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Passover or Easter - Why Celebrate Easter?

By Gerhard Marx and Larry R. Lasiter

1997

Can you believe it? The observance of Easter is never once commanded in the Bible! Don't take our word for it!

Notice,- "There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament." So states the Encyclopedia Britannica.

And,- "The celebration of Easter does not appear in the New Testament."(A Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, Mathews and Smith, pg. 140)

Have you ever wondered what colored eggs have to do with Christ's death? And what Easter rabbits and hot-cross buns have to do with Christ's resurrection? What about the name "Easter" itself? Do you know its origin and meaning? And what about Easter Sunrise services? How did the "Christian" world come to accept and celebrate Easter? It's high time you knew the truth about Easter.

Easter Sunrise Services Before Jesus' Birth

Turn back the pages of history for a moment. See how Easter came to be accepted by the professing Christian world. Take the year 8 B.C. -4 years before Christ's birth. Notice what was taking place in that particular year among the non-Christian population of Europe, the Germanic people.

As was customary with the spring of each year, a particular event was about to take place. General excitement permeated the towns and villages.

It was a Saturday evening, called Sunnun-abend, when the event was to occur. On this particular evening in 8 B.C., everyone left his habitation and then gathered outside the village or town. All those capable would collect wood, place it around an oak tree, and set it alight.

As the massive mountain of wood began to burn, everyone would gather around the fire, completely encircling it. Flames would light up the entire sky. This ceremony occurred throughout the land.

Then followed the more solemn part of the evening. The populace would kneel and beseech Sunna their goddess of dawn as she was then called, imploring her to bring back the long-awaited spring days. The date of this festival was a Saturday night about the 21st of March.

This was the time of the vernal equinox, when the short winter days cease and the long, warm spring months begin. (As a matter of interest, the German word for Saturday,- Sonnabend traces itself back to the Saturday night on which the goddess Sunna was worshiped. The ancient Germans counted their days from evening to evening. Thus Saturday eve was actually the beginning of today's Sunday.

After having offered sacrifices to the goddess of the spring on this evening, the people retired till early morning. On this morning,- Sunday, sometime before dawn, everyone would meet again outside with their faces to the East, toward the rising sun, praising their goddess Sunna for bringing them this long-awaited first day of spring.

This day, the first Sunday after March 21st, was their annual holiday. It was a joyous day of various celebrations and games. One of the games was to find colored eggs which were hidden in the grass, around trees and in other hiding places. The children especially enjoyed these games.

Although the coloring varied, the predominate colors of the eggs were red and gold, symbolizing the bright rays of the sun. Some of the eggs were given as an offering to the spring goddess and the others were eaten. The egg was regarded as the emblem of germinating life in early spring.

Hot-cross buns were also baked and offered to the goddess. (See the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 2, pg 34 and The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, John D. Davis, pg 145.)

Why Called EASTER?

Move forward in history to a time several centuries after the birth of Christ. We find the heathen populace of Europe still observing this annual spring festival to the goddess of dawn or spring. But now she was known by another, more general name,- EOSTRE.

The name Sunna had merely been the localized German name, which was now changed to the more general nameEostre. Here is what happened.

During the previous centuries, vast numbers of people from Persia and Assyria had settled on the European mainland. These Eastern peoples were also worshiping a spring goddess. Their celebration likewise coincided with the beginning of spring. In fact, even colored eggs were associated with their spring festival. Notice,- "The ancient Persians, when they kept the festival of the solar new year in March, mutually presented each other with colored eggs." (Chamber's Encyclopedia)

The spring festival of these Eastern immigrants was identical to the festival the Germanic people celebrated. There was only one difference. The name of their goddess was ISHTAR. The Germans pronounced it slightly different, resulting in EOSTRE or as we today pronounce "EASTER."

Thus the settlers from the East influenced the local population to alter the name of their goddess Sunna to that of Easter.

But it was still the same goddess. It was still the same festival on which they worshiped the goddess Sunnaseveral centuries before. They still gathered wood on Saturday eve. They still had their huge bonfire that night. They still arose early the next morning for the sunrise service. And they still played games and looked for colored eggs on that day. It was still a highly popular festival. With the influx of the Eastern tribes, it became more generally celebrated than ever before. Nothing had changed except the name of their goddess, now Eostre, or in more modern terminology,- Easter.

Introduction into Christianity

But how and why did the Christian-professing world accept this festival, knowing its heathen origin? The first three centuries after Christ reveal what transpired.

