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 Vol. 4, No. 4 

April, 2002

~ Page 5 ~

Searching for Easter

By Dennis Gulledge

Dennis Gulledge Every year at Easter time, children everywhere enjoy searching for Easter eggs. For nineteen hundred years, adults have had an even greater challenge in searching for Easter itself. Church history shows that men have been unable to find the exact date of Easter, creating violent controversies in the ancient church. Scripture investigation shows that Easter proper is not even mentioned in the Bible. Despite these facts, denominations everywhere will have their Easter celebrations. In like manner, some churches of Christ will have their special "Easter services." The question of New Testament authority for such proceedings will trouble them but little. They do not want to be perceived as being different from the denominations. They are succeeding.

The practice of the New Testament church for over a century following its establishment was to acknowledge the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the Lord's Supper every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:26). The early "church fathers" speak of this practice. Justin Martyr (second century) says in his first apology, "We all gather on Sunday because on this first day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead." It was not until the second century that some Christians began to consider the resurrection of Jesus something to be commemorated annually as well as weekly. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "By the time the liturgy had begun to take shape (second century), the Sunday Eucharist (Lord's Supper, DG) was preceded by a vigil service of Scripture reading and psalms. In this must be seen the origin of the Easter vigil service from being a weekly observance the vigil has turned into an annual one at Easter only" (1963, p. 865). Easter religious celebrations are part of the apostasy from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3). It is regrettable that some brethren choose to ignore this fact.

Even the name Easter bears connection with pagan influence. "The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; Bede in the 8th century derived it from that of the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963, p. 864). In fact, the English term Easter and the German word Ostern refer to the time of year (Spring) at which the festival occurs, rather than to the resurrection of Christ. Why is the word Easter in the King James translation of Acts 12:4? Albert Barnes states, "There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this In the translation by Wycliffe, the word paske, that is, passover, is used. But Tyndale and Coverdale used the word Easter, and hence it has very improperly crept into our translation."

The facts of Scripture and history agree in showing that there is not the slightest evidence that the Easter season was observed by the New Testament church. Why should any congregation that claims to be the Lord's church fall into line with practices known to have absolutely no New Testament authority? Where do they find Easter?        

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