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 questions about being New Covenant Believers and observing or not observing the biblical Holydays:    "What are the biblical Holydays?"   "What significance do these Feast Days have?"    "Didn't Christ 'do away' with the law for New Covenant Believers?"     "What festivals did the early apostolic church observe?"     "Didn't Paul Speak About Doing Away With The Holydays?"        "What festivals were observed in the post-apostolic period?"    "Will we keep the Holydays after the Second Advent?"

     Ultimately, the question prevailing in their hearts is:  "Should I be observing the biblical Holydays"?  

     We will endeavor to explore the answers to these questions as we embark on a spiritual pilgrimage 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.  

What are the biblical Holydays?

     The biblical Holydays are the God-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 may be of some 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 may have pre-established the times of these appointments during the Creation Week by the movement of the lights in the heavens. However, it is not until Leviticus Chapter 23 that all the mow'edim given to the physical nation of Israel are recorded for us in a comprehensive list of the Holydays.  Presented below is the biblical text highlighting the festivals one-by-one.

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.  

Aren't the Holydays just for Jews?

     Originally, the Biblical Holydays were just "just for Israel"  and anyone who would join themselves with Israel to be under God's rule. The scriptures say that these are our Eternal God's very own Feasts! He created them for His own glory. We do see in the New Testament that some of these feasts had continuance amongst New Covenant Believers- which we will look at a bit later in this article.

Didn't Christ 'do away' with the law? Or ... Does God require New Covenant Believers to keep the Feasts as ancient Israel did?

     Many mainstream practitioners of Christianity 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 accountability beyond the letter of the law, which was a shadow of things to come, now unto the spirit of the law of Christ]. 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.[Note: "Fulfilled" is, according to the Strong's Greek Dictionary 1096. γινομαι ginomai; which means completed, done, 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.  [A related reference may be found in our article showing the Ten Commandments in the New Testament]

What Jesus was saying is He was fulfilling all that the law and prophets said about Him. Not one little part would be left undone - including how Messiah must suffer for His people. It would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for even the smallest part of the prophecies concerning Him to fail. Compare His statement to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus:   Luke 24:25-27 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.    [See Isaiah 53 regarding the 'Suffering Servant']

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Also He reiterated the law is upheld and its purpose is to convict us of sin and the need for Him to save us. [compare Ga 3:10-13; Jas 2:10-11]     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. As an Israelite under the Old Covenant of Sinai, 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. He was under the Old Testament law (called the law of Moses Joshua 8:31,32; 23:6; 1Kings 2:3; 2Kings 23:25; 2Chronicles 23:18, 30:16; Ezra 3:2, 7:6; Nehemiah 8:1; Daniel 9:11,13; Malachi 4:4;  Luke 2:22, 24:44; John 7:23; Acts 13:39, 15:5; 28:23; 1Corinthians 9:9) but then, for us, He ushered in the New Covenant which placed the law of God (aka the Ten Commandments) in the hearts of His followers. Yes, holiness and righteous living are still required for the New Covenant Believer - and He has enabled us through the Holy Spirit to be able to walk uprightly. 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.

Christ also differentiated between the Old Covenant law of Moses (received from God through the dispensation of angels) and the law of Christ received from the Father. The law of Moses includes the Ten Commandments, the ceremonial laws of the Jews, the dietary laws of the Jews, priestly liturgy and more. The law of Christ, referred to in Galatians 6:2 and 1 Corinthians 9:21, is apparently much simpler (in detail, but not in application). These are the only places in Scripture where the law of Christ is specifically mentioned, and it is not defined in either of the passages. Biblical scholars generally agree that the law of Christ is composed of the basic commandments Jesus quoted in Matthew 22:37–40, "And he [Jesus] said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5]. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'" In another account of the incident (Mark 12:28–34), the questioner agrees with Jesus' statement that all the rest of the Law (the law of Moses) and the Prophets were based on these two laws.

 So the law of Christ cannot be different in nature from the law of Moses, but rather an enlightenment of what the law of Moses really means to all men.  The law of Christ supersedes the law of Moses, but it does not change it. It boils down the law of Moses to what Christians should follow: love God and love others. Jesus freed us from the hundreds of rules in the law of Moses. But loving God with our entire being and loving others as ourselves is the most difficult part of keeping the law of Moses. In fact, it is impossible without God doing it through us.

Some people have taken the fact that we, as Christians, are not under the law of Moses as an excuse to sin. In fact, Paul had to deal with this early on in Romans 6. In verse 15, he says, "Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?" He goes on to answer, "By no means!" Since, as Jesus said, the whole law of Moses depends on the commands to love, and we are commanded to love as Jesus loved us (John 13:34–35), we cannot use our freedom from the law of Moses as an excuse for sin. Instead, because of that love, we will want to avoid sin (which separates us from God), and we will want good for mankind. We will not be tied legalistically to rules, but we will want to please God and show His love to everyone.


