MY SCRIPTURE STUDIES

My Scripture Studies
Remove the Blinders - Live the Bible!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

What's the Fuss about in Acts 15 ?



If you want to stop skimming and dig deeper into the background story of Acts 15, you may be at the right place to unwind some rampant disinformation. 

Here we'll explore some Bible basics, including the pagan problem and its ongoing conflict with the Bible in the days of Paul of Tarsus. 

If you'll hang around and study the big picture Scriptures for yourself, you will find a hidden treasure or two in the book of Acts that can help you act on it.

I don't want to be irreverent in any way with a golf analogy, but for me golf can give a parable-like perspective to Acts 15. 

Many people enjoy the game of a lifetime. I do, but it would be unfair to ask any rank beginner with no instruction  to start playing the game day one from the championship tees.

Bigger than that challenge, it would be disheartening to require that same beginner to step in front of tens of thousands in the gallery with millions watching on TV to tee it up at the first tee of Augusta National during The Masters.

Whether back tee or first tee at Augusta, any raw, untrained beginner would become discouraged immediately in the first round and likely quit before finishing the 18th hole. One problem would be the standards of play, the Rules of golf. The beginner would likely be penalized several times or likely get disqualified, tossed out of the game.

The Rules of golf aren't designed to punish a golfer. Their purpose is to guide and help the golfer play the game correctly as it is meant to be played by everyone. No one is above the rules, they apply to everyone in the same way. They are simple but can become complex to decipher the right decision on how to apply them in certain situations. For that reason, both the R&A's Rules Committee and the USGA rules committee write their rulings to clarify any ambiguity that might arise from the Rules and allows you to correctly interpret the complete Rules of Golf.

Every professional knows the Rules, many carry the Rule book in their golf bag. They also know that in golf, a good game not only starts with rulebook basics but sound advice about a few swing basics. Coaching the golf swing starts with four basics: grip, stance, posture and alignment.

In the beginning, the important thing is to fall in love with the joy of the game, otherwise it can become frustrating and after one or two tries, many people feel defeated and they quit trying. 

For those that persevere after the basics are learned and they become good habits, the next step is to move on to more advanced, systematic training to learn just how the game should be played so that your performance is at its best. 

That process takes many years for most people and if you toss in tournament golf into the equation, the heart of determination and confidence comes into play.

Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Jack Bobby Jones all took the same steps, one step at a time.

Not only that, throughout their competitive careers, they all had teachers and mentors they could trust and rely on for guidance beyond the basics, and they all excelled because of that, yet their tournament success was due to the intangible, their heart. 

Ben Hogan did not take the usual path with a swing coach. 

Hogan's swing was basically self-taught and because of that fact, it took him many, many years before he became a major champion. Turning pro in 1929 at age 17, it wasn't until 1940, at age 28 that he started to win on tour when he finally broke through. His first individual title came with the North & South Open. It took six more years for his first victory in the big four "Majors" championships. His first victory came with the PGA Championship in 1946, then the US Open in 1948, The Masters in 1951 and finally at the British Open in 1953, Hogan topped off golf's grand slam pinnacle of all four major championships after 24 years as a professional.

Like I said, this story is not supposed to be irreverent, but it gives some parable perspective on reality and all the fuss in Acts 15.

In my Scripture studies, I found that the way to do what God says to do through His teaching and instruction is much the same. Walking God's way takes time, devotion, daily practice and a good mentor. Except by miracle, healing is always a process, whether body mind or soul.

Almighty God starts with the basics to build and mold our character into His image. We are all born and gifted by our Creator with certain temperaments and personalities, however our character develops over time by the choices we make if we seek to be a Godly person.

When we turn the pages in the book of Acts to chapter 15 we see a conflict of the process of character building with tradition and a takkanah teaching on conversion in the very first verse that Paul contended with...
"Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

No need to read further, right here and there we see the issue at hand. Some men were saying salvation is based on circumcision, what you do, not what God does for you. The context at hand is that this among other takkanot enacted in the time of the Second Temple were instituted by some rabbis not based directly on the written commandments but their religious interpretation.

Reading on to just the fifth verse we find the religious argument... 

"But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
First things first. Don't take text out of context!

Some of the Pharisees, likely not all had developed a doctrine that was not what Moses actually wrote, and the takkanah was not focused on God's character. This Acts 15 debate points to the Galatian question Paul raised about a takkanah rule from enactment from a halakha he was very familiar with. 

After all he was a Pharisee.

What's all the fuss in Acts 15? The Pharisees were directing people to observe the law of Moses only after circumcision. 

