“Not one of his bones will be broken”: How the Gospel of John Misappropriated the Passover Sacrifice

“Not one of his bones will be broken”: How the Gospel of John Misappropriated the Passover Sacrifice

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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

“These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken…”

– John 19:36

            A common Christian polemic against the Quran is the alleged “error” regarding the trinity in Surah Al-Maeda, 5:116.[1] However, upon further scrutiny, it has been demonstrated that the “error” is only in the Christian interpretation of the verse.[2] Hence, perhaps Christians should pay more attention to misunderstandings of other religions in their own Bible, rather than being distracted by alleged “errors” in the Quran. A particularly embarrassing example of a misunderstanding, or rather, a misappropriation, of other religions can be found in the Gospel of John, chronologically the last of the 4 canonical gospels to be written (c. end of the 1st century).[3] The misunderstanding/misappropriation in the Gospel of John mainly has to do with the Passover sacrifice as a parallel to the alleged “sacrifice” of Jesus. In other words, according to John’s understanding, Jesus had become the “Passover lamb”. But anyone who knows the real meaning of the Passover sacrifice would recognize the mistake: the Passover lamb was NOT meant for sin atonement! In this article, we will discuss this hidden contradiction and demonstrate that, in his zeal, the author of the Gospel of John mistakenly used the Passover sacrifice as a parallel for Jesus’ crucifixion.

John’s Understanding of Passover

            Unlike the Synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John seems to be really interested in Passover imagery and symbolism. As early as chapter 1, the author has John the Baptist declare Jesus as the:

“…Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”[4]

In his commentary on this verse, D. Moody Smith Jr. stated:

“…John here evokes the language and imagery of Scripture and specifically the temple cult, where the lamb appears as a sacrificial animal. Perhaps the Paschal (Passover) Lamb is in view, although that lamb is not actually a sin offering. Paul, however, speaks of Christ the paschal lamb as having been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7), and for him Christ’s death was quite clearly for sin (Rom 3:25).”[5]

Similarly, Gary M. Burge states in his commentary:

“[t]hat Jesus is announced as ‘the Lamb of God’ is striking (1:29). This might refer to the daily sacrifice at the temple. But it is likely better to view it as the sacrificial Passover lamb of Exodus 12 (cf. Isa. 53:7). Later the Gospel will fully employ this imagery when Jesus is sacrificed on the cross at Passover (19:14, 36).”[6]

            Based on other references to Passover throughout the gospel, Christian author Christopher Skinner states that:

“…the evangelist clearly emphasizes the Passover and its significance in religious life. So in the Fourth Gospel it is clear that the evangelist is intending to make a connection between Jesus’ death and the Passover.”[7]

So, there is no doubt that the author of the Gospel of John was keen on setting Jesus up as the ultimate Passover “lamb”. This view was also propounded by Paul (see note #4).

            The Passover imagery is especially obvious during the trial and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus. In John 19, two direct references are made to Passover. After having interrogated Jesus, Pontius Pilate brings him out before the unruly Jewish crowd. Verse 14 states specifically that it was around noon on the “day of Preparation of the Passover”. According to the NASB Study Bible, this meant the “Friday of Passover week.”[8] Similarly, Smith observes that:

“John carefully notes the time: noon (‘the sixth hour,’ reckoning from dawn) on the day of Preparation. […] Once again John makes clear that Jesus is crucified before the Passover is eaten, while the lambs are being slaughtered, rather than after as in the Synoptics (cf. John 13:1, 29; 19:31).”[9]

Burge also makes similar observations:

“[t]he time of [Pilate’s] announcement, ‘about noon,’ is indicated (19:14) because of a theme that will arise during the crucifixion. The hour of Jesus’s condemnation is the hour when the temple began to slaughter the ritual lambs for Passover. Jesus is one such lamb (19:31-36).”[10]

            An indirect reference to Passover also occurs in verses 28-29:

“[l]ater, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.”

As Burge explains:

“…the hyssop that satisfies his thirst reflects Exodus 12:22 and Passover symbolism. Hyssop was used with blood on Israel’s doorposts in Egypt. This is a uniquely Johannine note (cf. Mark 15:36).”[11]

            The next direct reference comes in verse 31, right after Jesus dies on the cross:

“[n]ow it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.”

