- Published: 09 December 2010
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We are furnished by Scripture with certain facts and fixed points which, taken together, enable us (1) to determine the events which filled up the days of "the last week" of our Lord's life on earth; (2) to fix the day of His crucifixion; and (3) to ascertain the duration of the time He remained in the tomb.
The difficulties connected with these three have arisen (1) from not having noted these fixed points; (2) from the fact of Gentiles' not having been conversant with the law concerning the three great feasts of the LORD; and (3) from not having reckoned the days as commencing (some six hours before our own) and running from sunset to sunset, instead of from midnight to midnight.
To remove these difficulties, we must note :--
That the first day of each of the three feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, was "a holy convocation", a "sabbath" on which no servile work was to be done. See Lev. 23:7,24,35. Cp. Ex. 12:16.
"That Sabbath" and the "high day" of John 19:31, was the "holy convocation", the first day of the feast, which quite overshadowed the ordinary weekly sabbath.
It was called by the Jews Yom tov (= Good day), and this is the greeting on that day throughout Jewry down to the present time.
This great sabbath, having been mistaken from the earliest times for the weekly sabbath, has led to all the confusion.
This has naturally caused the further difficulty as to the Lord's statement that "even as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights" (Matt. 12:40). Now, while it is quite correct to speak according to Hebrew idiom of "three days" or "three years", while they are only parts of three days or three years, yet that idiom does not apply in a case like this, where "three nights" are mentioned in addition to "three days". It will be noted that the Lord not only definitely states this, but repeats the full phraseology, so that we may not mistake it.
We have therefore the following facts furnished for our sure guidance :
The "high day" of John 19:31 was the first day of the feast.
The "first day of the feast" was on the 15th day of Nisan.
The 15th day of Nisan, commenced at sunset on what we should call the 14th.
"Six days before the passover" (John 12:1) takes us back to the 9th day of Nisan.
"After two days is the passover" (Matt. 26:2. Mark 14:1) takes us to the 13th day of Nisan.
"The first day of the week", the day of the resurrection (Matt. 28:1,&c.), was from our Saturday sunset to our Sunday sunset. This fixes the days of the week, just as the above fix the days of the month , for:
Reckoning back from this, "three days and three nights " (Matt. 12:40), we arrive at the day of the burial, which must have been before sunset, on the 14th of Nisan; i.e. before our Wednesday sunset.
This makes the sixth day before the passover (the 9th day of Nisan) to be our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
Therefore Wednesday, Nisan 14th (commencing on the Tuesday at sunset), was "the preparation day", on which the crucifixion took place: for all four Gospels definitely say that this was the day on which the Lord was buried (before our Wednesday sunset), "because it was the preparation [day]" the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, "for that sabbath day was a high day", and, therefore, not the ordinary seventh day, or weekly sabbath. See John 19:31
It follows, therefore, that the Lord being crucified on "the preparation day" could not have eaten of the Passover lamb, which was not slain until the evening of the 14th of Nisan (i.e. afternoon). On that day the daily sacrifice was killed at the 6th hour (noon) and offered about the 7th hour (1 p.m.). The killing of the Passover lambs began directly afterwards. Thus it is clear, that if the killing of the Passover lambs did not commence until about four hours after our Lord had been hanging upon the Cross, and would not have been concluded at the ninth hour (3 p.m.) when "He gave up the ghost;" -- no " Passover lamb " could have been eaten at the "last supper" on the previous evening.
With these facts before us, we are now in a position to fill in the several days of the Lord's last week with the events recorded in the Gospels. By noting that the Lord returned to Bethany (or to the Mount of Olives) each night of that week, we are able to determine both the several days and the events that took place in them.
THE SIXTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER
THE 9TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset)
|The Lord approaches Jerusalem from Jericho||
|He passes our Thursday night at the house of Zacchaeus||
|And delivers the Parable of the Pounds||
|He proceeds toward Jerusalem||
|He sends two disciples (apenanti) for an "ass" and a "colt" (two animals)||21:1-7||
|And makes His first entry from Bethphage (not Bethany) ( The Two Entries )||21:8, 9||
|He is unexpected, and they ask "Who is this?"||21:10, 11||
|He cleanses the Temple||21:12-16||
|He returns to Bethany||21:17||
THE FIFTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER
THE 10TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.)
|The Lord passes the Sabbath at Bethany; and after sunset (on our Saturday), the first of three suppers was made, probably at the house of Lazarus, in Bethany ( The Three Suppers )||.............||..............||.................||12:2|
|At this supper the first of two anointings took place ( The Two Anointings )||
THE FOURTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER
THE 11TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset), the Gentile "Palm Sunday".
|The second, or triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He sends two disciples (katenanti ) for a colt (one animal). The Two Entries||...............||11:1-7||19:29-35||12:12-|
|The Lord starts from Bethany (not Bethphage) and is met by multitudes from Jerusalem (The Two Entries ).||
|He weeps over the city.||
|He enters the Temple, looks around.||
|And Returns to Bethany.||
THE THIRD DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER
THE 12TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Sunday sunset to Monday sunset).
