Question on Acts 15:28,29

by pc 43 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • BluesBrother

    Good points made already. May I recommend the websites , and for a lot of useful ifo. If you can absorb all that , then you will be more knowlegeable on the subject than any dub that I know.

    My only thoughts are that if a witness feels he needs to reach out in his argument, he will call on the safety record and medical record of blood. A little research and logical reasoning can deal with this.. Make sure you know exactly what "Fractions" are allowed , and the reasoning behind it. To my mind this shoots there own argument down in flames why should some parts be accepted and not others? What fraction contains the "Life and the soul"? No part of blood is off limits nowadays, just the taking of it all together or in the "Primary componants"

    Finally, you could search this board for the subject of blood and find some great threads..

    Good luck!

  • Leolaia

    Here is the pathetic response the Society gave to this issue:


    w78 10/15 pp. 30-31 Questions from Readers ***


    Did the apostle Paul disagree with the first-century governing body about eating meat offered to idols, as some conclude from comparing Acts 15:28, 29 with 1 Corinthians chapter 8?

    No, for the evidence proves that Paul was in full agreement with the decree of the apostles and elders.

    In the year 49, Paul and Barnabas brought to the Jerusalem body of elders and apostles the question of whether Gentile converts must get circumcised. Based on the Scriptures and God?s dealings, and guided by the holy spirit, the council determined that converts did not need to keep the Law. But, among other things, they did have to "keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols."?Acts 15:1-29.

    About 55, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about eating food that had been sacrificed to idols. He said that an idol is really nothing. So a Christian could eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol, and that later as surplus was taken out and sold in a meat market or in a public restaurant connected with the temple. If, however, someone who previously worshiped the idol would stumble at the Christian?s eating such meat, Paul advised that it would be best to avoid doing so in order that the other person?s faith would not be damaged.?1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:25-33; Rom. 14:1-4, 19-23.

    In view of this, some Bible commentators have contended that Paul was refusing to go along with the council?s decree or that there was a continuing division on the matter. For example, Professor E. Blaiklock says: "In 1 Cor. viii. 4 Paul himself publicly adopts a more liberal attitude than that which the decree lays down." Heinrich A. Meyer writes about Paul?s supposed "self-subsistent position?wholly independent of the authority of all the other apostles." And Dr. Meyer comments that in First Corinthians chapter 8 Paul "makes no reference to the decree of the apostles either here or elsewhere, which is in keeping with his consciousness of his own direct and independent apostolic dignity. . . . Moreover, this very chapter, along with chap. x., shows plainly that, in virtue of his independent position as an apostle, he had early enough shaken himself clear of all applications of the temporary agreement come to at Jerusalem."

    Such reasoning is insidious, dangerous and contrary to God?s inspired Word. It reflects the idea that Bible books present personal and contradictory human opinions and are not all inspired and beneficial. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) And, at least in some cases, it reflects a desire to label the decree of Acts 15:28, 29 as temporary and now unnecessary. This, though, conflicts with the Bible and with the historical evidence that Christians in the second century and beyond recognized the decree as binding.

    What actually was Paul?s position on the matter of "abstaining from things sacrificed to idols"?

    Far from taking exception to that decree, Paul and Barnabas participated in the council that reached that decision. Then they publicized the decision, as Acts 16:4 reports: "Now as they traveled on through the cities they would deliver to those there for observance the decrees that had been decided upon by the apostles and older men who were in Jerusalem." This built up the congregations.

    Did Paul change his stand by the time he wrote First Corinthians (c. 55) or Romans (c. 56)? Not at all. In fact, it was after writing both of those letters that he went to Jerusalem the last time. (1 Cor. 16:8; Acts 19:1; Rom. 15:25) While there, he met with James and the older men, who referred back to the decree of Acts 15:28, 29 as still valid and binding on Christians. Paul did not disagree.?Acts 21:17-26.

    Hence, we have good reason to expect that any seeming conflict between the council?s decree and what Paul wrote can be resolved. And that certainly is so.

    What the decree in Acts 15:28, 29 forbade was a Christian?s being part of a formal, religious ceremony or his committing an act of idolatry. Those who sacrificed an animal to an idol got some of the meat to eat. Their doing so was clearly a religious act; it was considered sharing in a meal with the pagan god. (Ex. 34:15; Deut. 32:17; 1 Cor. 10:18-21) Christians absolutely could not do that. The decree of the Christian governing body had forbidden it, and Paul was in full agreement. He wrote: "Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry."?1 Cor. 10:14; 1 Thess. 1:9.

