Is it correct to refer to the New Testament Passover as the Lord's Supper?
The use of the term “Lord’s Supper” for our observance of the New Testament Passover is not biblical–and it only adds to the confusion surrounding the CORRECT observance of the New Testament Passover.
“The Passover was kept once a year — ‘as a memorial.’ On the night when Christ was betrayed, He kept the Passover. The Passover was at that time celebrated as a supper — that is why it is called in Scripture ‘the Lord’s Supper.’ We are today to continue keeping the Passover, but not as a meal — not as ‘the Lord’s Supper.’ We are to only partake of the symbols of bread and wine on the Passover night — we do not eat a full meal during the Passover service. In fact, we are told that we must ‘discern the Lord’s body’ — we must distinguish the symbols of bread and wine from an ordinary meal (1 Corinthians 11:29). 1 Corinthians 11:20, 34 tells us, ‘Therefore when you come together in one place, it is NOT to eat the Lord’s Supper… But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home.’ (As an aside, nowhere does the Bible speak about ‘communion,’ during which we are to partake of bread and/or wine).”
In Update #336, we explain in detail why the Church of God does not observe today the Passover together with a meal. For that reason alone, it would be inappropriate to call the Passover “the Lord’s SUPPER.”
In addition, some who use the term “Lord’s Supper” for the Passover are confusing two separate events–the Old Testament Passover, when the death angel went through Egypt and PASSED OVER the Israelites, and the Night to Be Much Remembered or Observed, which occurred about 24 hours LATER, when Israel LEFT Egypt. The Church of God remembers this event of Israel’s exodus as well, and it has been keeping IT–but NOT the previous Passover observance–with a meal.
Let us note the distinction between these two events, which are set aside by a period of about 24 hours.
In a previous Update on Exodus 12:14, it was pointed out:
“The evidence that the Passover was and is to be kept at the BEGINNING of Nisan or Abib 14, not at the end, is overwhelming [The first month of the year, in accordance with the Hebrew Calendar, is called Abib or Nisan. Abib, the original name, means ‘sprouting’ or ‘budding.’ The name Nisan was adopted following the Babylonian captivity. The first month is comparable to the Roman calendar period of March-April, and begins, in Biblical terms, with a new moon.]… Christ and His disciples kept the PASSOVER at the BEGINNING of the 14th, and they should have known when to keep it. Further, the death angel went through Egypt on the night of the 14th, not the 15th, and that event is called Passover because the death angel passed over the Israelites, when he saw the blood at the doors of their houses (Exodus 12:27)… Passover [and this has to include the actual event of the death angel’s PASSING OVER the Israelites] was on the 14th — not the 15th (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16). Also, the Israelites were not to leave their houses until morning (Exodus 12:22), and still we read that they left Egypt by night (Deuteronomy 16:1). Since it could not have been the night of Nisan 14, it had to be the next night — of Nisan 15.”
While the Israelites had to stay in their houses to observe the Passover at the beginning of Nisan 14, they left Egypt the following night, the night of Nisan 15, on the very first Day of Unleavened Bread (Remember that days start and end with sunset according to the Hebrew calendar). It was THAT night–which occurred about 24 hours AFTER the Passover–which was ALSO to be kept as a memorial, in addition to Passover.
Exodus 12:40-42 reads, in the Authorized Version: “… even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt: this is that NIGHT of the Lord to be OBSERVED. . . .” The New King James Bible calls it “night of solemn observance.” The Revised Standard Bible refers to it as a “night of watching.” Others render the phrase, “night of vigil,” or “night to be remembered.” German translations say mainly, “night of watching” (“Nacht des Wachens”).
Exodus 13:9 calls Israel’s exodus from Egypt–including the entire seven Days of Unleavened Bread and the “Night to Be Much Observed” at the beginning of the first Day of Unleavened Bread–a “memorial and a sign” (compare verse 3). As mentioned, the Days of Unleavened Bread begin 24 hours AFTER the Passover.
The origin of the Night to Be Much Remembered or Observed is also explained as follows in our booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days“:
“… the Bible makes a definite distinction between the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Both are annual Feast days, to be kept once a year. The Passover is to be observed at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month (which month is called Abib or Nisan), according to the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16)…
“The First Day of Unleavened Bread is to be observed once a year at the beginning of the 15th day of the first month, according to the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17)…
“It was during the Passover night—the night of the 14th day of the month—that the death angel passed over the Israelites who were in their houses (hence the name ‘Passover’), while killing the firstborn of the Egyptian households (Exodus 12:6–13). But it was on the 15th day, ‘on the day AFTER the Passover’ or one entire day LATER, that the Israelites went out of Egypt, and it is on THAT day (at the beginning of the 15th day of the first month) that Church members celebrate the Night To Be Much Observed—’a night of solemn observance to the LORD’—when they gather together for an evening meal. On that occasion, they reflect on the events of the exodus of ancient Israel when they came out of physical slavery in Egypt, and the spiritual exodus by Church members from their slavery of sin (Exodus 12:42; Numbers 33:3)…
“The name, The Night to Be Much Observed, has been used by Church of God members in modern times. This title is taken from the Authorized Version as translated in Exodus 12:42: ‘It is a night to be much observed (‘Shim-moor,’ meaning night watch, watching, vigil) unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.’
“The Church of God continues to keep this beginning part of the first Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—after sundown, which marks the start of the time God has established for His people to keep. Exodus 13, verses 3 through 10, explicitly casts God’s instructions as an ongoing regulation for those who seek to obey Him—note, in particular, verse 10: ‘You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.’”
Church members continue to have a meal during the Night to Be Much Observed. However, even though this occasion marks the beginning of an annual Sabbath–the First Day of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15–it itself is not conducted as a Church service. Rather, members gather together for a meal in smaller groups in the privacy of their homes or at other private and appropriate locations. The Church of God conducts Church services during the subsequent daylight portion of the first Day of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:7).
The Church of God keeps the New Testament Passover exactly at the same time when Jesus kept it–at the BEGINNING of Nisan 14. Since Christ changed the Passover observance from that of eating a meal to that of partaking in a footwashing ceremony and partaking of the symbols of unleavened bread and red wine (not grape juice), His Church is following such directives. Paul told the Church at Corinth not to eat a meal in Church at Passover, but to eat at home. Instead, God’s Church partakes of a meal the following night, memorializing Israel’s exodus from Egypt which symbolizes spiritual Israel’s exodus from sin (For more information on this astonishing parallelism and symbolism, please read the pertinent sections in our afore-mentioned booklet on God’s Spring Holy Days).
It is therefore misleading to call the New Testament Passover the Lord’s Supper–as this might imply that a “supper” or “evening meal” should be eaten at Passover. This is not the case–Christ, our Passover Lamb, replaced the Old Testament Passover ceremonies with New Testament observances, as described. Members of the Church of God partake of an evening meal the following night, which is known today as the Night to Be Much Remembered or Observed.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link