Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Melito of Sardis honored in name, but not in practice by many

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015


Ruins in Ancient Sardis

COGwriter

Today, the Church of Rome considers to be a memorial day for the Church of God leader, Bishop Melito of Sardis.

Here is some information about him from Wikipedia:

Melito of Sardis (Greek: Μελίτων Σάρδεων Melíton Sárdeon) (died c. 180) was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed as a prophet by many of the faithful. His feast is celebrated on April 1.(Melito of Sardis, viewed 02/22/2014)

In an article titled St. Melito, The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about him:

Bishop of Sardis, prominent ecclesiastical writer in the latter half of the second century. Few details of his life are known. A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 (Eusebius, “Hist. Eccl.”, V, xxiv) states that “Melito the eunuch [this is interpreted "the virgin" by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius], whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit”, was interred at Sardis, and had been one of the great authorities in the Church of Asia who held the Quartodeciman theory. His name is cited also in the “Labyrinth” of Hippolytus as one of the second-century writers who taught the duality of natures in Jesus. St. Jerome, speaking of the canon of Melito, quotes Tertullian’s statement that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful. Of Melito’s numerous works almost all have perished, fortunately, Eusebius has preserved the names of the majority and given a few extracts (Hist. Eccl., IV, xiii, xxvi). They are (1) “An Apology for the Christian Faith”, appealing to Marcus Aurelius to examine into the accusations against the Christians and to end the persecution (written apparently about 172 or before 177). This is a different work from the Syriac apology attributed to Melito, published in Svriae and English by Cureton from a British Museum manuscript. The latter, a vigorous confutation of idolatry and polytheism addressed to Antoninus Caesar, seems from internal evidence to be of Syrian origin, though some authorities have identified it with Melito’s Peri aletheias. (2) Peri tou pascha…written probably in 167-8. A fragment cited by Eusebius refers to a dispute that had broken out in Laodicea regarding Easter, but does not mention the precise matter in controversy.(3) Eklogai, six books of extracts from the Law and the Prophets concerning Christ and the Faith, the passage cited by Eusebius contains a canon of the Old Testament. (4) He kleis, for a long time considered to be preserved in the “Melitonis clavis sanctae scripturae”, which is now known to be an original Latin compilation of the Middle Ages. (5) Peri ensomatou theou, on the corporeity of God, of which some Syriac fragments have been preserved…Fourteen additional works are cited by Eusebius.

This citation shows that Melito wrote a lot, lived in Sardis (a city in Asia Minor, not near Rome), and that which is preserved (some of which will be in the article) disagrees with positions taken by the Catholics of Rome. Specifically, Melito took different positions on idols in worship, The Old Testament Canon, and the quartodeciman position (the Catholics in Rome chose Sunday, while Melito of Sardis chose Nisan 14–see article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome). He also held other positions that would seem to be more supportive of those held by the Churches of God than those held by the Catholics and the Orthodox.

The Eastern Orthodox consider Melito to be a saint:

“St. Melito of Sardis” (The Immortal Dies http://www.orthodox.clara.net/melito.htm, 10/05/05).

St. Melito of Sardis in Lydia” (Serbian Orthodox Cathedral Bulletin, May 8, 2005).

The following is from Protestant writers (though found at a Catholic website),

[A.D. 160-170-177.] Melito may have been the immediate successor of the “angel” (or “apostle”) of the church of Sardis, to whom our Great High Priest addressed one of the apocalyptic messages. He was an “Apostolic Father” in point of fact; he very probably knew the blessed Polycarp and his disciple Irenaeus. He is justly revered for the diligence with which he sought out the evidence which, in his day, established the Canon of the Old Testament (Roberts and Donaldson. Melito, the Philosopher, in Ante-Nicene Fathers. Located in REMAINS OF THE SECOND AND THIRD CENTURIES http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0850.htm 9/05/05).

It is interesting that various ones outside of the Church of God would wish to honor Melito, because almost no groups outside of the Church of God abide by the doctrines that he taught.

Melito was a binitarian. Here is some of what he wrote about the Holy Spirit:

The tongue of the Lord-His Holy Spirit. In the Psalm: “My tongue is a pen” (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord’s Passion, IX. In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 8, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 760).

…The finger of the Lord-the Holy Spirit, by whose operation the tables of the law in Exodus are said to have been written (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord’s Passion. In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 8, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 761).

Yet, Exodus 34:1 states,

And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.

This shows that Melito believed that the Holy Spirit was simply the power of God, something that God uses, as opposed to being the third person in any trinity.

Note: these appear to be the only surviving references where Melito mentions the Holy Spirit, hence he in no way appears to have supported a trinitarian concept of God.

Melito also took a strong stand against relying on the teachings of fathers (also called Tradition) above the truth:

Again, there are persons who say: Whatsoever our fathers have bequeathed to us, that we reverence. Therefore, of course, it is, that those whose fathers have bequeathed them poverty strive to become rich! and those whose fathers did not instruct them, desire to be instructed, and to learn that which their fathers knew not! And why, forsooth, do the children of the blind see, and the children of the lame walk? Nay, it is not well for a man to follow his predecessors, if they be those whose course was evil; but rather that we should turn from that path of theirs, lest that which befell our predecessors should bring disaster upon us also. Wherefore, inquire whether thy father’s course was good: and, if so, do thou also follow in his steps; but, if thy father’s course was very evil, let thine be good, and so let it be with thy children after thee. Be grieved also for thy father because his course is evil, so long as thy grief may avail to help him. But, as for thy children, speak to them thus: There is a God, the Father of all, who never came into being, neither was ever made, and by whose will all things subsist…

And then shall those who have not known God, and those who have made them idols, bemoan themselves, when they shall see those idols of theirs being burnt up, together with themselves, and nothing shall be found to help them (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 9/04/05).

Notice that Melito clearly condemned those who made idols and apply the name of God to them. Notice that he also taught that believing they are acceptable because of the traditions of fathers is in error.

Melito Was One of A Long Line of Leaders From the Apostle John Who Kept Nisan 14 Passover

John was the last of the original twelve apostles to die. His final years were spent in Ephesus (as well as Patmos). The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded this passage from Polycrates to Victor (Bishop of Rome) which mentions Melito:

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.’ (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

It should be noted that Polycrates is explaining that from the beginning of the New Testament Church and in accordance with the Gospel, that the Apostles John and Philip (saints), Apostle Philip, Polycarp of Smyrna (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), Thraseas (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), Melito (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), and now he, Polycrates, refused to stop observing Passover on the exact day (the 14th of Nisan–the term quartodeciman means 14th) in order to go on Sunday as the Roman bishops tried to insist on.

Melito wrote something now called The Homily On the Passover by Melito (there is also a related sermon video also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover).

While like the Apostle Paul (see 2 Peter 3:15-16), Melito wrote a few statements about the law that some twist or misunderstand, Melito endorsed keeping the commandments. Notice that he wrote that it was a sin to break what the Bible shows is the first commandment:

If, therefore, a man forsake the light, and say that there is another God, it is plain from what he himself says that it is some created thing which he calls God. For, if a man call fire God, it is not God, because it is fire; and, if a man call water God, it is not God, because it is water; and, if he so call this earth on which we tread, or these heavens which are seen by us, or the sun, or the moon, or some one of these stars which run their course without ceasing by Divine command, and do not speed along by their own will, neither are these gods; and, if a man call gold and silver gods, are not these objects things which we use as we please? and, if he so call those pieces of wood which we burn, or those stones which we break, how can these things be gods? For, 1o! they are for the use of man. How can `they’ escape the commission of great sin, who in their speech change the great God into those things which, so long as they continue, continue by Divine command? (A Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar).

As mentioned before, Melito wrote against breaking the second commandment (idols). Melito was claimed to be one who observed the annual Sabbaths (like the first day of unleavened bread), hence would have kept the fourth commandment. In verse 49 of his Homily on the Passover, he refers to parental honor and dishonor (suggestive of endorsing the fifth commandment).

In fragment V he complains about the wickedness of murder (commandment 6) and “false witness” (commandment 9).

In his Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar, Melito also objected to violating the seventh and tenth commandments, specifically adultery and lusting for another’s wife.

While that is only eight of the ten commandments, I would suggest that he did not approve of taking God’s name in vain (third commandment) nor stealing (eighth commandment)–and he may have specifically wrote against those as well, because in many of his writings we only have fragments that remain today.

Various Protestant theologians have written against the need to try to keep the Ten Commandments (see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants).

On the other, Protestants do agree with Melito’s de facto canon of the Old Testament (see also The Old Testament Canon). Furthermore, even the Catholic saint and doctor Jerome did, even though the Church of Rome also decided to add other books to their Old Testament (see also The Old Testament Canon).

Millennial Teachings

Melito had millennial teachings.