According to the NASB Study Bible, the “special Sabbath” was:

“[t]he Sabbath that fell at Passover time. The Passover meal had been eaten on Thursday evening, the day of Preparation was Friday, and the Sabbath came on Saturday.”[12]

Smith also comments that (emphasis ours):

“[i]n John’s unique chronology Jesus is crucified on Nisan 14, before the beginning of Passover (Nisan 15) that evening. It is now the day before Passover, and this Passover evening also began the sabbath…”[13]

Thus, Jesus’ death is deliberately made to correspond to the day of Preparation right before the beginning of Passover. This, coupled with John the Baptist’s declaration of Jesus as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” and Paul’s declaration that Jesus was the “Passover lamb”, must mean that Jesus’ death on the cross served to remove the sins of mankind. As the Compact Bible Dictionary explains:

“[l]ike the blood of the lamb that saved the Hebrew people from destruction in Egypt, His [Jesus] blood, as the ultimate Passover sacrifice, redeems us from the power of sin and death (1 Cor. 5:7).”[14]

Similarly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to “[t]he Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection” and “the redemptive death of…Jesus Christ”.[15] Later, it states that:

“…the Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation.”[16]

            It is also interesting that, unlike the Synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John does not link the Last Supper with a Passover meal, though according to Smith, in the Synoptics, when Jesus likened his body to the bread and his blood to the wine, he was referring to his coming death as a “sacrifice”.[17] This would mean that the Passover meal, according to John’s timeline, was going to be eaten the next day (Friday evening), which happened to be the same day that Jesus was crucified around noon.

            There is also one final reference in John’s gospel to Passover, and how it applies to Jesus. After Jesus has died, the Jewish leaders ask the Romans to break the legs of the 3 crucified victims to see if they are truly dead (but also to hasten death as sunset was approaching), after which their bodies were to be removed and buried. Burge notes that the Gospel of John is the only gospel to refer to the Roman practice of breaking the legs (known as “crurifragium”).[18] The author of the gospel deliberately links this event to scripture:

“[t]hese things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken…”[19]

Commenting on this verse, Burge observes that:

“[a]gain this serves Passover imagery in that the Passover lamb could have no broken bones (19:36; Exod. 12:46).”[20]

Smith notes that the reference in John corresponds to Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, and Psalm 34:20 (see the table below), but he observes that John’s version does not “reproduce” any of these verses “exactly”.[21] Nevertheless, he explains that the 2 references from the Pentateuch (Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12) “refer to the Passover lamb, which in all probability is in view here”.[22]  

Exodus 12:46 –

“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.”

John 19:36 –

“Not one of his bones will be broken…”

Numbers 9:12 –

“They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.”

Psalm 34:20 –

“he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.”

            This analysis should leave no doubt that the Gospel of John was keen on linking Jesus’ death with Passover. Jesus was established as the “Passover Lamb” and Passover imagery, as Smith puts it, “hovers in the background”.[23] But this is precisely where the attempt to link Jesus to the Passover lamb hits a brick wall, as it clearly contradicts what the Passover sacrifice really meant according to the Jewish Biblical understanding.

The Passover Sacrifice in the Jewish Bible and Other Jewish Sources

            Having shown conclusively that the Gospel of John was keen on establishing Jesus as the “Passover lamb”, let us now examine the Jewish understanding of the holiday and the sacrifice.

            Most of the relevant information about the Passover sacrifice comes to us from the book of Exodus. Chapter 12 lists the regulations of this important holiday. The lamb was supposed to be a year-old male without any defects.[24] The blood of the lamb was to be placed on the doorframes, so that God could “passover” that house.[25] Finally, the “meaning” of the ceremony was explained as follows:

“[i]t is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”[26]

Also, the following restrictions were put in place (among others):

  1. It was to be roasted over a fire only, not boiled.[27]
  2. The Passover meal could not be eaten by any foreigner, unless he was circumcised.[28]
  3. The meat must be eaten inside the house, and the bones must not be broken.[29]

Other Passover rules included its observance on the 14th day of the first month (Abib), beginning in the evening, eating unleavened bread (to symbolize the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt), and observing the celebration in “the sanctuary of the tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem.”[30]

            Most importantly, we need to consider what the purpose of Passover really was. Was the Passover “sacrifice” meant to atone for sins, as the Gospel of John and Paul claimed, or as Christian scholars like Youngblood, Bruce, and Harrison believe?[31] Was Passover associated with such a concept? The answer is no. As the famous Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides explained:

