ACTS 15: SOME CONCERNS
by Avram Yehoshua
The Lifting of the Veil is a biblically solid book that reveals the New Testament’s position on the Law of Moses. The Church, interpreting the four rules of James as table fellowship (Acts 15:20), completely misses God’s point. Understood from its Hebraic perspective the four rules are the theological pillars that establish the Law for every believer.
Once the four rules of James are seen as a conceptual unit on sacrificial-sexual idolatry (the satanic scourge of the ancient world) the smoke screen of traditional anti-Law theology is blown away. James’ admonition to the new Gentile believer was very simple. He declared what would sever them from Yeshua (Jesus; the four rules of Acts 15:20) and encouraged them to learn the Law in order to know their new God and His ways (Acts 15:21). In a very real sense the ruling of James took care of ‘the two pluses.’ He said that ‘Jesus plus the Law’ couldn’t earn salvation and that ‘Jesus plus Zeus’ wouldn’t be tolerated.
The Lifting of the Veil is truly a biblical gem. It’s a book that Yeshua will use to remove the veil from the eyes of His Bride so that she will see her Bridegroom clearer than ever before.
Perfect bound softcover 296 pages. You can order The Lifting of the Veil at Amazon.com by clicking here.
Before the section on Yakov’s Concern, there are six subjects to cover that directly relate to Acts 15:20. Five are found in Acts 15:10, 19, 21 and 21:25, and the sixth is the fact that the rules don’t appear in the same order the second and third time they’re recorded (Acts 15:29; 21:25). Most theologians interpret three of these cites (15:10, 19; 21:25) as proof that the Law is not for believers today.
The first concern (15:10) has to do with Peter speaking of the ‘yoke’ that neither he nor his Fathers could bear. The second (15:19) is Yakov’s statement about ‘not troubling the Gentiles.’ The third and fourth (15:21) have Yakov declaring that Moses is taught in all the synagogues; and of those who preach Moses. The fifth deals with Yakov’s admonition that the Gentiles ‘observe no such thing’ (Acts 21:25). Finally, the sixth looks at the rules not being written in the same order (Acts 15:20, 29, 21:25) and addresses why Yakov might have done this.
Acts 15:10—The Yoke
The yoke that Peter speaks of in Acts 15:10 is the Law.389 Many see the Law as the yoke ‘in and of itself,’ but that’s not what Peter meant. Here’s what he said:
‘Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples, a yoke which neither our Fathers nor we were able to bear?’
Bruce says ‘a proselyte, by undertaking to keep the law (sic) of Moses’ was said to ‘take up the yoke of the kingdom of heaven,’390 and that the Law was the burden the Fathers ‘found too heavy.’391 Obviously, he wasn’t thinking of Father David392 otherwise known as the greatest king the world has ever seen apart from his Son Yeshua. David said many things about the Law, none of which seem to correspond with what Bruce thought of it. Here’s a sample of what David thought:
‘The Law of Yahveh is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of Yahveh is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of Yahveh are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of Yahveh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahveh is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of Yahveh are true, they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned. In keeping them there is great reward’ (Psalm 19:7-11).
David clearly extols the Law as something that is good and beneficial to him. His different ways of speaking about the Law (e.g. its precepts and judgments) is very Hebraic.393 David sings much of the praise of Yahveh’s Torah (Ps. 1:2; 37:31; 40:8; 119:1, 77, etc.) because he knew the wisdom and understanding that are inherent in it (Dt. 4:5-8; 30:15, 19, 20; 32:47, etc.).
If the laws of God were holy and righteous for Moses, David, Isaiah and Jesus, why wouldn’t they continue to be after the Resurrection? Why would they be any less holy for the Gentile believer who has been grafted into the Family of God (Rom. 11:13-12:5; Eph. 2:1-22; Gal. 6:16)?
