Very Closely Related:
- In the early church, was the Last Supper Considered a Passover Feast?

The above question is asking for extra-Biblical references - from Early Church authorities. This question is seeking Scriptural references.


1. Question :

According to Gospels, was the "Last Supper" actually Jesus and the Disciples observing the Passover Feast?


2. Some Examples that Indicate Possible Conflicts :

Please take theses references - so I can remove from the question text.

John 18:28 - they did not enter into the Praetorium so that they could eat the Passover ...

John 19:31 - Then the Jews sought to take the bodies down, for that Sabbath was the Passover Sabbath).

  1. Mark 14:17 - Mark says that they were eating dinner when evening came, But: Wouldn't they have been out sacrificing their offering before then, (Deut. 16:5)?
  2. Mark 14:17 / John 13 - Mark says they were reclining - John says they were having their feet washed, But: Why weren't they eating it, "to go"? (Exodus 12:11)?
  3. Mark 14:12 - IF Mark is saying they were going to eat the Passover in "some rented room", why wouldn't they have eaten it at the Temple, (Deut 16:7)?
  4. Mark 14:22 - Mark says they were eating bread, (as a substitution?); But: Why is there no mention that their dinner - just before - included a Passover Sacrifice, (Exodus 12:21)? And if it didn't - could it still be called a "Passover Feast"?
  5. Mark 14:6 IF Mark is saying the Last Supper was a Passover Feast, then it was already Sabbath, (Lev. 23:7, see High Holy Days) - But: Why does Mark say it wasn't Sabbath yet, (Mark 15:42)?
  6. Mark 15:6 - Why did Mark say Pilate was releasing a prisoner during the feast, If: The Passover Sacrifice had already been eaten, and nothing had been left by that morning? (Exodus 16:4)?
  7. A ~recent article with similar objections : Was Jesus' Last Supper a Seder?

John's Gospel differs from the synoptic gospels in that it does not mention the Last Supper as a sacred feast (cf Mark 14:18-26), instead having Jesus wash the feet of the disciples after what appears to have been the normal supper meal (John 13:2).

Clearly, the author of John's Gospel was aware that the crucifixions could not take place on the Day of the Passover and so made a number of changes from the synoptic account, one of which was to place the crucifixion of Jesus on the day before the Passover. This is evidenced not only in John 18:28 and John 19:31, but even more clearly in John 19:14:

John 19:14: And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

Because the Last Supper is not mentioned in John's Gospel, we need to go to the synoptic gospels to find out more and to answer the question of whether this was taken as the Passover feast.

Mark 14:12 tells us that on Jesus' last full day of freedom, the disciples talked to him about preparation for the Passover feast. This was the day they killed the paschal lamb, so clearly the Passover feast would be celebrated that evening, as soon as the Day of the Passover began at nightfall:

Mark 14:12: And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?

Mark 14:14-18 talk about the preparation for the Passover feast that evening and how Jesus sat down with the disciples for this feast. It was the beginning of the Day of the Passover:

Mark 14:14-18: And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat...

Conclusion

In the synoptic gospels, where the Last Supper is specifically mentioned, it is undoubtedly the Passover feast. John's Gospel only mentions supper incidentally and not as the sacred feast of the synoptic gospels. It is sufficiently different in detail and outline that it is unlikely to have been intended as the Passover feast, which is confirmed by John 19:14.

  • @ Dick Hartfield, "and so made a number of changes from the synoptic account, one of which was to place the crucifixion of Jesus on the day before the passover." Are you saying that the author of this book didn't witness these events and wrote in such a way as to make the testimony believable? Or that they did witness it but are guessing or writing things differently somehow? I can't tell from what you wrote but it almost sounds like you're saying that you think there was patchwork done in the writing in order to make it sound right. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Thanks – Gigi Sanchez Mar 8 '17 at 22:40
  • Hi @GigiSanchez John's Gospel was originally anonymous and was attributed to the apostle John late in the second century, after previously being attributed to Cerinthus - so, no, the author did not actually witness these events. The early Church Father, Origen, spoke in defence of John's Gospel by saying (Commentary on John, 10:4-6) "Although he does not always tell the truth literally, he always tells it spiritually." (my emphasis) – Dick Harfield Mar 9 '17 at 4:23
  • 21:24 implies who wrote the book and claims an eyewitness account. – Gigi Sanchez Mar 9 '17 at 5:43
  • @DickHarfield - A.) I am not sure if I am interpreting your conclusion like you intend. Are you saying, "Luke's presentation of the Last Supper is certainly as a Passover Feast, but John's presentation is certainly not. These accounts are in contradiction to each other." B.) I don't think you are going this far, but: Is it possible that Luke's account could be interpreted in view of John's, or vice versa - to resolve the contradiction? – elika kohen May 27 '17 at 19:03
  • Hi @elikakohen A.) Correct: Luke's presentation of the Last Supper is certainly as a Passover Feast, but John's presentation is certainly not. These accounts are in contradiction to each other, not only here but on other details. B.) Luke was written before John so it would normally be bad hermeneutics to interpret it from John. The contradiction can not be resolved other than by looking at the reasons John's author had (see para 2). – Dick Harfield May 27 '17 at 21:46

Was the Last Supper a Passover meal?

