Of the four Gospels, there exists a perception that the book of John relates a contradictory narrative in relation to the other Gospels regarding the account of Yahushua the messiah’s last Passover supper, also known as the “Last Supper”?
Because of this perception, many have utilized the book of John to support the idea that Yahushua never actually ate the Passover supper since it occurred on the evening of Abib 14, which was one day before the officially sanctioned day of Abib 15 as recognized by the Jewish religious leaders.
Some claim that Yahushua’s “Last Supper” on Abib 14 was a faux Passover or a fake. The reason being that Yahushua knew that he would be dead and would not be able to keep the true Passover on Abib 15.
Others say that because of this unique circumstance, an exception was made for Yahushua by father Yahweh, who permitted him to observe a valid Passover one day earlier, thereby circumventing the Law!
But, are any of these assertions valid?
When all of the facts are considered, it will be discovered that Yahushua did, in fact, eat an authentic Passover supper during the evening of Abib 14 in full compliance with the instructions from Scriptures. Without a doubt, it can be proven that this day was also the first day of Unleavened Bread and a High Sabbath per the evidence contained in Scriptures.
We will now proceed to provide the evidence that the book of John is in complete harmony with Matthew, Mark, and Luke regarding the original practice of the Passover supper taking place on Abib 14. As already mentioned, this same day was the first day of Unleavened Bread and a High Sabbath.
A Sound Chronology
Our first effort is to establish a sound chronology beginning from the day of Yahushua’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem until the day before he ate his last Passover supper (i.e., Abib 10–13).
The triumphant entry was also Yahushua’s first visit to Jerusalem and the Temple that year. On each succeeding day, the messiah also came to the Temple and spoke to the crowds. (Luke 19:47)
Much confusion has been created due to the failure to place the events in their stated chronological order, carefully following the instructions found in the four Gospels. Once this order is closely followed, the day of the week for the messiah’s Passover supper can be attained.
Abib 10 – Four Days Before Passover
This day marks Yahushua’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass and his first visit to the Temple of Yahweh that year. (Mark 11:8-11; Matt. 21:8-15; Luke 19:36-48; John 12:12-19)
A great crowd took palm branches and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he coming in the name of Yahweh, the king of Israel.” (See Psalms 118:25-26)
As we shall see by the evidence that follows, this date is Abib 10, the same day the Passover lamb was separated from the flock in the month that Israel left Egypt during the Exodus in 1439 B.C.E.
Abib 11 – Three Days Before Passover
- Mark 11:11, “the hour being ὀψίας (opsias; late, evening, after sunset).”
- Matt. 21:17, “spent the night” in Bethany; see John, 12:36.
- Mark 11:12, “the next morning,” returned to the city.
- Matt. 21:18, “returning early.”
- Mark 11:15-17. At the Temple.
All of these events above occurred on Abib 11.
Abib 12 – Two Days Before Passover
- Mark 11:19, “And when ὀψὲ (opseh; late = evening, after sunset) came,” Yahushua left Jerusalem.
- Mark 11:20, Now, in the morning, they went again to Jerusalem and the Temple; see Matt. 21:23; Luke 20:1.
- Mark 13:1-4, leaving the Temple the messiah went and sat on the Mount of Olives, see Matt. 24:1-3; Luke 21:5-7.
This day of Abib 12 is specifically dated. While conversing with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, the messiah reminded them that the Passover was the second day after today. In the book of Matthew, Yahushua states:
You know that μετὰ δύο ἡμέρας (meta duo hemeras; within the second day after) comes the Passover and the son of man will be betrayed to the stake. (Matt. 26:1-2)
Also, it was tότε (tote; at that time),” i.e., on that day, that the chief priests plotted together to seize Yahushua by guile.
— μετα (meta), “prop. denoting accompaniment; ‘amid’ (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (gen. association, or acc. succession) with which it is joined” (SEC, Gk. #3326); “of Time, after, next to” (GEL, pp. 500-501).
Therefore, μετα (meta) carries with it not only the idea of being “after” but to be “in association,” “amid,” and “to accompany.” Accordingly, Yahushua reminded his disciples that within or amidst the second day AFTER today was the Passover.
