Book: The Christian Passover

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From the days of Abraham, God has chosen to establish His covenants on the day that He ordained for the Passover to be observed. In Genesis 15, we find the account of God’s covenant with Abraham. This special covenant became the foundation for both the Old Covenant with the physical nation of Israel and the New Covenant with spiritual Israel—the Church.

The Scriptural record reveals that God’s covenant with Abraham was instituted on the 14th day of the first month—according to the Calculated Hebrew Calendar, as are all the bibilical dates throughout this book. When God began to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt four hundred and thirty years later, this same day became the Passover day. In fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, God initiated His covenant with Israel on the 14th day of the first month. Likewise, the Gospel accounts reveal that Jesus Christ instituted the New Covenant for Christians on the Passover night, the 14th day of the first month, with the introduction of new symbols for the commemoration of the sacrifice of Himself as the true Passover Lamb. He is called “...the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The apostle Paul proclaimed, “For CHRIST OUR PASSOVER WAS SACRIFICED FOR US” (I Cor. 5:7).

Christians are commanded by their Lord and Savior to commemorate His sacrifice by observing the New Testament Passover each year with the new symbols. But Christians who desire to obey Christ’s command are faced with conflicting arguments about how and when the New Testament ceremony should be observed. So persuasive are these arguments that many Christians have begun to observe the Passover on the 15th day of the first month. This practice is the result of blending the Scriptural commands with the traditional observance of the Jews, which differs from the ordinances that are recorded in the Old Testament. These ordinances clearly show that God commanded the Passover to be observed on the 14th day of the first month. However, later Jewish practices, introduced before the 70-year Babylonian captivity in 585 BC and subsequently instituted after the exiles returned to Jerusalem, led to the observance of a 15th Passover. Today, the traditional Jewish practice is to celebrate the Passover entirely on the 15th day of the first month, which is actually the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Until the destruction of the temple in AD 70, some non-Christian Jews killed the Passover lambs at home at the beginning of the 14th, after sunset of the 13th but before dark of the 14th. This domestic Passover, as we will see, conformed to the commands of God. Later temple practice, which became the accepted Jewish tradition, was observed in addition to the domestic sacrifice of the Passover lamb. Those Jews who participated in the temple sacrifice of the Passover killed the lambs late in the afternoon of the 14th, between the hours of 3 PM and 5 PM, and ate the lambs after sunset of the 14th, as the night of the 15th was beginning. This difference in the time of sacrificing the Passover lambs is the origin of the controversy that is generally referred to as the 14th/15th Passover question. (The Bible reckons days from sunset to sunset, not from midnight to midnight, as does the Roman calendar.)

With the destruction of the temple in AD 70, all sacrificing of Passover lambs ceased by the non-Christian Jews. The subsequent exile of the Jews into all nations led to the permanent observance of the 15th Passover. Notice this admission by Samuel Al-Aagribi in AD 1484: “Today, however, by reason of our many sins, we are scattered over the four corners of the earth, we are dispersed in the lands of the Gentiles, we are soiled with their ritual uncleanness and unable to reach the House of the Lord, and our status is equivalent to that of persons ritually unclean or traveling far away. That is why this ordinance of the Passover sacrifice no longer applies to us, and the reason for this is our father’s exceeding disobedience to God and our own following in their sinful footsteps” (Nemoy, Karaite Anthology, p. 206, emphasis added).

Today, the Jews no longer recognize the 14th as the Passover day, with, perhaps, the exception that the firstborn of a family may fast in remembrance of the sparing of the firstborn of Israel in Egypt. The Jews have for centuries observed their Passover on the 15th. The effect of this one-day -late observance is this: The Jews have wholly lost sight of the true meaning of the Passover, which God originally gave the twelve tribes of Israel, of which the true Jews are descendants of only one tribe. The calculated Hebrew calendar* that the Jews use today specifically designates the Jewish Passover as the 15th day of the first month. Moreover, their calendar labels the entire seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread as Passover.**

As a result, Christians who observe the New Testament Passover have been confronted with the problem as to which day is correct, the 14th or the 15th. Some groups claim that it is the 14th, and offer many Scriptures to support their belief. Other groups, with equal conviction, point to Scriptures which appear to show that the Passover should be observed on the 15th, as do the Jews. That is the dilemma!


