MOST OF US have assumed that Jesus died on "Good Friday" and rose from the dead early on "Easter" Sunday morning. Since Jesus said he would rise "the third day," some count part of Friday as one day, Saturday as the second, and part of Sunday as the third. It is pointed out that sometimes an expression like "the third day" can include only parts of days, a part of a day being counted as a whole. The Jewish Encyclopedia says that the day of a funeral, even though the funeral might take place late in the afternoon, is counted as the first of the seven days of mourning.1 Other examples of part of a day being counted for a whole day, as it were, are found within the Bible also, as in the following statement by Jesus: "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem" (Lk. 13:32, 33). In this case, "the third day" would mean the same as "the day following (tomorrow)"—three days, even though only parts of those days are involved. Many feel this explains the time element between the burial and resurrection of Christ.

There are other Christians, however, who are not totally satisfied with this explanation. Jesus often said he would rise "the third day" (Matt. 16:21; Mk. 10:34). But he also spoke of this time period and gave it as a specific sign of his Messiahship as being three days and three nights. "As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly", he said, "so shall the son of man be THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:38-40).

That the expression "the third day" can, scripturally, include three days and three nights can be seen in Genesis 1:4-13: "God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were the FIRST DAY...and the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were the SECOND DAY...and the evening (now three periods of night) and the morning (now three periods of light) were THE THIRD DAY." This provides an example of how the term "the third day" can be counted up and shown to include three days and three nights.

While we have long favored the view we will present here —which allows for three full days and nights—we would hasten to point out that, as Christians, the fact we believe Jesus did live, die, and rose again is infinitely more important than some explanation we may offer regarding the time element of his burial.

Since there are twelve hours in a day and twelve hours in a night (John 11:9, 10), if we figure a full "three days and three nights", this would equal 72 hours. But was the time element exactly 72 hours? Jesus was to be in the tomb for "three days and three nights" and rise "after three days" (Mk. 8:31). We see no reason to figure this as any less than a full 72 hours. On the other hand, if he was to be raised from the dead "in three days" (John 2:19), this could not be any more than 72 hours. To harmonize these various statements, it does not seem unreasonable to assume that the time period was exactly 72 hours. After all, God is a God of EXACTNESS. He does everything right on schedule. Nothing is accidental with him. It was "when the fulness of time was come" - not one year too early or one year too late—"God sent forth his Son" (Gal. 4:4). The time for his anointing was foreordained and spoken of by the prophet Daniel, as was also the time when he would be "cut off" for the sins of the people. Those who tried to kill him before this failed, for his "time" was not yet come (John 7:8). And not only the year and time of his death,  but the  very hour was a part of the divine plan. "Father", Jesus prayed, "the hour is come..." (John 17:1). Since there was an exact time for him to be born, an exact time for his anointing, an exact time for his ministry to begin,  an exact time for his death, we have no problem believing there was also an exact time period between his burial and resurrection—72  hours exactly.  If this is true, then the resurrection took place at the same time of day that Jesus was buried—only three days later. What time of day was this?

Jesus died shortly after "the ninth hour" or three in the afternoon (Matt. 27:46-50). "The Jews, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away...but when they came to Jesus... he was dead already" (John 19:31-33). By this time, "the even was come" (Mk. 15:42), it was late afernoon. (ACTUALLY IT WAS “EVENING” 6 PM OR LATER, AS I PROVE IN OTHER STUDIES - Keith Hunt). The law said: "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day"(Deut.21:23). In the time remaining in that day before sundown, before the high day Sabbath began, Joseph of Arimathaea obtained permission to remove the body. He and Nicodemus prepared the body for burial with linen clothes and spices, and placed it in a nearby tomb (John 19:38-42)—all of this being completed by sundown (ACTUALLY NO IT WAS NOT COMPLETED BY SUNDOWN; ALL EXPLAINED IN MY OTHER STUDIES - Keith Hunt).

If the resurrection took place at the same time of day as when Jesus was buried—only three days later - this would place the resurrection close to sundown, not sunrise, as is commonly assumed (ACTUALLY IT WAS A RESURRECTION AFTER SUNDOWN AS THE CUTTING OF THE WAVE SHEAF WAS AFTER SUNDOWN ON SATURDAY NIGHT, TO BE PRESENTED IN THE TEMPLE THE MORNING OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK - SUNDAY; ACCORDING TO THE SADDUCEE TEACHING, WHICH WAS CORRECT.   THE WAVE SHEAF WAS THE SYMBOL OF THE FIRST OF THE FIRST FRUITS - REPRESENTING CHRIST; AGAIN ALL PROVED IN MY OTHER STUDIES -  Keith Hunt). A sunrise resurrection would have required an extra night—three days and four nights. This was not the case, of course. Those who came to the tomb at sunrise, instead of witnessing the resurrection at that precise time, found that the tomb was already empty (Mk. 16:2). John's account tells us that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb when "it was yet DARK" on the first day of the week and Jesus was NOT there (John 20:1, 2).

The gospel writers tell of several different visits made by the disciples to the tomb on that first day of the week. In EVERY instance, they found the tomb EMPTY! An angel said "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matt. 28:6). The first day of the week was when the disciples discovered that he was risen (Luke 24:1, 2, etc.), but nowhere does the Bible actually say this was the time of the resurrection.

The only verse which seems to teach a Sunday morning resurrection is Mark 16:9. "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene..." But this verse does not say that early on the first day Jesus was "rising" or that he "did rise" at that time. It says that when the first day of the week came, he "WAS RISEN"- past perfect tense. Since there were no punctuation marks in the Greek manuscripts from which our New Testament was translated, the phrase "early the first day of the week" could just as correctly—some think more correctly—be linked with the time Jesus appeared to Mary. By simply placing the comma after the word "risen", this verse would read: "Now when Jesus was risen, early the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene." This seems to be the meaning originally intended, for the verses that follow show that Mark was recording the various appearances that Jesus made, not explaining on which day the resurrection took place. When Sunday morning came, Jesus had already risen, the resurrection having taken place just before sundown of the day before (NO, AFTER SUNDOWN THE DAY BEFORE - Keith Hunt). Counting back three days would bring us toWednesday. Would this make three days and three nights between the burial and resurrection of Christ? Yes. Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night - three nights; also Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—three days. This would make a total of exactly three days and three nights or 72 hours. One day after Wednesday would be Thursday, two days after Wednesday would be Friday, and "the third day" after Wednesday would be Saturday. 

The words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus are a bit difficult. "But we trusted that it had been he which should have  redeemed  Israel",  they said, "and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done" (Lk. 24:21). Because Jesus appeared to these disciples on the first day of the week (verse 13), and this was "the third day since these things were done", would this not indicate that Jesus died on Friday? This would depend on how we count. If parts of a day are counted as a whole, Friday could be meant. On the other hand, one day "since" Friday would have been Saturday, the second day "since" Friday would have been Sunday, and the third day "since" Friday would have been  Monday! This method of counting would not indicate Friday. 

In seeking to offer an explanation, I submit the following: They  had  talked about "all these things which had happened" (verse   14)—more  than just  one  event.  If "these things" included the arrest, the crucifixion, the burial, and the setting of the seal and watch over the tomb, all of these things were not done until Thursday. Jesus, we have noticed, was crucified on the "preparation" (Wednesday). "The next day (Thursday), that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away" (Matt. 27:62-66). For this reason, the tomb was sealed and guarded. "These things" were not fully completed—were not "done"—until the tomb was sealed and guarded. This happened, as we have already seen, on Thursday of that week, the high day. Sunday, then, would have been "the third day since these things were done", but not the third day since the crucifixion.

Since Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath, we can understand why some have thought of Friday as the day of the crucifixion, But the Sabbath that followed his death was not the weekly Sabbath, but an annual Sabbath— "for that Sabbath was an high day" (John 19:14, 31). This sabbath could fall on any day of the week and that year apparently came on Thursday. He was crucified and buried on the preparation day (Wednesday), the next day was the high day Sabbath (Thursday), then Friday, followed by the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). Understanding that there were two Sabbaths that week explains how Christ could be crucified on the day before the Sabbath, was already risen from the tomb when the day after the Sabbath came—yet fulfilling his sign of three days and three nights.

A careful comparison of Mark 16:1 with Luke 23:56 provides further evidence there were two sabbaths that week— with a common work day between the two. Mark 16:1 says: "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James, and Salome, bought* sweet spices that they might come and anoint him." This verse states that it was after the Sabbath when these women bought their spices. Luke 23:56, however, states that they prepared the spices and after preparing them rested on the Sabbath (according to the commandment [ 4th commandment] )- Keith Hunt

* The King James Version is the only translation (of many we have checked) that uses the indefinite "had bought." All others have correctly rendered this as "bought." It is not uncommom for this verse to be read as though the women "brought" spices, but the word is "bought," one letter making the difference!

“And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” The one verse says it was after the Sabbath the women bought spices; the other verse says they prepared the spices before the Sabbath. Since they couldn't prepare the spices until first they had purchased them, the evidence for two different Sabbaths that week seems conclusive.

Writing in Eternity magazine, its editor, Donald Grey Barnhouse, said: "I personally have always held that there were two Sabbaths in our Lord's last week—the Saturday Sabbath and the Passover Sabbath, the latter being on Thursday. They hastened to take his body down after a Wednesday crucifixion and he was three days and three nights (at least 72 hours) in the tomb." He cites evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls which would place the Last Supper on Tuesday. Not all tradition has favored a Friday crucifixion. He quotes from a Roman Catholic journal published in France that "an ancient Christian tradition, attested to by the Didascalia Apostolorum as well as by Epiphanius and Victorinus of Pettau (died 304) gives Tuesday evening as the date of the Last Supper and prescribes a fast for Wednesday to commemorate the capture of Christ."2

Though strongly holding to the Friday crucifixion, The Catholic Encyclopedia says that not all scholars have believed this way. Epiphanius, Lactantius, Wescott, Cassiodorus and Gregory of Tours are mentioned as rejecting Friday as the day of the crucifixion.3

In his book Bible Questions Answered, W. L. Pettingill, gives this question and answer: "On what day of the week was our Lord crucified? To us it is perfectly obvious that crucifixion was on Wednesday."4 

The Companion Bible, published by Oxford University Press, in its Appendix 156 explains that Christ was crucified on Wednesday.

