And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
In the King James Bible (KJB), the word translated “Easter” in Acts 12:4 is the Greek word pascha. This word is found 29 times in the New Testament and on every occasion it’s translated as “Passover” except for this one instance in Acts 12:4. But why the sudden departure?
All modern versions of the Bible translate pascha in Acts 12:4 as “Passover” whereas the KJB translates it as “Easter.” So if it can be proven that pascha should be translated as “Passover” instead of “Easter,” then we should be reading from one of the modern versions. But if it can be proven that pascha should have been translated as “Easter,” then we should be reading from the KJB. Two Bibles that read differently can’t both be correct, and so one is right and the other is wrong. Therefore, a side must be chosen. And so it isn’t just a matter of who translated pascha correctly, it’s a matter of which version of the Bible we should be reading: one of the newer more modern versions or the KJB. But let’s have a closer look.
As a holiday, Easter began many centuries ago as a hedonistic fertility rite honoring the goddess Astarte (Ishtar). The rabbit and the egg are symbols of fertility and this is why we have Easter eggs and the Easter (Playboy) bunny. Therefore, needless to say, Easter and Passover have nothing to do with one another. Passover is Christian and Easter is pagan. Easter is celebrated in the morning (Eze. 8:13-16) and Passover at night (Dt. 16:6). These two are diametrically opposed to one another as are the two sets of manuscripts used in making the modern versions of the Bible and the King James. Suffice it to say that the only thing that Passover and Easter share in common is that they both occur during the Jewish month of Nisan (March\April). But the question remains, is Acts 12:4 referring to Passover or Easter? The answer is found in the beginning verses of Acts 12:
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread [in which Peter was arrested].) 4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Passover?]to bring him forth to the people [to kill him].
Passover is on the 14th of Nisan which is immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins on the 15th and ends on the 21st (Ex. 12:12-18; Num. 28:16-18; Dt. 16:1-8). Easter occurs a few days afterward. But from vv. 3-4, Peter is arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which means that Passover had already passed and that Easter hadn’t yet arrived, and so it would make no sense for Herod to say that he’s going to kill Peter after the Passover because the Passover had already passed. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was already underway!
In other words, Herod is speaking of the Passover as if it hadn’t happened yet but was going to happen soon. But v. 3 has Peter being arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which always follows the Passover, and so Herod couldn’t have been referring to the Passover as the modern versions suggest because Passover occurs before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and not after – unless of course he was referring to the next Passover which was a full year away! But this is unlikely as the context of the passage is that of Peter needing quick deliverance (Acts 12:5-19).
In addition, “Passover” in Scripture is never used to refer to the entire 8-day celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, although it is true that the Feast of Unleavened Bread often includes the idea of the Passover (Mt. 26:17; Mk. 14:12; Lu. 22:7), but not vice versa. Passover was a unique event that occurred during one evening and not over the course of an entire week; so to translate Acts 12:4 as “Passover” would have contradicted common practice and usage of the term thus adding to the confusion, of which God is not the author (1 Cor. 14:33).
Herod’s remarks would have made sense had he arrested Peter before the Passover – intending to kill him afterwards; but it was too late as they were already in the middle of the Feast (3); but again, he didn’t because pascha either refers to Passover or Easter, but not the Feast. So to render pascha as “Passover” really makes no sense: it had already passed. The translators of the KJB saw this problem and rendered it “Easter” instead. But why?
Logic dictates that pascha in Acts 12:4 isn’t referring to the Passover but another holiday that occurs later in Nisan, and that is Easter. So in this instance, pascha has been used to refer to the time of the Passover instead of the specific day of the Passover. Easter and Passover occur near to one another, but on different days. And similar to what he’d done with John during a birthday party (Mt. 14:6-12; Mk. 6:21-29), Herod would have been happy to offer up a human sacrifice like Peter – especially during a major pagan holiday. So the King James translators had it right. They correctly rendered pascha in Acts 12:4 as “Easter” because the Passover day had already passed. Thus the superiority of the KJB has been proven and so Christians should be reading from the KJB and not the modern versions of the Bible that introduce error. Again, two “versions” that read so differently can’t both be true. The translators of the KJB have ended the confusion whereas the modernists have added to it. Selah.