The Sunday Versus Monday Pentecost Debate
Background of the Debate
There are four issues: which day to start counting from, how many days to count, how to count, and is Pentecost the “fiftieth day?”
The World Wide Church of God, directed by Mr. Herbert W.
Armstrong, in February of 1974 made a sudden and major doctrinal change: They
changed the date of observance of the third annual holy day Pentecost, from
Monday to Sunday. They also decreed that Wavesheaf Sunday must always fall within the Passover and Feast
of Unleavened Bread time period, thus allowing for this day to be on an annual
holy day when Passover falls on Friday night. The reasons, cited in two letters
from Mr. Armstrong (dated January 31, 1974 and February 11, 1974) and a thick
packet sent to the ministry (“Pentecost Study Material”), were based on one
thing: that God did not reveal a Monday Pentecost to Mr. Armstrong in the 1930s
because modern scholarship (outside the church) agreed that you have to count
“inclusively,” starting with the Wavesheaf Sunday that occurs before the Feast
of Unleavened Bread has ended and keep the 50th day. In 1974, the
WCG kept Pentecost one day and one week earlier than they
(or anyone else)ever had
The following are the “new proofs” used for making the two changes:
(1) “mi-mohorat” always indicates counting inclusively.
(2) All of the scholars contacted, as well as modern Jews, keep a Sunday Pentecost. Those who follow the Sadduceean tradition count 7 weeks (49 days) and keep the 50th day. The Pharisees’ tradition counts 49 days from Nisan 16, and they keep Sivan 6.
(3) Many modern translations emphasize the counting of weeks, not 50 days, particularly the New American Bible, a work of Catholics and Protestant scholars.
(4) In New Testament times
(and currently), the Jew cut one wavesheaf for the whole nation, and
at sundown on Saturday night, not on Sunday, thus making Sunday the first full
harvest-day of the season.
(5) Deuteronomy 16 is to be used with Leviticus 23 and counting 7 weeks, not 50 days, is emphasized.
(6) The Sadducees were in charge of the Temple at the time of Christ and the disciples, and neither Christ nor the apostles ever disagreed with them over doctrine, specifically over when to observe the holy days.
(7) There is no evidence of Christians and Jews, or Jesus and Jews, meeting for Pentecost on different days.
(8) The mention of Christ appearing 40 days to the disciples in Acts 1:3 proves that John counted the Sunday of Christ’s ascension as day one in the count toward the Pentecost of Acts 2:1. John always wrote using Jewish time, not Roman.
(9) Pentecost means “fiftieth day,” but is also a counting term.
(10) Luke 4:16 proves that Christ was observing Pentecost with the Jews (Sadducees), and thus must be a Sunday.
(11) Acts 2:1 shows the Jews with the disciples on the first Pentecost, and thus must be a Sunday.
(12) The Jubilee Year is counted the same as Pentecost, with both being on the fiftieth (Jubilee on the fiftieth year, and Pentecost on the fiftieth day).
(13) All Christians (Catholics and Protestants) after Acts kept a Pentecost, and always kept it on Sunday, on the 50th day after Christ’s resurrection, thus showing a precedent for keeping a Sunday Pentecost.
(14) The Greek word “sabbaton” used in John 20:1, 19 should be translated as “first of weeks” and proves that the Sunday Christ ascended was the Wavesheaf day and began a 7 week (not 50 day) count towards Pentecost (Acts 2:1).Thus, the New Testament corroborates a 7 week count and the use of Deuteronomy 16, not Leviticus 23 for determining the date of Pentecost.
(15) The church was founded on Sunday.
(16) Wavesheaf Sunday must always fall during the Days of Unleavened Bread because the symbolism of the holy days must be 1) the sacrifice of Christ (Passover), 2) the acceptance of Christ by the Father (ascension/wavesheaf day), and 3) the putting of sin out of the life of the believer (Feast of Unleavened Bread).
The question is, what does the Bible say?????
I Corinthians 16
Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19
Strongs #4005 “Pentekoste”
Old WCG Way: Count starting from the Sunday that follows the Sabbath within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Monday is day 1. Wavesheaf Sunday can never be a holy day.
New Way: Count starting with the Sunday within the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread time period. Sunday is day 1.Wavesheaf Sunday can be a holy day (Nisan 15) if Passover (Nisan 14) falls on Friday night. The Sabbath before Wavesheaf Sunday is not within the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it is a preparation day after Passover and before the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins.
Correct Way: Count starting with the Sunday that follows the Sabbath within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Sunday is day 1. Wavesheaf Sunday can never be a holy day. Wavesheaf Sunday can fall outside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (but not outside the Passover season) (Nisan 22) when Passover (Nisan 14) is on Friday night.
The Debate: The issue is not whether or not to count Sunday as the first day. The issue is which Sunday is Wavesheaf Sunday?
Biblical Texts: Leviticus 23:5-7
Evidence Used for Change: There is no debate over whether or not Wavesheaf Sunday is day one of the count towards Pentecost. WCG cites Joshua 5 and several passages in the New Testament to say that Wavesheaf Sunday can be Nisan 15 when Passover falls on a Friday night.
What Does the Bible Really Say? The morrow after the Sabbath is wavesheaf day. This is a Sunday. If Passover falls on Friday night (Nisan 14) then the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) will be on Sunday. This day could never have been wavesheaf day because wavesheaf day was a busy work day and work was forbidden on the holy days. When Nisan 15 is the first holy day, wavesheaf day would be Nisan 22, the next Sunday. This Sunday would be the morrow after the Sabbath, and the Sabbath falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as Leviticus says. It never says that the wavesheaf day must fall during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Joshua 5 never mentions the word “wavesheaf” and all evidence points to the fact that the Israelites kept the Passover of the second month, not the first, when they entered the Promised Land, and that they did not follow the ordinance of offering a wavesheaf until many years later. There is no evidence in the New Testament that Christ or the disciples observed Wavesheaf Sunday on Nisan 15th. The Greek word “sabbaton” should never be translated as “first of weeks” indicating Wavesheaf Sunday. It in fact, always refers to Sunday in general.
