English blog

Not to abstain from theft and murder?

10-10-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

1_blog_15 In the previous blog we saw that James, at the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15), concluded that the believers from out of the nations should not be harassed with the law of Moses, but…

…to be abstaining from ceremonial pollution with idols, and prostitution, and what is strangled, and blood. -Acts 15:20-

It probably seems strange that only these four things are named. Why is there no mention made, for example, of abstaining from theft and murder? Do the nations not have to abstain from them? We must find the answer in the topic of the conference. That concerned religious obligations. Believers from out of the nations need not to maintain the law of Moses, but are to abstain from what is polluted by idols. It literally means: abstaining from ceremonial contaminations in idol worship. Note the plural. The other three things named by James are an explanation of that. Temple prostitution (fornication) belongs to that in the first place. But also the drinking of blood or eating meat of animals strangled. All this played a more or less important role in the worship of idols. That James, for example, is silent about murder or theft, is not because such things are allowed for the nations, but was due to those things not being the issue. Such themes are not related to religion or ceremonies. Only religious obligations were the subject of the conference in Acts 15. Only about that were decisions needed and made.