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Sunset Start of the Sabbath - Diagram

Each of the events included in the following diagram are described in different verses as happening "the first day of the week" yet, clearly, there were events that occured both before and after sunrise.

First Day of the Week Diagram

While "day" in all the verses involved is a supplied word, it is clear that all of the events are being described as happening on the Sabbath (as it should properly have been translated - see Jesus' Resurrection) proving that the Sabbath day - or any day - includes both the dark of night and the following light part of a 24-hour day.

Here are the verses that correspond to each point in the diagram

1. "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." (Mark 16:9)

The resurrection must have happened well before daylight on Sabbath morning as there was time for those who "came out of the graves after his resurrection" to "appear unto many" in Jerusalem before ascending with Him Sabbath morning as the first fruits:

"... many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." (Matt 27:52-53)
It is my belief (see further evidence in the book In the Heart of the Earth: The Secret Code That Reveals What Is In the Heart of God) that He was raised right at the start of the Sabbath (that would be "early.") Of course, His appearance to Mary was sometime after His resurrection but still early in the day. I like this translation which does a better job of showing a time separation between Jesus' resurrection and His appearance to Mary:
"And he, having risen in the morning of the first of the sabbaths, did appear first to Mary the Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven demons;" (Mark 16:9, Young's Literal Translation)
2. "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." (John 20:1)

Note in the verse above, that Mary came on "the first day of the week ... when it was yet dark." Also note that the stone had been taken away - He was already risen. After first seeing the stone rolled away, Mary went directly to the home of Peter and John and then returned with the other Mary, after Peter and John had come and gone.

3. "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." (Matt 28:1)

The verse above can seem confusing as, at first reading, it sounds like the Sabbath is ending as it is beginning to dawn in the morning. We need to remember that there was no punctuation in the original manuscripts - that was added later. The passage including the preceding verses could be arranged as follows:

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch in the end [or, "evening" - see below] of the sabbath." (Matt 27:62-66 and first part of 28:1)

"The next day" - the next calendar day - starts at sunset. Jesus had just been sealed into the tomb and the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate for a guard. They were taking no chances that Jesus' disciples would remove the body and later claim a resurrection. Of course, the disciples could have removed it at any time after the burial and then claim that He had been resurrected.

The "in the end of ..." (the first phrase of Matt 28:1) could just as easily be connected to the end of chapter 27. "End" would be better translated as "even" as it is translated in its other Biblical uses - see Mark 11:19 and 13:35 below.

"And when even was come, he went out of the city." (Mark 11:19)
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:" (Mark 13:35)

The Jews, by that time, had adopted the Roman system of dividing the night hours into four watches referred to as the evening, midnight, cockcrow and morning watches. The passage would then have the meaning that the next day (just after sunset) they went to Pilate, received permission for a guard and had the guard set at the tomb in the evening watch. It is quite conceivable that some of the priests/Pharisees watched the tomb while others went to see Pilate. They had had enough trouble with this Galilean that they wouldn't be taking chances.

The next part of the narrative then would be Matt 28:1 minus the first phrase. It is beginning a to describe a new scene, the arrival of the women at the tomb that happened several hours after the the burial and setting of a guard near sunset.

"... as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." (Matt 28:1)

The following verse which is parallel to Matt 28:1 shows the correspondence between "dawn" and "the rising of the sun."

"And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." (Mark 16:2)

The next event is also recorded as happening on the same day yet is obviously much later in the day:

4. "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." (John 20:19)

It is not specified exactly when this "at even" was but it was still "the first day of the week" as the verse plainly says. It would be sometime between midday (noon) and the end of the day (at sunset).

Here is a summary of the events illustrating that they all happened on the same day and that the day referred to includes time/events both before and after sunrise:

Day Time of Day Event
First day of the week early that day resurrection
First day of the week yet dark Mary arrived at the tomb
First day of the week beginning to dawn Mary M. and other Mary to tomb
First day of the week SUNRISE  
First day of the week at evening Jesus appeared to disciples

From these verses, it is definitely shown that a single calendar day includes both the dark portion before sunrise and the following light portion. Therefore a day cannot start at sunrise. Also, of course, this would indicate that the Sabbath was a full 24-hours long as it included events both during the dark and the following light period.

The next page deals with Deuteronomy 21:23 which has been used to support the theory that a night goes together with the previous day instead of the next day.  

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