Acts 15... common decision making or peace treaty?

by StarTrekAngel 13 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • StarTrekAngel

    Acts 15, along with the FDS parable, are the basis for the existence of the modern day GB. It is not difficult for anyone who is beginning to study the bible with JWs to see this and be utterly convinced of the matter. Even after learning TTATT I had a hard time departing from the idea that a centralized body of administration may have existed then and may need to exist now. Many have come to argue that may be a certain organizational framework existed and that may be we can use one today. Stopping short of declaring that the GB is somewhat legit (may be just a bit crooked and deluded), one needs to really take an unbiassed look at Acts 15 if your goal is not to fall prey of the same analogy again.

    Having thought for a while of the implications of the events of Acts 15 as well as other occurrences related to this, I can not help to ask myself the following question...

    Was the party that went to Jesuralem with Paul looking for higher wisdom from elders or was it a diplomatic party? Was he looking to those whom they considered as figures of authority or was he looking to tell the Jewish leaders (because those were their leaders in their view) to take control of the rhetoric and have them instruct all the other Jews to drop the law for good?

    May be this can be explained better if we look at an example. Jews had their elders and had their authority structure set from the times of Moises. Some had come to believe in Jesus but were not kin of leaving their customs and traditions. These traditions included, among others, having a structure of authority. However, they shared their place of worship and their congregation with people from other nations who did not recognize Jerusalem (as a body of elders) as a figure of authority. They had the example of Paul and other apostles, who told them they were free to eat everything so long they did not stumble anyone. When the dispute was brought up, did they go to Jerusalem to seek the decision of the elders or did they go to try to convince them to change the view of the Jews? In Acts 15:10, Peter tries to convince them that what they were asking for was a burden that no one was willing to carry, not even when they were under the law. Ultimately, the apostles are the ones taking the lead on putting the interests of the Jews ahead of those of the other nations (following the advice of putting others ahead of you). Sure they do strike a decision, but I think it sounds to me more like a compromise, where each part gave up something even thought the original purpose may have been to have the Jews change their view and not the other way around.

    Your thoughts?

    On another slightly different point. If the old day GB is the same as today's and shunning is scriptural. Who got DFd? Paul or Barnabas? Acts 15:39 shows they got into a pretty big argument. What happened to love and unity and why isn't there an example of the GB taking action on the matter?

  • StarTrekAngel
    Bumping to get some comments...
  • menrov
    Good topic.will need more time to respond
  • Crazyguy
    Paul went to Jerusalem to deal with the issue of circumcision because it was ones from thier that were going up to where he was at and teaching something different that what he taught. He did not recognize a central authority even James was said not to govern over Paul but just told him to look after the needy. The people that wrote these early Christian writings thought Jesus and the Holy Spirit was the only authority needed.
  • Crazyguy
    On your second point, it was the writers of the gospels that seamed to like the idea of a all loving God Jesus and that he was all about loving one another and everyone getting along, forgiveness etc. This was a gnostic idea, hippies of the day so to speak and some of the Pauline writing mirrored this same idea. But let's not forget most Christian scholars today believe that several of the Pauline letters were written before the gospels. As for the GB they are not even close to this hippie love everyone idea, they more closely resemble Marxist communists, serve the machine idea with them being at the head of the snake.
  • maninthemiddle
    Since we don't know what really went on, we have to make a few of assumptions. I don't disagree with yours. In fact I think it was stronger than that. Paul did not like to be challenged, just ask Peter. he went there to invoke changes, not as a person asking permission, but one kicking butt and taking names.
  • cofty

    I believe Paul went up there in a rage. Compare Galatians 2.

    The church was a Jewish sect but Paul wanted to sell it in an international marketplace. It's amazing how many christians think the early church were not 100% Jewish in belief and practice.

    So should gentile converts have to get circumcised and keep the whole law?

    The outcome was actually very clever. The Law contained certain restrictions on visitors - "alien residents". These were things that a pagan might do without even realising it was offensive to their hosts. They could be sumamrized as sexual immorality, idolatry and blood.

    The meeting in Acts 15 decided that as long as gentile christians kept these minimum things then Jewish and gentile christians could have fellowship.

    Here is the key phrase...

    "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    It was a compromise in the interests of church unity. For this misunderstanding countless JWs children have died.

  • StarTrekAngel
  • cofty
  • glenster

    Acts 16
    3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because
    of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a

    Acts 21:17-26
    Four men go through Jewish purification rites to socialize with Jewish law
    followers. Likewise, the Gentiles are told the four rules.

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