|In the morning (our Monday a.m.) the Lord returns to Jerusalem.||21:18||11:12||
|The Fig-tree cursed.||21:19-22||11:13, 14||
|The Temple. Further cleansing.||
|In the Temple. Further teaching. "Certain Greeks".||
|Opposition of Rulers.||
|He goes out of the city (probably to Bethany; see Luke 21:37, 38, below).||
THE SECOND DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER
THE 13TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Monday sunset to Tuesday sunset).
|In the morning (our Tuesday a.m.) on the way to Jerusalem, the question of the disciples about the Fig Tree.||
|In Jerusalem again; and in the Temple.||21:23-27||11:27-33||20:1-8||
|In Jerusalem teaching in Parables; and questions.||21:28-23:39||12:1-44||20:9-21:4||
|The first great prophecy, in the Temple ( Two Great Prophecies ).||
|(Parenthetical statement as to the Lord's custom during this week).||
|The second great prophecy, on the Mount of Olives.||24:1-51||13:1-37||
|The second great prophecy, continued ( Two Great Prophecies ).||25:1-46||
|"After two days is the Passover".||26:1-5||14:1, 2||
|He returns to Bethany, and is present at the second supper in the house of Simon the leper. The second Anointing. The Three Suppers and The Two Anointings .||26:6-13||14:3-9||
THE DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER -- THE 14TH DAY OF NISAN
"THE PREPARATION DAY" -- THE DAY OF THE CRUCIFIXION
(Our Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset).
|The plot of Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord.||26:14-16||14:10, 11||22:1-6||
|The "preparation" for the last supper (*1).||26:17-19||14:12-16||22:7-13||
|"The even was come" (our Tuesday after sunset) when the plot for the betrayal was ripe for execution.||26:20||14:17||
|The last supper, commencing with the washing of the feet.||
|The announcement of the betrayal, &c.||26:21-25||14:18-21||
|The supper eaten, the "New Covenant" made (Jer. 31:31). The lamb abolished, bread and wine substituted.||26:26-29||14:22-25||22:14-23||
|The first prophecy of Peter's denials ( Denials Od Peter ).||
|The strife; who should be the greatest, &c.||
|The second prophecy of Peter's denials ( Denials Of Peter ).||
|The final appeal to His first commission (Luke 9:3).||
|The last discourse to the eleven, followed by His prayer.||
|They go to Gethsemane.||26:30-35||14:26-29||22:39||18:1|
|The third prophecy of Peter's denials ( Denials Of Peter ).||
|The agony in the garden.||26:36-46||14:32-42||22:40-46||
|The apprehension of the Lord ( Lord's Last Day ).||26:47-56||14:43-50||22:47-54||18:2-11|
|The escape of Lazarus||
|The trials: continued throughout our Tuesday night.||26:57-27:31||14:53-15:19||22:54-23:25||18:12-19:13|
|About the sixth hour (our Tuesday midnight) Pilate said "Behold your King".||
|Led away to be crucified.||27:31-34||15:20-23||23:26-31||19:16, 17|
|And "led with Him" two "malefactors" (kakourgoi) ( Others Crucified ).||
|Discussion with Pilate about the Inscriptions.||
|The dividing of the garments.||27:35-37||15:24||23:34||19:23, 24|
|"It was the third hour, and they crucified Him" (our 9 a.m. Wednesday).||
|"Then were there two robbers" (lestai) crucified with Him" (Others Crucified ).||27:38||15:27, 28||
|The revilings of the rulers, both "robbers", and one "malefactor".||27:39-44||15:29-32||23:35-43||
|The Lord's mother and John.||
|"The sixth hour" (our Wednesday noon) and the darkness ( Lord's Last Day ).||27:45-49||15:33||23:44, 45||
|"The ninth hour" (our Wednesday 3 p.m.) and the expiring cry ( Lord's Last Day ).||27:50||15:34-37||23:46||19:28-30|
|Buried in haste before sunset (our Wednesday about 6 p.m.), before the "high day" (the first day of the Feast began), our Wednesday sunset.||27:57-66||15:42-47||23:50-56||19:38-42|
"THE FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST"
"THE HIGH DAY" (Yom tov) - THE 15TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset.)
THE FIRST NIGHT AND FIRST DAY IN THE TOMB.
THE SECOND DAY OF THE FEAST - THE 16TH DAY OF NISAN.
(Our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.)
THE SECOND NIGHT AND SECOND DAY IN THE TOMB.
THE THIRD DAY OF THE FEAST - "THE (WEEKLY) SABBATH" - THE 17TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.)
THE THIRD NIGHT AND THIRD DAY IN THE TOMB.
"THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" - THE 18TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Saturday sunset : "the third day" of Matt. 16:21, &c.; not the third day of the Feast.)
|Thus the Resurrection of the Lord took place at our Saturday sunset or thereabouts on "the third day"; cp. "after three days" (Matt. 27:63. Mark 8:31.).||28:1-10||16:1-18||24:1-49||20:1-23|
[For the sequence of events connected with and following the Resurrection. ]
It will be seen from the above that we have neither power nor authority to alter or shift any day or date; or to change the order or position of any of the events recorded in the Holy Writ.
Each day is marked by a return to Bethany during the last week (up to the Preparation Day); and each day is filled with the recorded events.
It follows, therefore, that the Lord was crucified on our Wednesday; was buried on that day before sunset; and remained "three days and three nights" in the tomb, as foretold by Him in Matt. 12:40; rising from the dead on "the third day", "the first day of the week".
The fixed days and dates, at either end, hold the whole period as in a vice, and place the whole subject on a sure foundation.
(*1) The words in Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7 refer to "the first day of unleavened bread", which was the 14th day of Nisan, and therefore "the preparation day". That is why the Lord goes on to tell the two disciples to go and make preparation for the Passover .
Most "Harmonies" assume that because each Gospel records an entry of the Lord into Jerusalem the four accounts must be identical because they are similar; and therefore conclude that because they differ in certain particulars there are "discrepancies".
Whereas, if we treat them in their chronological sequences, and have regard to the antecedent and consequent circumstances, the supposed discrepancies will disappear, and the similar, but diverse, expressions will be seen to be necessary to the different events.
In this present case, one entry (Matt. 21:1-9) takes place before the other, which is recorded in Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:30-34, and John 12:12-15.
- In Matthew the Lord had actually arrived at Bethphage. In Luke He "was come nigh" (engisen); in Mark "they were approaching" (engizousin ).
- In Matthew the village lay just off the road (apenanti); in Luke and Mark it was below them, and opposite (katenanti).
- In the former, two animals were sent for and used; in the latter, only one.
- In the former, the prophecy of Zech. 9:9, which required the two animals is said to have been fulfilled; in the latter, the prophecy was not said to be fulfilled, and only so much of it is quoted (John 12:15) as agrees with it.
- The former seems to have been unexpected, for "all the city was moved, saying, 'Who is this?'" (Matt. 21:10,11 ), while, if there was only one entry, the two accounts are inexplicable, seeing that the later and subsequent entry was prepared for : much people in the city "heard that He was coming", and "went forth to meet Him" (John 12:12,13).
- The latter therefore, was the great formal entry of the Lord, called "the Triumphal Entry", which took place on what is called "Palm Sunday".
The significance of the two animals, and the one, seems to be this:--
The first had special reference to the whole work of His mission. He came on the ass with its unbroken colt, the clothes being put some on one and some on the other, and the Lord sitting on "them" -- the clothes (not on both beasts). He came to cleanse the Temple, and make His final presentation of the King and the Kingdom.
But when He came on the one -- an ass's colt -- it was in judgment , to pronounce the doom on the city; and on the nation.
When He appears again it will be to a nation which will then say (as the result of Zech. 12:10); "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39).
"THE END OF THE AGE"
(Luke 21 and Matt. 24. Mark 13.)
The great prophecy recorded in Luke 21 is different both in time, place and subject from that recorded in Matt 24 and Mark 13.
The one recorded in Luke was spoken "on one of those days, as He taught the people in the Temple" (Luke 20:1). For one note of time is in 21:1, "and He looked up and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the Treasury." So that He was still "in the Temple " when He uttered the prophecy recorded in Luke 21, for the whole conversation with the disciples follows without a break the Lord's commendation of the widow.
But with regard to the prophecy recorded in Matt 24, we distinctly read (v. 1) "and Jesus went out and departed from the Temple ... and as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately " (v. 30). So in Mark 13:1, "He went out of the Temple ... and as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, over against the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately" (v. 3).
So that we have two great prophecies. One (Luke) spoken in the Temple, the other (Matthew and Mark) spoken later upon the Mount of Olives. As parts of the first are repeated on the second occasion, we will give the leading points of the three in parallel columns, so that the object of each, and the difference between them, may be clearly seen.
They both open with a summary of events which might have taken place in the lifetime and experience of those who heard the words :--
FROM THE CROSS ONWARDS.
|LUKE 21:8-9.||MATT. 24:4-6||MARK 13:5-7|
|"Take heed that ye be not deceived for may shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by (i.e. immediately, so R.V.)."||"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."||"Take heed lest any man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet."|
John refers to this first sign in his First Epistle (1 John 2:18 ); but had the nation repented at the proclamation by Peter in Acts 3:18-26 , by the Twelve in the Land, by "them that heard Him" ( Heb. 2:3 ), and by Paul in the Synagogues of the Dispersion, " all that the prophets had written" would have been fulfilled.
