Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Council at Jerusalem

The council at Jerusalem wrote to the Gentile churches, telling them to avoid blood, food offered to idols, things strangled and fornication.

Beyond this they decided to put no other burden on them.

"Why should we put a burden on them which neither we nor our fathers were able to keep," said the Jewish Christians.

What burden was that? Moses' Law. Not the extra traditions of the elders. But Moses' Law.

Some say they decided not to write to the Gentile believers that they should keep Moses' Law only because Moses' Law was already read weekly. They assume that the Jews still intended the Gentiles to keep Moses' Law.

But when Paul went to Jerusalem, before being deported to Rome, the Jewish Christians clarified what they'd meant. After talking about Moses' Law, they said they had decided to require no such thing of the Gentiles. That's pretty clear. They didn't require the Gentiles to keep Moses' Law. The only thing they had required of the Gentiles was those four things.

But it's obvious that there was an effort being made by Jewish Christians in Jerusalem not to offend the Jews' expectation that Jews should be keeping Moses' Law. They didn't expect it of Gentile believers however. Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were zealous of the law, in fact.

Paul himself even acted like someone under the Law, in order to win someone under the Law.  But he also was willing to act as someone not under the Law in order to win those not under the Law - but he was able to do so without himself breaking Moses' Law.

But Paul taught that the Law was about to vanish away.

Jesus had implied that it would, when He said that true worshippers would no longer worship in Jerusalem but in spirit and in truth. And when He said, "This is the new testament in my blood..."

And it did. After the Temple was destroyed, and the Levitical records lost, it was no longer possible even for Jews, to keep Moses' Law.

This fulfilled prophecy, for example Daniel's prophecy.

Christians today - neither Jews nor Gentiles - don't have to keep Moses' Law.

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