When Did Easter Replace Passover?

Matthew 28:1, When did the early Christians first celebrate a day commemorating the resurrection of Yeshua?

Although the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah is a biblical and historical fact, it’s celebration (known as Easter), is neither commanded in the Scriptures, nor was it celebrated by the original disciples of Yeshua. It is purely an invention of the church, which eventually replaced Passover! Here are the facts:

In A History of Christianity (vol. 1), Kenneth Scott Latourette states that notice of Easter as a festival occurs in the middle of the second century, but that festivals commemorating the resurrection of Messiah were presumably observed by at least some Christians from much earlier times (p. 137). Church historian, Philip Schaff, also attributes the beginning of the Easter festival to the middle of the second century (History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, p. 207). He states that the Christian Passover naturally grew out of the Jewish Passover, as the Lord’s Day (Sunday) grew out of the Sabbath. “It is based on the view that Christ crucified and risen is the centre of faith. The Jewish Christians would very naturally from the beginning continue to celebrate the legal Passover, but in the light of its fulfillment by the sacrifice of Christ, and would dwell chiefly on the aspect of the crucifixion. The Gentile Christians, for whom the Jewish Passover had no meaning except through reflection on the cross, would chiefly celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as they did on every Sunday of the week.” He notes that the early Christians commemorated the entire period between the death and resurrection of Yeshua with vigils, fasting, special devotions, meetings culminating in a resurrection feast celebrating the whole work of redemption. The feast of the resurrection gradually became the most prominent aspect of the Christian Passover (Easter celebration), but the crucifixion continued to be celebrated on Good Friday” (ibid., pp. 207–208).

Christians universally kept the Passover on the biblical date of Abib (also known as Nisan) 14/15, irrespective of the day of the week until A.D. 135 according to leading Sabbath scholar Prof. Samuele Bacchiocchi quoting the fourth century Christian historian Ephiphanius (From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 81). “This conclusion,” continues Bacchiocchi, “is supported indirectly by the two earliest documents mentioning the Passover celebration, since both emphasize the commemoration of the death rather than the resurrection of Christ. The Ethiopic version of the apocryphal Epistle of the Apostles [or Didache] says, ‘and you therefore celebrate the remembrance of my death, i.e., the Passover’ (ch. 15). In the Coptic version the passage is basically the same, ‘And you remember my death. If now the Passover takes place …’ (chap. 15)’ (ibid., p. 82). 

The second document that attests to the early church’s emphasis on the death rather than the resurrection of Yeshua is the Sermon on the Passover, by Melito, Bishop of Sardis (died ca. A.D. 190). According to Bacchiocchi, Melito provides a most extensive theological interpretations of the meaning of the Passover for early Christians. “Though Melito makes a few passing references to the resurrection, it is clear from the context that these function as the epilogue of the passion drama of the Passover. The emphasis is indeed on the suffering and death of Jesus which constitute the recurring theme of the sermon and of the celebration” (ibid., p. 83).

“The resurrection,” Bacchiocchi admits, “however, did emerge in time as the dominant reason for the celebration not only of the annual Easter-Sunday, but also of the weekly Sunday. The two festivities, in fact,… came to be regarded as one basic feast commemorating at different times the same event of the resurrection.” Bacchiocchi concludes,

It would seem therefore that though the resurrection is frequently mentioned both in the New Testament and in the early patristic literature, no suggestion is given that primitive Christians commemorated the event by a weekly or yearly Sunday service. The very fact that Passover, which later become the annual commemoration of the resurrection held on Easter-Sunday, initially celebrated primarily Christ’s passion [death] and was observed on the fixed date of Nisan [Abib] 15 rather than on Sunday, makes it untenable to claim that Christ’s resurrection determined the origin of Sunday worship during the lifetime of the Apostles. (ibid. p. 84)

 

Do you fully discern the Lord’s body?


 

Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made/cut a covenant with me by sacrifice. (Psalm 50:5

Psalms 50:5, Made/cut a covenant…by sacrifice. This refers to the method by which covenants were made in ancient times between two parties. This same ritual occurred when YHVH made (or cut) a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 except that YHVH took all the responsibilities for fulfilling the covenant upon himself, for Abraham was asleep when this covenant was cut (Gen 15:9–10, 12). All Abraham had to do was to have faith in YHVH and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would fall upon him (Gen 15:6). We know from Paul’s discussion in Romans chapter four that the Abrahamic Covenant is the original biblical model for how an individual can receive salvation from Elohim. We also know that when YHVH made his covenant with Abraham, the vision Abraham had while he was asleep prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s death on the cross and his initiating the new/renewed covenant as prophesied in the Tanakh (e.g. Jer 31:31–33; also see my discussion of Gen 15:12–21 at Abraham’s vision). Yeshua at his last supper and subsequent crucifixion fulfilled this ancient prophecy as well as the spiritual types and shadows discussed in Psalm 50:7 and Genesis 15:9–21. At his last supper, Yeshua made a new covenant with his disciples through his body (the bread) and blood (the wine), which redeemed believers now commemorate when they take communion. 

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26–28)

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:24)

Prior to his death on the cross, Yeshua’s predictively explained the significance of his broken body and spilled blood as it relates to covenantal agreement between him and those who would place their faith in him (as Abraham did in Gen 15).

35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.…47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.…50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.…58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:35, 47, 50, 53, 58)

In the context of the Passover service when the saints through the ritual of communion annually commemorate Yeshua’s “cutting” the new covenant with his saints and then ratifying that covenant through his death, Paul has the following to say about the significance of Yeshua’s body:

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor 11:26–29)

Those who carelessly take communion are literally disrespecting not only the high value of the covenant that was made (or cut), but the tremendous price of making a covenant with Elohim (i.e. it cost Yeshua his life, and the believer must also die to himself as he accepts, unconditionally, Yeshua as his Lord and Master). Moreover, careless partakers of communion are not only underestimating the cost of their salvation, but the value and the benefits of that salvation, which is spiritual rewards including eternal life. Elohim is not only not duty bound to give immortality to such people, but would be foolish to immortalize people who don’t sufficiently recognize and appreciate the cost and value of covenantal agreement. In doing so, he would risk having another rebellion on his hand at some point in the future.

An ancient relic of crucifixion.

So when Yeshua died on the cross, he become the sacrifice that was cut (i.e. his body was brutally mutilated prior to and during his crucifixion) to which this verse in this Psalm 50 makes allusion. 

Moreover, Abraham not only had faith in YHVH, but he had to walk out that faith the rest of his life, for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14–26). Similarly, those who place their faith in Yeshua must also back up that faith by doing his words (John 5:24), doing good (John 5:29; 3:21), loving him and keeping his commandments (John 14:15), coming to the light of Elohim’s truth (John 3:20–21), and showing that they are overcoming the word, the flesh and the devil resulting in eternal life and great spiritual rewards in the world to come (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). 

At the same time, those who don’t place their trust in Yeshua by accepting the covenant he “cut” through his death on the cross and then by backing that faith up with good deeds, or those who have “accepted” Yeshua, but lightly esteem him, will have a terrible price to pay.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29–30)

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28–29)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

 

Passover and Unleavened Bread Videos




For more videos on Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, visit

 

Why Celebrate the Passover?

Isn’t your life already busy enough? Who has time for a six-hour Passover Seder commemorating something that happened thousands of years ago? What could this possibly have to do with my life here and now, you may ask? How can a 3500-year-old Biblical ritual in any way relate to those living in the age of the laser, satellites, the worldwide web and computers? Well, let’s see!

The Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 3:15, “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been.…” Life is full of paradoxes. Do advancements in technology, science, economics, medicine, religion, and world government really promise to give men the rest for their weary souls for which they long?