|LUKE 21:10, 11.||MATT. 24:7, 8.||MARK 13:8|
|"Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven."||"Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."||Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."|
Now, it will be observed in the Lord's discourse as recorded in Luke, that, instead of saying "these are the beginnings of sorrows", and going on with the account of them, He stops short; He goes back; He introduces a parenthesis detailing and describing events that would take place " BEFORE ALL THESE" beginnings of sorrows. He describes in v. 12,
THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM.
|12. But before all these,||
That is to say "BEFORE" the great tribulation, all that is recorded concerning Jerusalem in vv . 12-24 would take place. These are the closing words :--
|24. "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.||
Now, in the discourse recorded in Matt. 24, instead of going back to speak of the condition of Jerusalem before and until the beginning of the great Tribulation; having said "All these are the beginning of sorrows", He goes on to describe the sorrows, or birth-pangs of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:9-28. Mark 13:9-23), and He continues the prophecy concerning these sorrows up to the moment of His appearing in the clouds of heaven.
While, in the discourse recorded in Luke 21, having gone back, and described what should take place "before all these" beginnings of sorrows, the Lord does not speak further of the great Tribulation, but takes it up at the end, and, as in Matthew and Mark, speaks concerning
HIS COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN
(of course, in Luke the words are slightly different from those in Matthew and Mark) :--
|LUKE 21:25-27.||MATT. 24:29, 30||MARK 13:24-26.|
|"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."||"Immediately after the tribulation of those days (*1) shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."||"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken, and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."|
The first prophecy, in the Temple (Luke 21), was uttered in answer to two questions : (1) "When shall these things be? " and (2) "What sign shall there be when these things shall come to pass? " The answer to (1) is given in vv. 8-24, and the answer to (2) in vv. 25-28.
The second prophecy, on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24 and Mark 13 ), was uttered in answer to three distinct questions : (1) " When shall these things be?" (2) "What shall be the sign of Thy coming?" and (3) "And [what shall be the sign] of the end of the age?" The answer to (1) was given in Matt. 24:4-14. Mark 13:5-13. The answer to (2) was given in Matt. 24:15-27 . Mark 13:14-23; and to (3) in Matt. 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27 (and in Luke 21:25-28).
And then both prophecies conclude with the Parable of the Fig tree , and the final solemn assurance :--
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall by no means pass, till all these things may be fulfilled" (*2) (Matt. 24:34. Mark 13:30. Luke 21:32.)
This latter is the last of four equally impressive statements : Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 23:39; 24:34.
Each of these consists of two clauses, the former of which contains the strongest negative that could possibly have been used; and should be rendered "by no means", or "in no wise", as it is often rendered elsewhere; while in the latter clause the verb is in the subjunctive mood with or without the Greek Particle "en", which (though it cannot be represented in translation) makes the clause hypothetical and dependent on some condition expressed or implied. This condition was, in each of these four passages, the repentance of the nation , in response to the appeal of "the other servants" of Matt. 22:4, as recorded in Acts 3:18-26 and elsewhere, culminating in Acts 28:17-29 .
The conclusion of both prophecies thus consists of an assured certainty , with a definite contingency, or uncertainty which was not fulfilled.
Had the nation repented, then Jesus Christ would have been " sent", and "the restoration of all things which God had spoken by all His holy prophets since the world began" would have taken place, in accordance with God's Divine assurance given by Peter in Acts 3:18-26 ; but the condition of national repentance (Lev. 26:40-42; Hos. 14:1-4, &c.) was not fulfilled; hence that generation passed away; and both prophecies (with all the others) are now postponed. The first sign of all did (and will again) take place - the rising of the "many Antichrists ", whereby John could say they knew that it was "the last hour" before "the end of that age" (1 John 2:18).
(*1) Leaving no space, therefore, for a millennium of peace between the great Tribulation and the appearance of the Lord in glory; proving that the second coming must be pre-millennial.
(*2) In all three passages the verb is genetai = may arise, or may have come to pass: not pleroo = be entirely fulfilled or finished, as in Luke 21:24. This was so in both cases.
THE THREE SUPPERS
That there were three suppers, and not only two, at the close of our Lord's ministry will be clear from a careful comparison of the three Scriptures.
- There was the supper recorded in John 12:1-9. This was probably in the house of Lazarus (*1), and, being "six days before the Passover", must have taken place on the Friday evening, on the Lord's return from His first entry into Jerusalem from Bethphage ).
Having slept there on the Friday night and spent the last Sabbath in retirement there, this first supper was made after the Sabbath had ended at 6 p.m. At this supper there was an anointing of the Lord by Mary ( The Two Anointings ).
- The second supper, recorded in Matt. 26:6-13, took place "two days before the Passover" at the house of Simon the leper, which was also in Bethany. See Mark 14:1-9. At this supper there was also an anointing by a woman unknown (The Two Anointings ).
- The supper recorded in John 13:1-20 is the same as that recorded in Matt. 26:20, Mark 14:17, and Luke 22:14. It was "the last supper", "the hour was come", and when supper was begun, or going on (not "ended"), the Lord first washed the disciples' feet; and later, the events took place as recorded in all four Gospels. John's Gospel adds some antecedents; but gives the same consequence.
