Christmas and the Scripture
By Joe Garnett
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15).
Christians are to measure all things by the rule of scripture. Thus when we
consider Christmas we should not hesitate to test its authenticity by God’s word.
One who seeks to do this is immediately met with a quandary. Where do we find
this holy day in the Bible? What are our instructions with regard to this festival?
Where can we look for the authority for our involvement in the traditions intimate
with it? Are there commands of our Lord and the apostles concerning it, as there
are with the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper?
The scripture records the fact of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in two of the
gospels. Other than these and the prophecies concerning it, there is no big
scriptural emphasis with regard to it. (Let it be understood that the incarnation
and the birth are not one and the same. The incarnation took place about nine
months prior to the birth). The one who would defend the festival of Christmas is
left with no biblical basis with respect to a date, instruction or authority for its
At this point the proponent of Christmas will often assert that the Bible in no
place commands us not to observe the holiday so we can do what we wish. The
opponent is chastened to show scripturally why he would deny the „liberty” of
others to do what they want to do. I believe those that bring pagan holidays,
feasts, myths, etc. into Christ’s Church are the ones that bear the burden of
scripturally defending their actions. However, there is biblical teaching that show
their error in participation of such religiosity.
Before proceeding further I wish to point out that Christmas is a „christianized”
pagan festival. It finds it origin in Babylonian mythology. The Roman festival of
Saturnalia was celebrated during the winter solstice. This festival was
incorporated into the evolving Roman Catholic religious system in its early days.
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There are those who will deny this, yet at the same time they cannot produce a
Biblical origin or even another historical one. It is not our purpose at this time to
deal with this aspect. The student is encouraged to read other sources. My first
suggestion would be The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, published by
Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey.
The Lord Jesus Christ once rebuked the religious leaders of His day saying, „But
in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”
(Matt. 15:9). The sinful nature of men often leads them into pseudo worship of
God in their own way and with their own devices. They believe they can add to or
modify that which God has revealed and present to Him something better that
will please him. However, God prefers obedience to His word rather than our
Consider some selected portions from Deuteronomy 12 in which God instructed
His people Israel:
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their
groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and
destroy the names of them out of that place (vs. 3)
Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man
whatsoever is right in his own eyes (vs. 8).
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add
thereto, nor diminish from it (vs. 32).
The Lord God instructed his people to destroy all the items of heathen worship.
They were not to be incorporated into the worship of the one true God. This
instruction is seen also in the following portions of scripture:
The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: Thou shalt not
desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be
snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt
thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like
it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a
cursed thing (Deut. 7:25,26).
And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the
second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of
the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for
all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of
Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel (II Kings 23:4).
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and
burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it
fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:19).
Thus we see that the accursed things were not to be saved and used in the service
of God or for other purposes. Proper disposal involved burning them with fire.
My belief is that these „cursed things” are identical with or related to what is
known today in the occult as „familiar objects.” These objects which come from
pagan and occult origins have evil spirits associated with them. For this reason
they have influence when anyone partakes of them in any fashion. Mature
Christians would never have a crystal ball, Ouija board or tarot cards in their
home. But they would have numerous other items associated with paganism.
These items have influence whether the item is there by ignorance or is known to
be occultic (even though the consequences of its presence is denied). I have seen
such items in various Christians homes, particularly at Christmas.
Let us turn our attention to verses 8 and 32 of Deuteronomy 12, cited above. We
understand that each man was not to do what he felt like doing. He was to
observe the command of the Lord, not adding to it or subtracting from it.
Nadab and Abihu did not understand this. There came a time when they „offered
strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not” (Lev. 10:1). The
result of their act was death by toasting when fire from the Lord consumed them.
Saul also missed this principle as demonstrated by two of his acts of rebellion.
First, he offered a burnt offering he was not to render (I Sam. 13:12). Secondly,
he was instructed to destroy the Amalakites and all that belonged to them.
However, he chose to spare „the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice
unto the Lord thy God” (I Sam. 15:15). How thoughtful of him. We might argue
that he was sincere. But sincerity is not the issue and the Lord desired obedience
and not a human initiated sacrifice using that which God had cursed.
Even David transgressed when he had the ark of God transported on a cart (II
Sam. 6:1-7). It was supposed to be carried using the rings and staves (Exo.
25:12-15). The Levites were to be the carriers (I Chron. 15:2, 13-15). After the
death of Uzzah David came to understand that „the Lord our God made a breach
upon us, for we sought him not after the due order” (I Chron. 15:13).
Don’t you think it is important that we refrain from doing what is right in our own
eyes and observe that which we are commanded, adding nothing and taking away
nothing? If you concur, you must understand that you cannot take a pagan holiday
cluttered with traditions and objects, incorporate it into biblical Christianity and
Having searched the scripture for Christmas, I believe that it is found most
prominently in the books of I & II Timothy and Titus. It is here that we are
instructed concerning fables (myths), vain babblings, oppositions of science
(knowledge) falsely so called, and foolish and unlearned questions.
Using these three books, I & II Timothy and Titus, let us take a ten point
true/false test concerning Christmas. Remember that Christmas has it origins in
Babylonian mythology, the early church did not acknowledge it, there is no date
given for Jesus’ birth and there are no commands or instructions for celebrating
such a festival. No cheating, you must look up the verses before answering.
QUESTIONS TRUE FALSE
I Tim. 1:4 – We are to give heed to Christmas, which ministers
many questions regarding the date of the birth of Christ, and the
traditions associated with it.
I Tim. 1:5 – Christmas is of faith unfeigned. It is genuine,
supported by the scripture.
I Tim. 1:10 – All that we practice with regard to Christmas is not
contrary to sound doctrine because the Bible is full of instructions
I Tim. 4:11 – Christmas is among the things that Paul told Timothy
(and others) to command and teach.
Christmas and the Scripture
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I Tim. 6:3 – When one promotes Christmas, he is teaching
according to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and
II Tim. 1:13 – When Timothy was told to hold fast to the form of
sound words which Paul taught, this included Christmas.
II Tim. 2:15 – One who rightly divides the word of truth finds that
Christmas is the greatest Christian holy day, worthy of musical
productions, parties, candlelight services, etc.
II Tim. 2:23 – Christmas never engenders strife among believers
because of its unquestionable biblical support.
II Tim. 4:4 – Some people have believed and incorporated fables
into the church, but certainly this is not the case with us and our
celebration of Christmas.
Titus 2:1 – Because we are committed only to sound doctrine, we
should talk about and do Christmas year round.
Christmas is a fable. It is pagan and extra-biblical. One involved with it is
busying himself about past traditions. It does not represent factual truth. It is
deceptive, pretending to be something it is not.
Don’t learn the way of the heathen for their customs are vain (Jer. 10:2,3). Don’t
be spoiled „…through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after
the rudiments of the world…” (Col. 2:8) Refuse profane and old wives fables (I
Tim 4:7). Shun profane and vain babblings (II Tim. 2:16). Avoid foolish and
unlearned questions (II Tim. 2:23).
Do worship God in truth (John 4:24). Glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ (Gal. 6:14). „Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21).
Hold fast the form of sound words, that is, the words of Scripture (II Tim. 1:13).
Rightly divide the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). Continue in the things which you
have learned and been assured of, that is, the truth of Holy Scripture (II Tim. 3:
14,15). Speak the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
I call upon Christians to reject Christmas as well as other extra-biblical traditions
and pagan holidays. Earnestly contend NOT for this fable, but „for the faith
which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).