Should I Be Observing the Biblical Holydays?

An introduction to God's Holydays and an examination of if they are for Christians today


Peace and blessings to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,

     Many Christians are beginning to ask themselves some important questions:    "What are the biblical Holydays?"   "What significance do these Feast Days have?"      "Aren't the Holydays just for Jews?"      "Didn't Christ 'do away' with the law?"     "What festivals did the early apostolic church observe?"     "Didn't Paul Do Away With The Holydays?"        "What festivals were observed in the post-apostolic period?"    "Will we keep the Holydays after the Second Advent?"

     Ultimately, one more question is prevaling in their hearts,  "Should I be observing the biblical Holydays"?  

     We will endeavor to explore the answers to these questions as we embark on a spiritual pilgrammage in search of the truth about biblical feast days. This page has been created to help those seeking to "prove all things" in this regard.  The reader may choose to read this in order, as written, or may choose to click upon any of the preceding questions to go directly to that section of the text.

What are the biblical Holydays?

     The biblical Holydays are the ordained festivals observed by the followers of God as recorded in the scriptures. Leviticus 23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.  The words translated "feasts" and "seasons" is the single Hebrew word "mo'edim"

Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [mo'ed], and for days, and years:

     The fact that The Creator referred to these mo'edim during creation is of great significance.  

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance [Hebrew] #4150:  mow`ed or moed {mo-ade'}; or (feminine) moweadah (2 Chronicles 8:13)  = {mo-aw-daw'}; from 3259; properly, an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically, a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):--appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn(-ity), synogogue, (set) time (appointed).   [Root Word--See Hebrew 3259]  Strong's #3259. ya`ad = a primitive root; to fix upon (by agreement or appointment); by implication, to meet (at a stated time), to summon (to trial), to direct (in a certain quarter or position), to engage (for marriage): -agree,(maxke an) appoint(-ment,a time), assemble (selves), betroth, gather (selves, together), meet (together), set (a time).

     The Feast Days are God's Appointed Times for His People. Per Genesis 1:14, God establishes the times of these appointments by the lights in the heavens. It is not until Leviticus Chapter 23 that all the mow'edim are recorded for us in a comprehensive list of the Holydays.  Presented below is the biblical text highlighting the festivals one-by-one.

The Sabbath:   [This is the weekly Sabbath]   Leviticus 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.                  

The Passover:  [This is a memorial day. It is not one of the "annual Sabbaths" as work is not prohibited.]   Leviticus 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread:  [The first and last days of this feast are "annual Sabbaths"]   Leviticus 23:6-9 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,      

The WaveSheaf [Elevation Sheaf]:  [This is not an actual 'holyday' but is presented here because it ties the Passover/Days of Unleavened bread with Pentecost.] Leviticus 23:10-12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.

Feast of First Fruits [Pentecost]:   [This is an "annual Sabbath"]   Leviticus 23:15  And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. 17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.-  21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.      

Feast of Trumpets:   [This is an "annual Sabbath"]  Leviticus 23:23-25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.                    

Day of Atonement:   [This is an "annual Sabbath"]  Leviticus 23:26-32 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. 

Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day:  [The first and eighth days of this festal period are "annual Sabbaths"]    Leviticus 23:33-36 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.     

What significance do these Feast Days have?

     The Bible, God's inspired Word, contains all the knowledge that people need to know in regard to their salvation. It tells us how to gain 'life more abundantly'; that is, eternal life. "But He answered and said, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4).  So what is the significance of these "appointed times" that proceeded out of the mouth of God?

    The biblical Holydays reveal God's Plan of Salvation for the faithful believer.  They depict significant events, past, present, and future, in God's Plan of Salvation . Some of these events, whether in ante-type or type, are outlined below.  

Sabbath:   Is a Memorial of Creation [Gen 2:1-3; Exod 20:8-11], Memorial of Sabbath during Exodus [Deut 5:12-15], Kept properly brings blessing [Isa 56:2; Isa 58:13-14], Sign of identity as God's people [Exod 31], Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath [Mark 2:28] Foreshadows Resurrection & Millennial Rest [Hebrews 4],

Passover:   After being set aside on the 10th day and examined by the religious leaders, the spotless lamb (of the first year) was sacrificed, on 14th day of the first month of the year, to redeem the first-born of Israel providing deliverance from certain death [Ex 12].  Those houses that bore the blood of the lamb were passed over by the death angel [Ex 12:23].

