The Fast of the Apostles

July 9, 2016
By Kassa Nigus 
The Fast of the Apostles is one of the oldest fasts in the church, and was previously known as the “Fast of Pentecost” or the “Fast of the Disciples.” However, during the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., its name was changed to “Fast of the Apostles” which is carried through till today1.

The scriptural foundation for the Fast is mentioned in the Holy Gospels (Matt. 9: 14-15) & (Mark 2:19-20), when the disciples of John and the  Pharisees criticized the apostles for not fasting, “Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.2” 

The  commentary meaning of these verses is that  Christ was referring to His being taken to be crucified; but in the wider sense it is understood in terms of His Ascension into heaven, and his commission to preach the Gospel, which can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting3.

The duration of the Apostles fast depends upon the date of Easter, and therefore it varies from year to year. It always begins with the end of Be’ale Hemsa (season of Pentecost), or with the Monday after Pentecost, and terminates on Hamle 5th (July 12), the day that commemorates the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul. 

The Church calls us to keep this fast according to the example of the holy Apostles, who, having received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, prepared themselves to preach the Gospels to the whole world. It is of great importance to remember that all the works of the apostles were through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The same is with every decision made in church nowadays. It is always in light of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Any decision made otherwise is unwise; thus, it is vital to continually ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life. We pray that God may bless us throughout this fast.

  May the prayers, intercessions, and blessings of all the apostles be with us all. Amen.

2Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Holy Gospel Commentary (2005/6). (ወንጌል ቅዱስ ዘእግዚእነ ወመድኃኒነ ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ፡ 1997 ዓ.ም.)
1The Fast and Feast of the Apostles ( 
3Bible፡ the King James Version (1769).