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Tag Archives: circumcision

The Second Covenant

Ancient people used covenants to formalize agreements between parties, whether for political or economic or even social purposes. Usually such covenants were one of two main types: bilateral and unilateral. Bilateral covenants were ancient agreements negotiated between equals or at least each of the parties had input into the agreement, which defined their responsibilities to produce the desired result. The unilateral covenant was different in that it was not negotiated but dictated by the party of higher rank, such as a king or military general. The covenants God made with Abraham were unilateral covenants. Each time the text reveals that it was God who both initiated the covenant and dictated the conditions whereby Abraham would enjoy the promises God made to him. (Genesis 15:1-18; 17:1-14). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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Paul’s Life in the New Testament

This is a rough sketch of where Paul was and what he was doing during his Apostleship to the gentiles. Unlike a similar blog I posted, this one concerns three-year blocks of time, which seems to be Paul’s pattern for his intended labor. Whatever he decided to do, he planned out a three year period for that work. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Gospel, Kingdom of God

 

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Paul Returns to Galatia

As noted in a previous blog, Barnabas and Paul split up. Barnabas took Mark and sailed off to Cyprus where he and Paul originally began the first leg of what turned out to be a Galatian evangelistic effort. Paul took Silas and went to Galatia over land by way of Cilicia and the Taurus mountains. Whether or not they intended to meet in one of the Galatian cities is not mentioned in the text, but since Luke never mentions Paul returning to Cyprus to strengthen the churches there, Barnabas and he probably decided to cover different territories. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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The Apostolic Decrees

In Acts 15 James pointed out that the Messianic Age had dawned upon mankind, and because it has, the previous age, the Age of the Law, was coming to a close. The gentiles did not have to be circumcised and become Jews in order to seek the Messiah (cp. Amos 9:11-12 in the LXX). The Mosaic Law was no longer the mediator between God and man. Jesus, to whom both the Law and the Prophets pointed, is our only Mediator between God and us. To force circumcision upon the gentiles who are seeking the true God would be to reject Jesus as our Mediator in favor of the Law of Moses. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in circumcision, Jerusalem Council

 

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The Pharisees Who Believed

In Acts 15:5 Luke mentions the sect of the Pharisees implying that at least some believed. How should we understand this? I have to admit that I am very unwilling to account these Jews as unbelievers when the text says they are among those who believed. Yet, they are not presented in a very good light in the Gospel narratives, and I am coming to understand that neither does Luke present the sect in a good light in the Book of Acts. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Gospel, Jerusalem Council

 

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It Seemed Good to the Holy Spirit and Us!

The phrase in Acts 15:28 seems a bit odd in our ears today, but I believe there is more to what Luke is saying than what might appear to us as an overly religious or even a presumptuous remark. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us…” what does Luke intend for us to see? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Gospel, Jerusalem Council

 

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The Council’s Sequence of Events

We know that the Jerusalem Council was convened as a result of the heated debate in Antioch by Barnabas and Paul with the men from James (Acts 15:1). I hardly believe that a few Sunday school teachers (like me) could create such a controversy in our denomination of Christianity, just because we disagree with our pastor or the pastor of another body of believers in our denomination. However, if several leading men in my denomination had a disagreement with other leading men, such a conference would inevitably occur to avert a schism within our denomination. Would this be a logical conclusion? If so, shouldn’t we see the men from James as high ranking men at the Jerusalem church as well? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Gospel, Jerusalem Council

 

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What Was to Become of Holiness?

If circumcising the gentiles, i.e. requiring that they become Jews, is not the answer for holiness within the Body of Christ, what is? As I claimed in my previous blog-post, what was at stake in the Jerusalem Council was “…nothing less than the superiority of Jesus Christ as our Mediator over of the Law.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize, that once the gentiles began believing in Jesus, what was once an exclusive Jewish movement/church would become a predominantly gentile body. The Jews looked to the Law to tell them what sinful behavior was, and thereby sinful activity could be reasonably held in check if not avoided. What do gentiles, coming out of an ungodly pagan tradition, have to help them recognize sin for what it is? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Gospel, Holy Spirit

 

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Circumcision ~ What’s at Stake?

