King James Bible Acts 12:4

And when he [Herod] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

New King James Version

So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Why is there this difference in translations of Easter and Passover in the old and new KJV?

6 Answers 6


In a sense, it's not wrong, but it's perhaps a bit anachronistic. The actual Greek in that verse says:

ὃν καὶ πιάσας ἔθετο εἰς φυλακήν, παραδοὺς τέσσαρσιν τετραδίοις στρατιωτῶν φυλάσσειν αὐτόν, βουλόμενος μετὰ τὸ πάσχα ἀναγαγεῖν αὐτὸν τῷ λαῷ.

meta to pascha means "after Passover", but the same term, Pascha, is used for Easter in most languages. English and German are peculiar in calling it Easter (or in German, Ostern) rather than using a term derived from Pesach (Hebrew) / Pascha (Greek) for Passover.

If you look at a list of how various languages say Easter (here's an example), you'll find that many, perhaps most, use a term that comes from Pesach/Pascha. In addition, even in English many Eastern Orthodox Churches use the term Pascha instead of Easter.

  • 2
    But "Easter" refers to the Christian holiday, and doesn't refer to the Jewish holiday, which we have the word "Passover" for, as opposed to "Pesach" which refers to both. So then "Easter" is incorrect - unless it originally referred to both, before the word "Passover" came into existence?
    – Nacht
    Mar 22, 2021 at 0:45
  • In a bit more detail, Easter appears to have been a pagan West Germanic goddess of spring, who had her own month in their calendar and feast days. It appears that early West Germanic-speaking Christians found it easiest to simply map to the Christian "rebirth" celebration to their own.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 22, 2021 at 13:05
  • ...this is a little controversial, as Venerable Bede is the only source of this info, but the West Germanic speakers all using a variant of that name can't be coincidental, so it had to come from somewhere. Bede's account seems the only one we are likely to get.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 22, 2021 at 13:10
  • 1
    @Nacht The verse in question is from the English Christian New Testament. It isn't outrageously odd to use the English Christian term to describe the period.
    – Lan
    Mar 22, 2021 at 13:36
  • @T.E.D. Yes, it had to come from somewhere, but that doesn't prove it came from where the Venerable Bede says it came from just because he's the only one who advanced a theory about it.
    – Kyralessa
    Mar 22, 2021 at 15:45

This is another of the inexplicable inconsistencies of the KJV. The NKJV has corrected this obvious anomaly.

The Greek word πάσχα (pascha) is uniformly translated "Passover" with the conspicuous exception of this verse in the KJV. It perpetuates the odd practice of William Tyndale, 1526, who translated "ester" which was copied by Coverdale Bible, 1535, ("Easter"), and the Bishops Bible, 1568, ("Easter").

There is little justification for this translation. Although the timing of our modern Easter is related to the Passover, they often fall on different dates and so do not correspond exactly.


If you look at verse 3, you'll see that Peter was arrested during the days of unleavened bread - in other words, during the seven days after Passover. So how could Herod intend to release him after a feast that had already passed?

The modern explanation is that "Passover" in verse 4 refers to both Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, taken as a single festival; but, since "Pascha" in Greek is also the Greek word for Easter (the celebration of Christ's resurrection), and Easter logically comes after Passover in the calendar, the early English translators of the Bible assumed this must be an early occurrence of that meaning instead.

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    – agarza
    Mar 22, 2021 at 21:58

There are two practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and one British that directly lead to this issue. First, one of the first defining events of the divergence of the roman catholic church was the councils. If memory serves in the first council setting the date of the Passover by calculation from the Roman calendar instead of the biblical counting of the Abib (ripeness of the barley), which was shortly thereafter followed by the removal of the Jews from Judea to make the counting of the Abib impossible.

Second, the practice of missionary adaption or declaring that all or part of the local unbiblical practices is actually biblical led to the Catholics declaring that the Rites of Estarti were actually Passover leading to confusion and the continuation of egg hunts.

Third, the British empire was not founded on procrastination, but on confidence and promptness. Unfortunately, confidence and promptness are not always virtues for a translator, so since "everyone" knew Easter was the English word for Passover, no-one checked.


Actually, it may be more appropriate to say something else to indicate the resurrection rather than Passover. Jesus did say, I give you a new covenant fulfilling the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-33

31 The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.


Its simply because Herod was a PAGAN... and the verse is referencing Easter, a PAGAN festive of fertility that HEROD intends to takes part in! Simple context is lost here. KJV CORRECTLY translates.

  • 1
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