Joshua led the people into the Land in Joshua 4:19 on the 10th of the month (setting aside of the Lamb) and circumcised the children of Israel [Josh 5];  Moses, representing the law, could not lead the people into the promised land, but Joshua ("Joshua" means Salvation and is the Hebrew form of  the name "Jesus") the son of Nun ("Nun" means "eternal") led them in. This antetype shows that the law couldn't save us (lead us into the promised land) but Jesus, the Son of the Eternal, can and He circumcises our hearts and leads us in.

Compare the other types: Christ, the sinless Lamb of God [John 1:29,36], was sacrificed for our sins on 14th of the month (Passover) [I Cor 5:7].  He is the First-born of many brothers [Rom. 8:29], provides deliverance from "the second death" for the first born of the church [Rev 20:6] who bear have the blood of Christ covering them [I Cor 10:16; I Pet 1:18,19; Rev 1:5];   Jesus also was examined by the religious leaders and was found without blemish [Luke 23:14,15, 22]. Passover is an antetype of the Day of Atonement where only the "firstborn" (first resurrection) are atoned for at this time.

Feast of Unleavened Bread:   Israel's exodus from bondage of Egypt; they had to sanctify the firstborn and all had to put out all leaven and eat unleavened bread [Ex 13:1-10]; came to a point later where they had to be 'baptized' under the waters of the Red Sea [Ex 14; I Cor 10:1,2], then continue in the leaving behind of the lifestyles they had in Egypt. We notice and compare that Jesus is the "Bread of Life" [John 6:35, 48, 51] without sin [leaven]. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew, means house of bread. The believers in Christ that take the Passover should then be unleavened [Matt 26:17, I Cor 5:7-8]. The Gospels and Epistles also admonish us numerous times to sin no more and to be perfect. 

Wavesheaf: The First cut sheaf of the first fruit harvest cycle is elevated [Lev 23:10] on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Compare to the elevation into the prescence of the Father of the resurrected Messiah [John 20:17] , the First of the Firstfruits [I Cor 15:20,23], who was also risen to the Father on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath that occurs during the Days of Unleavened Bread.[John 20:1,19; Mark 16:19]

Feast of First Fruits or Pentecost:  Fifty days after the Elevation (Wave) Sheaf, two loaves of leavened bread are elevated [Lev 23:17], two lambs were offered as peace offering [Lev 23:19-20]. A Trumpet sounds to call the people to go up to be with the Lord [Ex 19]. Giving of the Law at Pentecost to Moses on Mt. Sinai took place this day. [Ex 20]; This day also was a reminder that we were slaves to Egypt (Deut. 16:9-17).   Compare and contrast these antetypes to their New Testament counterparts: Fifty days after Jesus arose, His disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 16:7-8 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away (WaveSheaf) : for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart (WaveSheaf), I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."; God wrote the law (Torah) on the hearts of the believers.[1 Cor 3:3]; the Holy Spirit is given to help us keep the (spirit of the) law [Acts 2, Rom 7,8];  two witnesses are elevated [Rev 11:3-4,11-12, I Thess 4:13-17] ; a trumpet sounds then our transformation into Spirit beings occurs and we go up to be with the Lord.[I Cor 15:52,53; I Thess 4:16-17;] (some say this occurs rather on Day of Trumpets), antetype of the Marriage Supper [Ex 24] Compare to the Marriage of the Lamb [Rev 19:7-9]

Day of Trumpets: The first day of the seventh biblical month. The Shofar (Ram's horn called Trumpets) is blown to proclaim a gathering for worship, to herald the arrival of the King, but is used also to warn/signal of war.[Num 10; Jer 4] The book of the Law was read to all the people [Neh 8]; Their repentant tears were turned to joy. [Neh 8:9-12] ; Some believe this to be the possible date of the Creation of world, historically the beginning of the Jewish Civil year, return of Christ as King to the earth to make war and judge, End of war & regathering of Israel [Is 2; Mic 4]. Jesus will be King of kings upon all the earth [Rev 19:11-16].

