Some Notes on Acts 15

Acts 15 has come up quite a bit lately. I thought I would post some notes I wrote some time ago. I know it is not the same as writing something fresh for the blog, but I hope you will get something from the notes anyway.

Acts 15 Notes: Part 1
Derek Leman

Reference:
Luke Timothy Johnson, Acts: Sacra Pagina Vol. 5. Collegeville, MN, The Liturgical Press, 1992.
Derek Leman, Paul Didn

This entry was posted in Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Paul, Theology, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Some Notes on Acts 15

  1. Marc says:

    Hi Derek,

  2. pbandj says:

    derek

    at the beginning of the post, you mention Torah being “binding” for Jew and “applicable” for gentile. what do you think the difference is? does binding mean that they must obey Torah or they will go to hell? does applicable mean they should obey the commandments that they can? is there really a difference between the two?

    peter

  3. Marc says:

    Hi Peter I could be wrong and hopefully Derek will correct or add.

    From some study Jews don’t keep the Torah to earn salvation, they keep it because

  4. Marc says:

    Also could it be in the Sermon on the Mount that the audience were both His desciples and non-believing Jews? In other words was this sermon directed only to Jews?

    Marc

  5. PB and J says:

    marc

    i hear ya, but that isnt the real question. the ultimate issue in my mind is what is the difference between “binding” and “applicable”. they dont seem too different to me.

    peter

  6. Marc says:

    Peter I think Derek is saying that Torah is binding on Jews and not binding on Gentiles.

    Marc

  7. Peter:

    Sorry to weigh in so late in this discussion. I’ve been away earning a living all day 😉

    I was referring to this concept:

    1. Torah is given only to Israel.

    2. Much that is in Torah is the same as God’s moral law for all people, knowable by general revelation (conscience).

    3. Sort of what Paul said, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness” Rom 2:14-15.

    Derek

  8. Marc says:

    Derek how does “Being a light to the nations” come in do you think?

    I mean it seems today that alot of Messianics are trying to recruit Torah observers.

    Marc

  9. Marc:

    Not sure what recruiting Torah observers means. You mean allowing non-Jewish Torah observers to attend?

    Being a light to the nations is one way of stating Israel’s role as the priestly people (and the mission of Messiah from Isaiah). To bring the nations to God, not food laws and circumcision.

    Derek

  10. Marc says:

    What I mean Derek it seems like those in Messianic congregations promote and emphasize Torah observance for ALL.

    Marc

  11. pbandj says:

    derek

    thanks for the response. i understand about work. being deployed, i spend usually about 12 hrs working a day.

    anyway, i hear your pt. but i am not sure i fully understand then. are you saying that gentiles have no way to know what God commands except through “conscience”? if this is so, then what can we say about those who have a “weak” conscience? suppose a person believed that it was okay to sleep around, which has happened many times throughout church history where leaders have taught that sexual immorality is ok and even good.

    how can we point to God’s Laws when there are none for gentiles?

    on the other hand, are you saying the “moral” laws of Torah are binding for gentiles? if so, how do we know which ones are “moral” commands?

    finally, if it is neither of these, but rather the “spirit” or purpose of the moral commandments in Torah, then why do gentiles have only to uphold “spirit” and not letter as well?

    it really doesnt make sense to me, sorry.

    peter

  12. Peter:

    Non-Jews can learn God’s laws in three ways:

    1. Moral law knowable by conscience and reason (C.S. Lewis has done excellent research on this).

    2. Reading Torah and applying what is not a boundary marker for Israel. (Spirit and letter applies here and in #3).

    3. Reading the New Testament where God’s laws are taught, though not systematically.

    Derek

  13. Marc says:

    Hi Peter it doesn’t make sense to me but then it makes sense.

    It just doesn’t seem right that you can have Jews and Gentiles in the same congregation and yet each isn’t subject to Torah the same.

    My mind says “you would think that we would ALL be keeping and following the same in the same body”

    It’s hard to connect the dots.

    I will admit that when you go to scripture, scripture tells us otherwise.

    The main debate is: Is Moses being read in the synagogues every Sabbath in past or present tense.

    Let’s take the Passover as an example. The uncircumcised could have not joined James in Jerusalem for Passover. It appears in the NT the participation was a seder type, not a Temple type Passover which they could participate in.

    Yes we have no Temple today so it appears that Gentiles can participate in a seder type Passover.

    The question is are we going to have a Temple in the Millenial Kingdom?

    As Derek pointed out(forget), Gentiles were allowed to draw near in certain thing?

