THE EARLY CHRISTIANS INCLUDING THE APOSTLES OBSERVED GOD’S HOLY FEASTS

There is the notion that we Christians of today should not keep God’s Sabbaths at all. Another school of thought also argue that ONLY the weekly Sabbath must be strictly adhered to, leaving the yearly Sabbaths or Feasts of God untouched. But my argument is as simple as ABC. The whole truth is that both the WEEKLY SABBATH AND THE YEARLY SABBATHS (GOD’S FEASTS) must be kept by all true Christians. This is because the two (Weekly Sabbath and God’s Feasts), put together are termed SABBATHS. Though sometimes the two can be separated just as is found in the 23rd chapter of the book of Leviticus we have already dealt with above, one can call both the Sabbaths. There are other texts in EX 23; 34; and Deut 16 which also line up the weekly Sabbath with the yearly ones at the same time, but space would not allow me to write them all here. So kindly read them yourself to avail yourself with this vivid understanding that these two Sabbaths of the Lord always move together.
However, there is another important thing I would like to explain concerning the word SABBATH. This time I want us to consider the very HEBREW WORDS translated as Sabbaths and Holy Convocations or Holiday in the original Old Testament. The Hebrew word for the weekly Sabbath is ‘SHABBATH’, represented in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance with the word number ‘7676’. The other word ‘SHABBATHOWN’, which means Special rest or Holiday, is also represented with 7677. The clue is in LEV. 23:3,32, where the difference is established. This means the seven high days are the ones translated from ‘Shabbathown’ to mean special rest or Holiday. So note the difference between the two.

In this study I want you to know that the early Apostles, who first attained the name CHRISTIANS, wholeheartedly kept both the Weekly Sabbath and the Holy Feasts of God throughout their lives as dear children of God or followers of Christ Jesus. I hope you are really aware that Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, the LORD OR OWNER OF THE SABBATH(S) according to MK. 2:28, kept these Sabbaths during His life time (LK.4:16,31; 2:41-50; JOHN 7:1-3,11-14,37-39). And during His earthly ministry also, Yashuah al-Meshiach (Jesus the Messiah) never issued any statement that showed or indicated a prediction that, the Sabbaths of the Lord would be terminated after his death. Rather what He said during His prophetic teachings about the end time events truly, proves that Sabbath keeping would continue till the end comes. When emphasizing on the calamities that would befall Israel after His departure, Jesus cautioned them to pray that such an occasion, would not happen on the SABBATH DAY or winter.

"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:” MATT. 24:20

You and I know that winter is a climatic season that continues to occur every year till heaven and earth shall cease to be. So if the Lord’s Sabbath has been likened to it, during when people were being cautioned to be careful about some events expected to take place in the future, then what do you make out of this? (MATT.24:1-3,15-20). Is it not the same as saying that winter and Sabbath would continue into the future? Yes, it is so. That is why I’m trying to prove to you that the early Christians, knowing this very well continued in the observance of both the weekly Sabbath and the yearly Festivals. Now talking about St. Paul who was not a disciple of Christ but became an apostle later after the cross, he was someone who diligently kept God’s Sabbaths. Read the following passages below for clarification of facts.

(13) " Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.(14) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. (15) And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on …………...(42) And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. (43) Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. (44) And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” ACTS 13:13-15,42-44.

" And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” ACTS 17:2

(1)"After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;……......(4) And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks……………….(11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” ACTS 18:1,4,11.

Hallelujah!!! Praise be to the Most High for this illuminating scriptures which prove that Paul, an Apostle for the gentile nations, even kept the weekly Sabbath so intact that, wherever he went, he made sure that he did not break it and thus taught his audience (the gentiles) as such. Even at a point in time he sought for a place where they could meet to worship, though there was no temple or synagogue. As such he and his contemporaries went to a river side to observe the Sabbath there. (ACTS 16:12,13) Quite apart from the weekly Sabbath, he also observed all the Feasts of the Lord and kept them in remembrance to the extent that, wherever he found himself, he made sure their TIME for observance would never escape his mind. Just consider the following scriptures for a proof.

