A Corrected Translation
Luke 24:21 - But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done.
It is amazing how our Biblical perspective can hinge on the translation of one verse. Even beyond just one verse, it can turn on how just one word is translated, or in this case, mistranslated. Luke 24:21 is one of those verses. This verse is fairly accurately translated except for one word. This one word changes the meaning and focus of the whole verse, and significantly impacts the whole third day chronology.
In the phrase, today is the third day, the verb αγει is translated as is. This verb, αγει, is not a verb of being, but a verb of action which carries the basic meaning of to lead, to bring, or to pass. The base form of the verb, αγω, is used 72 times in the New Covenant writings and is never translated as ‘is’ except in this verse. In other words, the translation as "is" of the Greek verb, αγω, is an abnormality, i.e., it is unnatural. When used in conjunction with the idea of time, it should be translated as ‘pass’, as in time or a day is past or passing.
In this verse, the verb αγει is the Present Active form of αγω, which means it is an action that is a present reality, according to the view of the speaker. Hence, it would be properly translated as, "today is passing."
The Greek word for ‘today,’ σημερον is an adverb which answers the question ‘what is passing?’. This word is not in the Greek text of all manuscripts. However, even where it may not be present, the idea of it is certainly carried in the verb, αγει. Here it acts as the subject of the phrase, noting what is passing.
The phrase, this third day, is in the accusative case, which means it receives the action of the verb, is passing. Also there is a conjunctive used in this verse, αφ ου, which according to Thayer’s Lexicon, carries the meaning, from the time that, or since. This special conjunction separates the these things into its own time or day.
Using the proper translation of αγει, we can ask, “what is passing?”. The verse tells us that today is passing. What is today passing from? Today is passing from this third day.
Below is the Greek of this whole portion of the second part of this verse, along with its word-for-word translation.
τριτην ταυτην ημεραν αγει σημερον αφ ου ταυτα εγενετο
Third this day is passing today since these things happened
To translate this segment into more fluid English, we would read,
“Today is passing from this third day, since these things happened.”
So the meaning of this part of the verse, is that today is passing from the third day, since these things being discussed happened. This is much different from the misleading translation of today is the third day. Instead of pointing to today as being the third day since these things happened, it is stating that today is passing from the day that is counted as the third day, since these things happened. There is a very different meaning between the two translations.
It is obvious from the statement of these disciples, that the third day held significance for them. They understood that Jesus said He would be raised from the dead on the third day. It is apparent that they were counting to the third day, since these things happened. The meaning of these things points to the time when the chief priests and rulers handed Jesus over to be crucified. So the these things would obviously point to the day that the crucifixion and burial took place. From our chronology, we have seen that this time of the these things, is the day portion of the 14th of Nisan, the day of Passover.
We know from the text of Luke 24, that this ‘today’ was the first day of the week. This first day was “far spent” (Luke 24:29), meaning that it was progressing toward its end. So this today, the first day of the week, was passing from the day that was counted as the third day since the crucifixion and burial of Christ.
This can be a bit confusing because we are accustomed to counting from the day of burial to the day of resurrection. Here, they were counting from the day of resurrection to the day of the burial. They were just counting back in time, instead of counting forward.
If the first day of the week was passing from the day that was considered the third day since these things happened, this would make the seventh day of the week, the third day from the crucifixion and burial. We can then see from this, that this seventh day, being the weekly Sabbath, was this third day.
If the weekly Sabbath was the third day from the crucifixion and burial, this gives us a very plain and simple way to determine what day the crucifixion and burial happened. We just have to count to three. We shouldn’t need a calculator, or have to take off our shoes, or resort to the magical hocus-pocus of the partial day counting trick.
Since the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, was the third day since these things happened, then the sixth day of the week would be the second day since these things happened, and the fifth day of the week would be first day since these things happened. Then of course, you would have the day these things happened. What we are dealing with here is a period of five days. Five days? Wow, how did we get that? Well, let’s break it down.
- Today, that is passing from the Third day since these things - First day of a new week, Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset.
- Third day since these things - the seventh day of the week, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
- Second day since these things - the sixth day of the week, Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
- First day since these things - the fifth day of the week, Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset.
- The Day of These Things - the fourth day of the week, Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset.
If you find this confusing, because we are counting back in time, let’s look at it counting forward.
- The Day of These Things - the fourth day of the week, Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset, Nisan 14. We know from our chronology, that the Passover was on the night of Nisan 14, with the crucifixion and burial occurring during the day portion of Nisan 14.
- First day since these things - the fifth day of the week, Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset, Nisan 15. This would be the First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the high day mentioned in John.
- Second day since these things - the sixth day of the week, Thursday sunset to Friday sunset, Nisan 16. This would be the day that the women went to market to purchase the spices which they would prepare then use to anoint the body of Jesus.
- Third day since these things - the seventh day of the week, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, Nisan 17. This would be the weekly Sabbath, on which the women ‘rested according to the commandment’. In the late afternoon of this day, the women went to the tomb, to “see it.” At the end of this day would have completed the three days and nights of Jesus’ entombment, and would be understood as the third day.
- The Today - the first day of the week, Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset, Nisan 18. On this day the tomb was discovered to be empty and the Emmaus Road encounter occurred in late afternoon of the same day.
I realize that this is a world apart from how this verse has been traditionally understood and translated. However, if we allow this verse to stand as it was originally written, the conclusion is inescapable.
So why is this verb, αγει, translated as "is " in the majority of translations? It must be apparent that in order to maintain the theory of a Friday to Sunday event, Sunday would have to be viewed as the third day. So is this mistranslated on purpose? It can’t be said for sure. We do know that this translation is also found in the Latin Vulgate. The Vulgate was quite influential in all subsequent translations. So, the last thing I want to do is cast doubt upon the integrity of past scholars. However, it should be clear, that if the verse was translated as it should have been, it would have created a hole in the Friday to Sunday theory large enough to drive a truck through. So to close up this massive hole, it appears this verb was given a meaning that it carries nowhere else in Scripture, and was never intended to. This again appears to be an example of where we have nullified the Word of God, so that we might maintain our traditions.
So, how should this verse be translated. From what we have discovered, this is how it should read.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, today is passing (or, passes) from the third day since these things were done.
The above writing is an Appendix in my newly updated book, The Only Sign Given, available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. This issue of Luke 24:21, is only one of many proofs that Jesus was in the heart of the earth a full three days and three nights, just like He said He would.
Whenever someone points out that late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning is not three days and three nights, they are given in parrot-like fashion, that age-old excuse, "The Jews counted a part of a day, as the whole day."
After reading the body of evidence in The Only Sign Given, that lame and tired excuse, based upon the traditions of the Pharisees, will no longer hold true.
- Proof that during every Passover week, there were always two days counted as a sabbath. This fact is huge in the chronology of Jesus' Passion.
- One verse in the Gospel of Mark tells us exactly when Jesus resurrected, and it was not Sunday morning.
- Following the movements of the women who followed Jesus gives us details of the three days and three nights that traditionally have been ignored.
- SMOKING GUN EVIDENCE from an Ante-Nicean Church document, demonstrating that the Church of the first three centuries, did not accept a Thursday night Last Supper.
- Many other gems mined from the fertile field of the New Testament that validate the prophetic words of Jesus, concerning His three days and nights "in the heart of the earth."
It is time we stopped putting empty tradition above the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is time we stopped making Him out to be a liar. There are more than enough people who are trying to do that, without help from those who profess to believe in Him. The Only Sign Given is a step in the right direction.