The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
To the question of whether Acts 15 negates the instruction of Yahuah, the answer is a resounding no! In fact, James clearly affirms the Torah a few verses previous to this letter. But before we get into that, let us examine the 4 commands James decides are essential to a believer on day 1 of becoming a follow of The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
- Exodus 34:15 – Abstain From Eating Food Sacrificed To Idols – lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice,
- Leviticus 17:24 – Abstain From Eating Blood – “You shall not eat anything with its blood”
- Leviticus 17:13 – Abstain From Eating Strangled Animals – And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
- Leviticus 18:6-24 – Abstain From Sexual Immorality – None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. … Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
One who claims that the Torah is abolished must first of all prove that Yeshua, who claimed the Torah was not abolished, in some way, also said that it was abolished. You must also prove that he lived a Lawless, Torah-less, and sinful life and taught other to do so (we are to follow his example after all). You must also prove that Paul did the same (imitate me, as I imitate Messiah). And lastly you must prove that James, here in Acts 15, is saying that these are the only 4 commands that matter. Obviously none of this can be proven because Yeshua taught the commandments and Torah, Paul taught the commandments and Torah, and here James is also reaffirming Torah. It’s actually fantastic. Let’s take a look at what he says:
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 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.
This is great. But what is he saying? The next verse is so important.
21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
Let me recap that in a different way: “It shouldn’t be hard for people to turn to God. Tell them at the very least, that they need to not eat anything to do with other pagan gods, stop doing anything sexually immoral, and make sure to avoid non-kosher meat. Everyone knows that they’ll hear the entire Law preached in the synagogues every Saturday anyway… [so they’ll learn the rest over time]”
If you are on the fence about whether Torah is for everyone, trust Yeshua. Not your friends, not your family, not you pastor. Just read the text. He is clear. And also trust Peter when he says that Paul’s letters are hard to understand. They are. He, in many cases, sounds like he’s preaching against Torah, but he isn’t. Paul was here at this conversation in Act 15. They were debating about what to tell day 1 converts of the faith, and this was it. You don’t have to learn 613 laws on day 1 to be saved. You just need faith that Messiah Yeshua will transform you, send the Ruach Ha-kodesh to help you learn and help you understand His perfect ways.