“[t]his is also the reason why we were commanded to kill a lamb on Passover, and to sprinkle the blood thereof outside on the gates. We had to free ourselves of evil doctrine and to proclaim the opposite, viz., that the very act which was then considered as being the cause of death would be the cause of deliverance from death.”[32]

            Maimonides also explained the significance of the lamb that was sacrificed for Passover as well as what it was supposed to symbolize. Comparing it to the other Levitical sacrifices, Maimonides gave the following explanation for slaughtering lambs, goats, and sheep:

“[s]cripture tells us, according to the Version of Onkelos, that the Egyptians worshipped Aries, and therefore abstained from killing sheep… […] Thus the very act which is considered by the heathen as the greatest crime, is the means of approaching God, and obtaining pardon for our sins. In this manner, evil principles, the diseases of the human soul, are cured by other principles which are diametrically opposite.”[33]

And referring specifically to the Passover sacrifice, he stated that:

“[t]hus they [the Israelites] were rewarded for performing openly a service every part of which was objected to by the idolaters.”[34]

The reward, of course, was being protected from the final plague and being freed from Egyptian captivity. However, Maimonides never associated the Passover sacrifice with the atonement of sins. He dedicated several pages to discussing the numerous other types of sacrifices that served as “sin offerings” (e.g., the New-moon and the Day of Atonement offerings), but he never mentioned the Passover sacrifice along with them.[35] The reason for this was that the Passover sacrifice was NOT for the forgiveness of sins. This point was also duly observed by Smith in his commentary on the Gospel of John.[36] But perhaps Rabbi Michael Skobac of “Jews for Judaism” says it best:

“[t]he slaughtering of the Paschal lamb was a dramatic renunciation of idolatry. It was a statement that the people inside those houses worshiped God alone. The blood on their doorposts was a brave protest against the prevailing beliefs and a forceful rejection of the worship of any created being. Our Passover today continues to serve as a rejection of the deification of any human being.”[37]

            Furthermore, the evidence from the Bible itself also demonstrates that the Passover sacrifice was not meant for the atonement of sins. In the entire chapter on the Passover regulations (Exodus 12), not once do the words “sin” or “atonement” appear even once.

            In contrast when referring to the other sacrifices (for example, in the chapter on the Yom Kippur sacrifice) the animal chosen to serve as the sacrifice is specifically referred to as a “sin offering” for “atonement”:

“From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. […] But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.”[38]

The Hebrew word for “sin offering” is “hattat”.[39] This word never appears in conjunction with the Passover sacrifice. Rather, in Exodus 12:27, the Hebrew word is “zebah” (i.e., “the Passover zebah/sacrifice of the Lord”; similar to the general Arabic word “zibah”, which also just means “sacrifice”).[40] Of course, a “sacrifice” could be for the specific purpose of atonement (a sin sacrifice or offering), but the fact that the Passover sacrifice is never referred to as a “hattat” (sin offering) refutes the notion that it had that purpose. It never did.

            So, what was the purpose of the Passover sacrifice? In Exodus 12:11, the sacrifice is referred to as “the Lord’s Passover”.[41] Commenting on this verse, the Jewish scholar Rashi stated that:

“[t]he sacrifice is called פֶּסַח because of the skipping and the jumping over, which the Holy One, blessed be He, skipped over the Israelites’ houses that were between the Egyptians houses. He jumped from one Egyptian to another Egyptian, and the Israelite in between was saved. [“To the Lord” thus implies] you shall perform all the components of its service in the name of Heaven. (Another explanation:) [You should perform the service] in the manner of skipping and jumping, [i.e., in haste] in commemoration of its name, which is called Passover (פֶּסַח)…”[42]

So, the sacrifice was a commemoration of the “skipping” that God did with the last plague by avoiding the Israelite houses and only striking the Egyptian houses. While it is true that the sacrifice protected the Israelites from immediate death (not death in general), there is no indication that it served to atone for their prior sins.[43]

            In the Midrash Pesachim, the sacrifice is described as follows (emphasis ours):

“[The] Passover-offering [is offered] because the Omnipresent One passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt. Unleavened bread [is eaten] because our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt. [The] bitter herb is [eaten] because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt. In every generation a person must regard himself as though he personally had gone out of Egypt, as it is said: “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying: ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.’” Therefore it is our duty to thank, praise, laud, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, extol, and adore Him Who performed all these miracles for our ancestors and us; He brought us forth from bondage into freedom, from sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity, from darkness into great light, and from servitude into redemption.”[44]

So, the sacrifice was for thanksgiving, and while it talks about “redemption”, this redemption was from slavery in Egypt, not redemption from sins. Again, not once are the words “sin” or “atonement” mentioned.

