Should Christians Be Celebrating Easter?
Looking At Easter From The Bible's Perspective
"He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Matthew 28:6
Give Him the Glory. First things first, let's talk about Jesus and give Him the glory and not some silly pagan bunny with a basket of eggs. When we, as bible believing Christians, say that we are celebrating 'Easter Sunday', what exactly do we mean?
Jesus kept every promise He ever made, including this one to 'rise again' on the third day.
We celebrate the fact that Jesus did indeed 'rise from the dead' after His crucifixion as He had promised to do. Because He lives, the bible says, we will live also. His empty tomb is our victory, our certainty of eternal life with Him in Heaven. When Jesus rose from the dead, the way to God in Heaven was forever opened for all those who would accept Him by faith. When Jesus said:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6
He backed up those words by the empty tomb. You want proof that Jesus is who He said He is, go visit the empty tomb. He is not there, for He lives! So when we go to church this Easter Sunday morning, there will be no colored eggs (pagan), no easter bunny (pagan), or any of the other mix of paganism and crass commercialism that we associate with Easter. We celebrate His death on the cross that paid our sin debt, and we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead on the third day. And on Easter Sunday night we celebrate the Lord's Supper to remember His death until He comes again to get us as He has promised. That's it, that's Easter for the bible believing Christian.
What about 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." Acts 12:4
The Greek word which is translated "Easter" in Acts 12:4 is the word "pascha". This word appears twenty-nine times in the New Testament. Twenty-eight of those times the word is rendered "Passover" in reference to the night when the Lord passed over Egypt and killed all the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 12:12), thus setting Israel free from four hundred years of bondage. The many opponents to the concept of having a perfect Bible have made much of this translation of "pascha". Coming to the word "Easter" in God's Authorized Bible, they seize upon it imagining that they have found proof that the Bible is not perfect.
Fortunately for lovers of the word of God, they are wrong. Easter, as we know it, comes from the ancient pagan festival of Astarte. Also known as Ishtar (pronounced "Easter"). This festival has always been held late in the month of April. It was, in its original form, a celebration of the earth "regenerating" itself after the winter season. The festival involved a celebration of reproduction. For this reason the common symbols of Easter festivities were the rabbit (the same symbol as "Playboy" magazine), and the egg. Both are known for their reproductive abilities. At the center of attention was Astarte, the female deity. She is known in the Bible as the "queen of heaven" (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-25). She is the mother of Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14) who was also her husband! These perverted rituals would take place at sunrise on Easter morning (Ezekiel 8:13-16). From the references in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we can see that the true Easter has never had any association with Jesus Christ.
Even though the Jewish passover was held in mid April (the fourteenth) and the pagan festival Easter was held later the same month, how do we know that Herod was referring to Easter in Acts 12:4 and not the Jewish passover? If he was referring to the passover, the translation of "pascha" as "Easter" is incorrect. If he was indeed referring to the pagan holyday (holiday) Easter, then the King James Bible (1611) must truly be the very word and words of God for it is the only Bible in print today which has the correct reading.
To unravel the confusion concerning "Easter" in verse 4, we must consult our FINAL authority, THE BIBLE. The key which unlocks the puzzle is found not in verse 4, but in verse 3. (Then were the days of unleavened bread... ") To secure the answer that we seek, we must find the relationship of the passover to the days of unleavened bread. We must keep in mind that Peter was arrested during the "days of unleavened bread" (Acts 12:3). Our investigation will need to start at the first Passover. This was the night in which the LORD smote all the firstborn in Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb and strike its blood on the two side posts and the upper door post (Exodus 12:4, 5). Let us now see what the Bible says concerning the first passover, and the days of unleavened bread.
The Exodus and the First Passover
"And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even." Exodus 12:13,14
Back To Acts 12
"And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 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."
Verse 3 shows that Peter was arrested during the days of unleavened bread (April 15-21). The Bible says: "Then were the days of unleavened bread." The passover (April 14th) had already come and gone. Herod could not possibly have been referring to the passover in his statement concerning Easter. The next Passover was a year away! But the pagan holiday of Easter was just a few days away. Remember! Herod was a pagan Roman who worshipped the "queen of heaven". He was NOT a Jew. He had no reason to keep the Jewish passover. Some might argue that he wanted to wait until after the passover for fear of upsetting the Jews. There are two grievous faults in this line of thinking.
First, Peter was no longer considered a Jew. He had repudiated Judaism. The Jews would have no reason to be upset by Herod's actions. Second, he could not have been waiting until after the passover because he thought the Jews would not kill a man during a religious holiday. They had killed Jesus during passover (Matthew 26:17-19, 47). They were also excited about Herod's murder of James. Anyone knows that a mob possesses the courage to do violent acts during religious festivities, not after.
In further considering Herod's position as a Roman, we must remember that the Herods were well known for celebrating (Matthew 14:6-11). In fact, in Matthew chapter 14 we see that a Herod was even willing to kill a man of God during one of his celebrations. It is elementary to see that Herod, in Acts 12, had arrested Peter during the days of unleavened bread, after the passover. The days of unleavened bread would end on the 21st of April. Shortly after that would come Herod's celebration of pagan Easter. Herod had not killed Peter during the days of unleavened bread simply because he wanted to wait until Easter.
Since it is plain that both the Jews (Matthew 26:17-47) and the Romans (Matthew 14:6-11) would kill during a religious celebration, Herod's opinion seemed that he was not going to let the Jews "have all the fun." He would wait until his own pagan festival and see to it that Peter died in the excitement. Thus we see that it was God's providence which had the Spirit-filled translators of our Bible (King James) to CORRECTLY translate "pascha" as "Easter". It most certainly did not refer to the Jewish passover. In fact, to change it to "passover" would confuse the reader and make the truth of the situation unclear. Click here to read the full article by Dr. Sam Gipp