Day of Atonement: Translated from Yom Kippur or Yom Kaphar, The tenth day of the seventh biblical month by the Jews. High Priest entered Holy of Holies only once in the year to offer atonement [Ex 30:10];  the High Priest performed ceremonial washings;  Two goats chosen, one to be sacrificed for transgressions of all the people/national sins and one, the Azazel, to have the sins confessed over it and have it carry the sins away from the people/nation. [Lev 16; Ps 103:12]; this was for reconciliation to God; Start of Jubilee Year began on every 50th Atonement [Lev 25];  Jesus, our High Priest, offered as our atonement only once [Hebrews 9, 10; Romans 5:10,11] and removed our sin from us. Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.;  The binding of Satan is thought by many to occur on this day [Rev 20:2] ;  Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,;   

Feast of Booths/Tabernacles: Tabernacles means "temporary or "perishable" dwelling. Beginning the 15th Day of the seventh month and lasting seven days. Israel sojourning/living in tents/temporary dwellings in the wilderness 40 years prior to entering the Promised Land. [Leviticus 23:33-44; Neh 8; Zechariah 14:16-19 & Zechariah 14:1-4, 9] Compare to us living in these temporary fleshly tabernacles [2 Cor 5:1-4; 2 Pet 1:13] until we put them off [2 Pet 1:14] and enter the Promised Land in our new incorruptible spirit bodies.

The Eighth Day: New beginnings. Depicts (similarly to the weekly Sabbath) the Millenium Reign of the Messiah on earth, yet this day's picture continues on through the Second Resurrection, Great White Throne Judgement [Rev 20:11-15], New Heavens and New Earth [Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2Pet 3:13, Rev 21:1], even forever; Some see the spirit pouring out as water on this day and some a day previous [John 7:37-38] .

Aren't the Holydays just for Jews?

     Many people today think that the Biblical Holydays are just for "the Jews;" or "just for Israel;" or "just for that period of time."  The scriptures reveal the truth of the matter that these are our Eternal God's very own Feasts!

Leviticus 23:1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are MY feasts.

Leviticus 23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Leviticus 23:37-38 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

Leviticus 23:44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

     Does God require only Israel to keep the Feasts, or in other words, does God have one law for the Jew and another for the Christian?

Concerning the keeping of the Passover the word of the LORD is recorded by Moses in Exodus 12:49 "One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you."     God, as His manner is, will say things once, yea twice, to show their significance. We read in Leviticus 24:22 "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God."

And we read, immediately prior to a man being struck dead by the LORD for breaking the Sabbath Day, the following in Numbers 15:29-31 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

      How long does our creator God want us to keep His Feast Days?    Leviticus 23:14, 21, 31, and 41 say the Holy Days are a "statute forever."   And one must recall that Leviticus 23:4 says that the Holy Days are directly tied to the 'seasons' of the year. These 'seasons' have not yet ceased. The sun and the moon are still giving us the 'seasons' or 'appointed times' of the year just as when they were created during the Creation week. So by this we have a witness that the Holy Days were established by God (YHWH) Himself and we also see they are perpetual.   In the Psalms we see support that God's covenant was commanded to a thousand generations, Psalm 105:5-8, 10.

Didn't Christ 'do away' with the law?

     Many mainstream practioners of Christianty believe erroneously that Christ abolished the law. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, One greater than we testifies to this in Matthew 5:17-19 Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil [Note: fulfill = magnify, expound upon, increase accountibility beyond the letter of the law now to the spirit of the law]. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in NO WISE PASS from the law, till ALL be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   Have the heavens and the earth passed away yet? Then neither has any of God's law - says Jesus!  [A related reference may be found in our article showing the Ten Commandments in the New Testament]

     Do not let any man deceive you and turn you away from the words of Christ Himself!  The Scriptures that people use to contradict Jesus upholding the law are interpreted improperly. The followers of Christ did not dispense with His commands. Jesus KEPT the Holydays and all of God's Law to be considered "blameless" and "sinless." We see that if Christ broke the law that it would be sin and we would have no savior.  1 John 3:4-7 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

1 Peter 2:19-24 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

     During the time of Christ, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavens became jointly known as the Feast of the Unleavens being that unleavened bread was eaten on the Passover as well. The following example contains such a case but the point of the illustration is that Christ was keeping the Holydays. Matthew 26:17-19 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.  