The late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou noted that Melito taught the millennium (The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 389). Here is more information about Melito’s views:

A few years after Saint Justin’s death, and in the surrounding areas of Ephesus, Melito of Sardis, a well-known bishop and his followers defended millennialism. He undoubtedly borrowed some of his theories from his compatriot, Papias and relied on the Apocalypse. (Gry L. Le millenarisme dans ses origines et son developpement. Alphonse Picard, Paris, 1904, pp. 81. Translated into English by Gisele Gaudet, March 2015.)

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

…a large number of Christians of the post-Apostolic era, particularly in Asia Minor, yielded so far to Jewish apocalyptic as to put a literal meaning into these descriptions of St. John’s Apocalypse; the result was that millenarianism spread and gained staunch advocates not only among the heretics but among the Catholic Christians as well…Papias of Hierapolis, a disciple of St. John, appeared as an advocate of millenarianism. He claimed to have received his doctrine from contemporaries of the Apostles…A witness for the continued belief in millenarianism in the province of Asia is St. Melito, Bishop of Sardes in the second century (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet the Catholic Church also teaches against this doctrine. The same article then mentions:

The most powerful adversary of millenarianism was Origen of Alexandria. In view of the Neo-Platonism on which his doctrines were founded and of his spiritual-allegorical method of explaining the Holy Scriptures, he could not side with the millenarians. He combatted them expressly, and, owing to the great influence which his writings exerted on ecclesiastical theology especially in Oriental countries, millenarianism gradually disappeared from the idea of Oriental Christians…St. Augustine was for a time, as he himself testifies (De Civitate Dei, XX, 7), a pronounced champion of millenarianism; but…Augustine finally held to the conviction that there will be no millennium…The Middle Ages were never tainted with millenarianism; it was foreign both to the theology of that period and to the religious ideas of the people.

So essentially it is admitted that the millennial view was held by many early leaders, but that finally it was discarded but what became the Roman Catholic Church. Even though, this was a view held by a variety of Catholic-declared saints, including Melito (see also the article on Millenarianism).

Not only do they no longer teach millenarianism, the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox condemn this belief. Notice the following two accounts:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism… (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995).

Though some Ancient Church Fathers of the first three centuries AD had Chiliast leanings, the Orthodox Church formally denounced Chiliasm at the Second Ecumenical Council, in 381 (Orthodox Christian Beliefs and Practices. © 2006-2007 Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. http://www.uocc.ca/en-ca/faith/beliefs/ 08/18/07).

In other words, Orthodox Church scholars know that early Christian leaders, which it calls, “Ancient Church Fathers” taught chiliasm (called millenarianism in Latin), yet it CHANGED that teaching in a church council. More information can be found in the article Did The Early Church Millenarianism? And Roman Catholic scholars now condemn it as a teaching of Antichrist. Yet, both consider that a leading second century advocate of it, Melito of Sardis, was a faithful saint.

Melito held many positions that those outside the Church of God do not hold to this day (more can be found in the article Melito of Sardis).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Melito of Sardis Who was this 2nd Century Church Leader? What Old Testament did he list? What did he teach that most who call themselves Christian later change?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? Was the millennium (sometimes called chiliasm) taught by early Christians? Who condemned it? Will Jesus literally reign for 1000 years on the earth? Is this time near? A related sermon is titled The Millennium.
COGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Which annual days did early Christians keep?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

This time of year, those faithful in the Churches of God have been following Paul’s admonition to examine themselves prior to the start of the Spring Holy Days (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

While most people realize that Jesus observed what many consider to be “Jewish” Holy Days, most have apparently not realized that the observance of these days was the practice of nearly all of those who professed Christ in the first few centuries of Christianity.

The first century Christians observed the all holy days listed in Leviticus Chapter 23. Specifically the New Testament shows that they observed the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4;20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8), the Day of Atonement (called the Fast, Acts 27:9) the Feast of Tabernacles (called the Feast, Acts 18:21) and Last Great Day (John 7:37). And that the fulfillment’s of the Feast of Trumpets is also described in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 8-11).

Catholic scholars realize that these practices were continued as well.

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Passover:

The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ’s death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration…The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast…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, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip (Holwek 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 Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Well, actually those in the true church in the Orient observed the 14th day of Nisan (see article on Polycrates or Apollinaris). However, the basic point is that the Catholic Church admits that Christ was slain on the Passover and that it still should be observed (even though they changed the name, intent, and the date–also the Jews never called it Easter).

For another example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost…A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10)…Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth”…In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In the early third century, the Catholic theologian Origen listed the following as being celebrated:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example… the Passover, or Pentecost…(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It is likely that other days were also then celebrated. While Origen listed what would be considered to be the Spring Holy Days, some were still keeping those known as the Fall Holy Days.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

So, like the Apostle John (the last of the original apostles to die), the early faithful Christians observed Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Perhaps it might be helpful to realize that Catholics do admit that early Christians did observe the Feast of Tabernacles:

St. Jerome (PL 25, 1529 & 1536-7) speaking of how the Judaeo-Christians celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles…tells us that they gave the feast a millenarian significance (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.202).

We in the Continuing Church of God also keep the Feast of Tabernacles and believe that it foreshadows the coming millennium.

The early Church clearly kept the what are now known as Jewish Holy Days and saw Christian fulfillment’s in them (especially the Spring ones). And since the Apostles observed them in the New Testament, shouldn’t they and not Christmas be celebrated by true followers of Christ. Gradually, those under Catholic influence stopped celebrating the Fall Holy Days.

Even into the late 4th century, history records that the Fall Holy Days were still being celebrated by some who professed Christ.

Yet, the Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached against them following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…

Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2.. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

Now this actually causes a problem for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. First, it shows that until at least the late fourth century, that some who professed Christ still kept all the Holy Days. Secondly, even the current pontiff acts like the Fall Holy Days are venerable (he used the term “a blessing” in a news item about them previously). And thirdly, since the Catholic Church claims that it still keeps a version of Passover (though under the name Easter in English) and Pentecost, then their saint, John Chrysostom, should never have condemned all of the festivals that God gave the Jews.

Yet John Chrysostom condemned them.

A book called The Life of Polycarp contains some possibly helpful information about Polycarp. Polycarp is considered to have been a saint by the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Continuing Church of God.

For example, it specifically mentions the Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And it endorses keeping them:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians…but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink (Chapter 19).

And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him. Now the lesson was the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and to Titus, in which he says what manner of man a bishop ought to be. And he was so well fitted for the office that the hearers said one to another that he lacked none of those qualities which Paul requires in one who has the care of a church. When then, after the reading and the instruction of the bishops and the discourses of the presbyters, the deacons were sent to the laity to enquire whom they would have, they said with one accord, ‘Let Polycarp be our pastor and teacher’ (Chapter 22).

And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God…’ (Chapter 24).

Hence there is an ancient document that claims that Polycarp did keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days (of course, other ancient documents, as shown in this article, support this). And there would have been no reason for Greco-Roman supporters in the 4th century to change the document to indicate that he did so, hence The Life of Polycarp does claim that Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Polycrates, who was bishop of Ephesus, wrote the following around 195 A.D.:

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’…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 (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

This shows that he and many people considered to be saints by the Greco-Roman churches observed Passover on the 14th. There is no doubt that the so-called “Jewish” Holy Days were still observed by the faithful Christians in Asia Minor and elsewhere for centuries after Christ did. Gentile leaders kept the Holy Days.

What was not observed, until probably the 4th century, even by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, was Christmas. Birthdays were also not observed until about that time. Nor was a 40 day period called Lent, nor Valentine’s Day, nor many other days that many observe today.

In apparently the third century Apollinaris (who is generally considered to have been a bishop and saint) wrote,

There are, then, some who through ignorance raise disputes about these things (though their conduct is pardonable: for ignorance is no subject for blame — it rather needs further instruction), and say that on the fourteenth day the Lord ate the lamb with the disciples, and that on the great day of the feast of unleavened bread He Himself suffered; and they quote Matthew as speaking in accordance with their view. Wherefore their opinion is contrary to the law, and the Gospels seem to be at variance with them…The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. 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. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

Apollinaris is showing then that the Passover is (Nisan 14) and that it signifies the sacrifice of Christ, both of which are the positions of the Churches of God.

Adventist researcher Daniel Liechty reported Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and later kept the biblical Holy Days (such as the Feast of Trumpets called Day of Remembrance below) (and those are days his church does not observe):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles.. They held to the biblical holidays. Passover they celebrated with unleavened bread…The first and last seventh day of Passover were full holidays…There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

The biblical Holy Days are still observed by faithful groups in the 21st century like the Continuing Church of God.

Do you follow the practices of the early faithful Christians?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues” and led by the Holy Spirit? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Pentecostés: ¿Es más que Hechos 2? plus one by Herbert Armstrong HWA sobre Pentecostés). Here is a YouTube sermon titled Pentecost: Feast of Firstfruits.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be Feast of Trumpets and the Book of Life as well as The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
The Last Great Day: Shemini ‘Azeret What is the ‘eighth day’ of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Was Jesus killed on a Wednesday or a Friday?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

COGwriter

What day of the week was Jesus killed on?

