The Passover: Should Christians keep it?




Most professing Christians believe that Passover is a “Jewish” holiday, not essential to the practice of our faith. Although much lip service is given to following Christ's example in the mainstream church, few consider the fact that both Christ and his disciples kept the Passover. The question as to whether we should keep it can be found in the ultimate authority we have been given: the Bible.


















Of the Passover, we are told in Exodus 12:14:




Notice how we are told to keep this feast forever. It does not contain any verbiage by which a Christian could reasonably conclude that it ended with Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It does not tell us to keep this feast until God raises up a Prophet from among the people Israel. It does not say to keep ' until Shiloh come.' It says that this shall be done for ever.


The passage in Numbers 9:13 is even more compelling in regard to the keeping of Passover:



Some have suggested that Christians 'don't have to' keep God's Holy Days because we are not 'Jews' or because we are 'free' in Christ. To such 'bare minimum' Christians who will only do what they 'have to' to get by, it seems pointless to explain any further. The Holy Spirit in each believer does what pleases the Father. It is the spirit of the flesh that seeks its own will. I would be more than embarrassed to explain to Christ that I didn't have to keep his commandments because I am not of Israel and therefore, I don't have to.'



Much of the confusion as to whether Christian should keep the Passover surrounds the issue of who is Israel. Regardless of one's opinion on to whom the name 'Israel' refers in God's promises and commandments, the point is rendered moot by the words of no less an authority than the apostle Paul in Romans 9:8:


That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.



This should be enough to convince even the least discerning believer, that even a 'Gentile' Christian has part in this everlasting remembrance of God's liberation of his people from Egyptian bondage. To assume that we are adopted children who are not required to follow God's 'house rules,' is foolish at best and rebellious at worst.


In addition, there is evidence that suggests that the 'house of Israel' has not perished, nor been blended into the 'house of Judah,' but continues unaware of their heritage.


In the first place, in the 8th century, B.C. the Ten northern tribes of Israel were carried away by the Assyrians. Unlike the Jews who had returned from captivity in Babylon, the ten Northern tribes were never repatriated to Israel as a group. Although some undoubtedly did return as stragglers, the majority ventured West and have become known as the lost ten tribes of Israel.

Not only did Christ keep the Passover, but he commanded believers to do so in remembrance of him.


Luke 22:19




The early church was also instructed to keep the Passover:


1st Corinthians 11:24-26




Hebrews 13:20-21:



Christians did keep the Passover for hundreds of years after Christ's death and resurrection.


If Christians should indeed keep this feast day, why have believers stopped keeping the Passover? Passover was suppressed in much the same way that Pagan observances were instituted. It was the Roman Church which decreed it to be so.


The influence of the Roman Empire


After the Great Revolt against Rome (66–70 AD), Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem. Because of the enmity between Rome and Jerusalem on account of this revolt, Rome levied a heavy tax (“Fiscus Judaicus”) against the Jews. The criteria for who was considered to be a Jew was computed as follows: Anyone who kept the Sabbath, studied the Torah, kept God's dietary laws, circumcised their sons, and kept God's feast days were so counted, and taxed for it.


This enmity was kept alive in Roman culture. When the power of the Roman state transferred to the Roman church, this animosity did not stop but continued as a Roman cultural prejudice. As a result, this Roman hatred of anything associated with the Jews was absorbed by the church, including any obedience to the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), as well as any observance of the holy days mentioned therein.


The influence of the Roman Church


The Roman church, although not exactly approving of it, tolerated observance of Passover out of respect to Polycarp, the Apostle John and the other disciples. After the death of Polycarp, his disciples continued to keep the Passover and other Biblically ordained feast days, but tensions arose.


In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Soon thereafter, he “Christianized” the Pagan feast days to preserve order in his realm. As the blood of Roman martyrdom had been the elixir which had watered the Roman church, making it prosper in the face of persecution, legalizing it made it wither.


Eusebius recorded the Emperor Constantine's words concerning the practice of pure Christianity: “Let us have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd.” An official declaration from Constantine stated that it was considered to be “…improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival.” Thus, Christians were no longer free to keep the Passover in Rome, a prohibition that continued when the authority that had once belonged to the old Emperor of Rome, transferred to the new Emperor called “the Pope of Rome.”


Thus, Passover was no longer recognized by the Roman church, having been replaced by the Pagan celebration in honor of Venus, called Easter. The same is the goddess called Ishtar by the Assyrians and Babylonians who had carried the people of Israel into captivity.


And so, as the children of Israel were held in physical bondage to these nations for their unwillingness to honor God in spirit and in truth, so they now find themselves in spiritual bondage in their unwillingness to hold fast to the truth.


This author recognizes the fact that some believers may not have the strength of conviction to honor God as he has commanded us in his Word. This author also believes that God will only honor his people in the time of trouble to come, to the same extent that his people honor him.


To whom much is given, much is required.


1st Corinthians 5:8:




Passover 2017 begins in the evening of Sunday, April 9, 2017.


Podcasts about Passover and Easter


Passover 2006


Passover 2008: part 1 | part 2


Passover 2012


Passover 2014


The Feast of Unleavened Bread


About Easter: part 1 | part 2