Would you explain Matthew 28:1, “In the end of the Sabbath” (KJV), or “Late on the Sabbath” (ASV)? This seems to say that the women came to the tomb and found it empty on the evening of the Sabbath, which would indicate that Jesus was raised on Saturday, not Sunday.
No, this does not mean that Jesus was raised from the grave on Saturday, for three important reasons.
Comparing the Witness Testimony
The first thing we need to do is to compare the gospel records. When we do, we discover that the other Gospel accounts clearly show that this visit occurred on the first day of the week. Here is what they say.
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb (Mk. 16:1-2).
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared (Lk. 24:1).
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb (Jn. 20.1).
The other records are clear. The visit occurred around dawn on the first day of the week.
Now let’s look at Matthew’s record a little closer.
Actually, the problem in this question is one of translation from the original Greek language into English. The rendition of Matthew 28:1 should be as follows:
“After the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . .”
The Sabbath ended at 6:00 p.m. the previous evening, and the dawn of Sunday morning was approaching. The Greek of the passage is
opse sabbaton, meaning “after the Sabbath” (Arndt and Gingrich 1967, 606). The Revised Standard Version thus correctly translates, “Now after the Sabbath . . .” The New American Standard Bible renders the verse in the same way.
It is the universal testimony of both Scripture and church history that the early Christians regarded Sunday as Christ’s resurrection day.
- The disciples met together on resurrection Sunday (Jn. 20:19), then on Sunday a week later (20:26).
- The church was established on Pentecost, which always came on Sunday (Lev. 23:15-16; Acts 2:1).
- The early Christians, under the leadership of inspired men, worshiped on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
- That day was later designated as “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10).
If we examine post-apostolic writers (ca. from A.D. 100 to A.D. 325), they agree with all the evidence we’ve presented: the other gospel records, the Greek translation, and New Testament practice of the early church. Sunday was the resurrection day.
The Lord rose from the dead not on Saturday, but on Sunday morning.