Does the Bible give us enough information to figure this out?

When the scribes and Pharisees asked Him for a sign, Jesus answered with:

39 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

While most people assume that Jesus was killed on a Friday and rose before sunrise on a Sunday morning, those who have “done the math” realize that this does not add up to three days and three nights. The Bible also teaches that He was killed on a tree (Acts 5:30).

Although “the last supper” is often observed on a Thursday, most people do not seem to realize that even certain Greco-Roman sources taught that Jesus observed that meal (Passover) on a Tuesday (which is the third day of the week). The following was written around the late second/early third century:

For when we had eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus. And the next day, which was the fourth of the week, He remained in ward in the house of Caiaphas the high priest. And on the same day the chiefs of the people were assembled and took counsel against Him. And on the next day again, which was the fifth of the week, they brought Him to Pilate the governor. And He remained again in ward with Pilate the night after the fifth day of the week (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21, verse 14. R. Hugh Connolly, version Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).

In the third century, the Catholic bishop and saint Victorinus wrote:

Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour, or even to the evening, or why there should be a passing over even to the next day…

The man Christ Jesus, the originator of these things whereof we have above spoken, was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion of soldiers. Therefore on account of His captivity by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works,–that the seasons also, wholesome to humanity, joyful for the harvests, tranquil for the tempests, may roll on,–therefore we make the fourth day a station or a supernumerary fast (Victorinus. On the Creation of the World. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The day commonly now called Wednesday is the fourth day of the week. The above account shows that the fasting occurred the fourth day (tetras means fourth) at the ninth hour (3:00 pm). That is the precise time of the death of Christ according to the Bible. Victorinus is admitting that later that day, there was the Passover time (as does the Bible). He also clearly states that Jesus was arrested on Wednesday. And that is correct (what is not correct is that the Bible does not allow that Jesus did not die until Friday, with a Wednesday arrest, which is what these sources seem to believe).

It may be of interest to note that, even in the 21st century, many of the Roman Catholics still teach that this Passover (which they call the Last Supper) was kept by Jesus on a Tuesday night and that He was betrayed on a Wednesday (Zanchettin L, ed. Meditations, Tuesday, April 11, Wednesday April 12. the WORD among us–The #1 Monthly Devotional for Catholics. 2006; Volume 25, Number 4, pp. 63-64). Many, however, seem to think that He was held for two days before He was killed, which differs from the biblical account.

I will state here that Jesus was not just arrested on a Wednesday, He was crucified then too, just before the first day of unleavened bread. As that Sabbath was a high day according to the Bible (John 19:31), and since the day before the high days was considered to be a preparation day, it was that day, and not a Friday, that Jesus was crucified on. If more professing Christians would keep the Holy Days, more would realize that.

It was also known, even by Roman supporters in the second century, that Jesus was buried for three days. Irenaeus wrote:

For the Judge of the whole world is thus proclaimed, who, having been hidden in the heart of the earth in a tomb for three days (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, Fragment XXXI. 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.).

Since the Bible clearly shows that Jesus was resurrected well before sunrise Sunday morning (when the women came to His tomb Sunday morning, “it was still dark” per John 20:1), there is simply no way that there were three days from Friday afternoon to prior to sunrise Sunday–let alone three days AND three nights. He had to have been killed on a Wednesday.

Jesus clearly taught that the sign He would give to prove who He was was that He would “be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Three days prior to the sunrise of a Sunday would be prior to a sunrise on a Thursday. And since Jesus was killed and buried when it was still light out (John 19:31), that means that Jesus had to have been killed on a Wednesday.

Jesus was killed late afternoon on the 14th of Nisan which was a Wednesday in 30/31 A.D. In 2015, the 14th of Nisan will be this coming Friday.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion’ Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?

Sermon: Melito’s sermon on the Passover

Saturday, March 28th, 2015


Ruins of Ancient Sardis (Photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce its suggested sermon: Melito’s Homily on the Passover, which is at its ContinuingCOG channel.

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Melito’s Homily on the Passover

Melito of Sardis was a second century Church of God leader who lived in Sardis in Asia Minor. What did he stand for and teach? What was the message he gave for Christians related to the Passover? When did he observe the Passover? How did he tie Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to the Passover in Exodus 12? This sermon not only provides those answers, but it is basically a 21st century rendition of a 2nd century Passover related sermon (Melito’s sermon is the oldest lengthy Christian sermon we have an available detailed record of related to Passover).

Passover will be after sunset Thursday, April 2, 2015 (here is a link to a Holy Day Calendar).

Here is a link to the sermon: Melito’s Homily on the Passover.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Melito of Sardis Who was this 2nd Century Church Leader? What Old Testament did he list? What did he teach that most who call themselves Christian later change?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
What are Postponements? This is by the late evangelist Raymond McNair and explains a lot about postponements and calculations.
Hebrew Calendar and “Postponements” This late evangelist John Ogywn writing explains why the most faithful in the Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
How often should we partake of THE LORD’S SUPPER? Herbert Armstrong answers that question.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
UCG and Its Unleavened Bread Study Paper What does the Bible say about eating unleavened bread for seven days? What has UCG officially said about it?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

Scholars realize that Christians kept Passover on the 14th: do you?

Friday, March 27th, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

This time of year, those faithful in the Churches of God have been following Paul’s admonition to examine themselves prior to the start of the Passover and other Spring Holy Days (1 Corinthians 11:27-32) (see also the video Preparing for Passover).

Jesus, of course, kept the Passover and told His followers to follow practices He associated with it:

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:14-19)

While most people realize that Jesus observed what many consider to be “Jewish” Holy Days, most have apparently not realized that the observance of these days was the practice of nearly all of those who professed Christ in the first few centuries of Christianity.

The first century Christians observed the all holy days listed in Leviticus Chapter 23. Specifically the New Testament shows that they observed the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), Pentecost (Acts 2:10;20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8), the Day of Atonement (called the Fast, Acts 27:9) and the Feast of Tabernacles (called the Feast, Acts 18:21). And that the fulfillment’s of the Feast of Trumpets is also described in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 8-11).

Scholars realize that these practices were continued as well.

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Passover:

The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ’s death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration…The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast…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, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip (Holwek 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 Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Well, actually those in the true church in the Orient observed the 14th day of Nisan (see article on Polycrates or Apollinaris). However, the basic point is that the Catholic Church admits that Christ was slain on the Passover and that it still should be observed (even though they changed the name, intent, and the date–also the Jews never called it Easter).

For another example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost…A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10)…Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth”…In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In the early third century, the Catholic theologian Origen listed the following as being celebrated:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example… the Passover, or Pentecost…(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It is likely that other days were also then celebrated. While Origen listed what would be considered to be the Spring Holy Days, some were still keeping those known as the Fall Holy Days.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

So, like the Apostle John (the last of the original apostles to die), the early faithful Christians observed Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

The early Church clearly kept the what are now known as Jewish Holy Days and saw Christian fulfillment’s in them (especially the Spring ones). And since the Apostles observed them in the New Testament, shouldn’t they and not Christmas be celebrated by true followers of Christ. Gradually, those under Catholic influence stopped celebrating the Fall Holy Days.

A book called The Life of Polycarp contains some possibly helpful information about Polycarp. Polycarp is considered to have been a saint by the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Continuing Church of God.

For example, it specifically mentions the Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And it endorses keeping them:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians…but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink (Chapter 19).

And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him. Now the lesson was the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and to Titus, in which he says what manner of man a bishop ought to be. And he was so well fitted for the office that the hearers said one to another that he lacked none of those qualities which Paul requires in one who has the care of a church. When then, after the reading and the instruction of the bishops and the discourses of the presbyters, the deacons were sent to the laity to enquire whom they would have, they said with one accord, ‘Let Polycarp be our pastor and teacher’ (Chapter 22).

And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God…’ (Chapter 24).

Hence there is an ancient document that claims that Polycarp did keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days (of course, other ancient documents, as shown in this article, support this). And there would have been no reason for Greco-Roman supporters in the 4th century to change the document to indicate that he did so, hence The Life of Polycarp does claim that Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Polycrates, who was bishop of Ephesus, wrote the following around 195 A.D.:

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’…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 (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

This shows that he and many people considered to be saints by the Greco-Roman churches observed Passover on the 14th. There is no doubt that the so-called “Jewish” Holy Days were still observed by the faithful Christians in Asia Minor and elsewhere for centuries after Christ did. Gentile leaders kept the Holy Days.

What was not observed, until probably the 4th century, even by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, was Christmas. Birthdays were also not observed until about that time. Nor was a 40 day period called Lent, nor Valentine’s Day, nor many other days that many observe today.

