Wednesday: The Gentile Believers

Read Acts 15:5-29. What decision did the council come to, and what was their reasoning?

The decision was against the contentions of the Judaizers.

Gentile Believers

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These folk insisted that the Gentile converts be circumcised and keep the entire ceremonial law, and that “the Jewish laws and ceremonies should be incorporated into the rites of the Christian religion.” – Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 189.

It’s interesting to note in Acts 15:10 the way in which Peter depicted these old laws as a “yoke” that they were unable to bear. Would the Lord, who instituted those laws, make them a yoke on His people? That hardly seems so. Instead, over the years some of the leaders had, through their oral traditions, turned many of the laws from the blessings they were meant to be into burdens. The council sought to spare Gentiles from these burdens.

Notice, too, that there was no mention or question of the Gentiles not needing to obey the Ten Commandments. After all, could we imagine the council telling them not to eat blood but that it was acceptable to ignore the commandments against adultery or murder and the like?

What rules were placed on the Gentile believers (Acts 15:20Acts 15:29), and why these specific rules?

Although Jewish believers weren’t to impose their rules and tradition on Gentiles, the council wanted to make sure that the Gentiles didn’t do things that would have been deemed offensive to the Jews who were united with them in Jesus. The apostles and elders, therefore, agreed to instruct the Gentiles by letter to abstain from meats offered to idols, from fornication, from things strangled, and from blood. Some say that, because Sabbath keeping wasn’t specifically mentioned, it must not have been meant for the Gentiles (of course, the commandments against lying and murder weren’t specifically mentioned either, so that argument means nothing).

Could we, in some ways, be laying on people burdens that are not necessary but are more from tradition than divine command? If so, how? Bring your thoughts to class on Sabbath.

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons