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Related:
- The Correct Research Methodology To Substantiate If an Expression is an Idiom?
- In the early church, was the Last Supper Considered a Passover Feast?
- The meaning of παρασκευή ('day of preparation')
- Luke 22:16 - Did Jesus say he was not going to eat THAT Passover?
- Do Idioms Used in the Crucifixion Narrative Resolve the "3 Day/3 Night" Objections?


1. Question:

Is "day of" an idiomatic expression, meaning "general time"?

Why does Luke say the day of the Passover came, when it had not?

Is there any historical evidence, or grammatical rules, that may suggest that this phrase was often used imprecisely, idiomatically?

  • Then came the Day of: ...
  • Then came the Feast of: ...

  1. Is it possible that: "It's the Feast of Passover!" - may have have been understood the same way that we understand: "It's Christmas Time!", (a generalization, not necessarily the actual day);

  2. Are Verb Tenses Significant? ("Then came:", Aorist, Imperfect, etc.)

  3. Are there any historical texts, that either confirm or refute this argument?


2. The Text:

NASB, Luke 22:1 - Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching.

Passover Came:

NASB, Luke 22:7 - Then came, (Ἦλθεν, Aorist Tense) the day

But It Had Not, Yet? :

NASB, Luke 23:17 - Now [Pilate] was obliged to release to them (at / κατὰ) the feast one prisoner.

John 19:31 - Then the Jews, because it was, (Imperfect Tense) the day of preparation, ... for a Great Day was that Sabbath.


3. Research in Progress - Feel Free to Use:

Homilies on Matthew (Chrysostom), Homily 81 - And this one calls the day before the feast of unleavened bread, Luke 22:7 speaking of the time when they came to Him, and another says on this wise, Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed; by the word came, meaning this, it was near, it was at the doors, making mention plainly of that evening. For they began with the evening, wherefore also each adds, when the passover was killed.

Note: Although Augustine, (354-439) cited Chrysostom as an authority - I feel that what Chrysostom, (349-407) wrote is not conclusive because those works were not contemporaneous with the New Testament.

  • 1
    Point of clarification: The "day of Passover" does not appear to be an actual phrase in the New Testament. Are you asking if it's a phrase or idiom elsewhere because it is not used in the NT? Or are you asking more generally about how NT writers refer to the day or feast of Passover as distinguished from the following 7 days of Unleavened Bread? Thanks! – Schuh Mar 31 '16 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Schuh - Thanks for the helpful comment; A.) I went back through and added "Feast of:" along with "Day of:"; B.) As you suggested, I also added references for Passover, specifically, (though "Day of Passover" is a stretch); C.) To Clarify: I am asking if - in that time - if someone wrote or said: "It's the Feast of Passover!" - if they would have understood it the same way as we understand: "It's Christmas Time!". D.) Is there any evidence that those those expressions were often used imprecisely? – elika kohen Mar 31 '16 at 19:46
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The Actual Event

The Passover in Egypt took place at midnight when a house whose doorposts had been marked with blood was "passed over."

and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. (Exodus 12:6-7) 1

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:12-13)

Regardless of any tradition, the Passover event was completed in less than 24-hours since God struck the Egyptian firstborn at midnight and Pharaoh called Moses and released the slaves before dawn.

The Proscribed Remembrance

The remembrance of the Passover added 7 additional days immediately following to remember the release from Egypt:

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:14-15)

And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. (Exodus 12:17-18)

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:5-6)

The night of the Passover was the event which initiated the LORD bringing the Israelites out of Egypt; yet Pharaoh's release was only the beginning of the journey. The Israelites were still in Egypt and would be until crossing the Red Sea. So the full remembrance consisted of two separate feasts: Passover on the 14th and seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, from the 15th to the 21st. The Feasts were consecutive and they shared a common food, Unleavened Bread. Also, if a day begin at sunset, then the initial meal was eaten on the fifteenth day of the month, which is the first day of Unleavened Bread.

Regardless of when a day was reckoned, Passover and Unleavened Bread are two separate remembrances which are inexorably connected and intertwined.

The "Passover" Idiom

Luke provides a Biblical reference to the idiom of "The Passover" as it was used at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus:

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. (Luke 22:1)

Luke reports the 7-day event of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was also called "Passover." The Greek is ἑορτὴ τῶν ἀζύμων, literally "feast of unleaveneds." So the idiomatic use of "Passover" is to combine both Passover and Unleavened Bread, into just "Passover."

This idiom is still used by some Jewish authorities:

The holiday of Pesach, or Passover, falls on the Hebrew calendar dates of Nissan 15-22. Here are coinciding secular dates for the upcoming years: 2017: April 10-18 2

Correct terminology should call the Passover a 1-day event remembered on the 14th which is followed by the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread from the 15th through the 21st. However the idiomatic use is to call the entire 8-day period "Passover."

This idiomatic use is similar to "Christmas time" except "Passover" accurately designates both the start and ending of "Passover" whereas "Christmas time" is normally seen as ending on Christmas Day with an arbitrary day of which it begins. In other words, the "Day of Passover" is understood as both the day of, and the beginning of the period of, "Passover." While "Christmas time" could start at various times before Christmas Day.


1. All Scripture from the English Standard Version
2. Chabad.org

  • RevelationLad - A.) Thank you. Maybe you could help me re-word the question. B.) I am trying to resolve why the New Testament says, "The Day of the Passover came" ... when it had not - according to the same text. C.) The only way that this seems to make sense - is if it is actually idiomatic, (which is why I am hoping for supporting evidence). – elika kohen Apr 24 '17 at 0:28
  • @elikakohen First, I believe if Scripture provides an answer, that is the answer to do with. Second, since Christian's abandoned the Passover remembrance, I wouldn't look to Christian traditions for understanding of Passover traditions or idioms. Third, "The day of Passover came..." is not what is written in Luke 22:7 - Ἦλθεν δὲ ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν ἀζύμων... Then came the day of unleaveneds (not Passover) on which it was necessary to sacrifice the Passover (πάσχα) - which according to 1 Co 5:7 is Jesus. So "then came the day of unleaveneds on which it was necessary to kill [Jesus] the Passover. – Revelation Lad Apr 24 '17 at 6:42

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