The Mosaic Law is typically viewed in three integrated parts:

  1. The moral law consisting of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:2-17; Deut. 5:6-21).
  2. The civil law which addressed slavery, property rights, economics, etc., (Ex. 21:1–24:18).
  3. The ceremonial law which addressed the tabernacle, priests, worship and the sacrificial system as a whole (Ex. 25:1–40:38).

It should be noted that these categories are intermingled in the text of Exodus–Deuteronomy; within a given context, all three aspects of the law may be described. Nor is it always a simple matter to distinguish between the three aspects of the law. In any case, the law was Israel’s constitution with the Lord, the King. (Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 59)

       The Mosaic Law was the expected rule of life for the Israelite (Ex. 20-Deut. 28). None of the surrounding nations of Israel—the Gentiles—were expected to live by the commands of the Mosaic Law, because they were not God’s chosen nation and were not in a covenantal relationship with Him (see Eph. 2:12). The Gentile was no more under the Mosaic Law than a Canadian is under US law, as laws only speak and have authority to its citizenry.

       The Mosaic Law was never a means of justification before God, as that has always been by faith alone in God and His promises (Gal. 2:16). Over time, the Mosaic Law became perverted into a system of works whereby men sought to earn their salvation before God (Luke 18:9-14). Even in the time of Christ men asked, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus responded, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:28-29). The Mosaic Law never justifies anyone and was never intended to do so. By nature the Law is not grace (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10; Heb. 10:28). It is holy, righteous, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14). In its ministry it declares and proves all men guilty (Rom. 3:19). Yet it justifies no one (Rom. 3:20). It cannot impart righteousness or life (Gal. 3:21). It causes offenses to abound (Rom. 5:20; 7:7-13; 1 Cor. 15:56). It served as an instructor until Christ appeared (Gal. 3:24). In relationship to the believer, the Law emphatically does not save anyone (Gal. 2:21). A believer does not live under the Law (Rom. 6:14; 8:4), but he stands and grows in grace (Rom. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).

       The New Testament reveals the Mosaic Law was regarded as a “yoke” which Israel had not “been able to bear” because their sinful flesh was weak (Acts 15:1-11; cf. Rom. 8:2-3). There is no fault with the Mosaic Law, for it “is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). The Mosaic Law is holy because it comes from God, who is holy and righteous and good. Because the Mosaic Law is holy, it exposes the faults of mankind and shows him to be sinful (Rom. 3:20). More so, because man is inherently sinful and bent toward sin, when he comes into contact with God’s holy Law, it actually stimulates his sinful nature and influences him to sin even more (Rom. 5:20; 7:7-8).

       Paul made clear that the Mosaic Law was not the rule of life for the Christian. He even referred to it as a ministry of “death” and “condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:5-11). Paul stated that it was intended to be temporary (Gal. 3:19), that it was never the basis for justification (Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:21; cf. Rom. 4:1-5), but was intended to lead men to Christ that they may be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24). Now that Christ has come and fulfilled every aspect of the Law and died on the cross, the Mosaic Law, in its entirety, has been rendered inoperative as a rule of life (Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 8:2-4; 10:4; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Heb. 8:13). Yet some of the Mosaic law is also represented in the Law of Christ - same but different.

       Too many pastors and theologians attempt to keep part of the Mosaic Law alive today and make it part of the Christian walk, but there is no need to do this, as the Mosaic Law has been rendered inoperative in its entirety, and the New Testament guides the believer to live by “the Law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Because God is the Author of both law-codes (i.e. the Law of Moses as well as the Law of Christ), it is not surprising that He chose to incorporate some of the laws He gave to Israel into the law-code which He has given to the Church. When trying to understand which laws have carried over and which have not, the general rule to follow is: what God has not restated in the New Testament to the Church or has been shown by the disciples example, has been altogether abrogated.

       Paul stated the church-age believer is “no longer under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14; cf. Gal. 5:1-4). Grace is the rule of life for the Christian. Though rendered inoperative as a rule of life, the Mosaic Law can be used to teach such things as God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, the need for atonement, and the ultimate need for men to trust in Christ for salvation (Rom. 3:10-25; 5:20; 10:1-4). All Scripture is for us, though not all Scripture is to us (1 Cor. 10:11).  The believer has been made free from the law, but liberty does not mean license. To offset this danger of antinomianism, the Scriptures teach that we have not only been delivered from the law, but also “joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4). We are thus not “without the law of God but under the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21; cf. Gal. 6:2). Freedom from law should not result in license, but love (Gal. 5:13; cf. 1 Pet. 2:16). The believer is, consequently, to keep his eyes on Christ as his example and teacher, and by the Holy Spirit to fulfill his law (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:18).  Being under the grace-system does not mean the believer is without law and can therefore sin as he pleases (Rom. 6:14-16; Titus 2:11-12). The New Testament speaks of “the perfect law of liberty” (Jam. 1:25), “the royal law” (Jam. 2:8), the “Law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), and “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2).

