Monthly Archives: April 2014

Should Christians celebrate Easter?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE EASTER? IS IT NOT A PAGAN HOLIDAY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some professing Christians believe that we should celebrate Easter because it commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Other professing Christians believe that we should not celebrate Easter because of its pagan (non-Christian) origins and elements. In this Bible study, we will evaluate Easter from the historical and Biblical perspectives, and let our readers come to their own conclusion as to what they should do about Easter.

ORIGIN OF EASTER

According to the “Easter” article of The World Book Encyclopedia:

“Easter is the most important Christian festival of the year…. The word Easter may have come from an early English word, Eastre. Some scholars say Eastre was the name of a pagan goddess of spring, the name of a spring festival, or the name of the season itself. Other scholars believe the word Easter comes from the early German word eostarun, which means dawn. This word may be an incorrect translation of the Latin word albae, meaning both dawn and white. Easter was considered a day of ‘white’ because newly baptized church members wore white clothes at Easter observances.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

The New Encyclopædia Britannica says under its article “Easter:”

“The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre…. By the time that the Christian liturgy had begun to take shape (2nd century), the Sunday Eucharist was preceded by a vigil service of Scripture readings and psalms. In this must be seen the origin of the Easter Vigil service, one of the striking celebrations of Easter in both East and West; from being a weekly observance the vigil has turned into an annual one at Easter only. As it is now constituted in the Roman Catholic missal, this vigil consists of the new fire (a practice introduced during the early Middle Ages); the lighting of the paschal candle; a service of lessons, called the prophecies; following by the blessing of the font and baptisms and then the mass of Easter. A similar form is used in Lutheran and some Anglican churches. This pattern is quite primitive and, in its principal elements, can be traced to the 3rd–4th century. … The connection of baptism with Easter is of early date. During the church’s first centuries the whole of Lent was not only a time of penance but also the period during which the catechumens (persons to be baptized) were prepared for baptism, which was given only once a year, at Easter. For the six weeks preceding Easter the catechumens were instructed in the Christian faith, and the texts of the Lenten liturgy in the Roman Catholic missal still preserve clear indications of this practice. The catechumenate came to an end with the solemn baptisms of the Easter vigil. This is the explanation of the present practice of the long ceremony of blessing the font on Easter night and of the great emphasis on baptism and its meaning and the many allusions to it still present in the Easter services…. Popular customs. Around the Christian observance of Easter as the climax of the liturgical drama of Holy Week and Good Friday, folk customs have been collected, many of which have been handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals brought into relation with the resurrection theme. These customs have taken a variety of forms, in which, for example, eggs, formerly forbidden to be eaten during Lent, have been prominent as symbols of new life and resurrection. The hare, the symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt, a role that was kept later in Europe, is not found in North America.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

As you can easily see from these quotes from World Book and Britannica, the apostles did not institute Easter practices and customs such as Easter candle and fire burning, blessing of fonts and baptisms, and displays of eggs and rabbits (fertility deities—this is why the Playboy symbol is a rabbit!). The New Testament Scriptures are silent about the apostles instituting special practices and rituals during Easter. These activities existed within the professing “Christian” church in the 2nd century at the earliest and to as late as the 3rd and 4th century and the early Middle Ages—decades and even several centuries after the apostles died! As per Roman Catholic tradition, many Easter customs and practices are a “development of doctrine,” and they have no Scriptural support: the Britannica says the pagan activities were “brought into relation with the resurrection theme.” That is an elegant way of saying, “Non-Christian elements from non-Christian religions were adopted to celebrate the Christian doctrine of resurrection.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909) elaborates for us in its “Easter” article (bold emphasis mine):

“The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown, even in the Edda (Simrock, Mythol., 362); Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh.”

“Easter eggs. Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning.”

“The Easter Rabbit. The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility” (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).

“The Easter Fire. The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. … The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.).”