Paul instructed his understudy Timothy to observe the law of Moses. You can read about that in Paul's letter to Timothy and take note there was no New Testament when he wrote this:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17   
Today, some have weakened the Pharisee's admonition to direct non-Jews to observe the Law of Moses. It's a takkanah rule with a status of new tradition called Ben Noah that non-Jews observe the “Noahide Laws.” Today, the Halakhic religious opinion basically says if non-Jews that want to honor Torah they only need to observe the seven Noahide laws and can ignore other God's other Torah instructions that are for Jews only, despite the fact Moses wrote this:
There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you. Exodus 12:49 
Moses did not write: there shall be one law for the native and another Noahide law for the stranger who sojourns among you.

The Noahide ruling for non-Jews is not from Scripture, it comes from the Talmud including Sanhedrin 56a; cf. Tosefta Avodah Zarah 8:4 and Genesis Rabbah 34:8.

Noahide forgets the rest of God's instruction, its a problem much like the issue at hand in Acts 15 that deals with a Pharisee mandate inserted as a requirement for God's salvation. 

To understand what was really happening in Jerusalem, we can't start with a verse snippet or two, and we can can't unravel the Bible with this chapter standing alone. We can't take text out of context. Come to think of it, there were no numbered chapters when Acts was written, so we need to have to step back and pay look to the bigger picture.

Five years ago, a very good friend pointed out the storyline begins in Antioch. You can find the city in the prologue to the story before it unfolds in Acts 14. My good friend wisely noted the context of Antioch's culture was steeped in mythology and idol worship:

"In order to understand this, you have to understand who and what the people of Antioch were and what activities they engaged in.  This area in Northern Syria, was under the control of the Seleucids.  

Seleucus was one of the four generals under Alexander the Great, who obtained this property after Alexander died.  He worshipped the sun god Zeus and dedicated the capital city of Antioch to Zeus.  These folks sacrificed to idols and engaged in all forms of sexual immorality and the elders of the early church knew this all too well.  They were simply saying, hey guys, these practices that you engaged in under the name of Zeus are not good for you, it would be best for you to stop it." 

So what is this yoke and burden that Peter and James are talking about?  Isn't that the law?  I don't think so.  Jesus clearly states in Matthew 11:30 that his yoke is easy and his burden is light and previously in Matthew 5:17-20, that he did not come to do away with the law, so this "law" that Jesus did not come to do away with could not be the burden and yoke that Peter or James don't want to lay on the shoulders of those at Antioch - or they would be in direct contradiction of their Lord Yeshua!"

His point is a Bible basic. Don't take text out of context.

We can't speed read past the background of Antioch, or the culture of life in Roman or Greek paganism if we want to get a grasp on the issues discussed in the midrash in Jerusalem. Midrash is an old Jewish way of seeking the answers to questions by discussing the meaning behind the words of the Torah. Simply put, it's about discussing what is God saying and what should we do about it.

My friend's point: if we are to understand the decision in Jerusalem, we have to start in Antioch. We can't ignore the facts on the ground as the men were dealing with an immoral, idol-myth infested culture which was the "Antioch issue" in Acts 15. If we start in Antioch, we should not get side-tracked to understand the common sense of the real world situation. 

Let's take a look at the four fundamentals of the Midrash decision in Jerusalem that never tossed aside God's instruction manual, the book of life.

On one hand, we need to know that sect of the Pharisees preached their own takkanot oral law tradition. Not all, but some of them included doctrines not based on the heart of the written Word of God, but on opinions that added religion to the Word of God. 

At the same time, we have to know people in Antioch were coming out of pagan Greco-Roman ways that included idol worship and lust-laden sexual immorality in the name of Zeus.

The group of Pharisees that had showed up in Antioch were preaching their tradition that unless you were circumcised, you cannot study Torah or become "a people for God's name." They thought they were doing the right thing but missed the mark. Read Acts 15:13-18 for more on that and as you do, don;t forget Abraham, the recognized patriarch of Biblical faith. 

Abraham is the first man in the Bible to be called God's friend, yet he was God's friend long before he met Hagar and was told to out a sharp blade. 

It's also time to open your Bible and go back to the end of the Exodus journey from Egypt too. 

Did you know the mixed multitude assembly that left Egypt and followed Almighty God for 40 years as He tabernacled among them, encamped around Almighty God long before they ever held the knife of circumcision?

