Keith Hunt - Passover Study #11 Restitution of All Things


                     PASSOVER
                  UNDERSTANDINGS
                    Part Seven

              SOME PROBLEMS WITH JOHN?


     Because John in his Gospel used the word "supper" in
connection with the meal that Jesus had with His disciples on the
night of the 14th of Nisan, some have taken this to mean that
Jesus did not observe the Passover proper but was instituting
something completely new. 
     This question needs to be answered. Is there a contradiction
between the writers of the synoptic Gospels and that by John?
     To answer this I will quote from the book by Dr.Samuele
Bacciocchi - GOD'S FESTIVALS, pages 60,61.

     "The Last Supper in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel of
John only few details of the Last Supper are given, because, as
Geldenhuys explain, 'He assumes that his readers are quite aware
of the fact that this meal was the paschal repast which the Lord
celebrated with His disciples on the evening of His
crucifixion......For this season he merely refers to it by the
single word deipnon (supper) without stating expressly what
precise meal it was. He knew that the first three Gospels and
also the Epistles of Paul gave a full account of the celebration
of the paschal repast and the institution of the Holy Communion.
Consequently he does not repeat the same facts, but mentions a
few supplementary occurrences that took place during the meal, as
they made a great impression on him and had not been described in
the other Gospels.'
     Though John does not explicitly designate the Last Supper as
a Passover meal for the reasons just mentioned, there are
indications that he also regarded the meal shared by Christ with
His disciples as a paschal meal. 
     The meal takes place within Jerusalem even though the city
was thronged with pilgrims (John 12:12, 18, 20; 13:2; 18:1; cf.
Mark 14:17). During His last stay in Jerusalem, Jesus regularly
left the holy city in the evening and went to Bethany (Mark
11:11,19; Luke 19:29; 21:37), but at the time of the Last Supper,
He remained in the overcrowded city. Why? Because, as mentioned
earlier, it was a rule that the paschal lamb had to be eaten
within the gates of Jerusalem(For a documentation and discussion,
see Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus - Oxford,
England, 1995, pp. 15- 16).
     The supper is held in the evening and lasts into the night
(John 13:30; cf. Mark 14:17). The ordinary supper was not held at
night, but in the late afternoon(See Josephus, Jewish Wars 2, 8,
5). The Last Supper began in the evening and lasted into the
night because, as Joachim Jeremias explains, ' the Passover had
to be eaten at night ever since its institution ' (Joachim
Jeremias note 10, p.18). 
     The meal was religious in character, and the participants
reclined at the table (John 13:12, 23, 25, 28; cf. Mark 14:18).
At an ordinary meal, diners sat down to eat, as indicated by
rabbinical sources (Ibid., p.20). At the Last Supper, however,
Jesus and His disciples did not sit; they reclined, because 'at
Passover, as a symbol of liberty, it was the ritual duty of the
people present to recline at the table even-as is expressly
stated-for 'the poorest man in Israel' (Ibid., p.26).
     Finally, after the meal Jesus did not return to Bethany as
He had done the preceding nights. He walked to the Garden of
Gethsemane (John 18:1-2). The reason is that custom dictates that
' the night of Passover had to be spent in Jerusalem
(contemporary exegesis derived this command from Deut. 16:17). In
order to make possible the observance  of this command, the city
district had been enlarged to include Bethphage. Bethany,
however, lay outside the enlarged city district ' (Ibid., p.31). 
     The above indications suggest that John, like the synoptic
writers, regarded the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His
disciples as a Passover meal."

     End of quote from the book God's Festivals.