In apparently the third century Apollinaris (who is generally considered to have been a bishop and saint) wrote,

There are, then, some who through ignorance raise disputes about these things (though their conduct is pardonable: for ignorance is no subject for blame — it rather needs further instruction), and say that on the fourteenth day the Lord ate the lamb with the disciples, and that on the great day of the feast of unleavened bread He Himself suffered; and they quote Matthew as speaking in accordance with their view. Wherefore their opinion is contrary to the law, and the Gospels seem to be at variance with them…The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. 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. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

Apollinaris is showing then that the Passover is (Nisan 14) and that it signifies the sacrifice of Christ, both of which are the positions of the Churches of God.

Perhaps I should mention that although modern Jews keep the 15th of Nisan, the Jewish Encyclopedia shows that the original Hebrew supports the view that Jews should realize that Passover is on the 14th:

Lev. xxiii., however, seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and http://d3sva65x0i5hnc.cloudfront.net/V09p548007.jpg (the Festival of Unleavened Bread; ἑορτή τῶν ἀζύμων, Luke xxii. 1; Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 1, § 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. Passover. (Passover. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)

Irrespective of  modern Jewish practices, there is no doubt that early Christians kept the Passover. Both the Bible and history show this. Furthermore, the faithful have tended to do this throughout history.

For example, Adventist researcher Daniel Liechty reported Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and later kept the biblical Holy Days (such as the Feast of Trumpets called Day of Remembrance below) (and those are days his church does not observe):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles.. They held to the biblical holidays. Passover they celebrated with unleavened bread…The first and last seventh day of Passover were full holidays…There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

The biblical Holy Days are still observed by faithful groups in the 21st century like the Continuing Church of God.

So, do you follow the practices of the early faithful Christians? Passover this year begins after sunset on the 2nd of April.

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Hebrew Calendar This writing helps explain why we in the Continuing Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
How often should we partake of THE LORD’S SUPPER? Herbert Armstrong answers that question.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues”?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

TPM, Jews, and the real date for Passover

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015


A Shmura Matzo (Unleavened Bread is Used for Passover)

COGwriter

When is the Christian Passover for 2015? Thursday, April 2nd, after sunset which is when the 14th of Nisan begins. Or Friday, April 3rd, after sunset which is when the 15th of Nisan begins.

The date of the Christian Passover has been controversial since the second century. We in the Continuing Church of God believe that we follow Jesus’ example, as well as those of the early faithful Christians, and hence observe it towards the beginning of the 14th of Nisan.

Yet, TPM’s William Dankenbring (who was once a WCG writer) wrote an article titled: “SEVENTEEN PROOFS Why Passover Should Be Observed on Nisan 15!

But, of course, although many Jews did, that is not when Jesus observed the Passover, nor when the original Passover was observed.

The Bible is clear that the 14th of the month is God’s Passover and the 15th day begins a different time:

5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD (Leviticus 23:5-6, NKJV).

5 “The fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, is the Passover of Yahweh (Leviticus 23:5, NJB)

5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover. (Leviticus 23:5, KJV)

There is only one “twilight” for the 14th and that is right after sunset that BEGINS the day. Thus, the 14th is clearly the day of God’s Passover.

Now, the following is the first place in the Bible that the calendar date of the Passover is specifically mentioned:

Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire–its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover (Exodus 12:3-11, NKJV).

6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month: and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. (Exodus 12:6, Douay-Rheims)

Notice that the fourteenth day of the month is the Lord’s Passover and that is when the lambs were sacrificed. It should be noted that the Douay-Rheims is a Catholic approved translation of scripture, yet they will observe March 31st as Passover, while calling it Easter in the English languages and switching its emphasis away from the biblical teachings on Passover.

But getting back to TPM, interestingly it agrees with the Old Testament as it admits that the New Testament teaches that the Passover lambs are to be sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan:

According to the gospel of John, Nisan 14 is the very day the Passover lambs would have been slain – the day before the high holy day of the first day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:14-16)…Christ Himself died, as OUR “Passover lamb…Paul himself declares, “For indeed, Christ our PASSOVER, was sacrificed for us” (I Cor.5:7). This implies that He was sacrificed at the appointed time when ALL the Passover lambs were being killed, which was on the afternoon of Nisan 14” (I Cor.5:7) (Dankenbring W.F. What Year and Date Was Christ Crucified? http://www.triumphpro.com/passover_nisan_new_moons_29_31_ad.htm 6/20/06).

Hence, although I would have selected a different proof text, there is agreement that the Passover lambs were sacrificed sometime on the 14th of Nisan. Some would have been sacrificed at twilight and others apparently later. Jesus kept the Passover at twilight and was killed later on the 14th.

Who does the Bible say was the Lamb of God? Well, Jesus the Christ of course:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).

And was Jesus the Passover lamb sacrificed for us?

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Thus, according to the Bible (and even TPM), the Passover lambs were sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan. Jesus was the Lamb of God who was the Passover sacrificed for us. Thus, if one agrees with TPM that the New Testament teaches that the Passover lambs were sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan, then one should agree that the New Testament Passover should also be observed on the 14th of Nisan. TPM however, seems to feel that the Passover is to be observed the night after the lambs are killed.

What About Jewish Practices?

TPM claims that the day that Jews NOW commonly observe is proof that Passover for Christians must be the 15th of Nisan.

Here is some of its statements along that line:

Proof No. 5 — the Day the Jews Observe

The apostle Paul wrote, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?  MUCH EVERY WAY,” he answered his own question.  He went on: “chiefly, because that unto THEM were committed the ORACLES OF GOD” (Romans 3:1-2).  God entrusted His Word and by extension His Holy Days and revelations TO THE JEWS for them to be preserved throughout the generations and centuries and millennia.  Were it not for the Jews’ faithfulness to this command, we would not even possess the entire Old Testament of the Bible, where the laws and commandments of God are all recorded!

The Jews all understand the truth about Passover, and all orthodox Jews to this very day, and all Judaism as a whole, observes Passover on NISAN 15, just as their forefathers and ancestors have done, century after century after century! (Dankenbring WF. Come out of Babylon, My People! SEVENTEEN PROOFS Why PASSOVER Should Be Observed on Nisan 15! http://www.triumphpro.com/passover17.htm 6/21/06).

The problem is that most Jews have not been faithful to the original date. And while the Jews know which day is the fourteenth of Nisan, the fact that they added additional dates for the Passover (and some of the other Holy Days for those of the diaspora) does not make them the judge of how or when to observe the Holy Days (this is to be done by the “body of Christ”, Colossians 2:17, AFV). One of the reasons they did this is that they confused the meal they take on the 15th (the “night to be much observed”, Exodus 12:42 KJV, see also The Night to Be Observed) with the Passover celebration (many Jews still have meals on both nights, though it is not clear that they still know why).

Here is proof from the Jewish Encyclopedia that the Jews should realize that Passover is on the 14th:

Lev. xxiii., however, seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and http://d3sva65x0i5hnc.cloudfront.net/V09p548007.jpg(the Festival of Unleavened Bread; ἑορτή τῶν ἀζύμων, Luke xxii. 1; Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 1, § 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. Passover. (Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)

Here are two other explanations as to why there has been confusion amongst Jews:

Two Passovers

The gospels appear to say that the Messiah ate a Passover meal with the twelve on the evening beginning Nisan 14, and John appears to say Jews were having their Passover meal one day later. There are different theories to explain this.

1. The Sadducees and Pharisees disagreed on the day of Passover. The Sadducees (more conservative group) believed the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were separate feast days. They held Passover on the fourteenth as God decreed in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Those of the majority opinion, including the Pharisees, held Passover on the fifteenth. Jesus may have been following both dates by having Passover with the disciples on the fourteenth and becoming the Passover lamb on the fifteenth.

2. Thousands of people would come to Jerusalem to have their lambs ritually slain in the Temple. If they only had one day in which to prepare for the Passover, it would have been extremely difficult to have slaughtered all the lambs brought in to be sacrificed. Therefore, they worked on two different time scales. The northern part of the country went with the old way of dating (starting from morning and going to the following morning). The southern part of the country followed the official dating method (from evening to evening). Thus, there were two times when lambs were being killed in the Temple for sacrifice (Sampson R & Pierce L. A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays. Heart of Wisdom Publishing June 2001, p. 112)

Thus, for whatever reason, the Jews got a little bit confused. With some keeping the correct date–the same date that Jesus kept (and He would have known which date was biblically correct).

What Happened Before Passover?

TPM argues that last meal that Jesus ate before His crucifixion was before the Passover, thus was not a Passover meal:

What, Then, Was the “Last Supper”?

In fact, the apostle John himself writes, “Now BEFORE the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come . . . and supper being ended, the devil having already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot . . . to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from SUPPER [the “Last Supper”], and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself” (John 13:1-4). He then began to wash the disciples’ feet (vs.5-12).

