One English Bible on the KJV-only view’s line has a different rendering than the KJV at Acts 12:4. David Cloud claimed that “all of the English Bibles from Tyndale to the KJV 1611 (the Cranmer, Coverdale, Matthews, Bishops’, Geneva, Great) use the word ‘Easter” in Acts 12:4” (Bible Version Question, p. 158). However, the 1560 Geneva Bible actually has “passover” at Acts 12:4. David Daniels reprinted this verse as found in a 1611 edition of the Bible printed in London by the King’s printer that has “Passover,“ noting that it was an edition of the Geneva Bible (Answers, pp. 79-82). Is this a mistaken rendering in the KJV-only line?
Daniels, a KJV-only author, wrote: “’Passover’ is not the correct translation of pascha in this single New Testament passage” (Answers, p. 77). Floyd Jones claimed that “the King James translators realized that to render ‘pascha’ as ‘Passover’ in this instance was both impossible and erroneous” (Which Version, p. 51). Kelly Gallagher contended that “it would be a mistake to translate this Passover because the context speaks of being ‘in the days of unleavened bread’” (Perfect Bible, p. 63). Sam Gipp asserted that “Herod could not possibly have been referring to the Passover in his statement concerning Easter” (Answer Book, p. 7). Again Gipp declared: “It most certainly did not refer to the Jewish Passover” (p. 8). Jack Moorman maintained that “it is precisely in this one passage that ’Easter’ must be used, and the translation ’Passover’ would have conflicted with the immediate context” (Conies, p. 13). Cloud asserted that “Easter” is a proper translation to distinguish it from the Jewish Passover” (Things Hard, p. 199). Ruckman suggested that the KJV’s rendering “Easter” was “an advanced revelation” (Differences in the KJV Editions, p. 18). Ruckman maintained that “Herod, being a Roman (see the context), kept Easter” (Alexandrian, Part Three, p. 26). James Rasbeary asserted that “Easter was a pagan holiday that the pagan king Herod was going to observe” (What’s Wrong, p. 217). In his sermon entitled “What Did Jesus Write,“ Mickey Carter stated: “You had the Jewish feast of the Passover followed by the seven days of unleavened bread. Then you had the pagan Easter celebration of Easter and the text calls it Herod’s Easter. It ought to be Easter” (Revival Fires, Nov., 2006, p. 14). Have these KJV-only authors proved that the rendering “Passover” is an error of translation in their line of good Bibles?
On the other hand, D. A. Waite wrote: “I would say certainly that ’passover’ would not be a wrong rendering, yet since they were carrying on as they were, ’Easter’ would be a good rendering also because it was at the same time” (Defending the KJB, p. 247). The 2003 New Pilgrim Bible with KJV-only consulting editors Jerry Rockwell and Douglas Stauffer has this note at Acts 12:4: “Easter. This was the Passover time, when the Jewish people kept the feast in memory of the first Passover” (p. 1544). Michael Williams defined Easter in the KJV as “Passover” (KJ Old English Word Definition, p. 7). Thus, all KJV-only advocates don’t seem to agree that the rendering “Passover” at this verse would be an error.
Waite’s Defined KJB has this definition for Easter: “Ishtar–ancient pagan festival” (p. 1451). It added: “Easter was originally the name of a pagan spring festival that occurred at about the same time as the Passover” (p. 1451). Cloud’s Way of Life Encyclopedia defined Easter as “a pagan holiday (Acts 12:4)” (p. 127). In his tract “King James Bible Dictionary,“ O. Ray Smith defined “Easter” as “Ishtar, ancient pagan festival.“ Are these KJV-only definitions correct? Did these sources follow sound procedures in claiming these as correct definitions for the Greek word used at Acts 12:4? Are the denotations and connotations of the preserved Greek word pascha the same as those offered for the English word Easter? Do these definitions make the rendering “Easter” into an acceptable dynamic equivalency? Would these definitions be valid for Tyndale’s many uses of “Easter” in the N. T. and for Coverdale’s many uses including some in the Old Testament?
