“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Acts: 15:19
The Jerusalem Council – attempted to impose the Mosaic law, and thus Judaism, on the whole church. There was a debate: “Does a believer have to surrender his own culture and become a Jew to be a Christian? Must Gentile believers adopt the lifestyle laid out in the Mosaic law?
Paul & Barnabas went to Jerusalem and discussed the issue with the apostles and elders. Peter points out that God has accepted the Gentiles and given them the Holy Spirit as he has given the Spirit to Jewish believers. Both are saved not by law but by faith. What right then has the Hebrew Christian church to impose the Mosaic law, “a yoke neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear” on the Gentiles (6-11)?
Finally, James speaks up. This James is the brother of Jesus and the writer of the Book of James. They should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. He suggest only that 4 guidelines be passed on to the Gentile churches.
- Abstain from all association with idol worship.
- Reject sexual immorality.
- Give up unbuttered meat (eating strangled animals still containing the blood)
- Abstain “from blood” (do not eat blood)
Led by the Spirit, the Jerusalem congregation has been led not to burden the Gentiles with anything other than the 4 issues James suggested.
Christians – led by the Holy Spirit, should be willing to change their mind.