John plainly calls this mean a “SUPPER” – not the “Passover” meal! He plainly says it occurred “BEFORE” the upcoming Feast of the Passover (verse 1). There is NO WAY that meal could have been the “Passover,” as so many seem to assume! (Dankenbring W.F. What Year and Date Was Christ Crucified? http://www.triumphpro.com/passover_nisan_new_moons_29_31_ad.htm 6/20/06).

Now plainly John says this final “supper” was “before” the Passover! Therefore it could not have been the “Passover”!…

Therefore, when we understand it, there is absolutely NO PROOF that the “last supper” was actually the “Passover” itself, as so many people assume. (Dankenbring WF. John 19:14 — What Do You Mean, “About the Sixth Hour”? http://www.triumphpro.com/john_19,_sixth_hour.htm 6/23/06).

Jesus sent Peter and John telling them, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” In context, then, He is telling them to “Prepare for the coming Passover Feast” – all the seven days of “Passover” (verse 1). They had to prepare – that is, obtain “unleavened bread,” and all the things necessary for observing the Passover for seven days. That is why this day was called a day of preparation.’ Jesus was telling His disciples to ‘PREPARE’ for the up-coming Passover – that is, to GET READY and make preparations. He did not say the meal that very night would be the Passover! Luke plainly calls it “supper” – not “Passover” – as we shall see! (Dankenbring WF. Was the Lord’s Supper Really the Passover? Prophecy Flash, March-April 2010.)

Contrary to what TPM wrote above, Jesus DOES call this meal the Passover in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”‘”

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating (Matthew 26:18-21).

14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”

16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.

17 In the evening He came with the twelve. 18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” (Mark 14:14-18)

15 With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..(Luke 22:15).

Also, contrary to what TPM wrote above, TPM’s contention of what John plainly says is in error. Additionally, TPM’s quoting of those passages gives the appearance that certain events were absolutely together when the reading of the entire context shows that this is NOT the case.

A review of the Greek in John 13:1 shows that before the Passover that Jesus knew His hour had come and that He loved His disciples. It does not say that He had SUPPER before the Passover.

Below are two literal translations, the first of which also shows the relevant Strong’s number of each of the Greek words:

4253 1161 3588 1859 3588 3957 1492 3588
before Now the feast of the passover, when knew the

2424 3754 2064 846 3588 5610 2443
Jesus that was come his the hour that

3327 1537 3588 2889 5127 4314 3588
he should depart out of the world this unto the

3962 25 3588 9999 2398 3588 1722 3588
Father, having loved which were his own the in the

2889 1519 9999 5056. 25 846
world, unto the end. he loved them. (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft).

And before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should move from this world to the Father, loving (His) own in the world, He loved them to (the) end (Green J.P. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, 3rd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1996).

(Note: I added the term “the” in the four places where J. Green left it blank.)

Thus to teach that John 13 plainly states that supper was before the Passover is not supported by the main verse (13:1). Secondarily, the word supper is used is in the next verse. The Greek word used is transliterated as deipnon, a term normally referring to the evening meal:

deipnon (dipe’-non)…dinner, i.e. the chief meal (usually in the evening) (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Hence, a dinner meal was normally in the evening (and the evening begins at/after twilight). Jesus’ acts immediately after the meal was completed did occur on the Tuesday evening portion of the 14th of Nisan and NOT the 13th as some have suggested (this is also confirmed by 1 Corinthians 11:23 which will be quoted later).

Thus, John 13 is clearly supportive of a 14th Passover.

Furthermore, the real question is how did God view this particular meal, or at least the symbolism after the meal? Notice what Jesus told His disciples about this meal:

And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ‘ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22:8-19).

Thus, it is clear that on that evening of the 14th, Jesus and His disciples observed the Passover. TPM may wish to assert that the meal was eaten before sunset, but since the passover lambs were not killed until the twilight on the 14th (Exodus 12:6) and the verse specifically says that Jesus did not sit down until the hour had come, the fact is that this is the Passover according to Jesus. This is when He implemented the footwashing, the wine, and the bread–it should be noted that Paul clearly teaches that this was done at night (1 Corinthians 11:23). And we are to do this in remembrance of Jesus, and since Passover is an annual 14th of Nisan event (Numbers 9:2-5), this means on the 14th shortly after sunset.

And that is what we in the Continuing Church of God (as well as most in CG7 and other COG groups) do.

TPM is Following Error

There was controversy associated with the date of Passover that began in the second century. Some wanted the original date of the 14th, some wanted Sunday instead, while some others wanted the 15th.

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

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).

For it was in Rome and Greek Jerusalem that the habit of changing the date of Passover began.

It may be of interest to note “And in Rome …Anicetus assumed the leadership of the Christians there… But Justin was especially prominent in those days” (Eusebius Church History. Book IV, Chapter 11). This may indicate that the heretic Justin Martyr influenced Anicetus so much that he would not agree to only observe the Nisan 14 Passover (Justin opposed various biblical practices).

However, those in Asia Minor, did not change the date in the second century.

Apollinaris was a church leader of Hierapolis in Phrygia of Asia Minor. Around 180 A.D. he wrote (possibly because some wanted Sunday or others the 15th):

The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. 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. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

One Anglican scholar noted:

…there is no doubt that Apollinarius was a Quartodeciman…Those who kept Passover in the evening understood it to be a repetition of the Lord’s Supper (Stewart-Sykes A. Melito of Sardis On Pascha. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood (NY), 2001, p. 81).

Melito of Sardis of Asia Minor, probably by 180 A.D., wrote the following on Passover:

When Servilius Paulus was proconsul of Asia, at the time that Sagaris suffered martyrdom, there arose a great controversy at Laodicea concerning the time of the celebration of the Passover, which on that occasion had happened to fall at the proper season (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. On the passover. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 11/18/06).

Click here for a complete version of The Homily On the Passover by Melito. If your church does not teach you about the Passover and why you should observe it, your church simply is not following the teachings and practices of Early Christianity.

A decade or so after Melito’s death, Roman Bishop Victor tried to enforce the preferred Roman Sunday date for Passover and stop Christians from following the biblical date of Nisan 14.

The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who, as the previous writing showed, wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Sunday:

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’ (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that Polycrates said that he and the other early church leaders (like the Apostles Philip and John, and their successors like Polycarp, Thraseas, Sagaris, Papirius, Melito) would not deviate from the Bible, and that they knew the Bible taught them to keep the Passover on the correct date, and not on a Sunday (unless that was the correct date, as it was last year). Also notice that they always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. Polycrates also reminded the Roman bishop that true followers of Christ “obey God rather than men”.

Hence it is clear that throughout the second century, the churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan (and for doing so, they were labeled as Quartodecimans, fourteenthers, by the Romans), unlike the Romans, and they refused to accept the authority of any Roman bishop over scripture.

While many English-speakers are unaware, the date called Easter in English (March 31, 2013) is supposed to be a change of the date for Passover. For one of several proofs, notice that the Catholic Priest Bede (also known as “the Venerable Bede”) recorded from a Catholic Abbot named Wilfrid who was trying to justify near the beginning of the eighth century why it was acceptable to not follow the Apostle John’s practices regarding Passover and change the 14th to an Easter Sunday:

Far be it from me to charge John with foolishness: he literally observed the decrees of the Mosaic law when the Church was still Jewish in many respects, at a time when the apostles were unable to bring a sudden end to that law which God ordained…So John, in accordance with the custom of the law, began the celebration of Easter Day in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, regardless of whether it fell on the sabbath or any other day (Bede (Monk). Edited by Judith McClure and Roger Collins. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Oxford University Press, NY, 1999).

Many languages use a term meaning Passover, like pascha, and hence somewhat realize that they are supposed to be observing Easter.

Notice what the Roman Catholic priest and historian Bellarmino Bagatti wrote related to the fourth century:

…the inhabitants of Syria, of Cilcia and of Mesopotamia were still celebrating Easter {Passover} with the Jews…

(Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 47-48).

The scholars of the Greco-Roman faiths all realize that what is celebrated now and called “Easter” was supposed to be an observation of Passover.

Why the change of date?

The respected Protestant scholar J.B. Lightfoot specifically wrote:

the Churches of Asia Minor which regulated their Easter festival by the Jewish passover without regard to the day of the week, but with those of Rome and Alexandria and Gaul which observed another rule; thus avoiding even the semblance of Judaism (Lightfoot, Joseph Barber. Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Macmillan and co., limited, 1910. Original from the University of California. Digitized Oct 16, 2007, p. 331).

Yet, no early Christian (or even Catholic) called Passover “Easter.” Nearly all realized that Christians were supposed to observe Passover. And the truly faithful kept it on the 14th of Nisan, not the 15th and not on a Sunday that was not the 14th.

