The Council at Jerusalem, Acts 15 – A Compromise?

“There remained, however, the practical difficulty that in most of the churches Gentile believers had to live alongside Jews, who had been brought up to venerate certain food-laws and to refrain as far as possible from intercourse with Gentiles (see on x.28). While there was no more question of requiring Gentile Christians to be circumcised and to keep the Mosaic law, these would do well to respect the scruples of their weaker Jewish brethren (all of whom could not be expected to become as emancipated as Peter or Paul), provided that there was no compromise on matters of principle. Hence the modus vivendi recommended to the Gentile Christians in the apostolic decree. Probably it was on much the same lines as the terms on which synagogues of the Dispersion found it possible to have some measure of intercourse with ‘God-fearing’ Gentiles – abstention from from everything that savoured of idolatry and from meat from which the blood had not been completely drained, and conformity to the high Jewish code of relations between the sexes.

There is no good reason to suppose that Paul would have found the decree objectionable; where no compromise of principle was involved, he was the most conciliatory of men (cf. xvi.3; xxi. 26: 1 Cor. 1x. 19ff). In his epistles he himself urges that those who are strong in faith should voluntarily restrict their liberty in food and other matters, to avoid offending those with weaker consciences (cf. Rom. xiv. 1-xv. 6; 1 Cor. viii. ).”[1]
[1] F.F. Bruce: The Acts of The Apostles The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 1951, Reprinted 1976, p. 289.

According to the well-known prof F.F. Bruce there was no compromise. But there was a need for caring. ”In his epistles he (Paul) himself urges that those who are strong in faith should voluntarily restrict their liberty in food and other matters, to avoid offending those with weaker consciences.”

Henrik

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