Do You Observe Passover or Easter?

Should Christians celebrate Passover or should they celebrate Easter?  The answer may seem quite obvious to some of you, but in reality this question has become quite a controversy in the Christian community over the past several years.  As Christians have learned more about the history of each holiday, an increasing number of Christians have been choosing to celebrate Passover rather than Easter.

But why would that be? After all, isn’t Passover a “Jewish” holiday and Easter a “Christian” holiday? Well, that is not really the case. In fact, the earliest Christians did not celebrate a holiday called “Easter” at all. Rather, they all celebrated Passover. Even after the original generation of apostles died off, many of the early church leaders still continued to observe Passover as described in the Torah, but other early church leaders of that next generation slowly started to move the celebration of Passover to Sunday.

In a letter to the head of the church of Rome, Irenaeus mentioned the controversy that took place when Polycarp tried to persuade Anicetus (a previous bishop of Rome) that the celebration of Passover should not be moved to Sunday…..

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other [with regard to the matter in hand], not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always [so] observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetusto keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace withthe whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not.

You see, Polycarp was one of the greatest leaders of the “2nd generation” of the early church. He had been a disciple of the apostle John himself, and Polycarp insisted that the church should continue to celebrate Passover on the 14th day of the Jewish calendar as the apostles had always done. In fact, the church historian Eusebius wrote that Polycarp observed Passover this way because “he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 1995, pp. 210-211). After Polycarp, another early church leader named Polycrates argued with Victor, the bishop of Rome, over this same issue.

The following are some excerpts from what Eusebius recorded regarding what Polycrates had to say to Victor:

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“There was a considerable discussion raised about this time, in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the observance of the paschal season. The churches of all Asia, guided by a remoter tradition, supposed that they ought to keep the fourteenth day of the moon for the festival of the Saviour’s passover, in which day the Jews were commanded to kill the paschal lamb”

“The bishops … of Asia, persevering in observing the custom handed down to them from their fathers, were headed by Polycrates. He, indeed, had also set forth the tradition handed down to them, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome. ‘We,’ said he, ‘therefore, observe the genuine day; neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again the day of the Lord’s appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints”

“Moreover, John, who rested upon the bosom of our Lord; … also Polycarpof Smyrna, both bishop and martyr. Thraseas, … Sagaris, … Papirius; and Melito … All these observed the fourteenthday of the passover according to the gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. Moreover, I, Polycrates, who am the least of all of you, according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have followed. For there were seven, my relatives [who were] bishops, andI am the eighth; and my relatives always observed the day when the people (i.e., the Jews) threw away the leaven.

“I, therefore, brethren, am now sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men'”

—–

So although there was an effort by the church of Rome to move the celebration of Passover to Sundays, those who were determined on practicing it as the first apostles had could not be moved off of the original observance. But eventually, during the time of Constantine, the leaders of the institutional church were strong-armed into observing Passover on a Sunday. Later this celebration came to be known as “Easter”.

But why should Christians celebrate Easter? After all, when did Yahshua die on the cross? (On the eve of Passover) When did Yahshua rise from the dead? (On First Fruits During the Feast of Unleavened Bread) What holiday foreshadowed the sacrifice of the lamb of God for hundreds of years before it happened? (Passover) So why do Christians celebrate a holiday known as Easter? In fact, do you even know what the word “Easter” means? Have you ever wondered where the word Easter originated? The truth might just shock you. Many of the old reference books actually contained the truth. The Britannica Encyclopedia (1934) defined Easter this way:

“EASTER (es’ter). Ostara, or Eastre, was the goddess of Spring in the religion of the ancient Angles andSaxons. Every April a festival was celebrated in her honor. With the beginnings of Christianity, the old gods were put aside. From then on the festival was celebrated in honor of the resurrection of Christ, but was still known as Easter after the old goddess.” So if this is the case, then why do Christians celebrate “Easter”? Well, the truth is that the story goes back a long way – all the way back to the ancient Middle East. Perhaps you have heard of “Isis” or “Ishtar” or “Ashtoreth” or “Asherah”.  They are ancient names for the same pagan fertility goddess. In fact, if you trace the various pagan fertility goddesses back far enough, they all trace back to Semiramis of ancient Babylon. Over time, “Ashtoreth” and “Asherah” became “Ishtar” which eventually became “Eastre” and then finally “Easter”. Some other names of “Easter” over the centuries included Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus, Astarte from ancient Greece, Demeter from Mycenae, Kali from India and Ostara, a Norse goddess of fertility.

In fact, pagans and Wiccans celebrate a holiday called “Ostara”to this very day.  In fact, “Ostara” was celebrated on March 20th in 2009. Well what about Easter eggs and Easter bunnies? Easter “eggs” and Easter bunnies are pagan fertility symbols that celebrate this pagan fertility goddess, and they have been used as symbols for her for thousands of years. The truth is stunning, eh? You see, “Easter” has nothing to do with Yahshua (Jesus). Yahshua (Jesus) died on the eve of Passover. In fact, the festival of Passover was a stunning prophetic picture of what would happen to the Messiah. In the “Old Testament”, God had His people go up to Jerusalem three times per year. One of those times was for Passover. During the very first Passover, God had the Jews take the blood of a lamb and put it on their doorposts so that the death angel would pass over their houses.

But why the doorposts? What are doorposts most commonly made of? Wood. Where does wood come from? From a tree. So the message of that very first Passover was that the blood of the lamb on the tree covers us from the wrath of God. Does that sound familiar? It should. It is the message of the cross – the blood of the lamb on the tree covers us from the wrath of God!

So for centuries upon centuries, God had His people gather in the exact city where Christ would die, at the exact time of the year when He would die, and He had them celebrate a holiday that perfectly foreshadowed the sacrifice of Yahshua (Jesus) the Messiah. So why have Christians rejected the festival of Passover? After all, it is a fact that Jesus celebrated Passover.  The Last Supper was actually a Passover meal (just look it up in the Scriptures). During the Last Supper Jesus said that from now on we were to celebrate that meal in memory of Him. And all of humanity will celebrate the Passover during the 1000 year reign of Yahshua. If you don’t believe this, just read Ezekiel chapters 45 and 46 which describe what life will be like during the 1000 year reign of the Messiah. But instead of celebrating Passover, most Christians today celebrate “Easter” just as ancient civilizations such as the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, and the Philistines did.  In fact, ritual pagan sex acts were often involved with the celebration of “Easter” in ancient times.  That doesn’t sound like much of a Christian holiday.

So why have Christians forsaken a holiday which predicted the sacrifice of Jesus, which is full of symbolism about Jesus, which is during the precise time when Jesus died and rose again and which God tells us in the Scriptures to remember? Why have Christians instead been celebrating a pagan fertility festival that is named after a pagan fertility goddess and is filled with pagan symbols and traditions?

I hope that this article has been very eye opening for you.  The reality is that there is a lot more to the holidays that we have been celebrating than we have ever been taught.  Don’t just take “holidays” for granted.  Learn where they came from and why you celebrate them.  Learn what the first Christians did and why they did it. Perhaps there are reasons why we don’t see the same type of power and miracles that the early Christians did.  Perhaps it is time to try to recapture the faith and practices of those early Christians.

Let us continue to learn more;

Although most who profess Christianity now celebrate it, Easter-Sunday was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor. They observed Passover.

Although the Bible does mention that Jesus was resurrected, it never once suggests that it be observed as some type of holiday. Jesus specifically mentioned that Christians were to observe the Passover as He did (Luke 22:14-20). Since few who profess Christianity observe the Passover, what happened?

A Roman Change

Beginning with possibly Telesphorus or possibly Hyginus or maybe Sixtus (there are no contemporaneous records, only an unclear report 5-6 decades later written by Irenaeus), what is now called Easter began to be observed in Rome. First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday. This is believed to have happened because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians seemed physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome and the Greeks in Jerusalem). I suspect they made this change because their fear of death was greater than their fear to violate God’s word.

Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)…

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians…

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to “the inclination to break away from Judaism.” In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid “even the semblance of Judaism” (Bacchiocchi S. God’s Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

J.B. Lightfoot himself specifically wrote:

But the Church of Ælia Capitolina was very differently constituted from the Church of Pella and the Church of Jerusalem…not a few doubtless accepted the conqueror’s terms, content to live henceforth as Gentiles…in the new city of Hadrian.  But there were others who hung to the law of their forefathers…

…the Churches of Asia Minor…regulated their Easter festival by the Jewish Passover without regard to the day of the week, but…those of Rome and Alexandria and Gaul observed another rule; thus avoiding even the semblance of Judaism (Lightfoot, Joseph Barber.  Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: A Revised Text with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations. Published by Macmillan, 1881. Original from Harvard University. Digitized Oct 16, 2006, pp. 317, 331).

It is likely that if Telesphorus made this change at the time to attempt to distance himself from the Jews in Rome. If he was the one who did it, and if he thought that this would spare his life, he was wrong as he was later killed by the Roman authorities (circa 136 A.D.). On the other hand, it is perhaps more likely that Hyginus, who was also Greek decided to introduce the Passover Sunday tradition, perhaps to decrease the wrath of the anti-Jewish Roman authorities. Since Anicetus’ account (see below) claimed that this practice was began by presbyters who preceded him, it would need to have been no later than the Greeks Telesphorus or Hyginus, as they were followed by Pius who was then followed by Anicetus (it probably did not originate with Sixtus as he preceded Telesphorus, he was not Greek, and he was dead circa 125 A.D.).

Irenaeus claimed that Anicetus of Rome (who argued with Polycarp) was following the practices previous Roman bishops, beginning with Sixtus, as Irenaeus around 180 A.D. wrote:

And the presbyters preceding Sorer in the government of the Church which thou dost now rule–I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus–did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

But because Sixtus was Roman and the change appeared to be a Greek one, Sixtus is not likely to have been the one to initiate a Sunday Passover.

Around 155 A.D. Polycarp of Smyrna went to Rome to deal with various heretics and he tried to persuade the bishop not to switch Passover to Easter Sunday. Irenaeus records this:

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Over time, instead of being a holy day in memorial to Christ’s sacrifice, Easter became a resurrection holiday.

This is known by scholars. Here is one account:

The first Christians celebrated the death of Jesus with a Pascha meal (eucharist) on the lunar date of the Jewish Passover (note 1 Cor. 5:7-8).

At first there was no annual celebration of the resurrection. Eventually, in the gentile world, the day of resurrection was added to the Pascha festival. That day was Sunday. At the Council of Nicea (325) it was ruled that Easter Sunday would be celebrated on the Sunday immediately following that full moon which came after the vernal equinox. At the same time the Council decided that the vernal equinox would be March 21 in the Julian calendar (Eusebius, Vit. Const. 3.18). (Synder GF. Irish Jesus, Roman Jesus: the formation of early Irish Christianity. Trinity Press International, 2002, p. 183)

So, for compromisers, the Passover changed. And it changed a lot.

Those who think that the compromise was only small and should have been acceptable to God should remember that the Apostle Paul warned:

7…Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:7-9).

Paul was warning Christians that they should not allow a little compromise with the world (apparently including arguments of friends/acquaintances) should affect them. Paul and the early Christians kept Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. They did not keep Easter.

The Orthodox View

The Orthodox Church reports this brief explanation in one of its timelines:

193 A.D. – Council of Rome, presided over by Bishop Victor, condemns the celebration of Pascha on Nisan 14, and addresses a letter to Polycrates of Ephesus and the Churches in Asia.

