Confusion abounds this time of year over the celebration of Passover, Easter, or “Resurrection Sunday” . So many customs of foreign gods have been introduced into Christianity, and Christians tend to not pay attention to which god’s traditions they meld into their religious practices. Easter is a celebration of the fertility goddess, Easter, which it is named after, complete with her eggs and rabbits. This springtime feast day has nothing to do with Pasach, a Biblical holiday remembering Israel’s escape from Egypt and the crucifixion of our Lord as the Passover lamb.
The following is the definition of Easter from the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature:
(πάσχα, a Greek form of the Hebrews פֵּסִח, and so Latinized by the Vulgate pascha), i.e., Passover. Easter is a word of Saxon origin, and imports a goddess of the Saxons, or, rather, of the East, Estera, in honor of whom sacrifices being annually offered about the Passover time of the year (spring), the name became attached by association of ideas to the Christian festival of the resurrection, which happened at the time of the Passover: hence we say Easter-day, Easter Sunday,, but very improperly; as we by no means refer the festival then kept to the goddess of the ancient Saxons. So the present German word for Easter Ostern, is referred to the same goddess, Estera or Ostera.
The name Easter became associated with the resurrection, but “very improperly”. Even the world “Passover” was a well meaning word coined by William Tyndale in the first English translation of the Bible. These words were not used by the early church. The early church also had no part of the fertility rites associated with the goddess Easter, whose counterpart would have been Diana or Artemis in the first century.
Act 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
Act 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
Act 19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
Act 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
Act 19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
Does it make sense to celebrate a festival with eggs and rabbits associated with the goddess of the Ephesians which Paul was preaching against? The Jerusalem church council wrote a letter to the new converts of paganism, very likely to those celebrating the festival of Easter or Diana.
Act 15:19 Therefore I conclude we should not cause difficulty for those from among the Gentiles who turn to God,
Act 15:20 but we should write a letter to them to abstain from the pollution of idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood.
Act 15:21 For Moses has those who proclaim him in every city from ancient generations, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
The early church most definitely celebrated Pasach, or what is called Passover in English. The controversy that arose was on which day to celebrate, not what was being celebrated. The Eastern churches followed the example set by the Apostles John and Philip.
The following is from the Nicene and Post Nicene Series 2, Book 1, Chapter XXIV.—The Disagreement in Asia.
- But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him:
- “We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate.
- He fell asleep at Ephesus.
- And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna.
- Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius,or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead?
- All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven.
- 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.’”
It is a weighty witness to have the proper day to celebrate handed down by the Apostles John and Philip. We can only speculate why the church at Rome was celebrating a different day, but it could be their disdain for anything remotely Jewish as the emperor made clear in the letter to the bishops around the time of the Council of Nice.
From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council.
(Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18–20.)
When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally
thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom, 113 we may transmit to our des-cendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week]. We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all im- provements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [theJews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired [to establish] only one Catholic Church. Think, then, how unseemly it is, that on the same day some should be fasting whilst others are seated at a banquet; and that after Easter, some should be rejoicing at feasts, whilst others are still observing a strict fast.
Even if a person decides to abandon the pagan practices of Easter and celebrate the feast on the same day as the Aposltes John and Philip, one has to determine which day is the fourteenth day of the passover “according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith”. Many people, trying their best to watch the Biblical signs for the first of the year, have created many calendars. Some reckon the full moon as the start of the month, where others use the new moon. Some use the sliver sighting of the moon and others use the conjunction of the moon. The best explanation I have heard is that the Biblical authority to set the calendar comes from the Levitical priesthood and high priest. There is no longer a Levitical priest system or temple, so we use the last calendar they had, the same one used in the first century. Here is a copy of the calendar we use for the most part:
I do not believe I have the authority to make up what day the fourteenth of Nisan falls on. Also, do not be confused, we are doing this feast as a memorial. The Pasach lamb is now on the throne.
Deu 16:5 You are not allowed to offer the Passover sacrifice in one of your towns that Yahweh your God is giving to you,
Deu 16:6 but only at the place that Yahweh your God will choose, to let his name dwell there; you shall offer the Passover sacrifice in the evening at sunset, at the designated time of your going out from Egypt.
There is no way to do this feast as commanded in the Torah. There is no temple and no Levitical priest system. Paul tells us how we are to keep the feast.
1Co 5:7 Clean out the old leaven in order that you may be a new batch of dough, just as you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
1Co 5:8 So then, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old leaven or with the leaven of wickedness and sinfulness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
On the fourteenth of Nisan, we will have our memorial supper. We also remove the leaven and eat unleavened bread for the feast as it tells us to do.
Lev 23:5 In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month at the evening is Yahweh’s Passover.
Lev 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of this month is Yahweh’s Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.
Lev 23:7 On the first day there shall be a holy assembly for you; you shall not do any regular work.
Once a person understands these feasts and leaves the pagan traditions of the church, it will be easy to see how the Messiah was not crucified on a Friday and did not rise on a Sunday morning. There are two Sabbaths in the week of Passover. Yahusha was crucified on Passover, which means the next day was the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:7, “On the first day there shall be a holy assembly for you; you shall not do any regular work.”.
This corresponds with John’s account. That Sabbath was an “important day” because it was the first day of Unleavened Bread.
Joh 19:31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an important day), asked Pilate that their legs could be broken and they could be taken away.
This means Yahusha was buried on a Wednesday before the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. He rose three days and three nights later at the end of the weekly Sabbath. Sorry you have been lied to about the whole Friday and Sunday scenario.
2Ti 4:3 For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers, because they have an insatiable curiosity,
2Ti 4:4 and they will turn away from the hearing of the truth, but will turn to myths.
Pasach is one of the main feasts celebrated by early Christians. Thankfully, we have a record from early church leaders to make clear how the Apostles continued to celebrate this feast after the death and resurrection of Messiah Yahusha. Leave behind the myths of foreign gods that the church has handed us through hundreds of years of corruption and let’s celebrate the feast “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.
The featured image is by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash.
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