Monthly Archives: April 2014

Observations on Scriptural Prayer

One important scriptural avenue of worship is prayer. Prayer is a very vital part of the Christian’s life because it is by prayer that we make known our petitions to God and it is one means of expressing our gratitude to Him for His blessings. Just as every child naturally wants to communicate with it’s father, so should we desire to speak with our heavenly Father. The early, first century Christians engaged in prayer often, and because it was a part of their worship assembly, so it should be a part of ours. The New Testament teaches us that those who obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost “…continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). This was not just on an individual basis but in the assembly of the saints, as well.

For example, in Acts 4:24 we read: “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea and all that in them is.” Notice, that they all lifted up their voice “with one accord.” Individuals did not lift up their voice in individual prayer while those next to them did the same. This would have been, and still would be, confusing and chaotic. The Bible says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (I Corinthians 14:33). Yet they all said the same words. Obviously one individual led a prayer and others followed along. Otherwise, it could not have been “with one accord” that they prayed. In I Cor. 14:6, Paul says others must say “amen” at the giving of thanks, indicating one leads another in prayer in the assembly of the saints.

Another example is found in Acts 12:5, where Luke writes, “Peter was therefore kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:12 further states, “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” Therefore, according to the New Testament pattern, prayer is an act of worship in which the church must congregationally engage if it is to worship God in truth as Jesus commanded.

But, of course, these disciples were only following the example of Christ, who on many occasions prayed and taught concerning prayer. Jesus gave the model prayer, as recorded for us in Matthew 6:9-13. They were also following the commands of the Lord’s Apostles to pray. In Ephesians 6:18 Paul writes “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching hereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.” Again, I Tim. 2:1 and 8 – “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men”; “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

The Bible teaches us that we are to engage in prayer for ourselves (Phil. 4:6), and for our enemies (Matt. 5:43-45), for those who have repented of sin (Acts 8:22-24), for those who are engaged in preaching the gospel (I Thess. 5:25), for those who are sick (James 5:15), and for many others.

The only restrictions that the Lord puts upon our prayers is that, first, they be in harmony with His will. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us” (I John 5:14,15). Second, that we do not use vain repetitions. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). Third, that we do not pray to be seen of men. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6). And fourth, and most important of all, that we be Christians, I Peter 3:12 – “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” Also consider James 5:16. There is no authority anywhere in the New Testament for something called the “sinner’s prayer.”

In the assembly of the saints, when the church is gathered together, when men are present in that assembly, women are not permitted to take a leading role. The men are to lead the congregation. Notice two passages of scripture. In I Corinthians 14:34 we read, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” Then, in I Timothy 2:8-15: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting…Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression.”

Notice the contrast between verses eight and eleven: Men are to pray but women are to keep silent. The principle for this command is set forth in verse twelve: women are neither to teach nor usurp authority over the man. Elsewhere in the New Testament women are commanded to teach, but the principle here is that they are not to “usurp authority over the man” by so doing. Women may sing, but they are not to lead songs when men are also assembled.

Finally, we should also realize that when we approach God in prayer we are approaching the God of all creation. His name is holy and reverend (Ps. 111:9). He is to be feared (Ps. 96:4; I Pet. 2:17). So many today approach God with an irreverent or casual attitude, mistaking His approachableness for the ordinary or pedestrian. But God is holy and so should we be when we approach His Holy Throne in prayer (I Tim. 2:8; Heb. 12:28). This will be manifested in our speech, our dress and our attitude.

Eric L. Padgett

What About “Easter” in Acts 12:4?

The charge has often been made against the King James Version that it has errors in it, and the implication often given is that the errors are serious enough to warrant it being discarded for newer, “better” translations. One of the charges of “error” regularly leveled against it is that it uses the word “easter” in Acts 12:4 and this causes people to err into celebrating a day not authorized by the Lord. I want to address this charge.

Various attempts have been made to both condemn and defend the KJV translation of Easter in Acts 12:4. One attempt to defend the translation is to say that the word Easter referred neither to a Christian nor a Jewish observance. Rather, some argue that Herod was waiting to observe a pagan festival, since he was a pagan Edomite descendant. After he observed his own pagan ceremony, then he would deliver Peter to the people, so the argument goes.

The problem with this ingenious theory is that the Text no where states that Herod was observing anything. It was not Herod, but the Jews who were observing this feast. The only reason he was waiting was because it was during the days of unleavened bread that Peter was taken (v. 3) and he wanted to please the Jews (Acts 12:2,4). He waited because it either would have caused a disturbance to kill Peter during this time or he wanted to present Peter’s death as a climax to their observances.