Also consider James, the leader in Jerusalem whose real name was Jacob (Yacob). He pointed everyone back to the prophetic words found in Amos 9:11-12. James didn't own a New Testament, but He relied on Amos that had shared words from another prophet... Nathan. 

We need to know about Nathan, because he's the man king David sought counsel from some 250 years before Amos ever picked up his scroll or pen. By the way, you'll not find a book in the Bible named after Nathan, but you'll find his fame embedded in 2 Samuel 7:2, 2 Samuel 12:25, 1 Kings 1:8-45, 1 Chronicles 17:1, 1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29, 2 Chronicles 29:25 and Psalm 51:1. 

He may not have a book named after him, but Nathan is a very big deal. He's the prophet that revealed Almighty God's redemption plan to David. That promise is that the Messiah of God's Kingdom to come is a prophetic fact. Nathan told king David about God's promise. Nathan's did not come up with it, prophets never share their own ideas or interpretations, like Moses they write down Almighty God's unchanging declarations. 

Elohim God gave Nathan a vision of the future. That vision showed Nathan that a descendant of David would build a household, the family of God. The citizens and family members in that house would belong to an everlasting kingdom under Messiah's throne, but that promise would begin to unfold only after David was long gone and in the grave. 

That is the gospel of the Kingdom promise found in 1Chronicles 17:9-15 and its tied to the sermons Jesus proclaimed over and again when He said, repent for the Kingdom is near. The chronicle reads:
"And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. 
Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 

He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son
I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'" 
In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David."
The disciple James understood Nathan's vision. After all, he had heard Yeshua's sermons, he walked with Him and saw that what He said was what He did, so James believed God's commitment to do everything that was filled up with meaning by Yeshua's words and actions. 

That's why James paraphrased the prophetic message from Amos. He knew the Scriptures were true and unchanging. James had read and studied the Scriptures for years and he knew Yeshua would keep the promise to restore the fallen tabernacle of David declared in Amos 9:11.

With that restoration promise, James ties Amos' vision directly to Nathan's prophetic words in 2 Samuel 7:8-17. The laser focus is:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2Samuel 7:12-13 
Nathan's prophecies are also supported by the witness of other promises found in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47. These tie to ruthless, heathen, pagan Gentiles that once rejected the God of Israel. The promise is they too will one day repent and revere Almighty God and by doing so, they will glorify Him:
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all Gentiles shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD... 
Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless Gentiles will revere You. 
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks to your holy name, and to triumph in your praise.
No doubt, Noah Webster was familiar with Nathan. In Mr. Webster's 1828 Dictionary he sheds some old light on the Gentiles saying: 

"GEN'TILE, noun [Latin gentilis; from Latin gens, nation, race; applied to pagans.] In the scriptures, a pagan; a worshipper of false gods; any person not a Jew or a christian; a heathen."

Mr. Webster points to old issue of idol worship as being their character distinction. This is linked to the heathens, the image-worshippers according to the 1880 McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia:

"As to the religion of heathenism, it is "a wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God's deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices. Even the religion of Greece, which, as an artistic product of the imagination. has been justly styled the religion of beauty, is deformed by this moral distortion."

James' voice in Jerusalem reverberated with the gospel good news of a song of king David for those that would turn to the Kingdom constitution and away from idol worship much like the Egyptian and other sojourners that had left town with Jacob's descendants during the exodus:
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the Gentiles, His wonders among all peoples. 1Chronicles 16:1:23-24
Holy Bible, believe it or not, just when you thought it was new, the Kingdom gospel assignment that Jesus gave to His disciples to proclaim the good news to "all nations" comes right out of the book of Chronicles!! 
"And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations." Mark 13:10  
The foundation assignment to declare this kingdom good news to all nations was not old and done away with and the faith of the disciples was not new. It was and is firmly rooted the so-called Old Testament, and if you'll study it, you'll see for yourself, it's not old at all. It's God's life giving voice on how to follow Him so that He may tabernacle with you.

Are you ready to go back to the Jerusalem debate?

The doctrine of religious conversion was a manmade mandate, a bad decision raised by a tradition of a sect of the Pharisees, not the Jewish disciples nor Paul the Pharisee. It was a tradition not found in the Hebrew Bible that never states... "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

Do you see that requirement in 1Chronicles 17:9-15?

Was getting circumcised a requirement for Abraham to become a friend of God or for Israel and the sojourners with them to walk with God for 40 years in the wilderness journey?

Nope it's not there. The problem was the party circumcision forgot something that's BIG in the Torah. Paul explains that in Romans 4:1-12 like this:

Our works or deeds never provide righteousness to earn redemption or salvation. No doctrine from man's conversion tradition ever saved anyone, God's heart of mercy does. God's redemptive response to repentance is forgiveness. Bottomline, salvation starts with a heart of repentance, not a knife. 

Jesus never said,  get circumcised for the Kingdom is near. 

He said "repent." 

Faith in Almighty God's deed is righteousness. The Father responds to repentance with forgiveness, that's the blessing is what counts in the end.

Paul proved he never forsake the Torah when he arrived in Jerusalem some time after the Jerusalem Council meeting. Paul did not confuse works and obedience to The Lord's teaching and instruction with salvation, yet Acts 21 shows Paul kept the Torah of circumcision. 

That fact had nothing to do with salvation. You might think of it this way: not eating unclean foods like bacon wrapped shrimp, crab and clams never redeemed anyone, but following God's instruction to not eat meat that God says is unclean (harmful) will keep you blessed and protected from nasty zoonotic diseases caused by viruses, bacterium and toxins that infest creatures that all serve a God given purpose to clean up the environment.

When Paul returned from Macedonia and Greece he met with James. You can read Paul's reaction when he heard that rumors were spreading fake news saying he taught Torah keeping Jews living among Gentiles to forget about Moses:
When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 
And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law [Torah],  and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 
What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow... 
Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. Acts 21:17-23, Acts 21:26
Luke does not give the details of the vow, it seems likely someone had died so the men under the Nazirite vow outlined in Numbers 6 needed to fulfill God's instruction.

Nazirite or not, Kingdom redemption is God's response in mercy and grace that starts with what we choose to do in repentance. That's the sermon Jesus preached everywhere.

He never said forsake the Torah teaching of God, He said it remains and Yeshua compared it to salt and light. 

Paul knew what this meant: 
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:13-18 
Do you see it? 

Yeshua boldly refutes the replacement theology deception that the Torah can be ever be done away with as long as the earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun.

The accomplishment He is referencing is the goal of  Torah... the final redemption!

What He is describing is ancient Jewish teaching that redemption the process of restoring man from the bondage of sin described in the Torah. The Final Redemption, Geulah in Hebrew, comes in stages and involves Almighty God and man's response (both Jew and non-Jew "Ger") as the children of God.

With some help from the historic context of the infestation of paganism in Antioch, we can begin to understand the reason that Paul, argued against the Pharisee's ordinance that was not drawn from the written word of God's Torah. 

Paul understood: earning salvation and eternal life in the Geulah is not found in God's plan or His voice of instruction, the Torah! The focal point here, particularly for the Ger, is in Ezekiel 37:28: "And the Goyim shall know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever."

The issue at hand was a false claim that "earning" salvation by what we do aka circumcision was possible. God's mercy and grace are what the Pharisees forgot about, yet its the heart of the Bible.

The background to this Midrash story is that Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem with Barnabas because he  came to know the Kingdom gospel. Paul and Barnabas were two witnesses to Torah treasures found in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47 that declare God's great lovingkindness for everyone

So, the two men went to meet with the disciples of Yeshua in Jerusalem regarding the issue of whether circumcision was required for a non-Jews of the nations to become a member of God's household, a citizen of the Kingdom.

Together, they discussed the Pharisee's tradition with an eye on the written Scriptures, so take some notes about what their Midrash never mentioned...



Do not blaspheme God's name, 
do not murder or make
idols to worship them, or don't
honor the Sabbath, don't steal or lie, 
honor parents, or covet 
covet another's wife and property.


None of the other Ten Commandments was discussed that day in Jerusalem. 

Why not? 

The reason is a common sense Bible basic, but something has been lost in translation in a million sermons that call the Torah done away with. 

Take note too, a careful reading of Acts 15 reveals that they did not agree that a person coming into the faith without circumcision "should not" be circumcised

The reason they did not is another study.

The key issue at hand that the council dealt with were the big four "pagan problems" God The Father is concerned about and how the Torah of God deals with them because pagan life in Antioch was steeped in idol worship, fornication and blood lust much like a modern Halloween horror movie with a script right out of Babylon and Egypt.

Again, the disciples were dealing with the four Bible basics, milk as Paul would call it in 1 Corinthians 3:2. 

Remember grip, stance, posture and alignment? Basics are important for every beginner like milk for a baby.

The men in Jerusalem concluded that the former Gentiles needed to turn away from their horror movie habits learned from years of practice in a Zeus temple if they ever expected to properly worship God along side anyone in a synagogue each week as a child of God. 