The rendering of genomenou in John 13:2, by "ended" instead of by "taking place", or "beginning", has been the cause of much confusion.
(*1) For all the family were present; and "Martha served" (cp. Luke 10:40-42).
THE TWO ANOINTINGS
There can be no doubt that, during the last week, the Lord was anointed on two separate occasions.
- The former is recorded in John 12:3-8, "six days before the Passover ", in the house of Lazarus, at Bethany. (see The Three Suppers ).
The latter is recorded in Matt. 26:7-13, and Mark 14:3-9, "two days before the Passover", in the house of Simon the leper, also in Bethany.
Thus the times and places distinct.
- In the former case it was " a pound of ointment" that was used (John 12:3).
In the latter case it was an alabaster vessel (Matt. 26:7).
- In the former case it was "the feet" of the Lord that were anointed (John 21:3).
In the latter case it was His "head" ( Matt. 26:7)
- In the former case the term used is "anointed " (John 12:3).
In the latter case the term is "poured" ( Matt. 26:7. Mark 14:3)
- In the former case it was Judas who asked the question why it was not sold, &c., as there was plenty of time to do so during the six days (John 12:4).
In the latter it was the disciples who "had indignation " (Matt. 26:8) "among themselves" (Mark 14:4); and their words (not necessarily spoken aloud to all) seem to refer to what Judas had said before.
- In the former the Lord directs the ointment to be reserved for His burial; and not sold (John 12:4).
In the latter He declared that it had been kept for that purpose (Matt. 26:12. Mark 14:8)
- In the former case the Lord said, "Let her alone, " in order that she may keep it (John 12:7).
In the latter He declared that she had well used it (Matt. 26:10-13).
- In the former case the woman is named "Mary" ( John 21:3).
In the latter case the woman is unnamed.
- Thus on each occasion both the antecedents and consequence are different.
Instead of wondering that there should be two anointings the wonder should be that there were only two, seeing that examples are so easily followed.
A figure of speech consists of a word of words used out of the ordinary sense, or order; just as we call a person dressed out of the ordinary manner or fashion a "figure": both attract our attention; and, in the case of words, the one and only object is in order to call a reader's attention to what is thus emphasized. For an example see Matt. 16:6; where, had the Lord said "the doctrine of the Pharisees is like leaven", that would have been the Fig. Simile . Had He said "the doctrine of the Pharisees is leaven ", the Fig. in this case would have been Metaphor; by which, instead of saying one thing is like another, it is carried over (as the word Metaphor means), and states that the one thing is the other. But in Matt. 16:6, the Lord used another Figure altogether, viz. Hypocatastasis (from hupo = under, kata = down, and stasis = a stationing), which means putting one of the two words (which are necessary in the case of Simile and Metaphor ) down underneath, i.e. out of sight, and thus implying it. He said, "beware of the leaven", thus implying the word "doctrine ", which He really meant; and, by thus attracting the disciples' attention to His words, thereby emphasized them.
In these three Figures we have a Positive, Comparative, and Superlative emphasis. The essence of Simile is resemblance; the essence of Metaphor is representation (as in the case of a portrait, which is representation of some person); the essence of Hypocatastasis is implication, where only one word is mentioned and another is implied.
Through non-acquaintance with Figures of Speech every Figure is to-day called a "Metaphor". But this is not the case. A Metaphor is a special Figure different and distinct from all others.
"This is My body" is the Figure Metaphor; and the Figure lies in the Verb "IS", which, as in this case always means "represents ", and must always be so expressed. It can never mean " is changed into". Hence in the Figure Metaphor, the Verb "represents" can always be substituted for "is". For example:
"The field is (or represents) the world" (Matt. 13:38).
"The good seed are (represent) the sons of the kingdom " (Matt. 13:38).
"The reapers are (represent) angels" (Matt. 13:39).
"The odors are (represent) the prayers of the saints " (Rev. 5:8).
"The seven heads are (represent) seven mountains" (Rev. 17:9).
"This cup is (represents) the new covenant" (1Cor. 11:25).
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not (does it not represent) the blood of Christ?" (1Cor. 10:16).
Furthermore, it is a fundamental law in Greek grammar, without exception, that the Article, Pronoun, and Adjective must agree in gender with the Noun to which they refer. For example, in Matt.16:18 , the Pronoun "this" is Feminine, and thus agrees with petra, which is also Feminine, and not with petros (Peter) which is Masculine.
So here: the Pronoun "this" is Neuter, and cannot agree with artos ( = bread) because artos is Masculine . It must refer to what is Neuter; and this could only be the whole act of breaking the bread, which would be Neuter also; or to klasma, the broken piece (which is also Neuter ).
In like manner, when He said (in v. 28) "this is my blood of the New Covenant"; "this", being Neuter, refers to poterion ( = cup) (*1) and not to oinos ( = wine), which is Masculine , and means :-- "This [cup] represents My blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many, for remission of sins".