Another view often advanced is that this word cannot be translated “passover” as in all other passages of the New Testament because the Text states that “then were the days of unleavened bread” (v. 3). It is claimed that the seven days of unleavened bread came after the single-day feast of the Passover and therefore could not be a reference to Passover, since they were already in the days of unleavened bread (cf. Lev. 23:5,6). The problem with this view is that the Bible sometimes clearly combines the Passover and the days of unleavened bread. For instance, Ezekiel 45:21 states “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.” Ezekiel called the Passover a feast of seven days. Luke also states “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1). Even reading the context of Exodus 12 where we have recorded the institution of the Passover reveals the closeness of Passover day with the following feast of unleavened bread (cf. Ex. 12:11-17, particularly v. 17 the feast of unleavened bread is described as the “selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt”).

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the feast being observed in Acts 12 was the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread commanded in the law by Moses. How, then, can this be reconciled with the word “easter” used in the King James version?

The origin of the word “easter” is not as certain as some would like to make it out. Most commentators will rely on Bede’s statement on the origin of the word. Bede, an English monk who lived in the seventh and eighth centuries (672/673 – 735) wrote in his work The Reckoning of Time, as he was describing the various names of the months of the English, “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ‘Paschal month’, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” So Bede identifies the name easter as having its origin in the name of a goddess and his antiquity gives his testimony a certain amount of weight that cannot be easily dismissed. Alexander Hislop, in his work, The Two Babylons, argued further that Eostre could be traced back to the Babylonian goddess Astarte.

But this may not be the last word on the matter. For instance, states: “The English word Easter, which parallels the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin…There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term. The Latin and Greek pascha (‘Passover’) provides the root for Pâcques, the French word for Easter” (Encyclopeda Brittanica,

Others have also made similar arguments. Nick Sayers writes, “The English word Easter is of German/Saxon origin and not Babylonian as Alexander Hislop falsely claimed…The German equivalent is Oster. Oster (Ostern being the modern day correspondent) is related to Ost which means the rising of the sun, or simply in English, east. Oster comes from the old Teutonic form of auferstehen/auferstehung, which means resurrection, which in the older Teutonic form comes from two words, ester meaning first, and stehen meaning to stand. These two words combine to form erstehen which is an old German form of auferstehen, the modern day German word for resurrection. The English Easter and German Oster go hand in hand.” (see

The word “passover” in the Hebrew comes from the word “pecach.” This word, according to Strongs, means “a pretermission, i.e. exemption.” The Gesenius Hebrew and Chaldea Lexicon states that it properly means “a sparing, immunity from penalty and calamity.” It derives from the word “pacach” which means “to hop.” This word is used of lame Mephibosheth, as he hobbled and hopped along when he walked (II Sam. 4:4). Elijah used this word when he asked “How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21). In other words, how long are you going to jump back and forth between two opinions? When pacach is used with the Hebrew “‘al,” which is used as a preposition, it is translated into two words as “pass over” (Ex. 12:13, 23, 27).

Prior to William Tyndale (1494–1536), the words “passover” and “easter” were not found in the Bible. Most translations left them untranslated. For instance, John Wycliffe (1320-1384) translates Lev. 23:5 as “In the firste monethe, in the fourtenthe dai of the monethe, at euentid, is pask of the Lord;” Here the Hebrew Pecach is left basically untranslated. Again, Wycliffe translates Num 9:2 as “and seide, The sones of Israel make pask in his tyme.” In the New Testament, Wycliffe translated the Greek pascha as pask. For example, Matt. 26:2 is translated “Ye witen, that aftir twei daies pask schal be maad, and mannus sone schal be bitakun to be crucified.”

But when Tyndale translated the New Testament, which he did before he translated the Old Testament, he introduced the term “easter.” His translation of Matt. 26:2, for instance, is:”Ye knowe that after ii. dayes shalbe ester and the sonne of man shalbe delyvered to be crucified.” Here, Tyndale translates pascha as ester, or easter. Tyndale translates Mark 14:14 as “And whither soever he goeth in saye ye to ye good man of ye housse: the master axeth where is the geest chambre where I shall eate ye ester lambe with my disciples.” Here, pascha is translated “ester lambe,” or Easter Lamb. When he later translated the Old Testament, he coined the term “passover.”

Was Tyndale in error? Did he not know that these passages referred to the Jewish feast ordained by God under the Mosaic Law? Did he mistakenly think this was a ceremony to a pagan goddess? Or did he believe the Jews were celebrating a “Christian feast” before Christ even died and rose again? The reader will understand that these questions are rhetorical and that Tyndale knew he was referring to the Jewish feast of Passover. The point is this, during Tyndale’s day, the term “easter” was used for the Jewish feast of Passover.

