Two Separate “Day of Pentecost”?

Day of Pentecost (1)Last month, on May 15, 2016. I attended a Christian church service that was dedicated as the birthday of the Christian Church. That particular church I was fellowshipping had labeled that Sunday to be “the day of Pentecost“. I was scratching my head over this. I was asking myself the question that apparently none of the saints in the sanctuary were asking. The question? Why was that Sunday, May 15, 2016 the day of the Pentecost?

Please note: The question is not, “What is the day of Pentecost?” but why is it on May 15th this year? I definitely knew that the anniversary of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples was not on that Sunday. Instead, the actual birthday of the church is this coming Sunday, June 12th.  Therefore, does two, separate days of Pentecost exists this year? I believe the answer is no.

How do I know this and why I am making a little fuss over it is what I want to discuss.

The Jews have been keeping the day of Pentecost (this year on June 12), for centuries. It was one of seven holy days God gave ancient Israel and are being observed by the Jewish community up to this day. These days are:

  1. Lamb of God symbolThe days of Unleavened Bread (starting the day after the Passover)
  2. The Last Day of Unleavened Bread
  3. The Day of Pentecost (50 days after the first Sabbath following the Passover)
  4. The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hoshanna)
  5. The Day of Atonement (Yum Kippur)
  6. The Feast of Tabernacles
  7. The Last Great Day

I was, for a number of years, a member of a Christian church that kept these Old Testament holy days as being part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His plan of redemption for the world. All of these days I observed are listed in Leviticus 23. In order to attend worship services, I never went to work, my place of employment, on these days.

I discontinued observing them, however, when that Christian church, to my utter amazement, did a 180-degree transformation to no longer keep and enforce them on the saints. She is a totally different church organization today (See footnote [3] of  The Oneness of the Christian Church – part 2).

Offshoot churches immediately sprang up afterwards by those who did not want to change. They are, for the most part, still observing these holy days today. I believe these new churches, as long as they profess and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and soon-returning Savior, are still part of the body of Christ. I will not condemn or judge any of them as to their doctrines of salvation via holy days.

Peter telling hearers to repent on the Day of Pentecost

Peter telling hearers to repent on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

So, it was on this day of Pentecost that the Jews (after Christ rose from the dead) were observing that we read about in Acts 2. Many had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship on this day. God took advantage of this observance in Jersusalem by pouring out the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Christ who then began preaching the gospel (the first time greatly understood by humans other than Christ) to these local citizens and visitors. Most of the Jewish pilgrims who spoke different languages, heard the gospel, believed the gospel, became converted (born again) Christians, and carried the good news of Christ back to their homelands after the day of Pentecost ended.

In other words, the Holy Spirit’s gift of speaking in tongues on this Hebrew day in history, the day of Pentecost, was for the benefit of evangelism – the spreading of the gospel. A Jew, for example, who had traveled from Hispania (Spain today) to Jerusalem to keep the day of Pentecost and who spoke, let us say, Latin (it was probably another language back then) would be amazed to hear one of the disciples in Jerusalem speaking to him in Latin! That is what happened on the day of Pentecost which was recognized by the Jews then and still is now.

The day of Pentecost this year falls on June 12th, many of the Jewish faith know this. So far, so good? Okay. Let me continue.

So why was May 15, 2016 being observed as the birthday of the church instead of four weeks later? Answer: Because Resurrection Sunday (a.k.a. Easter) was observed one month earlier than the Passover this year. Please note that the passion of Christ we read of in the four gospels, especially John’s gospel, occurred around the Jewish Passover. The Passover (Nisan 14) this year fell on Friday evening, April 22nd. The first day of Unleavened bread occurring the following day. In other words, many Christian churches today (including the one I attended May 15th) commemorated these last days of Christ’s mission on earth one month earlier as Good Friday to Sunday, Easter.

I pray I am not starting to confuse anyone. Stay with me here!

Easter LillySo what happened? Why was the day of Pentecost celebrated this year one month earlier by the church I attended? Historically speaking, about three hundred years after Christ’s death, the Roman Catholic Church did not want to celebrate the day of the resurrection of Christ on the same Hebrew day of Passover (which falls on a full moon, by the way). So, the church decided whenever resurrection day, their Easter, coincides with the Jewish Passover, it then has to be rescheduled and observed one full moon earlier after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring) [1].  Something like that.

Having a Catholic background plus being a former member of an unorthodox, Christian, Old-Testament-focused church understanding, I asked a fellow saint in the church I was attending on Sunday, May 15 to tell the pastor about this. I asked if he could tell him that the actual day of Pentecost was to fall one month later. I thought to myself that the pastor, a seminary trained person, should understand the history of all this.

But, I immediately stopped talking to him (on May 15) on the subject. I understand my purpose as a Christian is not to de-convert Christians. It is also not my intent to cause divisions and splits in the church. My purpose is not to cause Christians to doubt their faith and shed loyalties away from any church group or denomination they are in. My aim is more in the area of apologetics – defending the faith of the saints who believe in God and His Word, the Bible.

Yet, I know full well that there are those who are very familiar with all of this day-of-Pentecost-after-Passover stuff and will try to cause Christians to change their affiliations. How is this being done? Well, I remember an atheist, college professor in philosophy class at a secular college, (Central Connecticut University), who was an ex-Jesuit Catholic priest. In class after class, he quoted one Bible narrative after another attacking the Bible. I was a new, excited Christian then and felt I was being repeatedly punched in the stomach by this professor’s discources. I remember not being able to counter his claims. I could have lost the faith but, praise God, I did not. Since then I have been studying the Bible very appreciably.

Castle Craig

Castle Craig watchtower, Meriden, CT

I am also well familiar with religious groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses who thoroughly understand the origins of Easter, Christmas, and other Christian traditions not mentioned in the Bible. I have worked alongside of them. Although I never became a member of their organization, they became good aquaintences of mine. I have discussed one Bible theme after another with them over coffee breaks.

I knew then how they have successfully influenced many Christians (mostly Catholic) into becoming Jehovah Witness. Two of my first cousins became converts to Jehovah Witnesses. Again, I have nothing against them as a people. They are very honest and sincere. But I did not (and still do not today) agree with many of their teachings.

The Bible college I attended was subsidized by the church which kept these Old Testament holy days I listed above. Many years after that church changed her doctrines, (which I thank the Lord for occurring), I joined a closed, Facebook alumni group of this college. I was immediately aggressively surrounded by atheistic alumni of that college who wanted nothing to do with Christian topics. I felt sad for them.

This blog website is therefore the result of my experience with the dangers of being incorrect with certain Bible doctrines. I am a “recovering” Christian. I continually have had to un-learn and re-learn several doctrines and have, so far, used this website platform to convey my grateful growth and understanding of how Christians, believers in Jesus Christ, must defend and contend with the knowledge God has given them.

shield small

If you believe I have made a mountain out of a molehill regarding all this, so be it. But my concern is about deliberate attempts  – if not neglect or ignorance – many church leaders have made toward the sheep to continually keep them in the dark in favor of unnecessary church traditions, goals and programs. Many saints are being left vulnerable and unable to defend themselves when exposed to high caliber attacks against their indoctrinated, unsubstantiated and shallow Biblical understanding coupled with corrupt, misguided and anemic views of church history.

I can say more about this, but will stop here.

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Notes:

[1] For a quick intro on the subject, click on Wikipedia article, The Easter Controversy 

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