Jesus’ Time In Tomb


Finding the exact prophetic ratios for Jesus’ Passion week involves a study of Jesus’ time in the tomb. This time was a match to Jonah’s 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish. By determining the total hours, and by making a guess as to what this meant then the math can be seen. With exact math in hand it then becomes possible to study out the rest of the week and fully understand what Jesus was doing...

Rough Timing

The prediction for Jesus’ time in the tomb was that he would be there like Jonah’s 3 days and 3 nights.. This prophecy suggests an exact number of hours, 3 * 12 + 3 * 12 = 72 total hours.

40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(Matthew 12:40 NIV)

Note that the prophecy is stated backwards to normal day cycling. Normally the day is night followed by daylight with the calendar break at sunset.

Even though the total time is 3 days in this prophecy, it is specific in the first part is in day time, and it ends at, in or near the end of a night time.

Of course the fish belly is either the tomb, alone, or it is Jesus’ time dead. The 2 are figuratively matched, since for most dead people they will spend that time in a tomb. But, with such a small interval the time while Jesus is dead may or may not be counted towards the total. The text is unclear and both cases must be considered.

There are various references that suggest the women waited until dawn, or sunrise, or nearly sunrise, before they went the body. They wanted the light of day so they could work, and so the end of this time is what is called Resurrection Sunday.

In Matthew:

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Matthew 28:1
(Matthew 28:1 NIV)

In Luke:

1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. Luke 24:1-8
(Luke 24:1 NIV)

For the purposes of a first pass, a 6:00 AM time on Sunday morning is the target for the end of 72 hours.

Note that there is severe disagreement in the textual sources as to if this really is dawn, or if it is after sunset on Saturday. Click between the various English version to see the problem.

Given the requirement that the last part of the parable from Jonah is that Jesus ends his time at night, it makes sense that the night before this dawn is the 3rd night of the 3 nights. Dawn is the expected term. The women want the coming daylight in order to prepare the body with spices.

Fixing the Length

The problem of course, is that Jesus was not dead at or anywhere near sunrise. The following is the crucifixion account:

34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" -- which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah." Mark 15:3536One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said. Mark 15:3637With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. Mark 15:3738The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" Mark 15:38-3940Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Mark 15:40-41
(Mark 15:34-41 NIV)

Hours, as referenced here, are measured in a peculiar way. The 1st hour of days in the Bible begin at sunrise, or about 6:00 AM. The 1st hour runs from 6:00 AM until 7:00 AM. For the purposes of the timing given in the Book of Mark, the 9th hour runs from 2:00 until 3:00 PM.

Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body. Joseph took down Jesus from the cross and put him in the tomb before sunset. Sunset this time was very close to 6:00 PM since this period is near the spring equinox. Jesus was dead for 4 hours on that 1st day.

So as a first pass Jesus time in the tomb is not going to be a whole number of 24 hour days. It is either longer, 16 hours longer, or shorter, about 8 hours shorter.

There is a principle dealing with all fractional time references that fractions prophetically count as wholes and often in God’s mercy he will shorten the last unit of time and credit the fraction as the whole.

Under this principle the 72 hours is likely an upper limit and the time when Jesus was dead while it was still daylight, count as his time dead for the first of the 3 days, the prophecy about Jesus’ time in the tomb.

By this standard the total time dead must then be something like 72 - 8 = 64 hours.

This estimate also fixes Jesus’ crucifixion time as 64 hours ahead of sunrise on Sunday morning, or the afternoon of Thursday.

Note that the Church holds Maundy Thursday services on Thursday night of Passion Week. In traditional churches this service is by candle light and it ends with the candles blown out, and the congregation departs in the dark. This service is the collective church memory of the light of Jesus being blown out on Thursday of Passion Week.

Of What Significance?

Jesus remained in the tomb from this time late Thursday afternoon until early Sunday morning. Before sunrise the women went to anoint his body with spices that they had purchased after sunset on Saturday night. At this point they found the stone had been rolled away and they were told that Jesus had risen.

The question this begs is this: What was the prophetic significance of the period itself? This question has merit because nearly everything Jesus did was chronologically significant. He was, after all, the Word (the Bible itself) incarnate. He lived out the Bible’s various chronologies. Surely this time in the tomb was chronologically significant too.

Narrowing The Tomb Time

The 64 hours suggested so far is still an upper limit. The tomb was found empty, Jesus had been raised for some number of hours already. Keeping in mind that 72 hours is the theoretical upper limit, there is a natural lower limit at 72 - 12 = 60 hours because below 60 the 3rd day has now gone shorter than 1/2 and begs harder questions. (It would not have been 3 of each, both days and nights, but less.) So there is a 4 hour window so far as to the total time dead, 60 hours up through 64 hours total time.

John chapter 1 announces that Jesus is the Word become flesh. As this applies to chronology, the effect is that everything that Jesus does maps back to the master Bible chronology. This chronology provides the structure for his life. It provides the structure for his ministry. It provides the structure for the public part of passion week and it provides the chronology for his time in the tomb.

All of Jesus’ other known prophetic time lines are maps against Adam’s main time line. Jesus’ life ran 1 day to the year. Jesus’ ministry was 1 day to 30 years. Is there a similar thing going on with Jesus’ time in the tomb?

If there is something going on with Jesus’ tomb time then it needs to suggest a total number of hours between 60 and 64, the limits of what could have been total time dead.

The steps to seeing the answer build on the time of Jesus’ public ministry. That ministry, from Sunday morning, the day of his baptism and the start of the ministry were 434 days until Resurrection Sunday.

The start and the "stop" were on the same day of the week an even number of weeks. 434 days / 7 days/week = 62 weeks, the total time from his baptism until his resurrection.

That number, 62, as in 62 weeks, is a number within the window of 60 as a lower bound and 64 as an upper bound for the total number of hours that Jesus is known to have been dead in the tomb.

Could Jesus have been dead for 62 hours? If so, what would that mean as a prophecy?

The 434 days of Jesus’ public ministry map to the total time between Adam’s fall and Resurrection Sunday. It maps the time from when Adam died until the time when Adam’s life is made alive again. Jesus being found alive in the tomb, or at least nearby somewhere, is a prophecy about the promise that Jesus made to restore Adam’s race. Adam’s race has been dead for a long time, but will be alive by the 13,020 AA, just as Jesus was found alive too.

The significance of 62 hours dead is profound. It maps to the time when Adam’s race is dead, 13,020 years.

Fixing this Ratio on the Week

If Jesus was dead for 62 hours, and those hours map to the 62 weeks of Jesus’ public ministry which themselves map 30-to-1 to years, then the exact hourly timing ratios can be known:

1 hour in Passion Week = 1 week in Ministry = 210 historical years in Adam’s history.


By studying Jesus’ time in the tomb an exact number of hours were proposed. By this total Jesus was resurrected 2 hours before sunrise on Sunday morning. He had about a 2 hour head start ahead of the women who came to anoint his body.

This study showed the key ratio 210 years to the hour. This is the structure of the Bible’s clock generally, and can be used to unpack many other passages across the Bible.

The most important, hour based, system of time references is the entire account of Passion Week.

Without full explanation, let me just hint: Using that 210-years-to-the-hour ratio all of the events of Passion Week can be easily unpacked. Just like Jesus was replaying history across his ministry, he was doing it across Passion Week all over again using an elegant, some would say carefully engineered schedule.