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In Acts 15, a letter was written to the beliving Gentiles. I can understand why they have to abstain from sexual immorality. However, I was wondering

  1. What's the point of the law which state that they must not eat the meat or blood of strangled animals, nor should they eat food offered to idols?

  2. Is it a sin to eat the meat or blood of strangled animals, or to eat food offered to idols?

  3. Does the law (not to eat the meat or blood of strangled animals / not to eat food offered to idols) still apply to us today?

Acts 15:23-29 (NLT)

23 This is the letter they took with them: “This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!

24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! 25 So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.

28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Let us try to see the whole passage in context. (All scripture quotation in NLT)

Acts 15: 20-21 - Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. 21 For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”

Verse 21 says the reason for the some of them/or all of the restrictions was

"laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations"

. Also from verse 7, we can see this happened after "At the meeting, after a long discussion", so it is clear that this was a topic of intense debate. Other biblical evidences point to that the leadership wanted a consensus which will respect those who seek more freedom (like Paul and even Peter at Jerusalem) and those who felt much more strongly about some of Jewish Traditions (James). So it is clear that last two was added considering there are large number of Jews and Jewish Christians around in those cities and church needed to be sensitive to their strong reservations.

There are more biblical evidences says to "abstain from eating food offered to idols and from sexual immorality". So Epistles and other part of new testament re-inforces them. But I believe the other two requirements to abstain "from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals" is applicable to the situation ONLY at the time of Acts 15, not binding now.

This line of argument can be illustrated further from Galatians.

Galatians 2:12 explains the struggle the church had in those days.

"When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision."

So correct interpretation of what laws applicable to us is given next to that.

Galatians 2:15-16

“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

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+1 for bringing to light the controversy about whether nonJewish followers of Jesus were required to adhere to Jewish law as a precondition. Keep in mind that the accounts in Acts come from a different position on this controversy than Paul did in Gal and Rom. –  user116 Sep 9 '11 at 12:03
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