For, what was the Lord doing? He was making the New Covenant foretold in Jer. 31:31-34. If it were not made then, it can never be made at all, for no more has He blood to shed (Luke 24:39 ).
Now, "blood" was shed, and sacrificially used, only in connection with two things, making of a covenant, and the making of atonement . In the former, the victim which made or ratified the covenant was slain and the body divided in two, the parties to the covenant passing between . As long as the victim (the covenant maker) was alive the covenant could have no force.
At the last supper this New Covenant was made; and Peter's proclamation in Acts 2:38; 3:19-26; 5:31; and Paul's in 13:38; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; were based upon it. Messiah had to be "cut off ", that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (Acts 3:18). But that having been accomplished, and the sufferings having been endured, nothing stood in the way of the glory which should follow. " Repent ye THEREFORE and turn [to the Lord] that your sins may be blotted out ", &c. The New Covenant which had been made had provided for that, as the Lord had said in Matt. 26:28, "for the remission of sins ".
In that last supper the Lord was not instituting anything with a view to the Secret (the "Mystery" to be yet revealed in the Prison Epistles); but was substituting bread and wine for the Paschal Lamb (the type being exhausted in the Antitype), because of the new meaning which the Passover should henceforth convey. It was to be the Memorial Exodus, not of the Exodus from Egypt, but of the which the Lord afterward accomplished in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31), according to the New Covenant made by His death.
(*1) Poterion being put by Metonymy (of Adjunct), for the contents, for the "cup" itself could not be swallowed.
THE DENIALS OF PETER.
There are several facts that have to be noticed before we can arrive at a clear understanding of all the denials recorded by Peter by the four evangelists : -
- We have to note that the fact that Peter would deny His Lord was foretold in three distinct prophecies uttered on three separate occasions and differing both as to the occasion and as to particulars.
- The first was in the upper chamber , recorded in John 13:38. It was absolute as to the fact, general as to the day , but particular as to the number of denials: "a cock shall by no means crow [from this time forth] until thou hast denied Me thrice".
- The second was in the upper chamber , recorded by Luke 22:34. It was after the "strife ", and immediately before leaving the room. It was absolute as to the fact but particular as to the day and the number of denials: "a cock shall not crow this day, before thou wilt thrice deny that thou knowest Me".
- The third was after the Lord had left the city and immediately before entering the garden of Gethsemane. It is recorded in Mark 14:30, and was particular in every detail : "Verily I say unto thee that (hoti ) thou (added by all the texts) this day, in this night, before a cock crow twice, thrice thou wilt deny Me".
This last prophecy furnishes the key to the whole problem. For, note : -
- that a cock was to crow twice, and
- that Peter would deny thrice;
i.e. before each of the two cockcrowings Peter would thrice deny His Lord. This is confirmed by the repetition in the fulfillment (Mark 14:72).
Thus, there would be six denials in all; three before each cockcrowing.
Note that the word "cock" has no Article in any of the four records : in each case it is not "the", but " a cockcrowing".
- The first was in the upper chamber , recorded in John 13:38. It was absolute as to the fact, general as to the day , but particular as to the number of denials: "a cock shall by no means crow [from this time forth] until thou hast denied Me thrice".
- Consonant with these data, we have the remarkable fact that Matthew, Luke and John each record three denials, and one concluding cockcrowing. Mark also records three denials, but mentions the two cockcrowings.
Consequently, in the four Gospels there are no less than twelve denials mentioned. And the questions are, which of these are duplicates, and which are the resulting six required by the Lord's third prophecy in Mark 14:30?
- If we note accurately the marks of time in each Gospel, the place and the persons addressing Peter, every condition required by each of the Greek words employed is fully and perfectly satisfied, without a shadow or suggestion of "discrepancy".
- The First Series of Three.
- The First Denial, John 18:17. Place: the door (thura ) without. Time: entering. The questioner : the porteress (Gr. thuroros).
- The Second Denial, Matt. 26:70 ( Mark 14:68). Place: the hall (aule). Time: sitting. Questioner : a certain maid. Luke 22:56-58 combines the same place and time, with the same maid, and another (heteros, masc.).
- The Third Denial, Matt. 26:71. Place: the gateway or porch ( pulon). Time: an interval of an hour. John 18:25, 26 combines the same place and time, with another maid and bystanders , one of them being a relative of Malchus.
A COCK CREW.
(Mark 14: 68. John 18:27)
- The Second Series of Three.
- The First Denial, Mark 14:63. Place: "beneath in the hall". Time: shortly after. Questioner : the maid again.
- The Second Denial, Matt. 26:73 (Mark 14:70). Place: the gate (pulon). Time: shortly after. Questioners : the bystanders.
- The Third Denial (Luke 22:59, 60). Place: the midst of the hall (aule; v. 55). Time: "an hour after" ( v. 59). Questioner : a certain one (masc.).
A COCK CREW.