In his Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Dake has said in his note on Matthew 12:40: "Christ was dead for three full days and for three full nights. He was put in the grave Wednesday just before sunset and was resurrected at the end of Saturday at sunset....No statement says that He was buried Friday at sunset. This would make him in the grave only one day and one night, proving his own words untrue."5

The quotations given here from various ministers are especially significant since this belief was not the generally accepted position of the various church organizations with which they were affiliated. In such cases, men speak from conviction, not merely convenience. Such was the case of R. A. Torrey, noted evangelist and Bible institute dean, whose words (written in 1907) well sum up the basic position we have presented here. "...According to the commonly accepted tradition of the church, Jesus was crucified on Friday...and was raised from the dead very early in the morning of the following Sunday. Many readers of the Bible are puzzled to know how the interval between late Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning can be figured out to be three days and three nights. It seems rather to be two nights, one day and a very small portion of another day. The solution of this apparent difficulty proposed by many commentators is that 'a day and a night' is simply another way of saying 'a day', and that the ancient Jews reckoned a fraction of a day as a whole day...There are many persons whom this solution does not altogether satisfy, and the writer is free to confess it does not satisfy him at all. It seems to me to be a makeshift...The Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Friday. It is said that Jesus was crucified on 'the day before the Sabbath'...Now the Bible does not leave us to speculate in regard to which Sabbath is meant in this was not the day before the weekly Sabbath (that is, Friday), but it was the day before the Passover Sabbath, which came this year on Thursday—that is to say, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified was Wednesday. John makes this as clear as day. Jesus was buried just about sunset (YES “ABOUT” - AND I PROVE IN OTHER STUDIES, IT WAS AFTER THE SABBATH HAD BEGUN THAT JESUS WAS PUT IN THE TOMB - Keith Hunt), on Wednesday. Seventy-two hours later...he arose from the grave. When the women visited the tomb just before dawn in the morning they found the grave already empty. There is absolutely nothing in favor of Friday crucifixion, but everything in the Scriptures is perfectly harmonized by Wednesday crucifixion.f It is remarkable how many prophetical and typical passages of the Old Testament are fulfilled and how many seeming discrepancies in the gospel narratives are straightened out when we once come to understand that Jesus died on Wednesday, and not on Friday."6




E HAVE SEEN from the Scriptures certain reasons for questioning Friday as the day on which Christ was crucified. Yet each Friday, many Catholics abstain from meat—substituting fish in its place—supposedly in remembrance of the Friday crucifixion. Roman Catholics in the United States are no longer required by their church to abstain from meat on Fridays (as formerly)—except during Lent—nevertheless many still follow the custom of fish on Friday.

Certainly the Scriptures never associate fish with Friday. On the other hand, the word "Friday" comes from the name of "Freya", who was regarded as the goddess of peace, joy, and FERTILITY, the symbol of her fertility being the FISH. From very early times the fish was a symbol of fertility among the Chinese, Assyrians, Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and others.1 The word "fish" comes from dag which implies increase or fertility,2 and with good reason. A single cod fish annually spawns upwards of 9,000,000 eggs; the flounder 1,000,000; the sturgeon 700,000; the perch 400,000; the mackeral 500,000; the herring 10,000, etc.

The goddess of sexual fertility among the Romans was called Venus. It is from her name that our word "veneral" (as in veneral disease), has come. Friday was regarded as her sacred day because it was believed that the planet Venus ruled the first hour of Friday and thus was called dies Veneris.3 And—to make the significance complete—the fish was also regarded as being sacred to her.4 The accompanying illustration as seen in Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian   Symbolism  shows  the  goddess Venus with her symbol, the fish.5

The fish was regarded as sacred to Ashtoreth, the name under which the Israelites worshipped the pagan goddess. In ancient Egypt, Isis was sometimes represented with a fish on her head, as seen in the accompanying illustration. Considering that Friday was named after the goddess of sexual fertility, Friday being her sacred day, and the fish her symbol, it seems like more than a mere coincidence that Catholics have been taught that Friday is a day of abstinence from meat, a day to eat fish!

Isis and Horus.

We have already noticed why some Christians have rejected Friday as the day of the crucifixion and Easter Sunday morning as the time of the resurrection. From where, then, did Easter observance come? Did the early Christians dye Easter eggs? Did Peter or Paul ever conduct an Easter sunrise service? The answers are, of course, obvious.

