According to Mark 15:1-47

15  Immediately at dawn, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, indeed, the whole Sanʹhe·drin, consulted together,+ and they bound Jesus and led him off and handed him over to Pilate.+  So Pilate put the question to him: “Are you the King of the Jews?”+ In answer he said: “You yourself say it.”+  But the chief priests were accusing him of many things.+  Now Pilate began questioning him again, saying: “Have you no reply to make?+ See how many charges they are bringing against you.”+  But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.+  Well, from festival to festival,* he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested.+  At the time the man named Bar·abʹbas was in prison with the seditionists, who in their sedition had committed murder.  So the crowd came up and began to make their request according to what Pilate used to do for them.  He responded to them, saying: “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”+ 10  For Pilate was aware that out of envy the chief priests had handed him over.+ 11  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Bar·abʹbas to them instead.+ 12  Again in reply Pilate said to them: “What, then, should I do with the one you call the King of the Jews?”+ 13  Once more they cried out: “To the stake with him!”*+ 14  But Pilate went on to say to them: “Why? What bad thing did he do?” Still they cried out all the more: “To the stake with him!”*+ 15  At that Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Bar·abʹbas to them; and after having Jesus whipped,+ he handed him over to be executed on the stake.+ 16  The soldiers now led him off into the courtyard, that is, into the governor’s residence, and they called the whole body of troops together.+ 17  And they dressed him in purple and braided a crown of thorns and put it on him;+ 18  and they began to call out to him: “Greetings, you King of the Jews!” 19  Also, they were hitting him on the head with a reed and spitting on him, and they got on their knees and bowed down to him. 20  Finally, after they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple and put his outer garments on him. And they led him out to nail him to the stake.+ 21  Also, they compelled into service a passerby, a certain Simon of Cy·reʹne, coming from the countryside, the father of Alexander and Ruʹfus, to carry* his torture stake.+ 22  So they brought him to the place called Golʹgo·tha, which means, when translated, “Skull Place.”+ 23  Here they tried to give him wine drugged with myrrh,+ but he would not take it. 24  And they nailed him to the stake and distributed his outer garments by casting lots over them to decide who would take what.+ 25  It was now the third hour, and they nailed him to the stake. 26  And the inscription of the charge against him was written: “The King of the Jews.”+ 27  Moreover, they put two robbers on stakes alongside him, one on his right and one on his left.+ 28  —— 29  And those passing by spoke abusively to him, shaking their heads+ and saying: “Ha! You who would throw down the temple and build it in three days,+ 30  save yourself by coming down off the torture stake.” 31  In the same way also, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking him among themselves, saying: “Others he saved; himself he cannot save!+ 32  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down off the torture stake, so that we may see and believe.”+ Even those who were on stakes alongside him were reproaching him.+ 33  When it became the sixth hour, a darkness fell over all the land* until the ninth hour.+ 34  And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: “Eʹli, Eʹli, laʹma sa·bach·thaʹni?” which means, when translated: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”+ 35  And some of those standing near, on hearing it, began to say: “See! He is calling E·liʹjah.” 36  Then someone ran, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink,+ saying: “Let him be! Let us see whether E·liʹjah comes to take him down.” 37  But Jesus let out a loud cry and expired.+ 38  And the curtain of the sanctuary+ was torn in two from top to bottom.+ 39  Now when the army officer who was standing by with him in view saw that he had expired under these circumstances, he said: “Certainly this man was God’s Son.”*+ 40  There were also women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magʹda·lene as well as Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joʹses, and Sa·loʹme,+ 41  who used to accompany him and minister to him+ when he was in Galʹi·lee, and many other women who had come up together with him to Jerusalem. 42  Now as it was already late in the afternoon, and since it was Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43  there came Joseph of Ar·i·ma·theʹa, a reputable member of the Council, who also himself was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He took courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.+ 44  But Pilate wondered whether he could already be dead, and summoning the army officer, he asked him whether Jesus had already died. 45  So after making certain from the army officer, he granted the body to Joseph. 46  After he bought fine linen and took him down, he wrapped him in the fine linen and laid him in a tomb+ that was quarried out of rock; then he rolled a stone up to the entrance of the tomb.+ 47  But Mary Magʹda·lene and Mary the mother of Joʹses continued looking at where he had been laid.+


Or “at each festival.”
Or “Execute him on the stake!”
Or “Execute him on the stake!”
Or “lift up.”
Lit., “earth.”
Or possibly, “a son of God; a son of a god.”

Study Notes

Sanhedrin: That is, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem. The Greek word rendered “Sanhedrin” (sy·neʹdri·on) literally means a “sitting down with.” Although it was a general term for an assembly or a meeting, in Israel it could refer to a religious judicial body or court.​—See study note on Mt 5:22 and Glossary; see also App. B12 for the possible location of the Sanhedrin Hall.

Sanhedrin: See study note on Mt 26:59.

Pilate: The Roman governor (prefect) of Judea appointed by Emperor Tiberius in 26 C.E. His rule lasted about ten years. Pilate is mentioned by non-Biblical writers, including Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that Pilate ordered the execution of Christ during the reign of Tiberius. A Latin inscription with the words “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” was found in the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea, Israel.​—See App. B10 for the domain ruled by Pontius Pilate.

Are you the King of the Jews?: No king in the Roman Empire could rule without Caesar’s consent. So Pilate apparently concentrated his interrogation on the issue of Jesus’ kingship.

You yourself say it: This reply is evidently an affirmation of the truth of Pilate’s statement. (Compare study notes on Mt 26:25, 64.) Though Jesus confesses to Pilate that he really is a king, it is in a sense that differs from what Pilate imagines, since Jesus’ Kingdom is “no part of this world” and thus no threat to Rome.​—Joh 18:33-37.

Are you the King of the Jews?: See study note on Mt 27:11.

You yourself say it: See study note on Mt 27:11.

used to release to them one prisoner: This incident is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. (Mt 27:15-23; Lu 23:16-25; Joh 18:39, 40) There is no basis or precedent for this custom in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, it seems that by Jesus’ day, the Jews had developed this tradition. The practice would not have seemed strange to the Romans, since there is evidence that they released prisoners to please the crowds.

Once more: As indicated at Lu 23:18-23, the crowd yelled at least three times, demanding that Pilate execute Jesus. The account here in Mark indicates that Pilate three times asked the crowd questions regarding Jesus.​—Mr 15:9, 12, 14.

whipped: The Romans flogged victims using a terrible instrument known in Latin as a flagellum, from which the Greek verb used here (phra·gel·loʹo, “to whip”) is derived. This instrument consisted of a handle into which several cords or knotted leather thongs were fixed. Sometimes the thongs were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal to make the blows more painful. Such floggings caused deep contusions, tore the flesh to ribbons, and could even lead to death.

whipped: See study note on Mt 27:26.

governor’s residence: The Greek term prai·toʹri·on (derived from the Latin praetorium) designates the official residence of the Roman governors. In Jerusalem, the residence was probably the palace built by Herod the Great, situated in the NW corner of the upper city, that is, of the southern part of Jerusalem. (See App. B12 for the location.) Pilate stayed in Jerusalem only on certain occasions, such as festivals, since there was a potential for unrest. His usual residence was in Caesarea.

governor’s residence: See study note on Mt 27:27.

they dressed him in purple: This was done to mock Jesus and make fun of his kingship. Matthew’s account (27:28) says that the soldiers draped Jesus “with a scarlet cloak,” a garment worn by kings, magistrates, or military officers. Mark’s and John’s accounts (19:2) say that it was a purple garment, but in ancient times, “purple” was used to describe any color that had a mixture of red and blue. Also, angle, light reflection, and background could have influenced the observer’s perception of the exact color. This variation in describing the color shows that the Gospel writers did not simply copy one another’s accounts.

crown: Along with the purple garment (mentioned earlier in this verse), Jesus was given mock attributes of royalty​—thorns for a crown and, according to Mt 27:29, “a reed” for a scepter.

Greetings: Or “Hail.” Lit., “Be rejoicing.” They hailed him as they would have hailed Caesar, evidently to ridicule the claim that he was a king.

Greetings: See study note on Mt 27:29.

spit on him: Spitting on a person or in his face was an act of extreme contempt, enmity, or indignation, bringing humiliation on the victim. (Nu 12:14; De 25:9) Jesus here states that he would experience such treatment, which fulfilled a prophecy regarding the Messiah: “I did not hide my face from humiliating things and from spit.” (Isa 50:6) He was spat on during his appearance before the Sanhedrin (Mr 14:65) and by the Roman soldiers after his trial by Pilate (Mr 15:19).

do obeisance: Or “bow down.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to the worship of a god or a deity, it is rendered “to worship.” In this context, however, the astrologers were asking for “the one born king of the Jews.” So it is clear that it refers to obeisance or homage to a human king, not a god. A similar usage is found at Mr 15:18, 19, where the term is used of the soldiers who mockingly “bowed down” to Jesus and called him “King of the Jews.”​—See study note on Mt 18:26.

spitting on him: This contemptuous treatment of Jesus fulfilled Jesus’ own words at Mr 10:34 as well as the prophecy regarding the Messiah at Isa 50:6.​—See study note on Mr 10:34.

bowed down to him: Or “did obeisance to him; paid him homage.” Here the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used of the soldiers who mockingly bowed down to Jesus, calling him “King of the Jews.”​—Mr 15:18; see study note on Mt 2:2.

executed on a stake: Or “to be fastened on a stake (pole).” This is the first of over 40 occurrences of the Greek verb stau·roʹo in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This is the verb for the Greek noun stau·rosʹ, rendered “torture stake.” (See study notes on Mt 10:38; 16:24; 27:32 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”) The verb form is used in the Septuagint at Es 7:9, where the order was given to hang Haman on a stake that was over 20 m (65 ft) tall. In classical Greek, it meant “to fence with pales, to form a stockade, or palisade.”

nail him to the stake: Or “fasten him on a stake (pole).”​—See study note on Mt 20:19 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”

compels you into service: A reference to the compulsory service that the Roman authorities could demand from a citizen. They could, for example, press men or animals into service or commandeer whatever was considered necessary to expedite official business. That is what happened to Simon of Cyrene, whom Roman soldiers “compelled into service” to carry Jesus’ torture stake.​—Mt 27:32.

Cyrene: A city located near the North African coast, SSW of the island of Crete.​—See App. B13.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.”​—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake”; see also study notes on Mt 10:38 and 16:24, where the term is used in a figurative sense.

compelled into service: A reference to the compulsory service that the Roman authorities could demand from a citizen. They could, for example, press men or animals into service or commandeer whatever was considered necessary to expedite official business.​—See study note on Mt 5:41.

Cyrene: See study note on Mt 27:32.

the father of Alexander and Rufus: Only Mark mentions this point regarding Simon of Cyrene.

torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.

Golgotha: From a Hebrew word meaning “skull.” (See Joh 19:17; compare Jg 9:53, where the Hebrew word gul·goʹleth is rendered “skull.”) In Jesus’ day, the site was outside the city walls of Jerusalem. However, the location remains uncertain. (See App. B12.) The Bible record does not state that Golgotha was on a hill, though it does mention that some observed the execution from a distance.​—Mr 15:40; Lu 23:49.

Golgotha: See study note on Mt 27:33.

Skull Place: The Greek expression Kra·niʹou Toʹpos renders the Hebrew word Golgotha. (See Joh 19:17 and the study note on Golgotha in this verse.) The term Calvary is used at Lu 23:33 in some English Bible translations. It comes from the Latin word for “skull,” calvaria, used in the Vulgate.

gall: The Greek word kho·leʹ here refers to a bitter liquid made from plants or a bitter substance in general. Showing that this event was a fulfillment of prophecy, Matthew quotes Ps 69:21, where the Septuagint uses this Greek word to render the Hebrew word for “poison.” Apparently, women of Jerusalem had prepared the mixture of wine and gall to dull the pain of those being executed, and the Romans did not object to its use. The parallel account at Mr 15:23 says that the wine was “drugged with myrrh,” so the drink evidently contained both myrrh and bitter gall.

wine drugged with myrrh: The parallel account at Mt 27:34 says that the wine was “mixed with gall.” The drink likely contained both myrrh and bitter gall. This mixture was evidently given to deaden pain.​—See study note on he would not take it in this verse and study note on Mt 27:34.

he would not take it: Jesus evidently wanted to have full possession of all his faculties during this test of his faith.

they distributed his outer garments: The account at Joh 19:23, 24 adds complementary details not mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Combining the four Gospel accounts would give the following picture: Roman soldiers apparently cast lots over both the outer garment and the inner one; the soldiers divided the outer garments “into four parts, one for each soldier”; they did not want to divide the inner garment, so they cast lots over it; and the casting of lots for the Messiah’s apparel fulfilled Ps 22:18. It was evidently customary for the executioners to keep their victims’ clothes, so criminals were stripped of their clothing and possessions before being executed, making the ordeal all the more humiliating.

distributed his outer garments: See study note on Mt 27:35.

by casting lots: See Glossary, “Lots.”

the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. Some point to a seeming discrepancy between this account and Joh 19:14-16, which says “it was about the sixth hour” when Pilate handed Jesus over to be executed. Although the Scriptures do not fully explain the difference, here are some factors to consider: The Gospel accounts generally harmonize with regard to the timing of events during Jesus’ last day on earth. All four accounts indicate that the priests and the elders met after dawn and then had Jesus taken to Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. (Mt 27:1, 2; Mr 15:1; Lu 22:66–23:1; Joh 18:28) Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report that when Jesus was already on the stake, darkness fell over the land from “the sixth hour . . . until the ninth hour.” (Mt 27:45, 46; Mr 15:33, 34; Lu 23:44) A factor that may have a bearing on the timing of Jesus’ execution is this: Scourging, or whipping, was considered by some to be a part of the execution process. Sometimes the scourging was so terrible that the victim died. In Jesus’ case, it was sufficiently severe to make it necessary for another man to carry the torture stake after Jesus started out carrying it alone. (Lu 23:26; Joh 19:17) If the scourging was viewed as the start of the execution procedure, some time would have elapsed before Jesus was actually nailed to the torture stake. Supporting this, Mt 27:26 and Mr 15:15 mention the scourging (whipping) and execution on the stake together. Therefore, different individuals might give different times for the execution, depending on their perspective regarding the time when the process began. This may explain why Pilate was astonished to learn that Jesus died so soon after he was nailed to the stake. (Mr 15:44) Additionally, Bible writers frequently reflect the practice of dividing the day into four segments of three hours each, as was done with the night. Dividing the day in that way explains why there often are references to the third, sixth, and ninth hours, counting from sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Mt 20:1-5; Joh 4:6; Ac 2:15; 3:1; 10:3, 9, 30) Also, people in general did not have precise timepieces, so the time of day was frequently qualified with the term “about,” as we find at Joh 19:14. (Mt 27:46; Lu 23:44; Joh 4:6; Ac 10:3, 9) In summary: Mark may have included both the scourging and the nailing to the stake, while John referred only to the nailing to the stake. Both writers may have rounded off the time of day to the nearest three-hour period, and John used “about” when referring to his stated time. These factors may account for the difference in times mentioned in the accounts. Finally, the fact that John, writing decades later, included a time that appears to vary from that given by Mark shows that John did not simply copy Mark’s account.

robbers: Or “bandits.” The Greek word lei·stesʹ may include robbing by using violence and at times could refer to revolutionaries. The same word is used of Barabbas (Joh 18:40), who according to Lu 23:19 was in prison for “sedition” and “murder.” The parallel account at Lu 23:32, 33, 39 describes the men as “criminals” from a Greek word (ka·kourʹgos), which literally means “one who engages in doing bad or evil.”

robbers: See study note on Mt 27:38.

A few later manuscripts here add the words: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says: ‘And he was counted with lawless ones,’” which quotes a part of Isa 53:12. But these words do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and are evidently not part of the original text of Mark. A similar statement is part of the inspired text at Lu 22:37. Some are of the opinion that a copyist inserted into Mark’s account the expression from Luke’s account.​—See App. A3.

shaking their heads: Generally accompanied by words, this gesture expressed derision, contempt, or mockery. The passersby inadvertently fulfilled the prophecy recorded at Ps 22:7.

shaking their heads: See study note on Mt 27:39.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.”​—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake”; see also study notes on Mt 10:38 and 16:24, where the term is used in a figurative sense.

torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.

torture stake: Or “execution stake.”​—See Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake”; see also study notes on Mt 10:38 and 16:24, where the term is used in a figurative sense.

torture stake: See study note on Mt 27:32.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.​—Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

about the third hour: That is, about 9:00 a.m. In the first century C.E., the Jews used the count of 12 hours to the day, starting with sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. (Joh 11:9) Therefore, the third hour would be about 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour about 3:00 p.m. Since people did not have precise timepieces, only the approximate time of an event was usually given.​—Joh 1:39; 4:6; 19:14; Ac 10:3, 9.

the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.​—See study note on Mt 20:3.

a darkness: Luke’s parallel account adds the observation that “the sunlight failed.” (Lu 23:44, 45) This darkness was miraculous, caused by God. It could not have been caused by a solar eclipse. Those occur at the time of the new moon, but this was Passover season, when the moon is full. And this darkness lasted for three hours, far longer than the longest possible total eclipse, which is less than eight minutes.

the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.​—See study note on Mt 20:3.