Yeshua kept the Law all His life, and all the Jewish believers, many years after the Resurrection, kept the Law, too (Acts 21:20, 24; 24:18; 25:8). Perhaps the Apostles didn’t understand ‘the yoke’ as Bruce presents it? Bruce errs because of his ‘law-free gospel.’394
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states that the term yoke is not necessarily a negative word:
‘a yoke in Jewish thought does not necessarily mean a burden but designates an obligation.’395
The yoke Peter spoke of was the Law of Moses, but if the Law wasn’t the burden, what was? Wycliffe lumps both the Law of Moses and legalism together, declaring the Law a burden in spite of what Wycliffe just said:
‘Peter asserts that Jewish legalism was an obligation and a burden that the Jews were unable to bear. In contrast to the burdensomeness of the Law, salvation is through grace’.396
In making the Law a legalistic burden, Bruce, Wycliffe and all those who espouse such ideas, make the God of Israel who gave it a very hard taskmaster. The Jews were not saved out of Egypt by the Law, but by God’s Grace. Did God save them out of Egyptian slavery only to place a different type of slavery and legalistic burden upon them at Mt. Sinai?
Williams also misses the point when he states that ‘any attempt to revert to a religion of law was to try to test God’.397 Stern stumbles as well, but rightly comes against the verse being used to disparage the Law of Moses:
‘Much Christian teaching contrasts the supposedly onerous and oppressive ‘yoke of the Law’ with the words of Yeshua, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’398
Stern makes two points about the Law. One, if a person thinks something is pleasant, then one cannot project onto him that it’s not, but this point can’t be used in defense of the Law or the yoke because it’s very subjective. Most Christians see the Law as a burden, and if subjectivity is the criteria for judging, the Law is very oppressive. The criteria is not how we think or feel about the Law, but what God says about it (Dt. 4:1-8; 12:8; 29:29) especially in the New Testament (Mt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 7:12).
For his second point Stern says the commandments are not oppressive. Although he’s right, Peter called something unbearable. Stern says the commandments are not ‘an oppressive burden any more than Yeshua’s yoke is.’ He correctly states that the yoke of the Law is ‘acknowledging God’s sovereignty and his right to direct our lives’ and that if God has given commandments, ‘we should obey them.’399 This is true. The Law is not a burden, God is sovereign and He does have the right to direct the lives of believers in Yeshua by His commandments—but Stern believes Peter’s yoke was legalism, the ‘detailed mechanical rule-keeping, regardless of heart attitude, that some’ Pharisees had. He states that it was this ‘yoke of legalism’ that was indeed ‘unbearable.’400 No flesh shall be justified by legalism? As true as that is, what is biblically true is, ‘No flesh shall be justified by doing the works of the Law’ (Gal. 2:16). One can’t be Born Again by doing good deeds (and that’s Paul’s point). No amount of good works will transform one’s nature into that of the Son of God (Gal. 4:21).
Witherington also believes the yoke was the Law. He states that Peter, as ‘a Galilean fisherman,’ may not have liked parts of the Law that would have been a burden to him, such as going to Jerusalem three times a year for the annual Feasts (Ex. 23:17; Dt. 16:16). According to Witherington, it would have meant the loss of income to support his family.401 As logical as this may seem, it totally misses the mindset of a Jew like Peter, who was all too happy to leave his fishing nets for a week in order to go to Jerusalem on God’s ‘holy vacations’ and worship Yahveh in the midst of all Israel. After all, it was Yahveh who had made him a fisherman and ultimately provided for him and his family. Every Jew knew this, but Witherington, in failing to understand the holiness of the Law and the joy of celebrating the Feasts, stumbles. He also adds that the Gentile was being required to become a proselyte to Judaism.402 This was true, but neither Peter nor his Fathers were proselytes, so that can’t be the yoke, either.
Hegg believes the yoke was the Gentile becoming a proselyte, with the traditional interpretation of Torah and the cumbersome man-made rules of the Pharisees attached to God’s commandments (as Stern before him wrote of). The Gentile would have to be circumcised, become a proselyte and comply with all the laws in order to become part of Israel (to ‘get in’ to the ‘saved Jewish community,’ as E. P. Sanders wrote of). In this, being part of Israel, the Gentile would be saved. Hegg writes,
the ‘yoke they are unwilling to place upon the backs of the Gentile believers is the yoke of man-made rules and laws that required a ceremony to ‘get in’ and submission to untold number of intricate halachah.’403
Those Pharisaic believers who wanted the Gentiles circumcised (Acts 15:1, 5) were looking for them to become Jews (proselytes). That a proselyte was a Jew, part of the Jewish people, is seen in Nicolas being counted as such (Acts 6:5), and in Yeshua speaking of them (Mt. 23:15). Alfred Edersheim says that the children of a proselyte were ‘regarded as Jews’.404 He states that once the proselytes ‘were circumcised, immersed in water and offered a sacrifice’ they became…
‘children of the covenant…perfect Israelites…Israelites in every respect, both as regarded duties and privileges.’405
Herbert Loewe (1882–1940), in A Rabbinic Anthology, adds that a ‘proselyte can say “God of our Fathers” because he is a full Jew’.406
The yoke, though, isn’t about becoming a proselyte, with its ‘man-made rules’ and keeping the Law (symbolized in circumcision). Peter wasn’t a proselyte and he didn’t keep ‘man-made rules’ (Mt. 15:2 by inference). This isn’t the burden he spoke of.