Zeus idol worship was bizarre, heathen and detestable to God. It's paganism was contaminated by sexual formication, eating strangled animals and raw meat, drinking blood and so on. The Jerusalem council knew that the pagan problem from Babylon was in opposition to God's Torah instruction manual that was given to unwind slavery and the idol plagued sins of Egypt. 

They knew the basics of paganism were the reason God started His covenant at Sinai with you shall have no other gods before me. They also knew God said this too:
You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. Leviticus 20:23 
The faithful men in that midrash knew the covenant message is critical: Turn away (and repent) from "idolatry" and its unholy abominations and detestable customs. 

They knew it because they all believed what is written in Leviticus 17-10-16 and Leviticus 18.

Yes, you read that right, Acts 15 is a real world, real life midrash decision on God's voice in Leviticus and Moses wrote every word. They believed Moses because they believed God and were witnesses to the fact that Yeshua lived, breathed and taught everything Moses wrote and never added or took away from the written word of God. 

For those that have assumed from an old pulpit sermon or two that Acts 15 does away with Leviticus, think again

Peter proves it remains!!

Take a moment to read 1 Peter 2. A big part of that short, to the point letter provides deep insight on the Acts 15 decision and it points to the entry door of Yeshua’s sermon's of God's gospel of His  heavenly Kingdom on earth. Peter knew the path to choose life includes a walk in clean and set apart ways according to God's written Word.

If you find this mind bending, don't give up, the truth of what can do about it is worth the journey! As my friend told me, it time to unwind the tangled wire of church tradition from the axle of God's voice.

If you don't, your journey can get cut short insisting on an old lie that God changes His mind. 

If you think Acts 15 changed God's instruction, you'll think Paul was really confused about everything including the council's conclusion, or that he simply forgot it when he penned Romans 3:1-12 and wrote this:
"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect."
Think about that and stew on it for a while.

Did Paul break the so-called "new rules" of the council in the very next Acts chapter by circumcising Timothy and preaching that the decrees of Torah are to kept as plainly described in Acts 16?

Nope, he did not. Skip the old sermons, re-read Acts 16 for yourself in one sitting.

As you study, don't forget the storyline behind the story. Timotheus (aka Timothy) was the son of a father that was a Greek Gentile of the nations. 

Timothy's upbringing was the reason he had not been circumcised, that is until he met Paul and learned that the ways of Torah are good and to be kept, not for salvation from death's sin penalty, but out of love, respect and giving honor back to Almighty God. 

Timothy also knew The Lord's teaching and instruction (Torah) is the Kingdom constitution that Messiah Yeshua lived out and taught constantly. He must have known Yeshua said this at the Sermon on the Mount: "do not think one jot or tittle is done away with."

Not a jot or tittle, so keep in mind:
"And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem." Acts 16:4
With a perspective on the blatant idolatry embedded in the Greco-Roman lifestyle of Zeus worship, the council knew the Ten Commandments and the details that follow them in the scroll of Leviticus that provide the mountaintop teaching at Mount Sinai. They also knew first and foremost of God's lovingkindness, and that fact was understood in the council of the disciples. 

There's a hidden message if you will in Acts 15 and Acts 16. They all understood "holy" and they knew this too:
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave [the guilty] unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34:5-7 NASB
If you doubt the background story of that council meeting in Jerusalem, do something and grab a Bible and believe it, set aside 15 minutes and read four short chapters in Leviticus 17-20. 

You may not know it but these four chapters are known as two Torah portions from Leviticus called "Acharei Mot" which means "after the death" and "Kedoshim" which means "holiness" or set apart-ness. 

Think about that order too, after the death - holiness seta apart. 

Now think about the required death of the ways of idolatry are to learn to walk properly with the holy Almighty God. Think about this too, it took 40 years to learn to walk with God before Israel ever entered the Holy Land and the whole time those that entered were not yet circumcised before they crossed over (more on that later).

The Jerusalem council of apostles and elders understood this, after all they had read and studied those two Torah portions for years, so naturally they agreed with them. Did you know these two big time Torah portions provide the basic training the disciples declared for Gentiles coming into a faith walk from the horrors and abominations of paganism?

The council understood the Bible basics of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. We must too!

The council knew that new Gentile believers must stop doing the ways of idol worship immediately because they reeked of the same Egyptian smell of the pagan idol lifestyle picture shown to the world in Leviticus 17-20. 

The Hebrew name for the book of Leviticus is "Vayikra" it means "and He called."

