The title 'Preparation Day' is referred to 6 times in the New Testament.
(Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14,31,42.)
When we look at the usage of the term Preparation Day
it is apparent that it is used exclusively in respect
to the day Christ died.
Some consider Preparation Day is a reference to the day prior to the weekly
Sabbath, ie Friday. Others consider Preparation Day was either,
1) the day preparation was made for the commanded 14th Passover
2) the day leaven was removed in preparation for the Feast of
What is clear is that Jesus Christ died the day before a Sabbath.
Mark 15:42 Now when evening had come, because it was the
Preparation Day, that is, the day before the
Many not being familiar with the commanded Old Covenant annual sabbath days
simply view this as a clear reference to the weekly Sabbath.
However, Jesus Christ died in the first month of the Jewish year, just prior
to the annual sabbath known as the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Lev 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month
is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD;
seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
:7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation;
you shall do no customary work on it.
Christ died on the 14th day of the first month, the day before the annual
sabbath of the 15th day of the first month.
This is made more apparent in the Gospel of John.
John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day,
that the bodies should not remain on the cross
on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day),
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be
broken, and that they might be taken away.
The expression 'high day' being a reference to an annual commanded sabbath.
Some have read "for that Sabbath was a high day" to mean the next day was
a weekly Sabbath and also the annual 15th commanded day of rest. However,
the text can also be understood to mean that the next day was a sabbath
(ie rest day) and the type of rest day approaching was an annual sabbath.
Hence, Christ did die the day prior to the annual 15th sabbath, but it has
to be determined whether He died the day prior to a weekly Sabbath.
PRIOR TO A WEEKLY SABBATH ?
The notion that 'Preparation Day' relates to the day before a weekly
Sabbath places emphasis on the understanding that the Old Testament
does not permit food preparation on the Sabbath (no baking or boiling,
refer Exodus 16:23,35:3). Therefore, prior to the Sabbath there was a
need for any food which needed cooking to be prepared in advance.
Whether this view of the 'Preparation Day' is correct can in part be
decided on whether or not Jesus Christ was crucified on the day before
a weekly Sabbath. If He was crucified 2 or 3 days prior to the weekly
Sabbath this view would have to be rejected.
Whether 'Preparation Day' could be a Scriptural reference to Friday, or
not, can partly be determined by studying further the question of what
day of the week Christ died. (Please refer to the pages which discuss
which day Jesus Christ died.)
OTHER EXPLANATIONS OF 'PREPARATION'
Whichever day of the week one considers Christ died, there are other
plausible explanations for the title 'Preparation'.
These other explanations for 'Preparation' derive their meaning from
events which occur on the 14th day of the first month.
1) Preparation for the 14th Passover,
or 2) Removal of leaven from households.
PREPARATION FOR THE 14TH PASSOVER
The annual temple based Passover service started at sunset and continued
through to midnight.
Prior to its observance animals had to be slaughtered and cooked so that
all would be made ready for the start of the Passover service.
Identifying "Preparation" as a reference to preparation for the 14th
Passover service is reasonable, but meat was also prepared for celebrations
which fell on other days. The following six days of Passover (15th-20th)
and the days of the 7th month Feast of Tabernacles required the slaughter
of animals and cooking of meat.
The preparation of animals for a service is not unique to the 14th
Passover day. Hence, such preparation does not truly justify calling
this day 'Preparation'.
REMOVAL OF LEAVEN
Another view of the "Preparation Day" is that it involved removal of
leaven in preparation for the 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the 15th and run for 7 days.
It required the children of Israel to abstain from leavened bread.
To prevent the accidental eating of leavened bread all leaven and
leavened products were to be removed from their houses.
Exod 12:19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in
your houses, since whoever eats what is
leavened, that same person shall be cut off
from the congregation of Israel, ...
The removal of leaven took place on the day before the 7 day Feast of
Unleavened Bread began. It took place on the 14th, the day Christ died.
Exod 12:15 Seven days[of Passover celebration] you
shall eat unleavened bread. On the first
day you shall remove leaven from your
houses. For whoever eats leavened bread
from the first day until the seventh day,
that person shall be cut off from Israel.
