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Glen T. Winstein

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  Acts 16:1-5
  Acts 21:17-26
  Rom. 14-15:3, etc.

  Acts 16:1-5

  Paul went further north and west to Derbe and Lystra, where he'd been opposed
by Mosaic law followers in teaching salvation by faith before (Acts 14:6-21).

  After having Timothy circumcised "because of the Jews" nearby who would accept
him better that way, Paul has Timothy help him spread the news of how the Jeru-
salem meeting of apostles, etc., handled the Antioch, etc./Mosaic law followers
problem with its decisions, and they encouraged faith.;&version=49;

  The common view of the four rules of the Council of Jerusalem sees this as
Luke, the author, using the immediate context to make sure you don't miss the
point of the four rules at Acts 15 being sent to the Gentiles to make it easier
for the Jewish law followers to accept them socially--"Because Moses is
taught...."  Likewise, Paul has Timothy circumcised "because of the Jews" with
no further explanation.

  Acts 21:17-26

  This situation is similar to the ones Acts 15 dealt with, showing the Chris-
tians to be facing similar problems about ten years later.;&version=49;

  Apostle Paul and some disciples went to Jerusalem and shared greetings with
James and all the elders.  Paul told of the accomplishments God made among the
Gentiles through his teaching.  James and other Christians told Paul there were
thousands of believers among the Jews, but many were zealous about a need for
Christians to follow Jewish law.  These followers were upset about hearing that
Paul taught the Jews who were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, not be cir-
cumcised, and not follow Jewish customs, and they would hear that Paul was vis-
iting there.

  Because of them, James and his group told Paul to take four others and go
through a Jewish cleansing ritual with them for all to know about.  The upset
followers would see that Paul keeps the law (at least in respecting what was
required for socialization).  As for the Gentile believers, they've been sent a
letter to abstain from things offered to idols, blood, things strangled, and

  The common view of the Council of Jerusalem (p.35) sees this as another exam-
ple of context making sure the reader sees how to interpret the four rules sent
to the Gentiles "Because Moses is taught...."  (See the section on Acts 16:1-5
above.)  Paul is told by James and the others in Jerusalem to go through a Jew-
ish cleansing ritual because of the Jews zealous for the law, etc., "but as for
the Gentiles...." we send them the four rules of the council.

  The next chapters include apostle Paul's writings about what a Christian's
views about food should be, the only substantial explanations about that in the
Bible.  A notable thing about them is he doesn't mention a blood or insuffici-
ently bled animal meat ban, but instead writes like he has no absolute ban of
eating a food, even when giving some other reason for not eating a food.


  Fornication is a sin.

  Rom.14-15:3, etc.

  Paul here teaches the proper Christian view of the obligation some Christians
felt to obey Jewish laws about holy days (Lev.23) and caused them to eat just
vegetables.  Most likely those vegetarians were following Jewish law so were
avoiding the meat available locally because it predominantly came from idol
temple sacrifices--it was considered to be meat from an animal slaughtered by a
Gentile so it was unclean and wasn't koshered of blood.;&version=49;

  The crucifixion had the result of Christians being free of those concerns, so
isn't obliged to obey them--such obedience is an arbitrary matter of personal
conscience.  Most important is faith in the Lord (in the JWs leaders' NWT, most
of the "Lord"s of Romans are changed to "Jehovah"s; see p.4), and to be diplo-
matic about the Jewish law followers and not alienate them from Christian faith
over the matter.

  This diplomacy includes not eating or drinking certain things around them
(esp. verse 21).  Christians must serve the Lord before themselves or each oth-
er, and such diplomacy is better for bringing the faithful to him.  If anyone
eats or abstains from eating without proper confident faith, the lack of proper
faith is the sin. (Rom.14:2,3,6,15,17,20,21,23).

  By the common view of the four rules of the Council of Jerusalem, Paul here
wrote that Christians have no blanket ban of meat because they didn't have one.
He wrote about abstaining circumstantially around Jewish law followers, which
was a concern Christians had to gain Jewish law followers to Jesus.

  By the JWs leaders' stance, their stance on the degree of blood removal would
be implied since most meat in Rome wasn't koshered of blood.  But if Paul had
the JWs leaders' view of food bans, this would have been a good opportunity to
explain them, but he wrote as if he didn't because he didn't have them.