Holweck, F. (1909). Easter. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from New Advent: < http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm >

In his classic The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop wrote:

“Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, aas found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, “the priests of the groves.” Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, who, centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin-mines of Cornwall. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and it has everywhere left indelible marks of the strong hold which it must have had on the early British mind. From Bel, the 1st of May is still called Beltane in the Almanac; and we have customs still lingering at this day among us, which prove how exactly the worship of Bel or Moloch (for both titles belonged to the same god) had been observed even in the northern parts of this island. “The late Lady Baird, of Fern Tower, in Perthshire,” says a writer in “Notes and Queries,” thoroughly versed in British antiquities, “told me, that every year, at Beltane (or the 1st of May), a number of men and women assemble at an ancient Druidical circle of stones on her property near Crieff. They light a fire in the centre, each person puts a bit of oat-cake in a shepherd’s bonnet; they all sit down, and draw blindfold a piece from the bonnet. One piece has been previously blackened, and whoever gets that piece has to jump through the fire in the centre of the circle, and pay a forfeit. This is, in fact, a part of the ancient worship of Baal, and the person on whom the lot fell was previously burnt as a sacrifice. Now, the passing through the fire represents that, and the payment of the forfeit redeems the victim.” If Baal was thus worshipped in Britain, it will not be difficult to believe that his consort Astarte was also adored by our ancestors, and that from Astarte, whose name in Nineveh was Ishtar, the religious solemnities of April, as now practised, are called by the name of Easter—that month, among our Pagan ancestors, having been called Easter-monath. The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called Pasch, or the Passover, and though not of Apostolic institution,* was very early observed by many professing Christians, in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ.” (pages 103–104, Bold emphasis mine.)

While much more could be said regarding the above quotes, suffice it to say that Easter practices certainly have roots in false religion, and much of what is called “Easter worship” is nothing more than the carryover of superstitious practices that non-Christians followed centuries and millennia ago. These pagan practices have a godly appearance—they have been “Christianized”—but they have no relation to the God of the Bible and no association with Jesus Christ. The only mention of Easter in the Holy Bible—the King James Bible—is Acts 12:4, and it refers to a pagan Roman King Herod Agrippa I observing it (near the time of Passover).

Why there is so much confusion about pagan practices and Christian practices is simple to explain. Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

Let us take a few moments to briefly summarize Passover.

ORIGIN OF PASSOVER

Any person familiar with the Bible knows of Israel’s first Passover, held just before JEHOVAH God delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage (see Exodus chapter 12 for details). In Exodus 12:1-2, we read: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, [2] This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

The first month on Israel’s religious calendar is what the Bible calls the month of “Abib” (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:14; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1)—it was also called “Nisan” (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7). In Exodus 12:6-14, JEHOVAH instructed the Jews to pen up the Passover lamb on Abib 10th, to check and make sure that it was not sick or crippled, and the Jews were to kill the Passover lamb on Abib 14th (roughly equivalent to April 14th in our Gregorian calendar). This lamb’s blood was then applied to the side posts and lintel of the door of every Jewish home in Egypt. God would kill all of the Egyptians’ firstborn, but He would “pass over” and spare the Jews who had the lamb’s blood on the door. In Israel’s program, Passover is “an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14).

Through the annual Passover observance, God was teaching Israel that blood had to be shed in order to redeem her, or buy her back. Israel was trapped, not only under Egyptian rule, but Satan’s rule (domination of sin)—many times the Bible calls Egypt “the house of bondage” (Exodus 13:3,14; Exodus 20:2; et al.). The Jews were slaves to Egypt and to sin, and could not function as the nation God designed them to be. The blood of the Passover lamb was a preview of what Jesus Christ would do at Calvary many centuries in the future. The Apostle Peter reminded Israel in 1 Peter 1:18-19: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

When Israel celebrated her new life on the other side of the Red Sea, a life as a free people, the pagans were celebrating the new life associated with Easter (Satan’s counterfeit religious system). Easter was Satan’s way of mocking Passover: again, Satan is the master counterfeiter, and as long as he can distract you from God’s Word to you, he is very pleased with himself (Satan gets the glory and worship when the God of the Bible does not). March-April was the time when God shed blood for Israel’s redemption, and when He gave her new life (after she crossed the Red Sea).

From the Four Gospels, we learn that Jesus Christ died around Passover (Matthew 26:2,17-19; Mark 14:1,12-16; Luke 22:18,11,13,15; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28,39; John 19:14). In other words, Jesus died during the same holiday that had typified His death for the last 1,500 years. The blood of the true Passover lamb—Jesus Christ—was shed at Calvary. With the death of Jesus Christ at that time of year, March-April was that much more appealing to Satan to further corrupt.