     Jesus is also shown attending the Feast Days in John 2:23; John 5:1; John 7:2,10, 14, 37; John 11:55-56; John 12:12; John 13:1; and Luke 2:41-42. After washing the disciples feet during Passover Jesus told then he was to be imitated in John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  

 We read a similar admonition to mimic Jesus in the letter called 1 John 2:1-6 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

What festivals did the early apostolic church observe?

     What you are probably wondering is if the disciples observed the Feasts after Christ's death and resurrection. Let us take a look. What did the Church do immediately after Jesus' resurrection/ascension?

Acts 2:1 And when the DAY OF PENTECOST was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  

     No hint of a change here! The disciples are shown to have been keeping the Feast after the death, resurrection, and ascension of their Lord!

     How about Paul -- didn't he do away with the law even if Christ did not?  Yet we read Paul's own writing in Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.   Notice what Paul preached in the New Testament churches. "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening" [Acts 28:23]. When Paul preached about Christ he did so directly out of Old Testament law.

     Paul said, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" [1 Cor. 11:1]. Did Christ keep the Holydays? Yes, we have already seen it with our eyes and handled it in faith.  So would Paul, being one who followed Christ, keep the Holydays? The answer is, of course, a resounding "Yes!" Let us see if we can validate this claim of Paul keeping the Feasts as a Christian.

Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the DAY OF PENTECOST.  

Acts 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

     Paul declares here, quite unequivocally, that he MUST BY ALL MEANS KEEP GOD'S FEAST!  The word "Keep" is from the Greek word "poiesai" which means "to keep, to celebrate" (Analytical Greek Lexicon, by Harper, 332). Likewise, in the letter to Corinth, he exhorts these gentile brethren to "Keep the Feast" (I Cor 5:7).

     It has been noted by many scholars down through the ages that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was written at the time period of the year of the Passover/Feast of Unleavens. It is evident by Paul's many allusions to the Festival. Note: Five times Paul writes of being "puffed up" (which is what leaven does--it puffs things up). You will find these in I Cor 4:6,18,19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4. He goes on to write:

1Cor 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore LET US KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

     Note that Paul, in an address to gentile Christians, refers to keeping God's Feast days. In verse 6, there is a seeming contradiction that has caught the eyes of many scholars. Herein Paul tells them to purge out leaven, yet he also says that they are already unleavened. What is one to make of this?  

"If we take 'as you are unleavened' in a metaphorical sense, it is scarcely consistent with the previous 'cast out the old leaven'; for the passage would then amount to saying, 'Be you free from leaven (metaphorically) as you are free from leaven (metaphorically)'; whereas, on the other hand, St.Paul says, 'Be free from leaven (metaphorically) as you are free from leaven (literally).' There seems to be no difficulty in supposing that the Gentile Christians joined with the Jewish Christians in celebrating the Paschal feast after the Jewish manner, at least to the extent of abstaining from leaven in the love feast. And we see St. Paul still observing the 'days of unleavened bread' at this period of his life, from Acts 20:6......" (Conybeare and Howson, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, pp.389, 390)

     Well, as the scholars themselves (such as the ones quoted above) have rightfully concluded, Paul's point is that they are already unleavened (physically--they removed leaven from their homes in compliance with God's festival), yet they needed to apply the concept to their spiritual house as well and clean spiritual leaven out from it.

     You see, the Church was, as it should, observing God's Feast days.

    Paul again alludes to this time period (Passover/Feast of Unleavens) in chapter 15 when he wrote of the resurrection of Christ. In verses 20 and 23, he refers to Jesus as "the firstfruits" of them that sleep (those that are dead). This is allusion to the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavens in which day that the first of the firstfruits were offered up to God (Lev 23:10-14). This day and its offering typifies Christ's resurrection and ascension, as Paul noted, and The Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost--mentioned as soon approaching in I Cor 16:8) typifies the resurrection of the rest of the firstfruits (the Church).

     It is in this context that Paul writes in chapter eleven of partaking of the Christian Passover of the bread and the wine. It is to be taken on the evening of the Passover--not whenever man chooses to do so as has been the practice of many of church organizations.

1Cor 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: 24 And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. 25 After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.