193 A.D. – Council of Ephesus, presided over by Bishop Polycrates, and attended by several bishops throughout Asia, reject the authority of Victor of Rome, and keep the Asian paschal tradition (Markou, Stavros L. K. An Orthodox Christian Historical Timeline. Copyright © 2003 OrthodoxFaith.com).

What Was Next?

Many decided to make the Roman/Greek change, with probably those in Alexandria the most supportive. Those in Asia Minor mainly refused to switch Passover to Sunday.

Even over a century later, there still were those, even amongst the Romans that wanted to observe it on the 14th of Nisan. This was distressing to Emperor Constantine and had this as an agenda item for the Council of Nicea that he had convened in 325 A.D.:

…the emperor…convened a council of 318 bishops…in the city of Nicea…They passed certain ecclesiastical canons at the council besides, and at the same time decreed in regard to the Passover that there must be one unanimous concord on the celebration of God’s holy and supremely excellent day. For it was variously observed by people… (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp.471-472). A Sunday date was selected, instead of Nisan 14 (which can fall on any day of the week).

According to Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Roman emperor Constantine:

Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.

I do not recall Jesus indicating that Jews were detestable (He was a Jew) or that He changed the date of Passover. But apparently sun-worshipping Constantine felt otherwise. And the Sunday observance is now known as Easter. But because sun-worshiping practices and the avoidance of practice that were considered to “Jewish” that is really why Easter is observed when it is.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1170 At the Council of Nicea 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 (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 332).

However, Constantine’s and Council declarations did not stop everyone from properly observing Passover (it also should be noted that “all the Churches” did not agree as no bishop from any the faithful churches attended this Council–for more details see article on Passover). Because many did not accept this Sunday decree, a later Roman Emperor decreed the death penalty:

Edicts of Theodosius against the heretics, A.D. 380-394…Theodosius…decreed that…by the death of the offender; and the same capital punishment was inflicted on the Audians, or Quartodecimans, who should dare to perpetrate the atrocious crime of celebrating on an improper day the festival of Easter {Passover} (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788).

Is killing those that followed the example of Jesus and John to observe the Passover on the 14th instead of Easter Sunday a sign of a true Christian leader or a sign of supporting antichrist?

Another Roman Catholic supporter wrote this about the Council of Nicea a few decades later:

Three hundred Fathers or even more gathered together in the land of Bithynia and ordained this by law; yet you disdain their decrees. You must choose one of two courses: either you charge them with ignorance for their want of exact knowledge on this matter, or you charge them with cowardice because they were not ignorant, but played the hypocrite and betrayed the truth. When you do not abide by what they decreed, this is exactly the choice you must make. But all the events of the Council make it clear that they showed great wisdom and courage at that time. The article of faith they set forth at the Council show how wise they were…At that time the whole synodal gathering, welded together from these champions, along with their definition of what Christians must believe, also passed a decree that they celebrate the paschal feast in harmony together. They refused to betray their faith in those most difficult times [of persecution]; would they sink to pretense and deceit on the question of the Easter observance? (5) Look what you do when you condemn Fathers so great, so courageous, so wise (John Chrysostom. Homily III Against the Jews, III:3,4-5. Preached at Antioch, Syria in September, 386 AD).

So it is an article of faith that Roman Catholic bishops had the authority to change the scriptural date of Passover and make it an Easter celebration, even though Constantine said part of why he wanted it to have nothing in common with those he called the detestable Jewish crowd?

But this was simply not the faith of the true second century Christians in Asia Minor as Polycrates testified. The last words of his response to Roman bishop Victor about changing the date of Passover to Easter Sunday was:

I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man.’ (Polycrates. Letter to Victor. As quoted by Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24) .

Easter itself is not a Christian term, and its celebration contains pagan elements. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

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…Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter…The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method…For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip.