The word "Easter" appears once in the King James Version: "...intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people" (Acts 12:4). The word translated "Easter" here is pascha which is—as ALL scholars know—the Greek word for Passover and has no connection with the English "Easter." It is well-known that "Easter" is not a Christian expression—not in its original meaning. The word comes from the name of a pagan goddess—the goddess of the rising light of day and spring. "Easter" is but a more modern form of Eostre, Ostera, Astarte, or Ishtar, the latter, according to Hislop, being pronounced as we pronounce "Easter" today.7

Like the word "Easter", many of our customs at this season had their beginnings among non-Christian religions. Easter eggs, for example, are colored, hid, hunted, and eaten—a custom done innocently today and often linked with a time of fun and frolic for children. But this custom did not originate in Christianity. The egg was, however, a sacred symbol among the Babylonians who believed an old fable about an egg of wonderous size which fell from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvellous egg—according to the ancient myth—the goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. The egg came to symbolize the goddess Easter.8

The ancient Druids bore an egg as the sacred emblem of their idolatrous order.9 The procession of Ceres in Rome was preceded by an egg.10 In the mysteries of Bacchus an egg was consecrated. China used dyed or colored eggs in sacred festivals. In Japan, an ancient custom was to make the sacred egg a brazen color. In northern Europe, in pagan times, eggs were colored and used as symbols of the goddess of spring. The illustration given below shows two ways the pagans represented their sacred eggs. On the left is the Egg of Heliopolis; on the right, the Typhon's Egg. Among the Egyptians, the egg was associated with the sun—the "golden egg."11 Their dyed eggs were used as sacred offerings at the Easter season.12

Says The Encyclopedia Britannica, "The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival."13 How, then, did this custom come to be associated with Christianity? Apparently some sought to Christianize the egg by suggesting that as the chick comes out of the egg, so Christ came out of the tomb. Pope Paul V (1605-1621) even appointed a prayer in this connection: "Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ."14

The following quotations from The Catholic Encyclopedia are significant.

"Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table of Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy...The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter"! 

Such was the case with a custom that was popular in Europe. "The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains from new fire, drawn from wood by friction; this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires, but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere." So what happened? 

Notice this carefully! "The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the resurrection of Christ"! 

Were pagan customs mixed into the Romish church and given the appearance of Christianity? It is not necessary to take my word for it, in numerous places The Catholic Encyclopedia comes right out and says so. Finally, one more quote concerns the Easter Rabbit: "The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility."15

"Like the Easter egg, the Easter hare", says the Encyclopedia Britannica "came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples...Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, urn, means also 'open' and 'period', the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity, both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life. As such, the hare became linked with Easter...eggs."15

Thus both the Easter rabbit and Easter eggs were symbols of sexual significance,

symbols of fertility.

At the Easter season it is not uncommom for Christians to attend sunrise services. It is assumed that such honor Christ because he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning just as the sun was coming up. But the resurrection did not actually occur at sunrise, for it was yet DARK when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and it was already empty! On the other hand, there was a type of sunrise service that was a part of ancient sun worship. We do not mean to imply, of course, that Christian people today worship the sun in their Easter sunrise services. Nor do we say that those who bow before the monstrance sun-image with its round, sun shaped host are worshipping the sun. But such practices, being without Scriptural example, do indicate that mixtures have been made.

In the time of Ezekiel, even people who had known the true God, fell into sun worship and made it a part of their worship. "And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the Temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the Temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the EAST; and they worshipped the sun toward the EAST" (Ezekiel 8:16). The fact that they worshipped the sun toward the east shows it was a sunrise service. The next verse says: "...and, lo, they put the branch to their nose." Fausset says this "alludes to the idolatrous usage of holding up a branch of tamarisk to the nose at daybreak whilst they sang hymns to the rising sun."16

It was also to the east that the prophets of Baal looked in the days of Elijah. Baal was the sun-god, and so god of fire. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal with the words, "The God that answers by FIRE, let him be God", he was meeting Baal worship on its own grounds. What time of day was it when these prophets of Baal started calling on him? It was as Baal—the sun—made his first appearance over the eastern horizon. It was at "morning" (1 Kings 18:26), that is, at dawn.7

Rites connected with the dawning sun—in one form or another—have been known among many ancient nations. The Sphinx in Egypt was located so as to face the east. From Mount Fujiyama, Japan, prayers are made to the rising sun. “The pilgrims pray to their rising sun while climbing the mountain sides...sometimes one may see several hundreds of Shinto pilgrims in their white robes turning out from their shelters, and joining their chants to the rising sun.”18 

The pagan Mithrists of Rome met together at dawn in honor of the sun-god.

The goddess of spring, from whose name our word "Easter" comes, was associated with the sun rising in the east —even as the very word "Easter" would seem to imply. Thus the dawn of the sun in the east, the name Easter, and the spring season are all connected.