*The first month of the calculated Hebrew calendar does not coincide with the first month of the Roman calendar in use today. Compared to the Roman calendar, the first month of the calculated Hebrew calendar falls in the spring of the year between the last ten days of March and about the middle of April. The variation is due to the fact that the months of the Hebrew calendar are based on the lunar cycle, and the months of the Roman calendar are based on the solar cycle. Each year the calculated Hebrew calendar must be consulted to determine where the 14th day of the first month falls on the Roman calendar, since it may occur during March or April.

**To add to the confusion, today some Jews keep two days for every holy day. This means that some Jews will keep nine days of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Hence, Nisan 14 and 15 are kept for the 15th, the First Day of Unleavened Bread, and Nisan 21 and 22 are kept for the 21st, the Last Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, this practice is not for the purpose of keeping a 14th Passover, as specifically commanded in the Bible. Rather, it is a two-day traditional observance. This erroneous two-day holy day observance has been extended to all seven holy days, with perhaps the exception of the fast day, the Day of Atonement.

To compound the problem, to this day the Jews adamantly insist that the Passover was not originally observed on the 14th, but has always been observed on the 15th. Is that what the Bible teaches? Is that what history records? If there was always a monolithic practice of a 15th Passover, why is there a 14th/15th controversy in the first place?

Because of these conflicts and the intertwining of Biblical commands and Jewish tradition, buttressed by Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament designed to justify their traditions, various churches of God are divided as to whether they should keep the New Testament ceremony on the 14th or the 15th. Furthermore, there is confusion about what to call this observance, since true Christians understand that they should keep this New Testament ceremony as commanded by Jesus. Should it be called the Passover— or the Lord’s Supper, as do many Protestant denominations?

To complicate matters even more, there is confusion as to what the new symbols should be. Should wine and unleavened bread be used, or should it be plain bread and grape juice? Or should, as a few claim, only bread and water be used? There is also confusion as to what is the real meaning of the symbols. Very few truly understand THE ACTUAL SCRIPTURAL MEANING OF THE TRUE NEW TESTAMENT CEREMONY AS TAUGHT BY JESUS CHRIST AND HIS ORIGINAL PERSONALLY CHOSEN APOSTLES.

What are the Scriptural requirements for keeping the New Testament ceremony? This is a most important question. Its proper observance, at the correct time and in the correct manner as commanded by God, is absolutely essential. For Christians, this question is really a matter of life or death— eternal life or eternal death!

Mainstream Christianity—Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and most fundamental churches—long ago rejected Jesus’ command to observe the true New Testament ceremony and replaced it with the Christianized pagan festival of Easter. Additionally, many of these churches offer a weekly or daily communion. However, it is not within the scope of this presentation to delve into the paganized traditional practices of those Christian-professing organizations.

This detailed study will deal only with the observance of the Passover as commanded by God and revealed in the Scriptures. It will thoroughly cover the Passover institution in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We will exhaustively examine every aspect to answer every question concerning the Passover, such as: Which day did God establish for the Passover to be observed? What is the proper time of the day? What constitutes keeping the Passover? When did the Passover in Egypt occur? When did the Exodus take place? Do the traditions of the Jews agree with the Bible? If not, why not? Were the Passover lambs originally slain at the beginning of the 14th, or in the late afternoon toward the end of the 14th? When is evening? When is morning? When is night? What does “between the two evenings” mean—from one evening to the next, after sunset, before sunset, from noon to sunset? When did a 15th Passover begin to be observed? If the Passover date was changed, who changed it and why was it changed? When was a temple sacrifice of the Passover lamb instituted? Why was it instituted? Who instituted it? Did all Jews universally have their Passover lambs sacrificed at the temple? Was the practice of sacrificing the Passover lambs at the temple a command of God or a tradition of the Jews? Was the domestic Passover sacrifice at various households, as commanded in Exodus 12, rescinded or changed by God’s command? On what day did Jesus keep the Passover? Did Jesus and the disciples practice the temple sacrifice of the lamb, or the domestic sacrifice? What is the meaning of the new Passover ceremony that Jesus instituted? What is the spiritual significance of the footwashing? What is the meaning of the broken bread? What is the meaning of the cup of wine? What does it mean to eat the flesh of Jesus Christ and to drink His blood? Why is it so important to observe this New Testament ceremony? When should it be observed? Should Christians follow the traditions of the Jews, or are these traditions contrary to the commands of Jesus Christ?