Jews were not the only people who practiced circumcision. Some of the men in Arabia practiced it as well. They were among Abraham’s sons, and circumcision was among their traditional customs, just as it was for the Jew, but only the Jews took it so seriously as to draw their identity from its practice. Anyone among the Jews who was not circumcised was cut off from his people. Eventually, the practice of circumcision came to include the whole Mosaic Law. So, to be circumcised, according to Judaism, meant that one embraced the Torah, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in circumcision, Jerusalem Council

 

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The Peter-Paul Faceoff at Antioch

Many Biblical scholars seem to think Paul’s conflict with Peter at Antioch occurred after the Jerusalem Council. I don’t believe that reasoning is correct. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul claimed that he visited Jerusalem twice before he wrote his epistle—once three years after his conversion (Galatians 1:18), and a second time fourteen years after he met Jesus on the Damascus road (Galatians 2:1). Some scholars conclude that Paul either missed a visit (Acts 11:28-30; 12:25), or Paul’s visit fourteen years later occurred during the famine, and the Jerusalem Council visit occurred sometime later, perhaps after he left Corinth in Acts 18. Nevertheless, the ‘two’ are the same visit. That is, the Famine-Relief visit and the Jerusalem Council visit were one and the same visit, and occurred cir. 49 CE. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in circumcision, Textual Criticism

 

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The ‘Men from James’

Awhile back (HERE), I wrote about these men from James who came to Antioch claiming the gentiles there couldn’t be saved, unless they were circumcised (Acts 15:1). In the next few blog posts I wish to offer a slightly different but a more dangerous perspective on the efforts of these men. First of all, their argument made logical sense, and this only made the danger of their scheme more difficult to detect. Nevertheless, logic is only as good as the knowledge upon which it is based. Think about it, the Jewish religion was the only religion on the face of the earth that was begun by God. Why shouldn’t the Jews believe gentiles needed to become Jews to be saved? Isn’t that similar to what is believed by Christians today? Don’t we believe one must become a Christian to be saved? If we believe this way, why would it be so unreasonable for Jews to believe that way too? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Jerusalem Council, Paul

 

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The Jerusalem Council

Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem cir. spring of 49 CE to discuss the matter of gentile circumcision with James and the other elders of the believing community there. This was Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, since his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus road, and he and Barnabas came not only to discuss the issue of circumcision with the church elders, but also to bring the gentile famine-relief offering for the poor in Judea (see HERE and HERE for the details). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in circumcision, Jerusalem Council

 

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When Was Paul’s 2nd Visit to Jerusalem?

Many scholars believe a problem exists between Paul and Luke concerning when Paul’s 2nd visit to Jerusalem occurred. Luke and Paul both agree that he visited Jerusalem not long after Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road. Paul says this occurred three years later (Galatians 1:18), and Luke doesn’t offer any specific time. So they both agree here as long as one doesn’t turn Luke’s lack of detail into a disagreement with Paul. Later in his letter Paul says that he didn’t return to Jerusalem again until 14 years later—i.e. 14 years after his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus road (cp. Galatians 2:1). The problem that scholars point to is that Luke shows Paul going to Jerusalem with Barnabas to bring the famine relief offering from the gentile churches for the poor in Judea, which Luke seems to place before the Jerusalem conference of Acts 15 (see Acts 12:25). Are these scholars correct? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Paul's Second Visit to Jerusalem

 

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Famine-Relief from Antioch

Just before the reign of Claudius Caesar, possibly in the fall of 40 CE or more probably in the early spring of 41 CE, a Jewish prophet, Agabus, foretold through the Spirit that a great shortage of food would occur throughout the Empire. According to the prophecy this shortage would be particularly severe for the poor in Judea (Acts 11:28-20).[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in circumcision, famine

 

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Cornelius Answers Jerusalem’s Big Problem!

Luke makes no attempt to smooth out the abrupt change of people and places in Acts 11:19. In the first eighteen verses Luke records Peter’s interrogation by critics in Jerusalem, and his defense before them concerning his activities in Acts 10. Then, suddenly and without notice, Peter vanishes from the scene and Luke begins writing about the Hellenist Messianics who fled Jerusalem during the persecution surrounding Stephen’s death. It seems Luke simply picks up the story of the fleeing brethren at Acts 8:4 and tells us what they did in the remaining verses of chapter eleven, as if he wrote nothing about Philip, Paul or Peter and Cornelius. Then just as abruptly, he leaves the Hellenist Messianics again to speak of Peter in Jerusalem. What gives? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in circumcision, Cornelius

 

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