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A Brief Summary
With a new believer believing in Christ (Messiah), learning all of the law of Moses at once might seem like a daunting proposition.
This ‘Letter to the Gentiles’ serves as a starting point for new Gentile believers in Christ to strive to observe and uphold – in the beginning of their walk. It specifies four sinful items that a new believer is to initially abstain from, with their observance of the Sabbath – and reads as follows;
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God,
20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
Acts 15:19-21 ESV
How Do We Know These Are Four Things To Begin With?
Now that a person believes, has repented and even been baptised – how do we know how do we know that these four sinful items to abstain from are initial things for a believer to strive to overcome, to begin with?
It tells when it says the Letter is for those who are turning to G-d;
‘…the Gentiles who turn to God,’
(Acts 15:19 ESV)
‘…those who are turning to God…’
(Acts 15:19 NASB)
We thus know that the ‘Letter to the Gentiles’ in no way abolishes Torah Law, as ‘…turning to G-d…’ is a process.
In context the passage of Holy Scripture then goes on to say that ‘new believers will then hear the Law of Moses read every Sabbath day, learn, and then also in turn apply the other commandments in their lives as they mature…’ – when it says;
For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
Acts 15:21 ESV.
Scripture then confirms the interpretation of the Letter to the Gentiles being four things for a believer in Christ (Messiah) begins with – when it says a believer is to;
‘…uphold the law.’
(Romans 3:31 ESV)
‘…we uphold the Torah.’
(Kehillah in Rome 3:31 OJB).
The Initial Four Items To Abstain From Briefly Described
These four initial sinful items to abstain from will now be explained in further detail, in dot point-type form.
1) ‘…abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols…’;
This item includes the abstaining from all things related to idolatry (idol worship), including food that has been sacrificed and the person has knowledge of such having taken place, before they eat said food in question.
Idolatry is also featured in the Ten Commandments amongst other places, where it says;
‘“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…’
(Exodus 20:3-5 NASB)
2) ‘…from blood…’;
This item pertains to not eating or drinking any blood, as per Torah Law;
‘…you shall not eat the blood…’
(Deuteronomy 12:16 NASB)
With this item, is the useful practice of ‘Koshering meat’. Koshering meat includes sanitary procedures and practical methods for striving to ensure that no blood remains or is consumed.
An article for further reading on the practice of removing blood from kosher meat may be found here (Chabad; Koshering Meat article), for a reference. It might also be of use to know that some kosher butchers offer meat that has already had blood removed from it.
3) ‘…from what has been strangled…’;
This item is addressing the prohibition against eating any animal that has been slaughtered in a non-kosher way, by way of strangulation.
‘Shechita’ is the approved process to slaughter a clean animal. It is known as being both kosher and humane, and an article on the topic can be found here (Chabad; What is Shechita article), for some further details and a reference.
If a person desires to eat meat, another key benefit of purchasing kosher meat that has been slaughtered by the approved way of Shechita – is that this way of slaughter is essentially a guarantee that the animal has not been strangled (e.g. in a ‘secular’-type slaughterhouse), as the person who slaughters the animal is usually quite observant to Torah Law, and has been trained accordingly.
4) ‘…from sexual immorality.”‘
This item addresses sinful practices which for many are hardest for the flesh to overcome; any unlawful sexual deed.
In the Holy Scriptures, forbidden immoral deeds in this category are listed, and these can be found in such places as Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 22, and also spoken of in Matthew 5:27-30, 5:32, and the like.
May the holy God bless you beyond maximum; believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen (Omayn).