Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Binding & Loosing

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays


The origins of Christianity and the original customs thereof come not from pagans. They come from the Holy Bible and ancient Hebrew thought.

Christians did not see the institution of holidays like Christmas (Feast of Nativity) and Easter (Pascha) as a negation of God’s law.  They saw these as traditions instituted by the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) who were believed to have authority to institute such celebrations (Matthew 16:16-19; 18:17-20).

The early Church, from whom the holidays of Lent, Easter & Christmas come, were not committing apostasy because they didn’t believe in following the law of Moses.  They were following their understanding of the writings of the New Testament and which agrees with Hebrew thought of the time.

Note: the purpose of sharing this information is not to bring forth strife and debate about the law (Titus 3:9) but to attempt to display that early Christians were staying faithful to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) not turning aside to “paganism”.

Tit 3:9  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Binding & Loosing

binding loosing 2


Jesus took away the authority of the Jews and gave it to Christians.

Mat 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Mat 18:17  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Mat 18:18  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Before Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was and gave the authority to bind and loose to them, He warns them of the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees.  This is because the doctrine of the Jews was not to be followed or looked to for authority.

Mat 16:12  Then they knew that He did not say to take heed from the leaven of bread, but from the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mat 21:42  Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, “A Stone which the builders rejected, this One became the Head of the Corner? This was from the Lord, and it is a wonder in our eyes?” Psalm 118:22, 23
Mat 21:43  Because of this I say to you, The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and it will be given to a nation producing the fruits of it.

1Ti 3:15  But if I delay, that you may know how to behave in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Paul spoke of believers in Messiah as the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) which was a phrase applied to the sanhedrin during those days who had the responsibility of interpretation and application of Scripture to the community.  I believe Paul using this phrase is another witness that early believers in Messiah believed that authority had transferred from Judah to believers in Messiah because Shiloh had come (Genesis 49:10).

In Colossians 2:16-17 there is another witness that the body of Messiah is given the authority of interpretation and application of the Word.  “Let no man judge…but the body of Christ”.

The early church saw the authority to “bind and loose” in light of how to celebrate holidays and what was to be allowed and what was to be forbidden.

On the subject of binding and loosing, J.B. Lightfoot says:

“…the reader sees abundantly enough both the frequency and the common use of this phrase,  and the sense of it also;  namely,  first,  that it is used in doctrine,  and in judgments,  concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law.  Secondly,  That to bind is the same with to forbid;  or to declare forbidden.  To think that Christ,  when he used the common phrase,  was not understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense,  shall I call it a matter of laughter or of madness?

To this,  therefore,  do these words amount:  When the time was come,  wherein the Mosaic law,  as to some part of it,  was to be abolished and left off;  and as to another part of it,  was to be continued,  and to last for ever:  he granted Peter here,  and to the rest of the apostles,  Mat_18:18,  a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good,  and as they thought good,  being taught this and led by the Holy Spirit:  as if he should say,  “Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses,  that is,  forbid;  it shall be forbidden;  the Divine authority confirming it;  and whatsoever ye shall loose;  that is,  permit;  or shall teach;  that it is permitted and lawful;  shall be lawful and permitted.”

“For to you, O bishops, it is said: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” {Constitutions of the Holy Apostles Book II}

“The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it. (Bible de Vence) — Dr. Whitby, a learned Protestant divine, thus expounds this and the preceding verse: “As a suitable return to thy confession, I say also to thee, that thou art by name Peter, i.e. a rock; and upon thee, who art this rock, I will build my making laws to govern my Church.” (Tom. i, p. 143.) Dr. Hammond, another Protestant divine, explains it in the same manner.  And p. 92, he says: ” What is here meant by the keys, is best understand by Isaias xxii. 22, where they signified ruling the whole family or house of the king: and this being by Christ accommodated to the Church, denotes the power of governing it.”  {Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary}

Isa 22:22  And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

John Gill Commentary on Isaiah 22:22

Isaiah 22:22
“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder,…. In allusion either to magistrates carrying a key on their shoulder, hanging down from thence, having a hook at one end of it fit for that purpose; or having one embroidered on that part of their garment: or one carried before them by their servants. It regards either the keys of the temple; or rather the key of the king’s house, which it was proper should be delivered to him as treasurer and steward of it; the Targum takes in both,

“and I will give the key of the house of the sanctuary, and the government of the house of David, into his hand.”

