Does Your Church Do Anything Special on Easter Sunday?

The Empty TombWith the approaching Easter holiday, many of the churches of men are making preparations for their Easter services and programs. Such activities are so common that those in the Lord’s church are often asked by their friends and neighbors: Does your church do anything special on Easter Sunday?

Before answering that question, let us remember what Easter is. Easter is a holiday that is celebrated both religiously (to celebrate the resurrection of Christ) and secularly (Easter egg hunts, candy, etc.). Easter is not mentioned in the Bible, aside from a mistranslation of the word Passover in the King James Version (Acts 12:4).*

Does it matter that the religious observance of Easter is absent from the Bible? Absolutely! Notice what Paul wrote to the brethren in Colossae:

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).


Doing things “in the name of the Lord” does not mean we simply claim to do things for Jesus. If it did, then anything goes. But we know it does not because Jesus spoke of “many” who would claim to do things “in [His] name,” but He would tell them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23). To do things “in the name of the Lord” means we do them by the authority of the Lord. With no Bible authority to observe Easter, a church is wrong to do so.

How do we determine whether or not we have authority for a certain practice? We look to the Scriptures to find the commands, instructions, approved examples, and divine implications that authorize it.

Do we have authority to observe Easter as a religious holy day? No! Why not? The Scriptures contain no command for the church to observe the Easter holiday. There is no instruction regarding the practice of it. We find no example of the Lord’s church engaging in the observance of Easter. Further, there is no divine implication from which we can infer this was done. Therefore, there is absolutely no Biblical basis (no authority) for a church to observe Easter.

However, there is a religious observance for which we have authority in the New Testament – the Lord’s Supper. Jesus Himself commanded its observance (Matthew 26:26-29). The inspired apostle Paul gave instructions regarding the practice of it (1 Corinthians 11:26-29). The New Testament contains approved examples showing Christians observing the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; 20:7). There are also divine implications from which we can infer other points related to the observance, such as that fact that it was to be observed only in the assembly (1 Corinthians 11:33) and practiced every first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Aside from the Lord’s Supper, there is no other special observance given for the church; whether it is Easter, Christmas, or anything else.

Some might attempt to justify the religious observance of Easter by pointing out the fact that it is meant to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. Certainly, the resurrection was an important event. Paul said the resurrection was part of the foundation of the gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope for eternal life (Romans 6:5; John 11:25-26). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead needs to be proclaimed not just during the time of Easter, but throughout the year. But does the fact that something is important mean that the church is to set aside a particular “holy day” to commemorate it? No! There are many important matters discussed in the word of God (the promise made to Abraham, the transfiguration of Jesus, the establishment of the church, etc.), but that does not mean we are to have a special religious observance for each one.

The resurrection is vital to our salvation. Without it, we would have no hope (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17-19). But as far as a special observance, the Lord only authorized one – commemorating His death on the cross by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

So let us return to our question: Does your church do anything special on Easter Sunday? If we are part of a church that is following the New Testament pattern (2 Timothy 1:13), we might answer both “yes” and “no.”

  • No – We do not to anything different than we might normally do since there is no Bible authority for a special religious observance like Easter.
  • Yes – We indeed do something special – assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25), worship God (John 4:23-24; Psalm 122:1), and observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – though nothing out of the ordinary. We do these things every first day of the week, but the frequency does not make them any less special.

As questions arise from those outside of the body of Christ, we need to be prepared with an answer (1 Peter 3:15). Let us be careful to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), while always speaking “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11, NKJV), so that we might lead others to the Lord.

*For more about the mistranslation of Easter in the King James Version, see Easter in the Bible and Some Thoughts on Easter.


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Comments

  1. Bobby McPherson says

    Good job on this topic. Should be easy to understand if one is so inclined.

  2. Larry DeVore says

    Good article, Andy

  3. Thank you, gentlemen.