In the second century, it was reported that Passover was an annual event and that it was held at night (Epistula Apostolorum, Chapter 15 as shown in Elliot JK. The apocryphal New Testament: a collection of apocryphal Christian literature in an English translation, reprint edition. Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 565). The Eastern Orthodox realize that this is so, as one of their priests has written:

Pascha is the feast of universal redemption. Our earliest sources for the an­nual celebration of the Christian Pascha come to us from the second century…The feast, however, must have originated in the apostolic period…According to the earliest documents, Pascha is described as a nocturnal celebration…(Calivas, Alkiviadis C. The Origins of Pascha and Great Week – Part I. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1992. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8504 viewed 11/04/2011)

Yet, modern “Easter” practices are in the early morning, not in the evening, and do not have the practices that early Christians had. Nor did they observe Lent.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

So, like the Apostle John (the last of the original apostles to die), the early faithful Christians observed Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. And they did this on the 14th after sunset.

The Christian Passover for 2015 is Thursday, April 2nd, after sunset which is when the 14th of Nisan begins.

Several articles of related interest may include:

TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?
Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?
This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?
How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.

Should Christians observe Passover or Easter?

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Site of Calvary?

COGwriter

Many people, especially in the English-speaking nations do not realize that the holiday that they call Easter really is supposed to be Passover.

In many other languages, some version of the Greek word páscha is often used, so in those cultures they tend to be more aware of the original biblical connection.

When is Passover?  Is it early in the morning?

No.

As far as Christians go, Jesus and His disciples kept it in the evening (cf. John 13).

In the second century, it was reported that Passover was an annual event and that it was held at night (Epistula Apostolorum, Chapter 15 as shown in Elliot JK. The apocryphal New Testament: a collection of apocryphal Christian literature in an English translation, reprint edition. Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 565).

The Eastern Orthodox realize that this is so, as one of their priests has written:

Pascha is the feast of universal redemption. Our earliest sources for the an­nual celebration of the Christian Pascha come to us from the second century…The feast, however, must have originated in the apostolic period…According to the earliest documents, Pascha is described as a nocturnal celebration…(Calivas, Alkiviadis C. The Origins of Pascha and Great Week – Part I. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1992. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8504 viewed 11/04/2011)

Most people do not seem to realize that ALL early Christians kept Passover. And that because of various compromises “Easter” later came to be observed by most who claim Christ.

Later, that compromise was formally agreed to by a council called by an non-baptized Emperor in 325. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1170 At the Council of Nicaea 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. Because of different methods of calculating the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the date of Easter in the Western and Eastern Churches is not always the same. For this reason, the Churches are currently seeking an agreement in order once again to celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection on a common date. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 332)

It should be noted that ALL the churches did not agree and those in the true Church of God did not attend the Council of Nicea.

That it is understood, even by some Catholic scholars, that “Judeo-Christian” churches were not represented on at that Council. Notice what Priest Bellarmino Bagatti wrote.

…the inhabitants of Syria, of Cilcia and of Mesopotamia were still celebrating Easter {Passover} with the Jews…

The importance of the matters to be discussed and the great division that existed had led Constantine to bring together a big number of bishops, including confessors of the faith, in order to give the impression that the whole of Christendom was represented.

In fact…the churches of Jewish stock had had no representation…From this we can conclude that no Judaeo-Christian bishop participated in the Council. Either they were not invited or they declined to attend. And so the capitulars had a free hand to establish norms for certain practices without meeting opposition or hearing other view points. ( Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 47-48)

Over time, not only the date, the practices associated with Passover changed for the Greco-Roman churches as did the name in languages like English.

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…

Passover this year is after sunset April 2nd. Easter is observed by the Church of Rome on April 5th this year (it is always AFTER the 14th as a decision was made centuries ago to NOT have it on the biblical date).

During Passover services in the Continuing Church of God, most of Jesus’ words in John 13-18 tend to be read and/or commented upon as part of the service. Most people do not seem to realize that this is what Jesus taught on the night He was betrayed. Also, most do not realize that much of the Gospel According to John had to do with two holy day seasons: the final Passover season (Chapters 13-21) and one particular Feast of Tabernacles ‘ season (Chapters 7-9). And although Martin Luther preferred John’s Gospel, he ignored those days himself.

But early Christians did not ignore them. Pretty much all scholars realize that all early Christians kept Passover (see also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.).

What about you?

Those who wish to learn more should also study the following:

Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Here is a link to a video titled Why Easter?
How often should we partake of THE LORD’S SUPPER? Herbert Armstrong answers that question.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Ishtar and Easter

Thursday, March 19th, 2015


Clothed Ishtar, early 2nd millennium BC (Marie-Lan Nguyen)

COGwriter

Where did the name Easter come from?

Easter itself is not a Christian term but comes from paganism:

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, which deity…Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh. (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)

ISHTAR was one of the most prominent of the deities of the Accadian and Assyrian Pantheon. Se was the Assyrian goddess of Love. She was the…Ashtoreth of the Jews or Hebrews. She is the planetary Venus, and in general features corresponds with the classical goddess of Love. Her name Ishtar is that by which she was known in Assyria, and the same name prevailed, with slight modifications, among the Semite nations generally. In Babylonia the goddess was known as Nana…

She may be identified with Eostre of the Germans, or Easter. To this goddess our Saxon or German ancestors sacrificed in April, which was therefore by them styled…Eostur-monath, and from thence arose our word Easter, which the Saxons retained after their conversion to Christianity, so that our Easter-day is nothing more nor less than Ishtar’s day…The name became attached by association of ideas to the Christian festival of the Resurrection (of Christ), which happened at the time of the passover…The English name Easter, and the German Ostern, are derived from the name of the Teutonic goddess Ostera (Anglo-Saxon Eostre), whose festival was celebrated by the ancient Saxons with peculiar solemnities in the month of April; and for which, as in many other instances, the first Romish missionaries substituted the paschal feast.” The Council of Nice “ordained (A.D. 325) that it should be kept always on a Sunday.” Thus we find that it was originally the festival of Ishtar, and occurred on the Sabatu of Elul, or the festival Sabbath of the Assyrians, which occurred in August or harvest time; and that it afterwards became united with the passover or paschal feast of the Jews, and finally adopted by the Christian Church as the Easter Sabbath, changing the date to the spring or seed time, or in April from the harvest month or August. Among the Assyrians it was the feast day of Ishtar and Nergal…

The Phoenician name of Ishtar was Astarte, the later Mendaean form of which was Ashtar. She was called Jeremiah, “the queen of heaven,” Jer. vii, 18, and xliv. 17-25…she was sometimes called “the goddess of the chase,” corresponding to Diana as well as Venus, the goddess of love. Mr. George Rawlinson says: “The worship of Ishtar was widespread, and her shrines were numerous. She is often called the “queen of Babylon”…It may be suspected that her symbol was the naked female form…(Hamilton LLC note. Ishtar and Izdubar, the epic of Babylon; or, The Babylonian goddess of love and the hero and warrior king, restored in mod. verse by L.L.C. Hamilton. 1884 Original from Oxford University Digitized Jun 19, 2007, pp. 207-208)

Ishtar is pronounced about the same as the English term Easter. Perhaps it should be mentioned that there was an Ishtar gate in ancient Babylon, hence there are a variety of connections between paganism/Babylon and Easter.

Basically, the adoption of Easter was the result of compromise with paganism. Some aspects of the adoption of its non-biblical symbols has been obscured, but some legends may cast some insight about it.

Here is one legend about the Easter egg and Easter:

According to ancient Babylonian legend, it is claimed that Ishtar caused the fish-goddess Atargatis to cause a great egg to fall in the Euphrates river where fish pushed it to shore and Semĩramis was miraculously born. The Easter egg – Ishtar egg – does not represent the stone rolled away from the tomb like the medieval church said it did…

The English word “Easter,” however, corresponding to the German Oster, reveals Christianity’s indebtedness to the Teutonic tribes of Central Europe. Christianity, when it reached the Teutons, incorporated in its celebration of the great Christian feast day many of the heathen rites and customs which accompanied their observance of the spring festival. That the festival of the resurrection occurred in the spring, that it celebrated the triumph of life over death, made it easy for the church to identify with this occasion the most joyous festival of the Teutons, held in honor of the death of winter, the birth of a new year and the return of the sun. (Deschesne D. Ishtar The Origin of the Easter Tradition. Fort Fairfield Journal ı April 12, 2006, p. 9)

Notice another view about Easter eggs:

According to Babylonian legend, a huge egg fell from heaven, landing in the Euphrates river. The goddess Ishtar broke out of this egg. Later the feature of “egg nesting” was introduced–a nest were the egg could be incubated until it hatched. A “wicker” or reed basket was used to nest the Ishtar egg (hence the Easter egg basket.)

The Easter egg hunt is based on the notion that if anyone found Ishtar’s egg while she was being “reborn,”she would bestow a blessing upon that lucky person. Because this was a joyous Spring festival, eggs were colored in bright Spring (pastel) colors.