Many scholars claim that the Synoptists "clearly" describe the Last Supper as a Passover meal. And then the Apostle John clearly overturns that, indicating that the Passover was yet future of Jesus' trials and crucifixion.

Though reading the Synoptic Gospel accounts seems to indicate a Passover meal was being prepared, in actual fact, none of the Synoptists state that as a fact. However, they use language that is ambiguous and could be read either way.

But the language is clarified and harmonized with the Gospel account of John when the details are examined.

The Passover was to be sacrificed "between the evenings" on the 14th day of the first month (Abib/Nisan -- Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:2-3). The only flexibility to that law was due to uncleanness, being away on a long journey or (in the case of some) unpreparedness of the people. It could not be changed on a whim or by an individual. It was a serious judgment.

Deuteronomy 16 shows the time of the sacrifice to be synonymous with the decline of the sun before setting, as the sun is in the process of going down (a more in-depth study shows the same)--more specifically, between the ninth hour and sunset.

You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates, which Yahweh your God gives you; but at the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, to cause his name to dwell in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at evening, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came out of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:5-6, WEB)

Thus, if we know the date that Jesus ate the Last Supper, that should clarify the issue.

All the Gospel accounts agree that the day of the crucifixion was before the Feast of the Passover and before the first Sabbath of the Feast. The first Sabbath of the Feast is the 15th day of the first month. Thus, Jesus was crucified on the 14th. And he died at the ninth hour--the time of the Passover sacrifice. And there is little doubt that the Last Supper was eaten on the night before.

Therefore, the Last Supper could not have been a Passover meal.

Objections:

1) Wasn't the disciples' inquiry of Jesus made on the first day of the feast? Or on the 14th day, when the Passover lambs were to be killed?

On the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare that you may eat the Passover?”
(Mark 14:12, WEB)

This passage has a number of assumptions attached to it.

And the first day of the unleavened food, when they were killing the passover, his disciples say to him, `Where wilt thou, that, having gone, we may prepare, that thou mayest eat the passover?'
(Mark 14:12, YLT)

1a) "On the first day of unleavened bread"

The day this is referring to was not "on" the first day of Unleavened Bread (a.k.a., the Feast of Passover)--the word 'on' is not in the manuscripts. As we saw above, the first day is the 15th. And by extension of common usage, the 14th day was considered a part of it. But this day referred to in Mark 14:12 is neither the 15th nor the 14th.

How is it not the 14th?

Jesus and his disciples came to meal at evening. The preparations of the Passover and the inquiry of Jesus happened before that. Evening being the end of the day, the inquiry must have happened on the 13th (as too, the preparations).

1b) "when they were killing the passover"

Also as we saw above, the Passover was to be killed at the end of the 14th day. This passage refers to a time before the beginning of the 14th day. This passage has a translation problem. "They" were not killing the passover at that very moment, but rather, the time of the custom of the killing of the lamb was imminent (that is, it was high time to make final preparations--the place needed to be cleaned of all leaven, and then the lamb was to be sacrificed the next day).

The argument is similar for Luke 22:7: "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed."

2) Didn't Jesus refer to the Last Supper as a Passover?

And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
(Luke 22:15, KJV)

This is not a translation problem, but an interpretation one. What was Jesus referring to as "this passover"? The assumption has been, he was referring to the meal on the table in front of him.

However, it could properly refer to the upcoming Passover event. And in fact, he did not eat the Passover with them, because he was dead and buried by that time.

3) Jesus said he would eat/keep the Passover with his disciples.

Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:14; and Luke 22:11:

... I shall eat the passover with my disciples? (Luke 22:11, KJV)

... I will eat the Passover meal?' (Luke 22:11, Good News Translation)

Similarly with Mark 14:14.