    So, in writing what he did in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 and Romans 14, Paul was not granting permission to share in an idolatrous act or feast in honor of an idol, as the Israelites had done and incurred God?s wrath. (Num. 25:1-4; Rev. 2:14) Rather, he was dealing with simply eating, as a customary meal, meat from an idol temple that had been sold to the public in general. Such meat was not unclean or defiled simply because of its background.


    Lots of supposition and false arguments. The conflict between Paul and the Jewish-Christians after the supposed meeting in AD 49 is apparent in Galatians, Matthew, James, and in later Jewish-Christian works. For instance, Paul himself in Galatians relates about the explosive conflict between himself and "certain men from James" in Antioch, which took place after the meeting in Jerusalem. The Society presumes that there could not have been any real conflict between writers of the NT, and insinuates that viewing Paul realistically is "insidious" and "dangerous". The whole argument, btw, is a red herring because it presumes that Paul was only talking about eating "meat from an idol temple that had been sold to the public in general" and "as surplus was taken out and sold in a meat market". That's not what the text says. In 1 Corinthians 8:10, Paul says: "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?" (NWT). The reference to "knowledge" is to the knowledge that "idols are nothing" (v. 4) and it is this knowledge that gives a Christian "freedom" (v. 9) to "eat things sacrified to idols," as long as the Christian knows that idols are not real and thus does not practice idolatry. Very plainly, Paul alludes to the "freedom" that Christians have in eating sacrifices inside temples -- but admonishes these people to be careful not to stumble other brothers by doing this. Thus, the Society's "argument" is a non-argument.

    The funny thing is that they don't think the issue through as it pertains to their Blood Doctrine. Even if Paul allowed the eating of meat sold at pagan "meat markets," how is that "abstaining from blood"? The pagan Greeks did not show concern for draining blood from meat. Paul did not object to eating such meat out of principle. For that matter, why do Witnesses today not prepare their meat kosher if they truly want to respect a total ban on "abstaining from blood". How many Witnesses enjoy a nice, rare steak?

  • Narkissos

    Just a detail:

    And in the Western text of Acts, a fourth rule was added: a prohibition against eating "things strangled" (the Eastern text represents the older version which more closely resembles the rabbinical Noachide laws).

    Actually the Western text omits the "things strangled" which are part of the Eastern/Alexandrine textual tradition and adds a negative formulation of the Golden Rule instead: "not doing to others what they do not want for themselves" (which shows that the "noachide" context is completely misunderstood in, and not relevant to, the Western setting).

  • Leolaia

    Narkissos....Thanks for the correction, I got it inverted....I was relying on memory, and I recalled the fourfold prohibition in the textual tradition was counter-intuitive in some way, and I thought it was because an additional levitical law as added in the Western tradition, but now that I think about it, it was probably that the more conservative threefold form of the Noachide laws was found in D/Western texts than in the East.

    I also forgot to mention that despite whatever objections the Society may come up with, the simple fact is that the same Greek word for "[things] sacrified to idols" is used in Acts and 1 Corinthians, and so Paul was permitting the same thing prohibited in the Decree. Indeed, I recall that the New World Translation even tried to render the same Greek word differently in the two passages, making it look as if the two texts were talking about slightly different things. But it's the same word in both places.

    There is also evidence, from the use of the Decree in Revelation (cf. especially the Noachide triad in Revelation 22:15), Paul's silence on blood (but discussion on food sacrificed to idols, fornication, and murder), and the persistence of the Noachide prohibitions in the early church fathers that the earliest form of the Decree referred to not "blood" but "bloodshed".

  • Narkissos

    Another question would be: how historical is the "Decree" in the first place? It appears in a completely artificial context in Acts 15 and is completely ignored by Paul (who doesn't even argue against it, although he takes an opposite stand about the meat sacrificed to idols; he seems to agree on porneia, even though he probably doesn't define it the same way; and he never mentions any prohibition of blood); even in Acts Paul is supposed to communicate the contents of the Decree (15:22ff; 16:4) but later James notifies it to Paul as if he did not hear about it previously (21:25). Very strange.

