Tranfusions? Acts 15:29 says 'abstain from blood?

by Star Moore 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • jwfacts

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    At Acts chapter 15 it is recorded that the Apostles and Older Men gave a decree to “abstain from blood”. At first glance this may be taken to imply that the Mosaic Law was to continue applying to Christians in regard to consumption of blood. This is not the case.
    This is not how this scripture is understood by the majority of Christian religions and was not how Pastor Russell and the Bible Students understood the command at Acts until the 1920's. The situation at Acts was very specific. Jewish Christians were having difficulty accepting Gentile Christians. Paul, the Apostle to the Nations, was converting Gentiles and rightfully taught that they were not obligated to follow the Mosaic Law. Judaisers were a group of Jewish Christians claiming to be superior to the Gentile Christians due to following the Mosaic Law.
    The Apostles and older men convened to discuss the application of the Mosaic Law and came to the conclusion that observation of the Mosaic Law was unnecessary. However they recommended that ‘the believers from among the nations’ observe fours things from the Mosaic Law.
    Acts 21:25 “” 25As for the believers from among the nations, we have sent out, rendering our decision that they should keep themselves from what is sacrificed to idols as well as from blood and what is strangled and from fornication.””
    Why only these 4 things. This was not because each of these practices was wrong; rather it was to prevent stumbling Jewish brothers. This was explained in the Watch Tower 1909 April 15 pp. 116-117 and is the common Christian understanding. The New Catholic Encyclopaedia goes on to state;
    “These four prohibitions were imposed for the sake of charity and union. As they forbade practices which were held in special abhorrence by all the Jews, their observance was necessary to avoid shocking the Jewish brethren and to make free intercourse between the two classes of Christians possible….
    With the disappearance of the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem at the time of the rebellion (A.D. 67-70), the question about circumcision and the observance of the Law ceased to be of any importance in the Church, and soon became a dead issue.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright as displayed at 17/09/2005)
    These four things are not the only Mosaic rules that a Christian must follow, nor are they the most important ones. For instance, murder is an obvious omission from Acts 15.
    James explained why the four things mentioned at Acts 15:20 were specifically chosen in the very next verse.
    Acts 15:19-21”19 Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, 20 but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For from ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.”
    The four prohibitions are the four items that were read from the Torah in Jewish synagogues every Sabbath. The words of Moses that were read every Sabbath are listed from Lev 17:1 to 18:27. These were the compulsory rules for both Israelites and foreigners living in ancient Israel. Leviticus 17 and 18 has the same four requirements, listed in the exact order as that given in Acts 15. This is why these four items meant so much to the Judaizers. Hence the Apostles felt abstinence was necessary in order to prevent stumbling within the surrounding congregations.
    Jesus himself showed eatting blood was no longer an issue when he said in Matthew 15:11 that what goes into a man does not defile a man, but rather what comes out. To further prove that this scripture is not universally binding it is worth reading 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, as this shows that eatting food sacrificed to idols was also not binding despite the degree at Acts 15;
    8 Now concerning foods offered to idols: we know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he has acquired knowledge of something, he does not yet know [it] just as he ought to know [it]. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by him. 4 Now concerning the eating of foods offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even though there are those who are called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many “gods” and many “lords,” 6 there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him. 7 Nevertheless, there is not this knowledge in all persons; but some, being accustomed until now to the idol, eat food as something sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; if we do not eat, we do not fall short, and, if we eat, we have no credit to ourselves. 9 But keep watching that this authority of YOURS does not somehow become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone should see you, the one having knowledge, reclining at a meal in an idol temple, will not the conscience of that one who is weak be built up to the point of eating foods offered to idols? 11 Really, by your knowledge, the man that is weak is being ruined, [your] brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 But when YOU people thus sin against YOUR brothers and wound their conscience that is weak, YOU are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat flesh at all, that I may not make my brother stumble.”
    Though the decree at Acts 15 says to abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols Paul makes clear that there is nothing wrong with this practice. He said it was only wrong when it stumbled the brothers, in this case the Judaizers. Acts 15 included food sacrificed to idols, blood and animals strangled only because they were issues causing stumbling in the mixed congregations. This became less of an issue after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and holds no relevance in our era.
    It is also important to note that abstaining from blood is never mentioned in any other context in the New Testament. It is never discussed as a reason to shun a brother. Paul does not mention eating blood at 1 Corinthians 5 as a reason to ‘quit mixing’ with a brother, neither does John mention it at 2 John. In Revelation 21:8 and 1 Corinthians 6 blood is not said to be a reason for not inheriting God’s Kingdom. If avoiding blood was a key requirement of God it would be mentioned alongside sins such as fornication, murder and spiritism that are repeatedly condemned in the New Testament.

