Last Supper and Day of Month and Week
A common reason given why “We know the Last Supper, the meal Jesus had on the evening before his crucifixion, was the Passover meal”, (P.B. Brown) is, that “The daylight preceding the Last Supper is described as the “first day of Unleavened Bread … that is, the beginning of Passover.” (K.F. Doig) And the Scriptures invariably referred to for ‘proof’, are: “Matt. 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7”, “came the day” (and sometimes “John 13:1”).
People like Lori Elridge (What Day of the Week was Christ Crucified?, Crucifixion Timetable) insist the day starting in Mt.26:17, Mk.14:12 and Lk. 22:7, is another day than the supposedly following day starting in Mt.26:20, Mk.14:17 and Lk.22:14, “when the even was come”. The events of the texts in between accordingly must have occurred, in Doig’s words, during “the daylight preceding the Last Supper”.
“The daylight preceding the Last Supper”, “daylight preceding”:
These words or their idea won’t be found in the text or context – it is presumed. Brown takes for granted a current day, and for granted events occurring during its ending, i.e., during afternoon before sunset. He calls this “the beginning of Passover”.
Coleridge differs with Doig, because Doig reckons the day from sunrise to sunrise and Coleridge reckons it from sunset to sunset. The way Coleridge reckons the day is correct, and Doig’s method, is wrong.
Whichever, what is always here presumed, is that it is the day’s end. Some even presume when Jesus told the disciples to go prepare for the supper it was the time of Passover sacrifice – about 3 afternoon and that that evening, He and the disciples ate the Passover meal. People like Doig and M.P. Germano, introduce “two Passover celebrations occurring”, the Last Supper being the first – even before yeast or leaven had been removed!
All the confusion must be attributed to the phrase found in about every ‘translation’, “the first day of the feast of unleavened bread”.
In the KV the supplied words, “day” and “feast”, are indicated by italics that they are supplied. Unfortunately the third supplied word, “bread”, is not so indicated.
Of course there cannot be a problem with the word “day” being supplied. But the word “feast” is not so simple; and the word “bread” is the real troublemaker.
Nevertheless the word “day” should be qualified.
The word “day” or “first day” in Matthew comes from the ordinal, “on the first” <tehi de prohtehi>. In Mark the word “day” is mentioned: <tehi prohtehi hehmerai>. In Luke the situation is reversed, and the word “first” does not appear – he simply says, “the day” <hehmera>.
<Hehmera> can be any part or whole of the day, not just its light-part. I cannot think that it is ever used for specifically the last part of daylight, i.e., specifically for from 3pm. till sunset (about 6 pm.). In the instance of our texts “the day” per se “had begun” / “had come”, therefore, one must deduce, it was after sunset, and evening. It was that day having begun, proceeding, not ending! Therefore not “daylight” or “daylight preceding”, but dusk – evening dusk. It is meant the first full day of the Passover as the Season of Passover, has begun. That day, says Luke, “came” <ehlthen>, Aorist ingressive – it had begun.
That day is carefully distinguished:
14:1, 3, 10, “Two days to the Passover (Feast) … while in
Matthew 26:2…14 “You know that after two days occurs (the Feast of) the Passover; and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified (within these two days). “Then …” on the second day before the Feast Day, 13 Nisan, “assembled the chief priests and the scribes … and consulted that they might take Jesus and kill Him – but not on the Feast (Day proper, 15 Nisan, they said – therefore on the day before the Feast Day, 14 Nisan) … Then went … Judas (on day two before) … to the chief priests … and they made a deal with him … … And on the first day (before the Day of Feast 15 Nisan) on the day of de-leaven …”. The first day before the Feast Day, 14 Nisan, “came”.
Luke 22:1, “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew nigh which is called the Passover”! On this day “the chief priests” and “Judas”, connived. Now Judas waited for “opportunity to betray him … where there won’t be a crowd”. He had to do it during this interim before the Feast.
“Then came the day” – it had to have been the very day before the Feast Day that here has started. Luke says it was “the day of de-leaven when the Passover (lamb) had to – must – be killed <edei thuesthai>.
So there’s nothing indefinite about the dating given by the Gospels.
“Bread” is a supplied word just like “day” and “feast”.
“Bread” won’t be found in the text or context, because it was not the day of the Feast yet, and the Feast Day was the first day during Passover and of Passover, when baked bread was eaten the first time – together with the eating of the lamb.
All the Synoptists have the words, <tohn adzumohn> “of de-leaven”, from <a> “de-”, and <heh dzymeh> “leaven”. It hasn’t got a thing to do with bread until it is mixed in dough and had been baked. Then it won’t be yeast any more, but bread, ordinary bread, <arton> Mt.26:26, Mk.14:22, Lk.22:19 (like in “our daily bread”, Mt.6:11, Lk.11:3); “supper” – déípnon, Jn.13:2, “morsel” – psohmíon, Jn.13:26 – still eaten on this night, “the Day of De-Leaven” having just begun and leaven still having to be removed during that night of “the Day of De-Leaven” – in the Old Testament an ordinance the disobeying of, was punishable with death! Therefore: literally, “first” / “first day” / “day … of de-leaven”.
The concept of “bread” is totally unwanted at this time of day on this day, 14 Nisan. It was not yet the day of eating Unleavened Bread, 15 Nisan, ‘Feast-Day’ = ‘Eat-Day’.
But this Supper, “on the first day”, “before the Feast”, “on the first day, (day) of de-leaven, when the Passover had to be killed”, was the new and Christian thing inaugurated by the Lord, on the very day He would die.