During the centuries following the apostles’ deaths, the pagan festival Easter that had counterfeited Israel’s Passover gradually began to merge as Christianity was paganized to welcome new converts. Hence, today, the non-Christian and Christian elements of the Easter-Passover season have blended into one celebration within Christendom (just what Satan wanted from the beginning!). While it is often assumed that Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, it actually was never intended to do so. Still, very few church members even know the difference between Passover and Easter. A quote from The Catechism of the Catholic Church demonstrates how Christendom has greatly confused these two holidays:

“At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox. Because of different methods of calculating the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the date of Easter in the Western and Eastern Churches is not always the same. For this reason, the Churches are currently seeking an agreement in order once again to celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection on a common date” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, paragraph 1170). (Bold emphasis mine.)

How could we possibly confuse Passover, a Biblical holiday, and Easter, a non-Biblical holiday? How can we call Easter “the Christian Passover?” Again, you can see just how paganized Christianity has become over the centuries since the apostles; what was once non-Christian is now considered “Christian” and what was once Christian is now considered “non-Christian.” How more deceived can the professing Body of Christ get? What do we expect when we throw away God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and embrace the traditions of men?

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Our purpose here has been to enlighten you about Easter so that you can make an informed decision. It is certainly not our goal to “have dominion over your faith;” our desire is to be “helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). We will not dictate to you what you can and cannot do regarding Easter, but we do offer this study for your consideration. Our goal is to have your faith rest in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word, so that you may have joy and peace in believing God’s Word (Romans 15:13).

JEHOVAH, the God of the Bible, instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12). Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty. It was during this time of year that lost mankind—the nations of the world, those under Satan’s influence—celebrated fertility, reproduction, and new life by praising manmade idols and participating in shameful and ungodly activities. Easter and Passover should certainly not be confused.

As with the case of Christmas, Easter has both good and bad elements: we do not have to avoid either holiday altogether. Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life, and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! March-April was indeed the time of year when Israel was released from Satanic and Egyptian bondage, and March-April was the time of year when Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We can trust Him alone and pass from eternal death to eternal life.

If we do choose to “celebrate” (for lack of a better word) Easter, we should remember not to be get distracted by the eggs, rabbits, denominational rites and rituals, and so on. Let us use this time of year—a time when people are most open to “spiritual things”—to share the wonderful news of the new life we have in Christ, and the new life that they can have in Jesus Christ, too, if they trust Him alone as their personal Saviour. This is the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God, and it alone is the life-giving message that lost people need to hear—at Eastertime and every other time!

NOTE: My own research about Easter yielded too much information to be reproduced in its entirety here. The reader is greatly encouraged to search the internet to learn more about Easter’s very complex history, and not take this author’s word for anything.

 

Also see:
» Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?
» Should Christians observe Passover?
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?

Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

Was Jesus Christ really crucified on A Friday?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Did Jesus Christ really die on Good Friday? Or is that merely church tradition? While some may argue that this issue is insignificant, the fact is that anything that is not in the Bible is not of faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). What if God’s Word did tell us on what day Jesus died? Would we care to know what God says about the matter, or would we be content to merely believe what we presumed the Bible to teach?

In Matthew 12:40, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” During the three days and three nights between Christ’s death and resurrection, His soul went to the heart of the earth. In Luke 23:43, Jesus called the place “paradise.” This is “Abraham’s bosom,” the same place mentioned earlier in Luke chapter 16. Jesus Christ never went to hell’s torments. Hanging on Calvary’s cross, Jesus declared, “It is finished,” so His suffering was complete before He died (John 19:30). After three days and three nights were accomplished, Christ arose on Sunday, victorious over sin and death.

Let us examine Luke chapter 24: “[13] And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. [14] And they talked together of all these things which had happened. [15] And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. [16] But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. [17] And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? [18] And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? [19] And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: [20] And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. [21] But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”

Notice in verse 21 that, on resurrection day, Sunday, it was said that that day “was the third day since these things happened [since Christ suffered and died].” If we go back, Saturday would be the second day since Christ died, and Friday would be the first day since He died. That would make Thursday the crucifixion day.