(6)” And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. ………………….. (16) For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” ACTS 20:6, 16

Do you see how Apostle Paul and his contemporaries always loved to keep God’s feasts and were almost every time mindful about the time for their observance? For instance, he at one time decided to stay in Ephesus to observe the feast of Pentecost there. (1COR. 16:8) Knowing how important the Lord’s feasts are, they were always mindful about them all. None of them was left untouched or relegated to the background as if they were not important in their time of New Testament worship. In a very classic example during when Paul was in chains and was being carried to Rome, the Day of Atonement (that is the day for yearly fasting), was still in their mind. I know of some critics who argue that most of the scriptures or verses occurring in the New Testament showing anything about the feasts of God are only there for the purpose of dates or reckoning time of those events matching them. But my dear reader, I want you to know that no scripture was given in vain (JAMES 4:5); thus everything clearly proves otherwise. That is, even before I take you through the actual verse that talks about the Day of Atonement in the 27th chapter of Acts of the Apostles, I would like you to read the following verses to understand that those on the voyage really partook that feast on their way. That is why after their suffering during the ship wreck Paul advised them to EAT something.

(33) "And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. (34) Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. (35) And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.”ACTS 27:33-35

If you are now with me that they really fasted on that day before it continued to that far because of the wreck, let me now show you why it was necessary for them to fast on that day. The main reason is that they the early apostles still had the notion that they should continue with the observance of the Lord’s feasts specified in the book of Leviticus. It is Leviticus 23:27-32 which states that all the children of God must afflict their souls with one complete day fasting for the purpose of atoning for their sins. So this is why they also observed it as is reported below:

" Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them” ACTS 27:9

Now if you look at this text above you will notice that the word ‘FAST’ mentioned there is not an ordinary word. According to the Interlinear Bible containing the original Greek for the New Testament, it is word number 3521 in the STRONG’S CONCORDANCE, meaning the Day of Atonement. The Greek word for ‘Fast’ is ‘NESTEIA’. Please see the extract for yourself and compare it with other commentaries on that same verse. Here is the extracts from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

[Strong’s Grk. 3521] nesteia (nece-ti’-ah)
from 3522, abstinence (from lack of food, or voluntary and religious); specially the fast of the Day of Atonement :- fast(-ing).

I thank God that the exact extracts for Acts 27:9 above are simple and easily readable. You see that the words there prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was referring to the Day of Atonement on which day, they purposefully fasted during their voyage to Rome.
Now let us also see what some of the Bible Commentators also have for us on this same text at ACTS 27, in order to broaden up our knowledge in this study of God’s Holy Feasts.

{verse 9. Sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past] It is generally allowed that the fast mentioned here was that of the great day of atonement which was always celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, which would answer to the latter end of our September; see Lev 16:29; 23:27, &c. As this was about the time of the autumnal equinox, when the Mediterranean Sea was sufficiently tempestuous, we may suppose this feast alone to be intended. To sail after this feast was proverbially dangerous among the ancient Jews. ] :--- From Adam Clarkes’ Commentary}

{ Because the fast was now already past. By "the fast," here is evidently intended the fast which occurred among the Jews on the great day of atonement. That was the tenth of the month Tisri, which answers to a part of September and part of October. It was therefore the time of the autumnal equinox, and when the navigation of the Mediterranean was esteemed to be particularly dangerous, from the storms which usually occurred about that time. The ancients regarded this as a dangerous time to navigate the Mediterranean.] :--From Albert Barnes’ New Testament Commentary }

I am sure with this explanation so far given with the help of extracts from such concordance and commentaries, you now know why we, as good Christians in this modern time must follow the example of the apostles. This is why I have used your precious time by taking you through all this lengthy script for only ACTS 27:9 so that you may not feel condemned for being obedient in this regard.
For more clarity of facts, I would like to take you through 1COR. 5:6-8 so as to enable you know that Paul duly instructed the gentiles also to observe God’s feasts. Let’s read:

(6) " Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (7 )Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. (8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1COR. 5:6-8