The Church founded by Jesus Christ in 31 A.D., never kept Easter. . .Notice the words of a historian of the 3rdcentury, Socrates Scholasticus,- "Neither the apostles, therefore, nor the Gospels have anywhere imposed. . .Easter." (Ecclesiastical History, v., 22) And again,- "The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals (that is, the festivals God gave to His people Israel), though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed." (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 8, pg 828)

There was no holiday commemorating a resurrection, only a festival commemorating Christ's death. (The Passover) Notice what the historian Gieseler admits,- "There is no trace of a yearly festival of a resurrection among them." (Catholic Church, section 53, pg 178)

Instead of celebrating a resurrection or Easter festival, for which there was no Biblical injunction, the early Christians kept God's annual festival, the Passover. This yearly event commemorated the death of Christ. "The Jewish Christians in the early Church continued to celebrate the Passover."(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

This leaves no room for doubt, God's true Church never kept Easter, but instead commemorated Christ's death annually by observing the New Testament Passover.

As we come to the beginning of the second century, we find another Church, claiming to represent Christ's true Church. It introduced a new festival in place of the Passover. It called this unauthorized festival, the feast of the resurrection.

During the second and third centuries, Italy was infiltrated en masse by people from the East, from Syria, Persia and Babylon. Often these Eastern people would come in the forms of slaves who would later gain their freedom and settle down in the West. At the same time large-scale immigrations took place. So great was the influx of these Eastern peoples that, by the time of Tacitus, famous first century Roman historian, many of Rome's military men and senators were actually of foreign, Oriental blood.

There was also a tendency during these times for philosophers from the East to travel westward, bringing their philosophy with them. Their powerful influence actually changed the religion of the Roman populace. This is how it happened. "Some of the most powerful divine invaders who came from the East to conquer the West were SOLAR DIVINITIES. . .These immigrants from the East brought the religion of the SUN with them."(Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 8, pg. 59)

And one form of sun-worship they were very familiar with was a resurrection festival in the spring.

Now these Eastern immigrants settling in the West, with their appealing sun-worship, made a profound impression on the minds of the average Roman. Because of this and the fact that a large percentage of the population was already Eastern in origin, the professing Christian world thought of a scheme to add immense numbers to membership rolls.

Realizing that a vast portion of the population in the Roman Empire was familiar with sun-worship, it was decided to make use of the day these Easterners worshiped on,- Sunday. There was instituted a resurrection feast, not to the literal sun, which the pagans worshiped, but supposedly in honor of the true Sun,- Christ.

This Sunday festival was introduced in the mid second century. "Celebrated since the second century" says theKing's English Encyclopedia, referring to this Sunday feast.

Further: "There is also evidence in Irenaeus' language to Victor that such an annual celebration was then general, and that it had been so at least for a generation." (Irenaeus was a second century writer and Victor became head of the Church at Rome around 190 A.D.)(The Gospels as Historical Documents, Stanton, pg 192)This "resurrection festival" had not been kept from the beginning.(of the Christian Church) It originated from men in the second century.

If we go back a generation from Victor, we come to the time when the "Passover Controversy" arose. The very fact that this controversy arose in the second century, and not before, shows the change took place at that time.

And true enough, the "Passover Controversy" started after (the Church at) Rome (later known as Catholic) had instituted this new "resurrection festival." The Christians in Asia Minor (where disciples of the original apostles were) were alarmed at the institution of a "resurrection festival" (for which there was no Biblical injunction) in place of the New Testament Passover. Throughout Asia Minor, voices of protest arose.

At the height of this controversy, leaders from both East and West met to settle the dispute, but without success. History has recorded for us the words of one Church leader from Asia Minor. His name was Polycrates, living around the end of the second century.

FROM Larry R. Lasiter, Editor: Polycrates was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp refused to accept the replacement of the NT Passover with this "resurrection festival" stating to Anicetus, the Roman Bishop,- "I have always observed it (NT Passover) with John, the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the Apostles with whom he associated."