Luke differentiates between “the day of un-leaven” – heh hehméra tohn adzýmohn (22:7), and “the (eating)feast of un-leaven(ed bread) that which is called (the) Pascha” – heh legoméneh páscha (22:1). Also in Acts 12:3 Luke specifies: “It was (éhsan de) [the several] “days of no-leaven” or “days of un-leaven(ed bread)” – hehmérai tohn adzýmohn, and that these “days” were “the Passover” – to páscha – verse 4. (It was important there was “no leaven (to be found) in the land”; the bread automatically would then have been unleavened bread.) In 1Cor.5:8 Paul’s idea is “malice and evil” make the leaven “old”, wherefore we should rather “feast with leaven purged of malice and evil”, that is, with ‘new’ leaven, or “the purged leaven of sincerity and truth” – en adzýmois eilikrinéías kai alehthéías. Bread – specifically bread that is unleavened, is not the idea.
This day began as soon as the sun had set. There is no single instance in the New Testament – John’s Gospel included – of another way the day cycle is measured. (John only indicates the hour on the clock so to speak according to Roman colloquial use. He still reckons the day like the Jew he was would have, sunset-wise.) Unquestionably the Gospels all four of them reckon the day from sunset to sunset. Therefore the time here supposed by all three Synoptists is the time period that in Jewish thinking and in the New Testament, covers the beginning-hours of the day, which make up the evening – the hour or so – after sunset till dark. All those funny divisions of the evening into smaller evenings are to be disregarded – they are not traceable in the New Testament, and are devised by sects who are Christian in no way. Christianity has nothing in common with extremists who invariably accompany their sophisms with bombastic parade of their denial of Jesus’ divinity.
It was not “daylight preceding”, but “dusk” – evening light succeeding sunset and introducing the coming duration of the day. Remember the Ingressive Aorist is used – not the Imperfect that would have contained the idea of continuous “daylight preceding” the current day’s end and the following’s start. The ‘day’ concerned was a day on the calendar – one rotation of the earth, <hehmera> – that day “having come”, and “on” it – for which reason the Dative is used – Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for Passover.
It took the disciples not long. In
fact, they walked into the town, found the house, entered, and found it
“furnished” and made “ready”. “There make ready!” Lukes states: “When the hour
had come”, that is, after just one hour, they “sat down”. This was the
“evening”-hour since sunset. Says Mark, “When evening came” (
In all three Synoptists no events are recorded other than this short conversation between Jesus and his disciples and their separate journeys to the upper room. The disciples laid the table with the simplest of food, bread and wine. Nothing of the excessive Jewish Seder! It could not have taken long. Soon the Lord Jesus introduced this new and Christian Feast of as by faith partaking of the flesh and blood and life of the Lamb of God. Here the first of the “three days” “according to the Scriptures” begins, here the first night of the “three nights” of Jesus’ last suffering the agonies of death for us, is Jesus’ “eating the Passover”, and the meal was “to prepare” Him for that which He so “earnestly desired”. This for Jesus meant His eating the Passover! Here Nisan 14 began. And comes the morrow and 6 o’clock on Roman watch, “the Preparation of Passover” (John 19:14) witnesses Christ our Passover being “delivered over” according to God’s eternal purpose.
I have found this to be one of the most common mistakes, not to find the unity of the Scriptures that introduce Nisan 14 the “day” having “come”, and continued “when (having) come evening”.
By creating two days where there is given but one, the chronological sequence of the last Passover-week is upset. To follow along this sequence to the eventual day of Jesus’ resurrection brings confusion and not certainty.
The confusing of this one day for two, will be found consistently accompanied by the confusing of another sure two days, for one.
The two days that are taken for one, border the “evening” between the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and the day of His interment. That “evening” is obtrusively mentioned by word twice and indicated elaborately in Mark 14:42f, Matthew 27:57f, and Luke 22:50f .
The first of these two days is this very day we have dealt with so far – the day that had begun with the “day having come” and had continued with the subsequent “evening” of the Last Supper, and that then proceeded on through Jesus’ Gethsémane anguish, betrayal, trial, being delivered over, crucifixion and death – 14 Nisan.
Then, precisely in the manner the beginning of this day is indicated (by the mention of the “evening” and the ingressive Aorist), “came” (by the mention of the “evening” and the ingressive Aorist) the day and “evening” of the second of this pair of days. It is thus marked at its proceeding to have been Nisan 15 “Great Sabbath that day” of Passover Feast, “that was”! Despite, tradition has us understand, all that was to follow after the dividing sunset and “evening”, had happened before!
Just like the day of the Lord’s Supper and crucifixion (the day before the Feast Day and “the first day of de-leaven when the Passover had to be sacrificed”) began and ended, just so the day of the Lord’s burial (“a Great Sabbath that day” of Passover Feast “that was”), began and ended. Nisan 14 ended with afternoon before sunset and Nisan 15 began with “evening” after sunset. Two days – different and separated were they – were “according to the Scriptures”, the Passover-Scriptures! For the day on which the Passover lamb had been slaughtered, “came” (with sunset) and the “evening” that followed it. Then the following day that “came” (with sunset) and “in the evening” that followed, it was eaten, and “the very day” its remains was returned to the earth, “… that his flesh (should) not see corruption”. “… You shall not leave Him on the pole all that night, but before sunrise shall take Him down, and bury Him that same day (still).” (Dt.21:23)