How Was Easter Substituted for the Passover?

by Garner Ted Armstrong

Believe it or not, it was many centuries before the false, apostate church was finally able to stamp out the celebration of the PASSOVER and the Days of Un- leavened Bread!

Actually, they never succeeded in stamping it out entirely, and history proves there were scattered remnants of God’s true church observing the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and the other annual holy days, all down through the centuries— just as there are latter-day remnants of God’s true church observing those same days today!

There is a quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia, in which is mentioned the “controversy of the Quartodecimans.” The Quartodeciman “controversy” raged throughout the Mediterranean world for literally centuries.

“Quartodeciman” is merely another word for “fourteenth”! The controversy stemmed from the insistence that the early New Testament Church of God ought to follow the custom of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in observing the Passover on the 14th of NISAN; the first month of the year, according to God’s sacred calendar.

The pagan church gradually began adopting pagan customs and traditions, and began insisting upon standardizing the date for the observance for the spring festival.

The masses of pagans who were being “converted” into this new religion brought with them their ancient customs of the celebration of life; sexual reproduction, fertility and worship of the sun. Their gods and goddesses were those such as Isis, Osiris, Nimrod and Semiramis; Astarte, Ishtar, Tammuz and others. Apostate church leaders reason these pagans had to be accommodated.

History absolutely proves that pagan customs and ceremonies were allowed, and merely given Christian names. Those who insisted on continuing to observe God’s annual Holy Days were PUT OUT of the apostate church!

Notice! “The first council of Nicaea (325) decreed that the Roman practice should be ob- served throughout the church. But even at Rome the Easter term was changed repeatedly. Those who continued to keep Easter with the Jews were called “Quartodeci- mans” (14 Nisan) and were excluded from the church” (Catho- lic Encyclopedia, article “Easter,” emphasis mine).

Interestingly, the Catholic Encyclopedia subtly inserts the word “Easter” in its article under that term, even though the writer of the article knew NO ONE would ever keep “Easter with the Jews,” for the Jews NEVER recognized this pagan custom. The Catholic Encyclopedia continually refers to the Passover as “Easter.” Note some further quotes from the same source:

Easter eggs: The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring.

The Easter rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythology, 551).

The Easter fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter Mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction; this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter.

“The Bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires, but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the resurrection of Christ; the new fire on holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the resurrection by the light of the world from the tomb closed by a stone” (ibid).

What a shocking admission!

Notice that even the Catholics admit that the ORIGINS of “Easter” and even the name itself are totally PAGAN! The rabbit is a PAGAN symbol! It is an emblem of FERTILITY!

Easter fires, lit on the top of mountains, are “customs of pagan origin”!

“The church adopted . . . the Easter ceremonies”! Could any- thing be plainer? Let’s continue with the same source:


“The dioceses of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving pasch [Passover], contending that the fast ought to end on that day, whatever day of the week it might happen to be. However, it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this point, as they observed the practice, which from apostolic tradition has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all with one consent through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other day but the Sunday and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on that day only. [No such fast is mentioned in the Bible.]

“A letter of Saint Ireaneus is among the extracts just referred to, and this shows that the diversity of practice regarding Easter had existed at least from the time of Pope Sixtus. Further, Ireaneus states that St. Polycarp, who, like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the apostle, came to Rome about 150 A.D. about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodecimen observance.

“The question thus debated was therefore primarily whether Easter was to be kept on a Sun- day, or whether Christians should observe the holy day of the Jews, the fourteenth of Nisan, which might occur on any day of the week. Those who kept Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimans . . .” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Again, it must be noted in this lengthy quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia that they have subtly substituted “Easter” for the “Passover.” What Poly- carp observed “like the other Asiatics” was not EASTER! It was the PASSOVER, on the 14th of Nisan, as all the apostles had kept it.

That they admit he kept a great event “on the fourteenth day of the moon, whichever day of that week that might be — following the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the apostle” — absolutely PROVES that the festival Polycarp (who was a student of John) kept was not “Easter,” but THE PASS- OVER!

In the final paragraph of the quotation, the distinction is subtly drawn between “Christians” and “Jews.” Another obvious and flagrant misapplication of terms in the final quote: “Those who kept Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimens . . .” Non- sense! They were called Quartodecimens because they kept the Passover — and absolutely shunned the pagan “Ishtar” (pronounced “Easter”) being adopted by an apostate, increasingly pagan church!

Notice further:

II PHASE: The second stage in the Easter controversy centers around the council of Nicaea (A.D. 325).

