Exodus 12:11

This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover.

From the verse above, my guess is like this :
on the day the Israel eat the lamb - it is the day of the Lord's Passover.

Exodus 12:6

Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.

From the verse above, my guess is like this :
The lambs are slaughtered on Nissan 14

Leviticus 23:5

The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.

From the verse above, my guess is like this :
The LORD's Passover day is on Nissan 14

My own conclusion for the time being :
The Lord's Passover is on Nissan 14 - within the same day, some things that happen were [slaughter the lamb, smear the lamb's blood on the door, roast the lamb, eat the lamb with unleavened bread, the dead of the firstborn son]

But that's a non-Christian conclusion. That's why I ask here :
According to Calvinism, what date and what happen during the Lord's Passover in the time of Moses ?

Thank you.

2 Answers 2


Calvin's view of the 14th or 15th of Nisan observance is inferred, rather than explicit, but there's no reason not to conclude that Calvin thought Christ died on the 15th of Nisan a Passover Friday.

He believes that Christ ate the Passover on Thursday night with that night being the start of the 15th with Friday day the 15th until sunset being the day of crucifixion. The Jews, he thought, would postpone their Passover by one day to the 16th a weekly Sabbath. This is so such that they would not observe two non-working days (Sabbaths) in a row. This view assumes (infers) that the first day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th, was considered a feast Sabbath.

As well, Calvin explicitly believes that Christ never violated the Law. This too infers that Calvin thought the initial Mosaic observance of Passover occurred on the 15th.

So, in Calvin's view Friday the 15th Passover was a Sabbath and on which Christ died. It was followed by the 16th weekly Sabbath when the others observed Passover.

From Calvin's Harmony of the Gospels

But hence arises a more difficult question. How did Christ observe that ceremony on the day before the whole nation celebrated the public passover? For John plainly affirms that the day on which Christ was crucified was, among the Jews, the preparation, not of the Sabbath, but of the passover....

First, it is beyond a doubt that Christ was put to death on the day before the Sabbath; for he was hastily buried before sunset in a sepulcher which was at hand, (John 19:42,) because it was necessary to abstain from work after the commencement of the evening. Now it is universally admitted that, by an ancient custom, when the passover and other festivals happened on Friday, they were delayed till the following day, because the people would have reckoned it hard to abstain from work on two successive days....

Even the Jews themselves unquestionably will not deny that, whenever the Sabbath immediately followed the passover, it was on one day, instead of both, that they abstained from work, and that this was enjoined by the Rabbins. Hence it follows that Christ, in departing from the ordinary custom, attempted nothing contrary to the Law.

This view incidentally that Friday was the 15th of Nisan is traceable through the Roman Catholic Church back to about 100-200 years before Christ's time, though not all the way back to the first in Exodus. So, it is not accurate to state that the alternate view that Christ died on Passover proper the 14th is not Christian. There are historically numerous Christians (Polycarp, Polycrates, Clement of Alexandria, etc) who taught this accurate understanding of the day and date of Christ's death and burial.

As to answering how the first Passover was observed in the time of Moses, the commandment was to slay the Passover at sunset between the evenings as the 13th ended and the 14th began. They would eat it on the 14th at night. The death angel would come through at midnight of the 14th. In the 14th at day, they gathered at Ramses. They left Egypt at night on the 15th the morrow of the Passover (Num. 33:3).

  • From your explanation, it seems the [what date is the Lord's Passover] is drawn first from the New Testament info. After it's concluded that it is Nissan 15, therefore "Calvin thought the initial Mosaic observance of Passover occurred on the 15th". Please correct me if I'm wrong, SLM. Thank you.
    – karma
    Sep 27, 2017 at 0:21
  • "The Jews, he (Calvin) thought, would postpone their Passover by one day to the 16th a weekly Sabbath". I've been thinking the same about "postpone", but in different model with the one you explain. My model : at the time of Jesus - the eating (not the slain) of the lamb is postponed one day which is to Nissan 15 ---> in this day (Nissan 15) during Moses time, Israel only eat the unleavened bread while on Nissan 14 (during Moses time) is the Lord's Passover, Israel eat the unleavened bread with the lamb at the same day where they slain the lambs. But this is only my own opinion :).
    – karma
    Sep 27, 2017 at 0:49
  • @karma People have been trying to understand the "contradiction" between John's gospel (Passover after crucifixion) and Synoptics (Passover before crucifixion) for near 1,500 years. Calvin's solution was to accept the Roman view of Passover on the 15th Friday (Synoptics), but with the Jews of that time postponing their observance to the 16th (John). Yes Calvin moved backward from NT as translated to Mosaic observance, assuming them to be the same. Calvin says Christ won't break Law, but began with the assumption of a Friday crucifixion. He backed into it based on prevailing tradition.
    – SLM
    Sep 27, 2017 at 15:49
  • To your second comment, in Christ's time, they would slay the lamb on the afternoon of the 14th, wait until after sunset, then eat with unleavened bread on the 15th at night. See for example Josephus' or Philo's view. The first Mosaic Passover was to slay at sunset of the 14th and eat on the 14th at night. See Scripture.
    – SLM
    Sep 27, 2017 at 15:52
  • I embedded a portion of Calvin's commentary and changed the link to what I think is a more readable site. Feel free to re-edit if it changed your intent.
    – bradimus
    Sep 27, 2017 at 16:42

I don't think Calvin said anything directly but Matthew Poole, from the Reformed Tradition says in his commentary:

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. Ye shall keep it up; separate it from the rest of the flock, and keep it in a safe place.

In the evening; Heb. between the evenings, or the two evenings, i.e. between the beginning and end of the evening. The evening is one third part of the day, and one of the appointed and usual times of devotion, as appears from Psalm 55:17 Daniel 6:10; and it begun at their ninth or our third hour, as may be gathered from Acts 3:1; for then the sun began more sensibly to decline, whence that time is fitly called by the Jews the first evening, and that was the time of the evening sacrifice; the second evening was when the sun was setting or set. Between these it was to be killed.

This view is very commonly held. The Lamb was slain on the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the month.

It then had to be roasted and was eaten, a few hours after it had been killed, that same evening after sunset.

(Once it was dark the date changed to fifteenth.)

On the night of the first Passover the first-born sons of the Egyptians died at midnight, and the Israelites were driven out. They ate the meal fully girded, that is to say dressed and ready for the sudden departure which they made.

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