    So when Revelation explicitly agrees with the "Decree" on two points, namely the meat sacrificed to idols (eidolothuta) and fornication (porneia), is it correct to infer that it also agrees on the prohibition against blood? Although this is quite possible, I don't see any positive evidence to it. "Blood" is used symbolically in Revelation, even in 16:6 which is the closest formal parallel afaik ("drinking blood").

    Isn't it better to conclude that both the Decree and Revelation draw on judeo-Christian tradition, in which the dietary prohibition on blood is secondary to the prohibition on eidolothuta and porneia? Just wondering...

    Edited to add: what we do know from Galatians is that James did not agree with Paul on circumcision, which casts a big doubt on all the "Decree" stuff.

  • Terry

    The Jews regarded Gentiles as being, not under the law of Moses, but, under the Law of the sons of Noah. *(NOAHITE LAWS)

    The Noah covenant covered any persons who were god oriented and wished to draw into a covenant relation with him but, who were not Jews.

    The requirements of the Noah covenant involved not eating things strangled (because the blood was not poured out) and not engaging in bloodshed (murder).

    The scripture in Acts is nothing at all like what JW's represent (or MISrepresent). It is simply the Jewish congregation repeating the Law of the sons of Noah. Why? Because the issue was non-Jews. The Jewish congregation favored adding NO FURTHER burden other than that already existing in the form of the Noah covenant.


    Keep yourselves free from things strangled is the ONLY command regarding blood and pertains to strangulation of food.

    Abstain from blood is merely a shortened form of Thou shalt not murder. It has nothing to do with abstaining from transfusions.

    The JW's warp and twist this entire issue to make the rank and file JW dance to their tune as martyrs which gives them the cachet of "really intense" people of faith. In other words, it is all PR.

    Go to the Jewish Heritage Online website and brush up on this issue and then you can defend yourself against JW crap.


  • Kenneson

    TD writes: "Still other Witnesses will claim in effect to know the Mind of God by asserting that what God really wanted to forbid was the USE of blood--something that the Bible doesn't actually state. They will usually attempt to support this assertion with an argument from silence, pointing out that God never authorized or otherwise sanctioned the use of blood."

    That certainly isn't true as the USE of blood was not forbidden altogether in the Old Testament because it played a leading part in sacrificial ritual (Leviticus 1:5) and in covenant making (Exodus 24:8). The slaughter of an animal became a cultic act and was to be performed on an altar (1 Samuel 14:23) and, according to the prescription of Lev. 17:3), in the sanctuary itself. Only the eating of flesh with the blood in it is forbidden (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 7:26; 17:12; 19:26) It is only this latter abuse (eating of blood-foods) that is carried over into the New Testament at Acts 15:28, 29). It dispenses us from the sacrifice of animals, the sprinkling of blood on altar and people, etc. because the shedding of Christ's blood makes this possible. His is the blood of the new covenant which was poured out for many (Mark 14:23-25).

    When Acts 15:28, 29 was written, blood transfusions were unknown. Therefore the passage had to be forbidding a then known practice (eating blood foods), and not something the writer wasn't even aware of.

    Moreover, in blood transfusions the blood is not used as food for the belly. Eating involves digestion, and transfused blood is not digested. Transfused blood replenishes the blood lost--it is not the eating of blood but the transference of blood from one person to another.

    I also read somewhere a different interpretation of Acts 15:20 The author felt that "to abstain...from blood" had more to do with not shedding innocent blood than it had to do with the eating of blood foods as most of us have been discussing. I don't recall where I saw this. But it is interesting to at least consider.

  • LittleToe


    "If a doctor forbade you to eat meat could you accept a kidney transplant?"

    I've not heard that analogy before - nice one!

  • metatron


    The prohibition in Acts 15 is NOT derived from the account of Noah, it is derived from Leviticus and the part of the

    Law therein that is devoted to the subject of what was expected of the 'alien resident' in the midst of Israel. That's

    why the guys fighting about the Law shut up after James spoke - he summarized the portion of the Law that applied

    to non-Israelites - ( I think it was Lev 17 to Lev 19). The final list of prohibitions even follows the same order of prohibitions

    in Leviticus, ending with "fornication" - which was a summary of the various sexual sins forbidden in Lev 19 ( I'm doing

    this from memory, look it up yourself).


