An important fact regarding the Quartodecimans that has been missed by most followers of Yahweh is that the Quartodecimans claimed and demonstrated authority from Yahushua the messiah and Scriptures for their practice of Passover.
Though they considered themselves not to be under the written Torah of Moses, they followed the guides of the Torah of Moses with regard to “all the festivals.”
Chrysostom (347-407 C.E.)
Chrysostom, a strong advocate of the Roman Catholic System E, for example, demonstrates this point in his work titled Adversus Judaeos, where he condemns the Quartodeciman Christians because of their practice of celebrating such scriptural High Sabbath days as the Day of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Festival of Tabernacles.1
Chrysostom could not condemn Pentecost (the Festival of Weeks) because all of the assemblies, including the Roman Catholic Church, continued to observe that day as a High Sabbath.2
In reference to Passover, the Quartodecimans claimed that they had based their practice upon the custom followed by the messiah and his disciples as well as upon the commandments found both in the Old and New Testaments.
To demonstrate, Eusebius records that the 14th (the night of the Passover full moon)3 was observed as Passover by the Asian assemblies.4
Apollinarius of Hierapolis (2nd Century C.E.)
Meanwhile, the Quartodeciman from Asia named Apollinarius of Hierapolis writes:
The 14th is the true Passover of the sovereign, the great sacrifice: the son (the messiah) of the deity in the place of the lamb . . . who was buried on the day of the Passover with the stone placed over the tomb.5
The 14th (Hebrew reckoning), accordingly, was not only the day when the messiah ate the Passover lamb; it was also the day on which his murder took place.
Peter of Alexandria, with a specific reference to the 14th of Abib, notes that the Quartodecimans “affirm that after he (Yahushua) had eaten the Passover, he was betrayed.”6
Hippolytus (c.200-236 C.E.)
Within this context, a Quartodeciman told Hippolytus:
The messiah kept the Passover on that day (the 14th) and he suffered; whence it is needful that I, too, should keep it (the Passover supper) in the same manner AS THE SOVEREIGN DID.7
As F. E. Brightman observes, this statement “implies that the speaker reckoned the day as from sunset to sunset” for the reasons that “only so would the Last Supper and the Passion fall on the same day.”8
Following Paul’s words to the Corinthians, the assemblies ate “the sovereign’s supper,” i.e., the Passover supper, “in the night in which he was delivered up.”9
Epistula Apostolorum (140-170 C.E.)
The Quartodeciman work Epistula Apostolorum shows that this Passover meal and its night of remembrance continued until the cockcrow (3 A.M.) on the 14th, the time of Peter’s denial.10
This data also proves that the Quartodecimans understood the scriptural day as beginning with sunset and byn ha-arabim (between the evenings; twilight).
Polycrates of Ephesus (fl. c. 130-196)
The Quartodecimans also based their practice upon the writings of the New Testament. In the 2nd century C.E., for example, the leader of the Quartodecimans of Asia was Polycrates, bishop of the diocese of Ephesus.11
In a letter from Polycrates to Victor, bishop of Rome, he gave a long list of famous people from the Asian assemblies who supported their stand.12 Polycrates then adds:
ALL THESE KEPT THE 14TH DAY OF THE PASSOVER ACCORDING TO THE GOOD NEWS (New Testament), NEVER SWERVING, BUT FOLLOWED ACCORDING TO THE RULE OF THE TRUST. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, live according to the tradition of my kinsmen, and some of them have I followed. For seven of my family were bishops and I am the eighth, AND MY KINSMEN ALWAYS KEPT THE DAY WHEN THE PEOPLE PUT AWAY THE LEAVEN. Therefore, brothers, I who have lived sixty-five years in the sovereign and conversed with brothers from every country, and have studied all sacred Scripture, am not afraid of threats, for they have said who were greater than I, “It is better to obey the deity rather than men.”13
Anatolius likewise states that the Quartodecimans “kept the Passover day on the 14th of the first moon, according to the good news (New Testament), as they thought, adding nothing of an extraneous kind, but keeping through all things the rule of trust.”14
In turn, the Quartodecimans maintained that the New Testament followed the guide of the written Torah of Moses, “that Passover should be kept on the 14th day of the first moon, according to the commandment of the Torah, on whatever day (of the week) it should occur.”15
Melito of Sardis, in reference to the Passover, states, “the teachings of the good news (New Testament) have been proclaimed in the Torah.”16
In the early third century C.E., a Quartodeciman named Blastus was keeping the festival and supper on the 14th in Rome.
In Pseudo-Tertullian’s epitome of Hippolytus’ lost work entitled Syntagma, we read that Blastus “says that the Passover is not to be kept otherwise than according to the Torah of Moses on the 14th of the moon.”17
These statements are vitally important in that they express the Quartodeciman understanding that the written Torah, and not just the messiah and his apostles, taught that the Passover supper was to be kept on the 14th.
Another important example comes from the records retained from the debate in 196 C.E. between the Quartodecimans of Asia and the leadership of the Roman Church,18 then headed by Victor.
Eusebius (who supported the Roman side of this argument) records the history of this conflict, stating:
At that time no small controversy arose because ALL THE DIOCESES OF ASIA thought it right, αἱ παροίκιαι ὡς παραδόσεως ἀρχαιοτέρας (ai paroikiai os ek paradoseos arkhaioteras; since sojourning in that manner from a more ancient tradition), to observe for the festival of the saviour’s Passover the 14th day of the moon, on which the Jews had been commanded to kill the lamb.19
The problem with the Quartodeciman view for those living during the latter half of the 2nd century C.E. in the West and under Western and Roman guidance was that the Quartodeciman Passover too closely resembled the dominant practice of the Jews.
True, these Jews did not eat their Passover supper until the 15th, while the Quartodecimans held their festival and supper on the 14th.
