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Featured The Acts 15 Decree

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by bcbsr, May 14, 2019.

  1. bcbsr

    bcbsr Newbie

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    The Acts 15 Decree

    Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." Turns out those men were from the church at Jerusalem. So Paul, Barnabus and Titus went down to that church to debate the matter. Paul presented his gospel to the leadership at the church of Jerusalem, some of whom held to the beliefs of the Circumcision. Peter completely agreed with Paul that salvation was solely by grace apart from complying to the laws of Moses. But James picked up on something Peter said. Namely speaking to the Circumcision on the leadership team there Peter said, "Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?" Acts 15:10 Peter was referring to their making salvation out to be conditioned upon one's compliance to the Law of Moses. Paul writes extensively on that point in Galatians such as "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law." Gal 3:10,11

    What James does is try to find a compromise. He literally compromised the gospel. He took Peter's comment of the Law being too hard to keep, and what he did was that instead of rejecting the Law altogether as a means to salvation as Peter and Paul did, he simply cherry picked a few commands from the law and made the Gentile's salvation conditioned upon their compliance to those regulations. James says, "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." Acts 15:19-20

    Consider how arrogant that statement is. Who does James think he is that he could tinker with the gospel in this fashion. Indeed one wonders whether a number of Paul's statements in Galatians were directed at James. Such as "even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" Gal 1:8 And Paul's emphasis concerning the origin of his gospel, "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Gal 1:11,12 That in contrast to James' fabricated gospel. For soon thereafter in Galatians Paul references the events of Acts 15. Nor does Paul speak of this decree in any of his epistles, not even in Galatians, but rather in fact often writes contrary to them. James imposes dietary restrictions on the Gentiles as a condition for salvation. Paul writes contrary to James' decree, for example, "Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it." 1Cor 10:25,26 And the context indicates that even included meats sacrificed to idols if it didn't bother one's conscience or that of another.

    Catholic Councils and Canon Law

    Catholicism took hold on James' example in Acts 15 as endorsing the idea that you could convene councils which could tinker with the gospel and make salvation contingent upon man made Catholic Canon Law. James is the father of Catholicism, and thus he's their goto guy when it comes to supporting their soteriology and they are the ones who inserted his epistle into the Bible which may end up being a subject of another thread.

    Negligence and Hypocrisy in the church at Jerusalem

    How was it that the leadership team at the church of Jerusalem included those of this heretical sect of the Circumcision? And that in light of the fact that Peter sided with Paul with regards to the gospel. Peter was not as respected in the church there as some make him out to be. Notice James' statement previously "It is my judgment". James had such a dominant role in that church that others, even the apostles were mere rubber stampers in comparison. Perhaps Peter had a misconception of humility being a trait in which you allow others to walk all over you.

    Furthermore consider in Acts 11 when he returned preaching to the Gentile Cornelius, and that even reluctantly. This is how he was welcomed in his own church, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." Acts 11:3,4 Note the prejudice. Obviously if even an apostle has to come up with an excuse to preach to the Gentiles, Gentile Christians were not welcomed in that church. This despite the fact that James himself hypocritically writes, "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality." James 2:1 Paul writes, "there is no difference between Jew and Gentile" Rom 10:12 and he preaches the same gospel to both. But in the church of Jerusalem there was reckoned a difference between Jew and Gentile. James even made a distinction between the two in his tinkering with the gospel. And then Peter abandons his responsibility to the Gentile Christians, abandoning the Great Commission given him, abandoning the fact that he himself admitted that Christ had called him to preach to the Gentiles, and decided to make his ministry exclusively to the Jews, along with John and James. "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews." Gal 2:9 Though while they (James, Peter and John) agreed to this, Paul apparently didn't agree. For he continued to minister to both Jew and Gentile alike and never even mentioned the decree in any of his epistles even though in Galatians he spoke of the meeting.

    Peter Rebuked for Fear and Hypocrisy

    "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group." Gal 2:11,12

    Likely what happened here is that James wanted to make sure that the regulations he had imposed on the Gentile Christians were being observed. Interesting to note, first of all, who did James send? He sent the very category of people who had been preaching a false gospel to begin with - the group of the circumcision. Likely the same false pharisaical brothers among the leadership in Jerusalem who had insisted, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." Acts 15:5 (Kind of an - in your face Paul - moment) Paul noticed that Peter was apparently afraid of these guys. Doesn't say why he was afraid, but it appears that through James' influence and his circumcision cronies, and Peter's fear and insecurity lead to the rise of Catholicism. If Paul had taken a more direct approach from the start in dealing with that sect, rebuking James directly for what he explicitly said in tinkering with the gospel, as he had publicly rebuked Peter for what Peter only implied by his actions, Catholicism and the rise of other Neo-Circumcision sects, may have been rooted out from the start. Nonetheless in his battle against the Circumcision Paul has left us with ammunition in his epistles against such sects.
     
