sabbath night, not Sunday morning. When Sunday morning came, He was already gone, Scott. So again, Sunday observance is predicated on the teaching that He rose on Sunday which is proven to be untrue. So, without this teaching, pretty much the only thing one could really stand on is the Scriptures that teach that they came together to eat meals on the first day of the week. And in addition, Scott, if He rose on a Sabbath and the Sabbath is the ONLY day that The Father speak about as His holy day, then isn’t it logical to regard “The Lord’s Day” as the Sabbath???

  6. 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.

  7. 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”)

  8. 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.

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