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This explanation of Holy Scripture aims to share the instruction of how a believer is not to associate with an unbeliever – even under a residential roof, eating with them.
This is likely a statute derrived from the Law of Moses in an effort to keep the people of Israel separate and holy – as people tend to influence people;
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 NIV
At the same time, a believer is to be at peace, be polite and gracious;
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 NIV
‘Let your conversation be always full of grace…’
(Colossians 4:6 NIV)
For the sake of clarification and terminology, Scripture states that people of all nations who believe in Christ, become citizens of Israel (Genesis 22:18, Galatians 3:16, Ephesians 2:12-13, 2:14, 2:19) – the Israel of God (ref. Galatians 6:15-16).
Table Of Contents:
■ Begin – Acts 10 Speaks Of The Ancient Statute
■ Further Evidence Of The Ancient Statute: Cephas (Galatians 2)
■ The Statute Can Be Seen In Matthew 8:20’s ‘…foxes have holes,… but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.’
■ How Do We Treat Sinning Brothers?
■ Benefits Of The Statute To Not Associate/Live With People Of The Nations
■ Believer’s Share With Gentiles, Peaceably
Begin – Acts 10 Speaks Of The Ancient Statute
Acts 10 touches on this statute, where we read that it is not lawful to associate or visit anyone of another nation (unbelievers);
‘And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation…’
(Acts 10:28 ESV)
Note: Scripture states that people of all nations who believe in Christ, become citizens of Israel (Genesis 22:18, Galatians 3:16, Ephesians 2:12-13, 2:14, 2:19) – the Israel of God (ref. Galatians 6:15-16).
The verse does however then go on to say that Peter should not call any person unclean (unworthy) of associating with or visiting.
The explanation? This is speaking of persons who may have originally been born in other nations, and then believe the gospel (as these are made clean by faith);
‘…but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.’
(Acts 10:28 ESV)
‘…“What God has made clean, do not call common.”’
(Acts 10:15 ESV)
We see in the next chapter of Acts, that the statute to not live or associate under a Gentile’s roof is further reinforced;
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Acts 11:2-3 ESV
The defence given by Peter as to why he visited Gentiles who had not officially believed in Christ (Messiah) yet, is the same as that which we have just read in Acts 10:15; he was given permission to meet under the roof of Cornelius – as G-d had allocated him to believe the gospel;
And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
Acts 11:12 ESV
Cornelius was being drawn by G-d to the Son. Peter certainly had permission;
‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….’
(John 6:44 ESV)
Further Evidence Of The Ancient Statute: Cephas (Galatians 2)
In Galatians 2, we see the account of when zealous Cephas was told off by the apostle Paul, because he refused eat with some Gentiles who had believed the gospel;
‘…James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those from the circumcision.
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’
(Galatians 2:12, 2:14 NASB2020)
The reason for the incorrect approach that Cephas displayed at that time, would have likely been that he was still grasping the ‘…truth of the gospel…’ (NASB2020) – in that, even Greeks who believe are deemed Israelites from then on (Genesis 22:18, Galatians 3:16, Ephesians 2:12-13, 2:14, 2:19, 6:15-16).
We also see this truth in Acts 21, where ‘In The Temple – Paul Encourages Gentiles To Observe The Law Of Moses (Acts 21:24, 21:28, 26:19-21)‘
More on this can be read here:
[ www.orthodoxmessianicjudaism.com/2021/01/19/proving-paul-encourages-gentiles-to-observe-the-law-of-moses/ ]
The Statute Can Be Seen In Matthew 8:20’s ‘…foxes have holes,… but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.’
We can perhaps see the statute of how a believing Israelite should not stay with unbelievers, as being atleast hinted to in the famous saying of the King Messiah (Christ);
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matthew 8:20 ESV
When it says ‘foxes’, this relates to sinful, unbelieving mankind, even some pharisees who were particularly hypocritical at the time – anyone engaged in foreign spiritual practices (John 8:44, Ephesians 6:12).
When it says ‘birds’ of the air, this relates to angelic beings and/or mankind who have died and gone on to what is next in a spiritual-type of form (ref. Matthew 13:31-32 & Psalm 84:3; The kingdom of heaven likened to a tree in which birds nest).
These two groups have places to stay, however the King Messiah (Christ) was a righteous person whom Scripture states had no place to stay – especially when travelling.
In this verse Christ represents a believer walking in the way of the LORD.
His faithful disciples did stay with him, G-d allocated them to be faithful followers with him and have authority over demons and spirits then (Matthew 10:1-4, John 17:20).
A person might state that Judas was a sinner, thus the verse cannot possibly be compatible with the statute of how believers are not to live with Gentiles/sinners;
‘But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him),… was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.’
(John 12:4, 12:6 ESV)
The explanation here could perhaps be, that by having Judas (a then sinning thief) staying with the faithful, that this is a prime example given to mankind as to what happens to Israel if we begin to mix and live with the nations, break the statute of being set apart, and become unequally yoked.
This is said as in that account it ended very badly.
The sinner eventually betrayed the faithful, and this famously led to the death of the righteous in this instance.
How Do We Treat Sinning Brothers?
After taking the instructed steps found in Matthew 18:15-17, Holy Scripture instructs believer’s to treat sinning brothers mercifully – however, as if they are gentiles instead of brothers (with mercy, kindness, though a distance and caution) – until they ideally repent, turn, and come back to the fold;
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 ESV
This is a positive motivator to the sinner.
Scripture further, shows us that those who do not believe in Christ (i.e. by way of following him), are inturn deemed unclean, common; ‘dead’;
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:21-22 ESV
This terminilogy is with regards to everlasting life without end at resurrection.
Benefits Of The Statute To Not Associate/Live With People Of The Nations
The benefits of this statute according to Torah Law are essentially a positive, preventative measure against intermarriage, cross breeding between Israelites and Gentiles (non believer’s), and the adoption of forbidden any spiritual practices;
• Exodus 34:15 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4 are two passages which show us that intermarriage with unbelievers and foreign spiritual practices are all forbidden;
Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them: you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, and they will serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 NASB2020.
• Genesis 34:14-17 is an actual account that took place prior to Messiah.
Circumcision was the indicator then amongst the Jews that meant successful conversion.
For marriage to take place, a foreign male would need to be circumcised to join the people, to get married.
This is the same attitude that some zealous Pharisees who believed in Christ (Messiah) still clung to in Acts 15:1 – however we later learn that it is the believing in Messiah (Christ) that renders a person joined with the Holy G-d by grace though faith (Acts 15:8-9, Isaiah 56:6, Ephesians 2:8-9).
Said believing person then gets circumcised (Romans 3:31, 6:1-3 ESV).
[More on this matter can be read in the explanation entitled: ‘Acts 15:1 – Circumcision Was Never Abolished.‘
Believer’s Share With Gentiles, Peaceably
With all this having been Peaceably shared, a believer shares the gospel peaceably with unbelievers, ideally as we see in the example of the apostle Paul – in public settings;
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects.
Acts 17:22 NASB2020
May we be found imitators;
‘…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’
(Hebrews 6:12 NIV)
Hoping it is fruitful.
May the Holy G-d bless you beyond maximum believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen.
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