Why do some KJV-only authors think that “Passover” would be an error at this verse? Cloud wrote that “the Easter of Acts 12:4 occurred after the Passover” (Things Hard, p. 199). Thomas Holland claimed: “If the word is translated as Passover we have the Days of Unleavened Bread coming before the Passover” (Crowned, p. 185). Likewise, Daniels asserted: “The Bible tells us clearly: Passover is before the Days of Unleavened Bread, not after” (Answers, p. 78). Ruckman also maintained that “days of unleavened bread” at Acts 12:3 “show that the Passover was past” (King James Onlyism, p. 76). Steven White also asserted that the Greek word “in Acts 12:4 cannot refer to the Jewish Passover, because technically, it was now over” (White’s Dictionary, I, p. 373). Concerning this verse in his multi-volume commentary, David Sorenson wrote: “Passover had already passed. It was the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which always takes place after Passover” (p. 418). Gipp wrote that “no event following the 14th is ever referred to as the Passover” (Answer Book, p. 7). Gipp contended that “the days of unleavened bread are NEVER referred to as the Passover” (p. 7). Moorman maintained that “Scripture does not use the word ’Passover’ to refer to the entire period” (Conies, p. 14). In its note for this verse, The Rock of Ages Study Bible asserted: “The Passover had passed according to Lev. 23:4-8 which was the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Herod was celebrating his feast of Ishtar (Easter)“ (p. 1544). These authors present some verses that would seem to support their statements. However, their broad-sweeping absolute statements are not accurate when all the Bible is consulted.
Comparing Scripture with Scripture, Luke, who was also the human writer of the book of Acts, clearly used the Greek word pascha to refer to either the entire period–the one day of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread or as an acceptable name for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Luke wrote: “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1). Along with Luke 22:1, the above KJV-only statements also ignore Ezekiel 45:21 where the Passover is referred to as “a feast of seven days.” In Ezekiel 45:21, the name “Passover” was clearly used for or used to include the feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a feast of seven days. In Matthew 26:17, the name “Passover” was used for a time described as “the first day of the feast of unleavened bread.” After Jesus and his disciples had already observed the feast of Passover (Luke 22:14-15; John 13:1), the same Greek word was still used for a time when the feast of unleavened bread was in progress (John 18:28).
Moorman declared: “As the Passover had already been observed, and the days of unleavened bread were in progress, and yet Herod was still waiting for ‘after pascha;’ we can only conclude that the word must be taken in a broader sense” (Conies, p. 14). Is that the only valid conclusion? In his tract entitled “Easter or Passover,” Raymond Blanton wrote: “Herod did not intend to bring Peter forth to the people after the days of unleavened bread but after ’pascha’” (p. 2). Moorman and Blanton’s statements are based on their incorrect assumption that the Greek word pascha could not be used to include or as a name for the days of unleavened bread. In Acts 12:3, Luke stated: “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” In the context and considering Luke 22:1, there is no problem with understanding Luke to be using “pascha” in Acts 12:4 as a name for or including the feast of unleavened bread. Thus, Herod could have been waiting for the end of the days or feast of unleavened bread, which is called the Passover (Luke 22:1). On the other hand, concerning “after Easter” in the KJV, Edmunds and Bell wrote: “Neither Herod nor Peter nor any other man in Judea could have told when that would be” (Discussion, p. 33). KJV-only author Charles Turner wrote: “There was no such holiday as Easter at the time of the writing of the book of Acts. The translators have introduced a meaning into the text which was not intended by Luke the author” (Biblical Bible Translating, Assignment 26, p. 4).
In his commentary on Acts, Paton Gloag asserted that the Herod of Acts 12 “was strict in the observance of the Mosaic law” (I, p. 415). Gloag added: “According to the strict Jews, it was not reckoned lawful to defile their festal days with executions, and Herod Agrippa prided himself on being a strict observer of the law” (I, p. 416). In his commentary on Acts, William Humphrey reported that Josephus maintained that this Herod was “strongly attached to the Jewish law” (p. 100). In his commentary, Livermore maintained that “Herod forbore to execute Peter during the feast of Passover, out of regard to the custom of the Jews” (p. 177). In his 1645 commentary on Acts, John Lightfoot (1602-1675) noted: “Agrippa, having laid hold upon him, deferred his execution till after the Passover” (p. 322). Likewise, the 1645 Westminster Annotations have this note on “the days of unleavened bread” at Acts 12:4: “These words intimate the cause why he deferred Peter’s execution, for reverence of the Passover, which lasted eight days.”
Furthermore, the immediate context of Acts 12:4 demonstrated that king Herod was aware that his earlier action “pleased the Jews” (Acts 12:3). The context also revealed that Herod “proceeded further” to take another action that he thought would please the Jews. Would Herod be continuing to please the Jews if he supposedly waited to observe a pagan holiday or festival? Would the celebrations and practices associated with a pagan festival please or offend the Jews? Does the context actually maintain that Herod in proceeding further to take Peter would then do something contradictory to this action intended to please the Jews? It was actually Luke that used the Greek word pascha for the time for which Herod was waiting since this verse gives no indication that Herod was being directly quoted. The verse or context does not say that Herod was keeping or observing pascha. “The people” of Acts 12:4 would be referring to or be including the Jews mentioned in verse 3. Therefore, nothing in the verse and context proves that Herod could not have been waiting for the Jews to finish keeping their pascha so that he could bring Peter forth and please the Jews again. In other words, the context indicates that Herod did not want to risk displeasing the Jews by executing Peter during their Jewish pascha and may not indicate whether Herod personally had any scruples or principles against executing Peter during a festival. Therefore, the context supports the understanding that the Jews would be the ones keeping the pascha instead of the view that Herod was keeping it. If Herod was also keeping it, the context indicates that it was the Jewish pascha that he was keeping and not some pagan festival. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Luke could definitely have used the Greek word in the same sense as he did in Luke 22:1. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, the context of Acts 12:4 is in agreement with the understanding that this Greek word was used in the same sense as in Luke 22:1. KJV-only author Floyd Jones asserted that “the context is the decisive factor for determining the final connotation of any word or phrase” (Which Version, p. 14). If there remains any uncertainty concerning how the word pascha was used at Acts 12:4, it should be translated and interpreted by the light of what is plain, clear, and certain as in Luke 22:1. Is it not sound reasoning to consider Luke and the Holy Spirit competent and credible witnesses as to the sense in which the Holy Spirit used the word pascha at Luke 22:1 and Acts 12:4?
In his commentary on Acts, John R. Rice noted that “the feast of unleavened bread and the Passover feast were now called the whole seven days, the Passover” (p. 272). Concerning Acts 12:4, Marvin Vincent indicated that the word was used to refer to “the whole seven days of the feast” (Word Studies, I, p. 508). In his commentary on Acts, Oliver B. Greene wrote: “The Greek in this verse should have been translated ’after the Passover,’ which signifies after the whole festival is over” (II, p. 199). Zodhiates observed that “in a wider sense it [pascha] also included the seven days of unleavened bread, the paschal festival” (Complete Word Study Dictionary, p. 1127). At its note for Matthew 26:3, the Ryrie Study Bible affirmed that “the entire festival was often called ’Passover’” (p. 1468).
The KJV-only authors did not prove their case for claiming that “Easter” must be used at this one verse. If their case was actually valid, these KJV-only authors would also be proving that the KJV should have used “Easter” or some other rendering besides “Passover” at Luke 22:1 and Ezekiel 45:21. On the other hand, Samuel Gipp commented: “If he [Herod] was referring to the Passover, the translation of ’pascha’ as ’Easter’ is incorrect” (Answer, p. 4). Since the overall evidence shows that the Passover was being referred to at Acts 12:4 by Luke, did Gipp in effect acknowledge that the KJV’s rendering is incorrect? If the Greek word is being used to refer to the Passover as the evidence shows, does the rendering of the 1560 Geneva Bible “agree better with the text” than that of the Bishops’ Bible? Would D. A. Waite accept the accurate meaning of the preserved Greek word at Acts 12:4 as the final authority or does he accept the meaning of the English word in the KJV?
