Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 5 Page 20 May 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles
By Louis Rushmore

Religious Holidays: Easter

 

I am bothered about the way it is announced in the church bulletin about the coming anniversary of the Resurrection? Am I wrong in that this religious holiday is from man’s creation and not from God? I am thinking of not staying that day for the preaching and leaving after the Supper. ~ Alfred Vidal, Jr., Chula Vista, CA

 

The religious holiday of Easter by which mankind intends to celebrate the resurrection of Christ is not biblical in origin.

 

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 occured 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 Act 12:4. In the Revised Version [American Standard Version, ASV] the proper word, “passover,” is always used.[1]

 

EASTER, a word used in the Germanic languages to denote the festival of the vernal equinox, and subsequently, with the coming of Christianity, to denote the anniversary of the resurrection of Christ (which in Gk. and Romance tongues is denoted by pascha, ‘Passover’, and its derivatives). Tyndale, Coverdale and others give ‘Easter’ as a rendering of pascha, and one example survives in av, at Acts 12:4 (‘after Easter’, where rv [American Standard Version, ASV] and rsv have ‘after the Passover’; similarly neb).[2]

 

easter pascha . . . mistranslated “Easter” in Acts 12:4, A.V., denotes the Passover (R.V.). The phrase “after the Passover” signifies after the whole festival was at an end. The term Easter is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess. the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch held by Christians in post–apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast, but was not instituted by Christ, nor was it connected with Lent. From this Pasch the Pagan festival of Easter was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt Pagan festivals to Christianity.[3]

 

While it is true that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a cardinal tenet of Christianity (1 Corinthians 15), it has not been designated in the Bible for any special observance or religious holiday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is imitated in Christian baptism (Romans 6:3-5). The resurrection of Christ gives the children of God the assurance that they, too, can obtain their resurrection from the grave at time’s end, whereby they may make their eternal habitation with God in heaven (John 5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

 

However, the religious holiday or holy day under Christianity is the Lord’s Day (Sunday on our calendars), which occurs once weekly. On that day of the week, Christians are to meet for worship, to include preaching or teaching, the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) and the contribution (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The focus of the Lord’s Supper or communion, which should be observed each Sunday, is not the resurrection of Christ, but his suffering sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

 

The apostle Paul styled manmade inventions interjected into Christianity, including the holyday, as will worship (Colossians 2:16-23). The inspired apostle did not commend these inventions, but condemned them. Anyone desiring to please God will avoid the religious contrivances of mankind and cling to the Word of God and what it teaches. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

 

Yet, the proposed remedy to an exuberance for Easter cited above is problematic, too. Each child of God should identify himself with and worship with fellow Christians in a congregational setting; ideally, that congregation would be one in which one has a reasonable degree of confidence that it will practice pure Christianity. Further, one needs to understand that there are five acts of worship described in the New Testament: preaching or teaching, singing (Ephesians 5:19), giving, communion and prayer (1 Corinthians 14). It is a misconception that any one of these acts of worship (e.g., communion) is elevated above any other. Therefore, it is no more appropriate to leave after communion than to leave after the opening prayer, thereby ignoring other acts of worship, including the communion.

 

If there is another congregation within commuting distance in which one has confidence that they will properly construe and practice biblical matters, he should place his membership there. Otherwise, one is left with the choice between worshipping with a congregation in which one has some doubts, which he may or may not be able to favorably influence with the Gospel, or worshipping in one’s home or with others of similar conviction, effectively starting a separate congregation.

 

It is not my place, nor have I sufficient information, to suggest any specific course of action in a given matter. Whatever one chooses to do, though, may have far reaching consequences, including whether God will approve one’s conduct. Nothing, then, should be undertaken lightly and without first giving sufficient attention to a number of factors: (1) Does the offensive circumstance warrant a biblically justified reaction? (2) Is it possible to favorably affect an improvement to the circumstance through application of the Gospel message? (3) If the circumstance is a clear violation of God’s law and if a biblical resolution is not possible, what biblically sanctioned alternatives exist?

 

The religious holiday of Easter by which mankind intends to celebrate the resurrection of Christ is not biblical in origin. Therefore, the religious celebration or observance Easter by the Lord’s church is unauthorized and thereby sinful.

 

Endnotes



[1]Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996.

[2]The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.

[3]Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.


Biblical Bunny?

 

A friend of mine says the Easter Bunny is associated with, and referenced in, the Bible. I can find absolutely nothing to coorborate this. Could you possibly enlighten me as to how I can best tell him the truth? Thanks, Bill King

 

Our friends and acquaintances who make fanciful assertions regarding the Bible need to be kindly encouraged to take responsibility for appropriate citations for their claims. Of course, on those occasions when our friends offer faulty biblical proof for something, we need to help them as gently ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15). As in this case, when our friends, acquaintances, family or co-workers offer no supposed biblical proof for their assertions, we need to provide the biblical answers for them. Especially a biblical answer, appropriately documented, in the absence of foundation for claims regarding the Bible made by others should satisfy those who pose these questions.

 

A quick search of the Bible notices only two references to a rabbit (“hare,” Leviticus 1:6; Deuteronomy14:7). These are parallel passages forbidding Israelites living under Judaism to eat that animal. As far as I can ascertain, the Bible does not elsewhere refer to a rabbit, and certainly not to an Easter Bunny! Further, the religious holiday known as Easter is not biblical in origin, but the is based upon pagan practices concerning fertility rites. Long after the establishment of the New Testament church about which one can read in the Bible, and without divine authority, mankind interjected Easter into the Christian religion, into the calendar to coincide with the time of the Jewish Passover. Besides the religious connotation assigned to Easter, the Easter Bunny became associated with a sort of national holiday, Easter.

 

In any case, the Easter Bunny is not a biblical topic. So many sincere people mistakenly harbor an entirely outlandish and unreasonable appreciation of God’s Holy Word. Ironically, the very volume that contains all the knowledge one needs to live on earth as God dictates and to prepare oneself for an eternity in heaven, is instead used a table coaster, flower press, ancestral record and book of intriguing mysteries. We need to help honest hearts elevate their esteem of God’s Word whereby they can benefit here and in the hereafter.


Funding the
Work of the Church

 

I need to know how does the Church decide where the tithes go poor offering and such. Is there a formula for the dispercement of these monies or does each Church make their own determination of how these monies are spent. Thank you very much in advance. ~ Anthony Watson, Brookshire, Tx

 

Rather than “tithes” or a strict ten percent, the New Testament commands freewill giving upon the first day of every week. This giving ought to be representative of one’s prosperity.

 

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

 

This giving is further regulated to be according as one purposes, but liberal giving is encouraged.

 

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

 

Some of the reasons for which collections are to be taken include benevolence (Romans 15:25) and the support of Gospel preachers (1 Corinthians 9:3-14). Any endeavor that corresponds to the biblically designated mission of the church may be the recipient of expense money derived from the weekly collection. Essentially, the mission of the church is three-fold: edification (1 Corinthians 14:12), benevolence (Galatians 6:10) and evangelism (Mark 16:15-16).

 

Each New Testament congregation of the church was independent of every other congregation, and when fully organized, led by qualified elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9). Since the Bible does not specify any particular amount or percentage to be applied to any mission of the church, each congregation has the discretion to apply those funds as it chooses as long as those things on which money is spent correspond to the biblical mission of the Lord’s church. Things that are not the mission of the church of the Bible (e.g., entertainment, commercial enterprises, etc.) should never receive funding with the Lord’s money because there is no divine authority for them regarding the mission of the church.



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