QUESTION: Isn't "Easter"
in Acts 12:4 a mistranslation of the word "pascha" and should
it be translated as "passover"?
ANSWER: No, "pascha"
is properly translated "Easter" in Acts 12:4 as the following
explanation will show.
EXPLANATION: 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.
Problem: 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
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.
Exodus 12:13-18: "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.
14 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
15 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
16 And in the first 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.
17 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.
18 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."
Here in Exodus 12:13 we see how the passover got its name.
The LORD said that He would "pass over" all of the houses
which had the blood of the lamb marking the door.
After the passover (Exodus 12:13,14),
we find that seven days shall be fulfilled in which the Jews were to
eat unleavened bread. These are the days of unleavened
In verse 18 we see that dates for the observance were
April 14th through the 21st.
This religious observance is stated more clearly in Numbers
28:16-18: "And in the fourteenth day of the first
month is the passover of the LORD.
17 And in the fifteenth day of this month is
the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.
18 In the first day shall be an holy convocation;ye
shall do no manner of servile work therein:"
In verse 16 we see that the passover is only considered
to be the 14th of the month. On the next morning, the 15th begins the
"days of unleavened bread."
Deuteronomy 16:1-8: "Observe
the month of Abib (April), and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God:
for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of
Egypt by night.
2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover
unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which
the LORD shall choose to place his name there.
3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven
days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even
the bread of affliction: for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt
in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out
of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with
thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the
flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night
until the morning.
5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any
of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee:
6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall
choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover
at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest
forth out of Egypt.
7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which
the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and
go unto thy tents.
8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and
on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou
shalt do no work therein."
Here in Deuteronomy we see again that the passover is
sacrificed on the first night (Deuteronomy 16:1). It
is worth noting that the passover was to be celebrated in the evening
(vs.6) not at sunrise (Ezekiel 8:13-16).
In II Chronicles 8:13 we see that the feast of unleavened
bread was one of the three Jewish feasts to be kept during the year.
II Chronicles 8:13: "Even after
a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses,
on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three
times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the
feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles."
Whenever the passover was kept, it always
preceded the feast of unleavened bread. In II Chronicles 30 some Jews
who were unable to keep the passover in the first month
were allowed to keep it in the second. But the dates
remained the same.
II Chronicles 30:l5,21: "Then
they killed the passover on the fourteenth day
of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and
sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house
of the LORD. And the children of lsrael that were present at Jerusalem
kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and
the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with
loud instruments unto the LORD."
Ezra 6:19,22: "And the
children of the captivity kept the passover upon the
fourteenth day of the first month. And kept the
feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for
the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria
unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God,
the God of Israel."
We see then, from studying what the BIBLE
has to say concerning the subject that the order of events went as follows:
(1) On the 14th of April the lamb was killed. This
is the passover. No event following the 14th is ever referred to as
(2) On the morning of the 15th begins the days of unleavened
bread, also known as the feast of unleavened bread.
It must also be noted that whenever the passover is mentioned
in the New Testament, the reference is always to the
meal, to be eaten on the night of April 14th not the
entire week. The days of unleavened bread are NEVER referred to as the
Passover. (It must be remembered that the angel of the Lord passed over
Egypt on one night, not seven nights
in a row.
Now let us look at Acts 12:3,4: "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
Verse 3 shows that Peter was arrested during the
days of unleavened bread (April 15-2 1). 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
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.