The Easter Bunny. Among the Celts, custom dictated that “the goddess” totem would lay eggs for the good children to eat…Eostre’s hare was the shape that the Celts imagined on the surface of the full moon…

Since Ishtar or Eostre, was a goddess of fertility–and because rabbits procreate quickly–the rabbit became associated with the sexual act, and the egg became a symbol of “birth” and “renewal.” (Chapman TL. God’s Law of Love: The Perfect Law of Liberty Jehovah’s Ten Commands Still Apply Today. iUniverse, 2010, p. 133)

As there are various legends (including the idea that Ishtar was reborn every Spring from an egg) and ideas, the reality is that the Easter egg has a non-Christian origin.

The Catholic Encyclopedia makes various claims and admissions about Easter:

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…

Easter eggs

…The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter…

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)…

Men and women

On Easter Monday the women had a right to strike their husbands, on Tuesday the men struck their wives… 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 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. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies...

(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 Church of Rome adopted many of the customs of Easter, and considered the eggs as the emblem of the resurrection. Notice the prayer blessing of Pope Paul V, about 1610, on Easter eggs, which, in English, reads thus:

“Bless, O Lord! we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to thy faithful servants, eating it in thankfulness to thee on account of the resurrection of the Lord.” (Easter Eggs. Donahoe’s Magazine, Volume 5, T.B. Noonan, 1881. Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Digitized Jul 10, 2009, p. 558)

But the Bible gives no such teachings about the use of eggs.

Easter was not just a sunrise goddess:

Ishtar, she was both fertility and a war goddess. … Easter or Astarte is in effect the same worship of an old Babylonian sex cult instituted by Semiramis the warrior queen who had a lust for blood (Kush H. Faces of the Hamitic People. Xlibris Corporation, 2010, p. 164)

Ishtar was seen as the personification of the planet Venus, and together with Shamash, the sun god, and Sin, the moon god, she formed an astral triad. (Littleton CS. Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, Volume 6. Marshall Cavendish, 2005 p. 760)

So, Ishtar/Easter essentially was a warring sex/fertility goddess and her name suggests that lust (sexual and/or for membership) was behind much associated with Easter. The vast consumption of candy in most cultures associated with Easter suggests that perhaps lust is still a factor about the holiday today.

The Bible itself also condemns certain practices, now associated with Easter, such as hot Easter buns/cakes (Jeremiah 7:18), 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/Astarte/Eostre, has to do with a fertility festival involving rabbits and looking to the east in early morning as pagans did.

Those who wish to learn more should also study the following:

Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? Where did Easter come from? What do scholars and the Bible reveal? Why Easter? Did early Christians observe Easter? What are the origins of Easter? What does Easter have to do with the goddess Ishtar. Where did the word Easter come from? Where do Easter eggs come from? What do rabbits have to do with Easter? Was Jesus resurrected on a Sunday? This is a video.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?
How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Because of ‘Lent,’ a rodent was declared a fish

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


Capybara (Photo by Karelj)

COGwriter

We are currently in the middle of a Greco-Roman adopted time called Lent.

Because of this period, a rodent was once declared to be a fish. A reader sent me the following:

Giant Rodents A Lenten Dish

Sun Sentinel, Florida – excerpt…

About 400 years ago, Spanish missionaries discovered that some indigenous communities in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil relied for much of their protein on the meat of the capybara, an animal that no European had seen before.

The missionaries reported back to Rome that they had encountered an animal that was hairy and scaly and spent more of its time in the water than on land. They asked whether their new converts could continue to eat capybara at Lent, a time when Catholics traditionally avoid meat.

With no clear idea of what the capybara was or looked like and concerned a ban would lead to indigenous communities starving during Lent, the Vatican immediately ruled that the semi-aquatic mammal was in fact a fish.

The tradition continues to this day, and eating capybara remains part of the Lenten tradition for many families, despite the fact that the giant rodent tastes like a cross between fish and lamb. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-03-18/news/0303170443_1_rodents-lenten-capybara

“In 1784 and after several attempts at obtaining a Vatican license, a Papal Bull (decree) allowed the consumption of capybara flesh during Lent…” - Capybara: Biology, Use and Conservation of an Exceptional Neotropical Species, by José Roberto Moreira, Katia Maria P.M.B., Springer Aug 15, 2012, page 307

So, without seeing the rodent, the Vatican declared it a fish. Perhaps it would have come to a different decision if it saw the capybara as it has fur and toes.

Despite now knowing the the Vatican has apparently not rescinded allowing the capybara from being eaten during its Lenten period. Here is some additional information about that rodent being a Lenten dish:

In Days Before Easter, Venezuelans Tuck Into Rodent-Related Delicacy
New York Sun – March 24, 2005 excerpt…
Though it’s hard to imagine eating a boiled, oversize rat, salted capybara is considered a delicacy in Venezuela, where thousands this week are enjoying the meat of the rodent during Holy Week. Centuries ago, the Vatican ruled that these furry cousins of rats and mice native to South America’s plains qualify as fish – paving the way for capybara feasts during Lent, when red meat is prohibited. http://www.nysun.com/foreign/in-days-before-easter-venezuelans-tuck-into/11063/

Of course, Lent is not a biblically-enjoined period, so having unusual declarations about it should not be unexpected.

Actually, according to the Bible, rodents, like the capybara are not to be eaten at all (cf. Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Early Christians also did not eat biblically-unclean animals (see The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats). However, in Alexandria, Egypt and elsewhere, compromisers began to conclude that the biblical injunctions against unclean animals was no longer meant to be literally understood. But many did not go along with this in Europe or Asia Minor.

So, how did consumption of unclean meat became common?

Well in addition to the writings and positions of some compromiser, the answer might lie in a Catholic document titled Liber Pontificalis.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, the position on unclean meat consumption was changed by Bishop Eleutherius in the late second century:

He also decreed that no kind of food in common use should be rejected especially by the Christian faithful, inasmuch as God created it; provided it was a rational food and fit for human kind (Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) 2nd edition. Translation by Raymond Davis. Liverpool University Press – Translated Texts for Historians, Liverpool, 2001, p.17).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The “Liber Pontificalis” ascribes to Pope Eleutherius a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians (Et hoc iterum firmavit ut nulla esca a Christians repudiaretur, maxime fidelibus, quod Deus creavit, quæ tamen rationalis et humana est).

It should be noted that Roman bishops were not called Popes that early (that did not happen until the late fourth century). Anyway, according to Lopes book The Popes, Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from 175-189 AD. This book (which I purchased at the Vatican itself) states this about Eleutherius:

He dispensed with the obligations of Christians to follow dietary laws of Judaic origin (page 5).

The above book should have said the obligations of biblical origin as the dietary restrictions began with God and not Jews (the distinction between clean and unclean animals was known by at least Noah’s time, since God so declared in Genesis 7:2-3). Perhaps it needs to be stated that no one called of God in the Old Testament or New Testament is ever shown to have consumed unclean meat.

Notice that the Church of Rome claims that it was because of its Bishop in the late second century who allowed that Christians could eat biblically-unclean animals. The Protestant world, who now states other reasons, has gone along with the Roman declaration.

Yet, faithful Christians, such as those in the Continuing Church of God have continued to avoid them as the Bible teaches (which is also consistent with the faithful Christians throughout recorded history). ‘Nazarene’ Christians faced the death penalty from followers of Emperor Constantine’s Greco-Roman faith in the fourth century if when the refused to eat pork on penalty of death.

So, when is a rodent a fish? When compromise occurs.

Why do people keep Lent? Because they, too, have accepted compromises that have affected those in the Greco-Roman faiths throughout history. Lent, itself, was the result of compromise.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language by Dr. Hoeh: ¿Por Qué Se Observa la Cuaresma?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Is Mardi Gras Christian? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Where did it come from? There is also a related YouTube video Mardi Gras & Carnaval: Are they for Christians?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats Are foods considered to have been unclean in the Old Testament considered to be food in the New Testament? This article discusses this from the perspective of the New Testament. It also has a list of clean and unclean animals. It also answers the question, is pork healthy or is pork dangerous? There is also a sermon-length video on this: Christians and Unclean Meats.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon videoed in Vatican City is Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Is Saint Patrick’s Day a Christian day?

Friday, March 13th, 2015


Postcard from 1912 for “St. Patrick’s Day”

COGwriter

March 17th is often observed as St. Patrick’s Day. Is this a day real Christians should celebrate?

The Protestant Christianity Today seems to think so as an article at its website stated:

IrishWatch
Get into the Saint Patrick’s Day mood with an eclectic selection of websites concerning all things Irish.

Each year millions of people observe St. Patrick’s Day, but those in the real Churches of God (COGs), like the Continuing Church of God, do not.

Why?

Because of what it is and what it is supposed to represent.

