Years ago an elder who left the United Church of God largely because of my writings on Passover met with a high ranking minister in that church, Roy Holladay, who sought to persuade him to remain in United. He suggested that he keep Passover on the 15th privately, but continue with United and observe it on the 14th with the Church. The elder refused. Since that time, the elder passed away. However, before he died, he told a friend of mine that at that time Mr. Holladay told the elder that while he was alive Herbert Armstrong admitted that the Jews observed the correct Passover but he was afraid to change it! Roy Holladay is now the current President of the United Church of God!
When should the Passover be observed? This controversy still rages quietly, for the most part, undercover, and in secret discussions.
The end-time churches of God who even profess to keep this festival of God still disagree among themselves as to when the Old Testament Passover occurred. But most of them observe the night at the beginning of Nsan 14, rather than the night the Jewish people have always observed, at the end of Nisan 14, and beginning of Nisan 15.
acquaintance who has been seriously researching into
this volatile question, began corresponding with me a few months ago on a
regular basis. He was having a lot of
difficulty in getting “answers” from various remnant groups of the
former member of the Intercontinental Church of God (ICG), Todd Kallenbach, of
One church he wrote to was the United Church of God. He wrote to me that at least the UCG responded to his question, but was still waiting to hear from the PCG. He wrote, “I wanted to get each group’s spin on this. The UCG’s is as confusing as possible.”
Here is the letter they sent to him.
“Thank you for taking the time to write us with a question that is of interest to you. We are happy to respond to your inquiry.
“The critical question to be asked and answered here is what did Christ do? What example did He leave for us to follow? We are to follow His example in all things (I Peter ). We should also note that just as Christ established new emblems for the keeping of the New Testament Passover, His example confirmed at what time of the day He wanted New Testament followers to observe it.”
Notice here that the writer already assumes that there is such a thing as a “New Testament Passover”! Where is his proof? He provides none. He simply states the conclusion as if it were a fact everyone knows and accepts. But there is the rub! This is the very issue they must first of all PROVE!
he says Christ’s example “confirmed” at what time of the day He wanted His
followers to observe it. How so? Which example is he speaking of? We read in the book of Luke the real example
of Christ! “His parents went to
Let’s continue the letter:
“Did Christ establish new emblems? Please note Matthew 26:26-27 and Luke 22:14-19. We see from these verses that Christ did change the emblems to bread and wine from the sacrificing of the traditional Passover lambs.”
Again, notice this circular reasoning. These passages show Jesus gave us the emblems of bread and wine, all right, but say nothing about any change from sacrificing the “traditional Passover lambs.” (By the way, they were not “traditional.” The sacrifice of the Passover lambs was a LAW of the TORAH – the Word of God!) Nor does this passage say these new emblems have anything whatever directly to do with the “Passover”!
“When did Christ observe the Passover with His disciples, and did He mean for this to be the pattern (just as the bread and wine are the new pattern) for the New Testament Christian? Let’s note these scriptures: Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-14, 16; Luke 22:8, 11, 13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.”
Well, all right – let’s note these Scriptures. Read them. They talk about the “Lord’s supper,” very clearly. They mention that Christ sent the disciples to “prepare” for the Passover, which they did. But the verses then simply say that after this was done, that evening they all sat down for dinner ((Matt.26:20; Mark 14:17-18). Luke adds Jesus’ statement that evening, where He said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15). Write for our free article, “The Gospel of Luke and the Passover.” What is Jesus really saying? The writer simply assumes that He is referring to that very dinner or meal as the “Passover.” But was He? The apostle John answers in the negative! He wrote that this final supper was “BEFORE the feast of the PASSOVER” (John 13:1)!!
Therefore, as the Greek shows, Jesus was referring to the upcoming Passover which would be celebrated the night He would be placed in the grave, after His crucifixion! Read our free article, “When Should the Passover Be Observed?” As Strong’s Concordance points out, the expression “fervent desire” in this passage is #1939, epithumia, and means “a longing (esp. for what is forbidden): -- concupiscence, desire, lust.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says “spec. desire for what is forbidden, lust.” In other words, Jesus really desired to eat the upcoming Passover, but knew He would not be able to – it was forbidden to Him – because He had to DIE to become our “Passover Lamb”!
The writer just assumes that the “Lord’s supper” and Passover were one and the same thing – assuming that which he is supposed to be proving! These passages prove no such thing! But let’s go on. He writes:
“Please note that Christ, as recorded in I Corinthians 11:23-25, was observing the Passover at night (‘the same night in which He was betrayed’) with His disciples. It was at that time, night, that He had them partake of the bread and wine -- the New Testament Passover. It wasn’t at the next day. Obviously, Christ could not establish the New Testament symbols of bread and wine, have the Passover observance with His disciples and be crucified all at the same time.”
But wait a minute! Here we go again, assuming what we are supposed to be proving. Paul indeed mentions the bread and wine ceremony in I Corinthians 11 – but he does NOT call this ceremony the “Passover,” as so many seem to assume! Nowhere in I Corinthians 11 does Paul even mention the word “Passover”! He is simply giving instructions on how we should partake of the bread and wine, symbolizing Christ’s body and blood! But let’s go on:
“The Bible does refer to this New Testament practice as the Passover -- note I Corinthians 5:7 where ‘Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.’ We
also see that Paul, as he was
instructed by Christ, was now passing on this same teaching of when to observe the Passover to the group
(I Corinthians 11:23).”
