Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part 2A: The KJV’s Erroneous Translation of Acts 12:4 And Reasons Why

King James Bible (KJV)
King James Version of the Holy Bible. Credit: Oakwood Methodist



Acts 12, New King James and old King James

Acts 12:4 (New King James Version, NKJV: Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.


Acts 12:4 (KJV):  Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 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.


Doctrine Notes

Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part 2A_ The KJV’s Erroneous Translation of Acts 12_4 And Reasons Why

Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part 2A: The KJV’s Erroneous Translation of Acts 12:4 And Reasons Why

  1. Recap of Biblical Study of The Doctrine of the Passover
  1. Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter, Part I

Passover Passages:

  • Exodus 12
  • Numbers 9
  • 2 Chronicles 30
  • The Lord’s Supper at Passover: Matthew 26:17-30; Luke 22:7-20
  • The Lord’s Supper in the early church (1 Corinthians 11:11:17-34)
  • 1 Corinthians 5 (“Christ, Our Passover”)

II. Part 2 introduced

  1. Acts 12:4, the Greek word pasxa, and the King James Version of Scripture
  2. The erroneous translation of pasxa and reasons why
  • Translation borrowed from the Anglo-Saxons (Germans)

Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Acts 12:4):

“Perhaps there never was a more unhappy, not to say absurd, translation than that in our text…The term Easter, inserted here by our translators, they borrowed from the ancient Anglo-Saxon service-books, or from the version of the Gospels, which always translates the “to pasxa” of the Greek by this term; e.g. Mat 26:2: Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover…Mat 16:19: And they made ready the passover…and, before Mat 28:8, these words: Mar 14:12: And the first day of unleavened bread when they klled the passover…other examples occur in this version. Wiclif used the word paske, i.e. passover; but Tindal, Coverdale, Becke, and Cardmarden, following the old Saxon mode of translation, insert Easter: the Geneva Bible very properly renders it the passover. The Saxon Earten, Eartne, Eartno, Eartna, and Eartnon are different modes of splling the name of the goddess Easter, whose festival was celebrated by our pagan forefathers on the month of April; hence that month, in the Saxon calendar, is called Easter month. Every view we can take of this subject shows the gross impropriety of retaining a name every way exceptionable, and palpably absurd.”

  • The monk, known as the Venerable Bede, confirms Adam Clarke’s statement on Easter’s pagan origin:


“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” (Venerable Bede, The Reckoning of Time, translated by Faith Wallis in her book, Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool University Press, 1999.


Phase 1: Church agreed to Sunday as the official day of Easter worship

  • Quartodeciman Controversy

Phase 2: Council of Nicea and the Easter date

  • Council of Nicea agreed to a fixed date for Easter: that the Christian world celebrate Easter on the same Sunday, following the fourteenth day of the month following Spring Equinox

Phase 3: Council of Nicea adopted a given lunar cycle to determine the exact date on which Easter fell




Note: Find the other parts of our “Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter” series below:

Part 1A

Part 1B

Part 1C

Part 1D

Part 1E

Part 1F

Part 1G


Passover Doctrine Songs

Opening Selection: “Worthy is the Lamb” (Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)

Second Selection: “Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)” by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Pre-Teaching Selection: “Now Behold the Lamb” (Kirk Franklin)

Closing Selection: “Just As I Am, Without One Plea” (O Lamb of God, I Come”)