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Bible verses about Birthdays
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Many historical sources show that Christmas was not observed by Christians from Christ's time to about AD 300. Saturnalia (December 17-24) and Brumalia (December 25) continued as pagan celebrations by the Romans well into the fourth century. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, in the article "Natal Day," records that the early Catholic church father, Origen, acknowledged:

In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners like Pharaoh and Herod who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world.

During the fourth century, the emperor Constantine "converted" to "Christianity" and changed Sabbath keeping from the seventh to the first day of the week. Sunday was the day he had worshipped the sun as his god. This made it easier for the Romans to call their pagan December 25th winter solstice festival, in which they had celebrated the birth of the sun god, the birthday of the "Son of God."

The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, says:

According to the hypothesis . . . accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the Invincible Sun). On Dec. 25, 274, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome.

Only in the fifth century did the Roman Catholic Church order that the birth of Christ be observed on December 25, the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, the sun god. They renamed this day "Christmas."

Martin G. Collins


The Bible notes only two birthday celebrations, one in the Old Testament, one in the New. It should be instructive to review them because the way the Bible colors events indicates God's thoughts on a matter. Though the subject of birthday celebrations is never broached directly, it is mentioned as a detail in two negative vignettes (a third also negative possibility might be found in Job 1).

We find the first occurrence in Genesis 40, in the account of the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker. After hearing these men's dreams, Joseph tells them that within three days the king will restore the butler to his office but hang the baker (Genesis 40:9-13, 16-19). "On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday" (Genesis 40:20), the king did just as Joseph had predicted. The day ended badly, not only with the death of the baker, but also with Joseph having to languish in prison for another "two full years" (Genesis 40:22—41:1).

The New Testament occurrence appears in both Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29. Herod holds a feast on his birthday and is so pleased by the dancing of his step-daughter that he promises to give her anything she desires. Her mother, Herodias, instructs her to demand the head of John the Baptist, as revenge for his condemnation of her marriage to Herod. Though regretful, Herod orders the execution, feeling bound by his oaths and pressured by his guests (Mark 6:26-27).

One birthday celebration ends with a hanging and a servant of God locked in prison, and the other with the corruption of a young girl and the death of one of God's greatest prophets, the Elijah to come (see Matthew 11:11, 14). The major lesson in each of these events is certainly not about birthdays per se, but we cannot escape the fact that God puts birthday celebrations in an evil light through the details of these stories.

A spiritual lesson that can be drawn here is that, when seen in a larger context, birthday celebrations in no way enhance the purpose God is working out and may even play a role in hindering the salvation He is bringing to mankind (Psalm 74:12; see John 6:29).

Some might argue that birthday celebrations are only cultural affairs. But knowing that Satan is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4), and the whole world lies under his sway (I John 5:19), should we not at least examine their appropriateness to a Christian's life? At the very least, these biblical examples show that birthday celebrations seem to bring out and reinforce the darker side of human nature.

Obviously, the people of the Bible at least marked their birthdays because Scripture often records their ages. However, there is a wide gulf between marking a day and celebrating it. One acknowledges its passing while the other honors it. The biblical record shows no man or woman of God celebrating a birthday. Thus, birthday celebrations do not have a God-ordained origin.

One could even say a birthday celebration goes against God's instruction in Ecclesiastes 7:1, where Solomon writes, "The day of death [is better] than the day of one's birth." God's perspective on this matter, as in all things, is far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He has more joy when we leave this world, having overcome it, than when we enter it (see Isaiah 57:1-2; Philippians 1:21-23). God's perspective seems to be, "Why celebrate the day all your troubles began? Far better to celebrate the day they ended in victory!"

Martin G. Collins
Celebrating Birthdays


Celebrating birthdays with parties and gifts emphasizes the "selfish" way of life. However, acknowledging a loved one's birthday and letting him know that he was remembered can be a "thinking of you" type of warm gesture that can be encouraging if done properly. Sending an uplifting card, calling on the telephone, or a personal visit would not be inappropriate, especially to those who are elderly, live alone, or reside far away.

But God's spiritual principles should not be compromised. If we feel that a wrong spirit pervades any kind of celebration, we should not be part of it or condone it by our presence and participation.

Martin G. Collins
Celebrating Birthdays


Deuteronomy 12:30-31

Two arguments are often used to justify Christmas observance.

1) Many will reason this way: "But, even though the exact date of Jesus' birth is unknown, should we not select some date to celebrate as His birthday?" The answer is positively no! Notice the statement quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: "Sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthdays." The celebration of birthdays is not a Christian, but a pagan custom, observed by sinners!

2) But, many still reason, "Even so—even though Christmas was a pagan custom, honoring the false sun-god, we don't observe it to honor the false god, we observe it to honor Christ."

But how does God answer in His Word? "Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [the pagans in their customs] . . . that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).

God says plainly in His Instruction Book to us, that He will not accept that kind of worship, even though intended in His honor. To Him, He says, it is offering what is abominable to Him, and therefore it honors, not Him, but false pagan gods. God says we must not worship Him according to the "dictates of our own conscience"—a term we often hear. But Jesus says plainly, "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). And what is truth? God's Word—the Holy Bible—said Jesus, is truth (John 17:17); and the Bible says God will not accept worship when people take a pagan custom or manner of worship and try to honor Christ with it.

Again, Jesus said: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Christmas observance is a tradition of men, and the commandments of God, as quoted, forbid it. Jesus said, further, "full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."

That is precisely what the millions are doing today. They ignore the commandment of God. He commands, regarding taking the customs of the pagans and using them to honor or worship God: "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God." Still, most people today take that command of God lightly, or as having no validity whatsoever, and follow the tradition of men in observing Christmas.

Make no mistake! God will allow you to defy and disobey Him. He will allow you to follow the crowd and the traditions of men. He will allow you to sin. But He also says there is a day of reckoning coming. As you sow, so shall you reap! Jesus was the living Word of God in Person, and the Bible is the written Word of God. And we shall be judged, for eternity, by these words! They should not be taken lightly or ignored.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Christmas


1 Corinthians 10:31

In all our activities, our emphasis should be on honoring God, rather than ourselves.

Since birthday celebrations encourage the glorification of the self and promote "self-centeredness" rather than "God-centeredness," birthday celebrations transgress this principle. If we are truly striving to instill godly character into our children, birthday parties are not a good option.

In a radio interview with a former Satan worshipper, the interviewer asked, "What is the most important day after Halloween to a Satan worshipper?" The answer is eye-opening! He said, "Your own birthday!" We know that everything Satan does is contrary to God's way. Satan opposes God in every thought and despises all godly things. If he initiates something, the result is wickedness. By promoting birthday celebrations, Satan, the Great Deceiver (Revelation 12:9), deceives people into exalting themselves so he can de-emphasize the great God.

Birthdays promote the idea that we have achieved something worthwhile, when in fact life is a gift from God. King Solomon, speaking of man in general, writes of "the days of his life which God gives him under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 8:15). A birthday celebration takes credit away from God, redirecting it to a physical human being. Birthday celebrations rob God of the honor and glory He is due as Creator and Sustainer of life.

Moses records:

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

Man made no effort in his creation; he is the creation. Nevertheless, human beings redirect the credit and glory to themselves, which is simply a form of idolatry. We have been called and set apart to worship the Creator, but those who are still carnal worship the creation (Romans 1:25).

Martin G. Collins
Celebrating Birthdays



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