Indeed, I Corinthians 5:7 tells us Christ is our “Passover” lamb, sacrificed for us – but it makes no mention of the separate bread and wine ceremony and does not tie it in with the Passover observance itself! The letter writer concludes his response, saying:
“By the way, we believe that Leviticus 23 also teaches the Passover to be
kept at the beginning of the
14th. Though the Jews today celebrate the Passover on the beginning of the 15th of Abib,
there is a lot of evidence to show that the children
Notice that he says “there is a lot of evidence” to show some Jews kept the Passover at the beginning of Abib 14 in Christ’s day – but provides absolutely none! Why? Because the truth is, there is simply no such evidence whatsoever!!! This is simply a flagrant misrepresentation! Apparently he assumes there is such evidence, but I assure you, there is absolutely NONE! History is utterly silent on this theory, or conjecture, Jewish records say nothing about it, nor do early Church records. It is simply a fabricated hypothesis made up by those today who want to invalidate the true Jewish Passover and substitute in its place their own “New Testament” Passover! But you can call a snake a rabbit, but it is still a snake, nevertheless!
This was merely one of the first letters Todd received from various churches on his Passover questions. The next exchange comes from the so-called “Living Church of God,” led by Roderick C. Meredith. One of Todd’s sisters is a member of that church. Apparently, their minister recommended Todd read Fred Coulter’s book on the Passover.
Todd wrote to me as follows:
“I thought you would find this of interest. Yesterday, while trying to talk to
my oldest sister about new moons, she made a comment about Passover.
She is in the
did not go over too well. Anyways, I decided to research the Living site for their teachings on this subject, and found them vague and watered down. I then decided to write directly to them and ask about this subject. I am including this exchange for your reading. I think you will be as BLOWN away as I was. P.S. -- I used a pseudonym for my own privacy.”
I was dumfounded to read the letter he received from “Living.” Here it is:
“Thank you for your questions about the Passover. It must be observed at the
beginning of the 14th just following sunset of the 13th of Nisan. That is the
meaning of Leviticus 23:5 ‘On the fourteenth day of the first month, at
twilight is the LORD’S Passover.’
“The 15th of Nisan is the first day of Unleavened Bread, a Holy Day. The
Jews were eating their Passover on the Night to be Much Observed. The
killing of the lambs by the Jews has nothing to do with the death of Christ.
There is no religious significance between the two events.
“Jesus kept the Passover at twilight ON the 14th, eating the Passover lamb the
evening of the 14th.
“If you will give us your regular mailing address, we will send you a free booklet
explaining what the Bible teaches about the Holy Days. If you have further need
of information, please let us know.”
Yes, that does blow my mind! Think of it! They claim there is no symbolism, no connection, between the Passover lambs and Christ! Yet the apostle Paul declared, “For indeed Christ, our PASSOVER, was sacrificed for us” (I Cor.5:7), and John spoke of Christ saying, “Behold! The LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
But is this the “official” teaching of the Living Church of God? They seem to be of two opinions or minds about this subject. The letter above is from their official representative. But I subsequently got a letter from a person who wrote me, chastising and rebuking me. He said:
“This email is in response to your Nov-Dec 2002 Prophecy Flash where a person from Virginia sent you their comment on information they received from the Living Church of God regarding information about the Passover and the killing of lambs. According to the reply that this person got from the Living Church of God ‘The killing of the lambs by the Jews has nothing to do with the death of Christ. There is no religious significance between the two events.’ Please note that your article does not indicate that this is quoting the submitted information word for word and you also do not use quotation marks as if it were all quoted.”
interject here that the writer is wrong.
I most certainly DID use “quotation marks” around the letter sent
“So in my endeavor to find out the truth, I requested the book ‘The Holy Days -- God’s Master Plan’ by Dr. Roderick C. Meredith of the Living Church of God. In this book the old testament and the new testament meanings are explained in detail for example on page 13 (this is exactly what is written in this book):
“God told ancient
I wrote him back saying:
“I’m sorry you took offense
at my opinion of the information LCG sent to a friend regarding the Passover
lamb. I assure you, I did not misquote
anything. Judging from the booklet you quoted, they seem to have two opinions
-- one sent by the authorized correspondent to my friend, and the ‘official’
line in the booklet. But when was
the booklet printed? The info my friend
received was very recent. Have they changed their opinion? Remember, the info came from their official
correspondent via e-mail from their correspondence department. Anyway, what’s your beef? I did not misquote anything -- I found their
writer put it in an amazing way. If you
challenge my right to disagree with him, that’s your problem. I am very honest about this. You probably are a member of LCG, right? Anyway, you agree with their teaching that
Passover was on the beginning of the 14th Nisan, right? So do you think the Jews were sacrificing the
Passover at the right time, at the end of the 14th? If not, do you think their Passover lambs
then really reflected the symbolism of Christ?
(Of course, there is no evidence any lambs were sacrificed at the
“Sincerely, I believe you need to study this subject much deeper. Why not visit our website and study all the articles relating to the Passover, and our special 4 Bible Study lessons on Passover? It is -- triumphpro.com.”
Of course, that is not the end of the
matter. The debate continues to
rage. Todd later wrote again to
the Living Church of God on the issue.
Notice the tactics he says were employed by the
“Hello once again from
“Recently, she sent me an e-mail concerning the Passover issue. She was given information concerning the Passover topic by the local minister written by Fred Coulter. I read his literature and found it to be nothing but bovine excretia. I was shocked to hear that your minister gave her information from another church, and my question to you is this:
“Do you and LCG support the teachings of Fred Coulter, and do you look to him for your doctrinal direction? And why was my sister referred to Coulter in the first place? I read all of the information she sent me, and from what I read, it appears he has his OWN translation of the New Testament!!!! Do you or your church, and Dr. Meredith, accept Coulter’s translation? And if not, then why did my sister, in church, receive information to study Coulter’s teachings? Please tell me if LCG is following the teachings of Fred Coulter, so I can advise my sister accordingly. Please also tell me why the LCG cannot turn to their own sources of knowledge instead of turning to outside sources for their doctrinal teachings to the local members. Is Fred Coulter a minister of the LCG ????