In the rest of the empire another consideration predominated. Every Sunday of the year was a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, which had occurred on a Sunday. Because the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, at Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter…

Men and women…In the Neumark (Germany) on Easter Day the men servants whip the maid servants with switches; on Monday the maids whip the men. They secure their release with Easter eggs. These customs are probably of pre-Christian origin (Reinsberg-Düringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 118)…

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

(Holweck F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, the Romans admit that the name Easter is the name of a pagan goddess, many of its practices are of pagan origin, and that the churches in Asia Minor (which they call the Orient) continued to observe Passover on the date that the Jews did, Nisan 14.

The Bible itself also condemns certain practices, now associated with Easter, such as hot Easter buns/cakes (Jeremiah 7:14), the worship towards the sun in the east (Ezekiel 8:15-18), and the worship of Astarte/Ishtar/Ashtaroth (other spellings of the word Easter).

Even Protestant commentaries note that:

Jeremiah 7…Cakes to the queen of heaven (v. 18). Probably a reference to the Babylonian fertility-goddess Ishtar, goddess of the planet Venus (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).

Jeremiah 7… What the sin is with which they are here charged-it is idolatry, v. 18. Their idolatrous respects are paid to the queen of heaven, the moon, either in an image or in the original, or both. They worshipped it probably under the name of Ashtaroth, or some other of their goddesses (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.).

Thus, both Catholic and Protestant scholars acknowledge that Easter/Ishtar/Ashtaroth worship contains pagan elements.

Notice what the Encyclopedia Britannica stated in 1910:

There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers…The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals, though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to it of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb and the first fruits from the dead, continued to be observed (Easter. In: The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information Edition: 11 Published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910 Item notes: v. 8 Original from Harvard University Digitized Jul 24, 2008, p. 828).

The biblical Passover has to do with the Lamb of God being killed for our sins–and early Christians kept that, not Easter.

Easter, which is named after the pagan goddess Ishtar, has to do with a fertility festival involving rabbits and looking to the east in early morning as pagans did. Those who actually keep Passover can have a much better understanding of the plan of God than those who follow supposedly “Christianized” pagan holidays.

Was There Any Type of Sunday Observance?

Ronald Dart of Christian Education Ministries noted that there was a Jewish/Christian observance on the Sunday after the Passover crucifixion:

On the evening after the Sabbath was over, the very first sheaf of grain of the early harvest was cut from the ground. It was prepared that night by threshing the barley from the chaff and then parching it over a fire. The next morning, the priest lifted an omer of the grain to God as the presentation of the firstfruits of the harvest. Now, compare this to Christian theology of the resurrection.But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

It is clear enough that, in referring to “Christ the firstfruits, Paul is referring directly to that first sheaf offered on the morning after the Sabbath by the priest. His wording leaves no room for doubt. James will refer to this as well: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). What we see here is Christ as the first of the firstfruits in the resurrection, with the remainder of the firstfruits to follow at his coming.

So this particular Sunday was important to both Jews and Christians. To Jews, it was the day of the offering of the firstfruits, the first day of the seven weeks to the Feast of Firstfruits. To Christians, it was the morning of Jesus’ presentation to the Father and of his first appearances to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead. And it was the first day of the seven weeks to Pentecost.

For the first Christians, the symbolism of the Jewish observance was seen to point directly to Christ. The connection was clear and strong from the start. The early church had not adopted a calendar different from that of the Jewish majority in the first century, the calendar was crucial, because it defined the time of observance of the feasts. There is not a word in the New Testament to suggest any change from the Jewish observance…so the comparison between liturgy and events was, to them, even more apparent.Now consider this carefully. This Sunday was celebrated early on as the day of Christ’s first appearances after his resurrection. It was an anniversary that appeared on the Jewish calendar on the first Sunday after Passover every year. As explained in the last chapter, every place in the New Testament where you see the expression “The first day of the week” it is referring, not to a Sunday, but to a singular day of the year. The first day of the seven Sabbaths or weeks leading up to Pentecost. It is an annual, not a weekly observance. It was, for want of a better term, “wave sheaf Sunday” (Dart R. From Passover to Easter. April 12, 2006).

