I stumbled across one of your posts from back in 2012 on Acts 15 (link below) where you’re answering the question “can Christians eat meat?” If I understand correctly your interpretation is that the early church asked the gentile believers to abstain from practices that would especially offend Jews in that culture, but this regulation is no longer required of Christians today because we no longer live in that culture. I liked how you tied it in with Romans 12 and thought this was a good answer for the first 3 things listed (i.e. abstaining from blood, strangled animals, and food sacrificed to idols). But then the passage also mentions that the gentiles should abstain from sexual immorality. How does your interpretation tie into that command to the gentiles? It seems to me that there’s more to the answer than just abstaining from things that would be offensive to Jews.


A great question.  That one has always “bothered” me just a bit.  Yet, there is only one reasonable answer.  It is that, for some unknown reason, in their directive to the Gentile churches they included three things based on a principle and one thing based on a command.   That makes the list a bit confusing, especially since we do not have the corresponding teaching that they did to explain the why of the four requests.  However, surely these leaders knew that three of the requests were not based on a specific command, but one of them was, technically, not even needed because surely all of the Gentile believers knew that sexual immorality was a major sin.

Why?  Maybe it was common knowledge to the people at the meeting that the Gentiles, considerably more than the Jewish Christians, really struggled with this sin, so they used the Jerusalem Council’s decision as a reason and opportunity to double up on dealing with this sin.  My feeling is that if we heard the unstated/unwritten instructions on how to explain these requests which the reps of the meeting were sent out with, we would have totally understood why the odd combination of requests.


John Oakes

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