Acts 15 and the timeless Torah

The narrative of Acts describes how the early believers in Messiah were struggling to understand what this faith in Messiah would mean for those in the nations who were also coming to faith in Israel’s Messiah.

When they held a council in Jerusalem it was determined that the new believers would be obligated to abide by some basic precepts: not to eat food sacrificed to idols, not too eat blood or strangled animals, and to remain sexually pure.

What most Christians today do not recognize is that each of these obligations is a command right out of the heart of Torah in Leviticus 17, 18, and 19!

So really, the question now becomes, for those who believe that Torah or the law has been done away, why then are these new gentile believers in Messiah being instructed to keep Torah obligations in the New covenant?

For me, this passage poses no concerns because I believe that aspects of God’s Torah are eternal and for all people for all time in the kingdom of God.

How about you?

2 thoughts on “Acts 15 and the timeless Torah

  1. As the whole passage is concerned with whether the Law of Moses was for the Gentile converts or not and the answer is a resounding NO, I find myself in disagreement. If the Apostolic and the nascent Church’s response teaches anything it is that though the Apostle Peter clearly states the means of entry is Grace alone, the weakness of flesh requires some additional distinguishing marks. The instructions given should be read analogous to God permitting divorce to the Israelites ‘for their hardness of heart’ not because divorce is desirable; similarly against you reductionist reading we have the clear claim – everything that has been created by God is good, and nothing that is received with thanksgiving should be rejected. These things are made holy by God’s word and prayer.
    The better use of this passage is against those who claim Israel and the Church are two distinct entities rather than the one new Body that was always God’s predetermined plan, for the entry of the Gentiles is clearly said to be restoring the house of David as ‘promised long ago’. Regards

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    1. I would agree with you that there are not two distinct entities of the Church and Israel, but only one body of believers in Messiah. I would also agree that the means of entry into this body is by grace through faith in Messiah alone.
      However, the question in Acts isn’t about “hardness of heart,” or everything being created good and is therefore acceptable. It is about whether or not the incoming believers (who were attending the synagogues and house meetings of believers for instruction in Torah and Messiah) were required to be circumcised before being accepted into these assemblies. Circumcision in this context is the equivalent of becoming a full-fledged Jewish convert. As such, they would be absolutely obligated to perform all of the mitzvot (works) that were expected of Jewish converts: i.e., the rabbinical “dross” and hypocrisy that had been laid upon the Torah by their teachers whom Yeshua railed against during his ministry, the “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear,” (v. 10). To this proposal by the believing Pharisees and “men of Judea,” the apostles say no, it is not necessary for them to become full converts to rabbinical Judaism before being accepted as believers in Messiah.
      However, they are encouraged to avoid the most basic of fellowship inhibitors (food sacrificed to idols, blood) and should remain pure from idolatry and fornication. These things are defined in Torah, so they would need to know what the Torah standards are for these things in order to avoid them. This is why in v. 21 they were told, “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” With continued exposure to Torah, they would learn what God expects for his set apart people, NOT for salvation, but as the ongoing practice of holy living AFTER coming to faith in Messiah.

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