“Also, please know that this ongoing discussion of this vital topic is being revealed to many brethren who came out of the WCG, and we eagerly await your candid and honest answers to these important questions.
“Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.”
is this individual known as Fred Coulter?
Well, he wrote a book purporting to give the true history of the
so-called “Christian Passover.” In his
book, he claims that God never ordained that the Passover sacrifices had to be
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, Todd never received any further communication from the Living Church of God. However, his sister in that church was livid with anger that he would contact her minister, and her church, bringing these embarrassing questions to the forefront!
Being persecuted for seeking the truth by a member of one’s own family can be devastating. But Jesus Christ foretold such things would happen. He declared: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. . . For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt.10:34-35).
Commenting on this situation in his own family, Todd wrote:
“Just wanted to write a quick note tonight. I wanted to let you know that I am going through a fierce battle here amongst my family. There is much divisiveness between me and my oldest sister, who is in the so-called Living church. She is the one whose minister referred her to Fred Coulter for ‘ammunition’ against you in her battle to overcome our ‘heresy’ due to our beliefs on Passover. However, this has only caused us all to draw closer together here in our group, as we expect this kind of persecution, from within and without, to dare to have the nerve to stand up for the truth. It’s really funny, because the more heat I have to take from people, the more I am convinced you, and we, are right in our understanding of God’s word. If you were wrong, and no one cared, then how would you ever know if what you were teaching was wrong?? It seems to me in my limited experience on this planet, it’s ALWAYS the ones clinging to the truth who get yelled at, persecuted, and renounced as ‘heretics,’ as Fred Coulter would say -- No weak-willed milk toast ever caused any ripples in the pond-scum of society. But like Jesus Christ was threatened with death the first time He opened His mouth, so shall those who dare to speak truth will suffer like-wise from this self-absorbed, disgusting, perverted end-time generation, and we will probably receive similar treatment.
“Anyways, I wanted to share with you a quote my father gave to me recently:
Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession -- their ignorance. -- Hendrik Willem van Loon, Dutch-American Journalist and lecturer (1882-1944)
“Please tell everyone hello, and I hope to see you all before Passover.”
That is a very impressive quotation. It is something we should all keep in mind – always. And we should also remember the words of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who warned us to expect persecution from others: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke -23).
The Intercontinental Church Enters the Maelstrom
The following is a letter written by Todd Kallenbach to representatives of the Intercontinental Church of God, a church led by Garner Ted Armstrong, and for which he was a local “host.” This was a very revealing exchange of letters. Notice:
“Greetings once again from
“I am hoping you will have some time to help me with a question I have concerning Passover. I have asked this question to George Trent in the past, but he claims I have ‘doctrinal differences’ with the ICG over this issue. He will no longer answer my email, and has removed me from acting as the host of the Richmond ICG group here. This has happened because I have been trying for many years to understand this issue, and have looked to several sources for understanding, including Mr. Armstrong.
“In a tape entitled ‘Last Day
ULB, Seattle’, dated
carefully! In a taped sermon entitled
“Last Day of Unleavened Bread, Seattle,” dated
Finally the TRUTH IS OUT! The observance the various churches of God celebrate at the beginning of Nisan 14 is NOT THE PASSOVER! What they believe they are doing is commemorating the “Lord’s supper.”
This admission is very interesting, of course, because Jesus Christ NEVER commanded His Church to commemorate or memorialize the “Last Supper” as an annual event or commanded assembly. Rather, all His life He set an EXAMPLE of observing the Passover commandment of God (see Luke -42). This is obvious, because the Passover was commanded to be kept FOREVER (Exodus -16). Jesus kept ALL God’s commandments, setting us an example, that we should follow in His footsteps (I Peter ; I John 2:6). As the Intercontinental Church of God and Garner Ted Armstrong admit, the Passover was to be celebrated at the close or end of Nisan 14, at the beginning of Nisan 15. They admit that the “Lord’s Supper” occurred before the night of the Passover, which came the evening after Jesus’ crucifixion!
But, they claim, we are to keep the “Lord’s Supper” because of the new emblems Jesus gave concerning His sacrifice, in place of the Passover!
But does this make any sense? Notice what the apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 11. The special “bread and wine” ceremony, which was introduced by Jesus during a regular meal before the Passover, was “not the Passover” itself (I Cor.11:20). However, this special observance of the bread and wine was celebrated during a regular evening meal. Notice also, it was to be done “AS OFTEN AS” they performed it, whenever they held a sacred fellowship meal throughout the year (I Cor.11:25-26). Notice that the expression “as often as” is the same expression used in Revelation 11:6 regarding the two witnesses who will smite the earth with plagues in the future, “As OFTEN AS they will.”
This has nothing whatever to do with an ANNUAL event, or with the Passover celebration!
If the observance which the churches have really been conducting is the “Lord’s supper,” and is admittedly NOT the true “Passover,” this brings up one huge, monumental problem: Since they are not observing the Passover, which Almighty God ordained to be observed “FOREVER” (Exodus 12:14-17; Leviticus 23:4-8; Psalms 111:7-8; Ezek.45:21), are they not in flagrant disobedience to God? Since the Passover is a “feast by an ordinance for ever” (Exo.12:14), why aren’t they keeping it today? The apostle Paul wrote, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the Feast . . .” (I Cor.5:7-8).
