The Apple Of God's Eye

April 4, 2009

What Was The Hour Of Christ's Crucifixion?

This can be confusing because of the different methods of reckoning time used by the Jews and by the Romans during that period of history. But, there is no real problem once we have the key.

The Jews began the numbering of the 12 hours of night from sunset; the 12 hours of day were numbered from sunrise. The Romans began their count from midnight and again from noon, the way we commonly do today. Of the four gospel accounts, only the book of John uses the Roman reckoning.

In modern terms, Jesus was crucified about 9 a.m. To the Romans this was nine hours from midnight. To the Jews it was three hours from sunrise, hence it is called the “third hour” in Mark 15:25. Darkness covered the land at about 12 noon (to the Romans, 12 hours from midnight; to the Jews, six hours from sunrise, Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44; Matt. 27:45) The darkness lasted until 3 p.m. (three hours from noon in Roman reckoning; nine hours from sunrise to the Jews).

John 19:14 also mentions the “sixth hour.” This is the Roman reckoning and here refers to the time around sunrise. This, of course, was about three hours before the crucifixion. So, there is no contradiction. Each gospel account adds to the others when we understand how they were written. Please see Isaiah 28:9-13.

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