Tag Archives: Easter

Evidence that Passover was celebrated by the Early Church

In a time where Good Friday and Easter is celebrated by Christians worldwide, rarely do we hear of a celebration of Passover. But this was not always the case. Writings of Early Church Fathers prove that the 14th Day was even celebrated in the 2nd Century BC. Specifically between the year 150 and 155, there was a discussion between the Church of Rome and Church of Asia about the celebration of Passover and the completion of a fast which was practiced in their day. Eusibius of Caesarea, who was a scholar and historian of Christianity, and who was known as the “Father of Church History” records this as seen below.

In his account, we see Polycrates – a Bishop of the Asian Church testifying that Passover was to be celebrated on the “14th Day of the moon” when the “leaven was put away” and that the Apostles Philip & John among others observed Passover on that Day handing it down to everyone in the Church of Asia. Polycrates also mentions that a multitude of Bishops gave their consent to the same letter addressed to the Church of Rome.

Victor the head of Rome would try to excommunicate the Church of Asia (this would subsequently come to pass in 1054 as the East-West Schism) but was rebuked by others who felt it was necessary to keep the peace. Finally the 2 centers would agree to disagree, but with the rise of Rome, Asia would be sidelined till 200 years later Constantine the great would rule after the Council of Nicea, against the Passover and in favor of Easter (Eusebius, Life of Constantine Vol. 3 Chapter 18). Even in the 2nd century, when Polycrates made his case, It is unclear whether the Church of Rome understood what Passover meant and what the significance of the Sunday after Passover (The day of Firstfruits) was.

Considered passages from Church History of Eusebius – Book V

For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover. (Chap 23. Ver 1)

But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. 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. (Chap 24. Ver 1-6)

And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him. (Chap 24 Ver 16)

Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus, and with them Cassius, bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them, having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles, at the close of their writing add these words: “Endeavor to send copies of our letter to every church, that we may not furnish occasion to those who easily deceive their souls. We show you indeed that also in Alexandria they keep it on the same day that we do. For letters are carried from us to them and from them to us, so that in the same manner and at the same time we keep the sacred day.” (Chap 25:1,2)

Conclusion
We see that there is significant evidence to say that the Passover preceded any other tradition and that it was handed down by the apostles as per witnesses from the Church of Asia. Even though all traces of the Passover would cease to exist in Christianity with the rise of the Roman Church, the history books are clear – Passover was the day celebrated by the Apostles such as John and Philip after the death of Yeshua and was the only tradition handed down to them in commemoration of the Passover of our Lord.

——————————————————————————————————————————

The full account – Church History of Eusebius – Book V
Chapter 23. The Question then agitated concerning the Passover.
1. A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover. It was therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be. But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this time, as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour.
2. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all, with one consent, through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree, that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other but the Lord’s day, and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on this day only. There is still extant a writing of those who were then assembled in Palestine, over whom Theophilus, bishop of Cæsarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem, presided. And there is also another writing extant of those who were assembled at Rome to consider the same question, which bears the name of Bishop Victor; also of the bishops in Pontus over whom Palmas, as the oldest, presided; and of the parishes in Gaul of which Irenæus was bishop, and of those in Osrhoëne and the cities there; and a personal letter of Bacchylus, bishop of the church at Corinth, and of a great many others, who uttered the same opinion and judgment, and cast the same vote.
3. And that which has been given above was their unanimous decision.

Chapter 24. The Disagreement in Asia.
1. 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:
2. 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.
3. He fell asleep at Ephesus.
4. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna.
5. 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?
6. 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.
7. 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.’ Acts 5:29
8. He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows:
“I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus.”
9. Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.
10. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.
11. Among them was Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom and after many other words he proceeds as follows:
12. For the controversy is not only concerning the day, but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night.
13. And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to their own simplicity and peculiar mode. Yet all of these lived none the less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.
14. He adds to this the following account, which I may properly insert:
Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church which you now rule. We mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it.
15. But none were ever cast out on account of this form; but the presbyters before you who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of other parishes who observed it.
16. And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him.
17. But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect. And they parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.
18. Thus Irenæus, who truly was well named, became a peacemaker in this matter, exhorting and negotiating in this way in behalf of the peace of the churches. And he conferred by letter about this mooted question, not only with Victor, but also with most of the other rulers of the churches.
Chapter 25. How All came to an Agreement respecting the Passover.
1. Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus, and with them Cassius, bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them, having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles, at the close of their writing add these words:
2. “Endeavor to send copies of our letter to every church, that we may not furnish occasion to those who easily deceive their souls. We show you indeed that also in Alexandria they keep it on the same day that we do. For letters are carried from us to them and from them to us, so that in the same manner and at the same time we keep the sacred day.”

