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.”


2 tankar på “The Council at Jerusalem, Acts 15 – A Compromise?”

  1. It is not always easy to distinguish between compromise in general amd compromise of principle – and it is not always even easy to determine what should be considered a principle that cannot be compromised without compromising the Gospel itself, and what is merely a principle founded on our own traditions.
    Paul showed incredible backbone when the Gospel was in jeopardy, but did not object to ”these necessary things” mentioned in Acts 15:29
    I an hardly the only one, who have had some difficulty understanding how Galatians and Acts go together in this respect.
    By and by I have come to the same conclusion as described above, though not so eloquently expressed as the explanation you are quoting.
    As long as they are not said to be necessary for their salvation, these kind of restrictions do no harm, and they do show brotherly love and care!
    What do you think, could that be used as a general rule when it comes to other things the opinions of the saints differ on?

    And, by the way, since the Holy Spirit is mentioned among those this seemed good to, we can put our minds to ease. He would for sure not approved of it if it not was OK!

  2. Tack, Ingmar, för din kommentar!

    Det fanns ingen oenighet bland apostlarna inför mötet i Jerusalem. Däremot avvisade man inför alla några lagiska villolärares krav på omskärelse och den mosaiska lagen som villkor för hedningarnas frälsning.

    Vi har inget exempel i Apg om hedningar som skulle ha blivit omskurna. Det enda undantaget, som inte i egentlig mening är ett undantag, är Timoteus (Apg 16). Timoteus’ mor var judinna (en sann jude är den vars mor är jude). Och beslutet var inte ett läromässigt beslut, utan snarare ett kulturellt. Ben Witherington och Darrell Bock anser att beslutet föddes för att diskussionerna inte skulle fokusera på omskärelse utan på evangeliet.

    Detta stämmer väl överens med Gal 6:15, där Paulus betonar att det inte betyder ngt om ngn är omskuren eller oomskuren, utan om han är en ny skapelse.


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