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: Though some consider these words to be Aramaic, they were likely contemporary Hebrew, somewhat influenced by Aramaic. The Greek transliteration of these words recorded by Matthew and Mark does not allow for a positive identification of the original language.

My God, my God: In calling out to his heavenly Father, acknowledging him as his God, Jesus fulfilled Ps 22:1. Jesus’ cry of agony may have brought to his listeners’ minds the many things prophesied about him in the rest of Ps 22​—that he would be mocked, derided, and attacked in his hands and feet and that his garments would be divided by lot.​—Ps 22:6-8, 16, 18.

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: See study note on Mt 27:46.

My God, my God: See study note on Mt 27:46.

Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”

sour wine: Or “wine vinegar.” Likely referring to a thin, tart, or sour wine known in Latin as acetum (vinegar) or as posca when diluted with water. This was a cheap drink that poor people, including Roman soldiers, commonly drank to quench their thirst. The Greek word oʹxos is also used at Ps 69:21 in the Septuagint, where it was prophesied that Messiah would be given “vinegar” to drink.

reed: Or “stick; staff.” In John’s account, it is called “a hyssop stalk.”​—Joh 19:29; see Glossary, “Hyssop.”

yielded up his spirit: Or “expired; ceased to breathe.” The term “spirit” (Greek, pneuʹma) may here be understood to refer to “breath” or “life force,” which is supported by the use of the Greek verb ek·pneʹo (lit., “to breathe out”) in the parallel account at Mr 15:37 (where it is rendered “expired” or, as in the study note, “breathed his last”). Some suggest that the use of the Greek term rendered “yielded up” means that Jesus voluntarily stopped struggling to stay alive, since all things had been accomplished. (Joh 19:30) He willingly “poured out his life even to death.”​—Isa 53:12; Joh 10:11.

expired: Or “breathed his last.”​—See study note on Mt 27:50.

curtain: This beautifully ornamented drape separated the Most Holy from the Holy in the temple. Jewish tradition indicates that this heavy curtain was some 18 m (60 ft) long, 9 m (30 ft) wide, and 7.4 cm (2.9 in.) thick. By tearing the curtain in two, Jehovah not only manifests his wrath against his Son’s killers but also signifies that entry into heaven itself is now possible.​—Heb 10:19, 20; see Glossary.

sanctuary: The Greek word na·osʹ here refers to the central edifice with its Holy and Most Holy compartments.

curtain: See study note on Mt 27:51.

sanctuary: See study note on Mt 27:51.

a bodyguard: The Greek term used here is spe·kou·laʹtor, a loanword from Latin (speculator), which could refer to a bodyguard, a courier, and sometimes to an executioner. Greek equivalents of some 30 Latin words of a military, judicial, monetary, and domestic nature are found in the Christian Greek Scriptures, mostly in Mark and Matthew. Mark uses them more than any other Bible writer, lending credence to the belief that he wrote his Gospel in Rome and mainly for non-Jews, particularly the Romans.​—See study note on Joh 19:20.

Latin: This is the only specific mention of the Latin language in the inspired text of the Bible. Latin was the language of the Roman authorities of Israel in Jesus’ day. It appeared on official inscriptions, but it was not the common language of the people. The multilingual environment apparently explains why the charge that Pilate posted above Jesus Christ’s head at his execution, as mentioned at Joh 19:19, was written in official Latin, as well as in Hebrew and Greek (Koine). There are several words and expressions in the Christian Greek Scriptures that are derived from Latin.​—See Glossary, “Latin”; “Introduction to Mark.”

army officer: Or “centurion,” that is, one in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army. This high-ranking officer may have been at Jesus’ trial before Pilate and may have heard the Jews say that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. (Mr 15:16; Joh 19:7) Mark here uses the Greek word ken·ty·riʹon, a Latin loanword that also occurs at Mr 15:44, 45.​—See “Introduction to Mark” and study notes on Mr 6:27; Joh 19:20.

Mary Magdalene: Her distinguishing name Magdalene (meaning “Of, or Belonging to, Magdala”) likely stems from the town of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about halfway between Capernaum and Tiberias. It has been suggested that Magdala was Mary’s hometown or place of residence.​—See study notes on Mt 15:39; Lu 8:2.

Mary Magdalene: See study note on Mt 27:56.

James the Less: One of Jesus’ apostles and the son of Alphaeus. (Mt 10:2, 3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13) The designation “the Less” may indicate that this James was either not as old or not as tall as the other apostle James, the son of Zebedee.

