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There are a lot of modern names for what in the Greek is simply called “pascha”, or in Hebrew is “pesach”. It is translated as Easter by some, called the “Last Supper” in common usage, called “the Lord’s Supper” by almost everyone, “Communion” by many, and the “Passover” by others. What is the RIGHT term?
Every commentary agrees that Easter is an absolutely wrong translation in Acts 12:4. The word has no business being in the Bible at all, and is there only because of the preconceived ideas of the translators.
Barnes New Testament Notes says “There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. The original is simply after the Passover, meta to pasca. The word Easter now denotes the festival observed by many Christian churches in honour of the resurrection of the Saviour. But the original has no reference to that; nor is there the slightest evidence that any such festival was observed at the time when this book was written. …The word Easter is of Saxon origin, and is supposed to be derived from Eostre, the goddess of love, or the Venus of the North, in honour of whom a festival was celebrated by our pagan ancestors in the month of April. (Webster.)
“intending after Easter—rather, “after the Passover”; … (The word in our King James Version is an ecclesiastical term of later date, and ought not to have been employed here). (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)
Ultimately, the word Easter comes from Astarte and Ishtar, ancient middle eastern love goddesses who held a festival in spring, which was the ancestor of modern Easter sunrise service which God heartily condemned… but that’s another article. For now, all that matters is that Passover IS NOT to be called “Easter”.
B. Last Supper
This term isn’t in the Bible at all; however, the term “supper” is used to refer to that meal in Luke 22:20 and John 21:20, and since this was the last supper which Jesus ate, it is rational enough to call it the last supper – just as long as we remember that it is not the Biblical name for the event.
This is a common protestant term for a service inspired by passover, also called the Eucharist, where the body and/or blood of Christ is symbolically eaten – but few people who eat anything close to the real passover would use either term, so it is something of a moot point for the purposes of this paper.
The English word “communion” traces its roots to the Latin communis with com meaning “with” and unis meaning “oneness”. The original Greek word is quite similar, being koinonia, where you can see the similar words koin and onia are the Greek counterparts to the Latin com and unis. So “communion” literally means nothing but “with oneness”. It is used in context with the passover in only one verse:
1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Which, though a correct and literal translation, fails to convey the meaning of the verse as well as other translations do:
1 Corinthians 10:16 (BBE) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a very sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread do we not actually share in the body of Christ?
This renders it in modern English much better. The word “communion” is not a special word; it just refers to doing something as a group that takes part of something that unites that group. It is not the Biblical name for the passover, it is just an archaic word used to describe one effect of the passover.
D. Lord’s Supper
Here we have the big one though; practically EVERYONE calls the passover the Lord’s Supper. Now this term is used only ONCE in the Bible. And there, it tells us we do NOT eat the Lord’s Supper!
1 Corinthians 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is NOT to eat the Lord’s supper.
And as if that weren’t strong enough, the margin renders the last part of that verse “ye CANNOT eat the Lord’s supper”! And yet everyone today who believes in keeping the passover at all, calls it at least occasionally “the Lord’s Supper”. And yet the only time it is used in the Bible, it is Paul telling us NOT to eat “the Lord’s Supper”!!
Paul said this because he was speaking to a gentile church in Corinth, one which had grown up serving the gods, including Aphrodite, the Greek counterpart to the Phoenician Astarte and Babylonian Ishtar. Nearly all the gods in the Greco-Roman Pantheon were honored by feasting on a certain day each year, in which people would all gather in a certain place, and engage in feasting, drinking, and debauchery. These gentile converts to Christianity were always bringing in the pagan traditions they had grown up with into the Church, and the epistles of Paul are frequently about keeping the heathen customs out of the Church. And this is no exception.
See, the reasoning was logical enough; one day a year the church would keep passover; in this passover they would have bread and wine, the passover symbols. So, in the absence of Paul to keep them in line, that gradually grew into a wild party, where people were coming to the passover and getting drunk!
1 Corinthians 11:21-22 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, AND ANOTHER IS DRUNKEN. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
Paul is just telling these converts that we do NOT have the passover as a supper to OUR God, that the passover is not to be observed in the way that they used to eat a kopis (special banquet) to honor Apollo! The passover is DIFFERENT, and it IS NOT THE LORD’S SUPPER! It is a solemn occasion, as Paul proceeds to explain. So to use the term “Lord’s Supper” is to compare God’s passover to Aphrodite’s drunken riotous feasts! Paul said WE CANNOT EAT THE LORD’S SUPPER!
This is the only God-sanctioned term for the day. He defined it for us in…
Exodus 12:26-27 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who PASSED OVER the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, ….
Passover is a literal translation of the Hebrew “pesach”, or the Greek “pascha”, which both mean simply “to pass over”. God called it that because it was on this day that He passed over our sins which were covered by the blood of Christ, a fact which we commemorate each year and “as often as we keep it” we do remember with sadness the Lord’s death until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)
So… we can call it the Passover, or occasionally the Last Supper, but not Easter, and NEVER call it the Lord’s Supper, for it IS NOT!