Christian Churches of God

No. 277z




The Quartodeciman Disputes

(Edition 1.1 19990407-19990528)

The Quartodeciman disputes were seen as pivotal to the determination of the Christian Faith. After Sunday worship had been introduced from Rome in the middle of the second century, the Roman system then set about introducing the pagan Easter system over the Passover.



Christian Churches of God




(Copyright ã 1999 Wade Cox)

(Summary by John Pierce edited Wade Cox)

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The Quartodeciman Disputes



Over the previous two thousand years in the Sabbath keeping Churches and originally in the whole church, there has never been any significant debate on which night the Jews ate the Passover meal. Christianity has always understood the dates in question. It has always been understood that the lambs were slain towards the end of the 14th and eaten during the night of the 15th. This matter and some modern misconceptions surrounding it are examined in the paper, The Passover (No. 98). The debate for Christians centred around whether or not the Lord’s Supper consisting of the footwashing, and bread and wine, ought to be observed on the evening of the 14th Abib or Nisan (one day prior to the normal Passover meal) or as a Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition.

The Samaritans kept two days, the 14th and the 15th of the First Month, killing the Passover on the afternoon of the 14th and eating it on the night of the 15th Abib or Nisan. They spent this period on Mt. Gerizim in vigil and they have done this every year, when they have been physically able to do so, for at least two thousand six hundred years. John Hyrcanus destroyed their tabernacle on Mt. Gerizim, during the period of the Maccabees in the second century BCE, but otherwise their religion was left uninterrupted. This matter is examined in the paper The Night To Be Much Observed (No. 101).

This great controversy, which is really central to the faith, erupted in the second century. The leading protagonists were the Bishops of Rome, Anicetus and later Victor, or Victorinus, and Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna, and his successor Polycrates. The question was known, but the terms were completely misunderstood by modern Christianity.

This came to be known as the Quartodeciman Controversy and, historically speaking, it has been the only major controversy surrounding the time when the Lord’s Supper ought to be taken.

The term Quartodeciman means the Fourteenth and this controversy is the dispute of the determining of the Passover. There was no real dispute as to the timing of the Passover apart from the fact that Judaism introduced the later postponements. The timing issue concerned the difference in the timing of the Bible festival and that of the pagan worship of the god Attis in the West from Rome, and the god Adonis in the East from Greece and the Hellenised world. The festival is also called by the Anglo-Saxon word Easter derived from Ishtar and Ashtoreth.

This issue has been examined in the papers The Golden Calf (No. 222); The Origin of Christmas and Easter (No. 235) and Purification and Circumcision (No. 251). The most fascinating aspect is that the term is used by modern day Christians in some form of reverence when it has nothing to do with Christianity. It is clearly identified with the system of Baal/Ashtoreth or Ishtar/Astarte, Anath/Athargatis and ‘Ate’ or Derketo or Ceto the mermaid or fish goddess to whom the fish, and dove were sacred (cf. (No. 251) and also The Pinata (No. 276)).

The Crucifixion did not occur on a Friday and the Resurrection was not on a Sunday. The Crucifixion was on a Wednesday, 5 April 30 CE (cf. The Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)). The Passover itself was pivotal to the determination of the First Month of the Year.

The rule according to which the First Month of the Year was decided and whether to intercalate or not is very simple. The feast of Passover, to be celebrated at full moon in the month of Nisan (14 Nisan), must always fall after the vernal equinox …(Eusebius, HE vii 32, 16-19).

The Duration of Passover

When Jesus met with the apostles, for what Paul calls the Lord’s Supper (1Cor.11: 20; see also Jn. 13: 2, 4; 21: 20), that night was the night before the Jewish Passover. The event that Christians should observe is on the evening of the 14th Abib, whereas Jews observe only the evening of the 15th Abib, with the killing of the Passover lambs in the afternoon immediately preceding that night, which also is described in Exodus 12:40-42.

The evening of the 15th Nisan is described as the Night to Be Much Observed (cf. the paper The Night to Be Much Observed (No. 101)). The Christian thus observes both evenings, but the emphasis is on 14th Nisan, not 15th Nisan; and the Passover proceeds to the Sunday as is recorded by Tertullian, regardless of when the 14th falls. According to Tertullian, the crucifixion and the resurrection were treated equally. The word Pascha (or Passover) designated both days, and the period of the crucifixion commencing from the 14th Nisan to the Sunday (which was the Wave-sheaf Offering and from which Pentecost was determined).

Easter is not correct (Passover is) and it is a pagan system. The Quatrodeciman Passover is the only true and biblical practice for the Church of God.