In the mystical sense, Christ is said to have this key, Rev_3:7 where the following words are applied to him:

so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open; all which is expressive of the government of the church being on his shoulders, and of his absolute and uncontrollable power over it; who opens the treasures of his word, of his grace, and of wisdom and knowledge, and communicates them unto, and shuts or hides them from, whom he pleases; who opens and shuts the doors of his church, his house, and lets in, and keeps out, whom he thinks fit; and who also opens and shuts the door of the kingdom of heaven, and introduces into it his own people, and excludes others.”

Adam Clarke commentary on Matthew 18:18

“Οσα εαν δησητε – και οσα εαν λυσητε. Binding and loosing, in this place, and in Mat_16:19, is generally restrained, by Christian interpreters, to matters of discipline and authority. But it is as plain as the sun, by what occurs in numberless places dispersed throughout the Mishna, and from thence commonly used by the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects, that binding signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to be, a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done; and loosing signified, on the contrary, a declaration that any thing may be lawfully done. Our Savior spoke to his disciples in a language which they understood, so that they were not in the least at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and its being obsolete to us is no manner of reason why we should conclude that it was obscure to them.

“The phrases to bind and to loose were Jewish, and most frequent in their writers. It belonged only to the teachers among the Jews to bind and to loose. When the Jews set any apart to be a preacher, they used these words, ‘Take thou liberty to teach what is Bound and what is Loose.’” Strype’s preface to the Posthumous Remains of Dr. Lightfoot, p. 38.”

Adam Clarke commentary on Matthew 16:19

“That binding and loosing were terms in frequent use among the Jews, and that they meant bidding and forbidding, granting and refusing, declaring lawful or unlawful, etc., Dr. Lightfoot, after having given numerous instances, thus concludes: –
“To these may be added, if need were, the frequent (shall I say?) or infinite use of the phrases, אסור ומותר bound and loosed, which we meet with thousands of times over. But from these allegations the reader sees, abundantly enough, both the frequency and the common use of this phrase, and the sense of it also; namely, first, that it is used in doctrine, and in judgments, concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law. Secondly, that to bind is the same with, to forbid, or to declare forbidden. To think that Christ, when he used the common phrase, was not understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense, shall I call it a matter of laughter, or of madness?
To this, therefore, do these words amount: When the time was come wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be abolished, and left off, and, as to another part of it, was to be continued and to last for ever, he granted Peter here, and to the rest of the apostles, Mat_18:18, a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good, and as they thought good; being taught this, and led by the Holy Spirit: as if he should say, Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses, that is, forbid, it shall be forbidden, the Divine authority confirming it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted. Hence they bound, that is forbade, circumcision to the believers; eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood, for a time, to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the shunning of scandal; Act_21:24 and, in a word, by these words of Christ it was committed to them, the Holy Spirit directing, that they should make decrees concerning religion, as to the use or rejection of Mosaic rites and judgments, and that either for a time, or for ever.
“Let the words be applied by way of paraphrase to the matter that was transacted at present with Peter: ‘I am about to build a Gentile Church,’ saith Christ, and to thee, O Peter, do I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest first open the door of faith to them; but if thou askest by what rule that Church is to be governed, when the Mosaic rule may seem so improper for it, thou shalt be so guided by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of the law of Moses thou shalt forbid them shall be forbidden; whatsoever thou grantest them shall be granted; and that under a sanction made in heaven.’ Hence, in that instant, when he should use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the Gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10, he was taught from heaven that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature convenient for food was now loosed, which before had been bound; and he in like manner looses both these.
“Those words of our Savior, Joh_20:23, Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them, for the most part are forced to the same sense with these before us, when they carry quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apostles; there of persons obstinate or not obstinate, to be punished by them, or not to be punished.
“As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the evangelical doctrine.
“2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely instructed and enabled in both by the Holy Spirit descending upon them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift, so that, the same Spirit directing them, if they would retain and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea, death itself, which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, etc.”
After all these evidences and proofs of the proper use of these terms, to attempt to press the word, into the service long assigned them by the Church of Rome, would, to use the words of Dr. Lightfoot, be “a matter of laughter or of madness.” No Church can use them in the sense thus imposed upon them, which was done merely to serve secular ends; and least of all can that very Church that thus abuses them.”