Old WCG Way: Count 49 days and keep the 50th day. Monday is day 1 and Monday is day 50.
New Way: Count 49 days (7 weeks) and keep the 50th day. Sunday is day 1 and Sunday is day 50.
Correct Way: Count 50 days and then observe Pentecost. Sunday is day 1 and Sunday is day 50. Keep Monday.
The Debate: The issue is, do you count 49 days or do you count 50 days?
Biblical Texts: Leviticus 23:15-16
Evidence Used for Change: WCG stopped counting 50 days exclusively (excluding day 1 and day 50 of the count) and began counting 49 days inclusively, keeping the 50th day. They said that “count 50 days” was a parenthetical reference (see “How to Reckon the Day of Pentecost” from 1975) and that you had to count seven weeks, or 49 days. They use Deuteronomy 16 as proof for only counting 49 days. They also began teaching that Pentecost means “fiftieth day.”
What Does the Bible Really Say? Levitcus 23:15-16 specifically says to count 50 days. It does not say to count seven Sabbaths. There will be seven Sabbaths (or weeks of seven-day periods of Sunday to Saturday) completed, on the way to the count of 50 days. Seven Sabbaths is parenthetical, not fifty days. Fifty days cannot be completed unless you count the fiftieth day. It says “even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath ye shall number fifty days.” You cannot number or count the fiftieth day until it is completed, at the end of the day (see Genesis 1:5). No matter how you try, 49 days (7 weeks) and 50 days are not the same thing. Leviticus 25:8 gives this example with the counting for the Jubilee Year. It plainly says that you count 49 years, and the 50th year is the Jubilee Year. Acts 2:1 confirms that the apostles counted correctly, because it says that Pentecost had “fully come.” In other words it had been completely counted. Deuteronomy 16 does not give counting instructions for any of the holy days. Deuteronomy 16 gives details about where the Feasts are to be held and what sacrifices are to be made. Leviticus 23 gives the dates and counting instructions for all of the holy days and feasts. The Bible, as a whole, is needed to correctly keep the Feasts of God. Both the Jews and pagan “Christians” use only Deuteronomy 16 and count 7 weeks (49 days) and not 50 days. If you keep Pentecost on Sunday, you have only counted 49 days and are disobeying God’s instructions to count 50 days.
Old WCG Way: Count exclusively, meaning exclude the beginning day (Wavesheaf Sunday) and the ending day (the 50th day) from the count. Count a day when it ends.
New Way: Count inclusively and exclusively,
meaning include the beginning day (Wavesheaf Sunday) and exclude the ending day
(the 50th day) from the count. Count a day
before it ends.
Correct Way: Count inclusively and consistently, including the beginning day (Wavesheaf Sunday) and the ending day (the 50th day) in the count. Count a day when it ends.
The Debate: The issue is not whether you count inclusively or exclusively. The issue is, how many days do you count, and do you count a day when it begins, or when it ends?
Biblical Texts: Genesis 1:5
Evidence Used for Change: In 1974, WCG correctly understood that you needed to count inclusively. But they did not count this way to determine Pentecost. They included the first day (Sunday) in the count, but excluded the last day (day 50) in their count. They mentioned the Hebrew numeration rule about using the “terminus a quo” and “terminus ad quem” at least five times in the “Pentecost Study Material” but they are only counting 49 days and not 50. They do not acknowledge that day 50, as written in Leviticus 23:16, is the terminus ad quem, or the last day that must be included in the count towards Pentecost.
What Does the Bible Really Say? God made it impossible to physically, intellectually, count fifty. The intellectuals and the scholars have fought for centuries among themselves trying to intellectually count fifty. Physically, carnally, there must be a dozen different ways or reasoning of men on how to count fifty. Only one way is right, and no man will ever find that way except through the Holy Spirit and by revelation from God (Psalms 2:4). Inclusive and exclusive counting are not really issues in the Bible. What God emphasizes is complete counting. The best example of this is in the Gospels. We know from prophesy and Christ’s own statements, that He would be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights exactly (for example see Matthew 12:40 and Luke 27:63). But Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27:63; Mark 9:31, 10:34; Luke 9:22, 13:32, 18:33, 24:7,21, 46: Acts 10:40; and 1 Corinthians 15:4 all say “the third day.” We know that Christ was resurrected after the third day and that all of these verses refer to Sunday, the forth day. So how do we reconcile these apparent discrepencies? The Bible does not contradict itself, so “the third day” and “after three days” mean the same thing: after three days have been completed and before the forth day has been completed. If “the third day” meant that Christ was resurrected on Saturday during the day “the third day,” instead of at sundown, at the end of the day, then that would mean that He was not in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights and He was not the Messiah! Sunday (the forth day since His crucifixtion) could not be counted as day four until the end of the day, so technically it was still called “the third day” and it was the forth day in progress. So when someone says that keeping a Monday Pentecost means keeping the 51st day, it is not true, because it is the 51st day in progress and can still be called the 50th day according to the way time is referred to in the Bible. Regardless, the Bible never says to keep the 50th day. It says to count 50 days and then keep Pentecost.
Old WCG Way: Pentecost is the 50th Day after an exclusive count of 50 days.
New Way: Pentecost is the 50th Day after an inclusive count of 49 days.