How about a different approach to the questions and problems facing modern man? Is it possible to go forward by going backwards? This is a thesis that the ancient prophet Yermeyahu (Jeremiah) proffered to those who had ears to hear. He said, “Thus says YHVH, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16). What were those ancient paths to which this white-haired Jewish prophet referred? This question is answered three verses later: “Because they have not listened to My words, and as for My Torah, they have rejected it also” (verse 19). YHVH through his prophets has been showing men the way of rest for their souls for thousands of years, yet men consistently refuse to listen. They always have a better way, so it seems!

The festival of Passover is one of the most ancient paths to be found in all of the Scriptures. In it are contained clues that will help the partakers of it to understand the past, present and the future.

A God-hater, Karl Marx, the father of modern communism, said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Yes, this can be said of dead, truthless and spiritless religion. But how about that religion which gives definition, purpose, meaning, hope and destiny to a man’s life? How could anything that comes directly from the Loving Father who created you and me in his own image be detrimental to us?

It has been said that the religion of the Bible tells a man where he has come from, where he is at and where he is going. Could it not be said that a man who knows the answers to these questions possesses true wisdom and wealth, and has indeed found rest for his troubled soul?

One of the most important scriptures in the Jewish faith is the famous shema passage of Deuteronomy 6:4–9. This passage, which is like a “pledge of allegiance” for the Jews, starts out by saying, “Hear [shema], O Israel …” The word shema literally means “to hear and to do.” Later, in verse five, the shema continues, “And you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” Loving our Heavenly Creator is not just a mind-thing, but also an action and a doing thing. It is Continue reading

 

Preparing Ourselves for Passover

Repent of Sin and Get Under the Lamb’s Blood. As the children of Israel applied the lamb’s blood to the door posts and lintels of their house, so we must apply the sin-cleansing and Satan-defeating blood of Yeshua afresh to our lives (i.e. to our thoughts as represented by the door lintel and and to our hands or actions as represented by the door posts). This occurs as we repent of our sins, and pray for and receive YHVH’s forgiveness. He will then cover our sins over or wash away our sins by Yeshua’s blood (1 John 1:9; Rev 1:5).

In Egypt at Passover time, YHVH judged all those who had failed to put the lamb’s blood on the door posts of their houses. In other words, they weren’t under the blood of the lamb, but were still under the penalty of sin, which is death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23). Any unrepented of sin in our lives brings the curse of death on us. To the degree that one has sin in their life is the degree to which the spirit of death has a legal claim on us. Now is the time to repent of sin by confessing it and seeking Elohim’s forgiveness under the blood of Yeshua and then forsaking that sin through YHVH’s grace (1 John 1:9).

Here are some things of which to repent.

Pride. Do you always think that you’re right? Your opinion is what matters the most? Do you have a hard time with those who don’t see it your way, when you don’t get your way? Do you have a fit when people disagree with you? Do you criticize others and put others down (especially those who are closest to you)? Do you belittle, mock, scorn and ridicule Continue reading

 

My final word (I think) on circumcision as it relates to Passover

I got this email question from a truth seeker today. It’s one I’ve been asked many times. It’s a hot potato subject, to be sure. Some will read my answer and disagree. That’s fine. Frankly, I don’t really care. I’ve moved on to bigger issues!

After years of deliberation and after taking everything into consideration from Genesis to Revelation on the subject, this is where I’ve landed on the issue of circumcision being a requirement in order to keep Passover properly (i.e. according to the letter of the law of Torah).

First the question, then my answer.

Shalom Pastor Natan,

I’ve been learning to walk in the Torah for a little over a year now. One of the most confusing aspects of it for me has been Galatians. I’ve been listening to your teaching on it as well as Corner Fringe Ministries’ ongoing study, and it’s helped me quite a bit. But you mentioned in Part 1 of your series that you won’t get into the matter of circumcision for Passover. With Passover coming up, I’d really like to know your thoughts on that. I know that circumcision is not necessary for salvation, but it is for keeping Passover (Exodus 12:43-49). Since we are instructed to keep the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:8), should uncircumcised followers of Yeshua abstain from it until they are ready to do that?