     I think all of the above arguments and deductions do show
John was in no way contradicting anything that Matthew, Mark and
Luke wrote about the last Passover observance Jesus had with His
disciples, on the night of the 14th day of Nisan. If as most
scholars believe, John was the last apostle to write his Gospel,
then it is only logical he would write things that no other
Gospel recorded, and that he would choose to write with a
different style.
     So John did not use the word "Passover" with the meal Jesus
shared with His disciples on that night of the 14th, so what I
say. Three other Gospel writers sure did. And just because John
did not does not make the other writers wrong!  John does not
in any way contradict the fact that Jesus did observe the
Passover as recorded by the others. He says nothing about this
supper being NEW, or a "farewell meal" or just a "fellowship
gathering to introduce the New Covenant memorial service of
Jesus' death." Really no big deal, it was the Passover supper
meal they were observing!
     John goes right into it mentioning things the other writers
did not. So the whole is complete when all the pieces are put
together. It is obvious from some of the things he states that he
is indeed talking about the same Passover supper meal that the
other Gospels talk about. And they made it very clear that it was
the paschal meal Jesus was observing.
     There could be another reason as to why John may have
deliberately not used the
 ord "passover" but the word "supper" instead.  John does use the
word Passover in his last chapters of his Gospel. He uses it in
chapters 13:1; 18:28, 39; 19:14.
     As you look at these verses and the context(also the context
of the other Gospels) it is again clear that all that transpired
to Jesus during the night and early morning, and His being put on
the cross to die, was all done ON THE 14TH, leading up to the
late afternoon of the 14th, when the Passover lambs were killed
by the Pharisees teaching in the Temple, and when the majority of
the religious Jews observed THEIR Passover. They were still to
"eat the passover"(chap.18:28). It was, this 14th day, the
"preparation day" of the Jews who observed the Passover at the
END of the 14th(chap.19:14). It was not only the preparation day
for this passover of those Jews who followed the Temple custom,
but it was also as John records, the day before "the Sabbath
day"(chap.19:31) - the 15th day, the first annual Sabbath of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread.
     Historically the popular religion of the Jewish Temple had
Passover at the end of the 14th, going on into the 15th. John may
have wanted his readers to understand that when he used the word
"passover" in his last chapters, he was ONLY referring to the
popular Jewish Passover of the Temple followers. If he had also
used the word "passover" in connection with the supper meal Jesus
had with His disciples, it may have caused un-necessary confusion
in the minds of his readers. At least by using it with the
popular Temple tradition(yet to eat the passover - chap.18:28 -
at the end of the 14th) he would keep his readers on the correct
chronological path.
     It would seem it was important for John to not only record
certain things done and said during Jesus' supper meal with His
disciples, that no other writer had recorded, but it also seems
that John thought it important to make sure his readers
understood clearly WHEN all these events took place. They
transpired ON the 14th day, the day used by the Jews of the
Temple Passover observance to prepare for the killing and eating
of the passover lambs, and to prepare for the coming Sabbath of
the 15th, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread.

     What I say next is more than just interesting. You should
note it carefully, for it bears out I believe the truth of what I
have stated above.

     The word "passover" is used by Matthew, Mark and Luke, in
connection with Jesus' night of the 14th day meal with his
disciples. BUT AFTER THAT PASSOVER MEAL on that night, those
writers NEVER AGAIN USE the word "passover" - it just does not
appear from that night forward to the end of their Gospels. With
all they say about the arrest, trial, beatings, crucifixion,
death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, THEY NEVER AGAIN
USE THE WORD "PASSOVER." 
     You can verify this fact in a few minutes with Strong's
Concordance of the Bible, please do not just take my word for it,
see it for yourself, and then you will know.
     With John it would seem he did in the main just the
opposite. After telling us about a number of things that went on
during that "supper" meal Jesus had with His disciples, he then
uses the word "passover" - three times in fact, and once "the
sabbath day" to come after that 14th day. 
     John is most definitely using a context within a Jewish
Traditional Temple Observance Passover, the other three Gospel
writers were most definitely NOT DOING SO!  They were using a
context of the true original, correct time, to observe THE
PASSOVER, at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month, as
the disciples asked Jesus "where shall we prepare the Passover
for you to eat."

                 JOHN'S PHRASE "THE PASSOVER"?

     There is a key to Bible reading and understanding that most
do not know about, have never been taught, or have never grasped
it as they read through the word of the Lord. And that little
key(one of a number of little keys to Bible reading) is that some
writers wrote phrases and sentences that were purely HISTORICAL
CUSTOM/TRADITION  comments ONLY, never intended for anyone to
believe that sacred God breathed DOCTRINE was being established.
     Examples will show you exactly what I mean;

