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Continuity of the Feast Days Examined – Part 2: Passover (Under the Threat of COVID-19)

Excerpts from Samuele Bachiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University; King James Bible, New International Version; Epiphanius; Eusebius; Irenaeus and Hippolytus.

Most people and Christians are not immune, are unable to stretch their minds to times, cultures, and places existing 2,000 years ago. We tend, as humans, to measure and understand concepts in light of what we know within our tiny sphere of experience.

Did you know that every single apostle and disciple of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) was Jewish? It was not until Saul (AKA Paul) was converted as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”.

As we always we advocate that you not take our word for it, research this for yourself, it is true!

At the stoning of Stephen that happened three and a half years after the crucifixion, the scriptures state that the clothes of the ones that stoned him placed their clothes at the feet of a young man (Saul). It was not until he was older and much advanced in the rank of the synagogue as a Pharisee, that he made a reputation for himself as a persecutor of the disciples of “The Way,” which is what Christians were called in the first century /centuries.

That is why we find Bible texts that quote Jesus, such as Mark 7:26-28 New International Version (NIV) - “26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” His ministry had not yet passed beyond the borders of Israel.

It is not that the Creator of all life did not love the Gentiles (non-Jews), it was just not time. Partly for this very reason, to collect the sheep of Israel's flock that has gone astray by calling out the enemy's work along the path of time between then and now. This fact is the first building block in understanding what our true foundation as disciples of Jesus (Yeshua) actually are. We need a sure foundation, as in the parable of the house on the sand vs. the house on the rock. Consider this topic as a foundation stone as you read on.

History of the Conflict Between Passover and Easter

According to Sparknotes, During the winter of 57–58 AD, Paul was in the Greek city of Corinth. From Corinth, he wrote the longest single letter in the New Testament, which he addressed to “God's beloved in Rome” (1:7). Like most New Testament letters, this letter is known by the name of the recipients, the Romans. But the advancement of Messiah’s ministry to the gentiles was still in question when the Book of Romans was written. This is because the majority of converts were Jews and nothing about their culture, currency, or religious system had been changed, only the meaning behind it had been expounded upon. It states in Romans 3:29 – “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too.”

Since Epiphanius clearly says the controversy over Passover arose “after the time of the exodus of the bishops of the circumcision” from Jerusalem in 135 AD., “prior to that time the Quartodeciman reckoning (Passover) was UNANIMOUSLY FOLLOWED. The early Christians KEPT the faith! They observed Passover along with the Jews, eating the Passover meal on Nisan 15th, as Jesus and the apostles had done!

Thus, up to 135 AD the Jerusalem headquarters Church of God held closely to the Jewish religious traditions. History shows that there were in existence two rival religious communities, one Jewish-Christian and the other Gentile-Christian, well into the fifth century AD The survival in Jerusalem of such strong Judeo-Christian influence for centuries after the first destruction of the city, discredits any attempt to make AD 70 the historical breaking point between Sabbath and Sunday. Likewise, history shows that the Judeo-Christian community continued observing Passover at the end of the 14th of Nisan centuries after the first destruction of Jerusalem. But controversy continually flared up over it, because the Church at Rome wanted to divorce itself from any and all Jewish influence! But God himself created the Jewish culture and religion.

Eusebius relates that Polycarp, a disciple of John, who had known several of the original apostles, strongly resisted the introduction of Easter in the place of Passover. He visited Rome in 154 AD. to discuss the growing heated controversy with Anticetus, the Roman bishop. Polycarp was bishop of the Church of God as Smyrna. He was baptized by John, the brother of James. He held to the Passover as an institution handed down by John, the last living original apostle of Christ.

At the meeting, nothing was resolved. Eusebius records: “For neither could Anicetus persuaded Polycarp not to observe it [the Passover] because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated, and neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it who said that he was bound to follow the customs of the presbyters before him”.

This is the type of compromise we have to be wary of and guarded against (holding to traditions of men over the commandments of God and all that).

Eusebius relates that Polycarp was later taken and executed on a great sabbath day.” The marginal note explains that the ‘GREAT SABBATH DAY' was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread!