Another way to look at it is like this: Jesus Christ died around 3 p.m. (“the ninth hour;” Matthew 27:46,50; Mark 15:34,37; Luke 23:44-46). The Jews count days from evening to evening (6 p.m. to 6 p.m.), rather than the Roman/Gentile reckoning of time (midnight to midnight). The only way for Jesus to be dead three days and three nights and resurrect on “the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), Sunday, is to be crucified on Thursday. Thursday is the most plausible day of His crucifixion—a Friday crucifixion would be only two nights to Sunday, not three nights, and this would not fulfill the prophecy of Matthew 12:40. Furthermore, if we consider Jewish reckoning of time, Thursday evening and Friday morning were the first day, Friday evening and Saturday morning were the second day, and Saturday evening and Sunday morning were the third day, and Jesus rose Sunday morning. Three days and three nights from Sunday would be Thursday, and Sunday could only be the “third day” if it was a Thursday crucifixion. See diagram:

three days and three nights[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

So, if the Bible indicates a Thursday crucifixion, why do many people talk about “Good Friday?” The main reason it is assumed that Jesus was crucified on Friday is that the Bible says that the day after Jesus’ crucifixion was the Sabbath day. John 19:31 says, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” However, the parenthetical statement says that that Sabbath day was not the weekly Sabbath (Saturday), but “that sabbath day was an high day.”  It was a special Sabbath—that sabbath”not the sabbath.” Israel did not have merely weekly Sabbaths (Saturdays) to observe, but Sabbaths (other days of rest) associated with feasts observed throughout the year as well (Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:24,32,39). The Sabbath of John 19:31 was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed Passover.

Also see:
» Did Jesus Christ suffer in hell? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Should Christians celebrate Easter?
» Are Christians obligated to observe Passover?

Are Christians obligated to observe Passover?

MUST WE CHRISTIANS OBSERVE PASSOVER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we as Christians observe the Passover? After all, some argue, unlike Easter, it has Biblical support. Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

ORIGIN OF PASSOVER

Every person familiar with the Holy Bible knows of the first Passover, the feast Israel held just before JEHOVAH God delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage. In Exodus 12:1-2, we read: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, [2] This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” The first month on Israel’s religious calendar is what Scripture calls the month of “Abib” (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:14; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1)—Abib is also known as “Nisan” (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7).

In Exodus 12:6-14, JEHOVAH instructed the Jews to pen up the Passover lamb on Abib 10th, to check and make sure that it was not sick or crippled, and the Jews were to kill the Passover lamb during sunset on Abib 14th (roughly equivalent to April 14th on our Gregorian calendar). This lamb’s blood was then applied to the side posts and lintel of the door of every Jewish home in Egypt. That night, God slew all of the Egyptians’ firstborn, but He “passed over” and spared the Jews who had the lamb’s blood on the door. In Israel’s program, Passover is “an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14).

Through the annual Passover observance, God was teaching Israel that blood had to be shed in order to redeem her, or buy her back. Israel was trapped, not only under Egyptian rule, but Satan’s tyranny as well (domination of sin); hence, the Bible calls Egypt “the house of bondage” many times (Exodus 13:3,14; Exodus 20:2; et al.). The Jews were slaves to Egypt and to sin. Thus, they could not function as the nation God designed them to be. The blood of the Passover lamb was a preview of what Jesus Christ would do at Calvary many centuries later. The Apostle Peter reminded Israel in 1 Peter 1:18-19: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

When Israel celebrated her new life on the other side of the Red Sea, a life as a free people, the pagans were celebrating the new life associated with Easter (Satan’s counterfeit religious system). Easter was Satan’s way of mocking Passover: the devil is the master counterfeiter, and as long as he can distract you from God’s Word to you, he is very pleased with himself (Satan gets the worship and glory when the God of the Bible does not; Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). March-April was the time when God shed blood for Israel’s redemption, and when He gave her new life (once she crossed the Red Sea).

From the Four Gospels, we learn that Jesus Christ died near the time the Passover lamb was killed (Matthew 26:2,17-19; Mark 14:1,12-16; Luke 22:18,11,13,15; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28,39; John 19:14). In other words, Jesus died during the same holiday that had typified His death for the last 1,500 years. The blood of the true Passover lamb—Jesus Christ—was shed at Calvary. This shed blood of Christ would then make Israel’s spiritual birth possible (her forgiveness, her redemption, her justification, and so on). With the death of Jesus Christ at that time of year, March-April was that much more appealing to Satan to further corrupt.

