Although there was no accurate means of time keeping during the Bible era, the hour was considered a 12th part of the day that was reckoned from sunrise to sunset (Jn 11:9). However as sunrise and sunset times varied throughout the year, the recorded hours are only a guide to the actual time.  The period of darkness from sunset to sunrise was divided into watches (the Jews reckoned on 3, the Romans had 4). The most common hours mentioned are 3, 6, 9 which translated into our modern times as approximately 9 am, noon and 3 pm (Mk 15:25,33). The 11th hour indicated the last opportunity (Mt 20:6,9).

The word ‘hour’ can also indicate a specific point in time, “in the self-same hour”, meaning from that moment on, and also a specific turning point in history (Mt 8:13, Lk 22:53; Jn 12:23; 1 Jn 2:18).

The Bible is clear that no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return (Mt 24:36). Thus it is essential to be ready.

See also: day, time/timing.