The Last Supper was not the Passover Meal
Every year before and during Passover, also known as Pesach, we are confronted with the same questions, and we all have some specific interpretation we favor. One of these questions is: was the last meal Yahusha had with His disciples a Passover meal?
There are many passages in Scripture that seem contradictory, especially on this topic, but we believe that these seeming contradictions are because of our lack of understanding. We believe that all Scripture is inspired by YaHuWaH’s Ruach. There are minor scribal and translation errors in Scripture, but apart from these, the message remains the same.
We will show you evidence from the Scripture, regarding the last meal Yahusha had with His disciples. We will also look at the instructions regarding these days and how Yahusha fulfilled the feast of Passover. All this is important in order for us to understand why His last meal could not have been a Passover meal.
Yahusha fulfilled the Passover
The lamb as a substitute
The first prophecy we find regarding YaHuWaH supplying a lamb as a substitute, is in the account in Genesis.
Abraham was told to offer up his only-begotten son Isaac. When Isaac asked him about the sacrificial animal, he answered that YaHuWaH would provide it.
And Aḇraham said, “My son, Elohim does provide for Himself the lamb for an ascending offering.” And the two of them went together. Berĕshith 22:8
When he was just about to offer Isaac, an angel of YaHuWaH told him not to offer his son, and he raised his eyes and saw a ram caught in the thicket (Gen 22:10-13.) This ram was a substitute for Isaac, just like Yahusha was a substitute for us.
Another prophetic event is found in the book of Exodus.
The blood of the lamb
When YaHuWaH delivered the Yisraelites from the yoke of slavery, they were protected from the angel of death by the blood of a lamb.
‘Let the lamb be a perfect one, a year old male. Take it from the sheep or from the goats. ‘And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same new moon. Then all the assembly of the congregation of Yisra’El shall slay it between the evenings. ‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Shemoth (Exodus) 12:5-7
In verse 23, we find an explanation for this blood on the lintels.
“And YaHuWaH shall pass on to smite the Mitsrites, and shall see the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, and YaHuWaH shall pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to smite you.” Shemoth (Exodus) 12:23
“And it came to be at midnight that YaHuWaH struck all the first-born in the land of Mitsrayim, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of livestock.” Shemoth (Exodus) 12:29
Yahusha is the Lamb of Elohim, our Passover
Isaiah 53 prophesied about Yahusha, specifically His death for our sin.
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, but He did not open His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, but He did not open His mouth.” Yeshayah (Isaiah) 53:7
This passage is quoted in the book of Acts where Philip explains this to the eunuch in the context of Yahusha’s death.
“And the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, “He was led as a sheep to slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth. “In His humiliation He was deprived of right-ruling. And who shall declare His generation? Because His life was taken from the earth.” And the eunuch, answering Philip, said, “I ask you, about whom does the prophet say this, about himself or about some other?” And Philip opening his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, brought to him the Good News: Yahusha!” Ma`asei (Acts) 8:32-35
Later, in the book of Corinthians, Paul calls Yahusha “our Passover.”
“Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was slaughtered for us.” Qorintiyim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 5:7
John the Baptist called Yahusha “the Lamb of Elohim who takes away the sin of the world”
“On the next day Yoḥanan saw Yahusha coming toward him, and said, “See, the Lamb of Elohim who takes away the sin of the world!” Yoḥanan (John) 1:29
“and looking at Yahusha walking, he said, “See the Lamb of Elohim!” Yoḥanan (John) 1:36
A few other points to ponder about the Passover lamb
- It was a male
- The lamb was to be brought in on the 10th of Abib, Yahusha arrived on the 10th of Abib, the day the lambs were chosen.
- It was to be examined for 4 days to ensure it was unblemished
- It was to be slain on the 14th day of Abib and
- Redemption came through its blood
There could be no misunderstanding. According to Scripture, Yahusha fulfilled the feast of Passover; He redeemed us through His death, in the same way the blood of the Passover lamb redeemed Yisra’El. Yahusha was the allegorical Passover lamb; He fulfilled this prophetic feast according to how it was written.
Yahusha kept the commandments
Another very important point is that Yahusha did not ever break the commandments. He kept the Torah perfectly as He was sinless. Sin is the breaking of the commandments, and Yahusha never broke a commandment; He came to fulfill or to fill it up with meaning.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one yod or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. “Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 5:17-19
Yahusha could not say this and then break even the smallest of the commandments! It would make Him a hypocrite, which we know He was not.
So now we know that Yahusha fulfilled the feast of Passover, and we know that He did not break any commandments.
The instructions for the Feast
When was the Passover lamb killed?
The lamb was to be kept until the fourteenth day, it is to be investigated to make sure it is unblemished. It is then killed on the fourteenth day, at twilight.
“And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same new moon. Then all the assembly of the congregation of Yisra’El shall slay it between the evenings.” Shemoth (Exodus) 12:6
When is twilight?
6847 II. עֶרֶב (ʿě·rěḇ): n.[masc.]; ≡ Str 6153; TWOT 1689a—1. LN 67.191 evening, sundown, i.e., the period of time related to the setting of the sun, from late or very late afternoon to the beginning of the dark night time (1Sa 14:24)2
The lamb was killed at twilight; “between the evenings.” It was then grilled and eaten. The Torah commandment is to kill the lamb in the first month, on the fourteenth day at twilight.
“In the first new moon, on the fourteenth day of the new moon, between the evenings, is the Passover to YaHuWaH.” Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 23:5
So, if Yahusha was fulfilling the prophecy, becoming the allegorical Passover lamb, which we know He was, He would have to be killed on the 14th of Abib as this is the day when the Passover lamb was slain…That is the first point. The next point is the timing of the Passover meal according to the commandment.
When are we to eat the Passover meal according to Scripture?
This meal takes place at the beginning of the 15th day of Abib according to the commandment. YaHuWaH commanded us to eat unleavened bread from the evening the 15th of Abib. The Passover was killed on the 14th at twilight, roasted and eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread on the beginning of the 15th of Abib.
“And in the first new moon, on the fourteenth day, is the Passover of YaHuWaH, and on the fifteenth day of this new moon is a festival. For seven days unleavened bread is eaten.” Bemiḏbar (Numbers) 28:16-17
This is also referred to as eating the Passover. If Yahusha kept the commandments and fulfilled the prophecy, He could not have had this meal with His disciples, as He would already be dead by the time this special meal was eaten.
The Passover is a sacrifice
“And you shall slaughter the Passover to YaHuWaH your Elohim, from the flock and the herd, in the place where YaHuWaH chooses to put His Name.” Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 16:2
The Hebrew word for sacrifice is “zabah”
2284 זָבַח (zā·ḇǎḥ): v.; ≡ Str 2076; TWOT 525—1. LN 53.16–53.27 (qal) offer a sacrifice by killing a living thing, as an act. of worship, expiation or propitiation to a deity (Ex 23:18); (piel) (Hos 12:12); 2. LN 20.72 (qal) butcher, i.e., slaughter an animal and dress it out for consumption (1Sa 28:24)2
We have seen from this verse that sacrifices were only to be done in the Temple, according to the instructions in Torah. Furthermore, those sacrifices that could be eaten were to be eaten at the Temple. We do not have any mention of a Passover lamb being sacrificed or eaten by Yahusha or His disciples. Not doing this, would be breaking the commandment…
So, from these three points we learn the following:
- In order for Yahusha to fulfill the Scripture, He would have been killed on the 14th day of Abib at twilight.
- In order for Yahusha and His disciples to keep the commandments, they must have a Passover meal at the beginning of the 15th day of Abib.
- Passover is a sacrifice and the Passover was sacrificed at the Temple and was to be eaten on the night beginning the feast of Unleavened bread.
Not adhering to these, would mean Yahusha did not fulfill the feast or did not keep the commandments. We know that is not the case…
Some people would now say, but He was following a different calendar and could therefor fulfill the feast and eat the Passover with His disciples. We disagree with that…
Which calendar did Yahusha and His disciples follow?
We know that Yahusha followed the calendar that was used in the Temple at the time.
How do we know where they were in their calendar at the time Yahusha had this meal?
“Then they led Yahusha from Qayapha to the palace, and it was early. And they themselves did not go into the palace, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.” Yoḥanan (John) 18:28
They have not yet observed the Passover meal according to this verse.
The day of preparation
There are also three references to it being the preparation day for the Passover in the book of John. The “Passover” referring to the meal in the evening starting the feast of Unleavened bread.
The context of these references is the time just before Yahusha’s impalement.
“And it was the Preparation Day of the Passover week, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Yehuḏim, “See your Sovereign!” But they shouted, “Away, away, impale Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I impale your Sovereign?” The chief priests answered, “We have no sovereign except Caesar!” Yoḥanan (John) 19:14-15
“Therefore, since it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath – for that Sabbath was a high one – the Yehuḏim asked Pilate to have their legs broken, and that they be taken away.” Yoḥanan (John) 19:31
“There, then, because of the Preparation Day of the Yehuḏim, they laid Yahusha, because the tomb was near.” Yoḥanan (John) 19:42
This day of preparation is also mentioned in the other gospels. This word is only used six times in the Apostolic writings and always in the context of the Passover.
4187 παρασκευή (paraskeuē), ῆς (ēs), ἡ (hē): n.fem.; ≡ Str 3904; TDNT 7.1—LN 67.201 Preparation Day (Mt 27:62; Mk 15:42; Lk 23:54; Jn 19:14, 31, 42+)
“On the next day, which was after the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 27:62
“And when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,” Marqos (Mark) 15:42
The context of Mark is about Joseph of Arimathea going to Pilate to request Yahusha’s body for burial before the beginning of the High Sabbath.
“And taking it down, he wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, where no one was yet laid. And it was Preparation day, and the Sabbath was approaching. And the women who had come with Him from Galil followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.” Luqas (Luke) 23:53-55
This took place after the impalement, on the day of preparation. The gospels are thus in agreement regarding the timing.
Would it not be logical that Yahusha’s fulfillment of this prophecy would be according to the calendar of the Temple, which He also followed? This brings us to the next point…
The Sign of Jonah
Some say the reference to the Sabbath is to the weekly Sabbath. This implies that Yahusha was impaled on a Friday. To answer this, we need to look at the meaning of the sign of Jonah. Yahusha said the only sign He would give the Pharisees is the sign of Jonah; three days and three nights.
“For as Yonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of the great fish, so shall the Son of Aḏam be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40
That is the time Yahusha was to remain in the earth. That would make the day of the impalement a Wednesday according to the Gregorian calendar. Yahusha was crucified on the fourth day of the week, on the preparation day before the Sabbath commencing the Feast of Unleavened bread. He was to remain in the grave for three days and three nights. Count with me Wednesday, Thursday- and Friday night makes three nights and Thursday, Friday and Saturday makes three days. We know that Yahusha rose from the grave just after the weekly Sabbath, early on the first day of the week.
“But on day one of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. And having entered, they did not find the body of the Master Yahusha.” Luqas (Luke) 24:1-3
All the gospels are in agreement that Yahusha rose early on the first day of the week. It would, for this reason, not be possible for the preparation day to be the day before the weekly Sabbath. That would render the prophecy about Jonah meaningless. We are always to look at Scripture in context.
Another point to ponder is whether Yahusha and His disciples observed a vigil on the night after the last supper…
Were the disciples observing a vigil the night in Gethsemane?
In the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 26:36-46) and Mark (Mark 14:32-42), Yahusha took three disciples aside and asked them to watch with Him. In Luke, He told His disciples to pray (Luk 22:40-46), no mention was made of keeping watch. In the Gospel of John (John 18:1) it is only briefly mentioned that Yahusha and His disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane.
Does this sound like a commanded “vigil”?
When we look at the Greek word that is used here, we see it is different from the Greek word “prophylake” that was used to translate the Hebrew word “simmurin” in Ex12:42 in the Septuagint. This Greek word is “gregorio” and means the following:
23.72 γρηγορέωa: to remain awake because of the need to continue alert—‘to stay awake, to be watchful.’ εἰ ἤδει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης ποίᾳ φυλακῇ ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται, ἐγρηγόρησεν ἄν ‘if the man of the house knew the time when the thief would come, he would stay awake’ Mt 24:43. In some languages γρηγορέω in Mt 24:43 may be rendered as ‘his eyes would be open’ or ‘he would surely see what was happening.’
This is therefor, in our opinion, not keeping a “vigil” as it was commanded in Exodus 12:42.
Other proof from Scripture
Apart from what we have learned above, we find other clues in Scripture that tell us that it was not a Passover meal Yahusha had with His disciples on that night.
The bread at the Last Supper
The bread that was eaten at the last supper was not specified as unleavened bread. The Greek word “artos” is generally used for bread or food, and it was used. There is a different word for unleavened bread in Greek.
“And as they were eating, Yahusha took bread, having blessed, broke it, gave it to them and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” Marqos (Mark) 14:22
Bread is “artos”
788 ἄρτος (artos), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; ≡ DBLHebr 4312; Str 740; TDNT 1.477—1. LN 5.8 loaf of bread (Mt 14:17); 2. LN 5.1 food, any kind of nourishment (Mt 6:11); 3. LN 57.190 ἐργάζειν τὸν ἑαυτοῦ ἄρτον ἐσθίω (ergazein ton heautou arton esthiō), earn a living, to work for my bread which I eat (2Th 3:12+); 4. LN 53.26 ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως (artoi tēs protheseōs), consecrated bread (Mt 12:4; Mk 2:26; Lk 6:4; Heb 9:2+); 5. LN 23.20 ἄρτον κλάσαι (arton klasai), have a meal, formally, break bread (Ac 2:46; 20:7, 11; 1Co 10:16+) (possibly more references)2
Unleavened bread is “azymos” in Greek
109 ἄζυμος (azymos), ον (on): adj.; ≡ DBLHebr 5174; Str 106; TDNT 2.902—LN 5.13 without yeast, unleavened (1Co 5:7, 8+); (Feast of) Unleavened Bread (Mt 26:17; Mk 14:1, 12; Lk 22:1, 7; Ac 12:3; 20:6+)
Unleavened bread is commanded to be eaten from the evening of the 15th Abib, the beginning of the feast of Unleavened bread. Not eating it would break a commandment, which we know Yahusha never did.
Judas went out “to buy things they have need of for the feast”
From the book of John, we learn the following…
“And before the Festival of the Passover, Yahusha knowing that His hour had come that He should move out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper taking place, the devil having already put it into the heart of Yehuḏah from Qerioth, son of Shim‛on, to deliver Him up. Yoḥanan (John) 13:1-2
“Yahusha answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Yehuḏah from Qerioth, son of Shim‛on. And after the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Yahusha, therefore, said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” Yoḥanan (John) 13:26-27
After Judas was identified as the one who would betray Yahusha, he left. Some supposed that he went to buy things they needed for the feast.
“But no one at the table knew why He said this to him, for some were supposing, because Yehuḏah had the bag, that Yahusha was saying to him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give somewhat to the poor. So, having received the piece of bread, he then went out straightaway, and it was night.” Yoḥanan (John) 13:28-30
This is proof that the feast has not yet started for when Yahusha said, “What you do, do quickly”
The other disciples thought that He meant Judas must go buy the things they have need for the feast. If it was a Passover meal, it would have been Sabbath already, for the first day of Unleavened bread is a Sabbath. Buying would not be possible.
So if the last supper was not a Passover meal, what was it?
Why was Yahusha observing this meal with His disciples?
If Yahusha was not observing a Passover meal with His disciples, why did they have this meal together. Was there any special reason for this?
Yahusha did not need a special traditional event to have a meal with His disciples. He knew what would take place after this meal, and He had a special meal with His disciples.
Yahusha also expressed His yearning to celebrate the feast with them.
“And He said to them, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering, for I say to you, I shall certainly not eat of it again until it is filled in the reign of Elohim.” Luqas (Luke) 22:15-16
The word “again” is not in the original text and the word “never” can also be translated as “not.” The Greek word “ou” was translated as never. Here is the meaning explained by the Dictionary of Biblical languages.
4024 οὐ (ou), οὐκ (ouk), οὐχ (ouch): adv. (an objective negative, denying the reality of alleged fact); ≡ Str 3364 & 3756—1. LN 69.2 οὔ (ou), no, in absolute, as an answer (Mt 13:29; Jas 5:12); 2. LN 69.3 not, marker of a negating proposition (Mt 7:21); 2
“And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they were slaughtering the Passover lamb, His taught ones said to Him, “Where do You wish us to go and prepare, for You to eat the Passover?” Marqos (Mark) 14:12
“And on the first day of Unleavened Bread the taught ones came to Yahusha, saying to Him, “Where do You wish us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 26:17
Firstly, the first day of Unleavened bread is a Sabbath, so we already have some potential confusion here. This points to a possible translation issue. However, the writer then elaborates a bit more, and he seems to then refer to the day of Passover, also referred to as the preparation day for the meal.
Secondly, in both Mark and Matthew the word “on” is not in the original text and the Greek word “protos” is translated as “first.” This is indeed a possible translation, but so is “before” or ” most important”
4755 πρῶτος (prōtos), η (ē), ον (on): adj.; ≡ DBLHebr 8037; Str 4413; TDNT 6.865—1. LN 60.46 first, in a series (Ac 26:23; Mk 16:9 v.r.; Jn 8:7 v.r.; Ac 13:33 v.r.); 2. LN 67.18 before, earlier, formerly (Mt 27:64); 3. LN 87.45 prominent, of high rank, foremost (Mt 20:27; Mk 6:21); 4. LN 65.24 best, superior to all compared to (Lk 15:22); 5. LN 65.52 most important (Mk 12:28)2
In order for Yahusha to be the allegorical Passover lamb, He had to fulfill the feast on the right day and according to the instructions for the feast. Furthermore, if we say Yahusha never sinned, we also say He kept the commandments flawlessly. That would imply that He kept the instructions regarding the Feast of Passover and Unleavened bread perfectly according to Torah. After proving both statements, we know that Yahusha had to die on the 14th, thus being our allegorical Passover lamb. If He died on the 14th, and kept the Torah, He could not have had a Passover meal with His disciples, because He would already be in the grave.
We find further proof of that when we look at the specific examples from the Scriptures regarding the bread, the absence of a lamb and the fact the Judas left and the others were thinking that he might have gone out to buy what they needed for the feast.
Yahusha took our guilt upon Himself and suffered the penalty for our sin and spared us from the wrath of YaHuWaH by dying on our behalf in order to give us eternal life and reconciliation back into a renewed Covenant. We are to be eternally thankful! Throughout YaHuWaH’s moedim we see a prophetic picture of Yahusha our Messiah and our REDEMPTION. YaHuWaH’s Yahusha, our deliverer!