    Marc

  14. PB and J says:

    derek and marc

    thanks for the responses. like you, marc, i feel very hesitant to make a divide between jew and gentile. because studying cultural divides in a “cosmopolitan” and “diverse” and “free” and “equal” country like america, the division betweeen groups stands out. and these happen because there are differences. we dont have out with those who arent like us. now i think that is a mistake. but it is normal.

    so do we have to “relax” Torah for jews?

    or do we hold gentiles to Torah?

    besides that what does it really mean to “keep” Torah? since no one has kept the entire Torah since the Temple was destroyed. yes, they have kept it in the way that rabbis have interpreted it and yes it was impossible for them to fulfill…except Torah never said that sacrifice was to be in a Temple. that is in the rest of Tanakh.

    so, if rabbis are able to relax standards in some areas, why are they not allowed to in others?

    peter

  15. Y'honadav says:

    I know this topic is a few months old now, but I’d like to weigh in. Hopefully I will be able to help some by His grace and Spirit.

    First of all this debate has been going on since the first century and it probably won’t end until the second coming when Y’shuah sets things straight and according to Ezekiel 40-48 we inherit land with Israel anyways as if we were always part of the tribes. Ezekiel 40-48 points out that during the millenium all believers will observe Torah and it will be taught perfectly by Yeshua when He returns.

    Israel was given the Torah so that they would have written down what was already expected of mankind since its creation. Along with what I will call ‘the laws of relationship toward God and man’, there was also symbolic rituals and signs. This included the feasts, sacrifices, tefillin, circumcision (which was originally given to Avraham), etc. In God’s eyes the ‘laws of relationship toward God and man’ are the weighter points of the Torah that Y’shuah alluded to, yet the signs and rituals weren’t to be left undone since they were powerful teaching tools. Remember that the Torah is a teacher, it had no power to save or atone for sins, etc. The sacrifces in it had no power to atone for sins, but were object lessons about sin, its price, and about what the Messiah would do for us all.

    There have been many gentiles throughout the Tanakh that God saw as righteous apart from following every point of the Torah. Why? Just as was stated earlier, they fulfilled the core of Torah, which as Y’shuah said was to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’ and ‘to love your neighbor as yourself’.

    The reason why God was so strict on Torah observance was because He wanted a holy people. He wanted Israel to understand that to approach Him, they must be holy. They must live holy lives. The problem was that as Sha’ul says later in the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament), a little leaven, leavens the whole lump. The sin of one stained the whole camp of Israel. Not only that but it encouraged others to do the same. God wanted this dealt with on the spot so that rebellion wouldn’t spread through the whole camp, which would threaten Israel as a nation, and also the plans that God wanted to use Israel for. What many miss in the Torah, especially ultra orthodox jews, is that the ‘Spirit of the Law’ was present throughout those writings and also later in the rest of the Tanakh. There were exceptions to it all, when merited. Most view the God of the Torah as some dictator waiting to stamp out the first dissident He could find. Yet it was God’s will for all of Israel to live the best life they could. If there was someone in the camp that just wanted to rebel against God, these were the people that God dealt harshly with. The final point of this section is that God wanted to establish the ‘fear of the Lord’ early on with His people so that they would teach others the same.

    I believe that what Peter and the council were talking about was more than just the observance of the Torah but it was the ‘observance’ that the P’rushim (Pharisees) had devised. As Y’shuah said, they had turned Torah observance into a burden. This is NOT what God had intended. It was never supposed to be legalistic, but was to be a way of life. There is a big difference. Legalism is bondage, life is freedom but within bounds.

    So what do we see from this. The gentiles were required to follow the common to every man ‘laws of relationship with God and man’. This is evident throughout B’resheet (Genesis) before the written Torah was given, and also in the B’rit Chadashah during life of Y’shuah and after His resurrection in the writings of the various apostles, etc. However since they were not part of Israel in the flesh, they were not obligated to fulfill the rituals and signs of the Torah, though they could if they wanted to. As a matter of fact I would suggest all gentiles to simply because of how much can be gleaned and enjoyed from them. However this is up to the individual. Again the core of Torah is behavior in relationships, the rest is just object lessons.

    I hope this all has made sense and helped shed a little more light on the subject.

    B’rekhot v’shalom b’shem Yeshua HaMashiach!

    Y’honadav

  16. Gene Shlomovich says:

    >>>>>>and according to Ezekiel 40-48 we inherit land with Israel anyways as if we were always part of the tribes. Ezekiel 40-48 points out that during the millenium all believers will observe Torah and it will be taught perfectly by Yeshua when He returns.<<<<<

    Y’honadav, where in Ezekiel 40-48 did you see that Gentiles will inherit the Land of Israel as if they were one of the tribes “anyway”?

    Where in the verses you quoted did you see that ALL believers (Jews and Gentiles) will observe the Torah?