Whatever happened then to the Passover?
It has it been disregarded, trampled in the dirt, and ignored, all these years. It has mistakenly been called “a night to be much observed,” a separate observance – when in reality the “night to be much observed” IS THE PASSOVER itself (Exodus -42)! Why have thousands been observing a phony, false, fraudulent, fictitious “Passover,” thinking they were obeying God?
This is so important, that we must emphasize it. Notice the continuing correspondence that Mr. Kallenbach had with representatives of the Intercontinental Church of God.
We must take these things seriously, and “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). In his letter to the ICG representative, Todd goes on:
“Chris, my question to you, and Mr. Armstrong is, why doesn’t the ICG keep the Passover as instructed in Lev.23??? I cannot find anywhere where Christ changed anything, and know He said He did not come to change the Law or Prophets. Please help me with this critical issue, and please ask Mr. Armstrong to tell the church why we do not have to keep this most important of Holy Days.”
Todd then wrote to us, saying: “Here is the area coordinator’s reply to my question once again. I had to ask him directly to tell me why he does not keep the Passover. At least he did finally give me an answer.”
Here is the response:
“Todd, the reason I don’t observe Passover is because Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. That event is over. It happened once. The Passover of Exodus happened once also.
“The Passover lamb eaten by the Israelites was a type of Christ. It was slain on the 14th of Nisan. It was slain in the afternoon of the 14th and eaten on the evening portion of the 15th. That Passover was a type of the Passover to come. Does it not make sense that Christ, our Passover, would be sacrificed at exactly the same time the Passover lambs were slain by the Israelites?”
Let me interrupt here. Notice two things: First of all, although they do not keep the Passover, by their own admission, yet they keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread! How ridiculous! They stand or fall together! Secondly, he admits the Passover lamb was a type of Christ. That is true, of course. But isn’t that all the more reason that we should observe it, today? Of course! That’s what we teach! Since the Passover lamb was a type of Christ, the Messiah, that is one very good reason we should observe it! Plus, remember, God says, “And this DAY [the Passover] shall be unto you for a MEMORIAL; and ye shall keep it a FEAST unto the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance FOREVER” (Exodus ).
Notice carefully the fact that God commanded the Passover AND Feast of Unleavened Bread be observed “FOREVER” (Exo.12:14-16). Do we really believe what God says? Are we really willing to OBEY God?
The minister continues in his letter:
“Now, think about these questions aside from the ‘sixth hour.’ Christ was cut off in the midst of the week. Which day is the midst of the week? Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, WEDNESDAY, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”
is another error! Of course, we all know
that Wednesday is the ‘middle” day of the week.
So what? No Scripture says Christ
was cut off in the midst of the week.
The Scripture the minister refers to is Dan.9:27. Read it carefully. Many read into it what it does not say at
all! The NKJV has it: “Then he [the
“people of the prince that shall come” – see verse 26] shall confirm a covenant
[or “treaty”] with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall
bring an end to offering and sacrifice . . .” This passage does not in any way
refer to the death of Christ. When He
was crucified, the Jews continued sacrificing animals in the
The letter continues:
“Secondly, what was the only sign Christ gave of his Messiahship? Mat. 12:40. Three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Crucifixion and burial any other time than Wednesday afternoon, and a sunset burial would destroy this scripture. He had to have been crucified on Wednesday afternoon and buried right at sunset on Wednesday. The same time the High Priest was sacrificing the Passover lamb.”
Here is another flagrant error. As all reputable scholars admit, the “three days” and “three nights” in the Hebrew language can refer to PARTS of three days and three nights! It need not be 72 exact, literal hours at all. Write for our free article, “How Long Was Jesus in the Grave?” The evidence is overwhelming that the crucifixion was on a Thursday in 30 A.D., because astronomical evidence proves that Nisan 14 that year fell on a Thursday, not a Wednesday!
The letter goes on:
“We don’t have to continue sacrificing the lamb. Christ was the Lamb of God. He died for us. Therefore, the Passover has been fulfilled. We partake of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of his death as outlined in I Cor.11:23-28. We partake of the bread and wine symbolizing his flesh and blood. He said unless you eat of my flesh (bread) and drink my blood (wine) you have no life in you.”
Apparently, the minister is ignorant of the fact that the bread at the last supper was ARTOS, meaning “leavened bread,” not AZUMOS, meaning “unleavened” bread. The bread eaten at the last supper was regular, leavened bread – the kind you can “dip” as a sop into broth (John -27).
I should also point out that there is no command in Scripture to observe the “last supper” in place of the Passover! The bread and wine ceremony instituted by Christ at the last supper was simply a new meaning given to an ancient Jewish custom – that of partaking of bread and wine in a celebratory ritual dating back to the time of Abraham and Melchisedek, who, after Abraham’s victory over the gentile kings, brought forth “bread and wine” (see Genesis 14:18). This custom is called the “Kiddush” by the Jewish people, from the root word kodesh, meaning “holy.” For more information about the true observance of this commanded custom, read our article, “Are We Neglecting the Sacred Meal?” The partaking of the “kiddush” is NOT the same thing as the Passover!
The minister ends his letter with the words:
“I don’t know what else to say. But I will say this. If you sincerely believe what Mr. Dankenbring is teaching, then follow him and don't be drawn between two opinions.”