Shem Tob Hebrew Matthew
The Shem Tob Hebrew edition of Matthew gives:
Do you not know it, שאחר שני ימים יהיה הפסכ (sha-akhar sheni yomim yahyah ha-Phasekh; that after [today], a second of days, being the Passover)?” (i.e., the Passover is the second day after today). (Matt. 26:1-2)
This passage is important because it clearly states that the second day after this present day was both the Passover AND the betrayal of the messiah to being killed on the stake, making both events occur on the same day.
We must keep in mind that these and other passages from the New Testament are the words of the messiah and his disciples. We are looking at their definitions, not those of the Pharisees.
As shall be demonstrated, this day, being two days before Passover, is the 12th of Abib. The question remains, “By saying Passover, does Yahushua mean only the sacrifice, or does he include the supper?”
Passover and Unleavened Bread the Same
Mark 14:1 meanwhile, states:
And it being the Passover and the Unleavened (Bread) μετὰ δύο ἡμέρας (meta duo hemeras; within the second day after).
Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 4 vol. 1, p. 225, comments about Mark, 14:1, “Lit., the passover and the unleavened. It was really one and the same festival.”
Luke 22:1-2, dates this same conspiracy of the priests by stating:
And drew near the Feast of Unleavened (Bread), being called Passover.
With this evidence, we now have three events reported that will all occur on the second day after this date:
- Judas betraying Yahushua and his seizure by the Jewish chief priests.
- The Passover
- The Festival of Unleavened Bread.
It is also important to notice that this understanding of the Passover comes directly from Yahushua and his disciples’ own words. The fact that Passover is equated with the Festival of Unleavened Bread is fully supportive of a 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread being Abib 14-20 (System A).
Support for System A is also found in the story of the conspiracy. The words of the messiah and his disciple Mark were that the messiah would be delivered up on the day of Passover, being also the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Passover of Pharisees is Different
At the same time, the Pharisees are quoted as saying:
Herein lies our first clear indication that Yahushua’s recognition of which day represented the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread significantly differed from that of the Pharisaic leaders of Judaea.
As demonstrated in the publication titled The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh, the Pharisees kept their Passover meal and Festival of Unleavened Bread on the 15th of Abib, on the day AFTER Yahushua and his followers observed their Passover meal.
Therefore, in the minds of the chief priests, who feared the reaction of the people, Yahushua should not be murdered during THEIR festival day on Abib 15. They willingly had him killed on the 14th of Abib, for they considered this day to be a preparation day for their High Sabbath on the 15th of Abib. (See John 19:31, 42)
But in Yahushua’s understanding, he would be seized and murdered during the HIgh Sabbath day of the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread, Abib 14. He knew that he would eat the Passover supper on this day, which also was the day of the Passover sacrifice.
Abib 13 – One Day Before
After leaving the Mount of Olives, Yahushua came to “Bethany,” to the house of Simon the Leper. (Mark 14:3; Matt. 26:6) There we find him “reclining (at a meal).” Shem Tob similarly states that he was “reclining at a table.”
Yahushua’s habit was to leave Jerusalem “when ὀψὲ (opseh; late = evening, after sunset) came” (Mark. 11:11, 19) and then stay overnight in Bethany, located on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 21:37-38; Mark 11:1, 11-12)
The normal time for supper was during evening and early nightfall, which occurred just after sunset. Therefore, our texts have brought us to the beginning of the day before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This day would be Abib 13.
One of the arguments used against the 14th as being a High Sabbath and the Passover Festival comes from the story surrounding the night that Yahushua washed the feet of the disciples. (John 13:1-35)
This night (v. 30) is specifically said to have come “before the Festival of the Passover” (v. 1). The Syriac text of the Sinaitic Palimpsest at this point gives, “Now before the unleavened bread.”
Various opponents of System A assert that because the fourth gospel states it was this night BEFORE the Festival of the Passover (Unleavened Bread) that “Yahushua knowing that had come his hour that he should depart out of this world to the father,” (John 13:1) Yahushua actually ate his famous “Last Supper” the day before the true Passover Festival.
R. P. Martin writes, “The data which caused some questioning of the traditional view,” i.e. the view of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that the messiah ate the Passover, “are mainly derived from the Fourth Gospel, which apparently dates the events of the Supper evening and the passion a day earlier than the Synoptics.” (New Bible Dictionary, p. 749)
Proof for the opposing view, it is claimed, comes from the fact that on this night, Yahushua and his disciples had been eating together (John 13:1-5) and that John nowhere else mentions the “Last Supper”. Since this meal took place before the story of the messiah’s surrender to the priests, it is “assumed” that it was the night of the 14th.
In turn, it was on this night that some of the disciples thought that Judas was going out after supper to buy something for the Festival. (John 13:29-30) If it had been a High Sabbath, such a thought would not have entered the minds of the disciples.
Reading the story closely, we find this reconstruction totally inaccurate. It is true that the phrase found in John, 13:1, “Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα (pro de tes eortes tou Paskha; now before the Festival of the Passover)” is used and means the day before the Passover meal.
Nevertheless, the expression “Festival of the Passover” was not a reference to the Pharisee festival on the 15th, but to the Passover kept by the messiah and his disciples on the 14th. The fact that John would mention a supper on the 13th and not the one on the 14th is not strange or unusual. John mentions many stories not reported by the three Synoptic Texts and vice versa. (See Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 3:24)
John’s book is said to be the last one of the four Gospels written. He simply saw that the previous books had fully discussed the Passover of Yahushua’s and instead wanted to report what happened on the night of the 13th, which also had many significant implications.
Not only does it start off by saying, “Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα (pro de tes eortes tou Paskha; now before the Festival of the Passover),” referring to the day before Passover (John 13:1), but the discussion surrounding Satan entering Judas clearly sets the story as occurring in the night PRIOR to the night that the last Passover supper was eaten by Yahushua and his disciples.
Rising “up from supper,” the messiah washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:4-11). Yahushua then continued by giving his reasons for doing so (John 13:12-17). He then advised his followers that one from among them would betray him. The disciples looked upon one another and doubted of whom he spoke (John 13:18-25).
Simon Keph asked whom it might be, and Yahushua responded:
It is that one whom I, having dipped the morsel, shall give it. And dipping the morsel, he gave it to Judas Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel, then entered into that one Satan. Yahushua then said to him (Judas), What you do, do quickly. But this no one knew of those reclining wherefore he spoke to him; for some thought, since Judas had the moneybag, that Yahushua was saying to him, Buy what things we have need of for the Feast; or that something he should give to the poor. Having received therefore the morsel he immediately went out; and it was night. (John 13:26-30)
The key points made in this discussion are the fact that it was just after this supper that Satan entered into Judas and that this event occurred at night. The parallel account of this event is found in Luke 22:3-6, which states:
And Satan entered into Judas, the one being called Iscariot, being from the number of the twelve. And going, he talked with the chief priests and the captains as to how he might betray him. And they exulted, and they agreed to give him silver. And he fully consented, and sought an opportunity to betray him to them AWAY FROM THE CROWD.
Matt. 26:14-16 and Mark 14:10-11 agree with Luke at this point. All three of these accounts then continue the story with the day before the Unleavened Bread. They report that at the time when the day of Unleavened Bread was “approaching,” Yahushua sent Keph and John to prepare the Passover. (Matt. 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13)
Next follows the episode of Yahushua’s “Last Supper” (Matt. 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-20). This shows that John was merely expanding on the story already mentioned in the other Gospels about the night when Satan entered Judas.
This data shows that Judas left to form a conspiracy with the chief priests on the night PRIOR to Yahushua eating his “Last Supper.” At the time of his conspiracy, Judas sought an opportunity to betray Yahushua to the chief priests; that is, a time and place when Yahushua would have few people around him “away from the crowd.” For up until this time, the priests did not seize Yahushua for fear of the crowds. (Matt. 21:42-46; Mark 11:18, 12:12; Luke 20:19, 22:1-2)
This statement of “opportunity” is important because if it had been made in reference to the same night of Yahushua’s betrayal (i.e., the 14th), it would be inconsistent. Judas did not need to seek “an opportunity” on the 14th because he knew that the messiah was going to the garden of Gethsemane.
No Common Features
Another proof that the supper mentioned in John 13 is not the “Last Supper” of the messiah is revealed by the fact that there are no common features or props that would tie it with the events of the “Last Supper.”
John, for example, does not call this supper the Passover, as is done for the next day in the other stories. Neither does John mention any items of the Passover supper, which are clearly set forth in the other three Gospels: i.e., the passing of the bread and the cup of wine.
At the same time, John does mention Yahushua’s washing of his disciples’ feet (v. 4-15), which is not reported in the other Gospels for Yahushua’s “Last Supper.” The one item that is often claimed as a connecting point, namely the dipping of a morsel in the bowl, upon closer examination, is proven to be an entirely different event from a similar episode that occurred at the “Last Supper.”
In John’s account, when Yahushua cryptically identified one of his disciples as his betrayer, he dipped a morsel and gave it to Judas, saying:
Immediately after giving the morsel to Judas, Satan entered Judas, and Judas left to take up council with the chief priests. (see Luke 22:3-6)
— βάψας (bapsas), a form of βάπτο (bapto), “trans. to dip in water . . . to dip in dye, to dye . . . to draw water by dipping a vessel” (Greek English Lexicon [GEL] p. 146); “to whelm, i.e. cover wholly with a fluid” (Strong’s [SEC], Gk. #911).
Therefore, Yahushua dipped a morsel of bread into a liquid and gave it to Judas, who then went to the Jewish priests. In the incident reported by Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, which took place the NEXT EVENING AFTER Satan entered Judas (see Luke 22:7-23), Yahushua identified his betrayer with the following statement:
The phrasing of this second incident reflects the ancient custom of dipping one’s fingers into a common bowl of water for cleansing purposes. There is no mention of a morsel.
— ἐμβάψας (embapsas), a form of ἐμβάπτω (embapto), “to whelm on, i.e. wet (a part of the person, etc.) by contact with a fluid:—dip” (SEC, Gk. #1686).
The Hebrew of Shem Tob’s version of Matt. 26:23, meanwhile, renders the passage in more detail, saying:
And he (Yahushua) answered to them, the one dipping his hand עמי (ami; with me) in the bowl will sell me. All of them were eating בקערה אחת (be-qarah akhath; with one bowl). Therefore, they did not recognize him; because if they had recognized him they would have destroyed him.
Since the Hebrew does not say מקערה אחת (ma-qarah akhath; from one bowl), but rather בקערה אחת (be-qarah akhath; with one bowl), it refers not to their dipping for food but their common usage of the bowl with their meal. This phrasing best represents the use of a finger bowl for washing one’s hands.
In the story reported by John, Judas does not dip with the messiah but is merely handed a morsel that the messiah has already dipped himself. Further, the dipping of the morsel mentioned by John occurred after the supper was over. (John 13:2, 4, 26-27)
The dipping of hands referred to in Matthew and Mark took place during the Passover supper (Matt. 26:21-23; Mark 14:18-20). In both Matthew and Mark, both the messiah and Judas are found using the finger bowl at the same time to clean their hands.
Feet Washing and Betrayel on Abib 13
This evidence proves that the supper, after which Yahushua washed the feet of his disciples, being the same night that Satan entered Judas, took place during the night before the evening of the “Last Supper.”
Therefore, the night that Judas left a supper and was believed to be going out to buy something for the Festival was on the night of the 13th of Abib, the night before Yahushua partook of his Passover meal. The night of the 13th was not a High Sabbath.
Therefore, the story from John 13 does not negate the fact that the 14th would be considered a High Sabbath by Yahushua and his disciples.