The leaven was to be removed on the 14th prior to the start of the
7 days mentioned in verses Exodus 12:18-19, ie 15th-21st of the month.
One of the verses defining the 'Preparation Day' refines further the
meaning of this term.
John 19:14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover,
The Passover is often thought of as a specific day (or more accurately
one of two specific days), but it was also a 7 day period of time which
started on the 14th and ended on the 20th.
THE TITLE 'PREPARATION DAY'?
While many translations show the expression "Preparation Day" suggesting
this day could rightly be named "Preparation Day", however the New Testament
Greek does not actually depict this title.
For the six verses which depict the title "Preparation", in the following
five verses; Matt 27:62, Mark 15:42, John 19:14, John 19:31 and John 19:42,
the Greek does not say "Preparation Day", but just "Preparation".
The sixth verse, Luke 23:54, uses a slightly different expression and
a literal rendering provides the following.
Luke 23:54 And the day was the Preparation, ...
or And the day of Preparation, ...
The verse is saying that particular day, was the day upon which
"Preparation" occurred. However, it is not saying that the entire
24 hours of the day was to be known as 'Preparation'.
We also need to look at the second portion of Mark 15:42, which also
appears to mention the word 'day'.
This verse is commonly rendered,
Mark 15:42 ..., the day before the Sabbath.
The rendering, "the day before the Sabbath" is a translation from one
Greek word. A word meaning "pro-Sabbath".
So the following is a more accurate reflection of the Greek.
Mark 15:42 ..., before Sabbath.
The second portion of Mark 15:42, also does not actually mention
the word 'day'.
So these minor changes mean 'Preparation' was not necessarily a title
of that entire day, but rather a title defining a period of hours in
which preparing was to occur during that day.
Why does this matter? It matters because of the apparent conflict
between Mark 15:25 (Christ dies 3rd hour) and John 19:14 (Christ
dies 6th hour of Preparation).
THE HOURS OF PREPARATION
What were the actual hours of Preparation?
The start time can be understood by comparing the following texts.
Mark 15:25 Now it was the third hour, and they
John 19:14 Now it was the Preparation [remove 'Day']
of the Passover, and about the sixth hour.
And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!".
:15 But they cried out, "Away with Him,
away with Him! Crucify Him!" ...
:16 So he delivered Him to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus and led Him away.
As the gospel of Mark goes on to talk about the period of darkness lasting
from the sixth hour to the ninth hour (Mark 15:33), and this is confirmed
in the gospel of Matthew (Matt 27:45), the indication is that the third
hour mentioned in Mark 15:25 refers to the 3rd hour of daylight. Hence,
Mark teaches that Jesus was crucified about 9.00am.
With this understanding in mind it can be seen that the sixth hour of
Preparation, mentioned in John 19:14, means that the start time for
Preparation was 3.00am!
Why would 'Preparation' start at 3.00am?
If we consider the historical perspective we can see why.
The children of Israel had been told to slaughter the selected lamb,
place its blood around the exterior of the door, roast it whole over
a fire and consume it before midnight. They were to do this with
"belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in
your hand", Exod 12:11. They were told to do this because they were
to be ready for travel.
Pharaoh called for Moses by night (Exod 12:31). Moses sends word
throughout the land of Goshen to gather their belongings and travel
to the city of Rameses where Pharaoh dwelt. (Note, the following day,
the 15th, the children of Israel depart from Rameses, Num 33:3.)
So the 3.00am timing corresponds to when word came from Moses to
prepare for travel. (Actual travel may not have started until after
sunrise as Exod 12:10 required the burning of the remains of the lamb
The finishing time for Preparation can be inferred.
This day was the 14th and leaven could not be eaten or found in their
homes from the 15th to the 21st of that month (Exod 12:18-19).
So the inference is that "Preparation" continued until the end of
the 14th day. Hence the next day, the 15th, would follow after
'Preparation' (as stated in Matt 27:62).
In summary 'Preparation' was not a complete day, but a period of time
which fell on the 14th day of the first month, began at about 3.00am
and continued to the close of the 14th day. It obtained its name
from the necessity to obey the Old Covenant requirement to remove
leaven and was also a memorial of the historic 14th day when God
prepared them to come out of Egypt.