     When are we to observe His death? Is it at our leisure--are we to decide, or has God ordained the day?  Notice carefully in the above Scriptures:  "...the same night in which he was betrayed..."   What night was this? It was the beginning of the Passover (Abib 14 on God's calendar). It is this date that we are to observe the memorial of the Lord's death, year by year.

Didn't Paul Do Away With The Holydays?

     Many of the seeming contradictions in some of Paul's letters are due to either translation errors, or biased misinterpretation. We will go over two of the arguments that have sprung from these personal interpretations of the scripture that are most used to try to contradict the fact that Christ, His disciples, and Paul all kept the Holydays. The misinterpreted texts are found in the letter to the Colossians and the letter to the Galatians.

     Now some people point to Colossians 2:16 for alledged proof that we need not observe the Sabbath, or other holy days, but let us examine it to see what it really teaches us about the early Church's practice regarding God's Appointed Times:

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days" (Colossians 2:16)

" in meat...: or, for eating and drinking

respect: or, part " (footnote for Colossians 2:16 by translators of 1611 KJV)

     The KJV translators' own alternate rendering of this verse would be as follows:

"Let no man therefore judge you for eating and drinking, or in part of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."

     The Greek word translated "respect" (or "part" in the KJV footnote) is meros (Strong's Concordance and Dictionary #3313):

meros {mer'-os} from an obsolete but more primary form of meiromai ("to get as a section or allotment") 1) a part 1a) a part due or assigned to one    1b) lot, destiny     2) one of the constituent parts of a whole    2a) in part, partly, in a measure, to some degree, as respects a part, severally, individually    2b) any particular, in regard to this, in this respect

     A more precise rendering of this verse, which agrees with most literal translations, would be:

"Do not let anyone then judge you in eating or drinking, or in any particular of a feast, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths."

     What was the problem affecting the Church at Colosse? Reading verses 4, 8, & 18 will give you some insight into the situation they were in. Gnostics (based on the Greek word "gnosis" which means "knowledge," for they considered themselves to be the "knowing ones") were bringing in their false doctrines which included, among other things, a complete denial of sexual and other bodily appetites--asceticism on one hand, and unrestrained indulgence of the body on the other. They judged God's people in Colosse for the particular way in which they (the church) observed the holydays, new moons, and sabbaths--for their feasting on these days (the ascetics said "touch not, taste not"). We shall see, Paul was addressing the problem of will-worship and self-denial (read verses 20-23) brought in by the Gnostics, and their improper judgement of the Colossian Church for feasting on God's Appointed Times.

     This Scripture does not state that the Sabbaths and Holy Days are no longer required to be observed, but rather that the Church shouldn't be judged for the manner in which they do observe them. This is not just the interpretation of Sabbath and Holy Day observers, for even "evangelical" type scholars have noted this to be the proper understanding. Notice:

"The 'judgement' seems to be criticism of the Christians' present practice, apparently of eating and drinking and enjoying Jewish festivals [i.e., God's festivals (Lev 23:2,4)], in contrast to those whose watchword was 'do not handle, do not taste, do not even touch' (Col. 2:21)." (Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, InterVarsity Press, 1993, p.403, Douglas R. de Lacey, Ph.D, University of Cambridge, England).

"This essay provides evidence that the Pauline community at Colossae, not the opponents, practiced the temporal schemes outlined by Col 2:16....This investigation into the function of the list in Col 2:16 indicates that the Colossians Christians, not their critics, participate in a religious calendar that includes festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths." (Troy Martin, Professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, New Testament Studies journal, Spring, 1996, article: "Pagan and Judeo-Christian Time-keeping Schemes in Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16," p.107)

"The most natural way of taking the rest of the passage is not that he [the ascetic judge] also imposes a ritual of feast days, but rather that he objects to certain elements of such observation." ~ (Contra Hunter, Archibald M., The Letter of Paul to the Colossians, Vol. 22 The Layman’s Bible Commentary, John Knox Press, 1959; page 133)

     Let us gain further knowledge by reading a little further in the passage.

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (KJV)

     The Greek word translated "are" here in the KJV, esti (Strong's Concordance and Dictionary # 2076), is the third person singular present indicative of Strong's # 1510: eimi {i-mee'} "to be, to exist, to happen, to be present."