According to the old legends, after Tammuz was slain, he descended into the underworld. But through the weeping of his "mother", Ishtar (Easter), he was mystically revived in spring. "The resurrection of Tammuz through Ishtar's grief was dramatically represented annually in order to insure the success of the crops and the fertility of the people. Each year men and women had to grieve with Ishtar over the death of Tammuz and celebrate the god's return in order to win anew her favor and her benefits!"19 When the new vegetation began to come forth, those ancient people believed their "savior" had come from the underworld, had ended winter, and caused spring to begin.20 Even the Israelites adopted the doctrines and practice of the annual pagan spring festival, for Ezekiel speaks of "women weeping for Tammuz" (Ezekiel 8:14).

As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in reality—-not merely in nature or the new vegetation of spring. Because his resurrecton was in the spring of the year, it was not too difficult for the church of the fourth century (now having departed from the original faith in a number of ways) to merge the pagan spring festival into Christianity. In speaking of this merger, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, "Christianity...incorporated in its celebration of the great Christian feast day many of the heathen rites and customs of the spring festival"!21

Legend has it that Tammuz was killed by a wild boar when he was forty years old. Hislop points out that forty days—a day for each year Tammuz had lived on earth—were set aside to "weep for Tammuz." In olden times these forty days were observed with weeping, fasting, and self-chastisement— to gain anew his favor—so he would come forth from the underworld and cause spring to begin. This observance was not only known at Babylon, but also among the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mexicans, and, for a time, even among the Israelites. "Among the pagans", says Hislop, "this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz."22

Having adopted other beliefs about the spring festival into the church, it was only another step in the development to also adopt the old "fast" that preceeded the festival. The Catholic Encyclopedia very honestly points out that "writers in the fourth century were prone to describe many practices (e.g. the Lenten fast of forty days) as of Apostolic institution which certainly had no claim to be so regarded."23 It was not until the sixth century that the pope officially ordered the observance of Lent, calling it a "sacred fast" during which people were to obstain from meat and a few other foods.

Catholic scholars know and recognize that there are customs within their church which were borrowed from paganism.24 But they reason that many things, though originally pagan, can be Christianized. If some pagan tribe observed forty days in honor of a pagan god, why should we not do the same, only in honor of Christ? Though pagans worshipped the sun toward the east, could we not have sunrise services to honor the resurrection of Christ, even though this was not the time of day he arose? Even though the egg was used by pagans, can't we continue its use and pretend it symbolizes the large rock that was in front of the tomb? In other words, why not adopt all kinds of popular customs, only instead of using them to honor pagan gods, as the heathen did, use them to honor Christ? It all sounds very logical, yet a much safer guideline is found in the Bible itself: "Take heed...that thou inquire not after their gods (pagan gods), saying: How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God... What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto."



CHRISTMAS - DECEMBER 25th - the day designated on our calendars as the day of Christ's birth. But is this really the day on which he was born? Are today's customs at this season of Christian origin? Or is Christmas another example of mixture between paganism and Christianity?

A look at the word "Christmas" indicates that it is a mixture. Though it includes the name of Christ, it also mentions the "Mass." When we consider all of the elaborate ceremonies, prayers for the dead, transubstantiation rites, and complicated rituals of the Roman Catholic Mass, can any truly link this with the historical Jesus of the gospels? His life and ministry were uncomplicated by such ritualism. As Paul, we fear that some have been corrupted "from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3) because of pagan influence upon such things as the Mass. Looking at it this way, the word "Christ-mass" is self-contradictory.

As to the actual date of Christ's birth, December 25th is to be doubted. When Jesus was born, "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). Shepherds in Palestine did not abide in the fields during the middle of winter! Adam Clarke has written, "As these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields...On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up."1

While the Bible does not expressly tell us the date of Jesus' birth, there are indications it was probably in the fall of the year. We know that Jesus was crucified in spring, at the time of the passover (John 18:39). Figuring his ministry as lasting three and a half years, this would place the beginning of his ministry in fall. At that time, he was about to be thirty years of age (Luke 3:23), the recognized age for a man to become an official minister under the Old Testament (cf. Numbers 4:3). If he turned thirty in the fall, then his birthday was in the fall, thirty years before.

At the time of Jesus' birth, Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem to be taxed (Luke 2:1-5). There are no records to indicate that the middle of winter was the time of taxing. A more logical time of the year would have been in the fall, at the end of the harvest. If this was the case, it would have been the season for the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem which could explain why Mary went with Joseph (cf. Luke 2:41). This would also explain why even at Bethlehem "there was no room in the inn" (Luke 2:7). According to Josephus, Jerusalem was normally a city of 120,000 inhabitants, but during the feasts, sometimes as many as 2,000,000 Jews would gather. Such vast crowds not only filled Jerusalem, but the  surrounding towns also, including Bethlehem, which was only five miles to the south. If the journey of Mary and Joseph was indeed to attend the feast, as well as to be taxed, this would place the birth of Jesus in the fall of the year.

