Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

Acts 10:30

“Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago at this hour, I was praying at the ninth hour in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.’”

The challenge here is that it was only three days earlier that Cornelius had his vision. So is this an error?

Solution 1

First of all, it seems highly unlikely that Luke, a trained physician, can’t count, or that he made a silly math error that would have been caught when proofreading. There must be an explanation. And there is.

The answer is the different way in which people count days. When I travel, my wife Robin will talk about how many days I will be gone. If I leave on a Saturday and return on the next Friday, how many days will I be gone? I say 7 days. Robin says 5 days; she doesn’t count the days she will see me, namely Saturday and Friday.

What’s happening in Acts 10:30 is that Cornelius is counting the day he saw the vision as one day. We tend not to do that.

  Cornelius Us
Vision Day 1
Friends come to Caesarea Day 2 Day 1
Travel to Caesarea Day 3 Day 2
Meet with Cornelius Day 4 Day 3

So this is not an error but an alternate way of counting days.

Solution 2

The Greek does not actually say "four days." It says ἀπὸ τετάρτης ἡμέρας, from the fourth day. This refers to three days ago.