Question on Gentiles and Early (really early) Church

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by chadman, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. chadman

    chadman
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    One reason I find reading this section of the board interesting is that questions get asked that frankly, you can’t ask in your local church without being doubted as a true born again Christian. I like to think of it as born again faith seeking reason as a person matures. So here is one I have often wondered about:

    There is a concept or rather ‘act’ I find in the New Testament that I seem to have trouble wrapping my mind around. Ok, it just bugs me.

    First understand where I am operating from. When Jesus died on the cross, rose again, commissioned his apostles, and ascended into heaven, etc, etc…at that point in time in history – I have been taught that all truth or fullnesss of truth and understanding had been given to the church/apostles. So that, even in my Baptist mindset, I believe they would know among other things – what salvation is. They understood grace and faith and their roles in saving people. They knew what baptism was, how to use, what it did and didn’t do, including water/spirit, etc. They would have known about predestination in all it’s forms, etc. IE, they had the fullness of Gospel truth, and understood it perfectly.

    The first Christians and Apostles were Jewish right? Why then, until Paul came along later, did the church not understand one of the most basic Christian truths of all time? That non-Jews, ie, Gentiles could also be saved via and Gospel? Why did they have to have the council at Jerusalem – and debate – and then officially decide and then send letter to the Gentiles that it was indeed for them and without keeping parts of the Law?

    How was this not already understood and settled well before this period? It bugs me that this was even a question that required discussion that far along in Acts.

    Am I crazy here asking this?
     
  2. Scarlett O.

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    I think that they did understand that to a small degree.

    Jesus did tell them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The way I see the problem is that they felt that any non-Jew would have to first become a Jew THEN a Christian.

    Jesus didn't say that. That's where they messed up.

    You can take the Law away from the boy, but you can't take the boy away from the Law.

    That's where the "no small discussion" came in between Peter, Paul, et. al.
     
  3. billwald

    billwald
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    Paul started a new denomination under the tacit agreement and control of the Jerusalem Church. I think they didn't care what he did as he did it far away from Jerusalem. No one knew that Jerusalem would fall and Paul's denomination would gain control.
     
  4. TCassidy

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    Most Jews of that time were notorious bigots. They worked very hard at overcoming that bigotry, but they were, nevertheless, the product of their upbringing, education, and experience. They had considered themselves exclusively the people of God from the time of Abraham. Now those converted Jews were having to share with Gentiles that which they considered to have made them unique among mankind. That was a hard hurdle to overcome and it took time, godly council, and a meeting of the minds such as we saw in Jerusalem, the results of which we see codified in the book of Galatians.

    And not much has changed today. Human nature being what it is most "outsiders" are first rejected, then viewed with great suspicion, then merely tolerated, and, eventually, accepted.
     
  5. DHK

    DHK
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    You are not crazy asking this. However your assumption is wrong.
    In Acts chapter 8 (well before Paul came along) Philip took the gospel to the Samaritans (whom the Jews hated). It was a great and wonderful evangelistic campaign where God did marvelous things. Many of the Samaritans were saved. We can read about that in the first half of Acts 8.

    In the second part of Acts 8, the Lord told Philip to go south into the desert called Gaza. Leaving his evangelistic campaign in Samaria, he obeyed the Lord and found an Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip was told to go and witness to this man--a Gentile. He was reading from Isaiah, and it says that Philip "starting from the same Scripture preached unto him Jesus."

    In Acts 10 and 11 Peter was given a vision three times of a sheet containing unclean animals. He was commanded to eat, and told not to call unclean that which God had cleansed. Then the servants of Cornelius came bidding Peter to come to Cornelius's (a Roman centurion) house. Now, Peter understood that there was no difference between Jew and Gentile--that the gospel was to go to both. He went to the house of Cornelius and he and his household were saved. These were Gentiles also.
     
  6. Scarlett O.

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    True, very true. Whether we admit it or not.

    I like what Charles Spurgeon says on this line.




     
  7. TCassidy

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    Amen. I am reminded of the quip from George Whitefield during the great controversy with Wesley regarding Arminianism. When asked by a church member if Whitefield thought he would see John Wesley in heaven, Whitefield said, "No." The other man smiled and said, "I don't think he will be there either." To which Whitefield replied, "No, sir, you misunderstand me. I will be so far back and Mr. Wesley will be so close to the throne of God that I would be hard pressed to catch so much as a glimpse of him."
     
  8. percho

    percho
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    DHK
    I agree and would like your thoughts on the following in bold.

    Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

    Day of Pentecost or later?
     