That is not bad advice. Certainly, it would be a mistake to waver between two opinions. Elijah warned the people of his generation, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings ). Joshua said to the people, after they entered and took possession of the Promised Land, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
However, “sincere belief” is not enough. We are commanded by God, “Prove all things” (I Thess.5:21) and “hold fast that which is GOOD” – that is, follow the TRUTH!
In another letter on the subject of Passover and Jesus’ last week, and the time of the final condemnation of Christ by Pontius Pilate, a minister of ICG wrote to Todd, saying:
“I did as you asked. I read the article by Mr. Dankenbring. Todd, I still consider myself to be your minister. Sometimes members get off track. You are definitely off track with this teaching of the 6th hour.
“Do you have a Companion Bible? If not, I encourage you to purchase one. Turn to John 19:14. Read the footnote attached to this verse. Then turn to the Appendixes. Read Appendixes 144,156, and 165. These Appendixes explain every question you have. It clears up any question you may have.
“I hope you will do this. Mr. Herbert Armstrong has always said that if you start off with the wrong premise, everything you build on it will be wrong. Mr. Dankenbring is way off base. If you read the scriptures I referenced above, you should see this.
“I don’t want to try and argue over the scriptures. But I do feel it is my respon- sibility to point you in the right direction when I see you going off course. If you have made up your mind, so be it. I remain your friend and will be here to serve you in any way I can.
“Give my regards to your family. I hope the baby is growing and in good health.”
That is a very nice letter, but unfortunately, it is based on a very bad case of research and reasoning. Let’s examine the evidence and sift through it patiently. First of all, what about the Companion Bible? What does it say about the “sixth hour” when Jesus appeared to be judged by Pontius Pilate (John )?
On page 1567, discussing this verse in John’s gospel, Bullinger states plainly, “the preparation: i..e. the day before the Passover was eaten ‘at even’ on the 14th Nisan. All four gospels state that our Lord was entombed on the Preparation Day.” How clear, then, that this event occurred BEFORE the Passover was celebrated! So the various churches who observe the “Passover” at the beginning of Nisan 14, are a day early! It was still the “preparation” of the Passover when Christ was before Pilate, the day after the “Lord’s supper”!
Bulllinger then goes on, concerning the expression “the sixth hour.” He states, “i.e. . The hours in all the Gospels are according to Hebrew reckoning: i.e. from sunset to sunset.”
There are several mistakes here. First, Jesus plainly said “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9). He was clearly speaking of the daylight portion of the day, between sunrise and sunset, because He went on, “If any man walketh in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him” (John 11:9-10).
the daylight hours are divided into twelve.
This would put the “sixth hour” of John 19:14 as being TWELVE O’CLOCK,
HIGH NOON! Bullinger
is sadly mistaken when he applies this to ! The Jews did not divided the night into twelve
hours, as they did the day. Rather, the
“night” was divided into “WATCHES.” We
read in Matthew’s gospel of Jesus coming to the disciples while they were in a
boat, on the
Secondly, can you imagine the Jews – even if they were quite desirous of accomplishing all these things before the Passover – that they would be able to roust the Roman Governor out of a sound night’s sleep, and get him out of bed, at MIDNIGHT, to conduct a life-and-death TRIAL?
To hold court in the middle of the night was illegal, by both Jewish and Roman law! That would make the time frame of events all wrong, because we read that the Sanhedrin itself did not condemn Christ until “early” in the “morning” (see Matt.27:1-2; Mark 15:1). This was BEFORE they took Christ to appear before Pilate the first time (Matt.27:2)). After this, Pilate sent Him over to king Herod (Luke 23:1-11).
When was this? This occurred not at night, but during the “day,” for we read: “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together” (Luke ). Herod then sent Him back to Pilate (Luke -14). This was the final appearance of Christ before Pilate – at which time it was “about the sixth hour” (Luke 23:13-24; John 19:13-16).
Can you imagine it?
According to Bullinger in the Companion Bible, Jesus was taken from the Garden of Gethsemane soon after the “Lord’s supper” (Matt.26:30-57), then interrogated by the high priest Annas (John 18:13), and then by Caiphas (John 18:24; Matt.26:57), and then He was brought before the whole Sanhedrin (Matt.27:1), and THEN they took Him to Pilate, then to Herod, and then back to Pilate! All this before ???
But of course it never happened that way! Jesus is clearly stated to have been brought before the Sanhedrin, AFTER appearing before Annas and Caiphas, and BEFORE they took him to Pilate. And the appearance before the Sanhedrin occurred “when the morning was come” (Matt.27:1). Therefore morning came BEFORE the first appearance of Christ before Pilate! His final appearance before him therefore had to be “about the sixth hour” OF THE DAY – that is, TIME!
How abundantly clear! Even a child could understand it! So why can’t these MINISTERS who profess to know God and to teach His truth, see it, and admit it? Is it because they have a secret “agenda,” which is to keep the tithes of God’s people pouring in, and to maintain their standing in the Church, so they feel they must never admit such a colossal mistake?
There is simply no way that both Pontius Pilate and king Herod would have allowed themselves to be rousted out of bed in the middle of the night, to hold “court” for the sake of the Jews, because of their desire to accomplish everything before Passover!
Bullinger is correct, however, concerning the time and crucifixion of Christ. He relates in Appendix 156:
“It follows, therefore, that the Lord being crucified on ‘the preparation day’ could not have eaten of the Passover lamb, which was not slain until the even- ing of the 14th of Nisan (i.e. afternoon). On that day the daily sacrifice was killed at the 6th hour () and offered about the 7th hour (). The killing of the Passover lambs began directly afterwards. Thus it is clear, that if the killing of the Passover lambs did not commence until about four hours after our Lord had been hanging upon the cross, and would not have been concluded at the ninth hour (3 p.m.) when ‘He gave up the ghost’; no ‘Passover lamb’ could have been eaten at the ‘last supper’ on the previous evening” (Appendix 156, page 180).