     Greek scholar, Spiros Zodhiates, in his The Complete Word Study New Testament, also agrees that "are" in Colossians 2:17 is in the Present Indictative Active tense. He defines "present indicative" in the following manner: "The present indicative asserts something which is occuring while the speaker is making the statement." ~ (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study New Testament, Col.2:17, p.663, and grammatical notations at p.869, PRESENT INDICATIVE, point 82).

     So, we see that as Paul was writing this letter to the Church in Colosse, the Sabbath and Holy Days were at that time (as they still are presently) a shadow of good things yet to come. Jesus had already came and went a long time prior to Paul's letter, yet Paul still wrote of these blessed days as a current shadow of things to come. We keep these days, as they are "shadows of things yet to come" -- yet future.

     Many modern versions of the Scripture contain another mistranslation, in verse 17. The word translated "body" in the KJV (i.e., "body is of Christ") is the Greek word soma (Strong's #4983). It is translated "body" 144 times in the KJV, as well as "bodily" 1 time in 2 Cor.10:10, and it is rendered "slave" 1 time in Rev.18:13. Some modern versions, however, use the word "substance" in place of "body" here. In a similar manner, the NIV uses the word "reality," but its translators only render soma as such in this one verse---elsewhere it is all "body/bodies." Col 2:19 (two verses later) contains the word soma and herein it is translated "body" in the NIV, and all English translations universally I believe. These modern "translations" of soma in Col 2:17 are biased, and are shown to be such in light of the fact that the translators never render "soma" as "reality" or "substance" in any other verse.

     Thus we have:

"Do not let anyone then judge you in eating or drinking, or in any particular of a Feast, or of the New Moon, or of the Sabbaths (which are a shadow of things to come), but the Body of Christ."

     The phrase “body of Christ” is used by Paul in various letters (I Cor.10:16; 12:27; and Eph. 4:12) to figuratively denote the body of believers--the Church!  In this very epistle to the Colossians, he utilizes this same figure (1:18; 1:24; 2:17,19; 3:15). With this insight, the meaning of these verses is clear. Shortened to the core subject, we can read, "Do not let anyone then judge you ...except the Body of Christ."

"The preceding grammatical and syntactical investigation of the clause to de soma tou Christou [but the body of Christ] in Colossians 2:17 suggests that the practices mentioned in 2:16 are those of the Colossians Christians and not the opponents...Although the observance of neomenia [new moon] is less certain, early Christians observe both feasts and sabbaths."  ~(Troy Martin, Journal of Biblical Literature)

     Paul's comments in these verses preserve the fact that the Church (including these Colossian gentile believers) were rejoicing in the observance of the 7th Day Sabbath, the New Moon, and the Annual Feasts of God, for there would have been no basis for the objections to the eating and drinking aspects of these days by the ascetics if the case were otherwise.

     Another of the most used texts to attempt to discourage holyday observance in found in the book of Galatians.

Galatians 4:8-11 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

     Some would bewitch you into believing that the "days, months, times, and years" are really "sabbaths, new moons, holydays, and sabbatical years." Yet, verse 8 clearly shows that "days, and months, and times, and years" were the customs observed "when ye [Galatians] knew not God," had false idolatrous gods, and "observed times" [Lev 19:26; Deut 18:10,14; 2Kings 21:6; and 2Chr 33:6]

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.

     Paul called this observance of times that they did to false gods "weak and beggarly elements." Paul does talk to some Galatians about the law not being able to justify, but that was not the subject of this passage. You see, Paul had to fight two extremes infecting the church at Galatia. Firstly, Judaizers who insisted on circumcision as a prerequisite for Gentile converts. Secondly, Paul faced off with the ones who took advantage of liberty in Christ and went the polar opposite of the Judaizers, even returning to observing pagan days associated with times (such as the solstice). Paul addressed boths factions and the rest of the church all in the one letter and today's antinomian (lawless) translators stumble over the texts.

What festivals were observed in the post-apostolic period?

     We have seen that Jesus, the disciples, and Paul all kept the "appointed times" of God. This is surely enough evidence to convict one of their continuance but let us go even further. The early Church (and the later true Church continuing through time--albeit, "underground") surely kept God's ordained Festivals (Lev 23), including the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Early historical record is in agreeance with the biblical record and we will present a portion of the evidence herein:

[In the chapter previous to the quote below, Eusebius noted how Victor and the Church at Rome had chosen to observe the "pascha" (later renamed "Easter" in honor of the pagan goddess "Ishtar/Astarte") always on the first day of the week, as opposed to the Churches of Asia who followed the teachings of the Apostles and forthwith observed Pascha (Passover) on the 14th day of Nisan/Abib annually.]