——————————————————————————————————————————

A biblically accurate graphical timeline of Christ’s Death, Burial & Resurrection

As millions of Christians get ready to commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection, some are still unclear on the details of what exactly transpired almost 2000 years ago. Yes, He died and rose from the dead – but what prophetic signs were fulfilled? Are those signs important? Does a Friday death make sense? All of these questions are simply answered by going through the four Gospel narratives. Click on the timeline below, and see whether it makes sense in bringing a bit more clarity to the death, burial & resurrection of our Messiah.

Passion-Week-01

Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of Christ

One, if not, the most important day for any person who is a believer of Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus), would be the day He rose from the dead. The whole Christian Faith hangs on this single fact. The fact that His body did not decay, and that He was victorious over Death, bringing Life after Death, to all of us.

Our findings on the day of His Death known and commemorated as “Good Friday” led us to see that, He actually could not have died on a Friday, and how the Gospels provided us with the necessary information to conclude that He, in fact died on a Passover eve(which was not a Friday at all), becoming our spotless and unblemished Passover Lamb.

In the same way, we need to check the Bible for necessary clues on our Messiah’s Resurrection and also find out answers for some of the questions such as:  What is the Origin of Easter? Did Yeshua rise on Sunday? Does it matter what we call His Resurrection day? In addition, we will also study the Scriptures to find out how Father God had given the Feast/Appointed Days to His people, to signify the coming Messiah.

Origin of the Name Easter
Most writers assert that “Easter came from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre. based on the writings of a scholarly monk known as St. Bede (672 or 673–735). Other researchers suggest that the word Easter comes from Eostur, an old Norse word for spring. Another asserts that it comes from an old Germanic and Anglo-Saxon word for “east.” Some early scholars delved even further back into the history of the word Easter. For example, nineteenth-century folklorists discovered striking similarities between the Germanic root words for “dawn” and the name of the goddess Eostre. They noted, too, that the names for the ancient Roman, Greek, and Indian dawn goddesses, Aurora, Eos, and Ushas, evolved from the same root word. Encyclopedia of Easter Carnival & Lent by Tanya Gulevich, Easter – Origin of the word, Pg92,

Others claim that Easter is connected to a Pagan Goddess named “Astarte“, “Ashtaroth“, “Semiramis” and “Ishtar” in different cultures, according to “Alexander Hislop – The Two Babylons“, “Athenagoras – Legatio” and “Lucian – De Dea Syria“. Ashtaroth, called the goddess of the Zidonians, is specifically mentioned in Judges 2:13, 10:6, 1Sam 7:3,4, 12:10, 1Kin 11:5,33, 23:13. Traditions taught to children like “Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies” have no foundations in scripture, and may even have connections to Pagan deities of Fertility.

The word Easter in the Bible
The word “Easter” is only seen in the English KJV Bible in Acts 12:4. It is substituted for the Greek word “pascha” (Strong’s Greek Conc. – G3957 – πάσχα – pascha – pas’-khah – Meaning the Passover -the meal, the day, the festival or the special sacrifices connected with it). This means that the word “Easter” was a later addition to the English Translation of the Bible, which did not exist in the Original Greek Manuscripts. Acts 12:4 should read “… intending after Passover to bring him forth to the people”, not as “… intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people”. With this verse out of the way, there is no mention of “Easter” anywhere in the Bible.

The Danger
I do not claim to know for sure that “Easter” originates from a name of a Pagan god. But we must agree on the fact that calling our “Messiah’s Resurrection”, “Easter” was a tradition later adapted to Christianity. If it does originate from Pagan goddess worship, we are in danger of using something that was used to worship other gods, to worship Our Creator –  God Almighty. In Deut 12:30,31 God specifically instructed His People not to worship Him, in the ways other people worship their Gods.

Some could say, Is God so petty? Will God really care? Doesn’t the commemoration of the day matter more than what it is called? Each of us will have to make that Decision for ourselves. I would be safe than sorry, and stand clear of anything that can be Pagan, when it comes to worshiping God Almighty.

