The Meaning of the word "paraskeuē" the "Preparation" in John's Gospel.

by Peter Salemi

 Many argue  that the word "paraskeuē" (strong's #3904) could only refer to the day of preparation before the normal Sabbath which is the seventh day of the week. John's gospel however clearly point out, that, "And it was the preparation [paraskeuē] of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (19:14). The same argue that because of this word, the Passover took place on a Friday the day of preparation for the weekly Sabbath, since this word was only used for the preparation for the weekly Sabbath.

However, John specifically says, it was the "preparation of the Passover." Does this word "paraskeuē" apply to the preparation for the feasts and annual Sabbaths as well as the weekly Sabbath? Yes it does!

Torrey, Charles C., "The Date of the Crucifixion According to the Fourth Gospel." Journal of Biblical Literature, December, 1931, p. 233, states, "The phrase is most commonly interpreted to mean the day of preparation for the sacrificial meal held on the evening of the 14th. . . ." (emphasis added).

He also states, "In the Semitic Greek of our Palestinian documents the word [paraskeuή or "parasceve"] is the standing equivalent of Aramaic אתבורע [arūbtā]. . . . . Originally employed to designate the day before the sabbath, it [arūbtā] eventually was applied also to the most important festivals of the calendar. The Greek-speaking Jews regularly employed paraskeuή ["parasceve"] in this sense" (ibid, pp.233-234, emphasis added)

Torrey's further comments, "It is true that all the early examples of this technical word, 'eve,-abend, Preparation,' are in connection with the sabbath only; but the possibility may be admitted that it was given an equally early application to the principal festal days. It is thus used frequently in the later rabbinical Aramaic. . . . There is in the Midrash Ruth (one of the latest of the midrashim), near the end of the section 'qatōn wĕ-gadōl,' an example of אחס׳פ תבורע meaning 'the day before the paschal feast"' (ibid, pp. 236-237, emphasis added).

It was applied to Friday later, by the Greeks. He goes on to say that the Aramaic word [arūbtā] later was also used as a regular name of the week, meaning the day of preparation of the regular Sabbath. The notion of a Friday (day before Saturn's day) crucifixion is not expressed in writing until AD 150 of Justin Martyr  (Apology 1, 67:1-3, 7; Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol.1, p.186). The next reference is recorded by Victorinius in AD 300. (Victorinius in 'The Creation of the World'). Torry states that: "It's Greek equivalent, paraskeuή Friday, was likewise adopted from the first, by the Greek Church; attested all the way from the church fathers Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen down to Georgius Codinus (15th century), who in his De Officiis, 13, 1, gives the official term for 'Good Friday' as ‛h megάlh paraskeuή" (p.ibid, 234). This term we must take according to the Apostles and what they meant for it to mean, and not the Greek meaning which by this time was going Apostate from the truth and beginning to separate itself from its Jewish roots.

Torrey concludes, "There are at all events three undoubted facts to be borne in mind: (1) The paraskeuή in John 19:14 is not the colorless Greek word, 'preparation,' but the Jewish technical term. This is shown conclusively by vv. 31 and 41. (2) The Greek can give no testimony as to the exact form of the Aramaic which lies behind it (i.e., whether or not the construct state was employed, or in mind), for the proper noun 'Friday,' or 'Preparation,' would ordinarily appear in Greek without the definite article (like sabbaton) ; cf. also Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54. (3) If 'John ' had wished merely to adopt in his own gospel what his predecessors had established, and to give in a single phrase their date of the crucifixion, he would most naturally have done so in precisely the phrase employed in 19:14. This is true in either language" (ibid, p.237, emphasis added). John gave the exact date of the crucifixion of Christ, the "preparation" [whether in Greek or Aramaic] day of the Passover, that could fall on any day of the week, depending upon the calendar.


* Note-Even though Torrey goes on to support a Friday crucifixion because he refuses to allow a feast day to be referred to as a "high Sabbath" and therefore he refuses to allow the word for "preparation" to refer to a feast day. As a result he fails to take seriously the evidence given by John that Jesus ate the meal with his disciples in the beginning of the 14th of the regular Paschal meal and was crucified on the day that the lambs were to be killed. In other words he fails to seriously grapple with the "apparent" discrepancy between the Synoptic writers and the Gospel of John. Others have grappled with that apparent discrepancy and have supplied reasonable suggestions on how exactly to reconcile the gospel accounts. But we are just making the important point to the fact that the word "paraskeuē" does and can mean the preparation for the feast day and not just for the weekly Sabbath.

*Note-This word PARASKEUE is used only 6 times in the NT (MT. 27:62; MRK. 15:42; LK 23:54; JN.19:14,31,42). Because people do not believe Jesus knew how many hours there was in a day (which he did - JN 11:9) and because they do not believe Jesus meant 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours) but two nights one day and part of a second day, in Mat. 12:40. Because they do not believe Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the fish but some length of time less than that.

Because they will not see the Sabbath following the preparation in the above cited verses, was not automatically meaning the weekly Sabbath at all. Because they will not see that there were TWO Sabbath days during Passion week. Because of all this, they assume the Sabbath after "preparation - PARASKEUE" is SATURDAY and that PARASKEUE used as the preparation day before MUST BE "Friday".

Do you see the CIRCLE of their reasoning? PARASKEUE used in these six places must mean Friday as the Saturday Sabbath was coming, and as the Sabbath following PARASKEUE was Saturday then PARASKEUE - preparation, must mean "Friday" at all times. This circle of reasoning, based on false assumptions based on a false pagan festival of EASTER (that was adopted by the Roman Catholic church in place of the PASSOVER) based on the false assumption that Jesus rose Sunday morning (there is not ONE verse that says Christ's resurrection took place on the morning of the first day) has led some to write, "The fact must be faced that no example of the use of PARASKEUE is cited for any day other than Friday,"  (Leon Morris, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN). Now I do not see the word "Friday" in the NT at all - so the burden of proof rests with Leon Morris and others like him to prove to me that the Sabbath following PARASKEUE was Saturday and that PARASKEUE is equivalent to the word "Friday" at all times. With my child-like belief in what Jesus said in MAT. 12:40 with JN 11:9 Leon Morris,  and other so called "scholars" will never prove it, for it is not provable.