Many believe that Jesus rose on a Sunday, and that is why Christians celebrate on Sunday. In the late 19th century, however, a French archeologist discovered a copy of the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which clarified the time when Jesus rose as recorded in Matthew’s gospel.
The Gospel of Matthew says, “After the Sabbath, as it began to ‘shine on’ (ἐπιφωσκούσῃ) toward the next day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave, and behold, there was a great earthquake, for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone.”1Matthew 28:1
The Jewish days end at sunset. This is when a new day “dawns.” The sunset in Matthew is described by an obscure Greek word, epiphóskó (ἐπιφώσκω), which means “shine on.” This word is only otherwise used in Luke 23:54 to describe the evening when Jesus died: “It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was shining on (ἐπέφωσκεν), about to begin.” The so-called Gospel of Peter, originally written in the 2nd century, used the same word “shining on”2Gospel of Peter, vs 35-37 (ἐπέφωσκεν) to describe sundown, when Jesus was buried and rose again. This agrees with all accounts of the New Testament.
The Gospel of Mark described the Saturday resurrection when it said that the two Marys went to the tomb while it was “very early (πρωῒ).”3Mark 16:2 This was “very early” on the first day of the week, which began at sundown on Saturday.
To summarize the events recorded in the Gospels, at sundown on Saturday evening, the two Marys went to the tomb and found out that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus had risen. Mark said that this was “very early” on the first day of the week. Later, while it was still “early,” still dark, Mary and Martha went to the tomb.4John 20:1 Finally, “at dawn (ὄρθρου), “the women who had come with Him out of Galilee” went to the tomb, as described in Luke 24:1.