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Jesus Creed

JerusTem.jpgHere goes the fundamental decision by the Apostolic council in Jerusalem. They debate whether or not Gentiles have to be follow the Torah to be saved — reduced to circumcision. Peter, Paul, Barnabas tells stories; James knows their stories but appeals to Scripture. Gentiles are part of the eschatological people of God, and experience shows that they come in by faith and not by Torah. So they render this most important of decisions:

15:19 “Therefore I conclude that we should not cause extra difficulty for those among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 15:20 but that we should write them a letter telling them to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood. 15:21 For Moses has had those who proclaim him in every town from ancient times, because he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

There are various ways to read these expectations (Beverly Gaventa: The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
): it could refer to the Noahide laws, the laws Gentiles are to keep because they are universal. Or it could refer to the laws Gentiles were to keep when they are dwelling in the Land of Israel (Lev 17-18), which would suggest that Syrian Antioch might be the furthest reach of the Land of Israel north. The focus for all is on idolatry.
Four things Gentile believers are to follow, at least to follow in the Land:
1. Abstain from things defiled by idols — probably food and drink offered to idols.
2. Abstain from sexual immorality.
3. Abstain from food that has been strangled.
4. Abstain from drinking blood.
Gentiles are saved by faith in Christ, but they are expected to keep these laws — for salvation? for the sake of Jewish believers’ consciences? for any time they are in the Land? Forever and ever?

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