    May be I am reading some wrong version…

    Gene

  17. Y'honadav says:

    Shalom Gene 🙂

    The answer to your first question is Ezekiel 47:22, 23. The answer to your second question is that according to Daniel when the Anti-Christ arrives he will sit in the holy of holies committing the abomination that makes desolate. To do this, there has to already be a temple constructed which will be done after the peace deal is reached between Israel and the Arabs. This is the third temple. Ezekiel describes the building, dimensions, and procedures of this temple in Ezekiel 40-48. This temple will also be around during the millenium, since ‘the Prince’ is talked about in this passage. If the prince is there, then all believers will be there as well. Those who are true Israel are not just ones of the flesh, for as Y’shuah said, God could raise up descendents for Avraham from rocks if He wanted to. True Israel are those who believe in Y’shuah HaMashiach and obey His commandments.

    Hope that answers your questions.

    Y’honadav

  18. Y’honadav:

    I just wanted to point out a few bits of foggy reasoning in your last comment:

    1. Ezek 47:22 is about the Sojourner, not about all non-Jews during the Messianic Age. You are assuming that all non-Jews will be sojourning in the land.

    2. You said, “If the prince is there then all the believers will be there.” This assumption has no basis.

    3. You said, “Those who are true Israel are not just ones of the flesh.” First, I challenge you to demonstrate this exegetically. Second, spoken like a true replacement theologian.

    4. You said, “God could raise up descendants for Avraham from rocks.” You are implying that ethnic Israel is of little importance by using this misapplied citation from John the Baptist. Your belief is completely the opposite of God’s. I urge you not to speak ill of holy things you are incapable of understanding.

    Derek

  19. Y'honadav says:

    Ok, first off, I’m not suggesting that Israel has little importance. On the contrary Israel has great importance and it is through Israel that all truth was given. I’m also not saying that gentiles are replacing Israel. What I’m saying is that those who are true Israel, ones that will have eternal life are those who are born again. In the end God will have one holy people, Israel which will consist of all those who believe in Y’shuah. As I said Israel is very important, but at the same time in God’s eyes physical lineage isn’t as important as one’s faith, this is what I meant by the ‘descendants from rocks’, it wasn’t to belittle Israel at all.

    My post was not to attack Israel or belittle it in anyway. When Y’shuah returns it is clear He will gather all believers to Himself, according to 1 Thessalonians. I’m not talking about a rapture either, but even if I was, we will still be all gathered to Him. I looked up the word for ‘sojourner’ in the hebrew, and it is also used as ‘foreigner’ which is how it is used in the version I’m reading from which is the Complete Jewish Bible. Sha’ul talks about us all being grafted into the same vine, again this is not replacement, this is a spiritual vine. If we become one people in the Spirit, then what’s to stop God from making us one people in the flesh as well during the millenium? This is in no way replacement, on the contrary it’s bringing those outside of Israel fully into her, becoming one people for the Lord.

    I’m sorry you misunderstood my stance, but am in no way against Israel, belittling her or asserting she has been replace; God forbid I should say or mean anything like that.

    Y’honadav

  20. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Y’honadav…

    The word “Israel” appears 83 times in the New Testament. Please show me in the New Testament where it says that Gentiles also become Israel? You will not find it anywhere as much as you try. They are part of One Body, that body is not Israel, but Yeshua HaMeschiach. The one New Man is not Israel, nowhere in the scripture does it say that.

    Let’s take a look at the following passage:

    “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:6)

    The “true Israel” (or “the Israel of God”) is one part of the Body, and the saved Gentiles are the other part of the Body. Different members have different functions. But both Israel and the Gentile believers are “sharers together” in the promise in Yeshua, which shows that the Gentiles have not “replaced” Israel.

    You think that in the end there will be one people, Israel, and that’s it. I will show you that your thinking is scripturally wrong. We are going to take a look at the end of the book of Revelation. You will see that NATIONS are mentioned, even in the

  21. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Y’honadav…

    The word “Israel” appears 83 times in the New Testament. Please show me in the New Testament where it says that Gentiles also become Israel? You will not find it anywhere as much as you try. They are part of One Body, that body is not Israel, but Yeshua HaMaschiach. The one New Man is not Israel, nowhere in the scripture does it say that.

    Let’s take a look at the following passage:

    “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:6)

    The “true Israel” (or “the Israel of God”) is one part of the Body, and the saved Gentiles are the other part of the Body. Different members that have different functions. But both Israel and the Gentile believers are “sharers together” in the promise in Yeshua, which shows that the Gentiles have not “replaced” Israel.

