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Monday, February 13, 2012

Jesus fulfilled the Law & the Prophets - Part 12 - Acts 11-20

  • Acts 11:1-18 - Peter explains the meaning of the vision about the unclean animals - Gentiles were no longer to be considered "unclean" and they were to receive the Gospel message as well. It's interesting to note that some people believe there are meats that are still considered "unclean" by God. If that were the case, it would make this story very confusing - the literal meaning of this would be false but the figurative meaning of this story would be true. But the same could be said of, say, the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Would Jesus use a parable that was literally false but figuratively true if it would confuse people about what happens when you die? It seems to me that His parables were based on everyday events and things that really could and did happen (people losing a coin, people finding a buried treasure, a shepherd looking for his sheep, etc.). Anyway, there are many other passages that let us know the ceremonial "clean" and "unclean" meats are done away with, but this is one many people dismiss since it also demonstrates another point.  Fulfillment of shadow in Lev. 20:22-26 (Thanks, Michael M.).

  • Acts 12:3 mentions the Feast of Unleavened Bread & verse 4 mentions the Passover. Some people argue that because the Sabbath is mentioned in context with the disciples or Jesus that it is evidence we should keep it today. Should we also keep this feast because it is mentioned? It's easy to see how silly that logic is when applied to this. And yes, the Sabbath is mentioned more often because it was a weekly occurrence for the Jews - whereas the other Feasts occurred once a year.

  • Acts 13:14-52 - Paul went to Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath (since that is when they met to worship) and told them about Jesus. They weren't meeting with fellow Christian believers. It wasn't a Christian meeting - they went into the Jewish synagogues when they were there in an attempt to reach them for Christ. Verse 15 - the leaders read "from the Law and the Prophets." Verse 27 - "The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath." Verse 29 - "When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb." Verses 32-33 - "We tell you the good news: What God promised to our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus..." Verses 38-39 - "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses."

  • Acts 13:33 - fulfillment of Psalm 2:7

  • Acts 13:34 - fulfillment of Is. 55:3

  • Acts 13:35 - fulfillment of Psalm 16:10

  • Acts 13:41 - fulfillment of Hab. 1:5

  • Acts 13:47 - fulfillment of Is. 49:6

  • Acts 14:1 - "At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed."

  • Acts 14:15 - also uses the phrase, "who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them." It's not talking about the Sabbath at all or putting the Sabbath at Creation - simply telling people that God is the Creator!

  • Acts 15:1 - "Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: 'Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'" Verse 5 - "Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, 'The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.'" While the law given by God through Moses was good and holy and served it's purpose, it was not eternal and was decided by the apostles that it didn't apply to Christian. Circumcision was the entrance sign to the entire law. Once you were circumcised, you had to keep the law. If you weren't circumcised, the law didn't apply to you. The Jewish converts to Christianity wanted the Gentile Christians to be circumcised, too, and to keep the law of Moses, but Peter said (in verse 10-11) - "Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." Verse 19-21 - "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 Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath." This was all that was asked of Gentile Christians. One may say, "Oh, so it was ok for them to kill and lie and steal???" But that conclusion is made without an understanding of how salvation works. When we accept Jesus and are saved, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us and changes our hearts. When we love God & love others, we will naturally abide by the moral laws. Interestingly, the laws imposed on the new church were the laws given to Noah. Jews believed those laws to apply to all people (Gentiles as well as Jews) since God made that covenant with all of mankind (not specifically the Children of Israel like the Mosaic covenant). Jews, however, did not expect un-circumcised people to keep the law (613 laws) of Moses. In order for Jews to take Gentile Christians seriously, they would expect them to follow the Noahide laws. The Noahide laws are reiterated in verses 28-29. Here's an article on the Laws of Noah -

  • Acts 16:31 tells us what is required - "They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household.'"

  • Acts 17:2-4 - "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,' he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.'" He went to Jewish synagogues to reach them with the Gospel! He was witnessing - not worshipping with fellow believers.

  • Acts 17:11 - "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." They studied the Old Testament to see if Jesus fulfilled what it said about the Messiah. They also studied every day.

  • Acts 18:4-6 - "Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'" It is interesting to note that this is the LAST mention of Paul "keeping" the Sabbath. Once he turned his outreach from the Jews to the Gentiles, there is no more mention of anyone worshipping on Sabbath. In fact, the next time (and only time after this) that the word "Sabbath" is used is Col. 2:16 - "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

  • Acts 18:12-13 - Paul was taken to court for "persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."

  • Acts 18:28 - "For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ."

  • Acts 20:6 - They reference the Feast of Unleavened Bread

  • Acts 20:7 - Believers were meeting on the first day of the week to break bread.

  • Acts 20:27 - "For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God."
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