Writing about the Law of Christ in Galatians 6:2, Thomas Constable states:

The law of Christ is the code of commandments under which Christians live. Some of the commandments Christ and His apostles gave us are the same as those that Moses gave the Israelites. However this does not mean that we are under the Mosaic Code. Residents of the United States live under a code of laws that is similar to, but different from, the code of laws that govern residents of England. Some of our laws are the same as theirs, and others are different. Because some laws are the same we should not conclude that the codes are the same. Christians no longer live under the Mosaic Law; we live under a new code, the law of Christ (cf. 5:1). (Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, Gal. 6:2)

       Just as the Israelite living under the Mosaic Law had a clear body of Scripture to which he could look for guidance in day to day living (i.e. Ex. 20-Deut. 28), so the Christian has a clear body of Scripture that guides him (Acts and Rom. 1 through Rev.3). To understand God’s will, the Christian should think and live according to the “Law of Christ” as it is revealed in the New Testament (Gal. 6:2). Some of the commands from the Mosaic Law have carried over into the “Law of Christ” (e.g. Love God and fellow man, the ten commandments, charitable giving, etc.), but most have been abrogated (e.g. slavery laws, tithing, sacrificial system, etc.), and there are some new commands (e.g. do not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, love as Christ loved, etc.). These distinctions are very important to understand if the believer is to live God’s will in every particular and glorify Him both in time and eternity.

What festivals did the early apostolic church observe AFTER THE RESURRECTION OF MESSIAH?

     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.  

     Pretty cool! The disciples are shown to have been keeping this Feast after the death, resurrection, and ascension of their Lord! No mention of liturgy or ritual - only faith in Jesus and by the outpouring of the holy spirit.

     How about Paul -- didn't he do away with ALL 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]. Was Paul keeping the Feasts as a Christian?

     We know Paul wanted to use the occasion of the feast to persuade his countrymen of Israel to become a follower of Messiah like himself.  The word "Keep" is from the Greek word "poiesai" which means "to keep, to celebrate" (Analytical Greek Lexicon, by Harper, 332). Likewise, Paul, in the letter to Corinth, exhorts these gentile brethren to "Keep the Feast" (I Cor 5:7) where they are at (showing the law of Moses to worship in Jerusalem had passed and now where two or three were gathered in Jesus' name there was the acceptable place of worship in spirit and truth.).

     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 observing at least some of God's Feast days; albeit in a new spirit and manner.

    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 alleged 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 judgment 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 'judgment' 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 some 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 both 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 allowed 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 agreement 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" or Passover (later renamed "Easter" in honor of the pagan goddess "Ishtar/Astarte" and imposed on the Lord's resurrection day) 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)

"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 show us some depictions - visions & prophecies - about the millennial kingdom.  While we do not think they are fully literal (for example- there will not be physical animal sacrifices) they do paint a picture of a 'perfect' kingdom. They speak of some Holydays being observed after the Kingdom of Christ fully come, at least in a picture.  


     So there we have it. Jesus Christ kept the all holydays per the Old Covenant but He introduced a New Covenant, the disciples kept at least some of the holydays, apart from the Law of Moses, under the New Covenant. Paul, after his conversion, kept the holydays, apart from the Law of Moses, under the New Covenant, the early apostolic church kept at least some of the holydays (Sabbath, Passover/Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost and possibly the Fast of Atonement) and even the post-apostolic church kept the Sabbath and some of the holydays, apart from the Law of Moses.  We even see that the Holydays will still be featured, at least in type, in the new heavens and new earth.  We also have been blessed to see Christ in the Holydays and how all point to Him. We, here at Truth On The Web, believe the weekly Sabbath, the New Covenant Passover with Christ as the Lamb and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are either commanded or exemplified for the New Covenant Believer. We believe all the holy days give us a deeper glimpse of our Savior and stir up the joy He places within us. We believe in the biblical "put off/Put On" principle so after putting off unbiblical or pagan day observances we do not leave that space empty but put on the Lord's feasts and rejoice in Him alone. We believe a New Covenant believer will learn much from these feasts and need to stay alert not to fall back into the Old Covenant which is passed away but rather enjoy the New Covenant in Christ through the observance of these feasts. We hope this helps the reader to 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- Updated 2018

©2018 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.