WHY DID PAUL TELL THE CORINTHIANS TO KEEP THE PASSOVER?

In first Corinthians 5:7 when Paul says to keep the feast (Passover) it is a metaphor. The context deals with sin that was in the midst of the Corinthian church, namely fornication.

Under the Old Testament the Israelites were to put away leaven for seven days and to eat unleavened bread only. This was a type of the putting away of sin in exchange for purity.

According to the context of 1 Corinthians 5, Paul says nothing about the feast of Passover which was to be kept on the 14th day of the month Nisan (the first month on the Jewish calendar). He does not make reference to a day as Passover, as the Old Testament did. (see Ex 12:6,14,18,19; Numbers 9:2; 28:16; Deuteronomy 16:1; Joshua 5:10; Ezekiel 45:21)

Leviticus 23:5 says, In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover.

Paul does not refer to Passover as a time on the calendar,  or a ceremonial festival when speaking to the Corinthians. On the contrary, Paul refers to Christ Jesus himself as our Passover.

Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even CHRIST OUR PASSOVER is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

Paul applies the object lesson which was contained in the shadowy type – the Passover given to Israel – and tells the Corinthians to walk in the reality of it. In other words, Paul says, Put away this sin from your midst and serve God in Christ with sincerity and truth because Christ, who is our Passover, was sacrificed for you.

There is nothing wrong with dedicating the Passover season as a time for the Lord to focus on Christ’s death for us. In fact that is a very good practice. The error comes in when the festival becomes a law for Christians to observe as is becoming more of a common place within some of the modern day Messianic movements, such as the Hebrew Roots Movement.

The new testament writers are the authoritative interpreters of the old testament scriptures and they gave us everything we need to know for godly and righteous living.

That which was foreshadowed in the feasts has become reality in Christ Jesus, and we can walk in the reality every day because the light has come and the shadow had been put away.

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2 thoughts on “WHY DID PAUL TELL THE CORINTHIANS TO KEEP THE PASSOVER?

  1. Paul did not teach the Corinthians to observe the feast of Passover according to the prescriptions given to Israel under the law. The observance of Passover under the law required the offering of animal sacrifices, which served as a type of Christ, who is the true lamb of God.

    The feasts given to Israel served as types and shadows under the first covenant until Christ came, and established the New Covenant.

    Paul says to the Corinthians “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” and he instructs the Corinthians to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

    Paul  is not referring to keeping the Jewish feast of Passover. He is referring to the purity by which the Corinthians should live now that they are the servants of Christ.

    Under the law, the Israelites were to observe passover by eating unleavened bread (natural, physical bread –  the kind of bread you eat with your mouth). Paul is not referring to this kind of unleavened bread. He is referring to that which the unleavened bread, eaten by the Jews, was symbolic of. It was symbolic of the putting away of sin. That is why he says in view of Christ being our Passover, “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

    When Jesus was handed over to Pilate by the Jewish leaders they refused to enter the judgment hall because they did not want to ceremonially defile themselves (John 18:28). Yet they were already defiled by the malice and wickedness in their hearts towards Jesus. The gospels and the book of Acts reveal their antagonistic disposition towards Jesus.  

    They thought they were keeping the Passover by not going into the judgment hall, but the true Passover was being betrayed and condemned by them. 

    Jesus is the Passover that God has provided. He is the fulfilment of all that was foreshadowed under the law in the feasts given to Israel. Under the New Testament, we do not keep the Passover by eating a physical lamb, and natural bread, with no leaven in it. We keep the feast by living a Christ-like life in sincerity and truth. 

    If we will allow the context of 1 Corinthians 5 to speak for itself, there is no doubt that Paul is not referring to natural bread but to spiritual bread. He is not speaking of eating of a physical lamb, but partaking of Christ, who is our Passover.

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