What goes around comes around. God called out Israel from Egyptian slavery and the pagan ways they had adopted. We know they did this because of the golden calf. It's the evidence.

A big part of that slavery was mixing in pagan-idol worship and the Egyptian society was embedded with a host of abominable false-gods. You can find them still depicted on their hieroglyphs and there's a God reason they remain. They serve as a witness to the world. 

The disciples knew that God's word in "Vayikra" plainly declared the Bible basics against pagan abominable practices:
For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 18:29-30  
Back to the book of Acts, the new believing Gentiles were coming like Isreal and Egypt. They were coming out of a Greco-Roman pagan lifestyle infused with idol worship focused on traditions from the Canaanites that had morphed into religious life.  So, the disciples warned first against four unholy abominations:
"...abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well." Acts 15:29 
These guideposts against the abominable customs of irreverent pagan life noted in the bold print of Acts 15 were never intended to be the sum of all the ways of God to be learned by Gentiles any more than Leviticus 17-20 can be considered the sum of God's Kingdom instruction found in the balance of the Bible.

Bottom line, the former pagans were not ready to start at the first tee at Augusta, there was more to learn every Sabbath. The reason it takes time to build God-like character,

The apostles that met in Jerusalem knew what they were instructed to do from the Torah and they understood that the balance of God's holy ways would be learned in the weekly synagogue Torah portion teachings as al the Scriptures would be taught beyond Leviticus 17-20.

How can we know? Because they said so:
"For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15:21


Think about it this way... could a beginner start golf 
by teeing it up in The Masters, 
could a flag footballer start in the Super Bowl, 
could a first year med student perform a heart transplant? 
NO WAY!!



God's holy character heart is found in His mercy and lovingkindness. Since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Hebrew Scriptures were systematically taught in cycles of public reading every Sabbath as the Torah scroll and the Prophets were unrolled each year for for training in righteousness to be repeated in lessons over and again every year. The reason, it can take time to learn to walk in step with God's character.

Paul and the Jewish disciples that met in Jerusalem understood this because they lived it and believed the Torah would mold a person's character, so much so, they took it for granted that others would follow the ages old process of learning and incorporating God's word into daily life decisions through the faith training we call discipleship. Being a disciple is not only about believing.

That's why Paul wrote these words to young Timothy long before the New Testament was ever compiled or known to exist:
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua. 
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17
The only Scriptures Paul knew was the same Bible Jesus taught, the Hebrew Bible. Paul never thought of his letters as Scripture, but he know all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for training one week at a time, one Sabbath at a time. 

Reread the gospels, that is precisely how Yeshua taught every Sabbath and its the way the disciples had all learned the Scriptures. Their advanced Biblical training cam from the way Yeshua of Nazareth was brought up. This is proven in Luke 4:16:
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
For the disciples, weekly Scripture study in a congregation was like eating bread on Shabbat, you never swallow the loaf all at once, you chew one bite at a time, one week at a time to grow in faith, equipped for every good work. We must all do the same.

Hebrews 5:12-14 provides more on this critical maturing process:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
One big reason for gathering with others to hear the meat of the Word of Elohim God is that everyday, average people 2,000 years ago or even 500 years ago did not own a Bible, after all, there were no printing presses for another 1,600 years.

So, the Jewish men that met in Jerusalem outlined four Bible basics God had set forth as principles for those that had not grown up hearing God's Word. The reason: If a believer misses the mark by walking outside the realm of God’s Kingdom, that carnal, pagan behavior will open the door giving a serpent legal rights to come at them.

Paul and the disciples were relying on the process of weekly study of God's written word for those Gentiles formerly participating in a hedonistic lifestyle that required them to: 1) sacrifice to idols and 2) eat raw meat or blood, eat animals that were strangled while engaging in 3) illicit sexual immorality in heathen worship to their false-gods and goddesses born out of Egypt and Babylon.

These faithful Jewish men we call apostles agreed to four Bible basics for beginners just as Acts 15:21 says, because they all knew the balance of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings would be read and taught to the Gentiles every Sabbath and they understood the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 included turning from wicked ways:
"My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin..."
After all, the disciples knew believers must learn to act as the King acts, walk as the King walks, and talk as the King talks. The disciples knew the Biblical principles on how to do that would be taught in due course when the Scriptures were read, studied and experienced as God's instruction manual for the good life in God's Kingdom. 

The disciples also knew that even the least of the commandments would not be set aside in the synagogue. This was a teaching of Yeshua-Jesus. Don't set aside even the smallest instruction:
"Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:19
Today, the weekly Sabbath reading of Scripture portions for a remnant of people has become a BIG part of the restoration of the fallen tabernacle of David.