The "history recorded" Mr. Marx is referring to the before mentioned paragraph is the letter from Polycrates to Pope Victor as referenced to by Eusebius, xxiv, - "We (Churches in Asia Minor) therefore observe the GENUINE DAY (NT Passover); NEITHER ADDING thereto nor TAKING THEREFROM. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again in the day of the Lord's appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints;. . .Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, who sleeps in Heirapolis,. . .John, who rested upon the bosom of our Lord, . . .Polycarp of Smyrna, . . .ALL THESE OBSERVED THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE PASSOVER according to the GOSPEL, deviating in no respect but following the RULE OF FAITH, . . .and my relatives always observed the day when the people threw away the leaven (Abib 14). I therefore, brethren, am now 65 years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, am not threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said,- "WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN." (End of Editor)

The controversy soon abated, finally leaving the Western Church victorious. (It was not until after Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. forced all within his Empire to keep a resurrection feast on Sundays, that the keeping of the New Testament Passover gradually ceased)

Heathen Become "Christians" Overnight

Introducing this new festival on the pagan day of Sunday paid dividends. The heathen populace of Rome quickly noticed the similarity of the newly introduced festival with their own spring festival in honor of their goddess.

As a result, they became "Christians" in droves. The Church grew in number, speedily outgrowing all other rivals. Since the goal during the time of her ascendancy and growth was to quickly attract new members, Church leaders would often meet the heathen "half-way". This lenient policy made it easier for the unconverted to become members.

In soliciting new members, the Church would allow the unconverted populace to retain many of their heathen practices and beliefs, in a "watered-down" version.

For example, the Church knew that many of the immigrants from the East were used to celebrating a heathen spring festival. So these heathen practices and festivals were given a "Christian dressing". The newly converted were asked not to worship their pagan gods or goddesses on certain days, but rather to worship the true God and Savior on these days. And the days chosen for these "Christianized" celebrations were usually the identical days on which the pagans worshiped their false gods on, not the days God ordained.

This compromise is admitted by the scholar, Aringhus. He mentions that the Church,- "Found it necessary, in the conversion of the Gentiles, to dissemble and wink at many things, and yield to the times."(Taylor's Diegesis, pg 237)

Such compromise with the pagans gained "Christianity" vast numbers of converts. By the time of Constantine in 326 A.D., Church leaders were able to influence the emperor to pass a decree forcing all within the Empire to keep this Sunday resurrection. Notice,- The Roman practice gained ground everywhere. . .and was established by the Council of Nicaea in 325 as the law of the whole Church." (History of the Church, Schaff, vol 2, pg 218)

Simultaneously, it was strictly forbidden for any Christian to continue keeping the NT Passover. It was considered "Jewish". The pagans, now professing to be Christians, were left - "Free to develop a Christian philosophy of THEIR OWN, better suited to the Gentile temperament." (History of Jewish Christianity, Schonfield, pg 54)

Forced Conversion

In the following centuries, as the culture of the Roman Empire expanded into Central Europe, the religion of the Roman Empire also spread into these areas. The policy of "converting" pagans continued. Whole heathen tribes were forced into "accepting Christ" and into accepting what was claimed to be His religion.

This policy was zealously carried out by the "Christian" Emperors. Charlemagne (c.800 A.D.) was especially eager in bringing thousands of unconverted pagans into the fold of the (Catholic) Church. Here is what he did.

After being crowned "Emperor", Charlemagne set out to subdue the German tribes living in the East. The Western part of Europe, France, the Rhineland, and Italy, was already under his sway.

Defeating the unconverted Germans, he forced the German chiefs to be baptized with their entire people. At first King and subjects refused. But finally, seeing there was no choice, the defeated chiefs relented. Thus in one day, tens of thousands became "Christians."

Although these "newly converted" Germans resented the method used in their conversion, they soon found themselves right at home. Noticing especially the resurrection festival that was being kept on their own day of worship,- Sunday, the new converts needed little persuasion to celebrate this "Christian" spring festival, which was similar to what they had been used to in the worship of their spring goddess Easter.

As time passed, these former pagans, now "converted", were not satisfied to merely observe a Sunday resurrection festival to Christ. They coveted and yearned for the beautiful but pagan embellishments which they were accustomed to observing.

Thus, in the process of time, they were influential in changing the name from "resurrection festival" to Easter. But they didn't stop here. They further introduced into the Christian world more outright paganism.

Soon, all of Western Europe was hunting for Easter eggs on this man-made, unbiblical festival. The Easter rabbit also became a symbol of fertility. Many even continued to rise early Sunday morning to face the sun in prayer. Campfires were lit each Saturday evening leading up to Easter. Many pagan converts would also bake cakes called "hot-cross" buns and eat them at Easter. In due time these and other pagan spring rites were celebrated on Easter Sunday. Thus the man-made festival supposed to commemorate Jesus' resurrection, came to be embellished with more and more paganism.