            In addition, William S. Morrow explains that:

“[b]y late Second Temple times, the Passover had become a kind of toda: a thanksgiving sacrifice offered at the altar that remembered the Exodus experience.”[45]

Moreover, Morrow also observes that the sacrifice had nothing to do with sin (emphasis ours):

“[n]o less than the other kinds of sacrifices of well-being, the Passover lamb was a type of gift offering, which communicated Israel’s commitment to honor YHWH. In fact, this is already implied in the Passover legend itself. It was not offered as remedy for sin but as an act of dedication. For it was precisely those who were marked by this ritual of devotion that the angel of death passed over (Exod 12:13).”[46]

Finally, Morrow criticizes the narrow interpretations of Christians by stating that (emphasis ours):

“…there is a tendency in the church to associate sacrifice with rituals for the expiation of sin. Unfortunately, such an understanding ignores the rich meanings of sacrifice in Priestly traditions. Gift offerings were occasions for joy and praise.[47]

            Jewish sources from the 1st century CE also confirm that the Passover sacrifice was offered as a celebratory thanksgiving offering and not as a sin offering.[48] Philo of Alexandria described the sacrifice as follows (emphasis ours):

“[a]nd after the feast of the new moon comes the fourth festival, that of the passover, which the Hebrews call pascha, on which the whole people offer sacrifice, beginning at noonday and continuing till evening. And this festival is instituted in remembrance of, and as giving thanks for, their great migration which they made from Egypt, with many myriads of people, in accordance with the commands of God given to them; leaving then, as it seems, a country full of all inhumanity and practising every kind of inhospitality, and (what was worst of all) giving the honour due to God to brute beasts; and, therefore, they sacrificed at that time themselves out of their exceeding joy, without waiting for priests. And what was then done the law enjoined to be repeated once every year, as a memorial of the gratitude due for their deliverance.”[49]

            Josephus also emphasized the celebratory nature of Passover:

“…the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover; and so we do celebrate this passover in companies, leaving nothing of what we sacrifice till the day following.”[50]

            In fact, Josephus clearly differentiated the purpose of the Passover sacrifice from the sacrifice offered for the festival that followed Passover: the feast of unleavened bread. He explained that (emphasis ours):

[t]he feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover, and falls on the fifteenth day of the month, and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread; on every one of which days two bulls are killed, and one ram, and seven lambs. Now these lambs are entirely burnt, besides the kid of the goats which is added to all the rest, for sins; for it is intended as a feast for the priest on every one of those days.”[51]

He made an important point when he emphasized that the sin offerings for the feast of unleavened bread were only eaten by the high priest, not by the community. We should note that the Passover sacrifices were eaten by the whole community. This is an important distinction because sin offerings could only be eaten by priests and not by the community. This is explained by Morrow as well:

“[t]he ritual procedures for purification [hatta’t] and reparation [asam] offerings were fairly identical. […] The fat portions were burnt on the altar and the rest of the animal eaten by priests under ritually clean conditions in the courtyard of the tabernacle.”[52]

That the sin offering could only be eaten by the priest or any male in his family is emphasized in the Bible. Leviticus 6:26, 29 states:

“The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. […] Any male in a priest’s family may eat it; it is most holy.”

Ezekiel 44:29 also states that only the priests may eat certain types of offerings (the sin offering being one of them), but the Passover sacrifice is not included in this rule:

“They will eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoted to the Lord will belong to them.”

Was the Passover sacrifice any of these types of offerings? The answer is no.

            Hence, it is undeniable that Passover had nothing to do with the atonement of sins. The author of the Gospel of John chose the wrong Jewish festival in his zeal to link Jesus with Biblical rituals. As Rabbi Skobac observes:

“[i]f Jesus’ death was supposed to have been an atoning sacrifice, it would have been more appropriate to liken him to the special goat that was offered on Yom Kippur – the national Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).”


