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Registered user
Username: Carracio

Post Number: 34
Registered: 3-2014
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 1:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When I read Acts 21 I stumbled on this part:
20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

Why was Paul living under the law? and teaching different?
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Username: Bskillet

Post Number: 1059
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 7:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The controversy here isn't whether Paul was requiring Gentile Christians to observe Sabbath. The controversy in this section is whether Paul was telling Jewish Christians to abandon their historical Torah observance.

Paul never told Jews not to observe the Torah. The phrase "according to our customs" indicates that, to Jews of the day, Torah observance was also a cultural issue. For Paul to tell Jews to forsake the Torah would have sounded to them like him telling them to abandon their culture and their special Divinely-given heritage. It would also sound to Jews like he was telling them to live in debauchery like the pagans around them. Rather, Paul was against 1) requiring Gentiles to observe the Torah, especially circumcision, Kosher laws, and Sabbath and other special days; and 2) making moral and religions works in general and the Torah specifically conditions one must achieve to merit salvation (i.e. salvation by works).

As regards number one above, the laws in the OT were merely shadows of the Gospel, so that to require Gentiles to keep them would be to require them to return to shadows when the substance has come (see Col 2:16-17).

Secondly, though the Christian is not bound by the Torah explicitly, the Torah still influenced the apostles' teachings on moral matters. In this sense, the Christian is bound by the OT Law only insomuch as Jesus and His apostles in the NT have explicitly instructed us what applies and what doesn't. We submit to the apostles' continuing authority over God's church by submitting to the continuing witness they have given us in the Word of God. Therefore, as regards commands in the Ot, we ought to bind what they have bound and loose what they have loosed.

In that sense, Paul is never truly instructing anyone to violate Torah in the cases where Torah is applicable. Whether or not it is applicable appears to be driven by whether or not a command was driven by the immediate covenantal context of OT Israel, or by a greater eternal moral principle. For instance, Sabbath observance is tied directly to the covenantal context of Israel, which is why it is not required in the New Covenant. Those commands don't apply to the New Covenant Christian because they are inextricably tied to the Old Covenant economy. Thus, Paul isn't telling Gentiles to break the Law when he tells them not to worry about Sabbath in Rom 14 or Col 2. Instead, he is noting that those commands just don't have jurisdiction over them, so no violation can actually occur from a legal perspective.

Honoring one's father and mother, on the other hand, is a violation of the institution of the family given by God at creation, and thus goes beyond the immediate covenantal context in the OT. Thus, the Paul bound it on the Christian by specifically quoting the fifth commandment in the 10Cs. He knew by infallible inspiration from the Holy Spirit that this command constitutes a greater moral will from God.
Registered user
Username: Resjudicata

Post Number: 107
Registered: 4-2014
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014 - 1:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"The phrase "according to our customs" indicates that, to Jews of the day, Torah observance was also a cultural issue. For Paul to tell Jews to forsake the Torah would have sounded to them like him telling them to abandon their culture and their special Divinely-given heritage."


I really agree with your analysis with one slight exception. Many "Hellenized" Jews had abandoned almost all of their Jewish Customs in order to fit in with the wider Greek culture. To the Greeks, both the Sabbath and circumcision were abhorant. The Greeks thought the Sabbath was both ignorant and lazy, circumcision was seen as an ugly marring of a beautiful body. As the Greeks typically exercised stark naked, that represented a real problem for Jews trying to fit in and appear "Greek."

Well before Jesus, there had been wholesale abandonment of Jewish customs. To many Hellenized Jews, their ancient customs were backwards and made them look like hayseed rubes. During the rule of Antioch Epiphanes, there were several notorious murders committed by devout Jews of Hellenized Jews as they were offering sacrifices to Pagan Gods. Under Syriac/Greek occupation, Sabbath Keeping and circumcision were punishable by death.

Had Paul insisted that Gentiles, and particularly Greeks must keep the Sabbath and other Jewish customs; would have stifled Christianity into little more than an obscure Jewish sect primarily centered around Jerusalem.

