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Question 101:

Did Jesus eat pork? If not, then why did his apostles?

 

Answer: Please read Question and Answer no 68. There it is explained how, in his preaching and by his example, Jesus had relativised the dietary obligations under Jewish law. In this earliest Christian community there were baptised Jews (Jewish Christians) and baptised Gentiles (Gentile Christians). The question arose whether Gentiles had to be circumcised when adopting the Christian faith (and that meant adhering also to the entire Jewish law, including the rules on diet and ritual purification). The Council of the Apostles in the year 48 (Gal 2; Acts 15:1-29) brought together in Jerusalem representatives of the various earliest Christian groups. The Council agreed that the Christian faith should be spread amongst the Gentiles without their having to abide by the Jewish law. However, baptised Jews were to continue to abide by the Jewish law. It is therefore to be assumed that the apostles, including Paul, who were all Jews, abided by the purity and dietary rules. Paul himself states in Gal 2:6 that the agreement reached in Jerusalem did not stipulate directives for his mission to the Gentiles. Also in 1 Cor 8-10 and Rom 14, which address similar questions, Paul makes no reference to such directives. He is apparently unaware of the Councils Letter in Acts 15: 23-29. The discrepancy here can be explained when one recognises that Luke combined the shortened answers to two problems in Acts 15: the first bone of contention, where Peter and Paul take sides, concerns the question whether the converted Gentiles should be required to abide by the Jewish law, see Gal 2:1-10. The second bone of contention, which takes place later and where James plays a decisive role, concerns Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians living together in one community, see Gal 2,11-21. Although it could rightly be expected of the Jews to put aside their fears of ritual uncleanliness when dealing with Gentile Christians for the sake of the common membership in Christ, many Jewish Christians, however, evidently found it hard to overcome their inhibitions, see Acts 15:20. Thus it was expedient that also Gentile Christians would be required to respect certain customs of their fellow Christians of the Jewish faith. This would probably be the foundation of the Councils Letter (Acts 15: 23-29). Luke wants to emphasise in the Acts of the Apostles that both rules were reached with the consent of the authorities and the early community in Jerusalem. For that reason he combines these decisions in chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles.

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