Correct Way: Pentecost is the day after an inclusive count of 50 days. It is the 51st day in progress, but is still called day 50.
The Debate: Does the Bible say that Pentecost is the 50th day after Wavesheaf Sunday?
Biblical Texts: Leviticus 23:15-16
I Corinthians 16:8
Evidence Used for Change: There was no change because WCG was still keeping Pentecost on
day 50. The difference is that they started calling it “fiftieth day” when they used to say that
Pentecost meant “fifty count.”
What Does the Bible Really Say? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost is the be kept on the 50th day. In fact, the Feast of Weeks refers to the seven weeks that are counted on the way to Pentecost, and the Greek word “Pentekoste” (Strongs # 4005)means “fiftieth” and is a counting word, as can be seen from its root word “Pente” which means five. The word “day” is added by pagan christians (Catholics and Protestants) which themselves keep Whitsunday on the 50th day from Easter Sunday, which they believe was the day Christ was resurrected. Literally, Pentecost means “count 50” referring to God’s instructions in Leviticus 23 to count or number 50 days to keep Pentecost on the correct day. As stated above, a Monday Pentecost is not the “51st day” but in fact still called the 50th day according the example shown to us in the New Testament. The emphasis in Leviticus 23: 15 is to number 50 days and Sunday (day 50) is to be numbered also, before keeping Pentecost.
Why I Still Believe in a Monday Pentecost
and Why I Believe Wavesheaf Sunday Can Never Be Nisan15
1) Because of How the Bible Counts
God tells us how to count in the very first chapter of Genesis. Genesis 1:5 says “And the
evening and the morning were the first day.” This says that
you count a day
after i it
ends. When God gives us instructions on the Sabbath, He tells us to work
for 6 days and the 7th day is holy. Leviticus 15:13-14 says that you
count or number seven days and then
on the eighth day you are clean. Leviticus 25:8 gives us instructions on the
Jubilee Year, and it says to number 49 years and keep the 50th year.
The Hebrew word is caphar (Strong’s
#5608) and it means to count, number, or tally, and it signifies the reckoning
of an event that has been completed and looking forward to something after the
count is finished. Inclusive counting has two parts: the terminus a quo and the terminus
ad quem. The terminus a quo is the starting day of the count, and the
terminus ad quem is the ending day of the count. If you count inclusively, you
have to include both. Exodus 12:15 says that you must eat unleavened bread
“from the first day until the 7th day.” Do you start eating leavened
products on the 7th day,
or when the 7th day is over (the beginning of the 8th
day)? Do we count parts of days when we
count three days and three nights to prove that Christ was resurrected before
sundown on Saturday and not Sunday? Leviticus 23:16 says to count 50 days. Day
one is counted when the day is over, and so is day 50. If you observe Pentecost
on day 50, you haven’t counted day 50!
2) Because the Instructions in Leviticus 23, Not Deuteronomy 16 Tell Us How Many Days to Count
Leviticus is the book written for the Levite priests. These were God’s ministers in Israel and they would need to know when God’s Feasts were so that they could pass the information on to the whole nation (congregation). Deuteronomy 16 doesn’t say when any of the Feasts are to be kept, other than to give the month. It does, however, tell where the Feasts are to be kept, and what sacrifices are to be offered. The two books together give a complete picture of how to keep God’s annual festivals, but Leviticus was written first. If you only had a copy of Deuteronomy, you would not know when to keep the Feasts. So to assume that you only need to count 49 days (seven weeks) is incorrect because Leviticus 23 specifically says to count 50 days.
3) Because a Preparation Day is Necessary for the Feast of Weeks Ceremony
Deuteronomy 26:1-10, and Leviticus 23:17 give the instructions for the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost ceremony. After a three-day sanctification period (Exodus 19:10-11), each family was to offer two wave loaves of 2/10 deals (of flour) baked with leaven. These loaves were quite large, being four handbreadths wide, seven handbreadths long, and four fingers high. Along with this, they had to offer a tithe (10%) of their wheat harvest that they had just completed, with 7 lambs, 1 bull, and 2 rams as animal sacrifices. In order to prepare fresh loaves of bread, the Israelites had to cut the wheat, ground it to flour, prepare dough with leavening, let it rise, and then bake it in large ovens. This was done by each family in the nation. If Pentecost were on Sunday, then Sabbath would be the preparation day for this ceremony. But the Israelites were forbidden to do heavy baking on the Sabbath! So when would they have prepared the loaves? The baking would have to be on Friday, and thus stale loaves would be presented to God. This of course, would have been unacceptable to God. Pentecost must be on Monday, with Sunday, an allowable work day, as the preparation day.
4) Because We Don’t Follow the Jews, Specifically the Sadducees, Just Because They Controlled the Temple at the Time of Christ
The Pharisees appeared in the 2nd century B.C. and they represented an apostate scholar class which relied on Greek rationalism and human reasoning to develop a theology opposed to the revelation giving by Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament (Matthew 16:11). The Sadducees developed in opposition to the Pharisees after the rejection of the Aaronic priesthood and were considered scriptural literalists. John the Baptist called them a generation of vipers in Matthew 3:7. In Matthew 16:12 Christ warns us of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadduccees. He says to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” in Matthew 16:1, 11-12 and Mark 8:15. He spent a whole chapter talking about the scribes (from different Jewish sects) and the Pharisees, says “woe unto you,” over and over in Matthew 23. In Matthew 15:1-9, Christ says that the Pharisees were “teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men.” Acts 23:8 says the Sadducees don’t even believe in a resurrection. The Jews all keep Passover a day late (on Nisan 15) and did so at the time of Christ (John 18:28). But we know that Christ kept Passover on the 14th. John 18:3 indicated that the Pharisees were instrumental in killing Jesus. The Pharisees keep Sivan 6 and/or 7 for Pentecost because they count from the day after the holy day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not the weekly Sabbath, and thus keep a fixed day (instead of counting) for Pentecost. The Sadduccees keep Sunday and count 7 weeks, or 49 days. They do not count 50 days as instructed in Leviticus 23. They both believe in offering one wavesheaf for the entire nation, contrary to the instructions by God. So the example of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees is to disobey God’s instructions concerning His Holy days. How then can we think that Jesus and His disciples were with them, and that we should follow their corrupt example? We should follow the Bible, not modern Sadducee or Pharisee traditions.