The controversy flared up again toward the end of the second century. The two major protagonists of the controversy were Victor of Rome (AD 189-100) who championed the Easter-Sunday tradition, on one side, and Polycrates, the disciple of Polycarp, who was the bishop of Ephesus and representative of the Asian Churches, who strongly advocated the traditional Passover date of Nisan 15. Victor attempted to “cut off whole churches of God, who observed the tradition of an ancient custom,” the true Passover, says Eusebius.

According to Eusebius (ca. 260-340 AD), Polycrates, claiming to possess the genuine apostolic tradition transmitted to him by the apostles Philip and John, refused to be frightened into submission by Victor’s threats.

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon from about 176 AD., tried to intervene as the peacemaker in the controversy. He warned Pope Victor not to break the unity with the “many bishops of Asia and the East, who WITH THE JEWS CELEBRATE the PASSOVER on the fourteenth day of the new moon” (NPNF, 2nd, III, p.370) In addition, Apollinarius, bishop of Hierapolis (ca. AD 170), declared: “The 15th Nisan is the TRUE PASSOVER OF OUR LORD, the great Sacrifice; instead of the lamb, we have the Lamb of God” (Bacchiocchi, p. 199, footnote).

In the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, reference is made in “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen” of a group of Christians, the Novation of Phrygia, who “began to celebrate the festival of the Passover on the same day as the Jews” (vo.2, p360, ch24). He says, “they determined upon keeping the feast of unleavened bread, and upon celebrating the Passover on the same days as the Jews.” Thus, as late as about 374 AD, the Passover was still being observed.

However, around 400 AD those Christians who maintained the Jewish Passover ritual were strongly attacked by Severian, bishop of Gabala. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (ca. AD 315-403) declares that the “heresy,” as he called it, of the Quartodeciman Passover was still rising up in the world in his own time.

It is very interesting to note that Hippolytus, who was bishop of a place called Pontus, near Rome, in his book Against All Heresies, speaks of a heresy which had arisen in his day, which has also arisen in these last days – that is, of those who teach that Christ’s “last supper” was actually the “Passover”!

Hippolytus was a Greek living near Rome, from 170-236 AD. He wrote of those men who “Speak thus: Christ kept the supper, then, on that day, and then suffered; whence it is needful that I, too, should keep it in the same manner as the Lord did.” But Hippolytus goes on pointing out, “But he is falling into error by not perceiving that at the time when Christ suffered, He did not eat the Passover of the law. He was the Passover that had of old been proclaimed, and that was fulfilled on that determinate day” (fragment 1, ANF, vol.5, p.240).

Hippolytus understood the last supper was not the Passover. He wrote, “for he who said of old, ‘I will not any more eat the Passover,’ probably partook of supper before the Passover. But the Passover He did not eat, but He suffered; for it was not the time for Him to eat” (II, ANF, vol.5, p.240) How strange that even today many confuse the, ”Lord’s supper” with the Passover!

This same misunderstanding was addressed by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, who lived AD 260 to AD 311, approximately. This was prior to the Nicene Council of 325 AD. Peter speaks of the fact that Christ Himself observed the Jewish Passover, along with the “people of Israel, rightly observing the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, celebrating on it the Passover of the law.” He points out the “holy prophets, and all who righteously and justly walked in the law of the Lord, together with the entire people, celebrated a typical and shadowy Passover.” He goes on:

“Jesus Christ… Himself also, with the people in the years before His pubic ministry and during His public ministry, did celebrate the legal and shadowy Passover, eating the typical lamb. For “I came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them,” the Savior Himself said in the Gospel as part of His public ministry, He did not eat of the Lamb, but Himself suffered as the one true Lamb in the Paschal feast, as John the divine and evangelist, teaches us in the Gospel… On that day, therefore, on which the Jews were about the eat the Passover in the evening, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, being made the victim to those who were about to partake by the faith of the mystery concerning Him, according to what is written by the blessed Paul:

For even Christ our Passover is sanctified for us: and not as some who, are CARRIED ALONG BY INGORNACE, confidently affirm that after He had eaten the Passover He was betrayed; which we neither learn from the holy evangelists NOR HAS ANY OF THE BLESSED APOSTLES HANDED IT DOWN TO US. At the time, therefore, in which our lord and God Jesus Christ suffered for us, according to the flesh, HE DID NOT EAT OF THE LEGAL PASSOVER; but, as I have said, He Himself, as the true Lamb, was sacrificed for us in the feast of the typical Passover, on the day of the PREPARATION, the fourteenth of the first lunar month: (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, p.282,

“Fragments from the Writings of Peter,” sec.5, paragraph7)

We have similar “ignorant” people, some of them passing themselves off as “erudite scholars,” among us today! They twist and pervert the Scriptures, to create a false date for the Old Testament Passover, as well as the meaning of Jesus’ words concerning His final supper with His disciples! Therefore, they neither understand nor observe the true Passover of God, ordained in the Scriptures forever!

Where Churches Go Wrong

When we carefully study the Word of God, we see that the true Passover was always held on Nisan 15, after the Passover lambs are slain on the afternoon of Nisan 14. This ordinance or statute of God was ordained “forever,” and to “every generation.” To fail to observe it property, at the appointed times, constitutes SIN – transgression of the laws of God (1 John 3:4)

We also learn that during the spring when Christ died for our sins as our “Passover lamb,” He and His disciples held a final diner, where they ate regular leavened bread (artos). That final dinner was a regular “supper” (deipnon) and was in no way the true “Passover.” Since Jesus was finally condemned by Pilate at “noon” (John 19:14), and since He was nailed to the stake at 9:00 am on Nisan 14 (Mark 15:25), then the final condemnation had to be at “noon” on Nisan 13. This means the “Lord’s supper,” and the final arrest and imprisonment of Christ must have occurred at the beginning of Nisan 13 (Sundown on Nisan 12)! If modern churches insist on observing the “Lord’s supper” annually, then they out to be doing it a night earlier than they observe it!

But for those who really wish to do that which is right in GOD’s sight, then let’s “earnestly contend [fight, struggle] for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Let’s cease to do what is “right” in our own eyes and do what is right in God’s eyes. And let’s observe the true Passover on Nisan 15, as God ordained forever. And let’s observe the “Kiddush” – the bread and wine ceremony – as Jesus Christ commanded – often throughout the year.

If we do these things, God will indeed bless us, and draw close to us, and give us more of His understanding, His truth, His love, and His Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).

If we neglect, ignore and reject God’s truth, and the Passover, then God will neglect, ignore, and reject us in return. God days though the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee… seeing though has forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget they children” (Hosea 4:6)

But if we embrace God’s truth, and obey ALL His commandments, then He will bless us, and protect us through the dark days ahead, even as a Father protects, loves and spares His own precious children who obey Him (Malachi 3:16-17)

In closing…

The Lord’s Prayer:

We ask: By kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…

  • Are we sincere?

  • What if we are not obedient to His will and observing the “signs” and “times” that are to bind us to Him and signify we are His forever?

  • Consider the responsibility it is to have “the kingdom of God dwelling in us.” Then, ask yourself if He should answer an insincere prayer?

We also ask: Give us this day our daily bread AND forgive us our sins AS WE forgive those who sin against us.

  • Is there anyone you have not forgiven, for ANY reason?

  • Do you understand the ramification of holding a grudge?

When we were yet sinners and the very one’s torturing, humiliating, and murdering Him, the Messiah died for us, and for the remission of our sins. If we are His, we are known by our fruit, if he is the vine and we are the branch, we bear the same fruit as He does. If we are alive, we have not been as mistreated as He was, and He forgives all sin (Except) the unpardonable sin (Grieving the Holy Spirit).

Do away with Pride! Pride does not allow repentance. Without repentance, there is no remission of sin. Pride hardens the heart and causes lack of empathy and humility.

Humble yourself, soften your heart, repent of every way you have shut God out of your life (remove the leaven from your house and your life before sundown April 8th, 2020). Love and serve one another!

The enemy of life deceived our first Mother and has deceived each and every one of us in innumerable ways since then!

I look forward to eating the Passover with Yeshua (Jesus), and all of you, in the Kingdom of our Father in Heaven, Creator of Heaven, Earth, the waters, and all that dwell in them, when we finally overcome the father of lies, Satan.

Shalom, shalom, blessings and Life to you all! Praise the God of Heaven and Live!

Tamara Ruckdeschel,

Managing Director

3 Angels Message Ministry

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