Did Yeshua Rise on Sunday?
As we discussed earlier on the post, “Good Friday or Passover”, we learnt that Yeshua in fact, died on “Passover” which was not a “Friday”. (I highly recommend that you read this post before moving onto “Easter”, as some of the things discussed here will have strong connections to facts studied on that post). Given below is a short summary for whoever thinks of skipping that Article.

———————————————- Start of Short Summary ———————————————-

A few Biblical Facts
1)
A Biblical day consists of 12 Hours of Day and 12 Hours of Night (John 11:9)
2) The Biblical day is from one Sundown to the next Sundown (Lev 23:32, Neh 13:19, Judge 14:12,18, Luk 23:54, Joh 19:31)
3) We know that Yeshua for a fact died on the Evening of the Passover. (John 18:28, 19:14)
4) Yeshua died around the 9th Hour of the Passover day (3pm in Modern day time)
(Mat 27:46-50, Mar 15:33-37, Luk 23:44-46)
5) Yeshua said that He will be in the Tomb for 3 days & 3 nights (Mat 12:40, 17:23, 20:19, 26:61, 27:40,63,64, Mar 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, 15:29, Luke 9:22, 18:33, 24:7,21,46, Joh 2:19)

A very brief look at the Feast/Appointment of Passover which God gave Israel
1)
God told Israel to Kill the Passover Lamb on the Evening of the 14th day of the 1st Month (Ex 12:2,6, Lev 23:5, Num 9:3)
2) God told Israel to eat the Lamb with Unleavened Bread and Bitter Herbs
(Ex 12:8, 13:3, Num 9:11)
3) God told Israel to eat bread that is Unleavened for 7 days after the Passover
(Ex 12:15, 13:7, Deut 16:3)
4) God told Israel that the 1st day and 7th day of this week of Unleavened Bread were days where you rest from regular work (Ex 12:16, Lev 23:6,7,8, Num 28:18,25) Special Sabbath*

Yeshua died before the High/Special Sabbath(John 19:31). His body was in the Tomb for 3 Days and 3 Nights(Mat 12:40). He rose after the Fixed Saturday Sabbath(Mt 28:1-6, Mar 16:2-4, Luke 24:1-3, Joh 20:1,2).
Since Passover can fall on different days of the week each year, “in that Particular year in which Yeshua died”, for all the Scriptures to not have any inconsistencies, Passover would have fallen on a Wednesday. (Passover does not fall on Wednesday each year. I am in no way saying that we should start commemorating Yeshua’s death on Wednesday instead of Friday. My thought is that we should commemorate Passover which does not fall on Friday each year, which is a commemoration given by God in Lev 23).

Wednesday – 14th of 1st Month – Passover (Yeshua dies and is buried before Sundown/start of Sabbath)
Thursday – 15th of 1st Month – 1st day of Unleavened Bread – High/Special Sabbath
Friday – 16th of 1st Month – 2nd day of Unleavened Bread
Saturday – 17th of 1st Month – 3rd day of Unleavened Bread – Fixed /Regular Sabbath
Sunday – 18th of 1st Month – By the time the women came, Yeshua had risen

Wednesday Sundown to Thursday Sundown – 1st Day (1Day + 1Night)
Thursday Sundown to Friday Sundown – 2nd Day (1Day + 1Night)
Friday Sundown to Saturday Sundown – 3rd Day (1Day + 1Night)

———————————————– End of Short Summary ———————————————-

So, did Yeshua Rise on Sunday?
Definitely. As we studied on the subject of Passover, we see that Yeshua dies on a Passover eve (Passover can fall on any day of the week). He is put into the tomb in the evening as the Sabbath was about to start (This is a High Sabbath and not the Fixed Saturday Sabbath). He is in the tomb for 3days & 3nights (As He proclaimed in Mat 12:40). He is Risen by the time the women go to the Tomb after the Sabbath (This is the Fixed Saturday Sabbath).

So what falls at the end of the Fixed Saturday Sabbath? Sunday, of course. By Saturday Sundown, the 3Days & 3Nights were complete. And Yeshua would have risen at the end of the Sabbath. (According to the Biblical Day, Sunday or the 1st Day of the week starts at Sundown on Saturday).