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  2. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Absolutely brilliant way of explaining it. To Jesus Christ be the glory.
     
  3. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It says they and the Holy Spirit were pleased with what they decided to write. So, it was not cherry picking by James, but guided by the Holy Spirit. So, what I see is it is not picking certain things of the law, but saying not to eat what is offered to idols.

    And Paul makes the clarification, that if the food has not been openly offered so everyone knows, then don't worry about it unless someone tells you they were so offered. In such a case, do not eat it.

    At the counsel, they became in agreement; so they were not disagreed.

    But Peter did mess up and misled the other leaders. But Paul helped them get through that. And we can see how Peter became able to write the Canon epistles which he wrote, later, I would say after he learned from his errors and matured to become able to so write from both inspiration and his own actual experience of God and loving.

    But, yes, there are people who want to see there being disagreement between Paul and others. But the Holy Spirit did resolve any conflicts. In Peter's epistle, we can see how Peter honors what Paul has written as being scripture.
     
  4. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Love is a part of the law but how do you quantify how much you should love others. If you have 100 christians and 99 of them say someone has no love but 1 says that other person does have love. How do you or me decide if that person has enough love to be saved from eternal suffering?
     
  5. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Our hearts shall not be above our brothers (first 5 books of the old testament)
    Jesus said we shall love our neighbors as ourselves. (his commandment and it also might be in the first 5 books of the old testament)
     
  6. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    What the OP leaves out. Is the fact that our Lord told Peter, Et al, that the Keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose were given to the apostles.

    Matthew 16:19
    I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

    Binding and loosing were understood terms used by the rabbis to establish codes of behavior. What was permitted was “loosed.” What was forbidden was “bound.” And whatever they decided would be backed up by Heaven itself.

    Peter, James and Paul had Christ-given authority to make that decision.
     
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  7. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Those verses don't imply Peter was infallible. So i'm not sure those verses relate to the thread.
     
  8. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    No one is infallible. But our Lord gave fallible men that authority anyway.

    Besides, do we EVER have record of Paul going against this? No.
     
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  9. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    Well, I'm not going to get involved in what you intend to be a strained polemic against Catholicism.

    But I will agree with the notice of bigotry by the Hebraic Christians in the congregation of Jerusalem against Hellenist Jews-turned-Christian as well as Gentiles. That's pretty clear in Acts. Convolutedly, it's the reason the Hellenist Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin and stoned (convoluted because you have to understand why people of an oppressed minority would betray one of their own to those who oppress them).

    It's the same reason Saul was hot to persecute other Hellenist Jews like himself who had turned Christian...but left the Hebraic Christians alone. To some extent, we see Saul being used by the Holy Spirit to force Christianity out of Jerusalem...carried by the Hellenists, not by the Hebrews.

    The refusal of the Hebraic Christians to attend to the Great Commission caused the Holy Spirit to use the Hellenists instead, leapfrogging over to Antioch and making the Hellenists there His effective center of evangelist operations.
     
  10. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Going against what?
     
  11. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Did Peter and Paul have spiritual power, great faith, very often a contrite spirit (worthy sacrifice) to make their prayers availeth much (book of James). Yes

    But that doesn't mean they can't be refuted in what they say.
     
  12. HTacianas

    HTacianas Well-Known Member

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    He didn't say anyone was infallible. Jesus gave his apostles the authority to make decisions for the Church. They convened at Jerusalem and resolved a controversy in the early Church. Their decision is binding.
     
  13. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    The Acts 15 decision.
    Not even when it is brought up in Acts 21. Although that was the flip side of the coin: about Jewish believers keeping to or abandoning the Mosaic code.
     
  14. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    IF it means refuting scripture, yes it means exactly that.
     
  15. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    I meant to put this in the previous post.

    Did Peter and Paul have spiritual power, great faith, very often a contrite spirit (worthy sacrifice) to make their prayers availeth much (book of James). Yes

    But that doesn't mean they can't be refuted in what they say.
     
  16. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Thats true to an extent but this is why we all need to be reading from the same Bible or at the very least X number of books and all books being the same books. We'll have to agree to disagree.
     
  17. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    Paul wasn't refuting Peter's written scripture. He was refuting Peter's temporary judgements. I could use a real world example but i'll be chastised for that.
     
  18. HTacianas

    HTacianas Well-Known Member

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    Does that mean you're going to have your sons circumcised and keep the Jewish law?
     
  19. frogoon234

    frogoon234 Active Member

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    why would that be? Christians aren't required to circumsize their children?
     
  20. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    Peter (or James for that matter) did not have any “written scripture” at that point. BUt they made a decision for the church as a whole. And per Matt 16.19, they had authority to do so and that Heaven would back up that decision.

    So it stands.
     
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