Three articles appear below:

1. Was Christ's Resurrerction Predicted?

2. Rewriting History

3. Three Days and Three Nights?


Was Christ's Resurrection Predicted?


(Investigator 120, 2008 May)

The New Testament (NT) claims Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and that the Old Testament (OT) predicted it:

For I handed on to you as of first importance…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures… (I Corinthians 15:3-4)
Apparently, however, the OT nowhere predicts a third-day resurrection. Atheists challenge: "I defy anyone to find any OT passage that prophesies a Messiah's resurrection on the third day."

Christian apologists cite Psalm 16:8-11:

8 I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body [flesh] also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit [or "corruption."].
11 You show me the path of life.
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (New RSV)
Most Bibles have "corruption" in 16:10 rather than "the Pit" but both are correct subject to context. And "body" in 16:9 is usually translated "flesh". (Wigram, 5th edition)

The NT quotes 16:8-11 and applies it to Jesus' resurrection. (Acts 2:24-31; 13:34-37) However, Psalm 16 does not mention Jesus or three days. It's a "Psalm of David" and seemingly about David.

Critics declare: "Only someone desperate to find a resurrection prophecy believes Psalm 16 predicts a Messiah's resurrection."


That a Messiah would die and rise was not obvious to 1st century Jews. It needed explaining:

Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day… (Luke 24:45-46)
Peter's explanation of Psalm 16, applying it to Jesus, was likewise new to his Jewish audience. (Acts 2:22-37),

"All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him." (Psalm 22:27)
The Old Testament predicts the coming of a world ruler, descended from David, through whom God brings world peace:
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high… so shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him… (Isaiah 52:13, 15)

But you, O Bethlehem…from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days… And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. (Micah 5:1-5)

And I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven… To him was given dominion and glory and kingship that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey… And he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9-10)

How many different people can rule the world in peace? One person only. Because after world peace is accomplished it cannot be done by another, since we're talking about one world, one earth.

Therefore the preceding Scriptures refer to one individual. This accepted, let us uncover more OT predictions about Him.

Isaiah 52 & 53 says that the "servant" will be "cut off", that is killed, and yet "prolong his days":

For he was cut off from the land of the living stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich… (53:8-9)

When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper. (53:10)

To die, be entombed and then live implies resurrection. No "third day" mentioned – but let's go on.

Daniel 9:24-27 predicts 70 weeks or 490 days – usually interpreted as 490 years.

At 69 weeks – or 483 years – comes "the time of an anointed prince." (9:25)

"Anointed" means "Christ" or "Messiah". In ancient Israel kings and chief priests were appointed to office in a ceremony that involved pouring olive oil onto their head. This was called "anointing", and the person was "anointed" or "messiah". "Messiah" translated into Greek became "Christ".

Ancient Israel, therefore, produced many "messiahs". Since the world ruler continues the "throne of David" (Isaiah 9:6-7) he too would be a "messiah".

After the 69 weeks (483 years): "…an anointed one will be cut off and shall have nothing." (Daniel 9:26)

Messiah "cut off and have nothing" again means to be killed.

After that: "He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week…" (Daniel 9:27)

The identity of this "He" who makes a covenant that lasts through the 70th week is disputed. If "He" refers back to Messiah who dies "after 69 weeks" then it implies his resurrection out of death.

PSALM 16:9-11

The wording of Psalm 16:1-8 fits David and other Godly people.

Verses 9-11, however, fit only one person:

9 Therefore my heart is glad; and my soul rejoices; and my body [flesh] rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit [corruption].
11 You show me the path of life…in your right hand are pleasures evermore."
Verse 9 implies death. A "body" or "flesh" rests in Sheol (the grave) but is not left in – not "given up to" – Sheol . The flesh or body then enters "the path of life…evermore".

Verses 10 to 11 therefore imply resurrection, which is how the NT interprets them. But still no "third day".


Psalm 72 is "Of Solomon" and anticipates worldwide prosperity and peace:

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon throughout all generations. (v. 7)

May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (v. 8)

May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him (v. 11)

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. (v. 19)

Observe that Verse 8 is the same as Zechariah 9:10. Why did Zechariah repeat the words about Solomon centuries after Solomon's death?

Evidently the grandiose language about Solomon in Psalm 72 was prophetic of someone future. That's why Zechariah quoted it centuries after Solomon and applied it to someone future.

We have then a case of parallel lives or parallel situations – an OT person (Solomon) is prophetic of the future world ruler.

King David similarly is prophetic of a future, greater, "David". We see this because after David's death the OT has predictions about David! See Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-28; Hosea 3:5.

With David and Solomon as precedents, we could expect other exemplary OT Israelites to also parallel the future world ruler, at least in some ways. Some faced death, or were physically stressed for three days, and then saved:

Isaac faced being sacrificed but was reprieved the third day. (Genesis 22:1-12)

Joseph imprisoned his brothers for three days in Egypt, then offered them life. (Genesis 42:17-18)

Two Israelite spies fleeing Jericho hid for three days. (Joshua 2:15-22)

David hid for three days without food while waiting for Jonathan. (I Samuel 20:5)

When King Hezekiah got sick Isaiah announced he would die, but then predicted recovery in three days. (II Kings 20:1-6)

Queen Esther fasted three days before intervening to save the Jews. (Esther 4:16)

Jonah was inside the fish "three days and three nights". (Jonah 1:17)

Given that the future world ruler would die and rise, such parallel situations suggest that his death involves three days.


