Biblical Dating: The Exact Year and Dates of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

The Bible indicates that Jesus was crucified at the instigation of Caiaphas the high priest (Matt 26:3-4, John 11:49-53). Other sources indicate that Caiaphas served as high priest from A.D. 18 to 36. Thus Jesus must have died between A.D. 18 and A.D. 36.

The four gospels indicate that Jesus was crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate (Matt 27:24-26, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:24, John 19:15-16). Other sources indicate that Pilate served as governor of Judea from A.D. 26 to A.D. 36. Thus Jesus must have died after A.D. 25.

The Bible indicates that the ministry of John the Baptist began:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . . . the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness [Luke 3:1-2]. This picks out a specific year: A.D. 29.

All four gospels indicate the ministry of Christ began after that of John the Baptist had begun (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1). Thus Jesus must have died between A.D. 29 and A.D. 36.

All four gospels agree that Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42; Luke23:54;  John 19:42), just before a Sabbath, which was just before the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1).

We know that it was a Friday because it is referred to as “the day of preparation” —that is, the day on which Jews made the preparations they needed for the Sabbath, since they could not do any work on that day. Thus they cooked food in advance and made other necessary preparations.

The gospels also agree that Jesus was crucified in conjunction with the annual feast of Passover (Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:1, Luke 22:1, John 18:39).

However there exists a complication because Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the Last Supper on Holy Thursday as a Passover meal (Matthew 26:19, Mark 14:14, Luke 22:15). That would suggest that Good Friday was the day after Passover.

When describing the morning of Good Friday, John indicates that the Jewish authorities had not yet eaten the Passover meal:

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium [i.e., Pilate's palace]. It was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them [John 18:28-29a].

That suggests that the Passover would have begun on sundown Friday.

There are a number of ways of resolving the complication. For example, Jesus and his disciples may have used a different calendar than the Jewish authorities, and there were different calendars in use in first century Judaism. It's also possible that Jesus just advanced the date of the Passover celebration for him and his disciples.

However, regardless of what Jesus and his disciples did, John's statement about Jesus' captors is an indication of what the Jewish authorities practiced or what the mainstream Jewish practice was: They were celebrating a Passover beginning on Friday evening.

That lets us narrow down the range of possible dates to just a few. Here is a complete list of the days between A.D. 29 and 36 on whose evenings Passover began:

Monday, April 18, A.D. 29

Friday, April 7, A.D. 30

Tuesday, March 27, A.D. 31

Monday, April 14, A.D. 32

Friday, April 3, A.D. 33

Wednesday, March 24, A.D. 34

Tuesday, April 12, A.D. 35

Saturday, March 31, A.D. 36

As one can see, none of these days were Thursdays and just two were Fridays. From these one can conclude that Jesus died on April 7, 30 A.D. or April 3, 33 A.D.

The Gospel of John records three different Passovers during the ministry of Jesus:

Passover #1: This is recorded in John 2:13, near the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

Passover #2: This is recorded in John 6:4, in the middle of Jesus' ministry.

Passover #3: This is recorded in John 11:55 (and frequently mentioned afterwards), at the end of Jesus' ministry. That means that the ministry of Jesus had to span something over two years, and if all Passovers are included, and it could have spanned something short of four years.

Since Jesus’ ministry began in or after 29 A.D. and lasted at least two years, he could not have died in 30 A.D.  Thus he must have died on April 3, 33 A.D.[1]

Other dates follow from the date of Christ’s death. The Resurrection must have occurred on Sunday, April 5, 33 A.D. Christ’s Ascension must have occurred on Thursday, May 14, 33 A.D. And the start of the Church Age with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Jewish feast of Pentecost must have occurred on May 24, 33 A.D.


[1] Corroborating the 33 A.D. date is the prophecy of the seventy weeks by the prophet Daniel, part of which is given as follows:

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven [weeks,] and sixty-two [weeks.] It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two [weeks,] the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.” (Dan 9:25-26)

The prophecy cites the decree which was given by King Artaxerxes I of Persia to Nehemiah for permission and authority to go to Jerusalem and rebuild it (Neh 2:1-8). The decree has been dated as given on April 2, 444 B.C. Each of the weeks cited is not a week of days but a week of years, that is, a period of seven years.[2] Furthermore, each of the years cited must be years of 360 days, as the seventieth week has been identified with the future seven-year Tribulation period of Revelation which is specified using 360-day years.

The prophecy indicates that the Anointed One [Christ] will be put to death after sixty-nine weeks (seven and sixty-two weeks) of 360 day years. 69 x 7 x 360 days equals 173,880 days. These 173,880 days equals 476 solar years plus 25 days. Chronologist Sam A. Smith argues that only the integer portion of the number of years is significant and that the 25-day remainder should be discarded, leaving 173,855 days until completion of the 69 weeks.

If one advances 173,855 days beyond the date of the decree, one comes to March 29, 33 A.D. which is Palm Sunday, the date of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He presented himself to the nation of Israel on this date and was rejected by the nation as a whole. Because of this rejection, a prophesied seventieth week did not immediately follow the sixty-ninth but will wait until after the intervening Church Age is completed. As Daniel’s prophecy indicates, Christ was put to death after the sixty-ninth week.

The reasoning behind chronologist Sam A. Smith’s 25-day adjustment is not evident, but in any event the seventy weeks prophecy indicates 33 A.D. as the year of Christ’s death.

[2] At the time that Daniel received his prophecy, he was aware that the nation of Judah had spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon. This captivity was punishment for failure to allow their land to lay idle every seventh or sabbath year for a period of 70 weeks of years. Instead of letting their land rest as commanded by God, the inhabitants of Judah grew crops continuously year after year. By deporting his people to Babylon for 70 years, the land remained fallow for the same time and God forced the observance of all the missed sabbath years.