What About Today?

Now you might ask, "What difference does it make? Easter seems such an enjoyable festive occasion. Certainly no harm can come from its observance," you say.

Of course, if there is no God, then it makes no difference at all. If Christ is not alive, ruling this entire universe, and concerned with mankind, then it doesn't matter whether you keep this unauthorized, paganized Easter celebration.

But if you claim to be a Christian and believe religious beliefs and practices are to be founded on God's Word, then it does make a difference whether you keep Easter. Then it becomes a matter of obedience to Christ, doing and believing what He commands, without adding or taking away. God does not take lightly any attempt by man to either add or take away from what He has commanded. (Deut. 4:2 / Rev. 22:18)

But you might reason, "Well, I know Easter is of pagan origin. But after all, we don't worship pagan gods. Certainly God would understand."

If you really are a Christian and a believer in God, then notice God's instructions in regard to Easter,- "When the Lord your God shall cut off the nations from before you, whither you go to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwelleth in their land (this parallels what happened when professing Christians went into Central Europe to convert the heathen) take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them. . .and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying HOW DID THESE NATIONS SERVE THEIR GODS? EVEN SO WILL I DO LIKEWISE. THOU SHALT NOT DO SO UNTO THE LORD THY GOD." (Deuteronomy 12:29-31) (God is saying, He doesn't want you to worship Him as the pagans worshiped their gods, using their customs to "honor" Him.)

Which course will you choose? Will you obey man? Or God?

 

"THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS"

The Resurrection was not on Sunday


By: Larry R. Lasiter


On April 18 of this year (2003), many will observe "Good Friday", the day they believe that Jesus was crucified. Then on April 20, Easter Sunday will be observed as the day Christ arose from the dead. But was Jesus truly crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday Morning? And does it really matter?


The Sign of Jonah

If you believe in Jesus as the Messiah, then it does matter, because the only sign which would be given to prove that He was the promised Messiah is the sign of Jonah.

When the Jewish religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign to prove that He was sent from God, Jesus answered,-"An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet NO SIGN shall be given to it BUT THE SIGN OF JONAH the prophet. For just as Jonah was THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40)

Jesus said, not only three DAYS but also three NIGHTS. That is 72 hours in the grave.

Many erroneously assume that because Jesus was crucified on the "day of preparation" that He was killed on "Friday", the weekly preparation day.

Notice,- And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man, a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. And it was the PREPARATION DAY, and the SABBATH WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." (Luke 23:50-56)

We can read the same account in the other gospels as well, so it is very clear that Jesus was killed and buried on the day of preparation. But how can we get THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS from near sundown Friday to Sunday morning?

Friday NIGHT would be ONE NIGHT, Saturday would be ONE DAY. Saturday NIGHT would be TWO NIGHTS and Sunday morning could not even be counted as a DAY.

This reckoning would give us only ONE DAY and TWO NIGHTS, not the THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS Jesus gave as His only sign.

Jesus certainly made no mistake so what is the answer to this puzzle? The answer can only be found when we understand which Sabbath is being prepared for observance. There are more "Sabbaths" than just the weekly Sabbaths. They are called "Annual Sabbaths" or "High Days."

These are a part of the annual Festivals commanded by God in Leviticus 23, and are the Lord's appointed times for assembly and observance. They may fall on any day of the week during the year.

The ANNUAL SABBATHS are (1) First Day of Unleavened Bread. (2) Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread. (3) Feast of Pentecost or First Fruits (always Sunday). (4) Feast of Trumpets. (5) Day of Atonement. (6) Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. (7) Last Great Day.

Now with this understanding let us read Leviticus 23:5-7,- "In the first month, on the FOURTEENTH DAY of the month at twilight is the Lord's PASSOVER. Then on the FIFTEENTH DAY of the same month there is the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the FIRST DAY you shall have a HOLY CONVOCATION; you shall not do any laborious work."

Notice that this ANNUAL SABBATH follows the Lord's PASSOVER. Now notice Luke 22:15,- Jesus said to His disciples,- "I have earnestly desired to eat this PASSOVER with you before I SUFFER."

After the PASSOVER MEAL they departed to the Mount of Olives. In Luke 22, Verse 47 we find Jesus betrayed by Judas Iscariot and in Verse 54,- arrested. All this happened on the PASSOVER, the 14th of Nissan.

