We’ve seen a silly reason to abandon Christmas (the “Christ-Mass” argument), a flawed one (the “pagan / Catholic syncretism” argument), and a good but misapplied reason (the “God didn’t command it” argument). Now, we return to silly season again.
Special Note on Commenting on this post: This post attracts many off-topic comments. Any off-topic comments posted after 20 September 2019 will not be cleared through moderation. If you wish to comment on whether Christmas is a pagan or Catholic holiday, there are links to articles on that question at the bottom of this article. If you wish to comment on whether we should abandon Christmas because God didn’t command it, there is an article on that. If you comment on those matters on this particular article, your comment will not be published. You should read those articles and respond to them in the comments on those articles. Thank you.
“It’s the Wrong Date”
The argument is thus: we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas because Christ wasn’t really born on 25 December. The shepherds were in the fields with their sheep (Luke 2), and the sheep would be in out of the cold in the winter. It must have been March or April, when shepherds would be in the fields at night for lambing season. Jesus couldn’t have been born in December, so it is dishonest to celebrate His birthday at the wrong time of year.
Geographical Myopia and “The Bleak Mid-Winter”
If we can’t set aside our British / American mindset, we’ll make silly mistakes. “Myopia” is nearsightedness, and geographical myopia is seeing everything in terms of where we live.
This is an American / British oriented argument, similar to the English-only “Christ-Mass” argument. Lambing season varies around the world — in New Zealand, it starts in August! It isn’t March or April everywhere — particularly in Israel.
Google “lambing season in Israel” and LOTS of people tell us when it is and what we should believe / do as a result. But an expert with no religious agenda, the Professor Emeritus of Animal Breeding at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, might know something. 🙂 Writing on the Awassi sheep (the main breed in Israel), Dr Epstein said:
In Iraq, the principal lambing season of Awassi ewes is in November, and in Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel in December-January.
It is silly to assume lambing season is the same in Israel as it is in Britain or North America. If shepherds were in the fields at night for lambing season when Christ was born, they were apparently there in the “bleak mid-winter” — or not so bleak.
Later comment: A commenter, below, noted that there is at least one breed of sheep in Israel that has a Spring lambing season. Awassi sheep are thought to be the only indigenous sheep in Israel, but we really can’t know for sure when lambing season was at the time of Christ, or if the shepherds were in the field because of lambing season or for some other reason.
“Snow had Fallen, Snow on Snow”
To say it is too cold for sheep in the fields at night in December (but not in March) is more geographic myopia.
Seeing snow yesterday in Glenrothes, I’d say, “Get the sheep inside!” But in Jerusalem at mid-day, it was 13 C/55 F and partly cloudy — almost like one of our summer days! The average low in December is 5 degrees C (41 F), the average high 12 C (53-54 F). In March, the averages are 6 C (43 F) and 15 C (59 F) — little difference.
This morning, the forecast shows no temperature below 5 C / 41 F in the next ten nights. (Time to move to Israel!) It isn’t too cold for sheep in the fields outside Bethlehem. This argument may make sense in Britain, but it is silly in Israel.
A Reason to Think December MIGHT BE Right
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
Edersheim (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix 7) uses Jewish historical records (including Josephus) to try to calculate when the priestly course of Abia served in the temple and comes up with 2-9 October in the year we now know as 6 BC. He concludes Elisabeth conceived in mid-October of 6 BC, and Mary conceived in the sixth month (Luke 1:24-26) after that (between mid-March and mid-April of 5 BC). That would put Jesus’ birth in December of 5 BC or January of 4 BC, and December fits better with Matthew 2.
The Jewish records could be wrong, and Josephus may have erred, so we can’t know for sure. More could be said about the date — perhaps someday I’ll write more on this.
The Real Date is Unknown
We don’t know the real date — if we needed to, the Bible would have told us. The clues given by Scripture fit a late December date. If the date matters, arguments for December are better than arguments against it, once we cure geographical myopia. Anyone who says they know the date is shooting in the dark — as is anyone who claims it is wrong. They can’t prove the date is wrong anymore than anyone can prove it is right.
The Date Doesn’t Matter, Anyway
Having answered the unproven charge of a wrong date, we can ask why it matters. A commemoration does not have to be the exact date of the thing it commemorates.
Modern “Wrong-Date” Commemorations
Trooping the Colour is part of the Queen’s official birthday celebration, always celebrated in June. Her actual birthday is in April. No one says, “IT’S WRONG!” No one pretends it is the “right date” or cares if the “real date” is different. When the monarch changes, the “real date” will change. The official celebration will still be in June, and still no one will care that it is “wrong.”
In America, possible “real dates” for Memorial Day include 3 June, 1 May, 30 May, 5 May, 25 April, etc. Eventually standardised as 30 May, it changed again in 1968 to the last Monday in May. No one, except perhaps one senator, really cares if it is the “real date.”
Our daughter was born in September. We celebrated her birthday in August, before she left for university. It was the “wrong date,” but she still received gifts even though her birthday hadn’t come. She had a birthday cake so she could feel a year older, too. 🙂
No one really thinks a commemoration has to be on the “real date.” The point is to remember, not to sanctify a date.
Biblical “Wrong-Date” Commemorations
The Jewish calendar is a Lunar / Solar calendar and varies from year to year. The authorities have added a thirteenth month as needed to stay in line with the seasons. As a result, every Jewish feast has a varying date.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
The lambs were chosen for Passover on the tenth day of the first Jewish month, and Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth day. But sometimes Passover is a few days after the spring equinox (2013) and sometimes it is four weeks later (2011). The precise scientific date (based on the earth’s rotation around the sun) changes every year.
God established Passover to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. He didn’t tell them to use a solar calendar so it would be the same every year. He never told them which years to add a thirteenth month. He allowed them to use a calendar that would cause the feast days to move from year to year, and He didn’t specify the limits of that movement.
The Scriptures totally ignore the moving dates. God told them which month in their calendar to celebrate. Every feast changed every year, because the months moved. It doesn’t matter — the point was to teach and to remember.
I Corinthians 11:25
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.
The Bible does not specifically state how often we should do this, or which day(s). The date doesn’t matter.
A person who makes this argument just hasn’t thought through either the climactic differences between where they live and Israel, or the nature of commemorations. If they had, they might use another argument, but they wouldn’t use this one.
If the date of God-ordained commemorations don’t matter, it surely doesn’t matter when we keep one which He permits but does not require. It would only matter if someone is lying and saying the Bible teaches a particular date, but I’ve never heard anyone claim that the Bible gives Jesus’ birth date. It is silly to make an issue of a date which might or might not be right, when no one is trying to claim it IS right.
If you choose to celebrate Christmas, the actual date isn’t important. Don’t let anyone tell you it is wrong to celebrate because the date is wrong. They don’t know if it is wrong or not, and it might actually be right. It doesn’t matter, anyway — commemorations don’t have to be on the “right date.”
Silly Reasons to Abandon Christmas — #1 “Christ-Mass”
Flawed Reasons to Abandon Christmas — #2 “It is Pagan / Catholic!”
Misused Reasons to Abandon Christmas — #3 “God Didn’t Command It”
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You’re mistaken about the mild temperature at Bethlehem in December. (And you “cheated” by quoting the temperature in Jerusalem.)
Of course we know that lambing season is not the same all over the world. But that does not mean that it cannot be in April or September in Israel.
Of course we know about the Hebrew calendar and that the dates “move”. This is inconsequential for the question at hand. No matter how the dates “move”, we’re talking at most a month. The question at hand deals with a few months’ difference.
You got the Passover day wrong. It is not the tenth day of the first month but the 14th day. The tenth day is when they CHOOSE a lamb. Then they are to keep it for four days before slaughtering it at twilight. And on the 15th day (that is, beginning after sunset) they eat it.
Herein lies the clue. The lamb has to be a year old. So when would the lamb have been born?
Finally, I don’t anyone can credibly say “abandon Christmas”. Rather, that Christ Jesus was not born on December 25. That’s all one can say and not go further.
Hello, Franc, thank you for the comment. I’ll go through this one point at a time.
1. Mild temperature. The source I used (I linked to it) has changed their figures for the averages. I have changed the article accordingly. The temperatures are still relatively mild with little difference between December and March. It is not too cold for sheep to be in the fields.
2. “Cheating” using Jerusalem. I have not found a source for temperatures for Bethlehem. If you have one, I would be glad to use it. Bethlehem is just over five miles away from Jerusalem and at virtually the same elevation. The weather is the same. It isn’t cheating to use Jerusalem at all.
3. Lambing season. It is NOT in April or September in Israel, it is in December-January. I gave a source for this. People who live in Israel know when their lambing season is. This is just simple fact.
4. The point about the dates moving is that precise dates are not important. The value is in remembering.
5. I corrected the article on the Passover day. Very careless of me, I knew better. Thank you for correcting me. The lamb was to be killed at evening on the fourteenth day, and eaten on the 15th.
6. The lamb has to be a year old — but lambs from 12-24 months are called year-old lambs. It was not to be one just born, but one that had lived a year, yet was still a lamb. This is not saying it has to be precisely 12 months old. In fact, it couldn’t be, since lambs are born in December/January.
7. The Bible does not even tell us why the shepherds were in the field watching their flocks. Some claim it was during lambing season, and try to argue against a December date. The actual fact of lambing season shows that is wrong. But perhaps they were in the field for another reason, maybe there had been a lot of trouble with wild animals that year. I don’t know the reason. I can’t pinpoint the date to December, nor does it matter to me. My purpose was to show that the argument that December must be wrong is flawed.
8. Re: “abandon” Christmas, yes, there are those who will say it should not be celebrated at all because the date is wrong. I have called that a silly reason. It is silly because A) no one can prove the date is wrong B) there are reasons to think it might be right but most of all C) the date doesn’t matter unless someone tries to claim that the Bible teaches it. It would be different if God commanded us in the Bible to observe it on a particular day. Then, the date would matter. But since He didn’t command it at all, there is nothing wrong with choosing any date we wish.
I see your point about the Awassi sheep, but that is only one breed. At least some sheep in Israel, and one of the most ancient breeds, Jacob’s Sheep, have their lambing season in April: https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/106231/mazal-tov-first-jacobs-sheep-of-season-born-on-israels-70th-birthday/
I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
This is well-spotted, and I thank you for it. As noted in the article, there’s nothing that says Jesus was born in lambing season, but if He was, this would suggest it could have been either in what we know as winter, or in the spring, depending on which breed of sheep. Awassi are considered by the experts to be the only indigenous sheep in Israel, but that’s probably not conclusive. I should amend the article, and will.
I apologise, but I found it necessary to change your screen name. This blog is read by children whose parents would rather not have your screen name put in front of them. I hope you will understand.
We nkow the Messiah would NOT have been born in Decmber on the 25th which is the day of ALL pagan gods birthdays and it was NEVER celebrated by the early church anyway!!! It is a catholic concept created in the 3rd century and placed in December so all the pagens who were forced to “convert” to chirstianity under Constantine would keep it since all the days and “festivals” were already pagan and being kept by the masses…the same goes for ‘waster” another non biblical pagan concept created by Rome. GOD gave us his appointed feast days that we as believers are to keep and “chiristmas” and “easter” are not included on that list
No one has ever claimed that 25 December was the birthday of Jupiter, or Apollo, or a host of other pagan gods. It is not the birthday of all pagan gods as you claimed. None of them even have a real birthday, they are all simply fictions. This day belongs to God as much as any other day, and there is absolutely no reason His Son could not have been born on this day. Don’t resurrect dead gods and act as if they have any power.
“A Catholic concept” created in the 3rd century is impossible, since the Roman Catholic practice of syncretism didn’t begin until the 4th century.
Your entire comment is based on doctrine by speculative history. The Bible simply doesn’t say the things you’ve said in your comment. It doesn’t tell us the birthday of pagan gods. It doesn’t tell us what happened in the 3rd and 4th centuries. It doesn’t tell us pagans were forced to convert under Constantine (they weren’t).
You might believe the Bible, but you’ve just asserted a bunch of things the Bible doesn’t tell us. I’m not going to grant any authority to someone’s ideas of what happened historically. It’s all speculation. Some of your speculations may be right, some are obviously wrong, but it doesn’t matter — it isn’t Bible.
The second article, linked above, addresses the supposed pagan and Catholic origins argument.
This was an excellent article and completely accurate. I have been debating the issues laid out above for the past year and a half.
Thanks to certain “movements” infiltrating Christianity at the moment, a lot of inaccurate information has been presented, and most people are too lazy to vet what they are consuming.
Lastly, Franc, to claim the author “cheated” with the temperatures is disingenuous. It is easy enough to Google the temperature in Bethlehem in December to discover the information for yourself. The altitude of Bethlehem makes for a mild winter temps. It is apparent that some type of indoctrination urges you to insist that we must negate a date that is unknown.
Hello, Gina. I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
As to the ‘inaccurate information’, one only has to read the comments on this article to see it. Even those who agree among themselves that Christmas is pagan in its origins are ALL OVER THE PLACE as far as what those origins are. If they can’t agree, then how can we grant authority to any of them?
Dear Bro Gleason,
Thank you for taking the time to write the article. I don’t intend to comment much on this one, but I wanted to point out that it was the Talmud that scholars reference for the evidence for the lambs not being out in December. Obviously, the Talmuds predate modern British or American thinking.
Also, in relation to the December 25 date and the comment by “joe joe” above (which certainly has its problems, such as placing Constantine in the wrong century), some time ago at a secular college campus I was able to talk to a religion major who argued for Christianity’s dependence upon Mithraism. In significant part because of that discussion, I posted on my website here:
a summary of the article:
“The Mithraic Cult and Christian Origins,” Allan Di Donato, Christian Apologetics Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2007, 21-53
by a professor who teaches about the ancient Greek and Roman at a secular college and who also earned a degree at Norm Geisler’s seminary (as I’m confident you are fully aware, a solidly neo-evangelical institution that is decidedly pro-Catholic as “Christian.”). He debunks the idea that Christianity derives from Mithraism, but concedes dependence of Christmas practices on paganism.
The Sun god worship on December 25 is, even according to evangelical scholars who debunk claims of Biblical Christian dependence on paganism, not perhaps easy to simply dismiss.
Brother Ross, I think the question you raise here is not really relative to whether this is the right or wrong date, and whether that matters. The points you raise primarily have to do with whether or not the date is evidence of a pagan origin.
This, perhaps, highlights the real difference between our views, if we can boil it down to the core theological issue. That is the question of discernment by origins. I do not believe such is taught in the Bible, and in fact, appears to be specifically rejected in Scripture. Properly, that discussion probably belongs under the article that addressed it rather than this one, but I would love to see you address that core question.
Where does the Bible give any indication that we are to investigate the origins (in extra-Biblical history) of cultural practices to determine how to practice holiness? How could believers who haven’t had access to wikipedia 🙂 or quality libraries ever have been able to get this right, if the ancient origins of a practice are determinative? Doesn’t the Bible actually indicate that discernment by origins is deeply flawed? Doesn’t “ask no questions for conscience’ sake” tell a person that not knowing origins, even in cases of (for them) modern-day idolatry, is completely acceptable, and that we have no responsibility to delve into origins, ancient or more recent? If it is ok to “ask no questions” for the sake of the conscience of others, does that not indicate that the answer to the question would be no burden on the mature believer, and that the question of origins need only trouble us if it is a burden on the conscience of others? In other words, is it not true that the question of origins has no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of an action, but can have significant bearing on charitable behaviour when others are burdened by origins, and thus may be very important in what a church does but of much less relevance to how a family chooses to act in their own home?
I think that much of the difference between us boils down to these questions, and if you can provide Biblical basis to your approach, and a response to the points on this that I raised above and in the earlier article (#2), I would be very interested.
There is no connection with Mithraism and Christmas. All you have to do is read what is known about this pagan religion. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mithraism
Gina, he’s making no new claim, this idea has been around a long time. But as you note, there are problems with it, and it is completely unproven.
There is no controversy here. The historical evidence for paganism are spurious even if so called evangelical scholar, who would be in the minority anyway propagandize this anti-Christian myth.
To be fair, Chris, Thomas Ross is a serious believer who wants to follow Christ. He’s not trying to propagandize an anti-Christian myth.
I do agree that the historical evidence for pagan origins of the holiday is very, very thin (though obviously some traditional ways of celebrating ARE pagan in origin). But I want believers to be serious about doing right on these things.
Christmas is not biblical period. If the date of his birth were recorded in scripture and God said celebrate this day for all generations in remembrance of the saviors birth, than Christmas would be a valid holy-day. Abandon Christams! Why? It’s a tradition of man not of God. While Yeshua walked the earth he did not commemorate his birth with his disciples. His birth is significant and recorded in scripture, but our king is not instructing us to celebrate his birth. Christmas is sensual and good for the economy. Its a cultural practice blended with the birth of our savior. We don’t celebrate the day of all creation, or the birth of Moses. Read the scriptures in large chunks at a time and you will see that God does not approve of traditional man made days. The Jews practicing Judaism made up their own days, extra biblical days and regulations. Yeshua came to set us free from false teachings and religious yokes. There’s no argument needed, Christmas is not in accord with Gods instructions and commands. “Do not conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
To be precise, Christmas is extra-Biblical, neither forbidden nor commanded. It is an area of Christian freedom, though various Biblical principles apply.
The Jews made up their own day of the Feast of Purim, and God approved. They made up their own day of the Feast of Dedication, and Jesus observed it in Jerusalem.
You are free to not observe/celebrate the day if you wish, but before stating all these arguments as if they are indisputable fact, you might actually read the articles which answer most of them. This is the fourth in a series. You are welcome to read them all and substantively interact with the articles, or you can just proclaim your view as if it is fact — but the latter course is unlikely to convince anyone when your views have already been discussed in some depth.
Consider that Christians didn’t make up Christmas and Easter but actually those are reserved for Ba’al/Osiris/Nimrod/Lucifer/Gilgamesh/Odin and his son, etc and is and has always been associated with the goddess of fertility, Ishtar/Isis/Ashtoreth…
Would you then suggest that Yahuwah approved of this “celebration”?
Hello, Adam. As noted in my other response to you, there’s an article on the question of pagan origins linked at the bottom of this article, and you may discuss this topic there if you wish.
I removed your last sentence, I don’t consider the terminology you used to be appropriate in the context.
Wow, I’ve read all the comments on this page. We have highly educated individuals, all of whom I have extracted new knowledge from. I would think Christ’s date of birth is irrelevant to our salvation. It prompts me to consider the possible futility of investing time and energy – regarding eternal salvation through Heavenly Father & Mother, who sacrificed immeasurably to provide for us, the ultimate blessing to eat from the Tree Of Life – to construct a website/blog/what have you, in which Christ’s birth date is presented to readers/researchers/truth-seekers as ultimately unknown, the possibility of which was deemed to incline furthermore towards the December-January time proximity. I would like to establish understanding between myself and any/every individual who might view and/or comment in regards to this post, that I am by no means stating that I am some superior “know-it-all” equipped with flawless perception/perspective. I am open to the possibility that my analytical thought process could be faulty, which is why I believe communication and feedback is critical while implementing a degree of receptivity. God bless you all!
Hello, Vira. Yes, Christ’s date of birth is irrelevant to our salvation, and to whether or not we decide to remember His incarnation.
However, we should be clear that one thing that is not irrelevant at all to our salvation, and that is Who provided it. The Bible makes no mention of a “Heavenly Mother.” The Bible tells us that “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world,” and that the Son laid down His life for the sheep. Nowhere does the Bible talk about any woman making a sacrifice that provided salvation for us. I hope you will examine the Bible itself carefully on this point, rather than trusting human teachers.
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I agree there is no reason to change the traditional date of December 25th, to celebrate Christmas. But, I believe the accuracy of the Rabbi is right on. Prophesy’s accuracy is so exponetionally high, that God would likely parellel His Lamb to be born, in the spring when the lambs are born, in a stable, where lambs live, in Bethleham, where most of the lambs are provided for the Temple sacrifice, and Jesus (God’s Lamb) would also die when the lambs die, on Passover. Lambs are born about March through April, that’s where the term spring lambs comes from. However, current farmers have interfered with the spring schedule to increase lamb meat sales year around, where lambs will breed in more then one season. Also I understood your comments about the Jewish Calendar changing every year. This is not true the annual Feast are celebrated each year on the same day of the month, unlike our Julian calendar where Easter jumps from one month to another. Thank you for the opportunity to commet. Joe
Hello, Joe. I apologise for just now clearing this, this blog has been inactive. Thank you for the good comment. I realise you may not be around anymore, but if you notice this, a few comments in reply.
I have no evidence of current farmers in the Middle East having interfered with the spring schedule, I’d be interested in anything that demonstrated that.
The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus was born in a stable. I’m inclined to think He was born at Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock, on the edge of Bethlehem. There was a tower there in the days of Jacob, and that is where Rachel died (Genesis 35:19-21). It is mentioned as where the kingdom shall come (Micah 4:8, which of course is just a few verses before Micah 5:2 which prophesies Bethlehem). It was the obvious place for the shepherds to go looking, perhaps the obvious place for visitors to go for shelter when the inn was full, and certain to have the manger mentioned in Scripture.
As to the Jewish Calendar changing every year, I think we’re talking at cross-purposes. If we are trying to compare Jewish dates to our dates, they don’t match up consistently. Yes, Passover is always in the first Jewish month, but sometimes that is right at the beginning of Spring, sometimes it falls a little bit later, because of the lunar calendar. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that the dates of the Jewish feasts were random!
So basically, you dont really know,, but your going with the bible version anyway
How very dishonest of you
What a strange comment. There is no ‘Bible version’ of the right date. It doesn’t tell us. There are some hints in the Bible that it might be around the time of the traditional date. But the date doesn’t matter, it is the event we celebrate.
There’s nothing dishonest about it. We could celebrate on any date, or not celebrate at all. If I choose to celebrate on the traditional date, since we don’t know, that’s not dishonest. It would only be dishonest if I said that it definitely is the date, or that the date matters, or pretended that everyone should celebrate on that date. I’m being honest about the limitations of our knowledge and about why it doesn’t much matter.
Anyway, I apologise for not getting to this sooner, the blog has been shut down for some time, but is now active again.
There are a couple of major clues to the birth of Christ. Herod targeting the age of male children between 0-2 which makes a target date of 1 (year old). The Magi were in Jerusalem as led by the star(GOD’s direction). They did not go to Bethlehem as Herod had suggested but followed the star(GOD’s direction) to a home right there in Jerusalem. The Magi were faithful men of GOD following His word and direction not Herod’s. The scriptures also point to Mary and Joseph being in Jerusalem for the passover(Pasech) as they were faithful followers of the LORD. They were there each year in obedience to scripture and Jesus was there to fulfill the O.T. requirement of a lamb being 1 year old. The lamb was brought into Jerusalem on the 10th of Abib(Nisan) and was to be 1 year old. As Christ was available at the proper time to fulfill the O.T. requirement he was spared at that time but re-entered on the 10th of Abib(Palm Sunday). He fulfilled the 4 days of inspection and was declared perfect. He was crucified on the 14th of Abib(Nisan) at to fulfill scripture and died at 3pm after 3 hours of God induced twilight which again miraculously fulfilled scripture.. This was followed by a High Sabbath and then the weekly Sabbath(back to back) which gives us a day(partial) followed by a night followed by another day/night followed by another day/night which fulfills Jesus(Yeshua’s) major prophesy of 3 days and 3 nights to a “T”. Jesus then rose on the day of the “Feast of Firstfruits” which was pushed back 1 day from normal due to the 2nd Sabbath. This makes Jesus resurrection on the 1st day of the next week(17th of Abib/Nisan) which was the 8th day in the overall sequence. The 8th day is of no insignificance as it is the day that the LORD gave skins(1st blood sacrifice) to Adam and Eve to cover the guilt and shame with innocent blood. It is also the day of circumcision as a sign of GOD’s grace and mercy shown to Adam and Eve and the sign of Christ’s death once and for all to cover sin for the faithful who receive GOD’s gift. There is perfection in the scriptures concerning the the week of 1-7 days along with redemption on the 8th day. Jesus(Yeshua) also appeared on the first day of creation. The moon cycle matches up also from the creation week to the passover(Pasech) week. Lambing peeked during the spring(Abib/Nisan) full moon also which aided the shepherds in their fields greatly. All scripture points to the 10th of Abib as the birthdate of Jesus(Yeshua). Even the calculation of Zacharias’ service points to the month of Abib on the second cycle of service.
The biggest point missing here is the pagan influence of both Christmas and Easter as both have pagan roots/influence(syncretism) without question and they have obscured the perfection of THE PASSOVER which is not correctly taught in the church. Both Easter and Christmas actually detract/obscure from the truth of GOD’s word. Our faith comes by hearing the Word of GOD. When believers get right with GOD they will repent of these pagan infiltrated practices and change their ways. It is a disservice to believers to try and defend Christmas and Easter when most believers have never been taught the perfection in THE PASSOVER which is GOD’ s true message to his people and GOD’s path to eternal life through Christ(Yeshua).
PS. There is no Christmas or Easter in the original scriptures nor did the early church/apostles celebrate either while they were turning the world upside down for Christ. The early church did celebrate THE PASSOVER(Pasech) and understood it’s perfection in accordance to GOD’s prophesies. We have displaced the truth of THE PASSOVER with the lies of Christmas and Easter. Anyone remember who the father of lies is ??
Hello, Jeff. I apologise for this being caught in moderation while the blog was dormant.
It is clear that you have studied diligently, and I am glad for that.
However, there are many assumptions in your comment which aren’t proven by Scripture. The Scripture does not tell us they went to Bethlehem, it tells us they followed the star. You are correct that it does not say the star led them to Bethlehem but they did not see it until they began to follow what God had said in His Holy Word — Bethlehem. The clear indication is that they followed the Scripture (not Herod) and headed for Bethlehem, and then, because they had followed what God said, the star appeared and led them right to the house. Your assumption is not proven by Scripture.
Nor is your assumption that Jesus was exactly one year old. The Bible doesn’t say that. The only thing we know for sure is that Herod killed all the children two years of age and under. That would presumably include up to almost the age of three.
The Bible does not say Joseph and Mary were in Jerusalem for a feast at the time of the coming of the wise men. Nor does it say, if they were, that it had to be Passover. As a devout male, Joseph would have come also for Pentecost and Tabernacles.
Nor have you reconciled 3 days and 3 nights with ‘on the third day’ which is used much more frequently. Nor does the Bible say that there was a High Sabbath followed by a normal weekly sabbath. You have assumed that. It tells us there was a High Sabbath, but does not tell us whether it was the day before, or coincided with, the normal weekly sabbath. Luke 23:56 does not sound like there were two sabbath days that week. Nor does Mark 16:1.
There is more I could say but little of the discussion of dates has any bearing on walking with our God in faith and holiness. It is an interesting topic but I can’t take any more time on it right now.
The question of pagan influence is discussed in another post in the series. If you wish to read it and then comment on the substance of it I would be glad to interact there.
The question of whether we as believers should be celebrating Passover is answered adequately, indirectly in I Corinthians 5:7 and directly in Colossians 2:16-17 and Romans 14:5-6. There is no room for judging those who do or those who don’t celebrate the Passover. Each decides whether they will regard the day as unto the Lord, or unto the Lord will not regard the day.
Borrow from the occult and slap His Name on it? Are you kidding? He was born when creation comes to life the spring Why celebrate the wrong day only because it would cost you something and take effort to celebrate on the correct day? Are you that unconcerned about truth? The garbagefrom the occult mistletoe, yuletide, ect Straight from the occult They sacrificed children to yule And you are going to connect His name to these things to show Him you love Him?
I apologise for the long delay, this was caught in moderation while the blog was dormant.
The argument that Jesus was born in the spring is not taught in Scripture. It’s a human invention. It could be true but could as well be false. You are speculating.
The argument that this is an occult holiday is answered in another article in this series (linked at the bottom of this article) and I won’t recreate it here. If you wish to actually read that article and respond to what it says I am willing to discuss it there.
I respectfully disagree with your essay.
Assuming, as a Christian, that Jesus will return, I think he will be shocked, hurt and maybe a bit angry that we celebrate him on the 25th of December, a date chosen because of a convergence of Roman numerology and the Winter Solstice. The Romans, being Pagan, worshipped the Sun God. So it, as did the Egyptians. The Egyptian celebration was 12 days long, as is the Christmas season.
Being as his family moved to Egypt to avoid Jesus’s execution, he would have been aware of this Egyptian celebration.
Rome seemed to have no problem adding new gods to its collection. Since they already worshipped a Sun God as did the Egyptians, it makes complete sense that Rome would embrace a 12 day winter celebration.
However, Jesus was a Jew and he celebrated their escape from Egypt. The effect of celebrating Jesus’s birth by holding the Egyptian festival of Ra, essentially nullifies the Exodus. It says, no matter how far you’ve gone, you’re still a slave to Egypt.
I think Jesus would find that repugnant.
I apologise for the long delay, this was caught in moderation while the blog was dormant.
The winter solstice is not on 25 December. The Egyptian celebration of Ra’s birthday is in August or September (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/ideology/festivaldates.html). There are no 12 day festivals in December, and none associated with Ra.
There is no evidence that the very young child Jesus was in Egypt for more than a few months, the Scriptures appear to indicate Joseph returned very soon after the death of Herod.
I do not know who has told you these things but some of them are quite inaccurate.
As to the larger argument you are making, that Christmas is a pagan holiday, I’ve already written on that topic. You can find the link to it at the bottom of this article. If you believe that article is in error you are welcome to read it and respond there.
Here are some scriptures in God’s Word, with love…
Jeremiah 10:2-4 KJVS
Thus saith the Lord , Learn not the way of the HEATHEN, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are VAIN: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Proverbs 15:27 KJVS
He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
James 4:4 KJVS
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Romans 12:2 KJVS
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJVS
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
1 John 5:19-21 KJVS
And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Hello, Sherry. This comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
None of these verses have anything to do with the content of this post — whether 25 December was the date of Christ’s birth, or whether it matters if it wasn’t. If you wish to comment on other matters, such as whether Christmas is pagan in its origins, there is an article on that question linked at the bottom of the article. You might want to comment there, but if so, please read it first to decide which verses you want to post. Thank you.
Christmas is pagan to the core. I noticed you replied to a comment saying that not all of the pagan gods were born on December 25th. Fact is, the Romans that absolutely invented Christmas on AD 336 worshipped a god that they claimed was born on Dec. 25th. They celebrated the birth of “the unconquerable sun” on Dec. 25th. To them, Christmas was about the birth of the SUN long before THEY invented the holiday known as Christmas as the birth of the SON. Most of the Christmas traditions come from the Roman festival Saturnalia. Gift giving, trees etc. Read the Wikipedia page about Christmas. Our opinions mean nothing but history and the word of God means everything. Read the full page about Christmas and come to your own conclusion if you think the roots were about the God of Israel. Even the heathens/pagans put trees in their homes during the time of Jeremiah. God commands us to not eve learn the way of the heathen and do as such in Jeremiah 10. I believe the point of the comment that all pagan gods were supposedly born on Dec. 25th is fairly accurate because the pagan traditions started with Nimrod who rebelled. Those traditions were followed in Jeremiah’s day and carried on by all empires that rebelled including the Romans and the world today – “Mystery Babylon” man-made religion. Notice that Christmas follows pagan traditions from multiple different pagan cultures, all celebrated around that time, the shortest darkest day of the year when the sun dies and is re-born. It’s all sungod worship. Saturnalia as mentioned, the Winter Solstice and Yule etc. Christmas carols having pay homage to the roots – Yule… “Deck the halls with boughs of holly… Troll the ancients Yuletide carol… While I tell of yuletide treasure” ….. The biggest abomination regarding Christmas IMO is the fact that it replaced the Holy Days mentioned in the law that we are commanded to keep forever. Deuteronomy and Revelation say not to add or subtract from the word. Holy feasts were subtracted and few feast days added – Christmas, Easter. Our Savior in Matthew 5:17-19 said NOTHING from the law would disappear until the heavens and earth pass away and if we consider the least of the law unimportant WE will be unimportant in eternal life. Daniel said the spirt of the antichrist would attempt to change festivals and law… He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25.. To each their own who want to celebrate Christmas. But we cannot pretend it is a holy day, in fact it is a replacement of the real holy days. Christians say “bring Christ back in Christmas” but the pagans would have a better argument if they said, “bring Mithra back in Christmas”. We have to worship in spirit and in truth.
Hello, Devon. I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
This article is about whether 25 December is the wrong date for Jesus birthday, and if it is, whether that matters. You’ve not actually said anything about the actual date of Jesus’ birth, nor if there is anything wrong with remembering it on a date that might not be correct.
If you want to discuss the question of pagan origins, please read the article on that which is linked at the bottom of this article. If you want to discuss whether it is right to judge Christians for keeping or not keeping the Old Testament feasts, or any other day that they choose to remember unto the Lord, I refer you to Colossians 2:16-17 as well as Romans 14:5-6.
Jesus was born 6 months after John the Baptist, approximately September-October time frame, per Biblical say so.
Knowing Satan and the Luciferian reign, it was probably September 11th… go figure. Make us Christians look insensitive if we decide to actually celebrate Christ’ birthday. Still, the Bible gives us seven feasts, none of which are about the birth of Christ. So no need to do that.
Furthermore, you should dig deeper into the holidays. They are pagan thru and thru and are detestable to God. I used to fight this notion but after hearing Jim Staley’s gentle-spirited argument from a Biblical perspective, I can no longer get behind the Luciferian holidays and call them Godly or Christian in nature. They aren’t and we’re making the same mistakes that the Jews did thousands of years ago when they took the Canaanite alters and monuments and “re-purposed” those to worship Yahuwah.
Bad move. And celebrating God’s birthday on His arch-enemy’s b-day is a ‘whole nudder topic’ in and of itself.
(P.S. the sungod or “Day Star” is Lucifer, son of Shakar, the ancient leader of the rebellion against God and the worship of himself over Yah – Christmas day is a celebration of his birthday – the birth of the new sun and is an obscene and vulgar thing to celebrate, btw.) That diety is probably Apollo, aka Apollyon, who is the beast who comes out of the abyss.
So it’s very likely that we’re (western culture) worshiping the beast and don’t even know it. Oh how the masses will be surprised to learn this!
Hello, Adam. I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
The angel appeared to Mary in Elisabeth’s sixth month, so Jesus was born 5-6 months after John. The Bible does not tell us when John was born. However, given that John’s father was in the course of Abia, it was unlikely to be March, and Jesus was unlikely to be born in September. Discussed above.
The Bible does not tell us Lucifer’s birthday, and in fact makes no mention of him being born at all. He is a spirit, not a man, and was created, not born. And every day is ‘the day which the Lord hath made.’
If you wish to discuss the question of pagan origins of Christmas, there is an article on that topic linked at the bottom of this one. I won’t discuss it further here.
God doesn’t change, Him is not like men, men choise their own ways, Christmas, Halloween or whatever its call. Every word of God is important if you are son of God, but doesn’t matter when you are just a religious person who claim to follow Jesus.
I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
If you wish to comment on whether Jesus was born in December, or whether it matters, that would be fine. Otherwise, you may want to comment on one of the other articles linked at the bottom of this one, one or two of which may be more fitted for your comment.
I would note, however, that the comment policy here calls for respect. There are people here who are just as serious as you about wanting to please the Lord and who have arrived at different conclusions than you, and I will not again allow you to call them ‘just a religious person who claim to follow Jesus.’
I mean no offense , but I think that discussions about the birth date of Jesus and the right to celebrate it misses a major point. The first recorded celebration of Christmas was in 336, under the rule of Constantine. Prior to this time (and after), there were many disagreements regarding all sorts of concepts among early Christians, from when to celebrate Easter, to Arianism and certainly included Jesus’ birth. These differences led to people’s death if you did not tow the majority line – aka Constantine’s. To celebrate Christmas is not about freedom in Christ. For me celebrating it is to participate in a practice that was historically part of a political and barbaric ideology. Witness Constantine’s vitriolic comments during the Nicene council about Jewish believers who desired to remain identifiably Jewish. Something the very apostles in Jerusalem did (Acts 21)
Hello, Noah, I apologise for the delay, this comment, unfortunately, got stuck in moderation when the blog was dormant.
You are right that the date is not the main point, a point this article actually makes. I only bothered with it because so many people make an issue of it.
As to whether Christmas is pagan or Catholic in its origins, there are articles dealing with that linked at the bottom of this one, and much of your comment has been answered there.
I appreciate the response. No worries with the delay. I read through the links. My view is based on a different point than the ones you specifically addressed. I am Jewish. I have my own understanding you might say regarding the status of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. My issue with the history of Christianity is that it denigrated the Judaism from which Jesus came. For me, a careful/honest reading of Acts 10, 15 and 21 make it clear that the the early Jewish followers of the Jesus movement continued to live/identify as Jews – “circumcising their children, keeping the customs” etc. (See Acts 21). To be sure, gentiles were not required to live as Jews – Paul’s major point. But the development of Christianity was clearly anti-Jewish, if not outrightly anti-Semitic. This is easy to back up historically – just read John Chrysostom for one of many examples. And those Jews who wanted to follow Jesus and identify as Jews were marginalized at best and, as time progressed, persecuted. While I agree, based on your points that Gentiles are “free” to celebrate Christmas – I certainly don’t think any self-identifying Jew should – and I think any Christian who would learn the history of these supposed “church” fathers would feel the same.
Hello, Noah. You are absolutely correct that the early Jewish Christians lived as Jews, and that Jesus was unmistakably Jewish. For Christians whose belief system comes from the Bible, Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the fulfilling of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. If we just talk about the Bible, Ephesians 2 tells the story — a major aspect of what Christ did is to bring all believers into the blessings of fellowship with God, ending the divide between Jews and other people.
Christians are imperfect,and it’s not hard to see why anti-Jewish hostility took hold among those who took the name ‘Christian’, some of whom no doubt really were believers. If you take Acts seriously you have to say that the anti-Christian Jews ‘started it.’ I’m not excusing it. The Biblical attitude towards unbelieving Jews is the one Paul expressed in Romans 9. He obviously loved his people and wanted them to come to Christ. But it’s not hard to understand why people would be drawn into such attitudes towards the Jews. I think it is a useful exercise to understand why/how people were drawn into temptation, because it can help protect us.
That’s somewhat off-topic, of course. As to Christmas, you said you don’t think any self-identifying Jew should celebrate it. I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘self-identifying Jew.’ There are those who say that those who believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah should not identify as Jews. On the other hand, there are those who do absolutely believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, who are ethnically Jewish, and continue to observe feasts such as the Passover — and who identify themselves as Jewish.
I can’t see any reason for someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus to celebrate His birth. It’s not because of what ancient Christians (who some call ‘fathers’) said or wrote. It’s just that it seems pointless to commemorate the birth of someone who you believe was a fraud.
For someone who does believe in Christ, the events we are talking about constitute one of the most amazing things that ever happened — that God became man, as prophesied in the Old Testament Jewish Scriptures. I don’t see any reason that a Jewish person who believes that could not set aside a day to remember that. The Jewish people chose to set aside Purim, why could not followers of the Jewish Messiah set aside a day, too? They aren’t remembering Chrysostom or Constantine, they are remembering Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth. I don’t know why you would see a problem with that, even if people several hundred years later may have said and done many bad things.
I think the only way you could really see a problem with it is if you are absolutely convinced that Chrysostom or Constantine or others of anti-Jewish sentiment invented Christmas to perpetuate that anti-Jewish sentiment. It’s rather doubtful whether they invented it at all, and there’s no reason to attribute it to anti-Semitism even if they did.
I think you are wandering into the doctrines of discernment by origins and uncertain history, which Scripture doesn’t teach. If we applied that, we might struggle with I & II Peter, since we know he went astray at Antioch, or much of Psalms, since David was an adulterer, or most of Paul’s writings, since he persecuted the church unto death. They weren’t doing those wrong things when they wrote our Scriptures, and God used them. I think you’d have to find a link between anti-Jewish attitudes and Christmas itself, that the commemoration itself is inherently anti-Jewish, before you would be justified in telling Jewish believers to avoid it — and if you found that link, you’d probably have a compelling case for non-Jews, as well.
None of this is to say you SHOULD observe it. Especially if you can’t feel clear in your conscience on it, you must not do so. Romans 14, I believe, would certainly apply in that way.
I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I will just offer a few comments and clarifications based off your response.
First, I don’t think it is correct to assert that anti-Jewish sentiment among gentiles had much to do with the non- believing Jews. Gentile believers would have had little contact with non-believing religious Jews in the beginning. Furthermore, Paul was persecuting believing Jews, not gentiles so there would be no basis for anti-Judaism here (if that was your point). I think it it much more likely to assert the main basis for gentile-Christian anti-Judaism was political pressure. Aka, the revolt leading to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the later Bar Kochba revolt from 132-136 AD put all Jewish sects in disfavor with Rome. There was intense pressure to distance gentile Christianity from any form of Judaism. Now, to be sure, the non-believing Jews put internal pressure on believing Jews, eventually forcing them out of the synagogue etc. But this was as much about the believing Jews not acknowledging Bar – Kochba as the Messiah and fleeing the city as opposed to staying to fight as the majority of Jews did. But either way, again, this hardly seems to be a basis for gentile anti-Judaism.
Second, I don’t think it is fair to compare the sins of King David or Paul to John Chrysostom for the very simple reason that Paul and David repented. When did John Chrysostom ever repent for the vitriolic, disgusting things he said about Jews. Same for Martin Luther. Yet these people are revered among gentile Christians. If you really have the love for Jews, like Paul had as you referenced, call these people out for what they were – or at least what they said. You will not further the gospel to Jews, by offering “Christian love” toward individuals who were unrepentantly anti-Jewish, if not anti-semetic.
Now as to a “self-identifying Jew” – I mean by that a Jewish believer, who still identifies as Jewish. Again, going back to Acts, 10, 15 and 21 – I assert that Jewish believers are obligated to identify as Jews, celebrate Jewish holidays and customs, circumcise there children etc. I would say they are most certainly not free to celebrate Christmas.
Now for gentiles and the connection to Christmas. I want to make sure that I am clear – I have been talking about the persecution of Jewish believers by gentile believers because they wanted to remain Jewish in their identify. Of course, I am not implying that John Chrysostom, Constantine, Origin, take your pick, invented Christmas as an anti-Jewish/Semitic tactic. What I am asserting is that the obvious syncretism of pagan worship and celebrations of Jesus – say Christmas or Easter – worked well to both distance Christianity from its roots as a Jewish Sect as well as make it more palatable to the gentile masses. but that was a process that took 100’s of years. But more importantly, as these customs were developing, Jewish believers who did not want to practice these customs, and did not want to stop practicing some form of Judaism were persecuted. Feel free to celebrate it – but it was a dividing point – which eventually led to violence.
Hello, Noah, thank you again for the thoughtful reply.
First, to your first paragraph, the motivations of anti-Jewish sentiment among some believers is somewhat a side point to this discussion. But you are probably mistaken to discount the impact of the Jewish persecution of believers. It is true this was primarily targeted at Jewish believers, but for Gentile believers, those Jews were persecuting their brothers and sisters, and were enemies of their faith.
Second, substitute Balaam for David and Paul, then. He never repented, either, yet we benefit from the way God used him to give us the prophecies recorded Numbers 23-24.
To both these points, I’d just like to add that the conflicts between Jews and Christians are all the work of Satan, and that there have been plenty of people claiming to be in both groups who were doing his work in this. That would include those who really were Jews and those who claimed to be but weren’t, and those who really were Christians and those who claimed to be but weren’t.
To your third paragraph and the obligation for Jewish believers to identify as Jews, etc, I would look to I Corinthians 9, where Paul affirmed his freedom to identify as a Jew or a non-Jew, whichever would be most useful to the spread of the Gospel. I would counsel a Jewish believer living in Israel or in a strongly Jewish community to live mostly as you have said, and let the Gospel of Christ (and the purity of life that comes with it) be the distinguishing and (if necessary) the dividing characteristic. I would counsel a Jew living in a pagan society that it probably is best not to make a point of his Jewishness but again to let the Gospel of Christ (and the purity of life that comes with it) be the distinguishing and dividing characteristic. In either case, the freedom to celebrate Christmas would be circumscribed by that overriding principle — will observing it hinder or help the Gospel.
To your final paragraph: Part of this is based on unproven historical assumptions, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, and is not indicative of what we should do today. But to the extent that anyone was persecuted for not observing Christmas, that would obviously be unbiblical and reprehensible. If that were truly the case today, that believers were being persecuted for not observing Christmas, that should obviously be condemned, and Christians living nearby such behaviour might indeed choose to stand with the persecuted rather than the persecutors.
I posted a comment but I am not sure what happened to it so I am going to try again only i will be more brief. My point is that the original followers of Jesus were Jews who continued to practice Judaism after his death/resurrection. This included, Peter, James and Paul. (See Acts, 10. 15 and 21). I agree that gentiles were/are not required to keep the law, but certainly, Jews were expected to obey the law, including circumcising their children and keeping the customs (Acts 21). As Christianity spread among Gentiles, it became increasingly hostile to these Jewish followers who wanted to remain Jewish in their identity and practice – example, John Chrysostom. it is in the shadow of anti-Judaism, if not anti-Semitism, that much of Christian culture (Christmas etc.) developed. And this is my problem with it. I am not sure what happened, but if possible, please post my last comment.
Hi, Noah. I use moderation so comments don’t appear until I clear them. Unfortunately, there are those who ignore the comment policy.
I’ll respond directly to your original comment, rather than this one.
As always I appreciate your responses and willingness to dialogue in a respectful manor.
Acts 21 makes it clear – Paul was asked by the council to demonstrate that he was
1. not teaching Jews who lived among gentiles to abandon Judaism/the Torah and
2. Paul himself kept remained committed to keeping the Torah.
And Paul agreed. So either Paul was disingenuous with the council or Corinthians 9 needs to be understood differently than the way you are interpreting it. I would suggest that the way to harmonize the two is to look at it from a “Jewish law” point of view. A jew can violate any Torah prohibition to save the life of a person, Jew or Gentile, with three exceptions – murder, sexual immorally and idolatry. (an interesting list by the way – Acts 15/21) Therefore, since, for Paul, the second coming was likely to believed to be eminent – he would be free to break any law to save them . Notice the language – he became all things to all men in order “that by any/all means I might “save” some.” His point is that he is willing to do whatever it takes to save those who are lost dying. It is not about freedom to identify however you want.
Second, You mentioned that in my last paragraph I am basing what I am saying on “unproven historical assumptions.” That is not true. It is a fact that there were believing Jews who were practicing Judaism in basically the same way non-believing Jews were practicing it for almost 400 years from the time of Jesus. Which makes sense because the Jews living in Jerusalem at the time of Acts were doing the same. But by the 300 – 400’s these groups were labeled heretics by for example, Epiphanius. (See Panarion/Again’st Heresies). So whether it is John Chrysostom, Origin, Constantine or Epiphanius there is a continuing thread of anti-Jewish sentiment. It isn’t obvious that the original movement which was Jewish in people, practice and identify became a heresy because of gentile anti-Semites? And wasn’t it within this anti-Jewish vacuum that gentiles adopted the practices of Christmas, Easter, Sunday worship etc.? Of course it was.
Thank you, Noah. I appreciate that you’ve obviously studied Scripture and are trying to be true to it.
I think you need to look more carefully at Acts 21:21. It is very clear that the accusation against Paul was that he was teaching Jews that they “ought not” to circumcise or keep “the customs”. I Corinthians 9 does not say that Paul taught against Jews doing these things, on the contrary it says they have liberty to do so.
There is a difference between forbidding something and teaching that it is not required. Acts 21:21 tells us that Paul was falsely accused of forbidding, and the actions advised, and which he took, demonstrated clearly that he did not forbid. It is an extrapolation, which is not supported in Scripture, to say that because he did not forbid, therefore he commanded.
As to “unproven historical assumptions”, that was not in reference to the anti-Jewish sentiment among some professing Christians. There’s no doubt of that nor are there really any shortage of other errors among the same people. My statement was in reference to the ‘obvious pagan syncretism’. There is no clear evidence, no ‘smoking gun’, as I said in another article, that any syncretism came from Christians, rather than from the other direction.
And there is evidence of Sunday worship beginning in the New Testament (Acts 20:7, I Corinthians 16:2), and certainly it was widespread before anti-Jewish sentiment took hold. No, I don’t think that grew out of anti-Jewish sentiment, nor do I really see any connection to Christmas. You mentioned ‘Easter’ but in many countries and languages it is called ‘Passover’. I don’t think that fits with the idea that these are the product of anti-Jewish sentiment.
And still, even if it were, it’s discernment by origins, which is not Biblically sound. Romans 14 indicates that origins may bind our own conscience but gives us no right to bind the conscience of others.
As always, enjoying the dialogue.
Acts 21: I have heard your argument (not forbidding to keep the law…but not commanding/a matter of liberty) before. I think it has to be rejected. Note the last versus staring with verse 24 (b). “…but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” – the concern was not only with what Paul was teaching, but also that Paul himself was living in “obedience to the law.” So it is not an issue of choice/liberty. Furthermore, in verse 25, James restates the Acts 15 Councils ruling regarding the obligation of Gentiles – regarding the law, they only need keep the four. Certainly the point of the repetition of these four is to reemphasize the point to the reader – Jews follow the law, gentiles are not obligated to other than the four on the list. I don’t see how one can honestly read it any other way.
Hello, Noah. It seems a very thin reed upon which to build a doctrine. We have two possible accusations against Paul we are discussing: 1) That he was teaching Jews they did not need to obey the Law 2) That he was teaching Jews it was wrong for them to obey the Law. You believe it was the first, I believe it was the second. The first half of verse 21 would fit with either interpretation. The second half does not — he was being accused of actively forbidding.
You cited 24b as evidence but that doesn’t work. If the accusation was that Paul was teaching Jews that they didn’t need to obey the Law, then his own obedience to it would not prove his innocence of the charge. If, however, the accusation was that he was forbidding obedience to the Law, then his own obedience would demonstrate the error of the accusation. 24b doesn’t help your case, it hurts it.
Verse 25, however, would fit quite well with the interpretation you are taking, and you are quite right to cite it. It at least counterbalances some of the weight that verses 21 and 24 give to the interpretation I’ve taken. Acts 21, then, is not entirely clear on the question.
But we must remember that this passage is historical narrative. It’s intent is not to lay out a complete doctrine of the interrelations between Jewish and Gentile believers and the Law. It’s an account of a conversation that took place, which led to the following events. We have some very direct teaching on the subject of the Law. The churches to whom the epistles were written had large Jewish and Gentile populations. None of them make any reference to a distinction between Jews and Gentiles where Jews are clearly commanded to keep the Law while Gentiles aren’t.
Galatians 2, especially verse 14, is very problematic to the view you advocate. So also is Colossians 2:16, if there were any Jews at all in the church — your view is that people, especially other Jews, could and should judge Jewish believers in these matters. Even Hebrews, written specifically to Jewish believers, doesn’t teach that obedience to the Law is required — it says that covenant is old and ready to pass away.
If you believe that Jewish Christians are required to keep the Law, we aren’t likely to have common ground on that point. The consistent teaching of the epistles doesn’t support your view, and Acts 21 is hardly conclusive enough to override the clear teaching of the epistles.
I still don’t think that really has much to do with Christmas. Even if one has decided to kep the Law, the Law would not preclude someone from celebrating Christmas any more than it would preclude them from celebrating Purim or the Feast of Dedication. Neither of those were in the Law, but were adopted by Jews to commemorate special events of God’s protection.
Ok. So regarding the “historic assumptions” discussion
Syncretism – Easter is a pagan term. The fact that some communities call it Passover (pashcha) misses the point. As I am sure you are aware, certain Christians celebrated the death/resurrection of Jesus on the same date as Passover night (15th of Nissan) was celebrated by the non-believing Jews. Others celebrated it on Sunday etc. The issue was that to know the Jewish Passover date, Christians would have to consult with non-believing Jews, since they determined the dates. It was Constantine at the Council of Nicea who finally made it law that it would not be celebrated at the same time as the Jews celebrated Passover. So there is your proof.
Christmas – Just don’t get how you do not see the relationship between the worship of the sun god becoming the worship of the Son of God as being a case of syncretism. No point in arguing it I guess. And again, If you just read the history regarding the attitudes of Gentile believers toward Jewish believers who continued to practice Judaism you see that they were eventually forced to not practice Judaism and to practice Christian celebrations.
Acts 20: Jewish days begin at night – so “coming together to break bread on the first day of the week could mean Saturday night – not Sunday morning and is more historically likely since the same practice was common among religious Jews in general. I am not saying it is proof, but there is no reason to assume that it was on Sunday, during the day which is what people generally tend to assume.
1 Corinthians 16: All it says is to set aside money on the first day of the week. That certainly does not prove Sunday morning worship.
Finally, the Catholic Church’s encyclopedia states outright that they changed the Sabbath to Sunday because they had the authority to do so and that there was no biblical basis in and of itself for doing so.
Thank you for breaking it up, that makes it easier.
‘Syncretism – Easter is a pagan term.’ Just wondering if you know how flimsy the evidence is for this claim. I should write an article on this, I suppose. The debate over the date on which Christians should observe the ‘Christian passover’ far precedes Constantine and did not originally have anti-Jewish overtones.
Christmas — by around 200 AD some Christians put the date of Christ’s birth on 25 December. That’s long before Aurelian decided the Birth of Sol Invictus would be on 25 December. So, no, it is not obvious to me that this is an example of Christian syncretism.
Christian worship — Acts 20 refers to the first day of the week, whether that was by Jewish reckoning or Gentile reckoning we don’t know. If it was Jewish reckoning, then you have a worship service among believers so heavily influenced by Jews that they used Jewish reckoning, yet they were meeting after the Sabbath.
I Corinthians 16 says, ‘That there be no gatherings when I come.’ It was obviously his intent that they ‘laying by in store’ was to preclude gatherings and therefore it was intended to be a gathering together of the gift they were sending. At the very least this indicates there was to be some kind of gathering together, if not for regular worship, at least to prepare the collection for the saints at Jerusalem. If this were just talking about a personal action there would be no need for Paul to have specified the day, anyway.
I don’t put any weight at all on anything the Catholic Church says in their encyclopedia. It would be very like the Catholic Church to claim that believers did something in obedience to Catholic authority when believers had been doing it long before. It is a power-grabbing institution that will use any claim, however flimsy, to buttress its power/authority.
As always I appreciate the space to dialogue on these issues.
Regarding Acts 21.
I see your point but you have, perhaps unintentionally, set up an argument that I am not making and then defending against a position I did not claim. I agree that the accusation against Paul was that he was teaching that it was “wrong” to keep the Torah. In 24a Paul was asked to do something to show that there is no truth in those reports about forbidding the law….but 24b shows that paying for the purification rites for himself and the men would also show that he himself lived in “obedience” to the Torah. So it follows that Paul’s demonstration -showing that he keeps the law – is the reason/the proof that he is not forbidding others Jews who believe to do the same.
But the reason I assert that the is about more than just forbidding Jews to keep the Torah but also about an expectation of obedience to the Torah by believing Jews is precisely because verse 25 comes next. I understand that this is a recorded conversation, but none the less, James’ reiteration of the letter discussed in Acts 15 makes the point about what is required/expected. A point you, at least in part, concede.
Galatians and Corinthians as a counter argument to my claim that Jewish believers were required or expected to keep the Torah:
I would argue that in any letter of Paul, the central issue is not whether Jews should keep the Torah. But rather whether Gentiles are required to. And of course, they are not. Everything Paul says therefore is directed at that point. It is not meant to inform Jews whatsoever. Paul’s point is that Gentiles become part of the commonwealth of Israel because of faith in Jesus – not in becoming Jews. Paul uses a lot of hyperbolic, and rhetorical arguments to make his point. I would suggest that this is what led to the confusion referenced in Acts 21.
One point I would like to add here is that we do know that Jewish believers who continued to identify/practice as Jews were eventually forbidden to do so.
And this brings me to the whole Christmas debate.
We are going to have to agree to disagree. All of the history you quoted in your last comment I was already aware of – And I never said the arguments I mentioned started with Constantine.
My point has been this: From early on there were Jewish believers who continued in every way to identify as Jews. And there were gentile Christians who, of course, did not. Over time, Gentile Christian leaders, and therefore many gentile Christians grew hostile to Jews/Jewish practices – Jewish believers who were supposed to be free to practice Judaism, according to your own take on Paul in Acts 21, found it increasingly difficult to do so and by the 400’s were considered a heretical sect. I could care less about the exact “when and where” – but it is certainly true that over that same time, Christmas, Easter, Sunday worship etc…became the norm and these norms were used to distinguish the gentile Christians from the Jews – whether they were believers or not. Feel free to practice Christmas, I never said you were not free to do so. As a Jew, I will never do so.
Thank you for clarifying re: Acts 21. I don’t see that verse 25 tells us at all what is required of Jews, but I do readily admit that it would fit well with the view that Jews are still required to fulfil the Torah (the Old Testament Law, if any of my readers may not have known the term).
I still don’t think you’ve come to terms with Galatians 2, especially verse 14. Paul said that Peter was living like a Gentile, not like a Jew — and he doesn’t take Peter to task for that, he takes him to task for expecting the Gentiles to change.
In all the passages (I’d include Ephesians 2 and several in Romans, as well as Galatians and Colossians) dealing with the relations of Jewish to Gentile believers, there is nothing that says, ‘They must follow the Law, you need not.’ We cannot say that Galatians only has Gentiles in view, for it is no doubt also spoken to Jews that ‘the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.’ In fact, there had to be Jews in the churches of Galatia or the problems over circumcision would not have arisen.
On to Christmas. I cited pre-Constantine history because you said you couldn’t see how I could fail to see syncretism. I think that early history seriously calls the syncretism view into question, it definitely puts us in the ‘doubtful history’ category.
You certainly have the right to not practice Christmas or Easter. I think there’s more Biblical pattern for first-day worship than you credit, but it isn’t explicit enough for me to say that a church which chooses to practice otherwise is wrong. If you have found a church that worships on Saturday I am sure that is acceptable to our Lord.
From all you’ve said, I’d go further and say that you personally are probably not free to observe Christmas. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and I don’t want to encourage you to do that of which you are not fully persuaded. My concern was with your statement that Jews are not free in the matter. I don’t see that your connection between 3-4th century attitudes and Christmas is well-founded, and even if it were, I don’t see how it would be normative for other Jews
I do understand why Jews who see such a connection might not want to observe Christmas. This conversation has given me an understanding of that view that I wouldn’t have had before, and for that I thank you.
Just one other thought/comment. You mentioned the clear/consistent message of the epistles as opposed to Acts 21. I already commented briefly on Paul’s letters and Acts 21 but I ask that you consider something else.
I have looked over many of your other posts and you seem to have a clear respect for the Old Testament. Perhaps there is another place to have this conversation but in our context I would like to know what you make of Deuteronomy chapter 13 Specifically the frequent statements that if any prophet comes and does a sign, but teaches the people to worship another g-d or, more importantly to our conversation, not follow the commands given by G-d through Moses, they should be rejected as a false prophet and killed.
My point here is that if the L-rd G-d told Moses to teach the people that they must reject a prophet who would lead the people to some other g-d, and/or some other form of worship and/or some other practices (not keep the commands given) how could the Jews accept a movement that does just that – your understanding of Christianity. It is not enough to quote the book of Hebrews or Paul’s letters in this case. If Paul is saying that G-d abolished the requirement to keep the law for Jews in order to let gentiles in, through Jesus, than the Torah declares him a false prophet, or at least false teacher. Because the command itself is clear (See Deuteronomy 13:4 and 13:18)
Furthermore, the necessity of keeping the Torah is part of the future redemption of Israel. Read Deuteronomy 30. It states specifically that the circumcision of the heart and the bringing of Israel back to their land will include obedience to the written Torah (Deuteronomy 30: 1-10)
Again, I don’t want to be guilty of posting too far off the topic of your initial post – but my point has a foundation, an antecedent if you will. Jewish believers should keep the Torah – because that is what the bible teaches. It is incorrect to interpret the “old testament” through the new. The opposite should be done. And the attitude of “freedom in Christ” for Jews has had the terrible result of causing assimilation of Jews into gentile Christianity/losing their Jewish identity in the process. I think it is fine for Gentiles to celebrate Christmas, though for the reasons I have stated I don’t understand why, in good conscience, anyone would. But for Jews – I just don’t see a biblical case for it.
Of course I respect the Old Testament! It is Scripture! Yes, we’re somewhat off-topic but I don’t think I’ve got an article on the topic so will answer here.
Deuteronomy 13 warns against prophets who lead to another god. It does not warn against a prophet telling of another covenant, or Jeremiah would be problematic, as would Ezekiel (if less explicitly than Jeremiah 31). Paul / Hebrews / Peter were not turning people to another god, but explaining/applying the new covenant brought in by the Saviour.
I do not accept your statement that it is incorrect to interpret the Old Testament through the New. If all Scripture is inspired, then all Scripture must be interpreted in the light of all other Scripture. The Old must be interpreted in light of the New, and vice versa.
But we must also accept the principle of what theologians like to call progressive revelation. God doesn’t give everything all at once, He unfolded His plan gradually. Thus, Genesis 3:15 (seed of the woman) only hints at a virgin birth, Isaiah 7:14 takes us further, Matthew 1 and Luke 2 further still. I Peter 1:10-12 indicates that at times the prophets themselves did not have a full understanding of what they were prophesying — the ultimate revelation was still to come. Hebrews 1:1-3 suggests that Old Testament revelation was limited compared to what has come.
It is very clear that Jesus fulfilled the Law, as He fulfilled all righteousness — and, that His righteousness is imputed to those who believe in Him. I HAVE written on that: https://mindrenewers.com/2013/01/22/imputation-the-way-it-works/ and, somewhat related, https://mindrenewers.com/2013/01/24/justification-just-as-if-i-never-sinned/.
If we understand that Jesus was the complete fulfilment of the Law, and that all of His righteousness has been imputed to our account, it affects the way we view ourselves in relation to the Law. It’s the best fulfilment of the Law that ever could be — a perfect one. I do absolutely believe that we need to interpret the Torah in light of passages like Isaiah 53, Jeremiah 31, Matthew 5, Romans 3-4, Galatians 3, and Hebrews. No one but Christ has ever truly kept the Torah. No one else ever will. Those who have violated one point are guilty of all, and all are guilty. God provided a way to righteousness by which obedience to the Law was imputed rather than demanded. That same way applies to both Jews and Gentiles.
Thus, the teachings of the New Testament do not at all violate the commands to keep the Law. Rather, they explain how that command has been fulfilled in Christ — and that is something to which Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, and other prophets were pointing.
Hope that helps a little bit. I suppose at some point I should write about Christians and the Law, it’s worth a full article (or more likely a series of articles).
I definitely will look forward to that post!
Just a few things.
Deuteronomy 13 is not just talking about other gods. The context is other gods, the ways of worshiping those gods (see chapter 12) as well as a not departing from the commands given by Moses.
Deuteronomy 30 is part of a new covenant. See Chapter 29 verse 1. In fact, it is the same new/renewed covenant referenced in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 – 37.
I often suggest to others that they simply read Deuteronomy 30 (especially 1-10) then Jeremiah 31 then Ezekiel 36-37. One should note the following:
The covenant has the following:
repentance of Israel
obedience to the Torah
restoration/return/blessing of the nation of Israel
descendant of David reigning as King
showing the nations that is G-d who does it. (bringing glory to G-d before the nations by accomplishing all of the above.
And it is with the physical descendants of Israel.
Jesus has not done any of this on a national level- of course a remnant of Jews have believed from the beginning. But the major role in his coming was to gather in gentiles – to graft them in. This is why Paul in Romans 11 goes on to say the promises made to the patriarchs are irrevocable. Paul understands that all of the above are yet to come.
And this is why issues of conversion and circumcision were so important as it related to gentiles. But to say that all of fulfilled in Jesus, that Jews who believe have no obligation to keep the Torah out of an obedient, circumcised heart is to wipe out all of the above, and many more scriptures.
To be continued…and thank you.
Yes, the new covenant eventually will bring a national repentance and restoration of Israel. Romans 11 is clear, and it hasn’t happened yet. Ezekiel 37. Many other passages. The trigger for this will almost certainly be the ministry of the two witnesses (Zechariah 4, Revelation 11) and the 144,000.
The Scriptural is also abundantly clear that the new covenant has been instituted by the death of Christ. Hebrews 7-9, perhaps most clearly. I Corinthians 11:25. Many others. Also that it applies not just to Jews but to Gentiles (again, I Cor. 11:25, also the second half of Ephesians 2, many others).
So, the new covenant has been established and is in force, but not all of the promises of it have been fulfilled (those relating to national Israel, the return of Jesus, the resurrection, etc). In this regard it is like the covenant with Abraham and the covenant on Mt Sinai — the covenant was in force but took many years to fully unfold.
The new testament came into force with the death of the testator (Hebrews 9:16-17). With it came the change of the priesthood, and with that, a change of the law (Hebrews 7:12, 18). In Christ, we have a non-Levitical priesthood and no more sacrifices. There is a new temple, a spiritual one. These are all changed.
The middle wall of partition has been broken down but you seem to have built up a new one, with one set of life instructions for one set of believers and another for others. Your wall does permit salvation on both sides of it, but it does make barriers that would hinder Jewish/Christian fellowship within the same church. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek.
As always, thank you for both the opportunity/space to have these conversations as well as your thoughtful responses.
I agree with many, if not most of the statements/responses you have made. I will just address a couple.
Though I agree with you that there is a new priesthood I ask you to note that there will be a new, third, physical temple in Israel when the rest of the promises are fulfilled. At least until the new heavens/new earth mentioned at the end of Revelation.
I mention it to reiterate my point from a previous post, the purpose of the change was to graft gentiles in. There are absolutely no sin sacrifices proscribed for gentiles in the Torah. The sacrifices for sin were for the nation of Israel and were about the purity/holiness within the land of Israel – which is holy -, as much as the holiness/purity of the Israelites living there. So if you are going to include gentiles in the covenant, it follows that there will be a need for a change in the way in which sin is handled – a way of dealing with sin for gentiles .
And this brings me to a second point. The middle wall of partition you mention is again in regards to standing before G-d. Before the new covenant, gentiles were, as Paul says of them, “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” They had not way to deal with their sin…Through Jesus, a way of atonement has been made for them that did not exist before. Now they have equal status and this is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham.
But that has nothing to due with obedience to the rest of the law, especially in terms of those practices that would distinguish between Jew and Gentile. Paul states in Galatians…”There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus….” now does this mean that there no differences between males and females? are there no longer Jews and gentiles from a biological point of view? Of course not, it is an issue of status before G-d.
Jews who believe and continue to be obedient to the law should not cause any division if both they and gentiles are led by the Spirit. Ironically and sadly, it was anti-Jewish sentiment that eventually brought the division.
I am not sure if you are suggesting that animal sacrifices for sin still apply to the Jews. If so, we’ll not have a meeting of the minds.
I think at this point I need to encourage you to seriously work through the book of Hebrews. You’ve not interacted with that or with Paul’s words to Peter in Galatians 2. I don’t see how the changing of the Law described in Hebrews can remotely be said to fit within your framework. Do you accept Hebrews as inerrant and inspired Scripture?
I accept the inerrancy…I just don’t accept the interpretation.
And no, I am not suggesting that animal sacrifices still apply to Jews. That would be very problematic considering there is no temple – but more importantly would render the death and resurrection of Jesus moot – G-d forbid.
I am suggesting that the change in the covenant only applies to the priesthood/sacrificial system – Not to other laws in the Torah as regards to Jews….kosher laws, observance of the holidays, circumcision etc. (Acts 21 again) Otherwise, the clear statements in Deuteronomy 30, Ezekiel 36-37 etc. make no sense. Why would G-d eliminate the distinction between Jew and Gentile, only to revive it again when the promises to Israel are fulfilled at the second coming/the set up of G-d’s Kingdom on earth?
As far as Galatians 2…I don’t see the issue. I have never said that Jews are justified by keeping the law – only that they are being obedient if they keep it. Obedience as a response to grace.
As far as Peter “living like a gentile” – the standard interpretation – Peter and Paul lived like gentiles means they no longer lived in obedience to the Torah, is not the only way to understand the text.
For me the issue centered around communal fellowship between Jews and Gentiles, especially in regards to being in the house of a gentile (Acts 10) and eating with them. I suggest that the phrase to “live like a gentile…” means to fellowship/eat with gentiles – not disobey the Torah. Certainly there were Jewish believers who would not interact/eat with Gentiles – those who likely continued to hold the erroneous belief that gentiles must be circumcised etc. When Peter “separated” himself from the gentle believers – he was in a sense giving credence to this erroneous belief. And Paul confronted him about it – But that has nothing to do with Jews keeping Torah commandments.
“And no, I am not suggesting that animal sacrifices still apply to Jews. That would be very problematic considering there is no temple – but more importantly would render the death and resurrection of Jesus moot – G-d forbid.”
Good. Something you said was starting to make me wonder, don’t remember what now.
“I am suggesting that the change in the covenant only applies to the priesthood/sacrificial system – Not to other laws in the Torah as regards to Jews….”
OK. But, to be clear, in the Old Testament passages you cite (in claiming that Jews should still keep those other parts of the Law), there is nothing to indicate part of it will be abrogated. If you use Acts 21 to claim that it calls for Jews to keep the Torah, there is nothing there that says, ‘Well, actually, only part of it.’
“Why would G-d eliminate the distinction between Jew and Gentile, only to revive it again when the promises to Israel are fulfilled at the second coming/the set up of G-d’s Kingdom on earth?”
Obviously, because the only nation with which God is dealing right now is the ‘holy nation’ of the church, in which we are specifically told there is neither Jew nor Gentile. When Israel is again grafted in and the nation restored, then obviously God will deal with them as Jews. There is not a lot of clear guidance for us now as to the interrelation between Jewish and non-Jewish believers during that time, but since Jesus will return, I don’t think there will be any confusion.
I want to be clear. I appreciate your zeal and your obvious study of the Word. If you are convinced you should obey the Torah, or the parts that you think still apply, by all means, you are not only free to do so but bound by ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Under those parameters, we would probably be able to accept someone with your views into our church. But if you were teaching / telling other Jews, that they had to obey the Torah, we couldn’t accept that. There’s a lot of room for differing convictions on how we can best please God, but there’s much less room for placing burdens on others without clear teaching based on sound exegesis.
Again, I appreciate both the dialogue and the space you provide to discuss the issues.
I have already addressed most of the rest of the comments in this/your most recent post – so i won’t restate my arguments again except to say that we have different interpretations/understandings of the, “nation the church” and “neither Jew nor gentiles…”
As far as the Torah and the sacrificial system being abrogated – You said:
“. But, to be clear, in the Old Testament passages you cite (in claiming that Jews should still keep those other parts of the Law), there is nothing to indicate part of it will be abrogated. If you use Acts 21 to claim that it calls for Jews to keep the Torah, there is nothing there that says, ‘Well, actually, only part of it.'”
Acts 21 – at the time of the events mentioned here – the temple still stood – and interestingly it is also recorded that the followers were still offering sin offerings – the expense Paul paid for himself and the four men included providing the sin sacrifices necessary for ending a Nazarite vow. Just compare what Paul and the men were doing in Acts 21 to the purification rites after a Nazarite vow mentioned in Numbers 6:13-21
The point I am making is that they were still keeping all of the Torah – including the sacrificial parts even as believers. Extra-biblical sources including Josephus confirm this as well regarding James and the other Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
Once the temple was destroyed – sacrifices were not possible – and the atoning work of Jesus – is the only source of atonement there is – for both Jew and gentile – so of course this changed as I have said – but there is no reason to assume the rest did as I have argued.
The other scriptures I referenced – But this is exactly why I mentioned the other scriptures I did – and specifically Ezekiel – there will be a third temple. So you have to see the what Jesus has accomplished as a sacrifice was the means of grafting gentiles in – until the promises to Israel are kept. – and so “all Israel (Jews and grafted in gentiles) will be saved.”
The Torah/prophets i quoted don’t mention this temporary change for the reason Paul gave – it “was hidden” – what was hidden – that gentiles would…” be included…”
You and i look at the work of Jesus from opposite points of view – you as, I assume a gentile, see it as an ending of the Torah, an ending of the nation of Israel being distinct etc. and I guess the promises to Israel are fulfilled through the church.
I see it differently – the promises are to the physical nation of Israel – staring with Abraham to be sure – but to Israel. The nations/gentiles who were “lost” according to Paul – were grafted in by Jesus and shortly afterward the temple was destroyed. But there will be a return to some kind of sacrificial system – if only thanksgiving offerings because there will be a third temple when the promises to the nation of Israel are kept. – again at least until the new heavens – new earth.
And bringing that up – we haven’t even discussed the statements of Jesus found in the book of Matthew regarding Jews keeping the Torah – but there are many.
“You and i look at the work of Jesus from opposite points of view – you as, I assume a gentile, see it as an ending of the Torah, an ending of the nation of Israel being distinct etc. and I guess the promises to Israel are fulfilled through the church.”
Well, my friend, this illustrates the difficulty of carrying on this kind of conversation in a format like this, and especially because it’s not anchored to a post laying out a starting position.
I do not at all believe what you’ve just stated. I believe that God’s dealing with Jews as a nation was put on hold. They were broken off — not individual believing Jews, obviously, but rather the nation as a nation. The Gentiles (believing) were grafted in, with believing Jews, to make one people, one spiritual nation (I Peter 2:9-10). That nation has to include the Jews, for Peter was the apostle of the circumcision and his use of ‘diaspora’ in I Peter 1:1 certainly has a reference to believing Jews. Yet, it must also include Gentiles because 2:10 precludes it only being Jews.
Thus, God deals today with believing Jews exactly as He does with believing Gentiles. But that does not mean that the promises to Israel are fulfilled through the church. Rather, they are deferred until the time when Michael stands up for the children of Daniel’s people (Daniel 12:1, Rev 12), when Israel is grafted in again (Romans 11) as a nation.
The fact that the promises to Israel are yet to be fulfilled does not require that believing Israel today be seen as distinct in any way from believing Gentiles. The whole thrust of the New Testament argues against any distinction.
Jesus fulfilled the Law. That means He completed it. No one was ever saved by the works of the Law, and yet the works of the Law must be satisfied. That satisfaction was accomplished by Jesus and is imputed to all true believers, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Zechariah 14 indicates that there is a time when Gentiles will also be expected to keep the feast of Tabernacles. That time is not now, nor has it ever been yet. It is clearly a reference to the time after the grafting back in of Israel. Colossians 2 is very clear that no one is to be condemned in regard to feast days, yet in that day someone will be. Clearly, God’s plan in regard to Israel and the Gentiles envisions a shift which has not taken place yet.
I think both of us have pretty well made our beliefs clear, and that we aren’t going to agree on this. I think we should defer further discussion on it until such a time as I can make time to write articles on it. I’m also not opposed to doing this via email, but I think it’s distracting from this article to take it further here.
I have enjoyed the discussion. I look forward to both reading your other articles on this blog as well as any future articles you write on the subjects we have been discussing.
As I am sure you agree, everything we do must be guided by the word of G-d, and His Holy Spirit.
May the L-rd bless you indeed!
Thank you, Noah. We certainly agree on that! I hope to do a series soon on Peter and the keys of the kingdom which I think you may find interesting as a Jewish believer. Every blessing!
I can understand your frustration with some of the comments. An excellent article, exposing a silly argument whose central claim (“not the right date”) may not even be true. (I myself used to be firmly in the “He was born in September/October, and we shouldn’t celebrate in December” camp, but I’ve recently been researching & shifting more into the “He was probably born in December, but it ultimately doesn’t matter” camp.)
Thank you for the comment. Re: “it ultimately doesn’t matter,” if God cared about the date, He would have made sure we knew what it was. He didn’t do that so if we believe II Timothy 3:16-17, we have to believe that the date doesn’t matter..
Blessings to you!
This is how people who are serious about truth should engage. Thanks.
I do agree — but I try to be patient with those who engage differently!
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To all those who are WATCHING for the “Escape”! Another date, that seems to be eluding many WATCHMEN and those watching!
Sometimes, when I read articles by modern Jewish writers, and it’s all about tradition and numbers and stuff, I’m reminded of this verse:
Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
And more… for Prophecy Watchers:
Schin = 21 letter of the Hebrew Alphabet
Sometimes, when I read articles by modern Jewish writers, and it’s all about tradition and numbers and stuff, I’m reminded of this verse:
Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Reblogged this on Devotional Treasures and commented:
Brother Jon has written many good Biblical posts over the years. I recently came across this post and his Christmas series of posts from 2012, which in my opinion are as relevant in 2022 as they were when he originally wrote them. I commend these posts to you dear reader.
Thank you, Alan, it is good to hear from you! I’m trying to catch up on blog comments! Way behind on everything since Terri passed. But God is still good and faithful!
I think any opportunity to bring the Lord Jesus Christ to people’s attention can do nothing but good. The challenge for Christians is to bring Christ into Christmas celebrations as wisely and joyfully as we can.
John, so good to hear from you! Some years back my wife and I were at a concert at Usher Hall in Edinburgh. The entire audience sang together, “True God the Son, Light from Light Eternal, True Son of Man born of the virgin’s womb! Eternal One, begotten, not created! Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
It is hard for me to see that as having been a bad thing. Sure, it was meaningless words to many of the people, but the truths of who Jesus Christ is were expressed loud and clear!
Wonderful treatment of the topic. I’m so glad I have come across a page that the author makes so interactive. It is sad that your factual and historically/Biblical comments are simply being ignored for clearly political anti-Christian arguments. These arguments are seriously driven by spurious sources.
Thanks, Chris. I’ve tried to make it clear. 🙂
The gregorian calendar which the world goes by we see December 25th stays the same year to year, but the calendar our Lord went by in His day was the Hebrew calendar and this year Hanukkah falls on Kislev 25 which is December 19 -26 this year.
People are so stuck on the date of Decenber 25th that they do not realize the 25th of Kislez is what our Lord went by. May the following link for the Hebrew calendar help people to understand the calendar of our Lords day.
Many Blessings Always
But Hanukkah is not necessarily the date of the Lord’s birth. Hanukkah was the Jews Feast of Dedication (which IS mentioned in the Bible in John 10, and Jesus did observe it, even though it was never commanded in Scripture for the Jews to observe it).
Jesus could have been born on Hanukkah but the Bible doesn’t say He was. So there’s no reason to observe His birth on Hanukkah. But if one chooses to celebrate the Feast of Dedication, one can of course do so!
Yes you are correct the feast of Dedication is not a commanded observance. I was trying to explain the worlds christmas of the date December 25th is NOT the Lords birth day. Hanukkah is also NOT the Lords day of birth. Sorry for the misunderstanding Don. I observe neither for no one knows the exact date of our Saviours birth.
Thank you for clarifying! You are correct about the dates. If I believed it was necessary to know the exact date, I would not observe it, either.
I do not think we observe Thanksgiving Day on the exact date that the pilgrims held a feast of thanksgiving to the Lord, either. I still think it is good to set aside a day specially for remembering the Lord’s goodness to us and giving thanks. The date doesn’t matter to me.