What changes did Jesus institute in the observance of the Passover? How did both the Passover of the Old Covenant and the Passover of the New Covenant fulfill God’s promise to Abraham? How did the covenant sacrifices that God commanded Abraham to offer foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? How did the timing of the death of Jesus Christ fulfill not only the Passover sacrifice, but every type of sacrifice that God commanded in the Old Covenant?


As you can see from the long list of questions, there is a great deal of confusion about how and when the Passover was kept in both Old Testament and New Testament times. However, we know that “...God is not the author of confusion...” (I Cor. 14:33). We also know that the Word of God reveals His Truth to those He has called and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, which will lead us into all truth. We need to diligently study the Bible to be sure that we are “...rightly dividing the Word of the truth” (II Tim. 2:15). When our study is guided by the Spirit of God and coupled with prayer, while humbly seeking the truth, we can come to a complete and proper understanding of how and when the Christian Passover should be observed. All true Christians should desire to observe it at the proper time and in the proper manner as taught by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and partake of it with a full understanding of its purpose and meaning.

For the first and second edition, in addition to the King James Version, the author had elected to use for passages of the Old Testament from the translation of the Jewish Publication Society of America, the 1955 edition. Subsequent editions of the JPSA contain substantial changes that do not accurately reflect the meaning of the Hebrew text. These later English editions differ greatly from the1917 and 1955 editions by adding traditional interpretations of Judaism that do not follow the rules of the Masoretic text. The 1985 JPSA edition, TANAKH—The Holy Scriptures, contains major changes and additions, which renders it untrustworthy for this in-depth study of the Passover.

For the study of a number of critical passages in the first five books of the Old Testament—known as the Pentateuch—the author has selected an additional translation which uses precise and literal wording to convey the exact meaning of the Hebrew text. This translation The Schocken Bible, Volume I— THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES, as translated by Everett Fox from the Ben Asher Hebrew text. This translation, published by Schocken Books in 1995, adheres to the literal meaning of the Hebrew words that are recorded in the text of the Old Testament. Everett Fox’s precise translation of the five books of Moses helps to clarify many hard-to-understand passages.

When the second edition was published in 1999, the author had completed the translation of the New Testament from the koiné Greek of the Stephens Text of 1550. It was published in 2004.

In addition, since the publication of the second edition in 1999, the author has closely collaborated with Old Testament Hebrew Consultant, E. Michael Heiss to complete a translation of the Old Testament based on the Ben Asher Masoretic Hebrew Text. Together they have copiously combed through each and every word and phrase, producing a version that is faithful to the original Masoretic texts, while retaining much of the grace of the King James Version. In this third edition of The Christian Passover, nearly all the Old Testament scriptures are quoted from the new translation found in The Holy Bible In Its Original Order—A Faithful Version—with Commentary.

In the second edition, as well as this third edition, for the study of the New Testament passages which relate to the Passover, the author has elected to use his own translation of the Greek text, the Stephens text of 1550, also known as the Received Text—acknowledged to be the most accurate Greek text. In translating from Greek, the author has taken great care to precisely and accurately convey the inspired meaning of every verse and passage, in order to make the Word of God more meaningful to the reader. The New Testament Greek text is rich and powerful in its inspiration and expression, and grammatically precise in its meaning. The author has endeavored to convey all of these qualities in his translation now incorporated into The Holy Bible In Its Original Order—A Faithful Version—with Commentary.

Since this vital study is dealing with a very complex and controversial subject, it is recommended that the reader begin with the first chapter and read each chapter in sequence—all the way through. It is important to read with an open mind, carefully examining each Scripture as it is presented, and drawing conclusions only after considering all the facts. So many people are adamant in what they believe, with very little regard for the actual facts. In this study, the author has endeavored to define all the facts and discuss all the arguments possible in order to present the Scriptural truth. What is presented in the following pages does not agree with many of the beliefs, doctrines, interpretations or traditions of various religious organizations, synagogues and churches. But the Truth of God stands above everyone and will judge us all!