The following morning (still the Passover), Jesus was tried, beaten and sentenced to death by crucifixion. We find in Matthew 27, Verse 50 that Jesus cried out with a loud voice and died. Verse 46 tells us it was at the "ninth hour" of the day (Passover), which is 3 in the afternoon.

All of this, from the eating of the Passover, to His death and burial, took place on the 14th of Nissan, the Passover.

Joseph, who asked Pilate for Jesus' body, had until sundown to prepare the body with spices and secure Him in His tomb. Days began and ended at sundown, so sundown would begin a new day, in this case a High Sabbath, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.(15th Nissan)

This day of preparation mentioned in the Gospels was not to prepare for a "weekly" Sabbath, but the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

as crucified in 31 A.D. (I surmise) on Passover 14th Nissan, a WEDNESDAY that year and was buried just prior to sundown which would begin the next day,- THURSDAY, 15th Nissan a High Day. THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS later, near the end of the WEEKLY SABBATH (Saturday), He arose from the dead.

Notice,- Luke 24:1-3,- "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the Body of the Lord Jesus."

It was early SUNDAY MORNING and Jesus was ALREADY GONE. He was not resurrected on Sunday morning, the tomb was already empty.

Fulfilling the "Sign of Jonah", Jesus was true to His own prophecy concerning Himself,- He was in the grave Wednesday NIGHT(1st), Thurs-DAY(1st), Thursday NIGHT(2nd), Fri-DAY(2nd), Friday NIGHT(3rd)Satur-DAY(3rd). Thus THREE FULL DAYS and THREE FULL NIGHTS.

 

If He arose on Sunday morning, that would be three days and FOUR NIGHTS, thus nullifying the Lord's own prophecy of His resurrection.

 

If Jesus was put in the tomb just before sundown, then He must have been resurrected from the tomb at that same time of day three days later. Which would be near the end of the weekly Sabbath as it was beginning to get dark. At sundown would begin Sunday, the first day it was noticed that He was gone from His tomb.

 

WHAT ABOUT MARK 16:9?

Many point out that Mark Chapter 16, Verse 9 does not harmonize with the other resurrection accounts given in the Gospel records.

They may be right, notice,- "Now after He had risen EARLY ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons."

(Translators added punctuation, so if a comma was supposed to be after "risen", then the Verse would be saying that "After Jesus had risen (previous evening), He appeared to Mary on the "first day.") But let's leave it as it is and consider the following.

So which gospel account is a sincere Christian to believe? Well, the answer is in your own Bible if it has acenter-reference. If you look closely at Mark 16, beginning in Verse 9, you will see that Verses 9 through 20 are in "brackets".

Why? Check your own center-reference and you will read that these Verses are not found in the older manuscripts of the Bible. This is the translators way of warning the reader that what they are reading may be "spurious." Meaning that it may have been ADDED at a LATER DATE to promote a targeted agenda.

After the second century the Scriptures were penned by Scribes who would later be known as Catholic Monks living in Monasteries.

Since the "resurrection festival" was promoted by those who would later be known as the leaders of Catholicism, and was ordered held on "resurrection Sunday", it is likely that these Verses in Mark were added during the "Passover Controversy."

Incidently, there has been other Verses which have been found to be spurious and later removed from future translation revisions.

One such Verse is found in 1 John Chapter 5, Verse 7, which reads in the KJV,- "For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one."

The true rendering of this Verse from the oldest Greek Manuscripts is,- "And it is the spirit which bears witness, because the spirit is the truth."

As you can see, nothing at all alike. Why? The first rendering is from the Latin Vulgate, a Roman Catholic translation by the Bishop, Jerome. Why would Jerome take the liberty to alter a verse to say that there are THREE in Heaven comprising the God-Head, and further add that THEY ARE ONE?

Perhaps it is because of another "controversy", this time concerning the "Nature of God." After years of debate, the Catholic Church finally ruled that God is a Trinity of beings,- yet one. Many translations do not add this Verse, realizing that coming from the Latin Vulgate ( completed in 405 A.D.) was probably spurious, being too self-serving to the Catholics new doctrinal position.

Jesus was Crucified on a Wednesday PASSOVER, because He IS OUR PASSOVER LAMB. God always does things ON TIME and at His APPOINTED TIMES. Everything surrounding the first Passover observance in ancient Egypt was foreshadowing Him, the true Lamb to come that would save man from death by giving His own precious life as a sacrifice.

