Pentecost options add up to more than just counting

The writer attends the Church of God Big Sandy. He receives E-mail at

By Bernie Monsalvo

GLADEWATER, Texas--Anyone who intends to keep the Day of Pentecost has many options nowadays, and the options aren't just about "counting 50."

One of the basics of counting to Pentecost is that the counting begins on the "morrow after the Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:15).

Leviticus 23:15 uses the word Sabbath as an indicator that points to the next day: the day on which the count begins.

The day after this Sabbath is an important day: This particular Sunday is the day of the wave-sheaf offering and the first day of the first week of the Pentecost countdown.

Before we look at the following options, let's look at some of the factors that lead to the options.

Which calendar?

First you must choose a calendar.

Many people from a Worldwide Church of God (WCG) background have relied on the calculated Jewish calendar--sometimes called the Hillel calendar, sometimes "God's sacred calendar"--for decades.

However, other calendars do exist and are used by some people who observe the feast days.

Even though a calendar can be determined by several methods, space does not allow a discussion of the following five calendar options except to list them:

  • A calendar based on local visibility of the new moon (the beginning of the month) after the invisible conjunction (the alignment of the sun, moon and earth that always precedes a new moon).
  • Jerusalem visibility after the invisible conjunction of the moon.
  • The invisible conjunction of the moon.
  • The sunset after the invisible conjunction of the moon.
  • A calendar based on calculations: Forget the moon altogether.

Counting exclusivelyor inclusively

Second, you must decide if you will use the interpretation of counting "from" as "exclusive" or "inclusive." (Exclusive refers to excluding Sunday--the first day--in the count. Inclusive refers to counting Sunday as day No. 1 of the count.)

The WCG addressed the exclusive-inclusive issue in 1974 at the time that it addressed the issue of counting from "without" or from "within."

The day from which the counting began (Sunday) remained the same. But the method of counting changed by one day. The latter decision changed Pentecost by one day.

Before 1974 the WCG used an "exclusive" method for counting 50. This placed the Day of Pentecost on a Monday.

Beginning in 1974 the WCG used an "inclusive" procedure for counting 50. In effect this placed the identification of the day of Pentecost on a Sunday.

Counting from without or within

Third, you must choose if you will use the interpretation of counting from "within" the Days of Unleavened Bread or from "without" the Days of Unleavened Bread. The WCG addressed this issue in 1974 at the same time it addressed the previous issue.

This decision affected the day when the counting begins during certain years when the Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath. Those years include 1954, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1994, 2001, 2005 and 2008.

During those years the day the counting begins is changed by one week. This affects the identification of the Day of Pentecost by one week.

Before 1974, in those specific years, the WCG counted from the Sunday that was one day after the seventh day of Unleavened Bread--on a day outside of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Beginning in 1974, in those specific years, the WCG counted from the Sunday inside the Days of Unleavened Bread, which actually was the first day of Unleavened Bread.

To summarize and compare, refer to the chart below.


Chart headings: Calendar type; Type of count; When to begin; Gregory date; Representative group or individual

Calculated Jewish calendar: Inclusive; Within; May 27, 2001; Many WCG offshoots*

Calculated Jewish calendar: Exclusive; Within; May 28, 2001; Various

Calculated Jewish calendar: Inclusive; Without; June 3, 2001; John Ritenbaugh

Calculated Jewish calendar: Exclusive; Without; June 4, 2001; Raymond Cole

Calculated Jewish calendar: N/A; N/A; May 28, 2001 (Sivan 6); William Dankenbring

Various non-Jewish calendars: Inclusive; Within; June 3, 2001; Frank Nelte, Darryl Henson

*Church of God International, Christian Biblical COG, Philadelphia COG, COG a Christian Fellowship, Living COG, United COG and many others.

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