So whether we choose to call Yeshua’s Resurrection as “Easter Sunday” or “Resurrection Sunday”, it was definitely Sunday, the 1st Day of the Week. But wait, there’s more! We actually have a better name for this Commemoration, which throughout the ages has been forgotten and called a Jewish Feast/Commemoration. To dig for this truth, we must again delve into the “Feasts” proclaimed in Lev 23 by God, as “My Feasts”.

Resurrection Day and the FirstFruits of God
In Lev 23:10&11, God tells “His People – Israel”, that they need to offer up the First Fruits of the Harvest to Him the Day after the Sabbath on the Week of Passover, each year. The people had to bring the Firstfruits to the Priest, who would lift up the offering to God. Some would think of this Appointment/Feast Day that God Instituted, as some sort of “Archaic” Law or Tradition. What most fail to see is, what God was trying to teach His People through these appointments. Each of these days had some meaning in them. (Previously, we saw that Yeshua died on Passover and was buried on the First Day of Unleavened Bread) It was the same in the case of the Feast of Firstfruits. The Feast day of Firstfruits fell on the Sunday after Passover. And what important event happened on the Sunday after Passover? Yeshua’s Ressurection!

Let’s take a quick look at these Feasts that were instituted in Lev 23, again. (We will do a separate study on the Feasts of God in the near future, where I will cover all of the feasts mentioned in Lev 23, including Passover.)

1) Passover -14th day of the 1st Month – (Ex 12:2,6, Lev 23:5, Num 9:3)
2) Week of Unleavened Bread – 15th day to 21st day of the 1st Month – The 15th was a Special Sabbath (Ex 12:16, Lev 23:6,7,8, Num 28:18,25)
3) The Day after the Fixed Sabbath after Passover – The Sunday after Passover (Lev 23:10,11)

The Fulfillment of God’s Feasts through Yeshua’s Death & Resurrection
In Lev 23, God ordered Israel to commemorate specific things on specific dates of the year. What would be the chance of Yeshua dying, being buried and risen on these same specific dates? I do not think this is an accident. But some could say, that I am still forcefully trying to fit the pieces. Let us look at the connections again.

Passover
He died on Passover eve, as the Passover Lamb was killed, signifying that He was our Passover Lamb, and because of Him, death would not enter into our homes/lives (We saw enough proof for this on the article “Good Friday or Passover”)

Unleavened Bread
He was buried on the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, when all Leaven was asked to be put out of  the houses signifying He had started the work of Removing Leaven/Sin (1Cor 5:7,8) from our homes/lives. (The day He was buried, He started the work of defeating death and removing Sin from our life)

First Fruits
He Rose from the dead on Sunday after Passover, The Day of Firstfruits, signifying that He is the Firstfruits of all who is risen from the dead(1Cor 15:20-23, Acts 26:23, Col 1:18, Rev 1:5).
(The word Translated as FirstFruits in Lev 23:10 can be used as “first” and “first fruits”
H7225 – ראשׁית – rê’shı̂yth – ray-sheeth’ – the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): – beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.)

Remember also, how Yeshua compared the people to the Harvest. (Mat 9:37,38, Luk 10:2, Joh 4:35, Rev 14:15) So it is not an alien thing to consider Him as the FirstFruits of that Harvest. In other words, the First to Rise, from all who would taste death and rise unto Life Everlasting.

Easter or FirstFruits
Unlike “Good Friday” and “Passover” which are completely different dates commemorating His Death, “Easter” and “Firsfruits” are the same day commemorating His Resurrection. The important thing to note through all this is, that Yeshua worked according to His Father’s Calendar and His Father’s Appointed Feast dates.

So now that we know, that Yeshua’s Resurrection also was in perfect synchrony with God’s Feasts/Appointed Times, what should we do? Should we call it “Easter” and stick to all it’s traditions? Or should we call it “First Fruits” and commemorate His death as the fulfillment of another of God’s Appointments? Passover was a Fulfillment. Unleavened Bread was a fulfillment. Now First Fruits. The evidence is mounting up that God knew what He was doing and what He was saying through all these commandments to His People. Or do you still think that it is pure coincidence and that God gave these Appointments for no reason?

I have laid the evidence in front of you. It is upto you, to make the decision whether it is of value or not. Just like the fact is, that Jesus’ true name is Yeshua, The day of His death coincided with only 1 Biblical Feast/Appointment which was mentioned long before His Death. and that is not Easter, but “FirstFruits”!