Recall Psalm 16:10, "For you do not…let your faithful one see the Pit [corruption]". The same Hebrew word is used of Jonah's three days in the fish's belly: "You brought up my life from the Pit [corruption]." (Jonah 2:6)

From this connection ancient readers could have concluded that the implied resurrection of Psalm 16:10 involves three days.

Recall also the "suffering servant" (Isaiah 52 & 53) who is "led to the slaughter" but lives again and "makes many righteous" and by whom "we are healed":

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;

Upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. (53:5)

A generation before Isaiah, the prophet Hosea wrote that Israel was full of lies, murder, thievery, adultery and bloodshed. (Hosea 4:1-3) and would be destroyed. But in "the latter days" they would "seek the LORD their God, and David their king". (3:4-5) Israel's "healing" would involve a three-day period:
Come let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn down, and he who will heal us… After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:1-2)
Adding Hosea's prediction to Isaiah's suggests that Israel is "healed" by means of the "slaughtered" servant restored to life "on the third day".


No single OT verse predicts a Messiah's resurrection on the third day. But multiple verses compared with open mind imply it:

Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day… (Luke 24:45-46)


New RSV Reference Bible, 1973, Zondervan, USA.

Wigram, G. V. nd Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Fifth Edition. Entries: Anoint 768; Corruption 1252; Cut off 618; Flesh 278; Heal 1187; Messiah 769; Soul 829.



(Investigator 121, 2008 July)

In Matthew 12:39-40 (KJV, RSV), Jesus gave a sign after the Pharisees had questioned him: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall be none given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

This is 72 hours and was to be the only sign (miracle) that would identify the Messiah. (This contradicts Mark 8:11-13 which states no sign to be given.) But how do you get 3 days and 3 nights between sunset on Friday and sunrise on Sunday i.e. only one day and two nights or 36 hours, for the Resurrection to occur?

Even the second night is doubtful as John 20:1-2 claims Jesus had departed the grave some time before sunrise on Sunday ("while it was still dark").

Christians are aware of the problem so the authors of the Good News Bible altered the text by deleting the second "three" from Matthew 12:39-40 to now read the true Messiah would be "three days and nights in the grave." (GNB)

Hence one day and two nights = three days and nights. Cunning infallibility.

But anyone who believes the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection on that evidence in the Bible is technically certifiable. Who can believe Matthew 27:50-53 and Matthew 28:2?

But if the Bible authors made mistakes, why didn't God send angels to correct the mistakes? God obviously has the power to send angels, anytime. God sent an angel to tell Joseph he had got it wrong about Mary's adultery, since it was the Holy Spirit who got her pregnant. (Matthew 1:20)

<>Dean Dowling.



(Investigator 122, 2008 September)

Dean Dowling (#121) asks whether Jesus rising from the dead the "third day" contradicts the words "three days and three nights"?

Here are the Bible's verses on Christ's resurrection:

He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40)

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. (Matthew 17:22-23)

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life. (Matthew 20:17-19)

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "We remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.' So give the orders for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. (Matthew 27:62-64)

"killed and after three days rise again." (Mark 8:31)

"and after three days he will rise again." (Mark 9:31

"Three days later he will rise."(Mark 10:34)

"crucified, and on the third day be raised again." (Luke 24:7)

"it is the third day since all this took place." (Luke 24:21)

He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day…" (Luke 24:46)

Jesus said to them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19-22)

"God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear." (Acts 10:40)

"he was raised on the third day…" (I Corinthians 15:4)

The "sign of Jonah" (Matthew 12:39-40) is further mentioned in Matthew 16:4 and Luke 11:29-30 but without the words "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth".


Fourteen Bible verses mention "the third day" or "three days" – but only one verse adds "three nights", Matthew 12:40 quoted above.

The explanatory note in The Macarthur Study Bible (1997) says:

This sort of expression was a common way of underscoring the prophetic significance of a period of time… "Three days and three nights" was an emphatic way of saying "three days," and by Jewish reckoning this would be an apt way of expressing a period of time that include parts of 3 days. Thus, if Christ was crucified on a Friday, and his resurrection occurred on the first day of the week, by Hebrew reckoning this would qualify as 3 days and 3 nights. All sorts of elaborate schemes have been devised to suggest that Christ might have died on a Wednesday or Thursday, just to accommodate the extreme literal meaning of these words. But the original meaning would not have required that sort of wooden interpretation. (p. 1415)
Specifying "three nights" was, therefore, a figure of speech to emphasize that Jesus' death extended to three days.

Another explanation is that "three days and three nights" counts Friday night twice because in the year of the Crucifixion the Sabbath coincided with the Passover (John 19:31) and both commenced Friday night. This assumes Jonah's "three days and three nights" (1:17) likewise included a combined Sabbath/Passover.

A third possibility is that Matthew 12:40 – "in the heart of the earth" – may not refer solely to Jesus' time in the tomb. The words may include the previous night – his betrayal, isolation from his disciples, pre-judgment, and secret trial.

In conclusion the "three days" were Friday afternoon, all of Saturday, and early Sunday morning. For the "three nights" we have three possible explanations.