Was Jesus crucified at the third or sixth hour?


Mark 15:25: And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

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!"

We should first remember a few facts concerning the telling of time in that era. The biblical writers didn't have Timex, Rolex, or Apple watches. Even sundials were scarce. For the average citizen, time was approximate. Days, as well as nights, in that time were divided into four sections, or "watches," of approximately three hours each. This is the reason why Bible readers will often see words such as "about" or "almost" so frequently (cf. Matt. 27:46; Luke 23:44; John 4:6; Acts 10:3, etc.).

Also, Mark was using Jewish time (beginning at 6 a.m.) and John was referring to Roman time (counting the hours from midnight; cf. John 1:39; 4:6; 4:52). And, according to John, Pilate was handing Jesus over for the crucifixion process at 6 a.m. On the other hand, Mark stated Jesus was on the cross three hours later at 9 a.m. But during the intervening three hours, there was plenty of time for the events at the Praetorium, Jesus' flogging, and his torturous Via Dolorosa path.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).