Are the words of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke more important than the decision of the apostles in Acts 15?
(New York, NY)
Are you listening to the words of Jesus?
Rick Brentlinger Answers -
- Jesus was the Word in human flesh -
"In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." -Gospel of John 1:1, 14
- Jesus was God manifest in human flesh -
"great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." -1 Timothy 3:16
- God Himself gave us the scriptures -
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" -2 Timothy 3:15-16
- Therefore when the Bible speaks, Jesus speaks -
since Jesus is the Word. So, there is no real conflict between what Jesus the Incarnate Word says and what the written word says in the Bible.
So the answer to your question is, No. Here's why. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God,"
-2 Timothy 3:16, therefore all scripture is important. What Jesus said and what the apostles said is not in conflict since they were addressing different audiences and different situations.
The point to keep in mind is that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people. He was not focused on teaching Gentile Christians in His earthly ministry. His message was a particularly Jewish message to Jews in the promised land of Israel, before
the crucifixion and resurrection.
In Acts 15, after
the resurrection, the apostles are dealing with a church which did not exist during the earthly ministry of Jesus, since the church started at the death of Jesus, Ephesians 2:14-16.
When Jesus died, His death (and resurrection) made it possible for a new thing to happen - that Jews and Gentiles who believed in Jesus as Savior could now be ONE as part of the body of Christ.
In Acts 15, the Jerusalem church struggled with the issue of Jewish legalism. Some born again Jews insisted that Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved.
The apostles and elders in Jerusalem studied, prayed and received guidance from the Holy Spirit that Gentiles were NOT
required to keep Jewish law to be saved or to be in right relationship with God.
So why bother laying down
even four simple rules?
The reason for the four simple rules was to maintain peace in the first century churches and to demonstrate loving regard for the easily offended sensibilities of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
The apostles and elders asked Gentile Christians in that particular situation, to observe four necessary things, not necessary for salvation
but necessary to keep the peace in congregations which had a mixture of Jewish Christians and Gentile converts to Christ, Acts 15:2829; 21:25 .
- Abstain from meats offered to idols because the idol represented a false god
- Abstain from eating blood because the life of the flesh is in the blood, Leviticus 17:10-14
- Abstain from things strangled because blood stayed in the dead body and polluted it
- Abstain from fornication, the Greek word is porneia - probably referring to shrine prostitution, sex related to idol worship in this context
Question 2: If Acts 15 is so important,
and it says, in verse 29 "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well," does that mean that all the other things Leviticus outlaws are now OK, like sleeping with your parents or siblings?
No, the short answer is that, while Jewish Law is not binding on Christians today,
it does contain moral lessons which instruct Christians and everyone else today.
For example, the Law tells us, "Thou shalt not kill."
That moral stance is firmly embedded in most civilizations today.
Levitical Law concerning sexuality is still observed by many civilizations, not so they can earn salvation or work their way to heaven but because it lays a sensible foundation for an orderly society. Western civilization in particular still rightly frowns upon incest (sleeping with your parents or siblings).
Some attempt to reason that if homosexuality is okay today, then the other prohibited behaviors in Leviticus must also be okay now. I deal with that question on the Beastiality page
of this website.
Full text of Josh's question
Josh wrote: "I'm an atheist and not gay. It is truly awful that so many Christians are attempting to use Leviticus for political ends.
While I've read and studied the Bible, I tend to focus on verses the support the idea that Levitical law is still in effect. For example, Matthew 15:3-4, Matthew 7:15, Mark 7:9-15 and such like, basically, when Jesus says that the old law must be obeyed.
I contrast that with "silly" passages, like Leviticus 11:9-12 and Deuteronomy 14:9-10, which clearly say that shellfish is an abomination as much as homosexuality. Yet they eat shellfish, so they are being hypocrites about the law.
You cite Acts 15 to show that the law does not apply.
Question 1. Aren't the words of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke more important than the decision of a council of apostles?
Question 2. If Acts 15 is so important, and it says, in verse 29 "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well," does that mean that all the other things Leviticus outlaws are now OK, like sleeping with your parents or siblings?
Well, anyway, good luck with the gay rights side of things."We've answered the question: Are the words of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke more important than the decision of the apostles in Acts 15? Click here to return to Gay Christian 101 Home Page.