It is not essential that we know the exact date on which Christ was born—the main thing being, of course, that he was born! The early Christians commemorated the death of Christ (1 Cor. 11:26), not his birth. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts."2 Later, when churches at various places did begin celebrating the birthday of Christ, there was much difference of opinion as to the correct date. It was not until the latter part of the fourth century before the Roman Church began observing December 25th.3 Yet, by the fifth century, it was ordering that the birth of Christ be forever observed on this date, even though this was the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, one of the names of the sun-god!4

Says Frazer, "The largest pagan religious cult which fostered the celebration of December 25 as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds was the pagan sun worship —Mithraism...This winter festival was called 'the Nativity' —the 'Nativity of the SUN'."5 Was this pagan festival responsible for the December 25 day being chosen by the Roman Church? We will let The Catholic Encyclopedia answer. "The well-known solar feast of Natalis Invicti"—the Nativity of the Unconquered Sun—"celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date"6

As pagan solar customs were being "Christianized" at Rome, it is understandable that confusion would result. Some thought Jesus was Sol, the sun-god! "Tertullian had to assert that Sol was not the Christians' God; Augustine denounced the heretical identification of Christ with Sol. Pope Leo I bitterly reproved solar survivals—Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles' basilica, turning to adore the rising sun."7

The winter festival was very popular in ancient times. "In pagan Rome and Greece, in the days of the Teutonic barbarians, in the remote times of ancient Egyptian civilization, in the infancy of the race East and West and North and South, the period of the winter solstice was ever a period of rejoicing and festivity."8 Because this season was so popular, it was adopted as the time of the birth of Christ by the Roman church.

Some of our present-day Christmas customs were influenced by the Roman Saturnalia. "It is common knowledge", says one writer, "that much of our association with the Christmas season—the holidays, the giving of presents and the general feeling of geniality—is but the inheritance from the Roman winter festival of the Saturnalia...survivals of paganism."9

Tertullian mentions that the practice of exchanging presents was a part of the Saturnalia. There is nothing wrong in giving presents, of course. The Israelites gave gifts to each other at times of celebration - even celebrations that were observed because of mere custom (Esther 9:22). But some have sought to link Christmas gifts with those presented to Jesus by the wisemen. This cannot be correct. By the time the wiseman arrived, Jesus was no longer "lying in a manger" (as when the shepherds came), but was in a house (Matt. 2:9-11). This could have been quite a while after his birthday. Also, they presented their gifts to Jesus, not to each other!

The Christmas tree, as we know it, only dates back a few centuries, though ideas about sacred trees are very ancient. An old Babylonish fable told of an evergreen tree which sprang out of a dead tree stump. The old stump symbolized the dead Nimrod, the new evergreen tree symbolized that Nimrod had come to life again in Tammuz! Among the Druids the oak was sacred, among the Egyptians it was the palm, and in Rome it was the fir, which was decorated with red berries during the Saturnalia!10 The Scandinavian god Odin was believed to bestow special gifts at yuletide to those who approached his sacred fir tree.11 In at least ten Biblical references, the green tree is associated with idolatry and false worship (1 Kings 14:23, etc.) Since all trees are green at least part of the year, the special mention of "green" probably refers to trees that are evergreen. "The Christmas tree...recapitulates the idea of tree worship...gilded nuts and balls symbolize the sun...all of the festivities of the winter solstice have been absorbed into Christmas day...the use of holly and mistletoe from the Drudic ceremonies; the Christmas tree from the honors paid to Odin's sacred fir."11

Taking all of this into consideration, it is interesting to compare a statement of Jeremiah with today's custom of decorating a tree at the Christmas season. "The customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not" (Jer. 10:3, 4).

The people in the days of Jeremiah, as the context shows, were actually making an idol out of the tree, the word "workman" being not merely a lumberjack, but one who formed idols (cf. Isaiah 40:19, 20; Hosea 8:4-6). And the word "axe" refers here specifically to a carving tool. In citing this portion of Jeremiah, we do not mean to infer that people who today place Christmas trees in their homes or churches are worshipping these trees. Such customs do, however, provide vivid examples of how mixtures have been made.

In the sixth century, missionaries were sent through the northern part of Europe to gather pagans into the Roman fold. They found that June 24th was a very popular day among these people. They sought to "Christianize" this day, but how? By this time December 25th had been adopted by the Romish church as the birthday of Christ. Since June 24th was approximately six months before December 25th, why not call this the birthday of John the Baptist? John was born, it should be remembered, six months before Jesus (Luke 1:26, 36). Thus June 24th is known on the papal calendar now as St. John's Day!

