During this time of the year (Easter and the other “holy days” leading up to it), there are many religious rites, rituals, and ceremonies that take place to commemorate our Lord’s death for the sins of mankind. Many have already celebrated “Lent,” “Palm Sunday,” “Ash Wednesday,” and “Good Friday.” Many will have special “sunrise services” today. All of these celebrations are done according to the traditions of men and not according to the commandment of God (Mt 15:7-9). A lot of hoopla and effort to be sure, but why not just do what God has said?
For starters, like other “Christian” holidays (e.g., Christmas, etc), Easter has its origins in paganism. Although the word “Easter” appears once in the King James Bible (Acts 12:4), it is translated from the Greek “pascha,” which appears 29 times in the New Testament, and 28 of those times is correctly translated “passover.” Albert Barnes made the following remarks in his commentary on the passage (emphasis mine -JTC):
“There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. The original is simply after the Passover. The word “Easter” now denotes the festival observed by many Christian churches in honor of the resurrection of the Saviour. But the original has no reference to that, nor is there the slightest evidence that any such festival was observed at the time when this book was written. The translation is not only unhappy, as it does not convey at all the meaning of the original, but because it may contribute to foster an opinion that such a festival was observed in the time of the apostles.”
The word “Easter” is of Saxon origin, and is supposed to be derived from “Eostre,” the goddess of Love, or the Venus of the North, in honor of whom a festival was celebrated by our pagan ancestors in the month of April (Webster).
Since the church of Christ follows the New Testament as our sole authority in matters of religious faith and practice, we do not observe humanly devised “holy days.” Sunday, our “first day of the week,” is the day designated by God for the church to worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:18-21; 1 Cor 16:1-2). The first day of the week has scriptural significance because on that day: Jesus was resurrected (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1); Jesus appeared to his disciples – John 20:19,26; The church began – Acts 2:1-47; (day of Pentecost, cf Lev 23:15); The church met to partake the Lord’s Supper – Acts 20:7.
In 1 Corinthians 11:18-26, Paul gave corrective teaching concerning the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The church at Corinth had perverted the Lord’s Supper into a factious gathering separating Christians with means from those without (vv 20-21). Paul said this error took place “when ye come together in the church” (for worship). Paul corrected the church by reminding them: of the parts of the Lord’s Supper (vv 23-25); the purpose of the Lord’s Supper (v 26); and the preparation of mind and life that precedes the observance of the Lord’s Supper (vv 27-30). How important is it to take the Lord’s Supper? In Acts 20:6, Paul arrived in Troas on his return trip to Jerusalem. The text says there he “abode seven days,” and on “the first day of the week,” the disciples “came together to break bread” (i.e., observe the Lord’s Supper, cf Acts 2:42). It was extremely important for Paul to be with these brethren for worship and to partake of the Lord’s Supper. There is no reference to any holy day or special celebration other than this — it was simply the first day of the week.
As Christians, we are to abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11); we must not go beyond the things that are written (1 Cor 4:6); we must act only by the authority of Christ (Col 3:17). Anything else falls under the condemnation of the traditions of men which make our worship vain (Matt 15:7-9). Let’s be satisfied in doing God’s will in God’s way! TC