(Galatians 4:9-11) Doesn’t Paul Warn Christians Not To Observe the Old “Jewish” Holy Days?

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Galatians 4:9-11)

Teachers today say Paul is condemning the Gentile believers in Galatia for observing the so-called “Jewish” Festivals and Sabbaths - “days, and months, and times, and years.” But the exact opposite is the case.

Look back to verse 8 and read Paul’s question:

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”

Here it is again in the New Living Translation:

“Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.”

The gods Paul is referring to are Zeus, Athena, Hermes, Tammuz (Mithras), Astarte (Ishtar), Molech etc., therefore the "days, and months, and times, and years" are holidays celebrated in honor of these gods.

Ancient Israel also delved into worshiping these gods:

" ... Solomon has rejected Me and has worshiped foreign gods: Astarte, the goddess of Sidon; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of Ammon. Solomon has disobeyed Me; he has done wrong and has not kept My Laws and Commands as his father David did." (1 Kings 11:33, Good News Bible)

The “Days, and Months, and Times, and Years” are
Referring to the Old Pagan Festivals That They Used to Celebrate

Paul cannot be referring to God’s Festivals and Sabbaths because he asked them, “whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” Or in other words, “Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” How can pagan Gentiles become enslaved to keeping God’s Festivals and Sabbaths “again” if they had never even observed them? And how can keeping God’s Sabbaths make someone enslaved to false gods when the Sabbath points to the true Creator-God:

“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore (because of this) the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:11)

But the LORD is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king … Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by His power, he hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion.” (Jeremiah 10:10-12)

"Galatia was a region located in modern day central Turkey. Between 279 B.C. and 189 B.C., the peoples of this region were influenced by their own traditions of pagan worship as well as Greek mythology. The region was conquered by the Romans around 189 B.C. By the time Paul wrote to these churches in approximately 53 A.D., this region was dominated culturally and politically by the Roman Empire. The days, months, seasons, and years to which Paul refers are the Greek and Roman worship practices that permeated Galatian culture over 300 years before Paul’s visit to Galatia (see Acts 14:8-20 for an example). For an illustration of this, take into consideration the 'days' that Paul mentions. Every day was dedicated to a specific god or goddess in Roman and Greek culture. The practice of naming every day of the week comes from this custom. The day we know as the second day of the week (Monday) was dedicated to the moon god (days). In addition to these days, the Romans also dedicated each month to a specific god or goddess. They held ceremonies during the month to commemorate that particular deity. The month we call January was a month dedicated to the goddess Janus, who was said to have two faces. The month of March derives its name from the Roman god Mars (months). The Romans also kept certain seasons or times of celebrations to their gods that coincided with events in nature. The Saturnalia was a seasonal festival held in December to commemorate the god Saturn during the winter solstice (seasons). The combination of observing all these events makes up years (years). These ancient celebrations involved worship practices such as making sacrifices to other gods and/or making vows to these gods, which are the “weak and miserable principles” Paul mentions in Galatians 4:9." (Kelly McDonald, Jr. Defending the Ten Commandments, pp. 19, 20) 

The truth is, this is just another one of those verses which is cherry-picked and distorted by those who wish to steer away from anything that seems “Jewish.” In Colossians chapter 2 Paul applauded the newly converted Gentile Colossians for keeping God’s Festivals and Sabbaths,1 but here we see Paul rebuking converted Gentile Galatians for mixing pagan holidays with the worship of God.

It’s sad how even “Christians” today steer away from God’s Festivals and Sabbaths but yet observe the ancient winter solstice customs such as decorating evergreen trees (Jeremiah 10:1-4) in honor of the sun-god Tammuz (aka Mithras, who was born on Dec. 25th.) Then half a year later, in the spring, participate in the customs of celebrating the goddess Ishtar (aka Astarte), along with her fertility emblems of rabbits and eggs; “weeping for Tammuz” for 40 days (aka Lent); then participate in a sunrise service on Easter (Ishtar) Sunday (Ezekiel 8:14-16;  1 Kings 11:33; Jeremiah 7:8; Revelation 18:1-4).

“In December, the Zoroastrians of Iran celebrated Yalda ‘the birth’ and decorated an evergreen tree (Rocket Juniper/Cypress tree). The tree was symbolic of [the god] Mithras [born Dec. 25th]. Young girls had their ‘wishes’ symbolically wrapped in colorful silk cloth and hung them on the tree with lots of presents for Mithras, to answer their prayers.” (119 Ministries.com)

“The term ‘Easter' is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch [Passover] held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast … From this Pasch the pagan festival of ‘Easter' was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christianity." (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Easter”)

“The ancient peoples of Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, and China  exchanged  eggs  at  their  spring fertility festivals. In Babylonia, eggs were presented to the goddess of fertility, Astarte (Eostre).” (Donna and Mal Broadhurst, Passover, Before Messiah and After, p. 157)

“ … your fathers have forsaken Me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken Me, and have not kept My Law.” (Jeremiah 16:11)


1 See the article: Did Paul Teach That God’s Festivals and Sabbaths Came to an End at Christ’s Death?