What professing Christians often seem to forget is that the Bible shows that Jesus ascended to the Father on the Sunday after the Passover the year He was crucified. And that, not the resurrection itself, was observed by some Christians.

Easter Sunday is THE ROMAN 14th

For those of you who are not Roman Catholic, and even for those of you who are, do you realize that when you observe Easter when you do that you are supposedly observing the resurrection on a date based upon when Passover is supposed to fall? You ARE NOT keeping the wave sheaf Sunday.

And for you non-Roman Catholics, do you realize that when you observe Easter when you do that you are clearly accepting the authority of the Roman Church for that date?

In addition to what the Roman leaders declared in the second to fourth centuries which was mentioned previously, the writing from the Roman Catholic supporting Epiphanius may be of interest here. Epiphanius wrote:

The Quartodecimans contentiously keep Passover on the one day, once per year…They keep the Passover on whichever day the fourteenth of the month falls…Christ had to be slain on the fourteenth of the month in accordance with the law (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section IV, Verses 1,3;1,6;2,6. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp. 23-25).

It is of interest to note that Epiphanius recognized that Jesus HAD to be slain on the 14th of the month. It is sad that he and others did not believe they needed to observe it when and how Jesus taught.

But you may be saying to yourself, so what? What does that have to do with Easter Sunday? Well in order to try to justify the Sunday observance, that noted Catholic leader claimed the following:

We observe the fourteenth day, then, but we wait until after the equinox and bring the end of our full observance to the sacred Lord’s day…we will miss no one of the observances of this life-giving <festival> of the Passover as the whole truth prescribes them (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section IV, Verses 3,4. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, p. 25).

Now this should cause major concern for people who observe Easter Sunday.

First, it truly is supposed to be some type of Passover observation. Thus this holiday really is supposed to have its “Jewish” name, instead of the pagan one it now is commonly called in English and German.

Second, Epiphanius is admitting that none of the Passover observances are to be missed. So why don’t Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics wash feet? Why do they generally not take wine as part of their observances?

Thirdly, any who observe Easter Sunday are truly submitting to the authority of the Roman Church as this change of date, emphasis, and observation is due to the decisions of Roman Catholic supporting leaders–it in no way comes from the Bible.

I should also add here that Sunday IS NOT the Lord’s day according to the Bible (an article of related interest may be Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?).

Furthermore, contrary to the insistence of many who rely on a misunderstanding of the Bible and/or traditions of men, Jesus was not and could not have been resurrected on a Sunday. For biblical and historical proof, please read the article What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? 

Furthermore, even though the Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox observe Sunday, the Orthodox use a calendar calculation more based upon the Bible than the Catholics and Protestants do. Notice why:

Montreal’s Eastern Orthodox Christian community – Greeks, Ukrainians, Russians, Serbians, Armenians and Romanians – is observing Holy Week…There are 11 major Orthodox churches in Montreal, serving about 100,000 people. The differences among them are ethnic or linguistic, not theological.

The spiritual focus today is one of quiet mourning, solemn meditation and strict fasting, recalling Jesus’s entombment.

Pascha, or Easter, will be celebrated after midnight tonight.

The two Christian communities – Orthodox and Western rite – observe Easter vigils on different dates because they follow different calendars.

Orthodox churches rely on lunar cycles to fix the date for Easter. The rest of the Christian world accepts the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

(Eastern Orthodox faithful celebrate Easter tomorrow. The Gazette, Montreal – April 26, 2008. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=db21a78e-edc1-408d-bbd8-3ea9aa570086).

Hence, Protestants are truly accepting a late date, one finalized by a pope after the Reformation!