  • Leolaia

    Narkissos....I think we need to distinguish between two things: the list of prohibitions in Acts 15, 21 and similar lists in early Christian literature (which I called "Decree" in scare quotes for sake of convenience) and the Jerusalem meeting itself, which Acts gives as the sitz im leben of the "Decree". We know that there was a list of Noachide prohibitions that Gentile Godfearers were expected to observe (in the same order as given in Acts and in the church fathers), and this was in place in rabbinical Judaism (again in the same order) -- so the threefold "Decree" itself has solid traditional and literary roots. The evidence from the Didache also suggests that Luke did not create the material from Acts 15 entirely from his own imagination but depended on earlier oral or written tradition. The Jerusalem meeting in Acts 15 was also not totally fictional but, as the numerous parallels with Galatians 2 show, was essentially the same meeting described by Paul in Galatians. I think Luke had a tradition that the threefold prohibition originated in Paul's Jerusalem visit with Barnabas, and composed his otherwise fictional speeches, "letter", and narrative in accordance with the common tradition but without recourse to Paul's independent account in Galatians. The other issue is the dietary form of the prohibition in Acts, which contrasts with the older, rabbinical form (idolatry, bloodshed, fornication) that is attested in Revelation 22 and throughout the church fathers. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the so-called Decree was not monolithic and necessarily originated at any place or place, for it is based on traditional Pharisee practice -- but it was implemented and revised and put into practice differently in different places. I was thinking about this later today (after reviewing the commentaries I have on the Didache) and I suspect that this is likely what happened:

    1) In the historical Jerusalem meeting that is mentioned in Galatians, James and Peter met with Paul to discuss his Gentile mission. The Jerusalem leaders were Jewish Christians in favor of Gentiles adopting the whole "yoke of the Law," and might have encouraged Paul to take this tack, but insisted that Paul respect the already-existing Noachide requirements for Gentiles. This is the basis of Luke's attribution of the "Decree" in this apostolic meeting. However, the form of the Noachide laws at this early stage was only the traditional Jewish requirements on Godfearers: prohibitions against idolatry, bloodshed, and fornication. Of course, this was all in keeping with Paul's teaching, so Paul was indeed truthful in saying that James and Peter did not add anything to his gospel (Galatians 2:10). From the Jewish-Christian perspective, however, the agreement was indeed important in respecting the minimal requirements of the Torah for Gentiles. And from what is known about rabbinical requirements on Gentiles God-fearers, it would have been highly strange if James and Peter did not mention or insist on the traditional Noachide laws.

    2) However, there was a later dispute in Antioch relating to dietary practice of the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul himself permitted Gentile converts to eat foods that were forbidden by the Torah -- particularly foods that had been sacrificed to idols, and such meat also contained blood and consisted of "strangled", not slaughtered meat. Paul specifically denied that his followers were committing idolatry (as per the traditional Noachide agreement). In response to this situation in the Gentile churches, the traditional Noachide laws were updated to specifically ban the very things Pauline Christians were doing. Since it was widely known in Jewish-Christian circles that Paul had agreed to the threefold ban, this updating would have the effect of making Paul out to be an apostate. This updated version was widely diffused and competed against the older rabbinical version, and it essentially "Torahized" the Noachide prohibition by drawing from material in Leviticus. This would point to a Jewish-Christian milieu for the updating, and the fact that the fourfold prohibition was attested only in the Eastern/ Alexandrine text of Acts also points to the instability and Eastern provenience of the increasingly Torahized version. The "Torahized", dietary-focused version was also paralleled in the Didache, while Revelation appears to show familiarity with both versions.

    3) Then Luke naively drew on the later dietary-focused list of prohibitions and attributed it to the early Jerusalem meeting between Paul and Peter and James. This would show a dependence on Jewish-Christian tradition and an unfamiliarity with Galatians. Luke also completely ignored the true significance of the rules for Jewish-Christians as a bare minimum for Gentile converts and instead construed them as MAXIMUM restrictions (Acts 15:28, "not to burden you with anything beyond the following restrictions"). By limiting James' demands for Gentiles to just these requirements, Luke has defused the strident Jewish-Christian tradition that James expected Gentiles and Christians in general to follow the Torah (cf. Ascents of James). The Didache instead preserves the authentic Jewish-Christian view that Gentiles can only "perfect" themselves (that is, attain salvation from final judgment) by taking on the yoke of the full Torah, with the prohibition against eating food sacrificed to idols as a bare minimum requirement.

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