Nevertheless, the Jews did celebrate the 14th as Passover, for it was on that day that they “had been commanded to kill the lamb.”
This common point of reference gave the opponents of the Quartodecimans a weapon that enabled them to discourage and suppress the use of the Christian form of System A.
Summary of The Quartodecimans I & II
The Quartodeciman practice was the earliest known for the original Christian assemblies.
For the Quartodecimans, System A established the correct method of observing the Passover supper as instructed by Yahushua the messiah and the written Torah.
It was in the beginning or nighttime portion of the 14th day of the moon of Abib (Hebrew reckoning) that the messiah kept the Passover.
Since this Passover occurred on the date of his death, it was his “Last Supper.” After that dinner Yahushua was betrayed; and during the remaining parts of that same 14th day (Hebrew reckoning), he suffered and died.
In the opinion of the Quartodecimans, the state religion practiced by the Jews (i.e., the Pharisaic form of the Hasidic religion), which observed the Passover supper on the night of the 15th of Abib, was a false system.
Therefore, when the Scriptures speak of those Jews who on the morning of the messiah’s death were still waiting to observe their Passover supper and great Sabbath,20 the Quartodecimans believed it was based upon a Pharisaic misinterpretation of Scriptures.
Yet, it was also necessary for Scriptures to mention this Passover of the Pharisees, since it was the historical occasion and backdrop for the messiah’s martyrdom.
All of the ancient testimony reveals that all the earliest orthodox Christians, referred to as the Quartodecimans, observed the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread for seven days, Abib 14-20.
The first of the seven days began at byn ha-arabim after sundown at the beginning of Abib 14. The Passover meal was eaten at the beginning of Abib 14. This day was also a High Sabbath day.
The last and seventh day began at byn ha-arabim after sundown at the beginning of Abib 20 and ended at the following sundown, being exclusive of Abib 15. Abib 20 was also a High Sabbath day.
What we have uncovered so far is that the evidence is consistently pointing to the authentic and original Passover observance of the early followers of Yahushua the messiah.
As we proceed forward, more information will be provided that will help establish the true and correct practice of the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Needless to say everyone, be sure to be on the lookout for the next installment dealing with evidence for the Quartodeciman practice of the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Who knew that history could be so interesting?
For further reading see the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh press titled The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh.
Click this link for Bibliography and Abbreviations.
1 Chrysostom, Adver. Jud., 1 (PG, 48, p. 848).
2 For example see Tertullian, de Orat., 23:1–2, de Bapt., 19:2; Origen, Celsus, 8:22; Eusebius, Pas., 4; Athanasius, Fest. Let., 1:10, Fest. Let., 14:6; Didymus, 5:88; Syn. Elvira, Can., 43; Ambrose, Exp. Luc, 10:34; Apost. Constit., 5:20:2; Theophilus Alex., 20:4; Egeria, 43; ACC, 2, pp. 1157–1161. Pentecost also went through a transition among Christians. “By the beginning of the 4th century C.E., Pentecost has lost its ancient christological content and it is seen as the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit” (EEC, p. 208, 123, n. c; cf., Paulinus, Poem, 27; Augustine, Serm. Mai, 158:4).
3 Philo, Exod., 1:9, Spec., 2:27.
4 Eusebius, H.E., 5:24.
5 Chron. Paschale, 1, pp. 13f.
6 Peter Alex., frag. 5:7.
7 Hippolytus, frag. 1; Chron. Paschale, 1, pp. 12f, “λέγει γὰρ οὕτως ἐποίησε τὸ πάσχα ὁ χριστὸς τότε τῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἔπαθεν.”
8 JTS, 25, p. 262.
9 1 Cor., 11:20-27, esp. v. 23; cf., Mark, 14:17-30; Matt., 26:20-35.
10 Epist. Apost., 15. The section intends to foretell the imprisonment of Peter during the days of Unleavened Bread in the story of Acts, 12:1-19. In this passage of the Epistula Apostolorum the Quartodecimans were advised to “celebrate the remembrance of my death,” “celebrate the Passover,” and the “Agape (Love Feast).” Passover was to be spent as a “night of watching” and “remembrance” that ended at “the cockcrow,” i.e., 3 A.M. Cockcrow was the time of Peter’s third denial of the messiah on the night of the “Last Supper” (Matt., 26:34, 74-75; Mark, 14:30, 68-72; Luke, 22:34, 60-61; John, 13:38, 18:27). Unfortunately, the above passage from the Epistula Apostolorum has been construed by some to mean that the Quartodecimans were fasting until 3 A.M. (e.g., EWJ, p. 123). This view is a matter of overinterpretation; nothing of the sort is even suggested in the text. To the contrary, the “Agape” or “Love Feast” and the “celebration” of the Passover are references to the Eucharist (the ritual of the bread and wine) and Phasekh supper. To superimpose a fast is totally unwarranted.
11 Eusebius, H.E., 5:22; Jerome, Lives, 45.
12 Eusebius, H.E., 5:24:1–5.
13 Eusebius, H.E., 5:24:6f; cf., Jerome, Lives, 45.
14 Anatolius, 10.
15 A Quartodeciman quoted by Hippolytus, Ref. Her., 8:11.
16 Melito, Pas., 39.
17 Ps.-Tertullian, 8. This work is an epitome of Hippolytus’ lost Syntagma. Chap. 8 deals with the Quartodeciman named Blastus (JTS, [NS] 24, p. 83, n. 2).
18 Jerome associates this debate with the fourth year of Emperor Severus (196/197 C.E., May reckoning) (Jerome, Euseb., year 2212).
19 Eusebius, H.E., 5:23:1. Cf., translations in Lake, Euseb., i, p. 503; EEC, p. 33.
20 John, 18:28, 19:31.