There is some shifting going on in today’s Messianic world as it concerns the unity that Jewish and non-Jewish Believers are to experience in Messiah Yeshua, and whether or not non-Jewish Believers are really called to obey God’s Torah. Much of this controversy is not based in an objective, historically conscious reading of the Scriptures—but instead in shifting ministerial alliances and religious politicking. The answer is not going to be found in evaluating who-said-what, but will be found in going to the Biblical text and in accurately evaluating what the trajectory of God’s Word is.
Around two decades after the ascension of Yeshua into Heaven, the message of salvation began being spread to the Mediterranean world outside the Land of Israel, and many from the nations eagerly embraced it. Was this just a bi-product of the message going to the Jewish people in the Diaspora, or was it the Father’s Divine plan? What was to take place with the new, non-Jewish Believers? Did they have to be circumcised and become Jewish proselytes? Or were all of the Believers, regardless of their ethnicity, to come together in a new environment rooted in the completed work of God’s Son? The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 assembled to consider these issues, and it fairly ruled on what was to be done.
Too many of today’s Messianics refer to Acts 15 without a great deal of consideration for the context of the events as they took place in the First Century C.E. We often assume things that we should not assume, and we overlook things that we should not be overlooking. This study critically examines Acts 15 in detail, is engaged with current Acts scholarship, and tries to properly compare and contrast the ancient setting of the Jerusalem Council with some of what we see going on in the emerging Messianic movement today. What can we learn from all of this? What important lessons have we avoided for far too long?