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Jews follow(ed) the Old Testament creation story, which says that the evening and the morning make one day. So a day begins at sundown and extends to sundown.

How to Tell Time in the Bible

In the story of the nobleman whose son was dying, Christ healed the boy “at the seventh hour.” Other places in the Bible we see phrases like “the third watch.” How do we translate these to our own day and night time measurements?

Jews follow(ed) the Old Testament creation story, which says that the evening and the morning make one day. So a day begins at sundown and extends to sundown. If you see on a calendar that Passover is Tuesday, that means the first day of Passover begins at sundown Monday night and ends at sundown on Tuesday.

Just for ease of telling this story, let’s say sundown is at 6 pm and sunrise is at 6 am That means the seventh hour in this story would be our 1:00 pm.

Here are some mentions of time in the Bible and the times they would be according to our clocks. (This list comes from passiontoknowmore.com.)

Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44 – “from the sixth hour” refers to noon and “until the ninth hour” refers to 3 pm
Matthew 20 – In verse 3 “third hour” refers to 9 am/ “Sixth and ninth” hours in verse 5 refers to noon and 3 pm/ “eleventh hour” in verse 6 refers to 5 pm
Acts 2:15 – “third hour of the day” is 9 am
Acts 3:1 – “ninth hour” is 3 pm
Acts 10:3 – “ninth hour” is 3 pm
Acts 10:9 – “sixth hour” is noon
Acts 10:30 – “during the ninth hour” is 3-4 pm
Acts 23:23 – “third hour of the night” is 9 pm

The 12-hour night was divided into 3 watches for guards, each lasting four hours. The first watch began at sunset. The middle watch was approximately 10 pm to 2 am. The morning, or third, watch would be about 2 am to 6 am.

The Romans used four 3-hour watches—the first (or evening) watch; the second (or midnight) watch; the third (or cock-crow) watch; and the fourth (or morning) watch. Roman watches are found in the following scriptures:

Matthew 14:25 – “fourth watch of the night” refers to 3-6 am
Mark 13:35 – “evening”, “midnight”, “when the rooster crows”, “morning”
Luke 12:38 – “second watch” refers to 9 pm to midnight and “third” refers to midnight to 3 am