Why I Don’t Celebrate Easter
COPYRIGHT ©2019 - James M. Frye
All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.
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THE WORD “EASTER” IN SCRIPTURE
No teaching regarding "Easter" would be complete without first addressing what scripture says regarding the word, since it does appear in scripture.
Acts 12:4 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.
What does "Easter" refer to in the above passage? There are two main teachings regarding this, both of which are WRONG.
THE FIRST FALSE TEACHING
The first false teaching comes from many who are King James Only as I am. This teaching says that "Easter" here is a reference to a pagan holiday which Herod was supposedly celebrating. I used to believe this interpretation, but as I continued to study, I became convinced that this interpretation is not correct. For starters, the context makes it clear that the Jews were celebrating the day in question and that Herod was only waiting until after this day to kill Peter to please the Jews. Herod was not celebrating the day, the Jews were.
Secondly, this interpretation is dependent upon the false assertion that the word “passover” only ever refers to a single day which takes place PRIOR TO the Feast of Unleavened Bread and that the term passover NEVER refers to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Scripture refutes this.
Luke 22:1 Now THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD drew nigh, WHICH IS CALLED THE PASSOVER.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is called the “Passover” in scripture. So both of the two supporting assertions, upon which this teaching is based, are NOT TRUE, therefore, we must reject this teaching as false.
THE SECOND FALSE TEACHING
The second false teaching comes from those who accuse the King James Bible of containing errors. They rightly point out that the Greek word which was translated by the translators here is "pascha". But then they go on to mistakenly declare that this word may ONLY be translated as "passover" which is NOT correct.
THE WORD "EASTER" IS NOT A TRANSLATION ERROR.
Some have suggested that the word "Easter" in this verse is a mistranslation in the King James Bible. Anyone who suggests this either has ulterior motives (people who oppose the KJV), or is simply unaware of the history of early English Bible translations. The Greek word "pascha" was not only translated as Easter in the Authorized Version (KJV) of 1611, it was also translated that way in Tyndale's translation of 1525, the Coverdale Bible of 1535, The Great Bible of 1540, Matthew's Bible of 1549, the Bishop's Bible of 1568, the first printing of the Geneva Bible of 1557. etc.. Most of the early English translations translated "pasha" as Easter here.
The word "pascha" occurs 29 times in the Greek New Testament. Tyndale translated it as Ester, Ester Lamb, or some of other derivation of Easter EVERY SINGLE TIME. In his German translation of 1522, Martin Luther did the exact same thing using the German word for Easter (Ostern - or a derivation thereof) throughout the New Testament. Were all of these translators unlearned and ignorant men who didn't know any better? Anyone who has studied the history of these matters knows that these men were very gifted scholars and knew exactly what they were doing.
After finishing the New Testament, Tyndale started translating the Old Testament. When he came across the Hebrew word "pecach", instead of translating it as Easter, he coined a new word "passover". This is where the English word passover comes from. The word "passover" did not exist until Tyndale created it. The KJV translators used the new word passover in both the Old and New Testaments, the only exception being Acts 12:4 where they retained the word "Easter". Why did they use Easter here and not in the other places? It seems that they did so because this was the only mention of the actual occurrence of the day of "pascha" AFTER Jesus had died fulfilling the type and shadow of the passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7).
These facts can only lead to one conclusion. Easter was not only an acceptable translation of the Greek word "pascha" in the days in which the King James Bible was translated, it was the preferred translation. Why did they translate it that way? The answer is obvious. That is what the word meant back then. The term Easter was used to refer to the Jewish "pascha" which had now been fulfilled in Christ. Given the above evidence, one could hardly come to any other conclusion. So, is it an error for the KJV translators to have translated "pascha" as Easter in Acts 12:4? Not on your life! Even today, if you look up the word "pascha" in most good "Greek to English" dictionaries you will see that it comes up with two meanings: 1. Passover and 2. Easter.
THERE ARE TWO "EASTERS"
None of what has been written above denies the fact that there is another "pagan Easter", Bede being one of the earliest source references to this fact. The information attesting to this fact can be confirmed by many online resources and encyclopedias. What does this mean? It means that there are two Easters. The same word was used, not only for the pagan celebration with their bunnies, eggs, and other fertility symbols, but also for the Jewish Passover having now been fulfilled in Christ.
IS IT OKAY TO CELEBRATE EASTER?
Since there are two Easters, let's answer this question regarding each of them separately.
IS IT OKAY TO CELEBRATE PAGAN EASTER?
No, it is not. The occurrence of the word "Easter" in the Authorized Version (King James Bible) in Acts 12:4 does not legitimize the celebration of pagan Easter with its bunnies, Easter egg hunts, etc. in churches. The Bible is clear that we may NOT take pagan religious practices such as these and try to "Christianize" them. This is clearly forbidden by scripture (Deut. 12:30-31). Scripture teaches that we may not worship the true God in any way which was formerly used by pagans to worship their false gods. The same principle which is set forth in my article regarding the celebration of Christmas applies here as well.
IS IT OKAY TO CELEBRATE THE FULFILLED PASSOVER YEARLY?
No, scripture does NOT authorize the yearly celebration of Christ's resurrection in the name of "Easter". Such a practice is unbiblical. The early Christians in scripture did NOT celebrate Christ's resurrection annually. Only God can create religious Holy Days and He has NOT done so, therefore, no man has the right to do so. The Bible clearly teaches that believers are no longer to keep "religious days" (Gal. 4:10-11). Therefore, being without scriptural precedent, such a practice is a tradition of men (Mark 7:6-8) and is condemned by scripture.
The link below is to one of the most important articles I have ever written. It explains, from scripture, why all of our religious church practices must come from scripture or they are forbidden.