  9. DHK

    DHK
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    I believe he was commenting on Christ. Even in the ministry of Christ he did not ignore the Gentiles. He healed the child of the Syro-Phoenician woman, for example. He was not hesitant to talk to the woman at the well--a Samaritan. It was a Samaritan that he used in his story of "the Good Samaritan." He did not shy away from these people but embraced them.

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..."
    --I believe that Simeon was referring to the truth represented in this verse.
     
  10. percho

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    Well maybe but I'm not sure relative to the rest of the verse and the reason for the meeting to start with. But of course you could be right.
     
  11. rstrats

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    DHK,

    re: "In Acts 10 and 11 Peter was given a vision three times of a sheet containing unclean animals. He was commanded to eat, and told not to call unclean that which God had cleansed."
     
    Actually, that is not quite correct. Acts 10:15 and 11:9 say (in the KJV) "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." As you know, "unclean" and "common" are not
    necessarily the same.
     
    #11 rstrats, Oct 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2010
  12. DHK

    DHK
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    In the Jewish mind the meaning of the words are the same as is indicated by verse 14:

    Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
    --That which was common or unclean was disgusting to Peter.
    He had never eaten of such food and now was commanded to eat of it.

    The Gentiles, symbolically were the common people, unclean to the Jewish mind.
     
  13. rstrats

    rstrats
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    DHK,

    re: "In the Jewish mind the meaning of the words are the same as is indicated by verse 14..."

    I was merely pointing out that the scripture doesn’t say what you said it says. Also, I’m afraid I don’t see where verse 14 says that the words "common" and "unclean" mean the same thing to the Jewish mind.
     
  14. RAdam

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    Well then, how about verse 28? There Peter says, "Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Where did God show him that? In verse 15 when He said, "what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
     
  15. glfredrick

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    I see in Acts 1:8 Jesus making plain to His church that they were to go to the ends of the earth with the salvific message of God. He did likewise in the gospel accounts, with Matthew 28:18-20 being the most familiar.

    But "salvation history" and God's mission to the entire world predates the commands of Jesus. Indeed, they predate just about everything else!

    Way back in Genesis 1:28 God commanded: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." At that point, God was known by mankind. Before sin entered, we were able to stand in the presence of Holy God without dying! As man filled the entire world with population, the glory of God would be carried into all the world by those same people. But sin entered the world, and the plan of God was set aside for a time (it will never be thwarted) until the time when we are restored into that perfect world once again after the last day and God's plan will continue unabated.

    In Genesis 4:26 the Bible tells us that "people began to call upon the name of the Lord." Those people were not "Jews." They were not "Gentiles." They were "people" who called upon the name of the Lord.

    Those "people" began to fulfill the command of God to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and distinct lines arose, where some followed after God and some did not. But never was it God's intent that some would not follow Him. In fact, it was because they did not follow Him that He brought on the great and utterly destructive flood, where he wiped out all those who would not follow and saved the family who did, intending once again to be "Immanuel" (God with us) for all people. To Noah, God established a covenant (Gen 6:18) and then this command:

    Gen 8:17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh--birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth--that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth." (Sound familiar?)

    And this promise:

    Gen 9:7-17 And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it." 8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

    Notice the pattern? God desired for a righteous family to spread His name to all generations of all people.

    There is something else, however, that we should notice. Backing up a couple of verses to Genesis 9:1-7 we see God instructing Noah about those pre-Law practices that would be pleasing to God. Implicit in those practices was Noah's earlier worship of God in 8:21, where God was pleased -- and largely because He was pleased did He give Noah additional instructions.

    It was to these instructions that Paul and the Jerusalem Council turned when it was time to figure out how to treat those people apart from the covenants God made with the Jewish people through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and later Moses, David, and Solomon, plus the promises in the minor and major prophets.

    That the Jews "forgot" or re-wrote God's desires by their oral law and interpretation is easily noticeable, and in large part the reason God dealt so harshly with Israel over the centuries. He called them to a covenant task of bringing the light of God into all people of the world, but they horded that light unto themselves until they were broken.

    So, from the first, it was God's intent to carry His name and His fame into all the world's people. That this needed to be "re-discovered" through a Holy Spirit-led investigation of the Scriptures is evident. That it had to be is mere evidence of the hard-hearted sin of humankind.
     
  16. rstrats

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    Radam,

    re: "Well then, how about verse 28?"

    Again, I was simply pointing out that the phrase does not say: "not to call unclean that which God had cleansed" but rather says: "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
     
  17. DHK

    DHK
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    Which is basically saying the same thing as verse 28 states:

    God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."

    Your point is moot. You are straining at a gnat.
     

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