To paraphrase an old limerick by Ogden Nash, and applying it to Bullinger, “When he’s right, he’s very, very right, and when he’s wrong he’s horrid.”
Bullinger is sadly mistaken in suggesting the final trial of Jesus occurred before Pilate at ! But he’s absolutely right in saying that the “last supper” was NOT the Passover, no Passover lambs were slain before then or eaten at that time, and the whole Passover panoply occurred in the afternoon of Nisan 14, at the very time Christ Himself, our Passover Lamb, was being put to death on the cross!
We should be willing to give credit where credit is due. But we should follow no man into error, when we spot the error, and prove it to be error. Indeed, the apostle Paul warns us to “PROVE all things” (I Thess.5:21), and to “Study to show yourself approved by God’ (II Tim.2:15).
In ongoing correspondence, Todd wrote to Chris Cumming, the minister in personal correspondence, for ICG, saying:
“I have just finished compiling multiple emails that you, and George Trent have
emailed me recently concerning my questions on why you insist on not keeping the Passover. I have also emailed Mr. Armstrong directly the same question, and have two tapes in my possession in which he states dogmatically that ICG does NOT keep the passover. He has not responded to my questions. I have tried repeatedly to give you a chance to answer my question, Chris, of why you state we do not have to keep the passover as listed CLEARLY in Lev 23 as a Holy Day. Since neither you, nor George Trent, or Mr. Armstrong can provide me with anything even remotely resembling an answer to my question, I must assume you do not have an answer. Therefore it is my duty to tell you that I have turned to other knowledgeable sources who WILL talk to me, and give me scriptural-based answers to this question, and I have sent every email and response to Mr. William F. Dankenbring for comment. You may find that some of these emails may have been published in his worldwide publication ‘Prophecy Flash’ magazine, where your name or GTA’s name may be mentioned. I feel it is my duty as a Christian to stand up for the truth, and I feel your equivocation on this topic is inexcusable, and you and the ICG needs to be held accountable before God and man as a witness of how not to handle doctrinal questions. I tried repeatedly to look to you, George Trent, and Mr. Armstrong for an answer, but all I got was removed as a host from the ICG.
“Pleased also know that many people here are following this exchange of information, and feel the same as I do. I have many emails to prove my point. In the interest of fairness, I will wait 72 hours from tonight before I release this email to the general public, if you will answer the same questions I asked many times before:
“1. Why do you not keep the passover as listed in Lev.23??
“2. When is the sixth hour mentioned in John 19:14???
“3. Why do you accept and teach the postponements established by Hillel II in 358 AD.??
“It is now ,
“As Paul said, we need to prove all things. What will you do, Chris ??”
After this letter, Todd got another response from ICG. He wrote to me, saying, “Finally after almost having to kick the door down at ICG, both a leading minister and GTA himself have responded candidly to my questions. I find their answers rather confusing and even bizarre in a way. I am sending this to you because your name is mentioned and I feel out of fairness you should have a chance to see it. . . I thought you would like to know how the battle is going so far.”
Todd got another email from Chris Cumming who had heard from Garner Ted Armstrong on the issue. Ted wrote as follows, giving the official response of ICG on the matter. He said:
“God’s church has observed what we have traditionally called ‘The Passover,’ from time immemorial. The term ‘Passover’ is even printed on our Holy Day Calendar. We have always followed Christ's command, ‘THIS DO, as I have done unto you,’ concerning the foot washing, bread and wine, taken WHEN CHRIST TOOK THEM, on ‘the night in which he was betrayed,’ which was the night of the beginning of the 14th. Those faithful who continued to observe this New Testament custom were called ‘Quartodecimans’ for many centuries, not ‘Quintodecimans.’ My booklet, which I believe is listed on our web site ‘The Passover -- Is It For Christians?’ represents our doctrinal statement on the subject, and clearly shows that ‘Christ OUR PASSOVER is sacrificed for us’ . . .
“Personally, I had always thought Bill Dankenbring believed and taught the same doctrines we do; had no idea he taught otherwise. He used to work on the staff of our magazines, and was a writer and researcher. I have not read his several books, nor ever seen his materials, but would be inclined to believe he remains a Sabbath keeper and believer in God’s laws.
“So far as the ‘sixth hour’ debate, the church knew the truth about this decades ago. We did not receive the truth from Dr. Bullinger; my father never heard of Bullinger, and never possessed a Companion Bible. That Dr. Bullinger agrees with the truth the church had discovered much earlier is purely coincidental. However, Dr. Bullinger’s explanations concerning the final six days of Christ’s life prior to the so-called ‘crucifixion’ is absolutely accurate, as is his explanation of the ‘sixth hour. . .’”
Ted’s suggestion that the early church dispute over the “Quartodeciman” controversy rather than the “Quintodeciman” controvery somehow proves anything is a straw man type of argument. “Quartodeciman means “fourteenth” and “quintodeciman” means fifteenth. So what? Read my article “When Did the Early Church Observe Passover?” The Passover was observed by the early church, as Polycarp (a disciple taught by the apostle John) declared, on the fifteenth day of the month at the very same time as the JEWS observed it, with no variation, changes, or alterations. Of course, in the Roman world, the day was reckoned from midnight to midnight, so a festival that fell after sunset ending Nisan 14, therefore being on Nisan 15, Jewish time, would still be considered the “fourteenth” by Roman reckoning.