... and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'" (Matthew 26:18, NLT)

... I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” (Matthew 26:18, ESV)

... with thee I make the pasch with my disciples. (Matthew 26:18, Douay-Rheims Bible)

Most translations do not have Jesus making a statement of determined or persistent intent ("I will") to keep or eat the Passover. In actual fact, there is no word in the original text translating to 'will' or 'shall' or even 'may'--it is supplied by the translators. The Douay-Rheims translation of this verse probably comes closest to its intended meaning. Jesus was merely making or preparing for the upcoming passover.

Conclusion: Trying to force-fit the Last Supper into a Passover scenario, leads to all sorts of conflicts (of which, I've only mentioned a few). But reading it as a non-passover meal, then there is harmony between the Gospel accounts.

Actually Hermeneutically, use the scriptures to answer them selves when the address a subject or show an understanding. Matthew written by the Jewish POV indicating the lineage from Abraham and 'everything necessary' to prove Jesus the "Messiah" Mark showing Him to be a lawful man and 'doer'. Luke being to the Gentiles and "Roman" sort mind trace him back to the beginning of time and show logically why it had to be done and how it was. John, was about how he loved all, from that aspect. John 13:4 above referenced without numbering was misinterpreted. All, had apparently gotten down to the table, and typically, nobody yet understood that to be the greatest in the Kingdom one had to be the least...they'd not done the servantly duty of washing for ceremonial cleaniliness. (Passover-wise or meal wise.) So, he gets up be fore and washes all. Jn 13:21-30 describe in short form events during the seder. His point of view was not so much on "jewishness" but of the message of servant-leadership, love and betrayal in the story. Now to points of whether crucifixion could have, should have, did happen? Got to take some other points into consideration first. 1) Jews weren't especially considerate of the "LAW" in this matter.... Several times the scriptures mention that "they took counsel" sometimes with other opposing sects and outside groups (Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.) to see how they could kill him. Definitely not lawful. Or moral. supposed to be worried over justice The time of the taking. They took him at night and had trial at night- both unlawful. The trial in form was unlawful the high Priest could not call a specific verdict, nor could he ever rip his clothing. This made a Levite "unclean" and was specifically forbidden in the TORAH as was also why the clothing of the Priests and High Priest was made the way it was. No verdict was to be unanimous. It always was to have a dissenting vote. Any unanimous vote was to thrown out for fear that it was achieved by mob rule. Sabbath Day's journey one writer says: The distance has been generally reckoned as 2000 cubits or approximately 2/3 of a m. Acts 1:12, the only instance of its occurrence in the Bible, specifies its length as the distance from Mt. Olivet to Jerusalem. (From the Eastern gate of Jerusalem to the present site of the Church of the Ascension on Mt. Olivet is slightly over 1/2 m.)

It is assumed that the regulation had its origin in the Mosaic period in the injunction to the Israelite not to leave camp to collect manna on the sabbath (Exod 16:29). In the Jerusalem Targ. this command reads: “Let no man go walking from the place beyond 2000 cubits on the seventh day.” There are other regulations to which appeal is made in an effort to locate the origin of this practice or precept. One is the provision that the area belonging to the Levitical cities included land which extended from the wall 2000 cubits on every side (Num 35:5). WEll, the Temple Guards went a lot farther than that, and carried swords and Staves (Wooden staff weapons) bindings and torches Waaaaay farther than a 'good Jew' would have.

Mark 15:6 - Why did Mark say Pilate was releasing a prisoner during the feast, If: The Passover Sacrifice had already been eaten, and nothing had been left by that morning? On this Point, in the institution of the feast was ordained in this way:‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: Lev 23:5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ Soooooo, you you got more than one observance and requirement going on here...Besides Romans adding on a gratuitous offering too. (This is also, if you are interested, where the precursor for the Sunday worship is, if you're looking for it.)

Also the Jews in their discussion w/ Pilate touch on a technical detail. Roman law forbade them from conducting capital punishment so THeeeeeYYYY didn't put Jesus on the cross physically. But, got the Romans to do their dirty work for them. It doesn't absolve either party Jews and Gentiles put Him on the Cross, but they were very careful to blame the other one and violate their own laws in the process

  • 2
    In the future please don't post more than one answer per question. If you have something to add or fix use the edit link below each post to update your original answer. This isn't a discussion site for content flows chronologically in order of creation, it is a Q&A site where content can be refined and developed (and change orders based on votes on post) so that the most useful content is sorted first. – Caleb May 24 '17 at 7:45
  • Will - I am not certain what your conclusion about two festival days is. Are you saying that "During the Feast" = "During the Festival"? And that, the next day - after the feast/crucifixion was still "During the Feast/Festival"? – elika kohen May 27 '17 at 17:56

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.