Tyndale was not alone in this. For instance, Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) translated Mark 14:14 into German as “und wo er eingeht, da sprechet zu dem Hauswirt: Der Meister läßt dir sagen: Wo ist das Gasthaus, darin ich das Osterlamm esse mit meinen Jüngern?” Notice that the Greek pascha is translated as “Osterlamm,” or “ester lambe” as Tyndale translated it, or Easter Lamb in modern English. He translated Matthew 26:2 as “Ihr wisset, daß nach zwei Tagen Ostern wird; und des Menschen Sohn wird überantwortet werden, daß er gekreuzigt werde.” Again, notice that “Ostern” translates the Greek pascha.

The Bishop’s Bible of 1568, against which the King James Version was translated, uses the term “easter. In John 11:55 the Bishop’s Bible reads “And the Iewes Easter was nye at hande, and many went out of the countrey vp to Hierusale before the Easter, to purifie them selues.” Notice that the Greek pascha is translated “Easter” but also notice it is the “Jews Easter,” an obvious reference to the Passover. Again, the Bishop’s Bible uses Easter in Acts 12:4, the very verse we are now considering. The Great Bible uses the term easter multiple times in the New Testament and even in the Old Testament passage of Ezek. 45:21. “Upon the .xiiij. daye of the fyrst moneth, ye shall kepe easter. Seuen dayes shall the feate contynue, wherin there shall no sowre ner leuened breed be eaten.” Again, the Hebrew word for Passover is translated easter.

The point is to show that the word “easter” was used to translate the word for passover and stood for the concept of passover during this period of time when these great, historical Bibles were being translated. Because that is the case, the King James version cannot successfully be charged with mistranslating pascha in Acts 12:4 when it does the same. Those who make such a claim do not understand the history behind the translation or the origin of the word easter.

Furthermore, even if the name easter had it’s origin in the name of this goddess Eostre, this does not mean that translating the word for the passover by that name was in error because by the time the King James Version had been translated it had come to mean that to the translators. The time of year when the Passover occurred was known by them as Eosturmonath or Easter Month. Even today we call the Lord’s Day, the day on which the Lord arose from the dead, “Sunday.” Many congregations will have in their bulletins the times of the “Sunday services” but no one claims that this is wrong because the name “Sunday” was derived from the worship of the sun.

Even in the Bede quote above he let’s us know that Easter was equated with Passover. He states, “Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” The “Paschal season” is a reference to the time when the Passover was observed, which was also the time, of course, when our Lord arose from the dead. By this time errors had crept in with regard to observing the resurrection of Christ, which he calls the “new rite,” but his quote identifies the Passover with the term easter.

The term easter in Acts 12:4 is not in error. It may be an outdated translation today, and it may have even been somewhat dated when the King James version was translated, but it is not in error. We are looking at the verse from the standpoint of the 21st century when we should be looking at it from the standpoint of the 17th century. If we do that, the problem clears up.

No one should take from this article that I endorse the observance of Easter as a religious holy day. In our day, Easter has come to mean something entirely different than when it was used in the King James Bible. In the early Bibles the term easter was used to refer to the passover. As the church began to fall away from the faith, and the doctrine corrupted, events like “All Hallows Eve,” “Christ’s Mass,” and “Easter” were added to the pure faith. But the charge that the King James translators erred in Acts 12:4 with easter is not accurate. In fact, the King James translators removed the other references to easter that were found in the previous Bibles, perhaps because the term easter was no longer being used the way it had been originally.

One final thought, contrary to claims of grievous error, I know of no one who has been lost because of the word easter in the King James Bible. However, I know of many who are lost because of the errors of modern translations. I do not mind an honest discussion of the translations of words, and I do not claim to be any kind of scholar, but it does bother me when people blindly and enthusiastically attribute error to the King James Bible, which has been used down through the centuries to combat error and promote the Lord’s church. I have yet to see any translation that measures up in every way to the beauty, majesty and accuracy of the King James version.

Eric L. Padgett


This week, Larry Albritton of the West Side Church of Christ will be with us for our extended Gospel Meeting. I have opened the blog to brother Albritton. The following is from the West Side Church of Christ bulletin of Nov. 17, 2013.

The Philistines had taken possession of the ark of the covenant, but after several plagues, they returned it. With the ark recovered and relocated at the house of Abinadab, Israel had time to lament the unfaithfulness to Cod which had caused them to lose the ark. During these years, Samuel preached that Israel must put away her idols and return to Jehovah. This they did. After offering a lamb in sacrifice to the Lord, “Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel and the Lord heard him” (I Samuel 7:9).