Lightfoot commentary on Matthew 18:18

“This power was built upon that noble and most self-sufficient foundation,  Joh_16:13;  “The Spirit of truth shall lead you into all truth.”  There lies an emphasis in those words,  “into all truth.”  I deny that any one,  any where,  at any time,  was led,  or to be led,  into all truth,  from the ascension of Christ,  unto the world’s end,  beside the apostles.  Every holy man,  certainly,  is led into all truth necessary to him for salvation:  but the apostles were led into all truth necessary both for themselves and the whole church;  because they were to deliver a rule of faith and manners to the whole church throughout all ages.  Hence,  whatsoever they should confirm in the law was to be confirmed;  whatsoever they should abolish was to be abolished:  since they were endowed,  as to all things,  with a spirit of infallibility,  guiding them by the hand into all truth.”

The Apostles understood that they were given authority to make commandments.

2Pe 3:1  This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2Pe 3:2  That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Act 1:2  Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

2Th 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

2Th 3:6  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

1Th 4:1  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
1Th 4:2  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

1Co 11:2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

To reject the word of the apostles is to reject the word of Christ and God (Luke 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2, 8). The “apostles’ doctrine” is “the doctrine of the Lord” (Acts 2:42; 13:12).

Thus, if we find the early Church writings referencing the doctrine of the Apostles and these things agreeing with the writings of the New Testament we are not to reject them.

“Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven” {Festal Letters 2:7 [A.D. 330] – Athanasius}.

“But you are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from apostolic tradition, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle it, but has not been able”  {Festal Letters 2:29 [A.D. 330] – Athanasius}

The Festal Letters are also called the “Easter letters” which were a series of letters sent by the Bishops of Alexandria which conformed to the decisions of the First Council of Nicaea.  In other words, these letters supported the celebration of Pascha (Easter) as being fixed on Sunday as opposed to the 14th of Nisan/Aviv.

If we see Easter and Christmas chronicled by the early Church fathers as being traditions handed down by the Apostles then we are not to reject them.

“At that time [A.D. 150] there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apollinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and, finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition.” {Eusebius – Church History 4:21}

“As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same.” {Irenaeus – Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]}

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times: men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about. For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they taught to the elite secretly and apart from the rest, they would have handed them down especially to those very ones to whom they were committing the self-same Churches. For surely they wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority.” {Irenaeus – Against Heresies 3:3:1}

“Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from loss the blessed tradition.” {Clement of Alexandria – Miscellanies 1:1 [A.D. 208]}

“Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition.” {Origen – The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2 [A.D. 225]}

“But the admonition that he [Cyprian] gives us, ‘that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to apostolic tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,’ is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation.” {Augustine – On Baptism, Against the Donatists  5:26[37] [A.D. 400]}

“But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church.” {Augustine – Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]}

In regards to Easter & Christmas, Augustine states:

“Those feasts concerning which we have no express scripture, but only traditions, which are now observed all the world over; we ought to know that the keeping of them was commended unto us, and instituted (or commanded) either by the apostles themselves, or general councils, of which there is a most wholesome use in the church of God; such are the feast of our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and the coming down of the Holy Ghost, which are now kept holy with a yearly solemnity.” {Augustine Epistle 118}

“It chiefly behooves us that upon the day of our Lord’s nativity, we should receive the sacrament in remembrance of him that was born upon it, and upon the return of the year to celebrate the very day with a feasting devotion.”  {Augustine Epistle 119}

“He was born, according to tradition, upon December the twenty-fifth.” {On the Trinity, 4.5, Post Nicene Fathers 3.74}

“[Paul commands,] ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further.” {John Chrysostom –
Homilies on Second Thessalonians [A.D. 402]}


Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 1

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 2

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Examine Yourself

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Christianity?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Alexander Hislop

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Ralph Woodrow

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Parallels

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Church Fathers & Paganism

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Constantine

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Origins of Christian Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Eggs

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Lily

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Bunny

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Resurrection Celebration

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Christmas & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Christmas Trees

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – The Law & Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Change in Law

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – The Law of Christ

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – A New Commandment

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – God Changes Times and Seasons





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