    You think that in the end there will be just one people, Israel, and that’s it. I will show you that your thinking is scripturally wrong. We are going to take a look at the end of the book of Revelation. You will see NATIONS (plural) being present in New Jerusalem(not ONE nation Israel as you suggest), even in the Eternal State, after the Millennium Kingdom (please read it carefully and try to have an opened mind to receive what G-d Word says):

    “22. And a sanctuary I did not see in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, is its sanctuary, and the Lamb, 23. and the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they may shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp of it is the Lamb; 24. and the NATIONS of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it, 25. and its gates shall not at all be shut by day, for night shall not be there; 26. and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the NATIONS into it;” (Rev 21:22-26)

    Do you see what the scriptures say: “the nations of the saved in its light shall walk” and again, it says that “they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it”.

    After reading the clear scriptures above, will you still continue to claim against all evidence that everyone is blended into one nation Israel. Please, do not continue to undermine Israel’s unique, distinct from other nations role and chosen place in G-d plan by suggesting that ALL believers are now Israel. Yes, one body in Messiah, not one body Israel. Yes, Israel is not better than the saved Gentiles. You may not realize, but most believing or unbelieving Jews (not all of course, as some do not care much about their heritage) would be offended at what you are promoting.

    We are members of One Body. I am not better than you just because I am of Israel. If your are in Messiah, we are brothers in Adonai, we will share blessings together. You are not Israel, but your nation will bring it’s own glory into the Kingdom, and my nation, Israel will bring it’s own, and we will all glory in the Adonai. Please rethink your position. You will not win many Jewish friends since your belief that smells a lot like replacement theology.

    Shalom…

    Gene

  22. Pingback: www.cellulitediary.info » Comment on Some Notes on Acts 15 by Gene Shlomovich

  23. Y'honadav says:

    Gene,

    Yes there will be other nations that are around during the millenium, but it says that after the 1000 yrs, that Satan will rouse them up to come against Israel and God will destroy them. If those who are not jewish are part of the other nations, that means they too will be destroyed, since they will be part of those other wicked nations. It says all of them will come against Israel. Which by your interpretation eludes to the fact that those not jewish will turn their back on Y’shuah and be destroyed. I’m sorry but I think your attempt to keep gentiles at as much a distance as possible, is distorting your view of scripture as well. By the way, I am a messianic jew, and I love Israel, and I believe Israel are the covenant people, but in the end of all things, God is not going to have Israel and then everyone else. We will be one holy people for the Lord. If the gentiles were meant to continue to stay seperate and be like a step child who is less privledged, then why offer them salvation to begin with?

    Anyways, I never came here to argue, nor have I attacked or bad-mouthed anyone here in anyway, not even Israel. Yet since I’ve posted here, I have been verbally assaulted and borderline slandered. I will leave in peace therefore. Shalom to you all.

    Y’honadav

  24. Gene Shlomovich says:

    >>Yes there will be other nations that are around during the millenium, but it says that after the 1000 yrs, that Satan will rouse them up to come against Israel and God will destroy them. If those who are not jewish are part of the other nations, that means they too will be destroyed, since they will be part of those other wicked nations.<>>By the way, I am a messianic jew, and I love Israel, and I believe Israel are the covenant people, but in the end of all things, God is not going to have Israel and then everyone else.<<<

    Y

  25. Gene Shlomovich says:

    “Yes there will be other nations that are around during the millenium, but it says that after the 1000 yrs, that Satan will rouse them up to come against Israel and God will destroy them. If those who are not jewish are part of the other nations, that means they too will be destroyed, since they will be part of those other wicked nations.

    Y

  26. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam…

    You said: “I believe Y

  27. I never said the word “Judaism” means exclusion. I said people can get the wrong impression. We are one Israel of God. To suggest that we are one Israel of God but that we have two Torahs (effectively what you are saying — that there are two different teachings for Jews and non-Jews) turns everything we know about Scripture from Scripture on its head. The Scripture — including the Apostolic Writings — are clear: Torah defines what is righteous living and what is not. What you are suggesting is that God’s standards for righteousness differ based on your BLOODLINES. It’s only a quick slide from there to complete and total moral relativism.

    If we are truly One New Man in Messiah, then either God wants that One New Man to be righteous, with Torah defining that, or God’s standards change over time, and we know that’s false, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    The fact is, there is no thoroughly consistent position in this other than the “One Torah” position.

  28. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam…

    You said: “I never said the word

  29. Shalom Bayit (aka A Simple Jew) says:

    Gene:

    and the Jews in Torah were commanded by G-d through Moses to circumcise their sons on the eight day, should Gentile believers do the same?<<<

    In a different thread I mentioned to Chayamindle that I think these arguments have common theme: “Mitzvah Envy”. I think you have made the point. (pardon the pun)

    Please let me know if I need to elaborate.

Comments are closed.