The yoke that neither Peter nor his Fathers could bear was the keeping of the Law…for eternal life (salvation: justification before God). This is what circumcision ultimately implied and this is what the Council struck down: the false teaching that the Law was a vehicle for salvation407 (as well as the secondary understanding that Gentiles didn’t need to become Jews). The yoke has nothing to do with ‘legalism’ or ‘intricate halachah’ or ‘mechanically’ keeping the Law. Stern, Hegg and much of Christianity miss it at this point.
Marshall, however, adroitly perceives that the yoke Peter spoke of was the Law used for justification:
‘The point here is not the burdensomeness or oppressiveness of the law (sic), but rather the inability of the Jews to gain salvation through it, and hence its irrelevance as far as salvation is concerned.408
Exactly! This is how Jews thought one earned eternal life, despite the view of the New Perspective, which presents Judaism as a faith-based religion that doesn’t look to the Law for salvation. Even though the Rabbis can stress the ‘joy of the commandment,’409 and that ‘the Law must be fulfilled for its own sake and for the love of God and not for reward,’410 when it comes right down to it, the Jew must keep the Law in order to be saved.
The New Perspective on Judaism, brought into Christianity by Sanders, Dunn and Wright, follows the ‘party line’ of rabbinic thinking, believing that the Jew wasn’t concerned about salvation because he was part of the Chosen People, which guaranteed his salvation, hence, the Jew didn’t keep the Law for salvation. This, however, was an ideal never achieved, based on a false (non-biblical) hope about what it meant to be part of the Chosen People.
Scot McKnight, summarizing this new Christian perspective on Judaism, states,
‘Israel was elected by God, brought into the covenant and given the law to regulate how covenant people live.’411
As true as that is, there’s no mention of eternal life. James Dunn, speaking of Sanders, further explains,
‘the commandments are not a way of earning God’s favor but a way of showing how the people of God should live. That’s the basic point that had to be made in terms of the new perspective.’412
Dunn seriously errs when he writes that the Jews didn’t look to the commandments to earn God’s favor. The Law clearly states, obedience equals blessing (Dt. 28:1-2, 15, 45). By the days of Yeshua the Law had come to be the vehicle for Paradise, but this was never what God intended.
The idea of the Rabbis, that eternal life was given if one was part of the Chosen People, is also wrong. There’s no Scripture to validate it, and it’s not what was practiced in Judaism. Loewe states that Judaism,
‘like Hellenism or Islam, can be expounded and understood without being followed in practice.’413
Rabbi Akiva (50–135 A.D.), who is revered in Judaism, lived a generation after Yeshua. He realized the dangers of relying on ‘being a covenant member’ to automatically garner Paradise. It’s written of him…
he ‘seemed to hold that the future life is a privilege to be gained through positive upright living, rather than an inherent right which can only be forfeited as a penalty. Sometimes he asserted God’s mercy to be such that a single meritorious act will win a man admission to the future world.’414
Akiva realized that the afterlife could be forfeited. He also thought that meritorious acts or good deeds (of the Law) were necessary for eternal life even if one were ‘in covenant.’
In the New Perspective on Judaism and Paul, ‘works of the Law’ has taken on the connotation of being specific Jewish works such as keeping the Sabbath and circumcision. The works of the Law for Dunn are ‘sociological markers’ of the Jewish community, and so they’re not seen as ‘merit-seeking works’ but ‘boundary-marking works’ (things like the Sabbath and circumcision, etc.).415 N. T. Wright agrees and says they aren’t the…
‘moral works through which one gains merit but the works through which the Jew is defined over against the pagan.’416
Wright adds that the ‘works of the Spirit’ are those things that show that one is ‘in Christ.’ This would be things like bringing people into the Kingdom.417 Contrary to this pristine, myopic evaluation of first century Judaism, ‘works of the Law’ are all the good works that stem from the doing of the Law. It is equally Sabbath observance as well as taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan (compassion, justice and love of neighbor: Lev. 19:18; Mt. 5:16; Gal. 2:10; 1st Tim. 5:10; 6:17-19; Titus 2:11-14; 3:8, 14; Rev. 19:8), and the mighty works or miracles that Yeshua did (Mt. 11:2; Jn. 5:36; 15:24, etc.). All these stem from the Law’s commandments, including the physical and spiritual freedom found in the Sabbath and the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-10; Is. 61:1-2; Lk. 4:18-19).
Yahveh says of Yeshua, ‘You are My Servant Israel in whom I will be glorified (Is. 49:3).’418 Yeshua is the quintessential Israeli. He is the Example par excellence of one who is fully given over to God and walking in His ways (the Law). Torah is the verbal expression of Yahveh—Who He is, what’s He’s done for Israel, and His will for Israel. Yahveh has magnified and glorified His Law through Yeshua. Isaiah said,
‘Yahveh was pleased for the sake of His righteousness to magnify His Law and make it glorious’ (Is. 42:21).
Yeshua was like a prism through which the Law and the Holy Spirit were seen. He is the living Torah, the Word of God (Rev. 19:13). The teachings and mighty healings Yeshua did sprang from the Law and Spirit within.419 The Holy Spirit is able to empower believers so they can do all the works of the Law as Yeshua did.420 These works all stem from the power and fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). Torah forms the internal framework so one can be ‘fully equipped for every good work’ (2nd Tim. 3:16-17).
Claude Montefiore (1858–1938) in summing up Judaism’s concept of righteousness and the reward of eternal life, states…
‘There is no rigid or worked-out doctrine about Works and Faith. On the whole, the theory of justification by works is strongly pressed.421
Montefiore also speaks of the individual being regarded as a…
‘bundle of deeds. If he has done 720 good deeds and 719 bad ones, he is more righteous than wicked (with due consequences as regards divine punishment and reward)’.422
‘At the judgment in the world to come, paradise or hell is given according to the majority of good deeds or evil’.423
Is this a concept of Judaism that wasn’t there in the days of Yeshua and Paul? Has Judaism ‘gone backward’ in its thinking? Once they were saved just by ‘being in covenant,’ but today it takes the works of the Law?
Jewish thought in the days of Yeshua and the Apostles wasn’t like the monolithic religion of Roman Catholicism a thousand years ago. There were more than twenty different sects of what constituted ‘the proper way’ (e.g. Pharisee, Essene, Sadducee, Herodian, Zealot, etc.), but what was Peter calling a yoke? Is it possible to understand, from the New Testament, some kind of official Jewish thought concerning eternal life?
The Council (Acts 15) met to see if the Gentile needed to become a Jew and to keep the Law of Moses, symbolized in circumcision, for eternal life, along with faith in Jesus. The Torah was being used, or rather abused, as a means of salvation by the Pharisees and Rabbis, etc. This was the common and official understanding for eternal life among the Jewish people in the days of Peter and Paul (Rom. 9:30-32), as well as today.
Moses hadn’t placed this yoke upon the necks of the Fathers—the Pharisees had! God never intended this perverse use of His Law. This is what Peter and his Fathers (his genealogical fathers as well as the Elders of Israel) had been deceived into believing: that God would give them eternal Life if they kept the Law. This is the yoke that no one could bear (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16-17), and this is exactly what Yeshua brings out when He speaks to the Jewish authorities (Jn. 5:10) and the Jewish people who looked for salvation from the doing of the Law. Yeshua said in John 5:39,
‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but it is they that testify of Me.’
Yeshua Himself, the highest authority in any matter, speaks of Jewish expectation for eternal life residing within the Torah. This is brought out in John 7:43-49. The Pharisaic leaders and chief priests in the Sanhedrin said that the common Jewish people were cursed because they didn’t know the Law (‘this multitude which doesn’t know the Law is accursed!’ Jn. 7:49).
All those ‘cursed folks’ were Jews in covenant, but Jews that didn’t know the Law the way the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees did and so were obviously not candidates for Heaven, at least not in their minds. This is a biblical insight into how the highest Jewish authorities at that time thought about eternal life. Obedience to the Law was righteousness, as the Law and Paul state (Dt. 6:25; 24:13; Rom. 10:5), but extending that obedience to earning eternal life wasn’t God’s way for eternal life.
That same Sanhedrin despised the man born blind, to whom Yeshua gave sight. They said to the former blind man,
‘You were completely born in sins and are you teaching us?! And they cast him out’ (Jn. 9:34).
The Sanhedrin, the highest religious authority in the days of Yeshua, reveals official Jewish understanding of which Jews would attain Heaven and which Jews wouldn’t (sinners). The man ‘born in sin,’ even though he was obviously a Jew, circumcised on the 8th day, and part of the Chosen People, didn’t qualify even despite the fact that his answers to them were exceptionally perceptive (Jn. 9:13-34).424 The thinking we see here on this subject is of far greater value than what some Rabbis may have written when trying to idealize Judaism. It also dismantles New Perspective thinking on Jewish perception of salvation, for it’s clearly seen that a Jew needed to keep the Law in order to earn eternal life.
The Rabbis also knew better than to think that all Israel would be saved, even though Yahveh had saved all Israel from Egyptian slavery. They knew Israel’s history was permeated with wicked Israelis whom Yahveh had destroyed and whom the Scriptures called evil.425 The Rabbis knew this side of Israel, too, and believed that obedience to the Torah was the key to inheriting eternal life in Paradise, as Yeshua pointed out to the spiritual ancestors of the Rabbis (Jn. 5:39, also Rev. 20:12-13).
The mainstream rabbinic position was that those who kept the Law would inherit Life in the world to come. A rabbinic story reveals the problem the Rabbis faced with this concept. A great rabbi lay dying on his deathbed. All his students gathered around him and noticed that he was very sad. They asked him about his sorrow. He said,
“‘I am soon going to be before the Holy One and I don’t know if I will be accepted.’ They said, ‘But you are a great rabbi! You have taught us how to walk in Torah and have kept Torah all your life!’ Whereupon he answered them, ‘To you I am great, but in the eyes of the Holy One every wicked thing is seen.’”
This rabbinic story reveals the problem with trying to use the Law as a gauge to determine one’s fitness to stand in God’s presence on Judgment Day. There’s no amount of doing good deeds (works of the Law) that can give one eternal life or the assurance thereof.
It also brings out that just being ‘part of Israel’ wasn’t enough, even for a great rabbi. The Gentile ‘getting into’ the ‘covenant-saved people’ would still be expected to keep the Law for eternal life (Rom. 2:17, 25; Gal. 5:4). This was the burden that neither Peter nor his Fathers could bear. After Peter spoke of the yoke, his next words (Acts 15:11) declared that the Gentile was saved just as he himself had been:
‘But we believe that they’ (i.e. the Gentiles) ‘are saved just as we are, by the Grace of the Lord Jesus.’
In other words, Peter could have also said,
‘We used to think that keeping the Law entitled us to Heaven (Jn. 5:39), but we’ve come to see that this was a perverse concept the Pharisees gave to God’s holy Law.’
The Council met because some believing Pharisees wanted to make Jews of the Gentiles and attach the Law to faith in Yeshua through circumcision (Acts 15:1, 5). In other words, they would say that salvation or entry into the Kingdom of Yeshua consisted of faith in Yeshua plus the keeping of the Law (symbolized in circumcision). Of course, they would have thought that for themselves, also. They hadn’t realized what the Blood of the Lamb was all about concerning entry into, and continuance within, the Kingdom of the Son. This is what Peter was addressing. He wasn’t speaking against the Law. He was coming against the Law being added to faith in Jesus for salvation.
This was a new concept for those believing Pharisees and for most everyone else there. That’s why the Council convened. The congregation in Antioch wanted to know what was required for Gentile salvation. In a very real sense it was logical for the believing Pharisees to think that way—Gentiles became part of Israel before Messiah Yeshua by being circumcised (Ex. 12:48) and keeping the Law (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 19:34; 24:22, etc.), but this was the New Covenant and a new way of entering into it.
Only after much debate in Jerusalem (Acts 15:7) did the outcome that we read of prevail. It most likely took several hours. Then Peter stood up and declared the counsel of God. It seems that Paul and Barnabas already understood this (Acts 15:1-2), but it wasn’t ‘a given.’
