Acts 15:29 & Revelation 2:14,20


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    allyouneedislove posted Mon, 14 Nov 2011 22:15:00 GMT(11/14/2011)

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    I have heard the assertion that Acts 15:29 saying: "keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood" was a decree set forth as a recommendation to keep Christian Gentiles from stumbing Christian Jews. The same assertion says that 1 Corinthians 8 makes it clear that it is a conscience matter to "keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols". However, Revelation 2:14,20 seems to show that eating things sacrificed to idols is much more serious of a grievance.

    (Revelation 2:14) “‘Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, that you have there those holding fast the teaching of Ba′laam, who went teaching Ba′lak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.
    (Revelation 2:20) “‘Nevertheless, I do hold [this] against you, that you tolerate that woman Jez′e?bel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and misleads my slaves to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

    Can anyone explain the relevance that the scriptures in Revelation have on the assertion that Acts 15:29 was just a recommendation?

    bioflex posted Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:59:00 GMT(11/15/2011)

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    I suppose in both instances it warns christians gentiles/jews alike to stayaway from idol practices, like festivals and offerings,etc.

    2Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

    1Co 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
    1Co 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
    1Co 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
    1Co 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

    I guess these verses are quite self explanatory.

    Hoffnung posted Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:14:00 GMT(11/15/2011)

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    Acts 15:29 was a specific answer to a specific problem, which was limited in time and area. Brothers from Jerusalem had come to Antiochia (Syria) where Paul and Barnabas were at that time, making an issue about Gentile brothers not sticking to some jewish customs, like circumcision. Paul & barnabas went to Jerusalem, as the problem came from there, to discuss this issue with the local elders. The decision made there, had as sole purpose to improve the interactions between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, detailing some recommendations taken from the Mosaic law, in order that the feelings of Jewish christians would not be hurt too much, but Circumcision was deemed not necessary. The things mentioned in Acts were repugnant for jews, and even if they were christians, for them it was one bridge too far to see their Gentile brothers doing that stuff.

    This same issue came up time and again in the 1st century congos. But as the issue at hand had differed slightly, as time and location were different, the recommendation concerning blood was not repeated, neither by Paul in the letters to the Corinthians, which were written only a few years later than Acts, nor in John's Revelation. The basic reason for the limiting recommendations was still the same, it was to protect the feelings of fellow christians, and the root motive was love for neighbours.

    It was not because the meat was not suitable for consumption, it was due to teachings by sectarian people in the congo's, which made others stumble.


    PSacramento posted Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:21:00 GMT(11/15/2011)

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    In Revelation Chirst calls out those that, even though they know what theyare doing is wrong ( (Revelation 2:14) “‘Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, that you have there those holding fast the teaching of Ba′laam, who went teaching Ba′lak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.
    (Revelation 2:20) “‘Nevertheless, I do hold [this] against you, that you tolerate that woman Jez′e?bel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and misleads my slaves to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.).

    What Paul is stating in 2Corinthians is that for a Christian those things mean nothing because Christ is greater ( hence they don't do those things and can't be infulenced to do them) BUT that he should, nevertheless, heed his conscience and make sure that His view doesn't stumble those of weaker faith.

    Romans deals with this to, with the whole issue of special days and what not.

    W ealso need to realize what is being mentione din Revelation is also a specific condenmation:

    The worship of Balaam and Balak and being part of THOSE festivites (hence them being singled out) and alo the tolerating of a false Prohetess who is mislead them to do bad things against Christ and God ( in her case idol worshiping and playing hide the salami).

    glueman posted Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:38:00 GMT(11/15/2011)

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    I love the part that says to abstain from things "strangled".

    Not to get too political here but how many JW's are concerned with how they get their pork or beef. Evidence proves that many pigs are not completely killed prior to being "bathed" in scalding liquid to get their hair off.

    A good portion of our meat (no pun intended) has been a sphyxiated.

    It's crazy just how many words or phrases are continuously ignored in passages that are frequently referred to for this, that or the other.

    Guess we'll all go down to Gehenna for that one.

    Band on the Run posted Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:44:00 GMT(11/15/2011)

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    Perhaps b/c of this forum, I've been reading far more BIble scholarship than usual. What I found amazing is that very few Christians had a complete set of scripture. There was no canon for hundreds of years. Augustine only had one gospel, a few of Paul's letters, the Psallms, and a few major prophets on which to base his version of Christianity, Christology, and theology.

    So it may be unlikely that all Christians could view Acts and Revelation at the same time. I've read that Revelation barely made it as part of the canon. One gospel, an amalgmation, was championed for a long time. The only thing I would draw from the accounts that Christianity had to deal with pagan practices. Whether or not to eat meat that entered the market through sacrifice was a contentious issue.

    We don't know what the local bishop or priest/minister/whatever taught from the pulpit. I can see some cities adopting one practice and other cities yet another practice. I don't think Christianity had clear rules in the beginning. As it became more developed and grew, rules would be needed. What locals considered valid scriptures that were not canonized might play a part, too. The Gnostics would not care where the meat came from.

