-An excerpt from "LENT AND EASTER," Caprock Church Bulletin, Feb. 28 & March 7, 1990
ORIGIN OF EASTER
Easter was NOT OBSERVED by the Apostles of Christ nor Christians of the New Testament era; and it is no part of the religion of Jesus Christ. The name "Easter" is merely the slightly changed English spelling of the name of the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian idol goddess, Ishtar -- I-S-H-T-A-R, Ishtar -- (pronounced eesh-tar). The name "Easter" comes to us from the mythological writings of the ancient Teucrians (who lived 1200 BC along the southern coast of Palestine) where it is known as "Ostern." Webster's Dict. says, "Easter is from the pre-historic name of a pagan spring festival." The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology says, "Easter is derived from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated at the vernal equinox." The scholarly New Schaff-Herzog Religious Ency. says, "This goddess is also widely known as Astarte...The cult originated in Babylonia and spread to Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, then through the Phoenicians to all of the Mediterranean peoples...Ishtar was in fact primarily and chiefly identified with Venus, the most beautiful of celestial objects...and from the terrestrial side, the primary motive of the worship of Ishtar was the impulse to deify sensuousness and sensuality."
Alexander Hislop says in The Two Babylons (p.103), "Easter bears it Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven..." The ancient gods of the pagans had many different names. While this goddess was called Astarte by the Phoenicians, it appears on Assyrian monuments found in excavations at Nineveh as Ishtar. (See, The Biblical World, p. 86). Both were pronounced "Easter." Also, Bel was called Molech, and his worship was condemned by Jehovah (1 Kings 11:1-11; Jeremiah 50:2; 51:44). God said that the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth was an abomination to Him, and condemned both of these idol gods along with all other idol gods and the worship connected with them. Baal and Ashtaroth (Ishtar) were the gods of the wicked Jezebel. Jezebel was a Phoenician woman who became Queen of Israel by her marriage to King Ahab. It was Jezebel who sought the life of God's prophets, Elijah and Elisha, because they condemned her gods, and her worship, as well as her wickedness. (1 Kings chapters 16-19).
EASTER IS NOT FOUND IN THE BIBLE
"The English word 'Easter' came from the Anglo-Saxon Eastre or Estera, a Teutonic goddess to whom sacrifice was offered in April, so the name was transferred to the paschal feast. The word does not properly occur in Scripture, although the AV (King James translation)has it in Acts 12:4 where it stands for 'Passover,' as it is rightly rendered in RV (Revised Version). There is no trace of Easter celebration in the New Testament..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 889).
The fact that the word "Easter" occurs in the King James Version in Acts 12:4 has confused some. The word here in the original is "pascha," meaning "Passover." This word occurs 29 times in the New Testament and is translated "Passover" every time except in Acts 12:4, and in this verse as well in all later translations. A careful reading of Acts 12:1-4 will make it obvious that "Passover" is the correct translation. Herod had killed James and was preparing to kill Peter in an effort to "vex the church" (v. 2), and "please the Jews" (v. 4). "Then were the days of unleaven bread" (v. 3) -- the Jews Passover. He placed Peter in prison, intending to try him "after Easter" (KJV). Now, IF Herod was trying to "please the Jews" and "vex the church" WHY would he have delayed the trial until after "Easter?" If indeed he thus respected a "Christian" holy day, especially one in honor of Christ's resurrection, he would surely not be pleasing the Jews. It would have "vexed" the church more to kill one of its Apostles on its own "holy-day," would it not?? The truth is obvious: the "Easter" in Acts 12:4 was the Jewish Passover, and it would not please the Jews to kill a man on a Jewish holy-day. So, in order to "please the Jews" and to "vex the church," he determined to persecute one of its Apostles AFTER the Jewish feast ended. No my friends, Acts 12:4 does NOT refer to what men call Easter today!!
In conclusion, we find that scores of millions are deceived into observing this form of heathen idolatry, under the delusion that they are honoring Jesus Christ, the Son of God our Creator. Easter honors the pagan goddess, Ishtar, NOT CHRIST. True Churches of Christ resist these sectarian, divisive, man-made, traditions and insist upon New Testament authority for everything they do in service to God. We observe the resurrection of Christ WEEKLY, not just annually. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26; 1 Cor. 10:16; Mark 16:9). We observe no special days which are set apart by men (Gal. 1:6-12). The Apostle Paul forbade the observance of days in Galatians 4:9-11. We urge all men to worship God in the way the New Testament church worshipped Him. (John 4:23-24; Matthew 15:9).