Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 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. (Acts 12:1-4; King James Version Bible)
The New Testament Pattern Of Holidays
Keeping days of significance has been a way that man enjoys certain milestones in life like birthdays, memorial days, and national days of historical remembrance and a myriad of holidays to commemorate a festival or important event. In our modern world, there is a notation for every day of the calendar year that honors everything from potatoes to bees to national donut day and jelly bean day. These days of holiday are an important part of the fiber of any culture to identify with a national climate or family tradition and on the whole, are harmless and expressions of fun and personal enjoyment. Like most things that are good of themselves, the nature of man is to impose or suggest holidays as a religious pattern and believe over time they are accepted by the will of the Lord and approved. The fourth day of July may be on the calendar of England but it is not celebrated as a day of freedom like it is in the United States because the significance is of no of importance. In like manner, there is no celebration of St. George’s day in America as this is a festival in England. Remarkably the New Testament does not reveal the early church celebrating any holidays or festivals that are so common in the modern view of religious people today. Two major events on the religious calendar are Easter and Christmas for those who profess a belief in Jesus Christ. No record is given where the first-century disciples signified certain days as festivals or holidays to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus (Easter) or the birth of Jesus (Christmas). When the scholars were translating the Bible into the English language for the Church of England (authorized by King James of England in 1604) they included the word “Easter” in the text of Acts 12. Albert Barnes sums up the problem very clearly when he writes, “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 Savior. 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 New Testament pattern of keeping holidays is nonexistent. Nothing in the writings of the early disciples suggests God approved of keeping certain days as religious holidays or festivals. Paul warned the saints in the churches of Galatia of imposing religious rites with days and months and seasons and years. He would also express concern to the church at Colosse for those judged by food or drink or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbath. The Jews were very familiar with religious holidays. Under the Law of Moses, there were festivals, Sabbaths and certain days that were an integral part of the worship of the nation of Israel. The days were restricted to the Jews alone and not binding on those not under the Law. When the church was established and the Law of Moses was done away with there were no holy days to keep in the significance of new moons or Sabbaths or the like. Easter was never celebrated by the early church no more than Christmas was celebrated by those who knew exactly when Jesus was born. The mother of Jesus was a part of the early church and yet the Holy Spirit never revealed the month or day of His birth. Easter and Christmas are part of the fabrication of the imagination of man to worship God in a secular and carnal fashion. These holidays do not honor God but they give a man a sense of identity to soothe his conscience for denying the Lord the other weeks of the year. Great fanfare will go into rising early on Easter morning to engage in a solemn service of Easter sunrise and by the middle of the same week, most individuals have returned to the pagan pursuits of the carnal mind. Christmas has become nothing more than a maddening pace of materialistic pursuit of spending and giving gifts to see who can outdo the Jones family that lives around the mystical corner of every neighborhood.
There is a day given by the Lord to remember, celebrate and acknowledge His majesty. It is a day that is in many ways as common as the other six days of the week it shares company with. However, from time beginning the Creator has desired for His creation to stop and spend time on a day to contemplate his place in the universe and the blessings of an eternal Father. For the Jews, this day became the seventh day of the week called Sabbath. When the Law of Moses was taken out of the way the law of Sabbath was removed and is no longer binding. A new day came from the mind of God for man to reflect upon the holiness of eternal grace and love: the first day of the week. On the first day of every week, the early church assembled to worship, praise and honor the love of God and His sacrifice found in the death of Jesus Christ on a cross. This is the day of worship inscribed by the Holy Spirit for all men to subject themselves to the will of the Father. Every first day of the week is imposed upon the soul of man to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is engaged each week as a reminder of the price for salvation. This is not a holiday but a day of joy and sadness reflecting the deep spiritual need of man for a loving Father. There is a pattern for the first day of the week in the New Testament. It is upon this pattern that all men should worship in spirit and in truth.