    I view the Bible as individual books, written for different audiences at different times. We are so used to looking to a canon and making everyting magically go together consistently that we forget what the actual experience was for generations of the first Christians. Another thought is that Jews would prob. greatly opposed sacrifical pagan offerings. Hellenized Christians might not view it so strongly.

    PSacramento posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:42:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    Augustine only had one gospel, a few of Paul's letters, the Psallms, and a few major prophets on which to base his version of Christianity, Christology, and theology.

    That was before his conversion, afterwards he had the vast majority of the OT and NT writings.

    Band on the Run posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 16:00:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    PSacremento, Respectfully because we agree on so much. I read a major of Augustine within the past month. The author clearly stated his vision of Christian writing was limited. We seem to read the same book and see very different objective statements lately. I don't think either one of us is illiterate. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, you tend to believe in Holy Spirit writ large. I believe the holy spirit worked through very mundane channels. I hope this is true b/c it means it is working in my life now. Cecil B. DeMille moments are rare in my life. In fact, they are nonexistent.

    Christian scholarship is a hobby for me. I do other things, very different, for a living. If I can pass the hardest bar exam in the country, I believe I am capable of reading a detailed, yet not purely academic biographer of Augustine within the past month and remember some of the author's main points. Maybe he is not the definitive author. I pulled the book off the shelf of a public library.

    This difference in tone shows how hard finding "truth" in scripture is. Everyone brings their life experiences to the reading. No two people read quite the same text.

    PSacramento posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 16:21:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    Are you suggesting that Augustine, as BISHOP, had limited acces to what was available to the other Bishops before him?

    Leolaia posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 21:56:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    To address the OP, there are two separate but related issues at play here. The first concerns Torah observance and ritual separation (particularly wrt table fellowship). The majority view, drawing on common Jewish halakha and espoused by James the Just (head of the Jerusalem church), was that Gentile converts had the status of Godfearers until they made full conversion with circumcision and Torah observance; they were thus not bound to the Law aside from a minimum expected of the Gentiles by God — the Noachide laws which usually concerned what is forbidden in Genesis 9 (murder and eating of meat containing blood, cf. Jubilees 7:20-28) as well as fornication and idolatry. It is important to understand that Godfearers were not equal members of the community because of ritual separation; they remained separate on account of still being Gentiles. Thus there was pressure on Gentile males like Titus to be circumcised in order to attain equal status. Paul regarded his Gentile converts as equal in status to Jewish Christians and rejected both circumcision and ritual separation; he thus argued against the necessity of the Law and his converts were not Torah observant. A third position is attributed to Peter in the Petrine pseudepigrapha and which is likely historical: Christians must remain Torah observant but ritual separation would presumably not apply within the Church since Christians are neither Jew nor Christian but represent a new third group. The Jerusalem council in Acts 15 represents an affirmation of the Noachide laws for Gentiles without requiring circumcision — with the eating of meat sacrified to idols as a form of "idolatry". What was not resolved was the status of Gentile Christians. James still viewed uncircumcised Gentiles as a second-class group of Christians from whom the Jews should separate during meals; Paul viewed them as the same as any other Christians (Galatians 3:28-29). In Galatians 2, Paul's account of the Jerusalem council construes everyone as on the same page in agreement with him (v. 1-10), but clearly they weren't, for at a later time there was the incident in Antioch when James still demanded ritual separation, and Peter accommodated to the wishes of James' emissaries (v. 11-14). So James still regarded uncircumcised Gentile Christians as Godfearers, and the stipulations in Acts 15 were likely not viewed as "recommendations" but more like the bare minimum that Gentiles were expected to observe. Aside from Acts, Paul, and Revelation, there is a fourth early reference to the prohobition against food sacrificed to idols: "For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you can. And concerning food, bear what you can; but abstain by all means from meat sacrificed to idols; for it is the worship of dead gods" (Didache 6:2-6). This is very close to the view of James the Just: Gentiles are strongly encouraged to follow whatver dietary laws they are able to follow, and they are encouraged to follow the whole Torah, but at the very least they must abstain from food sacrified to idols. Paul did not view things the same way; it is clear from 1 Corinthians that there were some Gentiles eating food sacrificed to idols at Corinth, and Paul tried to persuade them to stop doing this not by appealing to any regulation but by arguing that such would be a stumbling block for other Christians. So the kind of counsel attested in Acts 15 — to the extent that such a letter was historical — was interpreted differently by different Christians. But the prohibition was a very real one observed in many communities, noted even by the pagan Lucian of Samosata, whose satirical account of the life of Peregrinus (an early second century AD Gentile convert to Christianity) states that he had attained a rather high position of authority in the local Christian community but was shunned after he relapsed and ate forbidden meats (De Morte Peregrini, 16).