  • Honesty

    I had the same questions about blood after I escaped the Watchtower Lie and accepted Jesus as my Lord instead of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Wtnesses.

    I let the Holy Spirit personally decide for me whether to donate blood to help save another person's life when a friend's daughter was being treated for breast cancer and needed a lot of blood due to the invasive surgeries that were performed on her.

    This is the scripture the Holy Spirit led me to when I asked for guidance:

    On the Sabbath He was going through the grainfields, and His disciples began to make their way picking some heads of grain.

    The Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the sacred bread —which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests—and also gave some to his companions?”

    Mark 2:23-26

  • garybuss

    The blood rules only applied to blood free meat for food according to Jewish kosher kitchen laws. Witnesses say the kosher kitchen laws still apply but they don't apply to kosher kitchens anymore but the kosher kitchen laws apply to blood medical treatment. All fractions of all blood components are okay to use for medical treatment and food too I guess. . Witnesses don't require kosher meat for food and they will mix foods like milk and meat with impunity.

    So, bloody meat is okay to eat for a Witness, but blood medical treatment is punishable by the death penalty. If a Jew ate bloody meat, he only had to take a bath and wash his clothes and tomorrow all was back to normal. In Hebrew Palestine, eating blood was not a death penalty offence.

  • rebel8

    A lot of ex-jws are still clinging to the no blood rule because they believe the scripture is so clearly prohibiting use of blood. What they fail to recognize is the scripture actually says "keep abstaining from blood"....clearly referring to an already established practice....correct me if I'm wrong....wasn't this statement directed towards a Jewish congregation who was supposed to abstain from misusing the blood of sacrificed animals?

  • Star Moore
    Star Moore

    Hey...good comments...

    Kid-A You have a point about the lives lost and when you read the scriptures about blood

    Drew - they certainly do like themselves to stand out as different, the witnesses

    A-Paduan - not quite understanding your point as the law being spiritual

    IP_Sec and Jw Facts - your pint was GREAT and I never thought of it , In the context of circumcism and that the 4 prohibitions were for the sake of charity and union of the Jews and Gentiles. And it was about eating, liked the point about Jesus saying, 'What goes into a man, does not defile a man."

    MJ - Good point about it not bing explicit, if it was so important it would be more explicit

    Honesty -point well taken about Jesus, bending rules when neccessary like David did with the showbread.

    Gary B. -Ahh, yes, seems to applies to the kitchen kosher rules

  • outoftheorg

    Acts 15; 29 when it ends says only (AND YOU WILL DO WELL) do well in what way? Since fornication is also included it sounds to me like a suggestion to eat the proper food and avoid the threats of sexual diseases--and you will do well.

    Our modern medical system is still telling us the same thing.

    No where does it say OR ELSE we will shun you and destroy your family or God will kill you.


  • Star Moore
    Star Moore

    Really good point, outoftheorg...So when it says, it will go well with you..they were basically saying, these were things to be mentally and physically stable...they were NOT commands from God. As the early christians..had choices of how they interpretted the scriptures and Jesus' teachings, unlike the witnesses who order us what to believe or our heads are chopped off.

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