“The emperor himself (Constantine) writing to the churches after the council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things, ‘At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day . . . And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin . . . for we have received from our Saviour a different way . . . and I myself have undertaken that this decision should meet with the approval of your sagacities in the hope that your wisdoms will gladly admit that the practice which is observed at once in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and Egypt . . . with entire unity of judgment.’ From this and other indications . . . we learn that the dispute now lay between the Christians of Syria and Mesopotamia and is dependent upon the Jewish calendar for its Easter” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Remember, these lengthy quotations are from the Catholic Encyclopedia! Constantine was a re- formed SUN WORSHIPER! When he embraced “Christianity” he embraced the so-called Christianity of the leading bishops who were already apostate! He did not embrace the Christianity practiced by those who were “holding fast to the faith once delivered to the saints,” and who tenaciously REFUSED TO CHANGE the observance of one of the most important annual Holy Days Jesus Christ ever hallowed, the PASSOVER!

Notice, in the quotation above from Constantine’s exhortation to the churches after the Council of Nicaea, that he, too, showed disdainful contempt for “the Jews” (who are accused of having “impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin”) and he repudiates the “practice of the Jews,” meaning the observance of the Pass- over (The Lord’s supper, as the apostle Paul began to refer to it) on the 14th of Nisan, as it had been observed for centuries!

At the end of the quotation concerning the development of keeping Easter in the Catholic Church, the encyclopedia admits “the important Church of Antioch was still dependent upon the Jewish calendar for its Easter.” Again, a deliberate confusion of terms is utilized in a subtle attempt to mislead the minds of readers.

By no stretch of the imagination were the converted brethren in Antioch, in Syria, who were de- pendent upon “the Jewish Calendar” (meaning Abib, or Nisan, 14), keeping “Easter.” By tenaciously adhering to the 14th of Nisan, it is clear they were ob- serving the PASSOVER, and rejecting pagan Easter!

Notice now the quotation concerning the “III Phase”:

“It was to the divergent cycles which Rome had successively adopted and rejected in its attempt to determine Easter more accurately that the third stage in the paschal controversy was mainly due.

“The Roman missionaries coming to England in the time of St. Gregory the Great found the British Christians, the representatives of that Christianity which had been introduced into Britain during the period of the Roman occupation, still adhering to an ancient system of Easter computation which Rome itself had laid aside” (ibid., emphasis mine).

What a fantastic admission! Here we read of “Roman missionaries” arriving in the British Isles from Rome, yet discovering Christians in the British Isles adhering to the very same system of determining the date for the PASS- OVER as had always been observed by the early New Testament church!

Few have stopped to speculate on where all the other apostles mentioned in the Gospels went. Most disappear from sight, and the Bible quickly begins concerning itself with the ministries of, first, the apostle Paul and then to some extent Peter and John. But whatever happened to Thomas; Simon the Canaanite; Mathias (who replaced Judas Iscariot); Andrew, Peter’s brother; James the son of Alphaeus (not the son of Zebedee); Bartholomew; and others?

Jesus plainly said He would “send them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”! Is it strange, then, that peoples in faraway lands had been converted to true Christianity, and were observing God’s annual Holy Days on precisely the correct dates, which actually created a controversy with Roman missionaries?

Now, under the article “Councils” in the Catholic Encyclopedia, notice one of the most important purposes for the Council of Nicaea:

“The first ecumenical, or council, of Nicaea (325) lasted two months and twelve days. Three hundred and eighteen bishops were present. Hosius, bishop of Cordova, assisted as legate of Pope Sylvester. The Emperor Constantine was also present. To this council we owe the Creed of Nicaea, defining against Arius the true divinity of the Son of God, and the fixing of the date for keeping Easter [against the Quart- odecimans].”

Interesting reading, isn’t it? But how many of your friends and relatives have ever taken the time and trouble to simply read such shocking admissions?

Remember, this is not someone’s “church doctrine” you are reading; it is not the clever arguments of some cult or sect that is trying to confuse your mind and “trap” you into observing some strange customs! Instead, you are reading direct quotations from historians!

That Easter is pagan to the core is a matter of authoritative historical FACT! Almighty God soundly CONDEMNS the entire practice in the Bible!

Of course, if there is no God the plaintive cries of “I don’t see what difference it makes,” or “Why should we take away such joyous occasions from the children?” seem to make sense.

But, since there IS A GOD, and since that Eternal Creator God is righteously ANGRY at instilling pagan customs in the minds of our children which keep them from understanding the truth of God — it DOES MAKE A DIFFER- ENCE!

God says, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, it is a sin.” Once you KNOW the truth, you become responsible for it. Thus, in a very real sense, you have now been given dangerous knowledge. It is knowledge that, while readily available in any number of historical sources, is not known by a vast majority of all mankind!

Hundreds of MILLIONS of churchgoing professing Chris- tians are blissfully ignorant of these startling facts!

Now You know.