Thursday, April 21, 2011

A friendly question to anyone from Chosen People

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Pesach with family, friends, and community. I was just reading an article emailed to me from Chosen People Ministries, "Frequently Asked Questions About Passover."  Under the question "Is it appropriate for Gentile Christians to celebrate Passover?", I read:
"...after many Gentiles had come to faith in Jesus the Messiah (Acts 11:19-26), the issue of Gentile believers' obligation to the Jewish Old Testament law became a major concern (Acts 15:5). The disciples gathered at what became known as the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:6ff) and determined that the Gentiles should not feel obligated to observe the law (with a few requests, nonetheless). They further noted that the teachings of the law and its benefits would be available in the synagogues every Sabbath."
 The article rightly observes that the issue at hand at the Council of Jerusalem was whether the Gentile Yeshua-believers were to become circumcised and keep the law.  My question is this: does this passage [edit: i.e. Acts 15] assume continued observance of the Torah for Jewish believers in Yeshua?

Any takers?

Disclaimer: I'm going out on a limb by posting this question in hopes of having a friendly discussion...perhaps something different than the usual polemical tones from both sides.  I'm not trying to trap anyone into debating me; I'm simply interested in learning how others read this passage and what they think about my question.  I'd like to think that in that regard I might even learn something new.  So share your answer to my question in your friendliest tone, but no fighting!


James said...

I tried to open a similar debate recently centered around Passover, but everyone was too mellow. ;-)

Funny you should bring this question up. Last week at a class I teach for my local congregation, we were discussing Jewish Torah observance in the 1st century Messianic community and one of the students had a light-bulb-over-the-head moment. It had never occurred to her before that Jews *would* continue to be obligated to the Torah post-Yeshua's ascension. She had always been taught that the Torah had been done away with for everyone.

The short answer from me is "yes", and why wouldn't Jews continue to be bound to the Mosaic covenant? Yeshua didn't come to abolish the law but to uphold it, support it, live it out as an example and as our "living word."

That's my two cents, anyway.

Ryan said...

Unfortunately I don't think you are going to get the type of dialog from me that you would want. My short answer would be yes and no. Some people from Chosen People would say yes, that did assume Gentile adherence to Torah commandments and some from CPM would say no, that is in regards to the Acts 15 passage.

However after reading the passage in the CPM article, I am afraid you are taking the question too far because what you ask is about Torah observance by Gentiles and what the article addresses is Gentiles celebrating Pesach(whcih frankly they do in part by observing the Lord's supper). They are really not the same and frankly, remember the audience of most of the people reading the article. They are Christians who may not know much about this stuff and things have to be communicated in an understandable way. The more Christains understand the Jewish roots of their faith, the more effective they will be at sharing Yeshua with Jewish people.

I would say the passage does not assume either Torah observance or no Torah observance.

Rabbi Joshua said...


It seems to me that the person who wrote this might assume some kind of observance for Jews. After all, the question of the article itself questions whether or not the same is obligatory for Gentiles.

Anyway, just my own thought ...

Yahnatan said...

Thanks for the responses so far! I realized I was unclear in my question; the "passage" I was referring to was Acts 15, not the passage in the CPM FAQ (see my edit above).