During the centuries following the apostles’ deaths, as Christianity was paganized to welcome new converts, the pagan fertility/reproduction festival Easter that had counterfeited Israel’s Passover for centuries gradually merged to form one convoluted “Christian” celebration. Hence, today, the non-Christian and Christian elements of the Easter-Passover season have blended into one festival within Christendom. While it is often assumed that Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, it actually was never intended to do so.

 

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Certainly, Passover is a Biblical practice, but being Scriptural is not necessarily correct and godly. There are many activities and procedures that are taught in Scripture, and we would be utterly foolish to follow them. (Are you still offering blood sacrifices like Leviticus says? Are you building an ark like Genesis says?)

As people who study, understand, believe, and enjoy the Bible dispensationally, we recognize that not all of the Bible is to us or about us. When the Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we comprehend that to mean that God has made divisions in His Word, and we need not ignore these distinctions.

According to Leviticus chapter 23, JEHOVAH instituted a very complex calendar of seven annual feasts for the nation Israel to follow (Passover was the first). These feasts taught the Jews specific doctrines—what God would do for them, what He would do with them, and so on. As Gentiles apart from Israel’s program, we have no direct connection to Passover. God never “passed over” our ancestors as He did Israel’s patriarchs in Egypt. Furthermore, God through Paul our apostle (Romans 11:13) never instructed us members of the Body of Christ to observe Passover. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), but God’s Word does not lead us Gentiles to observe Passover; observing Passover would not be of faith.

In fact, according to Deuteronomy 16:2, the Passover was to be observed only in Jerusalem (1 Kings 9:3; 1 Kings 14:21)—it was never to be observed throughout the world. This is why Israel’s males, no matter where they lived, had to travel to Jerusalem for Passover every year (Deuteronomy 16:16). Furthermore, this is why the Lord’s Supper is not to be confused with the Passover—the Corinthians observed the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, not Jerusalem. Strictly speaking, even if Israel’s program were in operation today, the only valid Passover in Scripture would have to be observed in Jerusalem!

We do find these words of God the Holy Ghost through Paul in Colossians 2:16-17: “[16] Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: [17] Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” We have no obligation to observe any religious feasts or holidays of Israel—Sabbath days, monthly demarcations, Passover, Pentecost, et cetera. They all belong to Israel, not us. These activities do not belong in our mystery program.

Paul warned the Law-keeping Galatians: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? [10] Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. [11] I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11). The Galatians had returned to Mosaic Law keeping, and they were ignoring God’s grace to them in Christ. They were observing Israel’s religious calendar, and Paul called that “bondage!” He said he feared for their spiritual destruction, that they had made God’s grace useless in their lives. We should not let Satan get an advantage of us by using religious tradition or religious ceremonies.

Finally, Paul wrote in Romans 14:5-8: “[5] One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. [6] He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. [7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” God’s grace gives us liberty to apply sound grace doctrine to our lives. We need to take this sound information and consider it, and choose how we should use our life’s calendar to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we live unto Him, and not unto ourselves. Let us walk by faith in light of these precious truths and verses!

Also see:
» Should Christians observe Lent?
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?
» Should Christians celebrate Easter? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?

DOES OUR KING JAMES BIBLE HAVE A MISTRANSLATION IN ACTS 12:4?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Critics of our perfect King James Bible attack it using a barrage of complaints (most of these are exaggerations, distortions of facts, and just plain immature, careless, and downright stupid comments). Our 1611 translators are heavily criticized for using the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4—a supposed mistranslation of a word critics say “should be” rendered “Passover” like the modern versions handle it (sounds like a sales pitch!). Were the King James translators in error by using the word “Easter” in God’s Word? Or, did they have a special reason for using it rather than “Passover?” Let us search the Scriptures because they are our final authority—we do not appeal to “scholarship” or church tradition.

