Moses is Taught Every Sabbath | Acts 15:21

Acts 15:19-21 19Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.

James, and the Jerusalem Council, decided that new believers who were born among the “gentiles/nations” that had just come to faith and belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must immediately obey four commands. Two of which are not “so-called moral Laws”, none of which are from the Ten Commandments, and all of which are from the Law of Moses. Not only that, but these new “believers” will hear Moses preached every Sabbath (v.21)!!!

So then, years after Jesus had ascended, James, Peter and the Jerusalem Council (with Paul in attendance) decided that new believers who were of gentile-origin must obey these four commands of God given through Moses ~

Exodus 34:15-16 15lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods 16and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.

Leviticus 7:14 For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore, I have said to the people of Israel, you shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.

Leviticus 18:22-30 22You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. 24“Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27(for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30So 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.”

Deuteronomy 12:15-16 15“However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. 16Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. {non-strangled}

Deuteronomy 23:17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.

James, Peter and Paul are upholding the Law of God given through Moses and requiring it of the new believers in the Messiah who came from the nations/gentiles… Isn’t that us???

Even more critical though, is the fact that the very next statement after demanding the keeping of those 4 specific Mosaic Laws, the ‘Christian Council’ deliberately acknowledged that there still is a “7th day” Sabbath, and that Moses is still being taught; and to new believers no less!!!

What does the text say?

Acts 15:21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

If the Law of Moses was abolished, then why in the world is James proclaiming in his Present Tense that Moses is proclaimed and read every Sabbath? This sentence comes right on the heels of the Christian Council giving four commands straight out of the Law of Moses to new believers that were just coming into the fold from among the nations/gentiles. Think about it for a second; the Council expected these new converts to hear Moses preached every Sabbath and told them that they must immediately keep/observe specific commands that are straight from the Law of Moses! That is the judgment of the Christian council for new “gentile/pagan” believers… That is what the text says.

We hear no argument from anyone. No one, not even Paul says, “hey wait a minute James, the Law of Moses is abolished” or “What are you doing Council members, I thought the Law of God was done away with and I don’t have to obey it anymore?” Where are those verses???

These Commands from the Law of Moses is the decree that the Disciples, the elders, and the Christian Council in Jerusalem sent with Paul, the apostle to the gentiles/nations, to be delivered “to the brothers who are of the gentiles” ~

Acts 15:22-29 22Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols (Law of Moses), and from blood (Law of Moses), and from what has been strangled (Law of Moses), and from sexual immorality (Law of Moses). If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

These are the cold hard facts! Trying to explain them away with man-made denominational bias only denies the Spirit-inspired Word of God.

Now, some in mainstream Christianity will undoubtedly say, “See, James said in verse 28 that no greater burden is laid on us than these four requirements, so I don’t have to obey any of the other Laws of Moses.”

Please, let’s use some common sense and logic!

So, I can’t eat blood, but I can murder? As a “believer” I can’t eat strangled meat, but can I steal? I can’t sacrifice to idols, but I can hate and cheat my neighbor?

Really?

These four commands from Acts 15 are NOT the only commands James and the Council expected them to obey; they were just the starting point for these pagans that were coming into the assembly.

This is EXACTLY why James made the statement of verse 21!!! This is EXACTLY why he made it clear what he expected and knew what the new converts would learn and do after they obeyed these four preliminary commands.

And what did James and the Council expect these new converts to learn and do next?

What does the text say?

For he (Moses) is read every Sabbath in the synagogues… | Acts 15:21

Final Thoughts:

The first few verses of Acts 15 are used by mainstream theology to justify the abolishment of the Law of Moses (Acts 15:1-10). But tragically the rest of the chapter is rarely read from today’s Christian pulpit, and the context of the chapter as a whole is completely ignored.

Today’s mainstream teachers arrive at a completely different conclusion than what James and the 1st Century Christian Council actually proclaim in the Word of God, if you just keep reading the dialog.

The conclusion and decision that James and the Council arrived at was that those coming to faith and belief in the Messiah who were originating from the nations/gentiles, needed to “immediately” start keeping four specific Laws from Moses: nothing polluted by idols/false gods, no eating of blood, no eating meat that was strangled and no sexual immorality.

What is CRITICAL to this passage, are two things that are NEVER taught from the modern mainstream pulpits… 1.) why these four Commands & 2.) verse 21!

James had a perfect and extremely logical reason for selecting these four commands from the Law of Moses. He was brilliantly led by the Spirit of God to pick them for the new believers to ‘start with’ because the world-at-large outside of Judea worshiped in pagan temples, and all four of these actions were performed at those pagan temples:

  1. Worship of idols/false gods
  2. Strangulation of animals for sacrifice to keep the blood internal
  3. Drinking of the sacrificed animal’s blood
  4. Sexual intercourse with pagan temple prostitutes

James knew that any new convert from among the gentiles/pagans would have that background, and if he demanded that they stop those actions first and foremost, then they would have to stop going to the pagan temples.

Acts 15:19-20 19Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

James does not stop there, but mainstream theologians do!

What does the text say in the very next sentence?

Acts 15:21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.

Again, James expected and knew that the converts would go to ‘synagogue every Sabbath to hear Moses preached’ (v.21) where they would then learn about “ALL” of the righteous Instructions/Laws/Torah of the Creator, not just those four specific Commands from the prior verse.

By choosing those four specific Commands from the Law of Moses as the starting-point, James was making it impossible for the new converts to go to pagan temples at the same time that they would be going ‘every Sabbath to learn what Moses taught’.

Brilliant leadership decision-making!

  • For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, see the ‘Links’ at the top of this page or blog posts at the bottom. Be like the Bereans, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”; look up for yourself more than 60 of the “forever verses” listed below. Please ‘share’ this study. Thank you for your time!