Five Fatal Flaws

Wyatt Ciesielka of the Living Church of God reported the following, which he called Easter’s five fatal flaws:

Let us briefly review five fatal flaws of Easter:

1)      Jesus was not resurrected Sunday morning.  A careful study of Scripture reveals that Jesus was in the tomb exactly three days and three nights as He promised He would be.  To deny this is to reject Christ’s one and only claim to be the Messiah (Matthew 12:39-40)!  Jesus died on a Wednesday afternoon, just before the “annual Sabbath” known as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  He was buried and then resurrected 72 hours later, just before the end of the weekly Sabbath (near the end of the day, Saturday). 

2)      Sunrise worship services are indeed found in your Bible, and they are condemned as pagan “abominations” to God.  Sunrise worship was an integral part of the Babylonish Mystery Religion and was core in worshipping Semiramis and her infant son, Tammuz.  Semiramis claimed that Tammuz was Nimrod reborn as the Messiah.  Later, Semiramis was represented as the goddess Astarte (or Ishtar), the “queen of heaven.” 

Read Ezekiel 8:14-16 where the glory of the Lord shows the ancient Israelites committing an “abomination” by “weeping for Tammuz” during sunrise worship services (v. 16)!  Worship of Semiramis (“the mother of god”) and Tammuz (a counterfeit Messiah) continues today in the form of Easter Sunrise services. 

3)      Your Bible sternly condemns anyone who adopts pagan practices, regardless whether or not someone claims that they keep these customs “to honor Jesus.”  Jeremiah 10:2 commands us to “Learn not the way of the heathen” and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 demands that we do not follow the “traditions of men.” 

4)      Claiming we somehow “honor” Jesus by pagan practice simply defies common sense and sound reason.  Analogies are rarely entirely adequate, but consider this question.  If you knew that your human father enjoyed steak and potatoes as a special dinner … and that he hated ham sandwiches … but you refused to make steak and potatoes for him and instead kept making him ham sandwiches … could a rational person really argue that you are honoring or loving your human father by continually trying to serve him ham sandwiches? 

God has shown how He wants to be worshipped through His weekly Sabbath and annual biblical Holy Days.  Yet while perhaps well-intended, many supposed Christians and supposed Christian ministers and priests reject God’s Holy Days and claim to show their love to their Lord and their Heavenly Father by continually trying to serve Him with what He calls revolting, pagan and abominable!  Jesus asks these people, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

5)      Finally, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 22:15 condemn those who practice these pagan and idolatrous customs as not being allowed in the Kingdom of God!  

(Ciesielka W. Easter’s five fatal flaws. LCG Commentary, 03/20/10).

And another that he did not mention is simply that the Bible enjoins the observation of Passover, not humanly-devised substitutes, like Easter.

Even secular sources are aware that Easter has many pagan practices:

The pagan roots of Easter

From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter

The Guardian, UK – April 3, 2010     by Heather McDougall

Easter is a pagan festival. If Easter isn’t really about Jesus, then what is it about? Today, we see a secular culture celebrating the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. However, early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises, most of which we enjoy today at Easter. The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus. Born on 25 December, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers celebrated the spring equinox. Even as late as the 4th century AD, the sol invictus, associated with Mithras, was the last great pagan cult the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life.

In an ironic twist, the Cybele cult flourished on today’s Vatican Hill. Cybele’s lover Attis, was born of a virgin, died and was reborn annually. This spring festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday, rising to a crescendo after three days, in rejoicing over the resurrection…

What is interesting to note here is that in the ancient world, wherever you had popular resurrected god myths, Christianity found lots of converts. So, eventually Christianity came to an accommodation with the pagan Spring festival. Although we see no celebration of Easter in the New Testament,…today many churches are offering “sunrise services” at Easter – an obvious pagan solar celebration…

All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are very ancient too. In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/apr/03/easter-pagan-symbolism

Yet, some still observe it.

Is Easter a Doctrine of Antichrist?

The idea of Easter being on a Sunday led to the acceptance of Sunday worship by most who professed Christ.

The only person in scripture to actually use the terms Antichrist or antichrists was the Apostle John.

John claimed to faithfully teach what Jesus taught:

This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true (John 21:24).