"The Disagreement in Asia:  But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him: "We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep [he speaks here of the death of many brethren], which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when He shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man.' " He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows: "I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus." (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book V, ch. 24)

"St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Evangelist and bishop of Smyrna, visited Rome in 159 to confer with Anicetus, the bishop of that see, on the subject; and urged the tradition, which he had received from the apostle, of observing the fourteenth day." (Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 11th edition, vol.8, p.828, article: "Easter")

"It is therefore your duty, brethren, who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, to observe the days of the Passover exactly, with all care, after the vernal equinox, lest ye be obliged to keep the memorial of the one passion twice in a year. Keep it once only in a year for Him that died but once." ~ (Ante-Nicean Fathers, Vol 7, Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, xvii)

     These records are preserved even though there have been some in the church who would pervert the gospel and delete the historic records. There are more examples and we will endeavor to share with the reader just a few more.

 "The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals [i.e. God's Festivals], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed" ~ (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 8, p. 828).

     Some groups carried names to designate one in their group and other had names assigned by historians. Here are a few holyday keeping groups with identifying tags.

"The Nazarenes [were] an obscure Jewish-Christian sect, existing at the time of Epiphanius (fl. A.D. 371) .....They recognized the new covenant as well as the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and His Son Jesus....They dated their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish-Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70....While adhering as far as possible to the Mosaic economy, as regarding Sabbaths, foods and the like, they did not refuse to recognize the apostolicy of Paul." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 19)

"The Jewish Christians [Nazarenes] of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic law [with the exception of the ceremonial] and consequently the Jewish festivals...In the Feast of the Passover...the Nazarenes eat [unleavened] bread, probably like the Jews..." (Ecclesiastical History, vol 1, chapter 2, section 30, by Gieseler)

"Abhorred and publicly execrated by the Jews for their attachment to Christianity, and despised by the Christians for their prejudice in favor of the Mosaic law [with its weekly and annual sabbaths, kosher diet, etc.] they were peculiarly oppressed and unfortunate. Traces of this sect [the Nazarenes] appear as late as the fourth century." (Hugh Smith, History of the Christian Church, page 72 )

"There is another sect, 'Hypisistarians,' that is, worshippers of the most high, whom they worshipped as the Jews only in one person. And they observed their weekly and annual sabbaths, used distinction of their meats, clean and unclean..." (Antiquities of the Christian Church, Book 16, chapter 16, section 2)

"On down through history, groups have appeared on the scene who recognized the need to observe God's Holy Days. During the 12th and 13th centuries a sect known as the Passagii were the most concrete example of Judaic-Christianity to come on the scene. They believed the Mosaic Law should be observed and held to the literal view of the Old Testament. They kept the holy days and the dietary laws, but not the sacrificial system. They accepted the New Testament and made it their aim to harmonize the old and new dispensations. They kept the Sabbath along with other Sabbatarian groups in Hungary and in other lands. They were also located in southern France." (Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements, by Louis Israel Newman, 255–284).

Will we keep the Holydays after the Second Advent?

     The scriptures do show us that the Holydays will be observed after the Kingdom is restored by Christ.    Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.       Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Ezekiel 46:3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons. [see also Ezek 45:17]

Ezekiel 44:24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.

Zechariah 14:16-19 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

Psalms 119:152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

Psalms 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Summary

     So there we have it. Jesus Christ kept the holydays, the disciples kept the holydays, Paul kept the holydays, the early apostolic church kept the holydays, and even the post-apostolic church kept the holydays.  We even see that the Holydays will still be featured in the new heavens and new earth.  We also have been blessed to see Christ in the Holydays and how all point to Him. Now one question remains, that we will not speak an answer to,  for the reader must ask of himself ....

"Should I be observing the biblical Holydays"? ....


Deuteronomy 5:29 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Philippians 2:12-14 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Authored by Kenneth M. Hoeck [with contributory authorship of Brian C. Hoeck] 2002

©2002 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck and/or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety (including this statement), attributed to Truth on The Web, and proper author credit given.

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