Torah in the Book of the ACTS of the Apostles: Chapters 11 – 12

The next Torah-pertinent passage we find in Acts is in Chapter 12.  It is the first indication we get that the disciples were still observing the Feasts of YHVH.  It is rather indirect, but worth mentioning.  We will see other more obvious evidences later.

bread-of-life.jpgNow about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)  Acts 12:1-3

This little side mention of ‘the days of unleavened bread (the 7-day feast which immediately follows the Passover meal) tells us that the disciples still marked the passage of time by reference to the Jewish calendar, which was organized around the Feasts of YHVH.

We mention this only because the Book of Acts is believed to have been written by a (Koine) Greek-speaking Gentile writing for an audience of Gentile Christians.” [1]  A Gentile writer addressing Gentile believers would certainly never have alluded to ‘the days of unleavened breadunless the term was meaningful to him and his readers. He would have used some other time marker, such as the name of the month or another familiar Gentile term.

For comparison, a modern Christian writing to other Christians about something that happened on December 20 would not say that “It happened around the time of Hanukkah.”  His audience does not celebrate Hanukkah and has only a vague idea of when Hanukkah is. Instead, he would use the term that his audience was familiar with: “It happened the week before Christmas.”

Because this Gentile writer, writing to a Gentile church, did use the term ‘the days of unleavened bread,’ we must take it as an indicator that this feast was something he and his readers were very familiar with, presumably because they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread themselves each year.

There are many other NT references which indicate that the early church celebrated all the feasts and Shabbats of YHVH, and we will look at many of them as we go through the epistles. [2]  Taken together, we will find they make it impossible to avoid the conclusion that the first believers observed all the commandments of Torah, including the Feasts and Sabbaths.

The Only Scriptural Reference to Easter

peter_in_prisonAnd when he [King Herod] had apprehended him [Peter], 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, KJV)

We have personally heard this KJV translation of this verse used to teach that the early Christians observed Easter.   We do not see any way in which this verse can be legitimately used to support such a contention!

The Greek word used here and translated as ‘Easter’ in the KJV is actually the word πάσχα (pascha), and refers to the Paschal Feast – Passover! Thankfully, more modern translations have been faithful to translate the word correctly as ‘Passover.’

Christians reading the KJV version tend to sail right by without noticing the mention of Easter much, because Easter is so familiar to us.   We assume that the early believers celebrated Easter.

Easter was indeed familiar to the converted Gentiles – many of them had observed it themselves before becoming disciples of Y’shua. It was a feast celebrated on the vernal equinox of the sun and dedicated to the pagan goddess Astarte, also known as Aeaster, among other titles.

The Jews considered her celebration to be abhorrent. The early Christians – most of whom were Jews – did not celebrate Easter. They were fully aware of its pagan sun-worshipping purpose. They were exposed annually to their pagan neighbors’ celebration, which must have been very distasteful to them.  Imagine yourself as a godly Christian being exposed every Halloween to witches publicly worshipping the evil one – this is what Easter felt like to the early believers!

For hundreds of years, the early believers commemorated Y’shua’s death and resurrection exactly when He told them to – at Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits – all of which are feasts foretelling and commemorating His death, resurrection and Kingship.  [3]

head-of-constantine-joan-carroll
Bust of Constantine, Emperor of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, who reigned in the first third of the 4th Century (about 306 AD to 337 AD) and made it illegal to celebrate the “Jewish” feasts.

Easter did not enter the Christians’ worship experience until the 4th century CE, when Emperor Constantine, the titular head of the church and a sun-worshipper, unilaterally decreed that Easter would be the day on which the church would celebrate Messiah’s resurrection. [4]  He actually made it a law that anyone who persisted in observing the “Hebrew” Passover or other “Jewish” feasts would be excommunicated or even killed! [5] and [6]

In no way can this verse be construed as a proof that the early Christians celebrated Easter. It was poorly translated, and a true translation shows that the early Christians observed (and marked time according to) the Feasts of YHVH.