In Britain, before the entrance of Christianity there, June 24th was celebrated by the Druids with blazing fires in honor of Baal. Herodotus, Wilkinson, Layard, and other historians tell of these ceremonial fires in different countries. When June  24th  became  St.  John's Day, the sacred fires were adopted also and became "St. John's fires"! These are mentioned as such in the Catholic Encyclopedia.2 "I have seen the people running and leaping through the St. John's fires in Ireland", says a writer of the past century, "...proud of passing through unsinged...thinking themselves in a special manner blest by the  ceremony."14   It  would seem  that such rites would sooner honor Molech than John the Baptist!

June 24th was regarded as being sacred to the ancient fish god Oannes, a name by which Nimrod was known.15 In an article on Nimrod, Fausset says: "Oannes the fish god, Babylon's civilizer, rose out of the red sea..."16 In the Latin language of the Roman church, John was called JOANNES. Notice how similar this is to OANNES! Such similarities helped promote more easily the mixture of paganism into Christianity.

A day which in pagan times had been regarded as sacred to Isis or Diana, August 15, was simply renamed as the day of the "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" and right up to our present time is still highly honored.17 Another day adopted from paganism, supposedly to honor Mary, is called "Candlemas" or the "Purification of the Blessed Virgin" and is celebrated on February 2. In Mosaic law, after giving birth to a male child, a mother was considered unclean for forty days (Lev. 12). "And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished", Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus in the temple and offered the prescribed sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24). Having adopted December 25 as the nativity of Christ, the February 2 date seemed to fit in well with the time of the purification of Mary. But what did this have to do with the use of candles on this day?

In pagan Rome, this festival was observed by the carrying of torches and candles in honor of Februa, from whom our month February is named! The Greeks held the feast in honor of the goddess Ceres, the mother of Proserpina, who with candle-bearing celebrants searched for her in the under world.18 Thus we can see how adopting February 2 to honor the purification of Mary was influenced by pagan customs involving candles, even to calling it "Candlemass" day. On this day all of the candles to be used during the year in Catholic rituals are blessed. An old drawing shows the pope distributing blessed candles to priests. Says The Catholic Encyclopedia, "We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in rites paid to the dead."19

If the apostle Paul were to be on Candlemas Day raised up to preach to this generation, we wonder if he would not say to the professing church, as he did to the Galatians long ago, "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain" (Gal. 4:9-11). The context shows that the Galatians had been converted from the pagan worship of "gods" (verse 8). When some had turned "again" to their former worship (verse 9), the days and times they observed were evidently those which had been set aside to honor pagan gods! Later, strangely enough, some of these very days were merged into the worship of the professing church and "Christianized"!



WE HAVE SEEN—by scores of examples—that a mixture of paganism and Christianity produced the Roman Catholic Church. The pagans worshipped and prayed to a mother goddess, so the fallen church adopted mother-worship under the name of Mary. The pagans had gods and goddesses associated with various days, occupations, and events in life. This system was adopted and the "gods" were called "saints." The pagans used statues or idols of their pagan deities in their worship, so the fallen church did also, simply calling them by different names. From ancient times, crosses in various forms were regarded in superstitious ways. Some of these ideas were adopted and associated with the cross of Christ. The cross as an image was outwardly honored, but the true "finished" sacrifice of the cross became obscured by the rituals of the Mass with its transubstantiation, mystery drama, and prayers for the dead!

Repetitious prayers, rosaries, and relics were all adopted from paganism and given a surface appearance of Christianity. The pagan office and title of Pontifex Maximus was applied to the bishop of Rome. He became known as the pope, the Father of fathers, even though Jesus said to call no man father! In literally hundreds of ways, pagan rites were merged into Christianity at Rome. Catholic scholars recognize that their church developed from a mixture of paganism and Christianity. But from their point of view, these things were triumphs for Christianity, because the church was able to Christianize pagan practices.

The Catholic Encyclopedia makes these statements: "We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead. But the Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things….like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc., which were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; they were common to almost all cults."1 "Water, oil, light, incense, singing, procession, prostration, decoration of altars, vestments of priests, are naturally at the service of universal religious instinct...Even pagan feasts may be 'baptized': certainly our processions of 25 April are the Robigalia; the Rogation days may replace the Ambarualia; the date of Christmas Day may be due to the same instinct which placed on 25 December the Natalis Invicti of the solar cult."2

The use of statues, and customs such as bowing before an image, are explained in Catholic theology as having developed from the old emperor worship! "The etiquette of the Byzantine court gradually evolved elaborate forms of respect, not only for the person of Caesar but even for his statues and symbols. Philostorgius...says that in the fourth century the Christian Roman citizens in the East offered gifts, incense, even prayers (!) to the statues of the emperor. (Hist. eccl. II, 17). It would be natural that people who bowed to, kissed, incensed the imperial eagles and images of Caesar (with no suspicion of anything like idolatry)...should give the same signs to the cross, the images of Christ, and the altar...The first Christians were accustomed to see statues of emperors, of pagan gods and heroes, as well as pagan wall-paintings. So they made paintings of their religion, and, as soon as they could afford them, statues of their Lord and of their heroes."3 

It should be noticed that no claim for any scriptural command is even suggested for these things. It is clearly stated that these customs developed from paganism.

Sometimes various wall-paintings of the early centuries, such as those in the Roman catacombs, are referred to as though they represented the beliefs of the original Christians. We do not believe this is true, for there is clear evidence of a mixture. While these paintings included scenes of Christ feeding the multitudes with the loaves and fishes, Jonah and the whale, or the sacrifice of Isaac, other paintings were unmistakably pagan portrayals. Some feel this "mixture" was a disguise used to avoid persecution, but nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the roots of mixture were present. Says The Catholic Encyclopedia: "The Good Shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders occurs frequently, and this preference may well be due to its resemblance to the pagan figures of Hermes Kriophorus or Aristaeus, which at this period were much in vogue...Even the fable of Orpheus was borrowed pictorially and referred to Christ. Similarly the story of Eros and Psyche was revived and Christianized, serving to remind the believer of the resurrection of the body...The group of the Twelve Apostles probably attracted the less attention because the twelve Pii Majores were often also grouped together. Again the figure of the Orans (q. v.), the woman with arms uplifted in prayer, was quite familiar to classical antiquity...Similarly the fish symbol, representing Christ, the anchor of hope, the palm of victory, were all sufficiently familiar as emblems among pagans to excite no particular attention."4

In the Old Testament, the apostasy into which the Israelites repeatedly fell was that of mixture. Usually they did not totally reject the worship of the true God, but mixed heathen rites with it! This was the case even when they worshipped the golden calf (Exodus 32). We all realize that such worship was false, heathenistic, and an abomination in the sight of God. Yet—and this is the point we would make—it was claimed that this was a "feast unto the Lord" (verse 5)—a feast to Jehovah (or more correctly) Yahweh, the true God! They sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. They practiced rites in which they made themselves naked (verse 25), perhaps similar to those which were carried out by naked Babylonian priests.5

During the  forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites carried the tabernacle of God. However, some of them were not content with this, so they added something. They made unto themselves a Babylonian tabernacle that was carried also! "But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun, your images" (Amos 5:26; Acts 7:42, 43). These were but other names for the sun-god Baal and the mother goddess Astarte. Because of this mixture, their songs of worship, sacrifices, and offerings were rejected by God.

At another period, the Israelites performed secret rites, built high places, used divination, caused their children to pass through the fire, and worshipped the sun, moon, and stars (2 Kings 17:9-17). As a result, they were driven from their land. The king of Assyria brought men from various nations, including Babylon, to inhabit the land from which the Israelites had been taken. These also practiced heathenistic rituals and God sent lions among them. Recognizing such as the judgment of God, they sent for a man of God to teach them how to fear the Lord. "Howbeit every nation made gods of their own" (verses 29-31), attempting to worship these gods and the Lord also—a mixture. "So" in this way—"they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests...they feared the Lord, and served their own gods" (verse 32).

Mixture was also apparent in the days of the judges when a Levite priest who claimed to speak the word of the Lord served in a "house of gods" and was called by the title "father" (Judges 17:3, 13; 18:6). At the time of Ezekiel, an idol had been placed right at the entrance of the Jerusalem temple. Priests offered incense to false gods which were pictured upon the walls. Women wept for Tammuz and men worshipped the sun at dawn from the temple area (Ezekiel 8). Some even sacrificed their children and "when they had slain their children to their idols", God said, "then they came the same day into my sanctuary" (Ezekiel 23:38, 39). Jeremiah's message was directed to people who claimed to "worship the Lord" (Jer. 7:2), but who had mixed in paganistic rites. "Behold", God said, "ye trust in lying words that cannot profit. Ye...burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods...make cakes to the queen of heaven...and come and stand before me in this house" (verses 8-18).

Considering these numerous Biblical examples, it is clear that God is not pleased with worship that is a mixture. As Samuel preached, "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Astaroth (the pagan mother worship) from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you" (1 Samuel 7:3).

We should remember that Satan does not appear as a monster with horns, a long tail, and a pitchfork. Instead, he appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). As Jesus warned about "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Matt. 7:15), so in numerous instances the paganism that was disguised in the outer garments of Christianity became a mixture that has deceived millions. It was like removing the warning label from a bottle of poison and substituting a peppermint candy label in its place. The contents are deadly just the same. No matter how much we may dress it up on the outside, paganism is deadly. True worship must be "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) —not pagan error.

Because of the clever ways that paganism was mixed with Christianity, the Babylonish influence became hidden—a mystery— "mystery Babylon." But as a detective gathers clues and facts in order to solve a mystery, so in this book we have presented many Biblical and historical clues as evidence. Some of these clues may have seemed insignificant at first glance or when taken alone. But when the full picture is seen, they fit together and conclusively solve the mystery of Babylon—ancient and modern! Over the centuries God has called his people out of the bondage of Babylon. Still today his voice is saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4).







Keith Hunt