As Christians, we no longer observe this very special day as a memorial of deliverance of Israel from Egypt, but as a memorial of the death of our Lord who delivered us from eternal death. Don't neglect this meaningful memorial.



Should Christians Observe the Passover?

By: Larry R. Lasiter

Mention that you observe the Passover, but with New Testament symbols to most "Christians" and you will often be asked,- "Are you a Christian Jew?" It is the common conception today that Christianity observes Easter and only Jews observe the Passover. But Why?

Did you know that Jesus, Himself commanded that the Gentile converts to Christianity be taught to observe the NT Passover?

He most certainly did, and though it is easy to overlook, it is right there in your Bible.

A Little Background First

The Apostle Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, Notice,- "Seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles) just as Peter with the gospel to the circumcised (Israelites)." (Galatians 2:7)

Paul was not one of the original twelve Apostles, but was chosen by Jesus after the resurrection. In fact, Paul led a persecution against the early Christian converts, having many arrested. But on the road to Damascus the glorified Jesus struck Paul blind and revealed to him that He had indeed been the Messiah and commissioned him as Apostle to the Gentile converts. All but one of Paul's letters to the Churches were to predominately Gentile congregations.

 

Did Paul Teach Gentiles to Observe the Passover?

In his first letter to the Churches of God in the Gentile city of Corinth Paul wrote,- "For Christ, OUR PASSOVER also has been sacrificed. LET US therefore CELEBRATE THE FEAST, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the UNLEAVENED BREAD of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

Paul was not only teaching Gentile Christians to observe the Passover, but to "Celebrate the Feast" of UNLEAVENED BREAD which follows it. How can we know that Jesus instructed Paul to teach its observance? We will soon see in Chapter 11.

1 Corinthians is a "Letter" not a "Book"

What does that mean? It means that it was composed in a single time frame, and what is mentioned later may be connecting to something previously stated. And the letter was read in the Churches of Corinth from beginning to end in one sitting.

The reference to the Passover and Unleavened Bread in Chapter 5 would likely mean that the letter arrived in the spring about the time of their commanded observances.

There must have been a problem with HOW these new converts were observing the Passover, because later in his letter, Paul corrects them. It appears that some were bringing their own meals to eat before the actual Passover ceremony, and were eating freely in the presence of poorer brethren who had brought no food for themselves.

In Chapter 11, Verse 20, Paul reminds them that they are not coming together to eat the "Lord's Supper",- meaning that unlike the Jewish Passover where a lamb is eaten, that their "Lamb" is Jesus and His "meat" is unleavened bread.

Notice Verses 23-26,- "For I RECEIVED FROM THE LORD that which I ALSO DELIVERED TO YOU, that the Lord Jesus IN THE NIGHT IN WHICH HE WAS BETRAYED took BREAD; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said,- "THIS IS MY BODY which is for you, DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE of Me." In the same way He took THE CUP also, AFTER SUPPER, saying,- "THIS is the NEW COVENANT in MY BLOOD; DO THIS, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you PROCLAIM the LORD'S DEATH until He comes."

Notice carefully, that concerning the NT Passover observance, Paul said that he "DELIVERED" to the Gentile convertsthat which he had "RECEIVED" from the Lord.

Paul was not saying, "Do this ANYTIME or OFTEN." But "as often as you do" you proclaim the Lord's death. It is a memorial of the Lord's death. The memorial is 14th Nissan, the Passover, the same day the first Passover lamb was slain in Egypt which foreshadowed the blessed Lamb to come. Remember Paul instructing them to "Celebrate the Feast" of Unleavened Bread earlier in his letter? This shows when they were partaking of the Bread and the Wine,- it was at Passover. Notice also that this is the "New Covenant" ceremony for Christians to observe, in its appointed time.

"The Lord's APPOINTED TIMES which you shall proclaim as HOLY CONVOCATIONS,- MY APPOINTED TIMES ARE THESE. . .In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord's PASSOVER." (Leviticus 23:1,5)

On that first Passover in Egypt, a lamb was slain, its blood smeared on the front of the Israelites homes to protect them from DEATH which would pass through the land THAT EVENING.More than 1000 years later, a Lamb called Jesus gave His life on this very day, the Passover, the Lord's appointed time to spill the precious blood that would save the world. This year, 2003 it is the evening of April 15th.

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries