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Many Jews celebrate Passover or ‘Pesach’. That is connected to the Old Covenant. The Jews generally reject Jesus and the New Covenant and the New Testament.
But, even some churches have an annual “Passover” observation. They say that the Old Covenant’s rules regarding Passover still apply, but now “with new symbols”. Some of them observe it one day earlier than the Jews; they say that the Jews keep their Passover “on the wrong day”.
How is it – did the bread and wine ceremony which the saints practised point to Jesus and his Sacrifice and the New Covenant, or did it point to the Old Covenant and its Passover ritual? (Some writers have caused people to believe that it was the latter.) This article has some notes on that matter.
(Here, the word “saints” refers to those who received the Holy Spirit in the first century.)
He explained that the bread symbolised his body, and that the wine symbolised his blood (which was then shed). This was connected to the New Covenant.
Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you. (ASV)
The apostle Paul wrote about that matter, to the saints in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. (ASV)
As you can see, Jesus spoke about a new covenant. There is more on this, later in this article.
The New Covenant related bread and wine ceremony which is mentioned in the New Testament, is not called “passover”. 1 Corinthians 5:7 records how the apostle Paul called Jesus “Passover”, but the bread and wine ceremony is not called by that name.
Some bible-translators have put misleading wordings into certain passages; an example of this is the 1912 Weymouth version which has a “passover biscuit” in three NT passages. In the verses in question, the Greek text does not contain any word for “passover”, not to mention “biscuits”; it only has the noun artos which simply means “bread”, just as most translations have it.
A side-note: Artos was a generic word for bread, without any bearing on whether the bread was leavened or unleavened.
It is clear that they ate that meal one day before the Jews ate their Passover meal.
It is also clear that when Jesus on the day after that meal gave his life as the Lamb of God, the Jews were slaying their old-covenantal Passover lambs. Both things happened at the same time, and so, there is no reason to think that the Jews had their timing wrong.
The four Gospel-accounts of the Passover season the year when Jesus gave his life, contain certain statements which might seem contradictory. A number of passages appear to indicate that Jesus and the apostles ate a Passover meal. On the other hand, certain things appear to indicate that they could not have done that, and that the so-called “last supper” perhaps was simply an evening meal.
Many people have tried to sort out the various details in the New Testament record of the Passover season when Jesus gave his life. But, they have come to different conclusions.
The solution is to skip the question, “what was the meal that Jesus ate with his disciples”, and simply note that that meal is not what counts. What counts is Jesus’ Sacrifice in place of others. In other words:
The New Covenant’s “Passover sacrifice” was when Jesus the True Passover gave his life as the Lamb of God. That is what counts. So, let us skip the fruitless efforts to sort out the unimportant details.
A note: Here, one must keep in mind that the bread and the wine which Jesus gave his disciples, were purely New Covenant related symbols. That wine and that bread pointed to Jesus and his Sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 11:26 is what there is for us to study, in regard to that “how often” question.
The apostle Paul wrote about that matter, to the saints in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 11: […] This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. (ASV)
“As often as”. In other words: We do not and cannot know when or how often the saints observed that New Covenant related ceremony. Nor do we know other details regarding that remembrance ceremony.
Here, one must keep in mind that the bread and the wine were not “new symbols” for the Old Covenant’s Passover ritual. The bread and wine ceremony pointed to Jesus and the New Covenant. It was in remembrance of Jesus and his sacrifice, and not in remembrance of the Old Covenant or its rituals.
Let us also note the fact that no one can be “saved” by eating bread and drinking wine. Those things were mere symbols which pointed to Jesus who is the Saviour. Believers must never fall into deception of the kind where people each week (or every year) take part in some sacrificial ceremony (“passover”, “holy sacrament”, “eucharist”, “mass”, or whatever). Because, Jesus made the New Covenant’s one and only Passover sacrifice. No one can add to his Sacrifice, and there is no repeating of it.
The remembrance ceremony with bread and wine which Jesus told his disciples to have, was neither a sacrifice nor a “passover”. He said to them, “do this in remembrance of me”.
That was in remembrance of Jesus, in connection with the New Covenant, and not in remembrance of some day or ritual that was connected to the Old Covenant.
One must be careful so that one does not confuse New Covenant related matters with those of the Old Covenant.
(Regarding the matter of the two covenants, old and new, look under the heading “Covenant, covenants” on the page key12.htm.)
(This is regarding the True Passover – Jesus and his Sacrifice.)
In other words: Why did Jesus have to die? And, in what way did his Sacrifice ransom humans?
These are important questions, of course. Indeed, who demanded death on humans, so that Jesus had to ransom them by giving his life in their place?
Apparently, some writers have caused people to think that it was God the Father in Heaven who wanted death on humans, and that Jesus just barely managed to rush in between and stop his Father from killing them all. But, that is nonsense. We all know this:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (NRSV)
That makes it clear that it was not God the Father who wanted to annihilate mankind. Instead, he wanted to save them, and he went as far as giving his own Son into humiliation, torture and death, so that he could ransom mankind.
So, who was it that demanded death on humans, then? Obviously, it must have been the Accuser who did that. A number of scriptures indicate that the Devil had some powers, jurisdiction, over this planet and its inhabitants. Apparently, it was for that reason that Jesus gave his life in place of others. He made his Sacrifice on the cross, so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, NRSV). He ransomed mankind from the “power of death” which Satan the accuser had.
(There is more to that matter, but a wider study of it cannot be included here. The article nda060.htm has some notes on that subject.)
The saints observed a remembrance ceremony with bread and wine. What should people of our day do, in that regard?
We know that the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth that they were to have that ceremony “until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Please note that he wrote that to them, and not to us who almost 2000 years later read a copy of that letter. Also: It was not, “this is to be done, for ever”. No. The saints were to have that ceremony “until he comes”. This leads to the question, when did Jesus come for the saints?
Have you ever wondered, what happened to the saints? Why is it that the New Testament record of their doings ends abruptly, some time after the middle of the first century, and that after that, there is no mention or trace of them? It is as if they vanished from the scene.
It is true that Jesus is going to return to this planet, one more time. But, 1 Corinthians 11:26 is not connected to that still future event.
The words “until he comes” in that verse can be understood only if and when one realises that Jesus indeed did come for his own, just as he had promised, some time after the middle of the first century. The article nga040.htm has more on this.
In that connection, some might be interested in the articles naa010.htm and naa030.htm. The former has some notes on the originally Catholic “true church” dogma which claims that there is some kind of “organisational continuity” from the saints, to our day. The latter sorts out the Baptist, Millerite “church eras” dogma which claims that there is such continuity, but without any connection with the Catholic Church.
The article nxa090.htm contains an in-depth study on that subject.
Some bible-translators have put into Acts 12:4 the word “easter”, but that is not correct. The Greek text of that verse has pascha, a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach which referred to the Old Covenant’s Passover.
In short: Easter has nothing to do with the Bible. Easter and “Easter sun-rise services” are idol-related things which have nothing to do with neither the Old Covenant nor the New Covenant. Here are excerpts from the entry on the word “Easter” in Online Etymology Dictionary:
O. E. Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from P. Gmc. Austron, a goddess of fertility and spring, probably originally of sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from austra-, from PIE aus- “to shine” (especially of the dawn). […] Ultimately related to east. […]
See also the “recommended reading” section, below.
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Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → nsa090.htm
Colossians 1:26, “the mystery of the ages”. How Jesus conquered and spoiled certain principalities and powers. → nda060.htm
What happened to the saints? Why is there no record of their doings, after the middle of the first century? → nga040.htm
Matthew 16:18, “I will build my assembly, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”. What and where was the ekklêsia or assembly which Jesus said he would form? Was it an earthly religious organisation as some claim, or something else? → naa010.htm
“Church eras” – do they exist? Are there seven “eras of the church”, as some say – “Sardis era”, “Philadelphian era”, “Laodicean era” and so on? → naa030.htm
Should the Old Covenant’s Sabbaths, the annual ones and the weekly one, be kept today? → nxa090.htm
Regarding the matter of the two covenants, old and new, look under the heading “Covenant, covenants” on the page key12.htm.
Regarding the Old Covenant’s high days and their symbolism, look under the heading “High days” on the page key27.htm.
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