Yes, the Law had also become enmeshed with the Traditions of the Elders, but the main point that Peter is making is that the Law cannot be attached to Jesus for salvation. Peter and the other Apostles only came to see this after they realized how God had given them, and Cornelius (Acts 10), eternal life: through faith in His Son plus nothing else. This was the entry point, the middle point and the end point. Led of the Spirit, the good works of the Law are a spiritual by-product (or fruit) of faith in Yeshua.426
Once in the Kingdom, does it matter if one sins against God or not? Here is where the Law comes to the forefront. It declares what is right and holy, sin and abomination in Yahveh’s eyes for Jew and Gentile.
Before Peter and Paul had known Yeshua, they too had been deceived into thinking that the keeping of the Law would merit them eternal life with God, but now in Acts 15:10 Peter was setting the record straight, something that Paul would do later in Rom. 3:31, where he writes of establishing (the place of) the Law in the life of every believer. Paul is saying that the place of the Law is not for eternal life, as he had previously thought, unregenerate Pharisee that he had been. The Law was the criteria for knowing God’s view on what is sin and what is right living (Rom. 7:7, 12, 14; 1st Cor. 7:19, etc.), even and especially when a person enters the Kingdom by faith in Yeshua. Paul didn’t write the letter of Romans to the Sanhedrin, but to believers in Rome who needed to know the place of the Law in the midst of God’s Grace.
Religious traditions that nullify God’s Word are very hard to perceive when one grows up in them. This was true for those Jewish believers back then and is true for so many in the Church today. Tradition blinds people into thinking that it’s of God. When one looks at the Pharisees, locked in mortal combat with the Son of God, one sees how tradition can bring one to fight against the living God Himself. Only the Holy Spirit can bring Light that reveals the deception and produce a desire for change.
Paul fought this false teaching on salvation (of combining circumcision with faith in Jesus) in his letter to the Galatians. He now understood the difference between using the Law for salvation and using it as a means for divine living. His conclusion of the matter, on using the good deeds of the Law (symbolized in circumcision) for justification, is seen in Gal. 5:4…
‘You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law! You have fallen from Grace!’
Some of the Galatians were seeking to be justified by faith in Messiah and the doing of the Law. Anything attached to or added to Yeshua denies the sufficiency of Who He is and What He did, but once in the Kingdom, does it matter if we obey the King? His laws are meant to be for our lifestyle in His Kingdom, just as they were for Yeshua, and to set us apart (i.e. make us holy and distinct) from the world of darkness, just as they did with Him. They’re for our protection and blessing (Lev. 26; Dt. 28–30). God didn’t give the Law to Israel because He hated her or wanted to enslave her. He was sharing His wisdom and character with His Bride. He wants to do that with us, too.
Yahveh never intended that the Law would be a means of eternal life. Nowhere within the Law does God say that, if it’s obeyed, the reward will be eternal life. No one can be ‘justified’ or ‘Born Again’ by the keeping of the Law. The Law was never intended as such. The Law gave Israel the holy rules for covenant relationship with Yahveh and with their fellow Hebrews after they were saved or delivered from Egyptian slavery. Once saved and delivered from Satan’s Kingdom of slavery to him, sin and death, the Law is the holy guideline for the Gentile, also.
The yoke that neither Peter nor his Fathers could bear wasn’t the Law. The Law is a holy Gift from Above (Lev. 18:5; Dt. 4:5-8; Rom. 7:12). It wasn’t circumcision. Peter was circumcised and neither he nor his Fathers found that unbearable. It wasn’t being or becoming a Jew. Peter and his Fathers were Jews. They realized that God had been very gracious to them and had chosen them out of all the peoples on the face of the Earth.427
The yoke that neither Peter nor his Fathers could bear was the keeping of the Law for salvation, as symbolized in circumcision. This was a tremendous burden (Mt. 11:28-30), as the story of the great rabbi illustrated. Works righteousness nullifies the Person and Work of Yeshua.
Acts 15:10 cannot be used to prove that the Law is the yoke that Peter spoke of, and therefore, ‘not for the Gentiles.’ It’s a verse that reveals the bankruptcy of trying to keep the Law for salvation (Rom. 9:30-32). The New Testament doesn’t negate Mosaic Law (Mt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 7:7). Peter wasn’t doing away with the Law, either, but the keeping of the Law for salvation was a yoke that neither Peter nor his Fathers could bear. Peter had found the True Yoke (Mt. 11:28-30).
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