The question we must ask then is: what on earth happened? 

If God's word was "the way" of Sabbath study for the disciples of Yeshua 2,000 years ago in the ways of righteousness, why does the mainstream "church" today not study in the same manner or even meet on the Sabbath or teach the Torah, The Prophets and the Writings like Jesus and the disciples did?

Why aren't we walking in the King's customs, walking as the King walked, and teaching as the King taught?

Stop and think about that for awhile. It's time to challenge tradition, time study written Scripture as well as the context of culture and history... if you do you will uncover the "Constantine problem" of replacement theology tied to all the fuss about Acts 15. 

That new problem is that Christians have stumbled over the written Torah and Yeshua without knowing it. We forgot the Torah He taught was given by God as the pathway of righteousness and holiness leading to a deeper walk into Elohim's heavenly kingdom.

Here's the thing, we forgot the true Hebrew Bible roots of our Messiah that say:
“My teaching is not My own,” Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; in Him there is no falsehood." John 7: 16-19
We forgot the meaning Matthew 7:13-14 too: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 

We forgot Luke 13:24 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We forgot so we are in famine and don't know it: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD/Adonai Elohim, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11 

Continuing with Acts 15, we see that Paul is the focus to a large degree. The reason, he reached out to the Gentiles, yet he too was Pharisee, a Jew taught by Gamaliel and his ministry assignment from Yeshua was to the nations (aka Gentiles). Think about that long and hard.

Despite being a lifelong student of Scripture, he had stumbled in a few traditions, but his eyes were opened and he agreed with the disciples that learning about the Kingdom lifestyle outlined by the teaching of Torah takes time and training in God's written word. Yet he remained a Pharisee.

It's time to ask yourself if the four guidelines of Acts 15 were the only rules for righteous living for the "church" as the spotless bride of Christ, then why do we all still agree to God's voice against murder, or do we? What about abortion for convenience, after all there's grace, right?

Why don't we just teach our children that theft or disobedience to a parent's instruction is fine and that lying, cheating, adultery and cult idol worship are A-OK too. 

We all know murder and mayhem are wrong, yet many ignore The Lord's Sabbath, His Feasts and the Torah -- calling it old and done away with at the cross.

Why do we?

On the road to Damascus, Paul experienced the new covenant "Torah of the heart" and his letters reflect this, but it took time, even for Paul. After that eye-opener, like Ben Hogan, it took him years before he was prepared and ready to lead the way. We know because he said so:
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:16-18 
Grip, stance, posture and alignment have to be relearned if we have bad habits. 

It took Paul three years. 

He knew all the traditions of the sect of the Pharisees and he had to unlearn some of them but not all. 

That's not my opinion, he said so himself long after the bright light on the road to Damascus:
"Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!" Acts 23:6 
"My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee." Acts 26:4-5 
The Pharisees rightfully trusted in the hope of resurrection. Paul did as well.

The council at Jerusalem wasn't turning against the Biblical instruction of circumcision Paul upheld just a page later in the next Acts chapter with Timothy. The council did not do away with any of God's words, even the least of them recorded by Moses that Yeshua of Nazareth explained with authority including the amazing Sermon on the Mount as He held up the importance of every jot and tittle.

Paul upheld the Torah as well, we know because he put it in writing:
"Do we then overthrow the law (Torah) by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law (Torah)." Romans 3:31 
That's exactly what the Acts 15 council did as well, they upheld the Torah of lovingkindness, not only that they started with Leviticus trusting the rest would be taught each and every Sabbath.

Today, many Christians claim Galatians and Acts 15 as the New Testament rule of law for the church. 

The men that met in Jerusalem as described in Acts 15 included Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James, Simeon and "the rest of the apostles and elders." They outlined some Bible basics straight from God's voice out of Leviticus. They didn't think of it as old and done away with. Instead they assumed God's teaching and instruction, the Torah message to the world would be properly taught each and every Sabbath. 

It's worth repeating we know because THEY SAID SO:
“For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15:21
What they didn't know is that within 300 years, a church religion claimed by Emperor Constantine would officially declare a Gentile opinion against Moses, the Sabbath and the synagogue as the rule of law. 

It's time to reject Greco-Roman views that wear Scriptural blinders to Yeshua's Biblical obedience and life offering with a view that non-Jews grafted as a wild branch into the assembly need to show that grace abounds and there's no holiness other than abstaining from four things idols, sexual immorality, strangled meat and blood is a false teaching.