Armstrong ever believed Christ appeared before Pontius Pilate at , to be judged, as Bullinger
declared, I don’t know. However, I was
indeed a writer and editor of Worldwide Church of God publications and attended
However, as I have already shown, the idea of the “sixth hour” meaning “” is a non-starter, no matter who says it! There is no historical evidence to back up such a claim. Nevertheless, this is the position of the Intercontinental Church of God.
After quoting GTA’s response, Chris Cumming added several comments, finally asking Todd,
“Where do you get that the meaning of ‘sixth hour’ in Matthew, Mark and Luke means ‘’? Those verses merely say ‘sixth hour’ too. You clearly are not getting the meaning ‘’ from the word ‘hektos’ – are you? We are telling you that we are getting ‘’ from John 19:14 in the same exact way – from the context.”
Todd fired back an unequivocal response, in which he said:
“I really did appreciate your latest rounds of email. I can tell you are
taking much valuable time to reply. . . .
“Above I quote from your latest email. I want to have perfect understanding on
your position: you are categorically stating that John is . I deduce from your voluminous emails, and I have the understanding that GTA, and Mr. Trent both claim the same thing. I am just re-iterating this information so I can get it all on one page here, as I get that message clearly from your information. You support Bullinger in this understanding.
“Chris, please explain the following:
“How could Christ be before Pilate at , pitch dark, when the following verses make it clear He was not: 1. Matt.27:1 – ‘When morning came’
2. Mark 15:1 – ‘Immediately, in the morning’ 3. Luke 22:66 – ‘As soon as it was day’
4. John – ‘Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning’
“You are aware, aren’t you Chris, that Christ was brought to:
Herod, and the second time,
“How could Christ have dinner after dark, go to
“There is NO way you can now email me back, and make those four scriptures about it being DAYLIGHT, mean . You need to admit you are wrong, and ask God for understanding. This is the information I want shared with as many people as possible, God's truth, as explained to me by Mr. Dankenbring, and no one else. You are STUBBORNLY clinging to outdated false teachings of the past. Frankly, I am embarrassed for you that you would actually try to convince me John was . That dog just won’t hunt, as they say here in the south. The real fear for you, I am sure, is if this is true and it DOES mean , then your entire theological system of beliefs will have to change, and I have found out it can be very painful. So Chris, be courageous and do not fear this truth. Let God lead you, as I feel He has led me to this knowledge. It is not about you being right, or me being right, or anyone else, but it is about God’s truth being right, and us changing to live by that truth.
“I told you it wasn't going to be easy.”
Todd later wrote to Chris, summarizing his case that the “sixth hour” could not be , saying:
“Checking the context of the use of the hour designations will determine whether the hour is a daylight or nighttime hour.
“I agree with this statement. Luke 22:66 confirms it was day when Christ was led into their council, and then sent before Pilate. This to me indicates that His second appearance before Pilate was in the daytime portion of Nisan 13, at . I think this is where Bullinger jumps the track in his timetable. I imagine that he could not conceive of the concept of Christ being beaten and tortured all that time and held in the dungeon overnight until His crucifixion the next day at .
“This issue seems to be one that is rapidly making it’s way around the churches, and it looks like it may bring some changes to the churches as well. For years I have read those very verses, over and over, and never even thought to question their meaning, but now, in light of Luke 22:66, and other verses, I am forced to study into it all over again from a different angle. I strongly feel God is trying to correct His church before the end time, so that we can all be on the same page, and have the same understanding about these crucial events, and about the Passover as well.
“No matter what, I do appreciate your EXTENSIVE efforts to help me in this quest for understanding.”
This was not the end of the correspondence. Even after this powerful letter, the minister of ICG was not convinced. He made one final stab at convincing Todd the final trial of Jesus occurred at . He wrote, despite all the evidence to the contrary, such as the Biblical statements that it was early MORNING when Jesus first appeared before the Sanhedrin, then went to Pilate, then was taken to king Herod, and finally was brought back before Pilate at “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14), the following letter:
“He went to dinner at and then to the garden. How long was dinner? How many hours was He in the garden? How long was He before each person? These were not long trials with judges, prosecutors and public defenders with a jury. It was not done that way. I get that these things were somewhat swift. There are scriptures about these judgments before authorities with supporting commen-taries that show that these things were brief affairs.
“I easily can map it out to these many hours. I am absolutely unable to map it any other way. The scripture proof definitely pins it down to dinner at sundown on the 13th going into the 14th. The garden, arrest and trial were all that night and He was crucified at . Your thinking has Him up for 51 hours with no sleep, no recorded events to fill up your 24 additional hours and it flies in the face that it was the preparation day when He was before Pilate, not the day before.
“This is our belief. It has always been our belief and will always be our belief. You, as I will always note, are free to believe anything you wish. I can ONLY tell you what we believe. We seek not to convince anyone of anything. Only God, through the Holy Spirit can convince.
“I am not telling you that in John 19:14 that it ‘CAN’ be , I am telling you in the name of Jesus Christ that it ABSOLUTELY IS !! The proof is overwhelming.
“By the way, when you are mapping that evening out, remember that the sixth hour is 60 minutes long. Verse 14 is saying ‘about the sixth hour.’ It could be anywhere within that 60 minutes. It could be .”