The Approaching Day
Our time chart now moves forward to the afternoon of the 13th of Abib. In the late afternoon of the 13th, Yahushua and his disciples make ready to prepare and to eat their last Passover meal together. Of this event, we read the following:
Τῇ δὲ πρώτῃ τῶν ἀζύμων (Te de prote ton azumon; But before the unleavened [bread]), the disciples came to Yahushua, saying to him, Where will you have us PREPARE YOUR EATING OF THE PASSOVER? (Matt. 26:17)
Καὶ τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν ἀζύμων (Kai te prote hemera ton azumon; And the day before THE UNLEAVENED [BREAD]), AT WHICH TIME THEY KILLED THE PASSOVER, the disciples said to him, Where do you wish us to go that we may PREPARE ἵνα (ina; AT THAT PLACE) THE EATING OF THE PASSOVER? (Mark 14:12)
Ἦλθεν δὲ ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν ἀζύμων (Helthen de hemera ton azumon; But was approaching THE DAY OF UNLEAVENED [BREAD]) AT WHICH IT WAS NEEDFUL TO KILL THE PASSOVER. And he sent Keph and John, saying, Having gone, PREPARE US THE PASSOVER, THAT WE MAY EAT. (Luke 22:7-8)
The first part of our translations vary slightly from those found in the many common English texts, but they will have no effect on the final conclusion. Our translations only reflect the more precise meaning of the Greek words based upon context. For example:
— πρώτῃ (prote), a form of πρότερος (proteros) and πρώτος (protos), cannot only mean, “prior, primus,” and “first, serving as the ordinal to cardinal εἶς” but also “of Time, before, former, sooner” (GEL, pp. 707, 701–702).
In his book titled, An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, (pp. 160-162), Tenny Frank demonstrates, for example, that πρώτῃ (prote) was used in Luke 2:2 to mean the census “first before” that under the prefectureship of Quirinius in Syria.
Ἦλθεν (helthen), the late aor. of ἔρχομαι (erksomai), means “to come or go (in a great variety of applications, lit. and fig.).” (GEL, pp. 350, 316-317; SEC, Gk. #2064) It also means to come near, as if something is oncoming or approaching. Παρὰ μικρὸ ἐλθεῖν (para mikro elthein), for example, means, “to come within a little of, be near a thing.” (GEL, pp. 350, 316-317)
In the Shem Tob edition of Matt. 26:17, we read:
Within the first day of that which is a Khag of the Unleavened Bread, קרבו (qarab-u; approaching it), the disciples to Yahushua said: Where shall we כין (kyn; set in order) for your eating of the Passover?
— קרב (qarab), “approaching, drawing near” (Hebrew English Lexicon [HEL], p. 235); “approach, (caus. bring near) for whatever purpose” (SEC, Heb. #7126).
— כין (kyn), “fashioned, set in order” (HEL, p. 122); “erect…set up…establish, fix, prepare, apply…a thing prepared” (SEC, Heb. #3559, 3561); i.e. to set a table and its utensils in order and prepare a meal for eating.
The Shem Tob edition, therefore, has the first day of Unleavened Bread still “approaching it.” “It” is “Within the first day of that which is a Khag (Festival) of the Unleavened Bread,” at which time, as Mark 14:12, clarifies, “they killed the Passover.”
In the Greek versions from Matthew, Mark, and Luke it is technically possible to read them so as to say the “first day of Unleavened Bread,” but in context, and as the Hebrew shows, it actually refers to “the first day before Unleavened Bread,” and the day of Unleavened Bread was still “coming” or “approaching,” i.e., it was late afternoon of the 13th of Abib and the day of the 14th was fast approaching.
Eating the Passover Supper
The day that was approaching was the one in which the Passover lamb was sacrificed (Mark 14:12), making it the 14th. Further, the disciples were asking the messiah where they should prepare the lamb so they might eat it. This detail indicates that the messiah and the disciples believed that one eats the Passover on the same day that it was slaughtered.
In the late afternoon of Abib 13, Yahushua sent his disciples to prepare the Passover, just prior to the time of the evening of the 14th, which they did. Then that night, Yahushua and his disciples ate the Passover supper.
Our choice of translation, accordingly, fits very well with the context. Nevertheless, for those who wish to follow the traditional reading, the time that Yahushua sent his disciples, whether it was late in the afternoon on the 13th or just after sunset on the 14th, it will have no effect upon the ultimate conclusion.
The second thing that these passages reveal is that the day of Unleavened Bread was also the day on which it was needful to kill the Passover. Added to this fact are the implications of the question the disciples were asking:
Where will you have us prepare YOUR EATING of the Passover? (Matt. 26:17)
Where do you wish us to go that we may prepare ἵνα (ina; at that place) THE EATING OF THE PASSOVER? (Mark 14:12)
The disciples, therefore, fully believed that the messiah would eat this Passover with them. Likewise, the messiah requested from these disciples:
Having gone, prepare us the Passover, THAT WE MAY EAT. And they said to him, Where do you desire that we prepare? (Luke 22:7-9)
The word translated as “prepare” in each one of these verses is ἑτοιμάσωμεν (etoimasomen), a form of ἑτοιμάζω (etoimazo), meaning, “to make or get ready, prepare, provide,” (GEL, p. 321) “to prepare:—prepare, provide, make ready.” (SEC, Gr. #2090)
The Greek nowhere uses a word to denote “self-preparation for,” as if the disciples were merely preparing themselves for the Passover on the 15th, as some imagine. They went to make ready the Passover victim itself so they could eat it. In Mark, for example, we find the specific mention of the preparation “ἵνα” of the eating of the Passover.
— ἵνα (ina), “in that place, there… in which place, where” (GEL, p. 380).
These records show that the disciples of Yahushua were asking, and the messiah was telling about the need to prepare (i.e., killing, skinning, roasting, etc.) the Passover lamb for eating. This question is not relevant unless these men were on the verge of eating the Passover meal. As we have already demonstrated, the meal on the previous evening is accounted for. Therefore, this request deals with the upcoming night’s meal.
This detail proves that the day the Passover lamb had been sacrificed was, for the messiah and his disciples, not only the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the day of Yahushua’s betrayal but also the day that the messiah’s Passover supper took place.
Another important and relevant point is the attitude of the disciples of Yahushua. There is no inquiry as to why the subject of preparing and eating the Passover had been brought up. They merely were asking where. This attitude demonstrates that the disciples already knew that the oncoming evening was the correct time of the Passover meal.
Further, this cannot be a new institution of a Passover meal, for such would break scriptural law, under which Yahushua was obligated (Gal. 4:3-5), and against which he never sinned (1Pet. 2:22; see 1John 3:4).
Yahushua had no authority to initiate any new festival or memorial day, for he could neither add to nor take away from the Law. (Gal. 3:15)
The evidence presented so far demonstrates the following:
• On the 10th of Abib, the messiah made his triumphant entry on the colt of an ass into Jerusalem. – Sunday
• On the 11th of Abib, Yahushua returned to Jerusalem and taught at the Temple. – Monday
• On the 12th of Abib, the messiah once again returned to Jerusalem and the Temple. Yahushua foretold that he would be taken within the second day from today, during the Passover = the Festival of Unleavened Bread (i.e., within the 14th). On this same day, the 12th of Abib, the Jewish priests conspired to have Yahushua murdered. But, they planned not to take him during their Festival (i.e., the Pharisee formula). – Tuesday
• The night of the 13th found the messiah and his disciples having supper at the house of Simon the Leper. After supper, Yahushua washed the feet of the disciples. Then later, he foretold that Judas would be his betrayer by giving him a morsel of food dipped in a liquid. It was then that Satan entered into Judas and went to the priests to betray him. The other disciples thought that Judas had gone to buy something for the upcoming Festival. – Tue. night
• Late in the afternoon of Abib 13, as the 1st day of Unleavened Bread was “approaching,” i.e., Abib 14, which was the day “when they killed the Passover,” the question arose as to where Yahushua wanted his disciples to prepare the Passover so that he might eat it with them. – Wednesday
When all of the evidence is considered, one is compelled to recognize that the book of John is in complete harmony with the other three Gospels. They all confirm the true and correct practice by Yahushua the messiah for the Passover supper to have taken place shortly after sunset on the High Sabbath of Abib 14, the first day of Unleavened Bread.
Additionally, our research has determined that the year of Yahushua the messiah’s murder was 30 C.E.