“1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread). 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (emphasis added)” Acts 12:1-4 KJV
Just as not all Americans are Christians, not all Jews were followers of Christ. This was approximately thirty years after Jesus was crucified and ten years before the destruction of Jerusalem. Talking to his disciples in Matt. 24:9 Jesus warns them they will be delivered up to be afflicted and killed and hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Since Herod went out of his way to vex certain of the church and James, John and Peter are named in the first three verses, it is likely the “certain of the church” are the disciples (not just those three) and Herod is one of those fulfilling what Jesus foretold.
Acts 12:4 is the only reference in the King James Bible using the word, Easter. Most all other versions have replaced Easter with Passover mainly because most modern versions follow the Revised text. But would Passover in this reference be correct?
EASTER: Originally a Saxon word (Eostre), denoting a goddess of the Saxons, in honour of whom sacrifices were offered about the time of the Passover. Hence the name came to be given to the festival of the Resurrection of Christ, which occurred at the time of the Passover. In the early English versions this word was frequently used as the translation of the Greek pascha (the Passover). When the Authorized Version (1611) was formed, the word “passover” was used in all passages in which this word pascha occurred, except in Acts 12:4. In the Revised Version the proper word, “passover,” is always used. (Easton) (emphasis mine)
On the contrary, when the verses above are read in context, Easter was the correction, the proper word in this passage. The translators saw the correct context in which it is used. “Pascha” is the Greek word for Passover NOT Easter. As Mr. Easton explains, Easter comes from Eostre, denoting a pagan goddess. When we look more closely at the scriptures, we see that there were two festivals taking place—one sacred (Passover), one pagan (Easter). The definition Mr. Easton provides says as much in the first two sentences. Sacrifices offered in honor of a Saxon (pagan) goddess “about the time of the Passover” meaning it was a separate event. Constantine was known for adopting traditions from several different religions, what evidence is there to believe others have not?
When the name Easter was given to the festival of the Resurrection of Christ, it was done so mistakenly—certainly not by the heavenly Father, Son, or any of the early church. As we today use “church” to mean the whole body of Christ, or as reference to a building “when I get to the church,” or as an identifier “the church of Antioch,” so “passover” is used in God’s word to denote the feast of unleavened bread in remembrance of being passed over when the first born of Egypt were destroyed—the same day they were brought out of Egypt; the feast was called the passover Luke 22:1 and a lamb that was killed at the feast was called a passover—a foreshadow of Christ’s death on the cross Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7, 15, 16; 1 Cor. 5:7.
Concerning Herod, what better way to “vex certain of the church” than to kill one apostle and apprehend another during their sacred days. The Jews pleased by his actions were not of the church. In the accepted mindset that Easter is just another name for Passover, some argue that Herod imprisoned Peter until after Easter because he respected the people’s right to their religious holiday, or because he feared what the people would do. This is when a key point gets overlooked. Herod neither cared that a sacred festival of the children of Israel was currently ongoing nor did he say, “after Easter” as a synonym to “passover.” If he did care, James wouldn’t have been killed and Peter apprehended. He could have only been referring to his own idol worship.
Today Easter is still a worldly celebration though now the goddess is replaced with a bunny among other things. The proper context of celebrating Passover, however, depends on who celebrates it. For the Israelites the week of Passover and the eating of unleavened bread is to keep in mind what God did for them. As Christians, if we are to follow an example it should be as Jesus says in the verses below, “this do in remembrance of me.”
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:19, 20
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
May the Lord bless all who attend sunrise services listening to sermons about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and sing songs of praise to his name; may the Holy Spirit work in hearts of those who hear it. Preaching about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is part of spreading His gospel which should be done in the pulpit, but also in the life of the Christian’s testimony 365 days a year. As we see in the verse above the eating of the bread and drinking of the cup is in obedience to “this do in remembrance of me,” and that is the only thing Jesus requires to remember the sacrifice of his death. I think it safe to say he did not intend, nor would he approve of his death to be graphically depicted as it is in movies and television shows.
Perhaps for Christians, if there must be more to the celebration to incorporate the remembrance of Jesus’ burial and resurrection too (in which there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing so) and have a celebratory greeting to go with it, why not “Happy Passover,” or “Happy Christ’s Day,” after all this is supposed to be a celebration centered on Christ and all that he went through on our behalf. Some do say, “Happy Resurrection Day,” which again there is nothing wrong in that except that greeting focuses only on the resurrection when Jesus wants his death (his sacrifice) to be shown till he comes. Then honor him by keeping worldly celebrations away from His house (including the grounds it stands on), and think about whether or not some of those worldly celebrations should be celebrated in the first place, or in what manner. For myself, I will no longer greet anyone with “Happy Easter.”
My husband’s comments,
Before I was saved by Jesus at the age of 17, I was confused by the fuss made around the time called Easter. Is it about Jesus or something else? (Such as bunnies, eggs, and baskets?) Like Santa, even as a child, I found it all rather confusing, and yes as an ignorant child it was all fun of course. But what of Christ did I learn from it or did it turn me away from Him?
As a Christian, it became apparent these things supplant Christ in what they do taking away what is most important throughout these seasons – the true truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God! The point is why have these odd materialistic things for these holidays if they are indeed nonsense and not confuse our children? Anything that is taking away from that focus is simply not from Him and a distraction – spiritually, physically, and definitely monetarily! It is a hard and unpopular lesson in a world that adores these special days but if we are to make a difference, we MUST come out from among them and separate these things as much as possible. My prayers are for all who don’t and all who will!
Other reference material on this topic, And from Dr. H.A. Ironside’s Lectures on the Book of Revelation (1920: p. 301):
“It is a lamentable fact that Babylon’s principles and practices are rapidly but surely pervading the churches that escaped from Rome at the time of the Reformation. We may see evidences of it in the wide use of high-sounding ecclesiastical titles, once unknown in the reformed churches, in the revival of holy days and church feasts such as Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Christ’s Mass, or, as it is generally written, Christmas. … some of these festivals … when they are turned into church festivals, they certainly come under the condemnation of Galatians 4:9-11, where the Holy Spirit warns against the observance of days and months and times and seasons. All of them, and many more that might be added, are Babylonish in their origin, and were at one time linked with the Ashtoreth and Tammuz mystery-worship. It is through Rome that they have come down to us; and we do well to remember that Babylon is a mother, with daughters who are likely to partake of their mother’s characteristics …” [Emphasis added]