     1. Sabbath days journey(Acts 1:12).

     Luke who wrote the book of Acts, just from nowhere it would
seem throws at us these words found in verse twelve: "....which
is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." 
Now where did he ever get that from?  There is nothing in the Law
of Moses about "a sabbath day's journey."  There is nothing
anywhere in the Bible concerning "a sabbath day's journey."  The
center reference column in my KJV and my NKJV gives no cross
scripture for that phrase.
     The truth is Luke was merely throwing in an HISTORICAL
CUSTOM of PRACTICE from his religious TRADITIONS of the Jewish
world. Many of his readers knew what he was talking about as they
were familiar with such Jewish rules and practices concerning
things done or not done on the Sabbath. The main part of
religious Judaism had, not from any law of God, not from any
specific command of the Lord regarding how far to travel
on the Sabbath,  from their own mind established the rule of "how
far they could travel on the Sabbath."
     Luke gives this fact of the day(common knowledge and common
practice for those who put themselves under such rules) to tell
his readers the distance from Olivet to Jerusalem. HE DID NOT
GIVE IT TO ESTABLISH CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE AS IF IT WAS A LAW OF
GOD!!
     He does not state it IS a law of the Lord. He does not say
it WAS a law of the Lord. He just uses a common custom of
practice, to inform a "distance" in the mind of readers, NOT TO
ESTABLISH A NEW LAW FOR CHRISTIANS TO FOLLOW.  Jesus had taught
man was to live by every word of GOD, if there was no law from
God regarding a distance one could travel on the Sabbath, then
there was no law to break.
     This is an example that could be compared to this. I am
going to hold an Evangelistic series of meetings on the Canadian
TV religious channel. I will do it on December the 25th. Some
reporter writing for the Toronto Star(which goes all over
Canada) is to write a story about my series. At some point,
knowing that most people reading  will understand certain terms
because of religious custom, he says, "And Pastor Keith Hunt will
bring these Evangelistic messages to you on Christmas Day."  By
so describing, by using such words,  is that meaning I am going
to preach about Christmas? Does it mean I believe in observing
Christmas Day?  NO!  The reporter stated no such doctrine that I
will do either!  But he did, by using an HISTORICAL CUSTOM
TIME(Christmas Day) most all would know is December 25th, tell
people WHEN my messages could be heard. And that's all he meant
by it, no more and no less.

     2. Feast of Dedication(John 10:22,23).

     John puts us at Jerusalem, in the winter, at the time of the
feast of dedication. Now you see if you can find any such feast
commanded by the Lord to be observed in the books of Moses. I'll
give you as much time as you like, but I'll also tell you that
you will never find such a feast in the laws of the Lord. So as
Paul said: "where there is no law there is no transgression." 
God does not command you to observe such a feast if you do not
want to observe it, it is just that simple. This feast had
HISTORICAL meaning for the Jews. It was then an HISTORICAL CUSTOM
PRACTICE for many Jews. Some of the Bible Commentaries will tell
you all about it, how it originated etc.
     Jesus was in Jerusalem and in the Temple. Now does John say
Christians are to observe this feast? Does he state this feast is
now New Covenant DOCTRINE for the church of God? Does he even
state that Jesus was observing it?  NO!  He states NONE of these
things. Jesus may have taken advantage of the situation and the
custom of people, to preach to them.  As Paul once said: "To a
Jew I become a Jew, to a Greek, a Greek, to a Roman, I become a
Roman, that I may win some to Christ."
     I could take advantage of preaching the truths of God on
Christmas Day because many more could be willing to listen to
religion on that day, as it is an historical custom to do so.
     John, by using this HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICE of his day
was at best only telling his readers WHEN all that transpired
between Jesus and the Jews, he is going to relate to them, TOOK
PLACE!  John was certainly not trying to establish a new church
DOCTRINE for Christians.  If anyone teaches that he was they are
certainly at best, reading into those words things that are not
there, and at worst, they are perverting and twisting those words
to say something they just do not say.

     3. James, Peter, and Unleavened Bread(Acts 12:1-5).

     Should anyone use these verses to try to prove to someone
that they should observe the feast of Unleavened Bread?  Was this
written here to prove to Christians that they should under the
New Covenant, continue to observe the Unleavened Bread feast that
is found in the books of Moses?  
     Look at it, read it!  I certainly would never give this as a
proof text that the church of God should observe the days of
Unleavened Bread. I have a few NT verses that do a FAR better job
for that purpose than these in Acts 12.
     Luke is telling his readers the TIME ELEMENT ONLY as he
relates to them the facts about James and Peter and Herod. All
this took place at an HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICE that most
readers would easily acquaint with. He was not HERE trying to
prove the DOCTRINE that the NT church of God observed this feast
of the Lord. He is not here trying to DISPROVE it either. He was
not entering that debate at all. That was to be taken up
elsewhere, under other times and other purposes, and other parts
of the word of the Lord. DOCTRINE was not the issue here. The
fact of WHEN all this took place was one of the main points he
wanted to bring out, no more and no less.

