Questions & Answers
I’m confused about when Jesus was crucified. Mark 15:25 says “it was the third hour when they crucified him” and John says Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd at the sixth hour (John 19:14) – so, according to John, Jesus must have been crucified after that.
– Clock Watcher
How do you measure time? If I said, “I just had a snack at 12:00,” does that mean I ate at noon or midnight? Europeans and the military use a 24-hour clock (“Formation is at seventeen-hundred,” i.e. 05:00 P.M.) while Americans, Mexicans and Canadians use a 12-hour clock and “A.M.” or “P.M.” to distinguish night from day.
We begin a new day at midnight but, without a clock or the sun to refer to, how do you know when midnight is? The Jews and the Athenians reasonably started their days at sundown. That can create problems for translators in places such as Acts 20:7. The Good News Bible says, “On Saturday evening we gathered together,” while all the standard translations read “On the first day of the week.…” Yes, it was literally Saturday night by our way of reckoning time but for those Christians, whose day began at sundown, it was Sunday!
So what about counting hours? Most people counted twelve hours of the night and twelve hours of the day (see John 11:9). On the other hand, the new Roman system counted the hours from midnight like we do. That provides us with a solution to this “discrepancy.” According to Mark, Jesus was crucified at the “third hour” (9:00 A.M. Jewish Time) and according to John “Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd at the sixth hour” (6:00 A.M. Roman Time). Since Matthew, Mark and Luke were written before the destruction of Jerusalem and John was written after the fall of the Jews, it seems reasonable to think the Synoptic Gospels used Jewish time (Jesus was crucified at the “third hour,” that is 9:00 AM) and John used Roman time (“Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd at the sixth hour,” that is 6:00 AM).