Pentecost 2010 and in Early History

Striaght Path in   Tobago
A “straight and narrow way” in Tobago


Until sunset Sunday May 23, 2010 is the Holy Day known as Pentecost.  It is not only observed by Church of God groups like the Living Church of God, many other non-COG groups do as well.

Greco-Roman supporters wrote of it in the early centuries A.D.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost…The term, adopted from the Greek-speaking Jews (Tob. 2:1; II Mac. 12:32; Josephus, “Ant.”, III, x, 6; etc.) alludes to the fact that the feast, known in the Old Testament as “the feast of harvest of the firstfruits” (Exodus 23:16), “the feast of weeks” (Exodus 24:22; Deuteronomy 16:10: II Paralipomenon 8:13), the “day of firstfruits” (Numbers 28:26), and called by later Jews ‘asereth or ‘asartha (solemn assembly, and probably “closing festival”, Pentecost being the closing festival of the harvest and of the Paschal season) (Souvay C.L. Transcribed by Mark E. Maier. Pentecost (Jewish Feast) The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Pentecost (Whitsunday) 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). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth”…

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century…That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus. 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).

Tertullian in the late second century/early third century wrote:

Pentecost is a most joyous space for conferring baptisms; wherein, too, the resurrection of the Lord was repeatedly proved among the disciples, and the hope of the advent of the Lord indirectly pointed to, in that, at that time, when He had been received back into the heavens, the angels told the apostles that “He would so come, as He had withal ascended into the heavens;” at Pentecost, of course. But, moreover, when Jeremiah says, “And I will gather them together from the extremities of the land in the feast-day,” he signifies the day of the Passover and of Pentecost, which is properly a “feast-day” (Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 19. Translated by the S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

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 Lord’s day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost…And, finally, he who can truly say, “We are risen with Christ,” and “He has exalted us, and made us to sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ,” is always living in the season of 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).

In the fourth century, historian and Bishop Eusebius wrote:

All these events occurred during a most important festival, I mean the august and holy solemnity of Pentecost, which is distinguished by a period of seven weeks, and crowned with that one day on which the holy Scriptures attest the reception of our common Saviour into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit among men. In the course of this feast the emperor received the privileges I have described; and on the last day of all, which one might justly call the feast of feasts (Eusebius of Caesaria. The life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine [with the oration of Constantine to the assembly of saints and the oration of Eusebius in praise of Constantine], Chapter LXIV. 1845. Original from Oxford University. Digitized Aug 23, 2006, p. 227).

Although it was not called Whitsunday then (and should not be now), it is clearly documented that those who professed Christ in the first, second, third, and fourth centuries celebrated the Feast of Pentecost.

Furthermore, notice what Archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom wrote about it in the fourth century:

When, it says, the day of Pentecost was fully come: that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these…And, it says, there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men. The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding therefor it was Pentecost. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, pp. 53, 55, 56).

So, he admitted that after the resurrection, the faithful needed to be present at what was then considered to be a “Jewish feast”.

Notice what else John Chrysostom wrote:

But why did the Holy Ghost come to them, not while Christ was present, nor even immediately after His departure, but, whereas Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit descended when the day of Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth, was fully come ? And how was it, if the Spirit had not yet ‘” come, that He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost? In order, to render them capable and meet for the reception of Him. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily I. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, p. 11).

Well, a better and more obvious answer to why then, is that the Holy Days are part of God’s plan of salvation, the apostles followed Jesus’ example to keep them, and Pentecost was the time God planned to pour out His Spirit. The disciples obviously did not feel that the Holy Days were done away with after Jesus’ resurrection or they would not have been gathered together observing it.

To some degree, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches all celebrate Passover (though most refer to it as Easter and consider it a resurrection holiday) and Pentecost, which were originally Holy Days that the children of Israel observed (and which were still observed by the early true Christian church). But they do not seem to feel that it is a continuation of the Holy Days in Leviticus 23, they seem to act like it has nothing to do with them (other than the date).

Although he does not tie the following statement into a discussion of Pentecost, notice what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who is now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

Man can become God, not by making himself God, but by allowing himself to be made ‘Son’.

Since Jesus is the first of the firstfruits, and the Day of Pentecost shows that we are also to become firstfruits, the observance of the biblical Pentecost helps picture that God the Father is calling true Christians to truly be His sons. We are to be in the family of God (this is documented in more detail in the article Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? and What is the Meaning of Life?).

Anyway, Pentecost comes once per year, and those of us in the Living Church of God will observe it until sunset May 23 in 2010.

To learn more about God’s Holy Days and God’s plan of salvation, please consider studying the following articles:

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.
Pentecost Quiz This is a Pentecost quiz based upon the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
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?
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?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
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?
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.

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