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Conflict of the Synoptics and the Gospel of John in Resurrection Accounts

Difference Between 


Synoptics and John in the Resurrection Accounts

Dr. Grant C. Richison


There is an apparent difference between the three synoptic gospels and the gospel of John. This is resolved by the different use in calendars. The synoptics use the Galilean calendar that reckoned from sunrise to sunrise whereas John used the Judean calendar that reckoned from sunset to sunset. Also, Jews used any part of a day as the whole day.

All the gospels state that Jesus ate the Last Supper on Thursday evening, Nisan 14, the day before Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt 26:20; Mk 14:17; Lu 22:14; Jn 13:2; cf. 1 Co 11:23). This was “the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover Lamb” (Mk 14:12) The synoptics then portray the Last Supper was a Passover meal celebrated on Thursday evening and then Jesus was crucified on Friday, Nisan 15. He was laid in the tomb on the evening of Friday, the day of preparation (Mt 27:62; 28:1; Mk 15:42; Lu 23:54, 56; Jn 19:31, 42). This was the Galilean calendar reckoned from sunrise to sunrise.

However, the gospel of John states that the Jews who took Jesus to the Praetorium did not enter Pilate’s headquarters so that “they might not be defiled but might eat the Passover” (Jn 18:28). Jesus was then tried and crucified before the time the Jews had the Passover (Jn 19:14). John 19:14 asserts that Jesus’ trial and crucifixion were on the “day of preparation for the Passover” and not after the eating of the Passover. The trial and crucifixion were on Friday, Nisan 14, just before the Passover. This was the Judean calendar reckoned from sunset to sunset.

In summary, we resolve this apparent contradiction by the difference in calendars between the Galileans and the Judeans. The Galileans and Pharisees calculated from sunrise to sunrise whereas the Judeans and Sadducees reckoned from sunset to sunset. Therefore, there was two days of slaughter. The synoptics view Jesus celebrating the Last Supper as a Passover meal on Thursday, Nisan 14, with the trial and crucifixion on Friday, Nisan 15. They reckoned from sunrise. They slaughtered the Paschal lamb later Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14. The gospel of John, however, reckoned time from sunset to sunset. The Judean Jews killed the Passover lamb on Friday afternoon, which marked the end of Nisan 14. Later they ate the Passover lamb with unleavened bread that night which had become Nisan 15. Jesus had already eaten the Passover meal when He was arrested. Those who arrested Him had not eaten the Passover yet (Jn 18:28).

Sequence of Passion Week:


The triumphal entry (Mt 21:1-9) and visit to the temple (Mt 21:10-11) then His return to Bethany.


Jesus traveled from Bethany to Jerusalem, cursing the fig tree (Mt 21:18-19), cleansing the temple (Mt 21:12-13). Religious leaders seek to kill Jesus (Mk 11:18-19).


Disciples see the withered fig tree (Mt 21:20-22), Jesus’ controversy with religious leaders (Mt 21:23-23:39). Jesus delivered Mount of Olives discourse (Mt 24-25).


The disciples prepare the Passover lamb (Mt 26:17-19) and the group had their Passover meal; they left the Upper Room to arrive at Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was arrested. Later Jesus was tried by Annas and Caiaphas.


Jesus tried by Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and Pilate again early in the morning (Mt 27:1-30; Jn 18:28-19:16). Jesus led to cross and crucified at 9:00 a.m. and died at 3:00 p.m. and buried later that day.


Jesus lay in the tomb and Roman guards watched the tomb (Mt 27:61-66).


Christ resurrected from the dead (Mt 28:1-15)