The Catholic Encyclopedia makes some interesting, as well as disturbing, claims about Patrick:

St. Patrick
Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland…Pope St. Celestine I, who rendered immortal service to the Church by the overthrow of the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies, and by the imperishable wreath of honour decreed to the Blessed Virgin in the General Council of Ephesus, crowned his pontificate by an act of the most far-reaching consequences for the spread of Christianity and civilization, when he entrusted St. Patrick with the mission of gathering the Irish race into the one fold…

“St. Patrick’s Breast-Plate”, is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity…

St. Patrick proceeded through Gowran into Ossory; here he erected a church under the invocation of St. Martin, near the present city of Kilkenny, and enriched it with many precious relics which he had brought from Rome…

Many times in the day he armed himself with the sign of the Cross…

Far more ample, however, were the aspirations of the saint, and he resolved to persevere in fasting and prayer until the fullest measure of his petition was granted. Again and again the angel came to comfort him, announcing new concessions; but all these would not suffice. He would not relinquish his post on the mountain, or relax his penance, until all were granted. At length the message came that his prayers were heard:

  • many souls would be free from the pains of purgatory through his intercession…and…
  • greatest blessing of all, Patrick himself should be deputed to judge the whole Irish race on the last day.,

Such were the extraordinary favors which St. Patrick, with his wrestling with the Most High, his unceasing prayers, his unconquerable love of heavenly things, and his unremitting penetential deeds, obtained for the people whom he evangelized (Cardinal Moran, Patrick Francis. Transcribed by Mary Doorley. St. Patrick. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

We in the Continuing Church of God do not consider that Patrick was an apostle. We do not consider that people should wear crosses. We do not believe that he has been chosen by God to judge the Irish race on judgment day.

We also realize that the idea of purgatory was not adopted until the Church of Rome distanced itself from the teachings on apocatastasis (the biblical doctrine that in the age to come that all who did not have a real opportunity for salvation will actually receive one).

Although most Protestants do not accept the Roman concept of of purgatory, they (unlike the Eastern Orthodox) went along with Rome and also no longer generally teach apocatastasis.

So one reason not to celebrate “St. Patrick’s Day” is that it promotes non-biblical doctrines and helps obscure the real teachings of the Bible.

But there are more.

Wikipedia reports:

Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá ‘le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially Paddy’s Day or St. Patty’s Day, is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (373-493), the patron saint of Ireland, on March17, the day on which Saint Patrick died…It became a feast day in the universal church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding, as a member of the commission for the reform of the Breviary in the early part of the 17th century…

One traditional icon of the day is the shamrock. This stems from a more bona fide Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.

The St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737, the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated, in Boston, Mass.

Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing green (Saint Patrick’s Day. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day 03/16/07).

The above should give persons in the COGs pause to celebrate this holiday.

Not only do we not celebrate what “the universal church” observes, we do not accept that God is a trinity as defined by the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. A three-leafed shamrock is what we in the USA call a three-leafed clover. The early church did not consider that God was such a trinity, hence the observation of a holiday intended to celebrate one who used a green clover to mislead people about the nature of the Godhead would not be appropriate. (Two articles of related interest may be Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? and Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.

So, St. Patrick’s Day is essentially a holiday promoting the wrong view of the Godhead.

The History Channel reported:

The Shamrock

In fact the first written mention of this story did not appear until nearly a thousand years after Patrick’s death. The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism.

So whether the green clover has intended to be a symbol of a non-existent trinity or a pagan symbol related to the rebirth of Spring, following the custom of wearing green on March 17th would not seem to be a biblically-wise idea. Many other practices of this holiday show that it is not a biblical one.

The “fruits” of this holiday are not good. Not only are they dangerous (see St. Patrick’s Day: A More Dangerous Time to Drive) the type of revelry and drinking parties that occur supposedly to celebrate it were condemned by the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:1-3) and the Apostle Paul (Galatians 5:19-21).

Patrick was Not the First Christian in the Isles

Despite certain claims, the one claimed to be St. Patrick by the Romans simply was not the first to bring Christianity to the British Isles. Hippolytus (an early Catholic saint, who, like earlier Catholic saints, also opposed the trinity), in the early third century, claimed that one of the seventy that Jesus sent out to preach ended up in Britain:

These two belonged to the seventy disciples who were scattered…Aristobulus, bishop of Britain (Hippolytus. Where Each OF Them Preached, And Where HE Met His End).

If that is so, Aristobulus could have have been placed in charge by one of the apostles as the seventy (Luke 10:1,17) had to have known the original apostles. But it is clear that by the early third century, it was known that some version of Christianity had made it into the British Isles. And as others have also indicated, this could have occurred earlier.

Eusebius, for another example, wrote in the 4th century that Jesus’disciples reached the British Isles:

His disciples…to preach to all the Name of Jesus, to teach about His marvellous deeds in country and town, that some of them should take possession of the Roman Empire, and the Queen of Cities itself, and others the Persian, others the Armenian, that others should go to the Parthian race, and yet others to the Scythian, that some already should have reached the very ends of the world, should have reached the land of the Indians, and some have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain (Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica, Book 3, Chapter 5. Translated by W.J. Ferrar. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. London. The Macmillan Company. New York 1920, p. 113).

Notice a sixth century account:

Venantius Fortunatus, A.D. 560, says: “St. Paul passed over the ocean to the Island of Britain, and to Thule, the extremity of the earth.” (Ireland) (Celtic Sabbath-Keeping Study No. 264, from Cherith Chronicle, April-June 1998, pp. 46-47. http://www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/264.celtic-sabbath-keeping.html 6/24/06)

Thus, Aristobulus and/or others (like possibly Paul) came to the Isles well before “Patrick.”

The truth is that when they arrived, the Roman Catholics were unhappy to find a Christianity in the Isles that held to very non-Catholic beliefs (more on this is in the article The Pergamos Church Era).

Now, it should be noted that some believe that the Patrick that the Catholics venerate was not actually supportive of Rome and had certain Christian teachings. And that might be so, however, the celebration that millions will participate in today is based on the claimed shamrock, etc. version of his life.

Another Non-Christian Custom

Although most probably consider that getting drunk is the biggest social problem associated with the holiday (other than its ties to idolatry), one particularly disgusting practice is that people who do not wear green on this day are subject to ridicule and harassment.

One such practice (especially among some American children) is chasing and pinching those who do not wear green on that day. And while some may consider that this type of persecution is only a harmless practice, it has caused distress and harm to many children over the years.

Notice the following:

If you don’t wear green people pinch you constantly (St. Patrick’s Day. P.J. J. Todd M. 3/16/07).

#1 St. Patrick’s Day Priority – Avoid Being Pinched
Tradition Dictates Those Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Must Work Green Into Their Outfits . (PR Newswire. March 6, 2007).

It’s that time again: the time to put on your best bright green suit, march down the streets of your town, parade yourself into your favorite local pub and show your Irish pride. Don’t forget to pinch those who are not wearing green (Anderson, Rusty. Daily Staff Writer. It’s not authentic just because it’s green. Iowa State Daily, 03/08/07).

Although St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious celebration to honor St. Patrick, to us it has become much more. Our memories of the festivities consist of pinching those who don’t wear green (Morgan, Holly. Daily Staff Writer. Holiday tradition changes from honoring a saint to honoring all things Irish. Iowa State Daily, 03/08/07).

Would that practice be one that Jesus would endorse? Did not Jesus object to those who held to tradition but ignored the weightier matters of the law? Notice:

23 Woe to you…For you…have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23, NKJV).

If not, how can any who consider themselves any type of Christian participate or allow their children to participate is such a non-loving, non-merciful practice, like pinching? (Please also see the article Tradition and the Bible.)

Furthermore, it was quite presumptuous, as well as wrong, for this Patrick to conclude that God will use him on the last day to judge all the Irish race (allegedly Patrick was told so by an “angel” named Victor, for details see Why The Continuing Church of God Does Not Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day). This suggests to me, at least, that he was possibly delusional or demonically-influenced. Why would Christians wish to be part of this delusion?

Many of the stories of St. Patrick lead to a misunderstanding of what Christianity is and the nature of the Godhead. It also is highly deceiving for the Irish as they will not be judged by this Patrick.

Notice what the Apostle Peter wrote:

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. (1 Peter 4:1-3)

Is not “St. Patrick’s Day” a time from revelry, drinking parties, and drunkenness? Is not that something that the Apostle Peter said real Christians would no longer participate in?

According to the Apostle Paul, such people will not be in the Kingdom of God:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

The writings from the apostles should be enough to stop professors of Christ from participating in St. Patrick’s Day revelries, but sadly most who profess Christ overlook much of what the Bible teaches about real Christian practices.

For those and all the related reasons, we in the Continuing Church of God do not intentionally wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, do not pinch others, nor do we intentionally observe other celebrations related to that Patrick on that day.

We, like others who try to “live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), instead keep the same holy days that the Bible enjoins and that were kept by the original apostles and their early followers. Shouldn’t you?

Some biblical holy days will be upon us in less two weeks (for dates, see calendar of Holy Days). Do you want to learn more about them?

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Why The Continuing Church of God Does Not Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day Should non-Catholics observe a Catholic holiday? What did Patrick actually teach and believe?
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date?
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.