The word pascha appears 29 times in the Greek New Testament manuscripts. In 28 of those cases, the King James translators rendered it “Passover” (Matthew 26:2,17,18,19; Mark 14:1,12,14,16; Luke 2:41; Luke 22:1,7,8,11,13,15; John 2:13,23; John 6:4; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28,39; John 19:14; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:28). Our 1611 translators obviously knew the meaning of pascha—they demonstrated that they were competent in translating it over two-dozen times! Yet, they rendered pascha “Easter” in Acts 12:4, the one and only time they did so. Why not use “Passover” like every other instance? The key is found in verse 3.

Let us begin reading Acts chapter 12 as it is found in the King James Bible: “[1] Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. [2] And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. [3] And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) [4] And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

Herod Agrippa I, who reigned A.D. 37-44, troubled certain members of the Messianic Church (Matthew 10:18). In fact, he has the Apostle John’s brother James the apostle slain by the sword. This is noteworthy since Jesus Christ had previously surnamed brothers James and John “Boanerges,” or “The sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). In Scripture, thunder is often associated with God’s voice (2 Samuel 22:14; Job 37:4-5; Job 40:8; Psalm 18:13; Psalm 29:3; John 12:29; Revelation 14:2). In other words, by killing James, Herod is attempting to silence God who was speaking through James! The Jews are pleased that one of God’s apostles, who constantly preached Jesus Christ to unbelieving Israel, is now dead. Herod sees Israel’s joyful reaction to James’ death; seeking popularity with Israel, Herod pursues Peter’s arrest (probably intending to kill him, too).

The parenthetical note, then were the days of unleavened bread” of Acts 12:3 indicates the time of year. According to the Law of Moses, the Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately followed the Passover feast. Passover was Abib 14th / roughly mid-April (Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted from Abib 15th until the 21st (Exodus 12:15-20; Leviticus 23:6-8). The Bible says after the week of Unleavened Bread, Herod arrested and imprisoned Peter. Herod had 16 soldiers (quaternion = four soldiers) guard Peter until Easter had passed, and then he would bring Peter before the people (Israel).

Notice how Acts 12:3 explains that the days of Unleavened Bread, and thus Passover, have already come and gone. Acts 12:4 could not be referring to Passover, unless a full year had passed since verse 3’s Passover (which is highly unlikely). Easter, not Passover, would follow the days of Unleavened Bread. Moreover, Herod is pagan (non-Christian), so he would be celebrating Easter rather than Passover anyway. The King James translators are thereby justified—the modern Bible version translators are those in error (in “correcting” the Bible, they introduced a blatant mistake!).

By the way, in order to cover up the mistake in modern “bible” versions, some have argued that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was also called Passover, so Passover rather than Easter is implied in Acts 12:4. While Luke 22:1 does say that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was called Passover,” that was obviously a colloquial phrase that Israel used—Luke did not write, “it was Passover.” God in His Word never collectively referred to Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread as “Passover.” “Passover” is one night. God did not “pass over” Israel seven nights in a row; He passed one night alone (this night;” Exodus 12:12). Passover, in the strict Bible sense, applied only to one day; not the entire week that followed it. The pro-modern-version “the Days of Unleavened Bread was Passover” argument simply does not work.

“Easter” is the correct translation in Acts 12:4: contrary to what you might expect from our “hard-to-read, archaic, unscholarly” King James Bible, it has the right translation in Acts 12:4! Additionally, the great Bible scholar and translator, William Tyndale (c. 1494–1536), the Christian brother God used most to get the English Bible into our hands, judged that “ester”—not “Passover”—belonged in Acts 12:4 for the verse to make sense. Again, the modern “bibles” have a mistake in Acts 12:4 (including the NKJV and the New American Catholic Bible); the King James Bible is vindicated.

NOTE: One popular study Bible has an interesting footnote at Acts 12:4: “Though Easter does communicate correctly the time of year, the Greek word must be translated Passover.” While the King James Bible communicates the correct time of year by using “Easter,” the editors of this study Bible reassure us that it is still wrong and that pascha must be translated “Passover.” Why must it be translated Passover? It is imperative that the King James Bible be wrong (either way)! If that is not doubletalk, I do not know what is! (I suppose if the King James translators had “Passover” in Acts 12:4, critics would complain that it taught the wrong time of year!)

Also see:
» Can we trust the King James Bible? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Should Christians observe Passover?
» Should Christians celebrate Easter?