On Mars Hill, St. Paul gave one of the all-time great demonstrations of soaring Greek rhetoric, never mentioning the God of the Hebrews or their laws. St. Paul reeked with the love of Jesus Christ who sat at the center of his heart, pulling the strings that make him gasp for breath when he remembered Damascus Road or heard that voice again. He spoke with all the sincerity, but none of the sadness, of an epic Greek battle hero. No scuttling across silent seas for the Saint: he roared into the permanent memory of the Greeks, majestic and mighty.

(Message edited by Resjudicata on June 20, 2014)
Registered user
Username: Resjudicata

Post Number: 108
Registered: 4-2014
Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 4:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Part 2.
The soaring rhetoric on Mars Hill could have only been inspired by one event: The Resurrection. In no way would Torah observance - any of it - have so thoroughly-dominated the Greek imagination like the violent wildfire of the Resurrection. By AD 100, the Jewish/Christians of Jerusalem were already rapidly declining into a brackish backwater of the Church. Torah observance was then and now a stifling influence on the shocking, white-light vibrancy of the Gospel and the Resurrection. Canright noticed that acutely in "Seventh Day Adventism Renounced."

The Pagan Christian reaction to Roman persecution had far more to do with the suicidal-heroics of Thermopylae and Marathon than they did with Judas Maccabees. Those former-Pagans willingly and without hesitation laid down their lives by the tens of thousands in strict obedience to Christ's clear commands. St. Ignatius had only a few concerns as he was being hauled in chains to the lions: That the Church would continue its laser-like focus on supporting the widows and orphans; and that somehow his lion tooth-nicked bloody bones would make it back to Antioch to inspire the Church as holy relics.

The Sabbath has inspired nobody to behave that way.

By the Third Century Council of Nicaea, Christianity's transformation into a Greco/Roman religion was complete. Few if any Jewish Christians were in attendance at that monumental Council, where Christianity's enduring doctrine of the Trinity was forged.

The assembled Christian leaders looked on in awe at "The Marked Ones." Thousands of the attendees bore the visible and stark reminders of hideous Roman torture: Eyes burned out with hot and sharp irons, grizzly brandings, missing limbs. Fresh memories of their stark naked wives's limbs being tied to four different horses, which were ran off in opposite directions.

But not one single case of PTSD. These were people utterly willing to toss aside their lives and their families; endure the blackest torture; and tolerate severe deprivation because they had complete Faith in the Resurrection.

They were no longer altogether human.
Registered user
Username: Colleentinker

Post Number: 14857
Registered: 12-2003

Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014 - 2:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Res, your reminders that the resurrection was the thing that gave power to those early persecuted Christians is exactly right.

I was pondering John 16:8-11 this past week:


But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
(John 16:6-11 ESV)

Now, I've thought of this before, but this time I realized that this passage comes almost immediately after John 15:26-27:


“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
(John 15:26-27 ESV)

I'd never really understood what Jesus meant, that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of righteousness because He was going to the Father, and they would no longer see Him. But I suddenly saw that Jesus' explanation of how the Holy Spirit would convict the world can't be separated from the fact that He would testify of Jesus.

So...since the Holy Spirit's job is to testify of Jesus and to convict the world, that "conviction" has to be related to truth about Jesus. So He convicts the world of sin "because they have not believed in Me." People are convicted of their sin when they see Jesus and see that they don't believe.

But "righteousness"? What does that mean? Well, if the conviction of righteousness is about Jesus being ascended and no longer physically visible, the awareness of righteousness is about Jesus...not about people. And the Holy Spirit convicts people that the only righteousness is Jesus Himself, and the convicting fact is that He has ascended. Jesus' resurrection and ascension to the Father are the proof that His sacrifice was sufficient. He was the Righteous One: His death satisfied the Father, and His resurrection and ascension are the evidence that He is righteous and worthy to be believed.

Finally, the conviction of judgment is that the ruler of this world has been judged. In other words, justice has been done. Satan is judged justly, and everyone in the domain of the ruler of this world is judged with him...unless he believes. When a person believes in the Lord Jesus, he passes out of judgment into life.

So the Holy Spirit's conviction of the world is entirely the work of revealing Jesus as the Righteous One who offered the sufficient sacrifice and was was received by His Father...the only One in whom we can believe. His resurrection and ascension are the absolute proof that He is the only One in whom we can find forgiveness and freedom from sin and judgment. In Him only are we righteous!


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