            In this article, we have seen undeniable evidence from the Bible and Jewish sources that the Passover sacrifice was not a sin offering. Thus, when Paul and the Gospel of John claimed that Jesus was the “Passover lamb”, they contradicted the Bible and mad an egregious error in misappropriating the Passover festival to develop their concept of Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of mankind. This is more proof that the authors of the New Testament were not inspired. Thus, when Christian scholars like Youngblood et al. claim that Jesus the “Passover lamb” protects people from the “power of sin”, they are barking up the wrong tree. And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!

[1] The verse states:

“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen” (Saheeh International Translation).

Even though there is no mention of the “trinity”, Christians insist that the verse is criticizing the trinity, and mistakenly assuming that it consists of Allah, Jesus, and Mary. This polemic has been debunked as a fantasy, as it is very clear that the verse is simply criticizing anyone who takes Jesus and Mary “as deities besides Allah”.

[2] The main reason is that there is no mention of the trinity in the verse. It is simply denouncing the deification of Jesus and Mary as gods.

[3] https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/john-52-and-the-date-of-the-fourth-gospel-a-response-to-a-christian-apologist/

[4] John 1:29.

However, the Gospel of John was not the first source to link Jesus with the Paschal lamb. In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul claimed that Jesus was the “Passover lamb” and had been “sacrificed”. The NASB Study Bible comments on Paul’s description of Jesus as follows:

“[i]n his death on the cross, Christ fulfilled the true meaning of the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover lamb (Is 53:7; John 1:29). Christ, the Lamb of God, was crucified on Passover day, a celebration that began the evening before when the Passover meal was eaten (cf. Ex 12:8)” (NASB Study Bible, ed. Kenneth Baker [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999], p. 1668.

It is ironic that the NASB Study Bible commentary claims, at least according to Paul’s understanding, Jesus “fulfilled the true meaning of the…Passover lamb” and yet referred to Isaiah 53:7, which has nothing to do with Passover.

[5] D. Moody Smith Jr., Abington New Testament Commentaries: John (Nashville: Abington Press, 1999), p. 69.

[6] Gary M. Burge, “John”, in The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, eds. Gary M. Burge and Andrew E. Hill (Grand Rapids, Michigan: BakerBooks, 2012), p. 1118.

[7] https://bible.org/article/another-look-lamb-god

[8] NASB Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1555.

[9] Smith Jr., op. cit., p. 350.

Clearly, the timeline in John’s gospel contradicts the timeline in the Synoptics. This is further proof that the New Testament is not “infallible” and cannot be the “inspired” word of God.

[10] Burge, op. cit., p. 1157.

[11] Ibid., p. 1158.

[12] NASB Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1556.

Note that this comment seems to be based on the timeline of the Synoptic Gospels, not the Gospel of John. In the latter, the Passover lambs had only begun to be slaughtered on Friday. The Passover meal would then be eaten later that evening. This confusion stems from the contradictory accounts in the Synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John. In the Synoptics, the Passover meal had already been eaten on Thursday night and Jesus was crucified on the following Friday.

[13] Smith Jr., op. cit., p. 362.

[14] Ronald F. Youngblood, F.F. Bruce, and R.K. Harrison, Compact Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), p. 459.

It should be noted that the authors’ addition of “the power of sin” in reference to the Passover sacrifice is clearly an anachronism, as the original Passover sacrifice had nothing to do with the atonement of sins. This will be discussed later.

[15] Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1995), p. 161.

[16] Ibid., p. 301.

[17] Smith Jr., op. cit., p. 69.

[18] Burge, op. cit., p. 1158; cf. Smith Jr, op. cit., p. 363.

[19] John 19:36.

[20] Burge, op. cit., p. 1158.

[21] Smith, op. cit., p. 364.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Exodus 12:5.

[25] Exodus 12:13.

[26] Exodus 12:27.

The verse seems to imply a giving of thanks for God’s favor upon the Israelites. This gives a hint as to the true purpose of the Passover sacrifice.

[27] Exodus 12:9.

[28] Exodus 12:43, 48.

[29] Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12.

[30] Youngblood, Bruce, and Harrison, op. cit., p. 459; for more on the regulations of Passover, see Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004), pp. 600-601.

It should be noted that “Abib” was later called “Nisan” (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/abib/). Thus, the two words are interchangeable, but “Nisan” is more commonly used.

[31] Youngblood, Bruce, and Harrison, op. cit., p. 459.

[32] Maimonides, op. cit., pp. 597-598.