In addition, some KJV-only authors may not be aware of the evidence that indicates that the majority of the KJV translators may not have been responsible for the rendering “Easter” at this verse. Instead they likely supported the Geneva Bible’s rendering “Passover.” Just as the KJV translators changed the Bishops’ Bible’s two other uses of “Easter” at John 11:55 to “Passover,” they may have also changed this third use at Acts 12:4. While Tyndale and Coverdale had used the rendering “Easter” several times for the Jewish Passover, the later English translators had increasingly changed this rendering to “Passover.“ Whiston indicated that a great prelate, the chief supervisor of the KJV, inserted “Easter” back into the text of the KJV at this verse as one of the 14 changes he was said to have made (Life, p. 49). In his 1648 sermon entitled “Truth and Love,“ Thomas Hill also noted that Acts 12:4 “was another place that was altered (as you have heard) to keep up that holy time of Easter, as they would think it” (Six Sermons, p. 25). Was the goal of inserting the rendering “Easter” back into the text at this verse in order to present faithfully the meaning of the Greek word in English or was it intended to give the readers a different meaning? In his volume on Acts in his An Interpretation of the English Bible, B. H. Carroll observed: “Pious Episcopalians and Romanists use this verse of the A. V. to confirm their custom of celebrating Easter” (p. 184). James Woolsey asserted: “To support, from the Scripture, the idea of Easter-Sunday and Easter-day, they suppress the original word which the Holy Ghost moved the inspired penman to use, and employed the Saxon word Easter” (Doctrine, p. 93). Concerning “Easter” at Acts 12:4, James Edmunds and T. S. Bell commented: “The excuse is, that by this utter disregard of what the Holy Spirit really said, the solemn feasts of the Church are sustained” (Discussion, p. 33). The evidence that this rendering was inserted for the purpose of keeping up the Church of England’s celebration of the holy time of Easter should be an embarrassment to those who claim to be defending faithful and accurate translating. Will some KJV-only authors be surprised to find that they have in effect labeled the rendering the majority of the KJV translators may have supported and thus their intended text an error?
The old Wycliffe’s Bible has “pask” at Acts 12:4, and “pask“ was also its rendering at Ezekiel 45:21 and Luke 22:1. The 1582 Rheims N. T. has “Pasche” at Acts 12:4. The many English-speaking believers who read, accepted, and believed the Geneva Bible understood Acts 12:4 to be referring to the Passover. The 1657 English translation of the authorized Dutch Bible has “Passover” at this verse. The 1569 Spanish and 1602 Spanish Valera have “Pascua” at Acts 12:4 and also at Ezekiel 45:21, Luke 22:1, and Exodus 12:11.
At this verse, the 1853 American Bible Society’s edition of the KJV has this marginal note: “Greek the Passover.” Peter Ruckman had claimed that the KJV translators themselves “put the accepted meaning [Passover] in the margin,” but this marginal note is not found in the 1611 edition (Differences, p. 18). James Edmunds and T. S. Bell maintained that the American Bible Society “in its marginal Bibles, prints the words used by the Holy Spirit in the margin, and permits the Saxon idol, Eostre or Easter, to occupy the text of the Word of God” (Discussion, p. 78). They noted that “Dr. Edward Robinson, the distinguished Presbyterian scholar, urged the Society to expunge Easter from the Bible as an utterly false rendering, which no man could justify” (Ibid.).
Concerning Acts 12:4, the 1839 Baptist Edition of the Comprehensive Commentary noted: “pascha, the Passover, certainly so it ought to be read, for it is the same word that is always so rendered; and to insinuate the introducing of a gospel-feast, instead of the Passover, when we have nothing in the N. T. of such a thing, is to mingle Judaism with our Christianity” (p. 65). George Berry’s Interlinear has “Passover” for its rendering of the Greek word in the Textus Receptus. The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear N. T. also has “Passover” as its rendering at this verse (p. 468). “Passover.” Young’s Analytical Concordance defined “Easter” at Acts 12:4 as “Passover” (p. 284). For its entry Easter, a Bible Word List in the back of the Cambridge Standard Edition of the KJV has this explanation: “Passover.” In his introduction to his 1833 revision, Noah Webster wrote that “the original is pascha, Passover” (p. xi). In his commentary Exploring Acts, John Phillips observed: “Herod’s plan was to execute Peter ’after Easter,’ that is, after the Passover” (p. 226). In a note, Alexander Hislop wrote: “Every one knows that the name ‘Easter,‘ used in our translation of Acts 12:4, refers not to any Christian festival, but to the Jewish Passover” (The Two Babylons, p. 104). In his 1857 Lectures on the Acts, John Dick noted: “The Greek word signifies the passover, and should have been exactly translated, because the historian is speaking not of a Christian, but of a Jewish festival” (p. 180). Glenn Conjurske wrote: “The real and only reason why anyone believes that ‘Easter’ is the correct rendering in Acts 12:4 is that ‘Easter’ is the rendering of the King James Version. Their doctrine requires it of them. If for some reason the King James Version had happened to say ‘Christmas’ here instead of ‘Easter,‘ then these men would go off in search of arguments to prove that pascha means ‘Christmas’” (Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks, July, 1992, p. 154). Since the documented evidence showed that some English readers insert or read a wrong meaning into the rendering “Easter” at this verse, it indicates that “Passover” would be a better, clearer, or more precise rendering.