Hello S—,

I think you answered your own question. Physical circumcision is not a salvation issue. Yeshua commanded us to keep Passover at his last supper. (“Do this in remembrance of me.”) End of discussion.
Yes, I know what Exod 12:43–48 says about circumcision being a requirement for the Israelite males to properly keep Passover per the Torah, and whoever wasn’t circumcised couldn’t keep Passover and thus would be cut off from Israel. Some well meaning people will disagree with me here. But being cut off from a physical nation for not being circumcised hardly equates with losing one’s salvation because they aren’t physically circumcised when they do Passover. It’s apples and oranges here. To be part of the physical nation of Israel, you had to have the birth certificate, if you will, or the national passport or ID card. That happened to be physical circumcision—at least for the guys. So what was the criteria for women? Good question. How about “your Elohim will be my Elohim and your people will be my people…?” Seemed to have worked for Ruth the Moabitess. After all, she became an ancestor of the Jewish Messiah! (And don’t forget Rahab the harlot of Jericho who also accepted YHVH Elohim, was grafted into the nation of Israel and who is also in the lineage of Yeshua!) She wasn’t physically circumcised, obviously, but she was heart circumcised, to be sure. So heart circumcision is the highest common denominator to be reached for here, not physical circumcision.
So let me get this straight. Physical circumcision for men was  the requirement for Israelite men to be part of Israel, while heart circumcision for Gentile women was their requirement for being part of Israel. What gives here? Obviously, the physical circumcision was the national ID card for a man to be part of the physical nation of Israel. But Moses in three places talked about how YHVH really desired heart circumcision; that was really his highest ideal and criteria for membership in Isreal. This seemed to work for Ruth (and Rahab), and it was obviously acceptable to Elohim. So why not now?
Look, I’m all for physical circumcision. Thankfully, it’s not something I have to worry about. My Hebraic parents took care of that for me when I was eight days old 58 years ago.
There is a blessing for being circumcised physically. If I weren’t already, I’d get it done. It’s pleasing to Elohim and it shows that one is zealous and passionate to obey all of YHVH’s commandments. Besides, your local urologist will do it for just a few hundred dollars and you’ll drive yourself home afterwards and after a week or two you’ll be healed and fine.
Paul was both for and against circumcision. As a requirement for salvation, he was totally against it. As an act of loving obedience, passion and devotion to Elohim, he was for it. It showed that one had a zeal for being part of Israel. What’s wrong with that? We’re now the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16). There’s still nothing wrong with being physically circumcised. It must be a good thing, especially now since so many God and Bible hating secular humanistic libtards are against it!
Bottom line: In ancient Israel, and as a requirement for keeping Passover, it was necessary to separate out those who were serious about being a part of the physical nation of Israel. That one act separated the imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing wannabes from those who were really zealous for Elohim and Torah. After all what imposter would really want to go through the ordeal of circumcision in the days of flint knives and no anesthetic? Let’s get real! For the Israel of the one new man (Eph 2:11–19), the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16) we now have confession of sin, repentance, public confession and acceptance of Yeshua and baptism followed by receipt of the Spirit. Cultural and spiritual conditions and contexts have changed from the Passover in Egypt till now.
Does any of this make sense? I hope so.
 

The Passover Seder Is a Drama-Based Gospel Tract

Exodus 10:2, Tell or recount, relate. YHVH commanded Moses to record the story of Egypt’s judgment and fall for the Israelite’s future posterity. The Israelites were to pass this story down orally and in written form to succeeding generations. The Passover seder is the fulfillment of this Torah command in that it re-enacts the exodus story. In other words, YHVH is commanding parents to pass the gospel message of redemption downward to each new generation. The Passover seder is literally a gospel tract involving a dramatic presentation where the participants act out the message of the gospel.