Christmas Is Not In The Bible

by Douglas Hoff


Mention Christmas and people will generally think of two things: the birth of Christ and presents.  The birth of Jesus is surely an important historical event. The angel of the Lord announced it to the shepherds who then went with haste to behold the sight for themselves (Luke 2:8-16).  Wise men came from afar, worshiped the infant Savior and gave gifts to him (Matthew 2:11).  Though most people know these facts they may be surprised to learn that Christmas is not found in the Bible.

God never asked man to observe December 25 as the day on which the Son of God was born.  The scriptures do not reveal the day of his birth.  Even the season is uncertain.  The only clue is that shepherds were abiding in the field with their flocks.  The word “abiding” used in Luke 2:8 (KJV) means to live under the open sky even at night.  It is not likely that Jesus was born in December.

The idea of a holy day to celebrate Christ’s birth did not originate with God, Jesus or the apostles.  Instead it arose centuries after the apostolic age. According to history books December 25 was first celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 354 by order of Bishop Liberius of Rome.  The word Christmas comes from Christ and mass suggesting it is a mass to honor Christ.

Why did Liberius choose December 25 for this occasion?  Many pagans converted to Christianity when it became the state religion by decree of Constantine in A.D. 313.  These pagans had been in the habit of observing the feast of the Sun god at that time of the year.  As the days got shorter they thought their god was losing his strength.  However, after the winter solstice (December 22), the days start getting longer again.  The pagans viewed this as a victory of light over darkness.  These converts learned that Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12).  Liberius reportedly selected December 25 as Christmas to turn their attention away from the pagan festival.

Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24; NKJV) An act of worship which is done according to the traditions of men lacks God’s authority (Matthew 15:9). The religious celebration of Christ’s birth is a tradition of men and foreign to God’s word.

This creates some problems since many people have been brought up believing Christmas is a religious observance of Christ’s birth.  For them, the words of this article will probably sound strange.  However, since Christmas is not in the Bible hopefully they will see its observance must be a matter of personal conviction.  It is not something that can be bound on the church as a matter of faith.  The apostle Paul addressed a similar issue which existed within the church at Rome.  To those saints he wrote, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it” (Romans 14:5-6; NKJV).  Clearly, observing the day was optional.  So it is with Christmas today.  If because of upbringing a person believes Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus he is free to this belief (Romans 14:22).

There is nothing wrong with Christmas as long as the person does not think its observance is required to be a faithful Christian.  Paul lamented the Galatians desire to “observe days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4:10; see also verse 11).  The Galatians believed such observances were necessary for salvation but Paul showed them otherwise. Mandating the observance of man-made religious rituals puts the Christian under spiritual bondage (Galatians 4:9).

Christians are not wrong in giving and receiving presents on Christmas day. December 25 can be an enjoyable family time.  Just remember what it is really all about.


You may use this article for any non-commercial purpose.  Please do not edit it without asking first.  Feel free to forward this e-mail, post the article text to a web site or print it out for others to read.