Why do John and the synoptics seem conflicting regarding the Passover? 

Author: BibleAsk Team


John and the Synoptics

Both John and the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) agree that Christ and the apostles observed the Last Supper on the night preceding the crucifixion (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7,8; John 13:1). They all agree that Christ was crucified on the Day of Preparation (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42). And they agree that He was laid in the tomb over the seventh day Sabbath, and that He was resurrected on the first day of the week, early Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-7; John 20:1-9).  

The synoptics (Mathew, Mark and Luke) call the Last Supper, the night preceding the crucifixion, “the Passover.” But according to John, the Jews observed the Passover supper on the night following the crucifixion. He writes, “Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King” (John 19:14).

Why do the statements of John and the synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) seem conflicting? The reason for this apparent conflict simply lies in our present-day ignorance of the old Jewish practices.

Please note that the phrase “Preparation of the passover” is in Greek “paraskeuē tou pascha.” This phrase is equivalent to the Hebrew ‘ereb happesach, “eve of the Passover.” This expression may be contrasted with “eve” of the Sabbath, by which the Jews identified the day before the Sabbath, for which the parallel Greek expression is paraskeuē (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54).

Paraskeuē is still the name for Friday in today’s Greek. In the crucifixion year, the paraskeuē for the Passover happened at the same time with the paraskeuē, or “preparation” for the Sabbath (John 19:31, 42). Thus, John seems to designate the crucifixion day as the 14th of Nisan.

The Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Passover

Based on all available evidence, here is the sequence of events connected with the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the Passover: 

  1. In the year of the crucifixion, whether as a result of dispute between liberal and conservative Jews, or because of other reasons now still remain unknown, there may have been a double observation of the Passover. 
  2. With other conservative Jews, Jesus and the 12 apostles observed the Last Supper on Thursday night, during the early hours of what was officially Nisan 14, and that the Last Supper was a true celebration of the Passover. 
  3. Christ died on the cross around the time of the evening sacrifice and the killing of the paschal lambs, on Friday, Nisan 14. 
  4. In the year of the crucifixion, the official observation of Passover came on Friday night, after the crucifixion. 
  5. Christ rested in the tomb over the weekly Sabbath, which, in that year, occurred simultaneously with the ceremonial, or annual, sabbath, Nisan 15, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 
  6. Christ arose from the tomb early on Sunday morning, Nisan 16, the day when the wave sheaf, which typified the resurrection, was presented in the Temple

Christ Our Passover 

While the answer to the above question is not a salvational issue, one fact is sure that Christ is “our Passover” who “was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). In these last days of earth’s history, the destroying angel will soon go forth on his dreadful mission, and only those who have put away the leaven of sin and have shielded their lives by the blood of Jesus Christ, will be saved (Ezekiel 9:1–6; Revelation 7:1–3; 14:1–5).  

For this reason, the children of God must be holy. They must be completely free from all sin and ungodliness, such as are represented by “leaven” (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 1:4; 5:27). They must be covered by the blood of Jesus, who is the antitypical Passover Lamb. 

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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