Notice that he attempts to squeeze all the trials and appearances of Christ before Annas, Caiphas, the trial before the whole Sanhedrin, then Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate for the final trial and judgment – all AFTER Jesus’ prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, following the Lord’s supper that evening – BEFORE MIDNIGHT! Of course, he tries to do this despite the clear Scriptures that Yeshua did not appear before the Sanhedrin until the morning hours of the day! Review the crucial Scriptures – “when the morning was come” (Matthew 27:1-2); “and straightway in the morning” ( Mark 15:1); “And as soon as it was day” (Luke 22:66); “and it was early” (John ). Remember, the rooster crowed three times before Peter completed his denials of Christ, and roosters crow in the MORNING!
Notice also the sheer audacity of this man. He claims he has “mapped” out the hours, insinuates that the final trial need not have been exactly at “midnight” but could have been at “12:45” or shortly after midnight – and after all this human reasoning in a circle, he has the sheer gall to say, “I am telling you in the name of Jesus Christ that it ABSOLUTELY IS Midnight! The proof is overwhelming.”
“In the name of Jesus Christ!” Obviously he seems to have utterly convinced himself – DESPITE the overwhelming evidence to the contrary! And he has the sheer brass to invoke the name of Christ to back up his belief, claiming Christ’s authority for his conclusions! I believe one should be far more cautious about invoking the name of Christ. To use Christ’s name to substantiate error borders on the brink of blasphemy!
In one final note to Todd, the minister of CGI says, “There is no way in the world He was before Pilate at on 13 Nisan. This is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE. But you are free to believe anything you wish. My only mission, commission and duty is to tell you what we believe.”
What to him is ‘impossible” is actually the proven TRUTH! The truth is it is impossible to have Jesus Christ before Pilate at high noon (the “sixth hour”) on the very same day He is nailed to the stake at in the morning! That is what is truly “absolutely impossible”!
It is too bad, so sad, that the opinions of this man are “iron clad” – when they are so totally wrong. As a wise man once wrote, “O for the gift to see ourselves as others see us!” Or, I might paraphrase, “O for the gift to see ourselves as GOD in heaven sees us!” Then, like Job, we might be less opinionated, more humble, and willing to look into things honestly, to admit we might be wrong, and to confess error! Like Job, upon seeing our error, we might then pray with him, saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now me eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3-6, NIV).
And so it stands. The battle over the Passover rages onward. It continues through the night, and into the day, and those who would obey God must gird up their loins and fight like a man, standing up against the wiles of the devil and the machinations, specious arguments, and malapropisms of men.
When confronted with these serious questions, involving obedience to the laws and commandments of Almighty God, where do you stand?
Thousands in these “last days” are being misled, hoodwinked, deceived, and taken into spiritual “bondage” because of false teachings concerning the Passover, the “Lord’s supper,” the bread and wine celebration, and great confusion has resulted, causing massive disobedience to the laws of Almighty God!
When will we all get it straight? How long will people continue in error?
Human or church “tradition” will NEVER replace the eternal LAWS of Almighty GOD! What must God think in heaven when He sees men, purporting to serve and obey Him, lead thousands of people astray with their ungodly, antinomian, unfaithful teachings and perversions of His truth?
David once wrote, “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law” (Psalm 119:53). Replacing divine law with human tradition is SIN! Those who accuse the Catholics and Protestants of doing this very thing, and then do the same thing themselves, are doubly guilty!
David also declared, “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34). He asserted, further, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me” (verses 97-98).
This was a very emotional thing to David. He wrote, “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law” (verse 136). He declared with urgency and passion, “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded your law as void” (Psalm 119:126).
Isn’t that really what these men and so-called “ministers” are doing? They are making VOID THE PASSOVER COMMANDMENT! They have exchanged it for a weak sister gobbledegook insipid supine replacement! They have exchanged gold for tin; jewels and pearls for rocks and sand! They have taken down the law of the Passover, and substituted in its place their own foolish traditions of men! How tragic! It is a worse tragedy, spiritually, than the space shuttle disaster! But the cause appears to be much the same – pride, egotism, lack of concern for truth, and taking vitally important issues for granted.
Jesus Christ declared, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). “And in vain they worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (verse 7).
Elijah the prophet said, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (see I Kings 18:21). Prove the truth! And cling to the truth! The apostle James wrote, “for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”(James 1:6-8). These things are serious. They could well involve eternal life and salvation itself! Let’s take nothing for granted!
Isaiah was inspired to write, “Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations, so I will choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight” (Isaiah 66:3-4, NKJV). God goes on, “Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified. But he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (verse 5, KJV).
God declares, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov.14:12).
How important is truth, righteousness, and obedience to God – to you? Do you desire to observe God’s Law with your whole heart? (Psalm 119:34). Have you received “the love of the truth,” that you might be saved? (II Thess.2:10). Do you love God’s Law and meditate on it day and night? (Psalm 119:97). David declared, “Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
Where do you stand in the furious no-holds barred struggle and “battle over the Passover”?
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Wonderful New Truth on the Passover!
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The Christian-Messianic Passover Hagaddah
The Mystery of Ben Ha Arbayim – “Between the Two Evenings”
When Did the Early Church Keep the Passover?
The Gospel of Luke and the Passover
Exodus 16 and the “Great Quail Question”
The Incredible Passover Plot!
The Nisan 14 Passover – Fact? Or Fallacy?
The Devil’s Own Passover!
The Passover and the Book of Jubilees
What Is the “New Testament Passover”?
Are We Neglecting the Sacred Fellowship Meal?
Mystery of the Kiddush
Jesus’ Last Week
John -- What Do You Mean, “The Sixth Hour”?
Do You Observe a Pagan Passover?
Should Christians Observe the Passover?
Fred Coulter’s Passover Errors Exposed!
The Quartodeciman Passover – When Was It?
Four Special Bible Study Course Lessons on PASSOVER