In actual fact these Corinthians, our dear Apostle Paul, gave such an instruction were GENTILLES indeed. They were not his fellow countrymen (Israelites), whereby one might think that things concerning the Feasts of God were meant for the Jews or Israelites alone. What is more important here in this study is the sentence, ‘THEREFORE LET US KEEP THE FEAST,’ in verse eight (8), which is more or less an INSTRUCTION or COMMAND of encouragement pin-pointing that they (the Israelites)and we (gentiles alike) are all bound to keep the feasts of God Almighty very intact. This is because Paul’s explanation in that text shows how to observe the feast properly without any malice or sinful acts. Hence, his condemnation against the one found with sexual immorality in the initial verses of that text. I hope if you have any doubts at all, this brief explanation has helped to clear such doubts.
The main reason why I used Apostle Paul in most of my examples to defend this truth, is because he is the very person whose writings, disturb those who are not learned. Our dear Apostle Peter knew this problem very well and even attested to this fact in his second epistle to all Christians in general. He therefore cautioned us to be very careful about Paul’s teachings and also encouraged us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation thus:

(15) "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (17) Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. (18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2PET.3:15-18

Again it was Paul who did much evangelism in the gentile nations to win more souls for Christ. So if he himself kept such ordinances, why should we as gentile Christians neglect the keeping of such feasts which are still in force?
Based on this truth I have just expounded to you, some people also think that only the Lord’s Supper and the Day of Pentecost must strictly be adhered to. This is because they see them as something having a link directly with the New Testament worship. Thus the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that took place after the cross, and the mentioning of the observance of the Lord’s Supper in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1COR.11:23-31), as adherent obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ instruction to His followers to do so in remembrance of Him (LK. 22:19); warrant them the opportunity to keep these two feasts only.
In this particular case, I beg to differ. Let us first of all trash the issue about Pentecost before hammering on the true essence of the Lord’s Supper. It is true that the Holy Spirit was outpoured in this new era; but that is not the basis for the celebration of the feast of Pentecost. Note that Pentecost, which simply, means "count fifty” (50), is the same as Feast of Weeks which was ordained in the olden days according to Ex.34:22;Lev. 23:15,16; and Deut. 16:9,10,16. The reason why I’m saying the outpouring of the Holy Ghost is not the basis for the celebration of the feast of Pentecost is because, the apostles and the entire people of God had already gathered to observe this feast of weeks in Jerusalem, that the first fruits of the Holy Spirit baptism came upon the true disciples of Jesus Christ who deserved it as a fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to His church. LK.24:49; ACTS 1:8; JOEL 2:28,29

(1)” And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (5) And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” ACTS 2:1-5

It is not that the Holy Spirit was poured before the emergence or institution of the feast of Pentecost. Rather it was long, long ago a feast among the people of God until the real out pouring of the Holy Spirit came to ratify the celebration of the feast. This means the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit is just The RATIFICATION Of the Feast of Weeks or ‘SHAVUOT’ as it is known in the Hebrew language.

Concerning the Lord’s Supper which some think has totally replaced or substituted the whole Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, I also have this to say. The Lord’s Supper only replaces the EATING AND DRINKING during Passover service. It does not substitute the whole feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread. That is to say it is during the day of Passover that this Solemnity of the Lord’s Supper is done to commemorate what the Lord asked us to do in remembrance of Him, even after His death. That is the date for Passover, is the same day on which the Lord’s Supper must be taken. After that, seven (7) solid days is also determined for the days of Unleavened Bread (LEV.23:4-8). It is during this seven days period that no leavened thing is taken. Thus all leavened things are purged out of their households, hence the name UNLEAVENED DAYS derived from such festivity. Also since one ceases to eat any leavened food from the time the Passover diet is taken until the end of the seven days of Unleavened Bread (EX. 12:6,11,17,18), one can easily call this period the Days of Unleavened Bread.

" And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.” ACTS 20:6

But one most important thing worthy of note here is that Passover and Unleavened Bread are regarded as ONE COMMON FEAST, even though they could sometimes be separated. The separation is necessitated because of how it is celebrated or better still how the whole thing came about. Yet one can use a common name for them together or separate them apart to show the timing nature of their observance. Let’s consider the following:

" Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” LK.22:1

" Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?” MATT. 26:17

So as you can see for yourself in the two texts above that Passover also means Unleavened Days, it is impossible to say that the Lord’s Supper replaces this whole eight (8) days long FEAST OF PASSOVER AND UNLEAVENED BREAD. It is not so. But rather as I indicated above, the Lord’s Supper only substitutes the eating and drinking on the very first the day of Passover, that is 14th of A-bib or Nisan.
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