[33] Ibid., p. 597.

Note that this does not mean that Maimonides was saying that the Passover sacrifice served to expiate for sins. See the discussion above for clarification.

[34] Ibid., p. 598.

[35] Ibid., p. 603-606.

[36] Smith Jr., op. cit., p. 69.

Interestingly, the NASB Study Bible commentary claims that the author did not have a particular sacrifice in mind when referring to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (1:29). Instead, it is claimed that it was simply “a general reference to sacrifice” (NASB Study Bible, op. cit., p. 1516). However, given the obvious references to Passover and the timeline presented in the Gospel of John, it is doubtful that the author had some “general” sacrifice in mind. Rather, it seems clear that he had the Passover sacrifice specifically in mind.

Other Christian apologists are aware of the potential contradiction in claiming that Jesus was the “Passover lamb” and the Biblical view that the lamb did not atone for sins. In attempting to escape this contradiction, the aforementioned Chris Skinner cited Leon Morris in claiming that:

“…all the sacrifices were held to be expiatory in some way by the close of the Old Testament period” (https://bible.org/article/another-look-lamb-god).

Of course, if this was true, it remains a problem. If “all the sacrifices” became associated with expiation of sin only “by the close of the Old Testament period”, then it implies that this was a gradual shift. In other words, this was not the preponderant interpretation in earlier periods. In any case, as demonstrated by the views of scholars like Maimonides, the Passover sacrifice in particular did not have anything to do with expiation of sins. Later, we will discuss other Jewish sources which clearly demonstrated that the Passover sacrifice was meant to be a celebration of thanksgiving and not a solemn sin offering.

[37] https://jewsforjudaism.ca/jesus-not-passover-lamb/

The implied attack on Christianity is obvious. The deification of a human being (Jesus) is one of Christianity’s gravest sins.

See also Skobac’s video where he refutes the Christian misuse of Passover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB7EZ5fgr4I&feature=youtu.be

[38] Leviticus 16:5, 10.

[39] https://biblehub.com/text/leviticus/16-5.htm

[40] https://biblehub.com/text/exodus/12-27.htm

[41] The translation provided by Chabad renders the meaning as “a Passover sacrifice to the Lord” (https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9873/showrashi/true).

[42] Ibid.

[43] Note that neither Paul nor John identify Jesus’ role as the “Passover lamb” as protecting one from death, but rather as expiating for their sins (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29).

[44] https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Pesachim.10.5?ven=Open_Mishnah&lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

[45] William S. Morrow, An Introduction to Biblical Law (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Group, 2017), p. 146.

[46] Ibid., pp. 146-147.

[47] Ibid., p. 147.

[48] For example, Philo of Alexandria; Ibid.

[49] Philo, The Special Laws, Book II, XVII:145-146, http://earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book28.html.

[50] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 3:10:5, http://earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/ant3.html.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Morrow, op. cit., p. 149.

Notice that Morrow translates “hatta’t” as “purification”. Thus, this type of sacrifice was specifically for the purification of sins.


6 thoughts on ““Not one of his bones will be broken”: How the Gospel of John Misappropriated the Passover Sacrifice

  1. Pingback: “Not one of his bones will be broken”: How the Gospel of John Misappropriated the Passover Sacrifice – Blogging Theology

  2. Vaqas Rehman

    “[s]cripture tells us, according to the Version of Onkelos, that the Egyptians worshipped Aries, and therefore abstained from killing sheep… […] Thus the very act which is considered by the heathen as the greatest crime, is the means of approaching God, and obtaining pardon for our sins. In this manner, evil principles, the diseases of the human soul, are cured by other principles which are diametrically opposite.”

    Wait…WHAT?! so you’re telling me the origin and whole point of the passover lamb was specifically to show God was not a lamb?!

    And then Christians come along and say it’s proof that God was a lamb(sacrifice) talk about ironic.

    One question though, shouldn’t paul have known the true meaning of the passover lamb being a jew and all? I can understand the author of john not knowing but how could paul not have known?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The CruciFICTION Series: Part 3 What the Prophets of Old Foretold – The Quran and Bible Blog

  4. ewfwef

    Biblical inerrancy is an utterly indefensible and embarrassing position to hold, but not all Christians are stupid, and some offer various justifications for why the BIble contains errors, e.g. accomodation. Could you write an article on this?

    Liked by 2 people

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