Acts 12:4


"And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."

The objection deals with the word "Easter." The Greek word "pascha" is translated as "Passover" in the KJV with this one exception. Earlier English translations also translated "pascha" as Easter in this verse, showing that the understanding here dealt with something other than Passover. Notice the following translations from several early English versions, thus removing the idea that this is a "King James Onlyism."

Tyndale (1525):

"And when he had caught him, he put him in preson, and delivered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendinge after ester to bringe him forth to the people."

Great Bible (1539):

"And when he had caught hym, he put him in preson also, and delyvered him to. iiii. quaternions of soudiers to be kepte, entendynge after Ester to bringe him forth to the people."

Bishop's Bible (1568):

"And when he had caught him, he put him in prison also, and delivered him to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."

The Geneva Bible of 1560 does not use "Easter." Instead it reads: "And when he had caught hym, he put hym in prison, and delivered hym to foure quaternions of souldiers to be kept, intendying after the Passover to brying hym forthe to the people."

Therefore we see that by 1611 the Bible reading public had both translations of the word "pascha" in English.

The use of the word "pascha" in early Christian writings dealt with the celebration of Easter, and not just simply the Jewish Passover (see Dr. Walter Bauer's, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 633). Dr. G.W.H. Lampe notes that "pascha" came to mean "Easter" in the early Church. The early Christians did not keep the Jewish Passover. Instead they kept as holy a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ near the time of both Passover and the pagan festival celebrating the goddess Ostara. Dr. Lampe lists several rules and observances by Christians in celebration of their "pascha" or "Easter." Lampe also points out that Greek words such as "paschazw" and "paschalua" meant "celebrate Easter" and "Eastertide" in the early Christian writings. (see A Patristic Greek Lexicon [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961], 1048-1049). And, Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes that "pascha" came to be called "Easter" in the celebration of the resurrection within the primitive Church (see Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol. II. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965], 901-904).

As stated, there was also a connection between the Christian "Easter" as we have it, and the pagan celebration of Ostara. Early Christians in Rome could not openly celebrate the resurrection of Christ, so they held their celebration at the time the pagans did in worship of Ostara. Dr. William C. Martin writes:

"Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions: (1) The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar; (2) The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of the Passover; and (3) the Norse "Ostara" or "Eostra" (from which the name "Easter" is derived), a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21. Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, and eggs, colored like the ray of the returning sun and the northern lights, or aurora borealis." (The Layman's Bible Encyclopedia, [Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1964], 204).

In view of all of this, it seems that "pascha" can mean more than the Jewish holy day of Passover. Additionally, the context would confirm such a conclusion. Verse three of this chapter states that Peter was taken during, "the days of unleavened bread." The next verse then speaks of "Easter" in the King James Version. If the word is translated as "Passover," we have a problem because the Days of Unleavened Bread come before the Passover. In the Biblical use of the term, Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:1-8, 15, 19; 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; and Deuteronomy 16:4). We have a problem with these verses if Passover follows the Days of Unleavened Bread. However, the problem is solved when we see that "pascha" means more than "Passover" as has been shown above. Peter was held under Roman guard by a king who was appointed by Roman law and influenced by Roman customs. Contextually, it would seem that this "pascha" which followed the Days of Unleavened Bread was not the "pascha" (Passover) which preceded the capture of Peter. Instead, it is likely to refer to the Roman celebration of Ostara, hence called "Easter."

In response to this, James White writes the following:

"The problem, of course, is that (1) the term Easter would still be a misleading translation, since the celebration the English reader thinks of is far removed from the pagan worship of Astarte; (2) Herod Agrippa, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, was a conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals, and since he was attempting to please the Jews (Acts 12:3), it is obvious that Luke is referring to the Jewish Passover, not a pagan celebration; (3) the argument depends upon making the "days of unleavened bread" a completely separate period of time from "the Passover." Unfortunately for the KJV Only position, the term "the Passover" is used of the entire celebration, including the days of unleavened bread after the actual sacrifice of the Passover, in other places in Scripture (note the wrapping up of the entire celebration under the term the "feast of the Jews" in John 2:13; 2:23; 6:4 and 11:55). Therefore, this ingenious attempt at saving the KJV from a simple mistake fails under examination." (The King James Only Controversy, 233-234). None of this deals with the fact that in Scripture Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread. In Mark 14:1 we read, "After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread." Passover precedes the Days of Unleavened Bread even in the New Testament. None of the verses cited by White change this. In fact, three of them simply state that Passover was near (John 2:13; 6:4 and 11:55). John 2:23 speaks of many making a surface pretense of believing in Christ at the feast of the Passover. None of these verses show the two events as being called "Passover" as White states. As for Herod observing the Jewish feasts, this means little because as a politician he obeyed whatever was convent for him while in political power, including both Jewish and Roman holidays. And, it should be remembered, that this "conspicuous observer of the Jewish customs and rituals" had just put James to death and was himself about to die by the hand of God for setting himself up as a god (Acts 12:21-23; Exodus 20:2-6).

 

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eclared Him. Therefore we know the Father by Him, being they to whom He hath declared Him."(Homilies On The Gospel According To St. John, XLVII