5) Because the Sabbaton Theory is False
The Sabbaton Theory refers to the use of the Greek word “sabbaton” in the New Testament. In 1974, WCG announced that it should be translated as “first of weeks,” making the original translation of “first day of the week” signify Wavesheaf Sunday, and not just Sunday. This is used to say that the “first day of the week” in Luke 24:1 and it’s corollary scriptures, Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9: and John 20:1, 19 mean Wavesheaf Sunday, and that this is the first day of a 7 week count toward Pentecost. This is also used to say that “te mia ton sabbaton” in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 should be translated as “first of weeks” showing precedence for the re-translation of Luke 24:1. Looking at Acts 20:7, it is easy to see that the Sunday referred to in this passage could not have been Wavesheaf Sunday, and thus have no reference to a “seven-week count” for Pentecost. Verse 6 and verse 13 show that the Sunday in question was 13 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and thus could not be Wavesheaf Sunday. Luke left Philippi after the Feast, sailed 5 days, and stayed in Troas 7 days before meeting with the disciples on Sunday. This would be the 2nd Sunday after Wavesheaf day. Thus the “te mia ton sabbaton” in Acts 20:7 is correctly translated as the “first day of the week.” Now, looking at 1 Corinithians 16, we see that Paul is telling the Corinthians (as he had previously instructed the Galatians) to collect fruit to send to Jerusalem, and that he would collect their offerings when he came to visit them after Pentecost. The corollary verse is in Romans 15:25-28. The fruit harvest began after Pentecost and continued until the Last Great Day. “sabbaton” here is actually “kata mia sabbaton” according to the Greek, and refers to “every first of the week.” In other words, the brethren were instructed to collect fruit every Sunday after the harvest began, and Paul would take it to Jerusalem after his visit with them. Again, “sabbaton” here has absolutely nothing to do with Wavesheaf Sunday. With no precedence, the “sabbaton” in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, can only be translated as “first day of the week” and mean Sunday. This day, was in fact the Wavesheaf Sunday in A.D. 31, because we know that Christ ascended on this day. But “sabbaton” does not mean “first of weeks” and does in no way signify a count of 7 weeks to the first Pentecost in Acts 2:1.
6) Because the Disciples Were Not Meeting on the Same Day With the Jews in Acts 2
Acts 2:1 does not say that the disciples were waiting with the Jews when God’s Holy Spirit descended upon them. In fact, it says that “devout Jews” came when they heard what was happening (verse 5), signifying that there were other Jews, who did not believe in Christ, that were not with them. At the same time, Parthians, Medes, and men from many nations came to see what was happening. Nowhere in this chapter does it say that the disciples were in the Temple on a Sunday with the Sadducees. The word temple does not even appear. They were, in fact, in a house (verse 2). If the disciples, were in fact, not meeting with the Jews, then they were not meeting on a Sunday like the Sadducees, nor a Sivan 6 like the Pharisees. Also, why was the phrase “fully come”used here, unless the Pentecost the disciples kept was a day or two later that the one some of the Jews were keeping? Even if the Pharisees had been keeping Pentecost on the right day and at thesame place, they would certainly not have been “all with one accord,” as the verse says. They sharply disagreed with the disciples. The Pharisees may have kept Pentecost that year on Friday, Sivan 6, and the Sadducees on Sunday, Sivan 8. Both they and the multitude from other nations came running, not recognizing the Holy Spirit. They had kept Pentecost on the wrong days and in the wrong attitude. Thus, they missed the giving of the Holy Spirit. Hence, their question, “What shall we do?”
7) Christ Was Not Meeting with the Jews (Sadducees) for Pentecost in Luke 4:16
In 1974, the WCG stated that Luke 4:16 proves that Jesus was meeting with the Jews on Pentecost, and because the Sadducees were in charge of the temple, then Pentecost was on Sunday. They use for “proof” the fact that Jesus was reading Isaiah 61:1-2 and that this, according to the Triennial cycle that the Jews use for reading the Bible, is a Pentecost reading. They say that the phrase, “en te heemera ton sabbaton” in this verse means Pentecost. The word “sabbaton” is translated as “sabbath” here, and, in fact, refers to the weekly Sabbath. Ezekiel 45:17, Colossians 2:16 and Hosea 2:11 all have the phrase “feasts, new moons, and sabbaths,” with “sabbaton” translated as “sabbaths.” This shows a distinction drawn between sabbath and feast. If the “sabbaton” in Luke 4:16 referred to a holy day, it would have been translated as such. The Greek word “sabbaton” does not mean Pentecost; the Greek word “Pentekoste” means Pentecost. Actually, according to the Triennial reading cycle, the weekly Sabbath readings for the 3rd month of the 2nd year of the cycle, include the passage in Isaiah 61 and would have it being read on the 2nd Sabbath of Sivan. Luke 4:16 refers to a weekly Sabbath, not Pentecost.