Today, when people cry out to God, does He hear them? Will he hear us? From all that the Bible tells us, God only hears those who hear Him. Consider the following:

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverbs 28: 9).

“The Lord is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66: 18).

“Your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59: 2).

The cries of the disobedient God will not hear. Those who turn a deaf ear to God’s laws, that live wickedly, that are insincere in their service to Him–God will not hear their petitions. What a striking blow this is to many who have sought God’s help as a last resort at a moment of peril! There is no toll-free emergency line to His throne. If a line does exist, it is because we have been listening to Him.

When one becomes a child of God and is cleansed of past sins by the blood of Christ (Acts 2: 38 ; Galatians 3: 16-27; and Ephesians 1: 7), the distance to God is spanned. A Christian is able to commune with the heavenly Father through the advocacy of Jesus Christ (I John 2: 1). God hears His children!

When a baptized believer sins, repentance, confession of the wrong, and prayer for forgiveness serve to maintain the favor of God (Acts 5:22-24 and I John 1:7-9). If such iniquities continue and are not put behind, there comes a time when God will no longer hear us. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 :23-24. If we offend a brother in Christ and fail to make it right, our “gift” of worship will not be accepted. Peter tells us that a marriage conflict may even cause our prayers to be hindered (I Peter 3: 7). It is good to always remember that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much” (James 5: 16).

When life strikes a harsh blow and the world seems to be caving in about me, I certainly want God to hear my cries for help. The Father has promised to hear me and respond if I have been hearing Him. If you cried out to God, would He hear you? We must prepare ourselves so He will.

Larry Albritton, Nov. 17, 2013

In the House of the Lord

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).

Psalm 122 is one of the fifteen Songs of Degrees (Psalms 120-134). These songs were probably composed to be sung by the children of Israel as they went up to observe those yearly festivals commanded by God in the law (Deut. 16:16). This particular Psalm was written by David, who wrote at least four of the fifteen (122, 124, 131 and 133). In this Psalm, David describes the blessings found in the House of the Lord. In the Christian dispensation, the House of the Lord is the church of the Lord, the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15).

One of the blessings to be found in the House of the Lord is unity (122:2,3). Jerusalem, the place where God chose to place His name (I Kings 11:36), was “compacted together.” Barnes wrote of this verse: “The walls are all joined together; and the houses are all united to one another so as to make a compact place…from the necessity of the case, when it became the capital of the nation, it was densely crowded.” Furthermore, the last of the Songs of Degrees states the matter plainly: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

In the Lord’s church there is unity (Eph. 4:3). This unity is based, not upon any man’s opinions or feelings, but it is based upon the Lord’s word (John 17:17-21). We are not now still seeking unity, as some claim, for this unity of the faith was obtained and Jesus’ prayer answered, when the revelation of the New Covenant was completed (Eph. 4:8-15). We must endeavor to “keep it” (v. 3), however. Even now the Lord’s church is “fitly joined together and compacted” (Eph. 4:16).

In the Lord’s House was also the Testimony of Israel. It is for this reason that the people of God went up to Jerusalem, “unto the Testimony of Israel” (122:4). The “Testimony of Israel” was the body of commands given unto Israel by God (Ex. 31:18) which was to be placed in the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:16), the ark of the testimony (Ex. 25:21,22). It was above the Testimony of Israel, above the mercy seat, where God communed with man (Ex 26:34; Ex. 25:22).

Today, in the Lord’s church, we have the testimony of Christ (I Cor. 1:1-6). It is also called the testimony of God (I Cor. 2:1). This testimony involves the teaching regarding “Christ crucified” (I Cor. 2:2), which teaching Paul also calls the “gospel,” in I Cor. 15:1-4. It is the Lord’s church which is to take the gospel into all the world (Matt. 28:18-20). It is to the Lord and His testimony that all men should come to find rest (Matt. 11:28-31). And it is by the church the manifold wisdom of God is made known, “according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). Let all nations now flow unto it with joy (Is. 2:1-4; Psalm 122:1)!

David called on all to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). Peace and prosperity were to be found within her walls, the walls and palaces of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:7,8). “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat” (Psalm 147:12-14). The peace of God was to be found within the walls of Jerusalem.

Today, in the Lord’s house, the church, the peace of God can also be found. “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15). This peace is first and foremost peace with God (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:16) and then with our fellow man (Rom. 12:18), but it is a peace that is rooted and grounded in the gospel of Christ, the gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15; Col. 2:7).

Yes, I also was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord,” for that is where unity, the word of God and peace with God can be found! Will you rejoice and come unto the House of the Lord?

Eric L. Padgett