(Matt. 26:74. Mark 14:72. Luke 22:61)
- We thus have a combined record in which there remains no difficulty, while each word retains its own true grammatical sense.
- The First Series of Three.
THE CROSS AND THE CRUCIFIXION.
In the Greek N.T. two words are used for "the cross", on which the Lord was put to death.
- The word stauros; which denotes and upright pale or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution.
- The word xulon, which generally denotes a piece of a dead log of wood or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose. It is not like dendron , which is used of a living, or green tree, as in Matt. 21:8. Rev. 7:1, 3; 8:7; 9:4, &c.
As this latter word xulon is used for the former stauros , it shows us that the meaning of each is exactly the same.
The verb stauros means to drive stakes (*1).
Our English word "cross" is the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word "stick" means a "crutch".
Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake , or a single piece of timber (*2). And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics (*3).
It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xulon (No. 2, above) in connection with the manner of our Lord's death, and rendered "tree" in Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29. Gal. 3:13. 1Pet. 2:24.
There is nothing in the Greek of the N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber.
The Catacombs in Rome bear the same testimony: "Christ " is never represented there as "hanging on a cross", and the cross itself is only portrayed in a veiled and hesitating manner. In the Egyptian churches the cross was a pagan symbol of life, borrowed by the Christians, and interpreted in the pagan manner.
In his Letters from Rome Dean Burgon says: "I question whether a cross occurs on any Christian monument of the first four centuries ".
In Mrs. Jameson's famous History of our Lord as Exemplified in Works of Art, she says (vol. ii. p. 315): "It must be owned that ancient objects of art, as far as hitherto known, afford no corroboration of the use of the cross in the simple transverse form familiar to us, at any period preceding, or even closely succeeding, the time of Chrysostom "; and Chrysostom wrote half a century after Constantine!
"The Invention of the Cross" by Helena the mother of Constantine (in 326), though it means her finding of the cross, may or may not be true; but the "invention" of it in pre-Christian times, and the "invention" of its use in later times, are truths of which we need to be reminded in the present day. The evidence is thus complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle.
(*1) There are two compounds of it used: sustauroo = to put any one thus to death with another (Matt. 27:44. Mark 15:32. John 19:32. Rom. 6:6. Gal. 2:20); and anastauroo = to raise up and fix upon the stake again (Heb. 6:6 ). Another word used is equally significant: porspegnumi = to fix or fasten anything (Acts 2:23).
(*2) Iliad xxiv. 453. Odyssey xiv. 11.
(*3) e.g. Thucydides iv. 90. Xenophon, Anabasis v. 2. 21.
THE INSCRIPTIONS ON THE CROSS.
Each of the four Gospels gives a different wording of these inscriptions : -
- Matt. 27: 37 : "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."
- Mark 15:26 : "The King of the Jews"
- Luke 23:28 : "This is the King of the Jews."
- John 19:19 : "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Here again the difficulty is created by assuming that these similar but differing records are identical , without noticing the exact words which are written. It is universally assumed that there was only one , and then follow the efforts to explain the alleged "discrepancies" between the different versions of it.
If we note carefully what is actually said all will be clear.
- Mark 15:26 can be dismissed; for he does not say anything about a "title" (Gr. titlos, John 19:19) being put on the cross or anywhere else, which any one had seen. It is a question of the Lord's "accusation" or "indictment", or the ground or cause of His condemnation as claiming to be "the King of the Jews".
- John 19:19 speaks of a "title" written by Pilate, before it left Pilate's presence ; for no one suggests that Pilate went to the scene of the execution and wrote anything there.
In Pilate's writing the three languages were in this order : (1) Hebrew (2) Greek and (3) Latin (cp. IV. below). And it was read after the cross had been set up .
This was one which gave rise to the argument between the Chief Priests and Pilate (John 19:21,22); and this argument took place before the parting of the garments (vv 23, 24).
- The inscription in Matt. 27:37 was the result of that discussion; for another "title" was brought and was "set up over his head", after they had "parted His garments" , and having sat down, they watched Him there ( vv. 35, 36).
As there could hardly have been two titles at the same time, the former must have been then taken down and the other substituted.
We are not told how long the argument lasted or when it ceased, or what was the final result of it.
- A further result is seen in Luke 23:38; for another was brought much later, close upon "the sixth hour" (v. 44), when the darkness fell. It was written with the languages in a different order : (1) Greek (2) Latin, and (3) Hebrew (v. 38). (But see the texts.) It was put up "over Him" (Gr. ep' auto , v. 38), "after the revilings of the People" (cp. vv . 35-37, with v. 38); whereas Matthew's (No. III) was set up before the revilings (cp. Matt. 27:37 with v. 39).
The result is that : -
- Mark's was only His indictment.
- John's was the first written by Pilate himself (or by his order), in (1) Hebrew, (2) Greek, and (3) Latin, and was put on the cross before it left Pilate's presence .
- Matthew's was the second , substituted for the first, in consequence of the arguments which took place, and was set up "over His head" after the garments had been divided, and before the revilings.