8) Because the “40 Days” in Acts 1:3 Has No Relationship With the 50 Day Count Towards Pentecost
The WCG states that, since Christ was said to have appeared to the disciples for 40 days, (Acts 1:3) that the count must have begun on Wavesheaf Sunday, thus proving that the first Pentecost was on day 50 in Acts 2:1. These 40 days, in fact had no relationship with the count towards Pentecost, because the disciples knew full-well that they had to count 50 days. But did Christ appear to the disciples on Sunday (Wavesheaf Day), or on Sunday night (day 2 of the count towards Pentecost)? The “Pentecost Study Material” erroneously states that John always uses Jewish time in his writings. This can be disproved very easily by looking at John 19:4 and comparing this scripture with Mark 15:25. Mark did always use Jewish time in his Epistle. John 19:4 says that Christ was still with Pilate at the 6th hour. In Roman time, this would be 6 a.m. In Jewish time, this would be noon. But we know from Mark 15:25 that Christ was crucified at 9 a.m. So John had to have been using Roman time. By Roman time, the “evening” in John 20:19 says that the first time Christ appeared to the disciples it was night. We can prove this by looking at the time sequence of events that occurred on this Sunday. Luke 24:29 says “abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” This was probably near sunset, after 4 p.m. Luke 24:30-35 says that Christ vanished and Luke and another disciple went to Jerusalem (a 1 to 2 hour trip) and told the eleven what they had seen. Mark 16:13 says that the apostles didn’t believe them. Then in Luke 24:36, Jesus appeared to the apostle for the first time. It was definitely night. The Wavesheaf Day had already ended, and thus the 40 days of appearances by Christ has nothing to do with Wavesheaf Sunday being day one of the count towards the Pentecost in Acts 2:1.
9) Because Pentecost Means “Count 50” Not “Fiftieth Day”
Literally, Pentecost means “count fifty.” The church’s insistence on keeping the 50th day (Sunday) has no Biblical proof. Leviticus 23 specifically says to count 50 days and never says keep the 50th day. The change to using “fiftieth day” for the Greek word “Pentekoste” began in 1974. Prior to that, WCG had always taught that Pentecost meant “count 50.” (See 1943 article “How to Figure Pentecost” by Mr. Armstrong and “The History and Truth About Pentecost!” by Herman Hoeh.)
10) Because the Giving of the Law at Sinai Could Not Have Occurred on a Sunday
Most scholars and the church agree that the giving of the Law at Sinai took place on
Pentecost (Exodus 19 - 24) (See Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course Lesson 35 Supplement). But notice that God demanded a “wash day” (Exodus 19:11) for all of Israel, in order for them to appear clean and pure before God when Moses returned with the Law. This preparation day could not have been on Sabbath because it involved heavy labor, including the washing of travel-soiled clothes. Pentecost could not have been on Sunday because it was needed for a preparation day. Pentecost must have been on Monday, and this is the day when the Law was given to Israel.
11) Because Paul Did Not Follow the Pharisees After His Conversion
Paul did not follow the traditions of the Pharisees after he was converted (Matthew 15:1-6, 23:15). He accepted the teachings of Jesus Christ and Christ was not a Sadducee, nor a Pharisee.
12) Because Only God’s True Church Keeps the Day of Pentecost on the Correct Day
Much of the evidence used to “prove” a Sunday Pentecost refers to the observance of a Sunday (Whitsunday) by the mainstream christain churches. These churches also observe Sunday instead of the Sabbath, Easter, Christmas, and a whole host of other pagan festivals that God strictly condemns. Why then would God’s church be observing the same day as all of the pagan churches?
13) Because Pagan Holidays are Associated with Sunday
The Protestants and Catholics observe Pentecost on a Sunday. They call it “Whitsunday” and it observed on the 50th day after Easter (which is a Sunday). They observe Easter instead of Passover. So both of these holy days were moved to Sunday by the Catholic Church in the years following the deaths of the last apostles. The Sadducees’ contention that Pentecost was on Sunday was one of the reasons used by the Catholic Church in putting Easter on Sunday in 325 A.D. It is almost a universal (pagan) belief that the New Testament Church was founded on Sunday (50 days after the resurrection) and this is the reason for observing Sunday instead of Sabbath. In other words, because Pentecost in Acts 2 was on Sunday, then that’s when the church was founded, and the church was founded on Sunday. A little known or observed fact is that one of the main proofs used by the WCG to change from a Sunday to Monday Pentecost was their new belief that the resurrection occurred on a Sunday (see pg. 42-43 and 75 in the “Pentecost Study Material”). After the changes in 1974, the “new” Sunday Pentecost observance by WCG and its offshoots, falls on the same date as the Catholics’, Protestants’, and Orthodox Jews’ Pentecost, at least 66% of the time. Most of these individuals do not have God’s Holy Spirit nor are part of God’s true church.Pentecost is a sign between God and His true church. Only the true church should have the correct date. Also, we know that the Catholic church perverted and twisted all of God’s true doctrines, especially His Holy Days. If the New Testament Church was already observing Sunday, how could the Catholic church have changed the day? Since Constantine and the others who changed the sacred times wanted to avoid all Jewish reckoning for the Holy Days, it would be totally out of line for them to reject Passover for Easter and yet accept a Sunday Pentecost, if a Sadduccean Sunday Pentecost was a traditional Jewish holiday. Obviously the true church was observing Monday, and it was perverted and changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church and the Jews who denied Christ.
14) Because God Wants Us to Remember the Sabbath, Not Sunday
If Pentecost really is on Sunday, then the following events that are associated with Pentecost must have occurred on a Sunday also: The Ten Commandments were given at Sinai on Sunday; Jesus began His public ministry and preached His first sermon on Sunday (Luke 4:16-21); Jesus was resurrected on Sunday; and the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples on Sunday. The Lord of the Sabbath would hardly have placed His presence so strongly on Sunday if He wanted us to always remember the Sabbath.