Joses: From Hebrew, a shortened form of Josiphiah, meaning “May Jah Add (Increase); Jah Has Added (Increased).” Although a few manuscripts here read “Joseph,” the majority of ancient manuscripts read “Joses.”​—Compare the parallel account at Mt 27:56.

Salome: Probably from a Hebrew word meaning “peace.” Salome was a disciple of Jesus. A comparison of Mt 27:56 with Mr 3:17 and 15:40 may indicate that Salome was the mother of the apostles James and John; Matthew mentions “the mother of the sons of Zebedee,” and Mark calls her “Salome.” Further, a comparison with Joh 19:25 points to Salome as possibly being the fleshly sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. If so, then James and John were first cousins of Jesus. In addition, as Mt 27:55, 56, Mr 15:41, and Lu 8:3 imply, Salome was among the women who accompanied Jesus and ministered to him from their belongings.

Preparation: As Mark evidently writes primarily with non-Jewish readers in mind, he clarifies that this expression refers to the day before the Sabbath, an explanation not found in the other Gospel accounts. (Mt 27:62; Lu 23:54; Joh 19:31) On this day, Jews got ready for the Sabbath by preparing extra meals and finishing any work that could not wait until after the Sabbath. In this case, the day of Preparation fell on Nisan 14.​—See Glossary.

Arimathea: The name of this city comes from a Hebrew word meaning “height.” At Lu 23:51, it is called “a city of the Judeans.”​—See App. B10.

Sanhedrin: That is, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem. The Greek word rendered “Sanhedrin” (sy·neʹdri·on) literally means a “sitting down with.” Although it was a general term for an assembly or a meeting, in Israel it could refer to a religious judicial body or court.​—See study note on Mt 5:22 and Glossary; see also App. B12 for the possible location of the Sanhedrin Hall.

Joseph: The individuality of the Gospel writers is evident in the varying details they provide about Joseph. Tax collector Matthew notes that he was “a rich man”; Mark, writing primarily for the Romans, says that he was “a reputable member of the Council” who was waiting for God’s Kingdom; Luke, the sympathetic physician, says that he “was a good and righteous man” who did not vote in support of the Council’s action against Jesus; John alone reports that he was “a secret [disciple] because of his fear of the Jews.”​—Mt 27:57-60; Mr 15:43-46; Lu 23:50-53; Joh 19:38-42.

Arimathea: See study note on Mt 27:57.

member of the Council: Or “councilor,” that is, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem.​—See study note on Mt 26:59 and Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”

tomb: Or “memorial tomb.” A vault, or chamber, cut into the soft limestone rock, rather than a natural cave. Such tombs often contained benchlike shelves or niches where bodies could be laid.​—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”

tomb: See study note on Mt 27:60.

a stone: Apparently a circular stone, since this verse says that it was rolled into place and Mr 16:4 says that it “had been rolled away” when Jesus was resurrected. It might have weighed a ton or more. Matthew’s account calls it “a big stone.”​—Mt 27:60.


The Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin

Seventy-one members constituted the Jewish high court called the Great Sanhedrin. It was located in Jerusalem. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”) According to the Mishnah, the seating was arranged in a semicircle three rows deep, and two scribes were present to record the court’s rulings. Some of the architectural features shown here are based on a structure discovered in Jerusalem that is considered by some to be the Council Chamber from the first century.​—See Appendix B12, map “Jerusalem and Surrounding Area.”

1. High priest

2. Members of the Sanhedrin

3. A defendant

4. Clerks

Nail in a Heel Bone
Nail in a Heel Bone

This is a photograph of a replica of a human heel bone pierced by an iron nail that was 11.5 cm (4.5 in.) long. The original artifact was found in 1968, during excavations in northern Jerusalem, and dates to Roman times. It provides archaeological evidence that nails were likely used in executions to fasten the person to a wooden stake. This nail may be similar to the nails employed by the Roman soldiers to fasten Jesus Christ to the stake. The artifact was found in a stone box, called an ossuary, into which the dried bones of a deceased person were placed after the flesh had decomposed. This indicates that someone executed on a stake could be given a burial.

Tomb Chamber
Tomb Chamber

The Jews usually buried their dead in caves or vaults cut into the rock. These tombs were customarily located outside the cities, an exception being the tombs of the kings. Jewish tombs that have been found are notable for their simplicity. This was evidently because the Jews’ worship allowed no veneration of the dead and did not foster any ideas of a conscious existence in a spirit world after death.