Pulpit new religion theories crash headlong into Almighty God's thunderous voice. He declares:
For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before YHWH. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” Exodus 15:15-16
The Jewish elders, the disciples and Paul all knew there's more instruction from God that was delivered to Moses than a condemnation of pagan 1) idol worship, 2) sexual immorality, 3) eating animals choked to death and 4) drinking blood. 

The purpose of their message is that the Gentiles must take the first steps to turn from paganism and return to the whole of Torah. It's a process, a lifestyle to be learned based in the written word not man-made rules like the Galatians had fallen for that circumcision was required for salvation.

You should take Torah in steps each week too. Its well worth repeating a third time...
"For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is [to be] read every Sabbath." Acts 15:21
If you are wondering about the disciples admonition against blood and idols you can find the Bible basics for their Jerusalem Council declaration in the Torah portions binding those who choose to join with Israel ingrafting the same standards as the assembly of the children of God under the tutelage of Moses. 

For one example, study the Bible to the Torah portions that the men of the Jerusalem Counsel were talking about.

Let's start with portion Re'eh, it's the fourth portion of weekly Sabbath reading found in the Torah summary sermon of Moses we now know as Deuteronomy. Turn to Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17. In this reading of the weekly parashah the Jerusalem Council focused on, Moses' sermon declares God's choice between blessings and curses and he repeats this three times because it's very important, yet it is easy, a light yoke:
Deuteronomy 12:16 "...you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water." 
Deuteronomy 12:23:24 "...be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water." 
Deuteronomy 15:23 "you shall not eat its blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water." 
In the weekly portion Acharei Mot Leviticus 17:10 tells us why the disciples chose their words. Acharei Mot also addresses eating animals choked to death. Take note of the big difference: 
 Leviticus 17:15–16 “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.” 
"And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity."
The prohibitions of the Jerusalem Council are embedded in the Torah portions of Acharei Mot and Re'eh.

The anti-idol basic found in the Ten Commandments is repeated in Leviticus 17:7-9.

Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 outline sexual immoralities named in the Torah portions of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim.

The moral of the Acts 15 story is a proper Torah walk like Yeshua's is learned -- it's a grafting-in process, not just blind faith.

Don't fall for a pulpit theory from the dreamer of dreams called Constantine. If you have, then know The LORD is testing you to find out if you love El Shaddai Almighty God with all your heart and with all your soul. Instead, hold to the oracles of God's voice that a few new church fathers and an Emperor turned their backs on and their descendants adopted.

Bottomline, Constantine forgot that Jesus is a Jew.

Jesus warned about what He would say to those that reject the Father's voice calling it old and done away with when He stressed that obedience is essential to true discipleship (see John 8:31) instead of people following Him in a confession prayer of name belief even if followed by miracles (see Matthew 7:21-23).

Gentiles have to re-evaluate the will of The Father which is The Torah.

Is the will of The Father your lifestyle and how does it affect your witness of faith in the Jewish Messiah? 

Matthew 7:21 should be the scariest verse in the Bible for any Christian calling the Old Testament done away with, hung on a cross or rearranged by the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council... 
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Repent and be like Paul, open your eyes and you will see that short-sided views on Acts 15 are a misguided perception of Paul's statement that false brethren were attempting to turn believers from the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom that Moses wrote about in Deuteronomy and Yeshua taught long before His disciples ever knew about the Passover trial, the cross or the promise of salvation in resurrection.

Yeshua's gospel of the Kingdom message is still misunderstood, yet post-Holocaust eyes on Zion and the Jewish people are being opened today to restoration relationships for both Jews and Christians as a community of faith comprised of native born and sojourner. 

It's time for any sojourner to understand that the Jewish Messiah is 100% Jewish. 

Do you know what that means if you want to follow Him?

Many pulpits have mistakenly portrayed the Acts 15 decision as that of "former Jews" that turned their back on the Old Testament and started a new religion. They did not. Had they done that, the would have rejected the Sermon on the Mount from the greatest in the Kingdom. 

None of the disciples, apostles or Paul started a new religion. 

On the contrary, they upheld the law (Torah) focused on the faith, mercy and grace teaching of lovingkindness found at the very heart of Torah revealed on the mountaintop of Sinai according to the writing of Moses.

They never imagined the church would abandon Moses, the Sabbath or the Torah will of The Father.

What does this all mean? 

Consider a prayer: Please, God, guide me as to what I should do.

It's time for you to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His word and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your coming assignment. 

Shalom ya'll.