     4. Amos and new month day(Amos 8:5).

     God is warning and correcting Israel. Many of them were
saying, "When will the new month be gone, that we may sell corn?"
     This is the new month day here spoken about. People were
wanting it over with so they could SELL CORN!  Now just a minute,
we need to ask: Where is the law of the Lord that prohibited the
selling of corn on the new month day? In fact where is the law
of God that prohibited selling ANYTHING on the new month day? 
Take Strong's Concordance, look up new month in every place in
the books of Moses, and see if you can find any law making the
new month day as a Sabbath, or prohibiting the selling of
grain. I guarantee it, you will not come close to finding any
such law for the new month day.
     In the time of Amos(who knows when it may have started) the
people of Israel had from HISTORICAL CUSTOM(at some point in
time) made the new month day into a kind of Sabbath day, and they
were here moaning about the fact of their practice, as well as
the true weekly Sabbath. There attitude of mind was all way off
the wall and out of line, that is true, but what we need to see
is that by Amos recording what he did, as to Israel's HISTORICAL
PRACTICE that most of his readers were familiar with, about the
new month day, DID NOT MAKE IT A LAW OF GOD, that was established
by the Lord. Amos was NOT trying to establish DOCTRINE here. He
was relating an attitude of mind, but also historical practices
of the time. Now to see if those historical doings of their's(on
the new month day and the Sabbath day) WAS IN LINE WITH THE LAW
OF GOD OR NOT, was not to be done in those verses(as that truth
Amos never even touches on), but must be done ELSEWHERE in the
law of God.
     Because people do not understand this little key to Bible
reading, I once had a group of people attend one of our Sabbath
services in Ontario, back in the 80's. They were convinced from
reading Amos 8:5 that the new month day WAS A SABBATH!  They
just could not understand what I have stated to you above. I
asked them to find in the books of Moses, the law of the Lord,
where the new month day was to be observed as a Sabbath. They
could not find it, but because of Amos 8:5 they were dogmatic
that the new month day was to be observed as a Sabbath.

     Remembering that some writers of the Bible sometimes wrote
down HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICES of the time as points of fact
that were being done by people, as calendar marks, as reference
to something else(i.e.the distance from Olivet to Jerusalem)
people would acquaint with, AND NOT TO ESTABLISH DOCTRINE, will
get you out of a lot of trouble.

     I could give many more examples as above, but time and space
does not permit. I think you should from what I've given,
understand this little truth.

                     BACK TO JOHN

     Now do you see where John was coming from in the last
chapters of his Gospel. He mentions and uses the word "passover"
at least three times. The context is obviously the Passover that
was HISTORICALLY THE CUSTOM practiced by many Jews of the Temple
tradition, the end of the 14th Passover. It was called by them
the PASSOVER, it was known by them and many others in different
nations, as the Passover. That was the name it was, pure and
simple. Just as Christmas Day is Christmas Day. John is not going
to change it to some other name for his chronology. His readers
would have been lost if he had. The historical practice of many
to kill the lambs in the Temple at the end of the 14th day was
called "the Passover."  John WENT ALONG!  I may "go along" with
the phrase "Christmas Day" for chronological, or calendar
reasons, if writing about certain things to certain people, BUT
THAT BY ITSELF, WITHOUT ME ADDING OTHER COMMENTS, DOES NOT PROVE
IT IS CORRECT OR FROM THE LAW OF GOD!!
     I must use other scriptures or add other comments if I want
to prove to my readers the common historical practice of
Christmas Day observance is WRONG, should not be practiced, or is
done at the wrong time.
     John used a phrase within a chronological setting that was
an historical custom phrase, quite easily understood by the
readers of his day. He added NO MORE!  He did not enter the
DOCTRINAL debate of this phrase "the Passover" concerning the
true WHEN of its observance as given by God to Israel through
Moses.  The purpose for John's last chapters, from chapter
thirteen to the end, was not in the least to prove the
doctrinal truth of WHEN, at what time of the 14th day, should the
Passover be observed. John's purpose was to give some basic
chronological setting to the last day of Jesus' life in the
flesh, but also to give some other very important words,
teaching, example, of Jesus, that the other Gospel writers did
not give to us.

     The truth of WHEN to observe the NT Passover had already
been given in the books of Moses, and in the writings of the
other Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke(as we saw in our last
study), together with that of Paul in 1 Cor.11 when he said: "the
SAME NIGHT in which He was betrayed took bread....and
said......also He took the cup.....saying......"

     Are there still more understandings we need to see about the
Passover? Yes indeed!  We have not finished yet.

               .................................

Written March 1997
by
Keith Hunt

 
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