Regarding antichrists, call that John taught,

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:18-19).

So what may have been the first specific departure from the practices of John that we have a historical record of (involving John’s name)?

The changing of the date of Passover to Easter!

As mentioned before, several decades after the Apostle John’s death, his disciple Polycarp went to Rome to and objected to the Roman practice of changing Passover from an observance on the 14th of Nisan, to a Sunday observance (see Fragments of Irenaeus).

But Roman Bishop Anicetus refused to accept the warning and switch back to the biblical date. Bishop Victor condemned the Christians in Asia Minor for holding to the practices of the Apostle John in this area.

Later, Constantine tried to force Easter Sunday on his empire. Pagan practices also in and were accepted by his followers. Yet, the opponents of Easter were not wiped out.

After making a political arrangement with a king in England, the Roman Pontiff Vitalin learned that those in the Celtic areas still observed the Biblical passover. Notice the following report:

Pope Vitalin…supported efforts of the king of Northumbria, following the Synod of Whitby (664), to establish in England the Roman, as opposed to the Celtic, date for Easter (that is the Sunday after the Jewish Passover, rather than the Passover itself) and other Roman practices as well (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p. 109).

Notice that the above account (written by a Catholic priest and scholar) acknowledges that Rome changed Passover in Britian from the biblical date (which apparently the Celts observed into the 7th century) to the Roman date.

Since the Apostle John kept Passover, and warned that those who professed Christ and did not continue with him were antichrists, might not Easter be a doctrine of Antichrist.

Conclusion

Easter was simply not observed by early Christians, nor those who felt that they needed to obey the God of the Bible rather than men.

Easter was a result of compromise with scripture and paganism, combined with fear of man and antisemitism. Passover observance was backed by both the Old and New Testaments, as well as by the early Christians who claimed to be following the teachings of the apostles and the Bible.

The focus on Easter eggs and bunnies is of pagan origin. Easter is not a truly Christian holiday, nor one actually endorsed in the Bible.

Four articles of related interest may be:

Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?
Passover and the Early Church
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? 
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

 

The answer should now be quite clear. Christians should observe Passover, as Yeshua, Christ our Saviour did, as Paul and the apostles did, as the earliest believers did before the faith was high jacked and corrupted by the blasphemous whores of Rome. It should be clear now, no excuses, that even if not Roman Catholic, and you observe “Easter?” You are following the church of Rome, the pagan observances, and not those of Scripture, or those of our Lord. True believers should have nothing to do with the pagan festival called “Easter.”

Ken

 

3 Responses to Do You Observe Passover or Easter?

  1. Patty April 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM #

    But, but, but it’s just like Christmas, Ken. It’s “for the kids.”

    They refuse to accept that they are dragging “the kids” straight to the gates of hell. See 2Peter 3:3-18.

    Chag Sameach.

    • kenpullen April 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM #

      Chag Samech to you dear sister, and thank you for being spot on again, and for providing the Scripture you did. We must all always turn to God’s Word to have His will revealed to us, and in that Living True Word we will find everything we need. And no where to my knowledge does it say to permit children to rule this world, or to observe pagan festivals, take part in idol worship, or to offer ourselves up to false gods – all of which far too many professed believers take part in, as they permit their children to rule the roost, and observe every pagan celebration made justified by the whores of Rome that comes down the pike! Always, always, always with their excuses!

      Each day, frequently throughout the day, I ask God to please lead me to be pleasing and acceptable to Him. Not to this world. Not to the people here. The institutions here. The churches here. But to be pleasing and acceptable unto Him and to have my feet placed upon the path of righteousness. Not this world. While I see believers mainly concerned with the words, traditions, and will of men – not God.

      Soon all will know. All will see. Soon. Very soon.

      Ken

      As always, please continue to come and visit this place, and always feel free to comment and contribute. Thank you.

      Ken

  2. Anja Likos May 10, 2011 at 10:32 PM #

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

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