Christians commonly say that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. His death and resurrection are the centers of our faith. The Bible says that the Son of Man went to be with his father and is seated on the right-hand side of his father. However, the crucifixion of Jesus was a painful event, and even Jesus Christ himself cried that if it is God’s will, may that cup be taken away from him. However, he had to be crucified for us to be saved. We all know that Jesus was crucified on the cross, but for how long he was there is complicated because the New Testament used two marking time systems. So, how long did Jesus hang on the cross?
Theologians and bible scholars agree that Jesus Christ was hanged on the cross for six hours. The gospel of mark records that the crucifixion of Jesus began at the third hour, 9.00 AM. Jesus lasted on the cross up to the 9th hour, 3.00 AM. Therefore, though the Bible uses two different timing systems, theologians have enough proof to agree that Christ was on the cross for six hours.
So, what time did Jesus hang on the cross? What time did Jesus die on the cross? How did Jewish count time? How did the Romans count time? Why is there no consensus on how long Jesus hung on the cross in the New Testament? Stick around to get more information and answers to these questions and more.
What time was Jesus hang on the cross?
The beginning of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is recorded in the book of Mark 15:24-25. “And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots of them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him.” Some translations of the Bible note that the third hour in the Jewish clock system is actually nine o’clock in the morning.
However, the book of John uses a different clocking time and notes that it was about noon when the crucifixion began. John 19:13-15 records that it was noon, according to their clocking time, when Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate to be crucified. However, scholars of the Bible conclude that Jesus was crucified at 9.00 AM and was on trial at 6.00 AM when we go with the clock system that the gospel of John uses, the Roman system of counting time where the day begins at midnight.
What time did Jesus die on the cross?
The gospel of mark notes that Jesus died at 3.00 PM. The book of Mark 15:33-37 records that when noon came, darkness covered the whole earth until 3.00 PM. At three, Jesus’ voice was heard, and he cried out loud, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (Which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”). After Jesus questioned God why he had forsaken him, they offered him a sponge filled with wine vinegar. Immediately after that, the bible records that Jesus took his last breath and gave in to his Spirit.
The book of Mathew also used the same counting time system as recorded in the gospel of Mark, as their accounts align. In the book of Mathew 27:45-50, darkness came upon the whole earth from the sixth till the ninth hour, and Jesus was heard crying. The book concludes that Jesus yielded to his Spirit in the ninth hour, which is 3.00 PM.
Though the book of John records a different timing of the same, bible scholars agree that it was because they used a different timing from that used in the gospel of Mark and Mathew. However, if the issue with the system of timing is resolved, scholars unanimously agree that Jesus died at 3.00 PM as recorded in the gospel of Mathew and Mark.
How did the Jewish count time?
The books of Luke, Mark, and Mathew use the Jewish system of counting time. They all agree that Jesus was crucified in the third hour of Friday morning, at 9.00 AM. Mark 15:24-25 reads, “They crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him.” Since they started counting time from six in the morning, their third hour was at 9.00 AM, and their ninth hour, when Christ died, was at 3.00 PM.
Also, the book of Mathew uses the Jewish system when counting time. Mathew 27:45 says, “From the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” According to the Jewish system of counting time, the sixth hour was at noon, while the ninth hour was at 3.00 PM. That means, unlike the Romans, a day in the Jewish count began at 6.00 AM.
How did the Romans count time?
So many Christians have questioned which method was used to count hours in the New Testament because gospel books have no consensus on the time Jesus was hanging on the cross. However, Luke, Mark, and Mathew state that Jesus was hanged on the cross at 9 o’clock, the third hour. It is important to note that these three gospels have a lot of similarities, hence why they agree on what time Jesus was hanged on the cross.
Many bible readers are familiar with the Jewish count time as it is core in subjects like the Sabbath and is common throughout the Bible. However, Christians are unaware of the Roman system of counting days and hours. The gospel of John used the Roman system to calculate when Jesus was put on the cross, which is why it has a different account.
John 19:14 reads, “Now it was the day of preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” Unlike the Jewish, Romans started counting their day from midnight. This can be verified from non-biblical literature that sheds light on how Romans counted days and hours. Therefore, since a day in the Roman count time began at midnight, the sixth hour was 6.00 AM when Jesus was on trial, and he was crucified at 9.00 AM, according to Mathew and Luke.
Why is there no consensus on how long Jesus hung on the cross in the New Testament?
There is no consensus on how long Jesus died in the New Testament because the books used different systems of counting time. The book of Mark used the Jewish system, where the day began at 6.00 AM, while the gospel of John used the Roman system of counting time, where the day began at midnight. Without further reading and introspection into these books, you might think that the gospel of the New Testament disagrees with how long Jesus stayed on the cross, when actually what they disagree on is the system of counting time used.
The book of Mark 12:15 says, “And it was the third hour when they crucified him.” Some bible translations say that it was “nine in the morning.”
The gospel of John 19:14 notes, “Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, Behold your King!”
There are some events that help us solve the problem of how long Jesus lasted on the cross, as recorded by these two gospel books. According to the two verses mentioned above, Mark notes that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, while John says it was at the sixth hour when Jesus was on trial.
The two authors used different systems of counting time. The gospel of Mark uses the Jewish system to count days and times, where the day began at 6.00 AM, while the book of John uses the Roman system of counting time, and their day began at midnight. So, if this is the case, we can all agree that Jesus Christ was on trial at 6.00 AM and was hanged on the cross at 9.00 AM.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.