THE BOOK OF ACTSIntroduction * Chapters 1-5 * Chapters 6-10 * Chapters 11-12 * Chapter 13 (Part 1) * Chapter 13 (Part 2)Chapters 14-15 * Chapter 16 * Chapters 17-18 * Chapters 19-20Chapters 21-26 * Chapters 27-28

By John and Sue Wyatt, lambs.servant@gmail.com


© John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


FOOTNOTES

[1]  The book of Acts is generally attributed to Luke, the Gentile physician who accompanied Paul on many of his travels.  (Wikipedia article entitled, Acts of the Apostles, and many other sources.)  However, the author is never named – Luke’s name is assigned only through tradition.

[2] In addition, there are many extra-scriptural writings contemporary to the time of the early church which plainly state that the early believers observed Shabbat and the Feasts of YHVH. It is well worth the believer’s time to read the early records of the church and the secular historians contemporary to that time.

[3]  In our ignorance of things Hebraic, we Gentile believers do not catch His meaning when Y’shua says This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you, (Luke 22:20) (Compare with Ex 24:8) and This [bread] is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)  He is referring specifically to ‘the third cup’ – called the Cup of Redemption – that is served at Passover, and to the unleavened bread that is served at Passover and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In other words, Y’shua instructed us to commemorate His death and resurrection at Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread!  There is nothing wrong with commemorating His death and resurrection at regular communion services, but YHVH specifically designed Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also First Fruits, which is the actual day upon which Messiah rose, and occurs during the week of ULB), as prophetic feasts foretelling and commemorating the passion of His Son.  Should we abandon what He so carefully and lovingly designed and instead observe the day of an abominable pagan goddess, even utilizing her symbols? What an insult to our Father and to our Messiah!

[4]  Easter (Astarte), ‘the Queen of Heaven’ (Jer 7:18, Jer 44:19, etc.) was the mother/wife (yes, both mother and wife – ugh) of Mithras, the sun god, so her day was important in the worship of the sun god.  Her celebration began with a sunrise service; her symbols were the rabbit, egg and lily; and it was the custom to make hot cross buns in her honor on that day.

[5]  It was a long, hard battle to stamp out Christian observance of Passover and the other biblical feasts – 1100 years after Y’shua, the established Roman church was still sending out official communications to its clerical hierarchy, ordering them to take any available measures to eradicate the practice, even among the priests themselves!  (Dr. Robert D. Heidler, The Messianic Church Arising; information scattered throughout the book but particularly in Appendix 2, along with many other reference books.)

[6]  For a more thorough discussion of Easter and its history, please see our article entitled SHOULD BELIEVERS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AND EASTER?

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4 thoughts on “Torah in the Book of the ACTS of the Apostles: Chapters 11 – 12”

  1. I’m glad to know the early Christians were celebrating the Passover (I’ve been wanting to for a long time now, but ‘thought it was something exclusive to the Jews).

    When does this fall in our calendar, Sue? What do you and your household do (i.e., what’s the proper thing to do?)? What do you cook (yum!yum!)?😊 Any recipes to share?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How Fun!!! My niece has been asking me to do an article about Passover, too. I’ll have to work on that!

      For your first question about timing, the date for Passover depends on two things: The sighting of the new moon, and the barley becoming ripe enough (in Israel) that it would be ready to be ground into grain and baked into bread 50 days after Passover. So the date hasn’t been written in concrete yet, but it will be early in April. I’ll keep you posted!

      As for the proper things to do, just check out the Books of Exodus and Leviticus – of course you can’t offer any sacrifices at the temple, but you can eat the prescribed foods and have a time of worship. I may post our family’s simple little Passover service, too. 🙂 There are no ‘laws’ about it other than eating matzah and bitter herbs, but there are LOTS of traditions. Some are innocent while others have pagan roots, so I will try to post about that, too. But it is a joyous time!!!

      Lots of great recipes – I’ll have to post them, too!

      LOL! You are giving me so many ideas! Blessings, Sister!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That will be very soon, then! 😊

        Indeed, the prescriptions in Exodus and Leviticus should be the easy way to celebrate the Passover (I’m actually thinking of Genesis 32:32). ‘Will just have to investigate how to make unleavened bread, and will just roast some lamb and find some bitter herb equivalent. And of course, the spirit of the celebration is our release from our spiritual bondage and our journey into the glorious kingdom of God through Christ’s atonement on the cross.

        Thank you, Sue–‘will wait for you to alert me when you find out the dates, and I’m looking forward to your Passover recipes! 😄🍞🍗🍲🍰🍏☕♥

        Liked by 1 person

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