    The other issue was the significance of the act of eating food sacrified to idols. It was viewed usually as committing idolatry, and this understanding may be implicit in Acts 15 with "eating food sacrificed to idols" replacing the general prohibition against idolatry. This interpretation is explicit in the Didache, which states that eating food sacrified to idols involves the "worship of dead gods". And John of Patmos similar forbids the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:14, 20), and the allusion to Balaam suggests the writer is thinking of the sin of the Israelites in Numbers 25:2 who went to "the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods" (cf. also the inducing to fornication in 31:16). Paul however had a more nuanced view. If the person recognizes that idols are nothing and other gods do not exist, then eating food sacrified to idols would not constitute idolatry. It could however still result in idolatry if the person has a weak conscience and still has some reverence for idols (1 Corinthians 8:1-13), and it might arouse the Lord's wrath if one knowingly participates in the table of demons (10:18-22; the preceding verses also alluded to Numbers 25). Paul also suggested that Christians should only be concerned about food that is specifically labelled as sacrified to idols and not worry about food on the market or served by unbelievers that could have potentially been sacrificed to idols (v. 25-28). This is a much more lenient opinion than found in rabbinical Judaism (and attested in Josephus), in which Jews avoided meat with unclear provenance.

    allyouneedislove posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 23:34:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    Leolaia said:

    So James still regarded uncircumcised Gentile Christians as Godfearers, and the stipulations in Acts 15 were likely not viewed as "recommendations" but more like the bare minimum that Gentiles were expected to observe.

    would someone help me understand why murder, lie, and extortion, were not put in acts 15:29 if the stipulations were the "bare minimum"?

    that is a new thought to me, Leolaia.

    allyouneedislove posted Wed, 16 Nov 2011 23:48:00 GMT(11/16/2011)

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    guess my problem with w82 7/15 30-31

    is that is draws such a hard line in breaking technical laws in times of great need:

    Numbers 15:32-36 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    It doesnt seem reasonable to think that they would have put him to death if he would be collecting firewood so that his family did not freeze or so he could cook a meal, in extenuating circumstances.

    sorry for the bold, weird copy/paste

    Leolaia posted Thu, 17 Nov 2011 01:05:00 GMT(11/17/2011)

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    would someone help me understand why murder, lie, and extortion, were not put in acts 15:29 if the stipulations were the "bare minimum"? that is a new thought to me, Leolaia.

    What I mean is that they are part of the minimum required; I don't necessarily mean that there aren't other rules. The Didache is instructive. The stipulation about food sacrificed to idols is appended to the Two Ways document. The stipulation says, in effect, we really recommend you follow the whole Torah, but if you can't do that, do what you can about food, but if there is anything you must do, it is to be on guard against food sacrified to idols. This makes the latter stipulation among the least optional of the Torah (or rather, halakhic application of the Torah). Nor is it that this is the only thing Christians had to follow. The preceding Two Ways document went into great detail about the what the righteous person should do and what he or she should not do.

    But that brings up the other important point. We're not talking about pious people like the ideal worshipper of God from the Two Ways. We're talking about Godfearers! Gentiles involved themselves with the Jewish community in all sorts of loose ways without being subject to its rules. Those who want to start associating with Jews cannot have been expected to already be pious people, and early Christians certainly did not want to discourage potential converts (as stated in Acts 15:19) by expecting them to conform immediately to a lengthy ethical code. The Didache allows for a progressive growth in one's adherence to the Torah, with the convert going at their own pace in changing their lifestyle ("do what you can"). The purpose of the Noachide laws was "to establish a minimum of obligations for the Godfearers so they could be saved with the Jews who were required to strictly keep to the whole Law of Moses" (Huub van de Sandt & David Flusser, The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Place in Early Judaism and Christianity, p. 246). The conflict throughout much of Acts concerned the status of Gentile Christians who did not follow the Torah (especially Paul's converts). Were they just Godfearers, or did they have full rights as members of the community? The council at Jerusalem did not settle this question, as the incident at Antioch later shows (and indeed as Paul's conflicts with the "Judaizers" also indicate). All it did was agree on some minimum Noachide requirements that uncircumcised Gentiles were expected to adhere to. The earliest attested Noachide rules were tripartite (against bloodshed, idolatry, and fornication), then this was expanded to four (adding a provision against theft), until eventually settling on seven laws in later rabbinical Judaism.

    About murder, btw, it is possibly covered by the reference to blood; abstaining from blood (notice it doesn't say abstaining from the eating of blood) potentially covered both bloodshed and the eating of bloody meat. Both are mentioned together in the commandment given to Noah in Genesis 9, and similarly appear together in Jubilees 7. The complex of bloodshed/idolatry/fornication as the laws of central importance appears widely in rabbinical Judaism, which corresponds especially in the Western Text (which has a tripartite form) to blood/food sacrificed to idols/fornication. The form of the stipulations in the apostolic letter suggests there were more specific concerns than a general prohibition of murder, idolatry, and fornication. Specifying "food sacrified to idols" instead of "idolatry" focused specifically on a matter that was a significant issue for first century Christians (Paul expends two chapters talking about it in 1 Corinthians). The change from "bloodshed" to the more general "blood" may have also had an eye on dietary issues, as the addition of "things strangled" also suggests.


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