It has to come as a surprise to find a Christian church—a Gentile Christian church—observing the Passover. The Passover is a Jewish festival, right? Then what is a gentile church like Corinth doing observing the Passover? Paul gives us no wiggle room at all, and scholars have long realized, that the allusions to the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5, make it clear that the Corinthian church was observing the Passover when Paul wrote them the letter. Why on earth would they do that? And if they observed the Passover, how come modern Christian churches don’t observe it? Now this is an interesting story and it bears a closer look.
Everybody knows that the Christian church was, in its earliest years, entirely Jewish. Every man woman and child who was in that church was Jewish. No one thought of abandoning their law and their customs. But they had a significant problem. Jesus had rejected out of hand that package of customs we would call Judaism—and they called,
The traditions of the fathers. Again and again, Jesus threw out traditions that conflicted with the law of God, but he affirmed the written law of the Old Testament.
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.