Was Jesus crucified in the third hour or the sixth hour? Mark 15:25 (cf. John 19:14)

Even Luke's account includes this difference:

Mark 15:25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over all the land until the ninth hour.

English Standard Version of John 19:14--
Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

Clarify Share Report Asked December 27 2021 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini John Appelt
The details of the crucifixion of Jesus are recorded in different ways. One basic difference to note is that John uses a different reckoning of time. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke use Jewish time, John always uses Roman time.

The difference between them is how they count the hours. Matthew, Mark, and Luke figure the hours from sunrise, but John counts the hours from either midnight or midday. 

Noting how John figures time will clarify some passages. In John 1:39, a couple of disciples meet Jesus at about the tenth hour. Roman time of 10 a.m. makes more sense than 4 p.m. Jewish time because the two disciples remained with Him that day, suggesting an earlier time. 

In John 4:6, Jesus and His disciples come to the well where a Samaritan woman was drawing water at the sixth hour. Most commentators see the ‘sixth hour’ as noon Jewish time. But the full heat of the day was not the time people went for water even if a woman was disreputable. Genesis 24:11 indicates the custom to draw water was in the evening. The Roman time of 6 p.m. would be better. As the distance is about 40 miles and perhaps traveling 20 miles in a day, Jesus and His disciples would have arrived at the end of the second days’ journey. This explains Jesus being weary and the disciples going to find food.

When the nobleman (John 4) begged the Lord to come and heal his son, the timing of the healing was later determined to be the seventh hour, John 4:52. Jewish time would have made this at 1 p.m., but the Roman time of 7 p.m. makes better sense as the nobleman finds out the next day that the healing took place exactly at that time the day before. He likely left first thing in the morning and met his servants who relay the news of his son’s recovery. 

Without specifying a time, in John 20:19, John uses Roman reckoning of time. “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week…” John is using Roman reckoning, so it is after sundown on Sunday. If it were Jewish time, it would be Monday as Jews reckoned the day to begin the evening of the day before. 

So, in figuring the time of the crucifixion, Mark 15:25 gives the Jewish time, the third hour, that is, three hours after sunrise or 9 a.m. in the morning. Matthew 27:45 and Luke 23:44 say it was dark from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, understood as from noon until 3 p.m. Then at the ninth hour, 3 p.m., Jesus uttered His last words, Matthew 27:46.

On the other hand, in the only mention of time during the day Jesus was crucified, John states that at the sixth hour, Jesus was before Pilate, John 19:14, which would be 6 a.m. This goes well with Mark 15:1. A few hours later, He was crucified. John’s reckoning is Roman time.

December 29 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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