Acts, Chapter 15, Verse 24-26
24 Since we have heard that some of our number [who went out] without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The issue that caused the disruption of peace in the new church was whether it was necessary for salvation for one to be circumcised. It was determined that it was not and that it was prudent not to lay on the new gentiles any burden that was not necessary for salvation. It was determined that the gentiles should abstain from:
1. Things offered to idols.
3. Things strangled.
4. Sexual immorality.
One Prohibition, Not Four
But these "essential abstinences” were not references to fragments of the Mosaic Law at all. This short list of things to avoid was the very essentials that divided believing Gentile from unbelieving Gentile. They divided Christian from idolater. Each of these four "essential" things to avoid were not four things, but one. They were meant to be read as "never again worship idols by eating with the idolaters in the sacrificial meals, drinking the cup of blood at the idol sacrifice ceremonies, do not ceremoniously eat the flesh of animals strangled during the worship of idols, and abstain from ritual acts of fornication with temple prostitutes". In other words, these four seemingly disassociated prohibitions were completely unified around one theme: Christians cannot serve God and idols. One cannot worship God and also worship idols. Also take note of the things cited: idols, blood, flesh, unity. Idols are the false gods. Drinking blood is the false wine of the idol’s communion cup. Strangled flesh is the false body of the idol’s communion dinner. And the temple prostitute is the false unity of the idol’s servants. The things listed are the false communion in the service of the idol. Again, to abstain from those things is essential.
Cranberry bog harvest begins today in Cape Cod, Mass.
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