15) Because God is the One Who Sets the Times of the Holy Days, Not the Church
Can the church set and determine the day to observe Pentecost? God alone can determine His appointed set times (Isaiah 1:14, Jeremiah 33:20-21, 25-26; Mark 7:7, Matthew 15:9). God says that He will not accept the worship of men on a wrong day (a day that they choose) (James 4:17). If the disciples had not been gathered together at the right time in Jerusalem, they would never have received the Holy Spirit. The Ambassador College Correspondence Course Lesson 35 on Pentecost, says that “the Jews (Sadducees and Pharisees) did not receive the Holy Spirit because they failed to keep Pentecost on the right day.” The devout Jews were with the disciples. In 1974, Mr. Armstrong began teaching that the disciples were observing Pentecost with all the rest of the Jews. This is not what Acts 2 says. It says that the Jews came running to see what was happening. So obviously they were not with the disciples.
16) Truth is by Revelation, Not Scholarship
No man suddenly comes to the total truth in a single day, a week, or even a year. The
apostle Paul understood the gospel, as revealed to him by God, not scholars (Galatians 1:11,12), over a period of 3 years (Galatians 1:18). The foundational truths that God reveals are His Laws and His plan for salvation, which include His Holy Days. When God reveals His way of life to those He calls, He does not reveal untruth. God did not make a mistake and reveal the wrong day for Pentecost. To accuse God of revealing error for more than 30 years would be sin! Where in all of the Bible can we turn to a scripture showing that God made a mistake in raising up His church by revealing mostly in error? You will, however, find example after example, of God’s people departing from the truth after it was revealed. Mr. Armstrong always told the church that God started revealing His truth to him in 1927. Then in 1974, he suddenly stated that when the church started in 1927, he didn’t have access to all of the scholarly research that he did in 1974. In other words, in 1927 he relied solely on the Bible and God’s revelation but in 1974 he relied on his “Biblical Research Team” in WCG and “experts” from around the world. Specifically he had his team research an ambiguous translation of Leviticus 23:15-16 (from the morrow after the Sabbath) to determine whether to count Sunday or Monday as day one of the count towards Pentecost. What people in the church failed to realize, was that all of the Jewish scholars that were contacted kept Sivan 6 or 7 (most Jews follow the tradition of the Pharisees), so they didn’t count as Leviticus 23 instructs! And that the non-Jewish scholars don’t even keep Pentecost! Why should we accept their reasoning for keeping a Sunday Pentecost when they use a fixed date for Pentecost and they keep Passover on the 15th of Nisan? Why should we go to them to learn how to keep God’s holy days? These scholars do not have God’s Holy Spirit. Christ denounced the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees on several occasions (Matt 11:25, 16:12). Paul dealt with a dangerous scholarly movement called “gnosticism” in the early years of the church. The gnostics believed that truth could only be acquired through study and research, not by revelation from God. In IITimothy 3:7, Malachi 2:12 and 3:6, I Corinthians 1:20 and 2:9-16, and Romans 1:22, we see that God denounces scholars and the reliance upon scholars for knowledge of God’s truth. He says that he will “cut off the scholars.” Relying on scholarship, particulary on scholars who don’t understand God’s truth, will only lead to error. The only pure source of truth is direct revelation from God. God originally inspired Mr. Armstrong to keep a Monday Pentecost. Mr. Armstrong changed to a Sunday Pentecost solely because of the ideas of men, not a “new” revelation from God. Truth revealed, later does not contradict any previous truth. Truth that has been revealed is absolute. Subsequent revelation will not alter previously revealed truth. Neither is there any such thing as progressive revelation (Isaiah 1:4), with a gap of over 30 years in between revelations. Either the WCG never had the truth to begin with and cannot represent any revelation from God, or the “new truth” was in fact, apostasy.
1) Because the Wavesheaf Day Could Never Be On a
A small spring harvest season begins
on the day of the wavesheaf ceremony and ends at the day of Pentecost. The
first ripe grain is barley. On the Sunday morning following the Sabbath during
the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:10), an omer of barley grain that
had been cut, winnowed and separated from the chaff during the same day, was
brought to the priest to be “waved” or offered to God. An This offering was the
first of the firstfruits (the first tithe offering of the harvest), and had to
be brought by each family (Leviticus 23:14). Only after the offering of grain
had been waved by priest, could each family begin to harvest and eat of the
rest of their crop. Monday, not
Sunday, was the first full day of harvest, because most of Sunday was dedicated
to the offering. An omer is not merely a small handful of grain, but a whole
swath, or row, of fallen grain equal
to about 2 to 3 quarts of grain when it is fully processed. Not only was all of
Israel harvesting this offering, but afterwards they began the harvest of their
whole barley crop. This day was a hea
workday and it could never ever be a
holy day (Leviticus 23:7). The laws at
the time prescribed death to anyone who even gathered sticks on the Sabbath day
(Numbers 15:32-36). How could all of Israel be performing heavy labor on a high
holy day and escape God’s wrath?? Wavesheaf day can never be a holy day. The
Jews began corrupting God’s instructions for this day, and they currently
one wavesheaf offering for the entire
nation of Israel! And even worse, they harvest this one offering at sunset on Saturday night! God’s instructions are clear: there is to
be one offering from each household (Exodus 23:19, 34:26; Nehemiah 10:35;
Ezekiel 44:30) and the offerings can only be waved on Sunday during the
daylight period of the day. Offerings can be waved during the entire day, not
just the morning. Christ fulfilled the symbolism of the wavesheaf offering
(John 20:17). The morning after He was resurrected, He had to go before God the
Father to be accepted, just as the High Priest in the Old Testament had to wave
the sheaf of barley to be accepted by God before the spring harvest could
begin. When Mary met Christ in the Garden, she couldn’t touch Him because His
sacrifice had not yet been accepted in Heaven. He ascended and was accepted on
Sunday during the day, because they could touch Him that evening (John 20:19).
