by Richie Thetford
The calendar reads “Easter Sunday.” As a result, many people throughout the world will be attending the “church of their choice” to remember the resurrection of Jesus. It won’t be the “normal” service, but rather a “special” service of remembering the resurrection of our Lord that no doubt will include different plays, skits, and dramas. The world calls this day “Easter Sunday,” the day of our Lord’s resurrection from the grave. But is it really?
I don’t recall reading anywhere in the Bible of the day nor the special celebration of the resurrection mentioned. Yet many “good intentioned people,” honestly believing that they are commemorating the resurrection of Christ, celebrate this “holy day” having no biblical authority whatsoever for the practice. Because of tradition, most people today believe that Easter has always been observed from apostolic times and is authorized in the scriptures. But how could they get such an idea?
There is an unfortunate translation in the King James Version of the New Testament which has, perhaps, led some astray. The Greek, pascha, is translated by the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4. This same word is properly translated in other versions and in every other passage where it is used in the King James Version, as “Passover.” Undoubtedly it was mistranslated here in Acts. And even if the word was properly translated, there is still no authority here for the observance of anything. That is why “Easter” as we know it is celebrated without proper Bible authority. The text of Acts 12:4 was in regard to the apostle Peter when he was put into prison during the days of Unleavened Bread or “Passover” as the NKJV, ASV, NASV, and NIV indicate. It is obvious that this passage of scripture is referring to the seven-day Passover festival. There is no place indicated in the New Testament that a “yearly” celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was ever practiced. Yet today, thousands of people remember Him only this one day per year and they make it a grand festival.
Where Did “Easter” Come From Anyway?
The word “Easter” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “Eostre,” the name of the goddess of spring. Sacrifices were offered in her honor at the first full moon that came at the time of the vernal equinox. By the 8th century, the term came to be applied to the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection (ISBE, Vol 2, page 6). There has been much controversy about the time of this celebration. The Jewish Christians and Gentiles could not agree on a set date. But as time passed an increasing number of people celebrated the anniversary of the resurrection on the first day of the week annually. By the 7th century the practice of religious groups had become universally uniform. The agreed upon time is now the first Sunday following the full moon that comes on or after the vernal equinox and that date was set as March 21st. This is why there is a variation in Easter dates from March 22nd through April 25th. There has even been talk among the different religions as setting the date permanently on one Sunday between March 21st and April 25th.
The Proper Remembrance Of Jesus
I’ve filled you in on the history of this word “Easter” so that you will understand that it originated as a pagan holiday festival and later became a yearly festival to remember the resurrection of Christ among different religious groups across the world.
The Lord’s church does not celebrate “Easter.” Members of the Lord’s church celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of every week as we are instructed in the New Testament. We can turn to the book of Acts and read: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). We have an approved example from this text that lets every Christian know when one is to partake of the emblems which represent Christ’s shed body for us. It says the first day of the week. It does not say “The first day of the week, once a year!” In 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, we can further understand the significance of this memorial feast that we partake of weekly. We learn that it represents the body and blood of Jesus and it says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Again, how often should a Christian eat the bread and drink the cup? The first day of the week! There are many religious denominations out there today that do not partake of the Lord’s Supper once per week. Some will do it bi-monthly, others monthly, still others just once or twice per year. Any individual that is striving to do “all the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11), must understand that God sets the standard (rules) that we must go by today – not man (Acts 5:29). The New Testament is our standard. I urge you to examine the Bible, and then look at what you may be practicing in your religion, and then determine whether it is from God or from man!