Vantage Point: Easter: What's in a Name
By Ken Horn
Mar. 31, 2013
No, the word Easter does not appear in the Bible — in its original languages. It does appear once in the King James Version — in Acts 12:4. This was corrected in the New King James and other English translations to “Passover.” The Greek tò páscha is translated “Passover” each of the other 28 times it appears in the King James, as well as in the other English versions.
Other languages use a form of this to name the day, for example: Pascua in Spanish, Pasqua in Italian, and Pasen in Dutch. But it’s Ostern in the German language that influenced our name Easter.
The early Christian writer Bede (c. A.D. 673-735) claimed the word came from the name Eastre, who was a Germanic goddess of spring. The celebration of Christ’s resurrection apparently replaced the pagan festival.
So there is a better name for the day. Resurrection Sunday more clearly represents what believers celebrate.
The earliest historical reference of a formal celebration by the church appears in the middle of the second century. History records a debate then that took place over the correct date of celebration, which remains extremely confusing to this day.
The date and name are not as important as this fact: Even though Christians celebrate the Resurrection year-round, Easter draws multitudes of people who seldom ever darken the door of a church. It’s a wonderful annual opportunity to proclaim the truths that lie at the core of our faith.
But Resurrection Sunday is a better name. It makes clear what the day is about — a celebration of the historical fact Christ rose from the dead, as well as the spiritual reality we serve a living Savior today.
But don’t quibble about what to call the day. Be concerned about how to best commemorate it, as well as how you can seize this once-a-year opportunity to witness to unsaved friends and relatives about who Jesus Christ really is and what He’s done for you.
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