So to offer the wavesheaf offering on Saturday evening is unscriptural and a
corruption of God’s laws. Also, to offer only one wavesheaf for the entire
nation would be like offering one Passover Lamb for all of Israel, or like
someone paying tithes for you. Each family offered their own wavesheaf as their
own tithe of their harvest as God instructs.
2) Because Joshua 5 Does Not Talk About a Passover of the First Month, Nor Does it Mention Wavesheaf Sunday
In 1974, WCG began saying th
e Joshua 5
gives evidence that the wavesheaf day can be on Nisan 15th if
Passover is on a Friday. They say that the Israelites entered the promised land
on the 10th of Nisan and then kept Passover on the 14th
and the next day, offered the wavesheaf (for the whole nation) because Joshua
5:11-12 says that they were eating “old corn” which they say could not have
happened unless the wavesheaf had been offered. Joshua 5:10 says the 14th
day of the month, not the first
month. Israel did enter the Promised
Land on the 10th day of the 1st month (Nisan 10) (Joshua
4:19). They made monuments and the surrounding nations heard that the
Israelites had arrived. Joshua 5:2 says that all the males were circumcised.
There were probably over one million males and it could only be performed by a
priest. Even with the few priests working day and night, this would have taken
several days. In order to celebrate Passover, each household needed to sacrifice
a lamb and prepare unleavened bread. The
males would also have to be ceremonially clean (Leviticus 15) in order
to take the Passover. Then, for the wavesheaf ceremony, they each had to
harvest their own grain, prepare it,
and bring it to the priest to be waved. Genesis 34:24-25 shows that adult males
take a long time to heal from circumcision. Modern doctors say that a healthy
male requires about three weeks to be back to normal strength. How could the
males of Israel have harvested grain, much less sacrificed lambs for Passover
just a couple of days after being circumcised? The priests and the circumcised
men would have been “unclean” and unworthy to take the Passover anyway. The
word “wavesheaf” is not mentioned anywhere in Joshua. The Israelites had not been
eating only manna for 40 years (Joshua 1:10-11, Genesis 42:25, 45:21; Exodus
12:39). They were also gathering, hunting and trading when they entered the
Promised Land (John 11:55). So, there was no need to harvest grain. All they
had to do was buy or trade for the produce in Canaan and eat the food they
carried with them. Joshua 5:11-12 says
“old corn” anyway and it in no way refers to newly harvested grain. The
Israelites definitely could not have
offered old corn or grain for a wavesheaf offering, in particular because it
was not their harvest. Also, Exodus 16
states that the manna began falling on the 16th day of the 2nd
month, and verse 35 says that the Israelites received manna for exactly 40 years. So the manna stopped
eating manna on the 16th day of the second month, after they had
already been in the Promised Land for over a month. Again, there was no reason
to harvest grain. All of this information leads to the conclusion that the
Passover mentioned in Joshua 5 had to be the Passover of the second month
(Numbers 9:9-14). Now, did the Israelites observing the wavesheaf ceremony
after they entered Canaan? God commanded the Israelites to destroy pagan
worship in Canaan before they could do what God commanded (i.e. observe the
wavesheaf ceremony) (Numbers 33:50-54; Deuteronomy 3:20, 7:1-5, 25, 26;
26:1-2). This, as we see in Joshua, took many years. Did the Israelites harvest
anything when they entered Canaan? From above, we see they could not have
harvested anything. But the point is, they
didn’t have any crops of their own to harvest because they had just arrived!
Leviticus 23:10-14 is clear that the Israelites had to harvest their own crops
and offer a wave offering of their own crop to serve as a tithe. II Samuel
24:24 confirms that they couldn’t offer someone else’s crops. They didn’t have
any crops, so they weren’t required to
offer a wavesheaf! In fact, it
wasn’t until years later, when Israel settled down after defeating their
enemies and destroying most of the pagan worship in Canaan, when they divided
up the land and started farming and beginning a sabbatical cycle for harvest
(Joshua 14 was when the tribes received their land; Joshua 21:43-45, 22:1-4 was
when they began cultivation). Only after the Israelites began harvesting their
own crops, could they offer their wavesheaf offerings. Moreover, the first
alter in Canaan wasn’t built until Joshua 8:30, and the first offerings were
offered then! How could the Israelites have offered a wave offering just days
after they entered Canaan if they didn’t even have an altar? Deuteronomy
12:13-14 says that God chooses where His people can make their offerings.