- Luke's was the third (and last), put up "over Him ", after the revilings (Luke 23:35), and was seen just before the darkness of the "sixth hour" (v. 41). This was written in three languages, but in a different order : (1) Greek, (2) Latin, and (3) Hebrew (v. 38). Not in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin as in No. II in John 19:19.
Thus, such differences as these are marks of Divine accuracy; and instead of being sources of difficulties, become, when rightly divided, the means of their removal.
THE "OTHERS" CRUCIFIED WITH THE LORD
(Matt. 27:38 and Luke 23:32).
Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord.
But Scripture does not say so. It states that there were two "thieves" (Gr. lestai = robbers, Matt. 27:38. Mark 15:27); and that there were two "malefactors" (Gr. kakouryoi , Luke 23:32).
It is also recorded that both the robbers reviled Him ( Matt. 27:44. Mark 15:32); while in Luke 23:39 only one of the malefactors "railed on Him", and "the other rebuked him" for so doing (v. 40). If there were only two, this is a real discrepancy; and there is another, for the two malefactors were "led with Him to be put to death" (Luke 23:32), and when they were come to Calvary, "they " then and there "crucified Him and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left" ( v. 33).
But the other discrepancy is according to Matthew, that after the parting of the garments, and after "sitting down they watched Him there", that "THEN" were there two robbers crucified with Him, one on the right hand and the other on the left" (Matt. 27:38. Mark 15:27). The two malefactors had already been "led with Him" and were therefore crucified "with Him", and before the two robbers were brought.
The first two (malefactors) who were "led with Him" were placed one on either side. When the other two (robbers) were brought, much later, they were also similarly placed; so that there were two (one of each) on either side, and the Lord in the midst. The malefactors were therefore the nearer, and being on the inside they could speak to each other better, and the one with the Lord, as recorded (Luke 23:39-43 ).
John's record confirms this, for he speaks only of place, and not of time. He speaks, generally of the fact: "where they crucified Him, and with Him others, two on this side, and that side, and Jesus in the midst" (John 19:8). In Rev. 22:2 we have the same expression in the Greek (enteuthen kai enteuthen ), which is accurately rendered "on either side". So it should be rendered here: " and with Him others, on either side".
But John further states (19:32,33) : "then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came (Gr. = having come) to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs." Had there been only two (one on either side) the soldiers would not have come to the Lord, but would have passed Him, and then turned back again. But they came to Him after they had broken the legs of the first two.
There are two words used of the "other" and "others" in John 19:32 and Luke 23:32. In the former passage we read, "they brake the legs of the first and of the other." Here the Greek is allos which is the other (the second) of the two when there are more (see Matt. 10:23; 25:16, 17, 20; 27:61; 28:1. John 18:15, 16; 20:2, 4, 8. and Rev. 17:10).
In the latter passage (Luke 23:32) the word is heteros = different (See Ap. 124. 2) : "and others also, two were being led with Him." These were different (*1) from Him with Whom they were led, not different from one another; for they were "in the same condemnation", and "justly", while He had "done nothing amiss" (vv. 40, 41).
From this evidence, therefore, it is clear that there were four "others" crucified with the Lord; and thus, on the one hand, there are no "discrepancies", as alleged; while, on the other hand, every word and every expression, in the Greek, gets (and gives) its own exact value, and its full significance.
(*1) Cp. Matt. 6:21, 24; 8:21; 11:3. Luke 5:7; 6:6; 7:41; 9:56; 14:31; 16:13, 18; 17:34, 35; 18:10; 28:40.
THE HOURS OF THE LORD'S LAST DAY.
The Diagram below shows the 24 hours of the "Preparation Day", i.e. the day before the Passover (John 19:14 , &c.). The Four Gospels agree in stating that the Lord was laid in the Sepulcher on the Preparation Day , which was Nisan 14th, immediately before "the High Sabbath", Nisan 15th (Matt. 27:62. Mark 15:42. Luke 23:54. John 19:31, 42). Therefore He must have been crucified on Wednesday, 14th of Nisan.
As shown above, the 14th of Nisan, which was the "Preparation Day ", began at sunset on our Tuesday (Gentile reckoning). "The sixth hour" of John 19:14 is the sixth hour of the night, and therefore corresponds to midnight, at which, according to Gentile reckoning, Wednesday began.
The Roman numerals on the dial plate show the 24 hours of the complete Gentile day. And on either side of the dial are shown the Hebrew "hours" corresponding to the Gentile hours a.m. and p.m.
The twenty-four hours were divided into the twelve hours of the night (reckoned from sunset), and "twelve hours in the day" (reckoned from sunrise. See John 11:9). Hence "the sixth hour " of John 19:14 was our midnight; "the third hour" of Mark 15:25 was our 9 a.m.; "the sixth hour" of Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44; was our noon and the "ninth hour" of Matt. 27:45,46; Mark 15:33.34; Luke 23:44 ; was our 3 p.m.