3) Because the “Sabbath Secondfirst” Theory is False and Nowhere in the New Testament Does it Say that Wavesheaf Sunday was on Nisan 15
The WCG tried to prove that the phrase “Sabbath secondfirst” in Luke 6:1 refers to Wavesheaf Sunday. This is the only time this phrase appears in the Bible. The parallel scripture is found in Matthew 12:1. The phrase “passover season” refers to the time period between Passover and Pentecost, not solely to the Passover night. The Pharisees condemned Jesus and His disciples for breaking the prohibitions against eating new grain before the wavesheaf had been offered, and then condemned them for breaking the Sabbath. But Deuteronomy 23:25 allows plucking corn, not harvesting, for food. The disciples were not harvesting anything, just pulling off corn to munch on. This “Sabbath secondfirst” most likely refers to the Sabbath following the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread, or the first in the series of seven Sabbaths on the count of fifty days towards Pentecost
4) Because the Prophetic Sequence of Events Concerning Christ’s Death and Resurrection Would be Destroyed if Wavesheaf Sunday Were on Nisan 15
Christ was only crucified once, and it just so happened (according to prophesy) that the year He was crucified, the Passover was on a Tuesday night. Passover can fall on a Sunday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night, or Friday night. Assuming that wavesheaf day must fall on the first Sunday after the Passover is not scriptural, but simply what occurred the year that Christ was crucified in order for prophesy to be fulfilled (Christ was crucified, resurrected, and then ascended on Sunday as a wavesheaf offering). If Nisan 15 (the holy day) is wavesheaf Sunday when Passover in on Friday night, then the correct prophetic sequence of events is destroyed and you have Christ crucified (Friday - Nisan 14), resurrected the next day (Saturday - end of Nisan 14 before sundown), and ascending the following day (Sunday – Nisan 15 – the holy day). Christ is not in the grave 3 days and 3 nights and He is not the Messiah. This is exactly what the Catholics and Protestants believe and why they keep Easter and Sunday instead of the Sabbath. If Christ had been crucified on a Monday (with Passover on Sunday night), then he would have been resurrected 3 days and 3 nights later, but would not have ascended until the following Sunday, because that is when wavesheaf day would have been. What is important is that He was in the grave exactly 3 days and 3 nights.
Why the “Pentecost Study Material” from 1974 Does Not Prove a Sunday Pentecost
Ø Page 1, paragraph 2 says to count 49 days.
Ø Page 6, 37 (in 2 places), 49 and 69 all state that you must count inclusively and mention the “terminus a quo” and “terminus ad quem,” but they never count the “terminus ad quem!”
Ø Page 8, last paragraph says to count seven weeks (49 days).
Ø Page 27 says to count weeks not days.
Ø But page 27 says “to count correctly you have to count the day at its end.”
Ø Page 27 actually says to start counting on Saturday night when the Jews incorrectly offer one wavesheaf for the whole nation. So Saturday is day one?
Ø Page 28 again mentions one wavesheaf for the whole nation.
Ø Page 28 says that the 49th day is determined by using Deuteronomy 16, but page 27 says it is the 50th day.
Ø Page 37 specifically says that the “terminus ad quem” is day 49, the last day of a seven week count, not a 50 day count.
Ø Page 40, last paragraph – the Sadducees count seven weeks (49 days) and then keep the 50th day.
Ø Page 41 says that Pentecost means 50th day.
Ø Page 47 says that there is “no Biblical evidence that Christ and the apostles ever disagreed (with the Sadducees)!”
Page 52 says “We know those who count Pentecost from
the 15th of Nisan are wrong.” Why then
they say Pentecost is on the 15th of Nisan
when Passover in on Friday night?
Ø Page 52 says that Wavesheaf Sunday must be during the days of Unleavened Bread because Christ was offered up to the Father on a Sunday during the Feast in His time. But Passover was on Tuesday night in 31 A.D., not Friday night!
Ø Page 53 does not mention Leviticus 23 which specifically says the “morrow after the Sabbath.”
Ø Page 54 says “The omer is to be offered on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath which precedes the days of Unleavened Bread. This would still keep the “wavesheaf” within the Days of Unleavened Bread.” How can Wavesheaf Sunday precede the Feast and yet be within? Impossible!!!
Ø Page 53 says that only 3 to 4 days are needed to heal from circumcision. Modern medicine says 2 to 3 weeks and that’s with modern surgical technology!
Ø Page 55 has only part of the verse quoted. The Israelites would have had to harvest in Canaan and offer their own firstfruits, not borrow stored grain from the Canaanites!
Ø Page 57 says “This means that the offering of the wavesheaf will occur totally outside the days of Unleavened Bread. And by so doing we completely destroy the chronological sequence of events picturing the plan of God.” But by putting Wavesheaf Sunday two days after Passover, you completely destroy the actual chronological sequence of Christ’s crucifixtion, 3 days and 3 nights in the grave, resurrection, and ascension.
Ø Page 57 says that the believer has to put sin out of his life after accepting Christ. It should actually begin before!
Ø Page 58 – they ate the harvest of the land, not their own harvest. Would they really have had time to plant crops, let them grown, and then harvest them in about 3 days? They weren’t allowed to offer anything for a wavesheaf, other that their own harvest.
Ø Page 65 says “why not count Sunday as a whole day?” They use this logic to count Wavesheaf Sunday as one day, counting it at the end, but then count a part of a day for day 50.
Ø Page 71 says that the Spanish Bible translations make it clear that Pentecost is on Sunday. But it actually makes it clear that Pentecost is on Monday! “Hasta el día siguiente del séptimo día de reposo contareís cincuenta días; entonces ofrecereís el nuevo grano a el Eterno.” Until the day following the 7th Sabbath you shall count 50 days; then offer the new grain to the Lord.
Ø Page 71 says that all “Christians” kept a Pentecost (=Whitsunday) and “We need not argue about whether they kept it right, or whether they were converted people.” !!!!! Yes, we do need to argue about whether they kept it right or whether they were converted people if we talk about following their example! Only God’s true church and God’s true believers understand God’s Holy Day plan and have His Holy Spirit to help them keep the right days! If the completely unconverted Catholics and Protestants can keep Whitsunday like “God’s Church,” then why can’t “God’s Church” keep Easter with them too???
Ø Page 72, #10, again says that the wavesheaf day should be counted as a whole day, but day 50 should not.
Ø Page 73 has the conclusion that the Church was founded on Sunday, contrary to #14.
Conclusion: There is absolutely no proof in this “Study Material” that Pentecost is on Sunday.
This material was prepared by Barbara Parada, and edited by Richard C. Nickels