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From: Acts 15:7-21

Peter’s Address to the Elders (Continuation)

[7] And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, “Breth-
ren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my
mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel and believe. [8] And God
who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as
He did to us; [9] and He made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed
their hearts by faith. [10] Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting
a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been
able to bear? [11] But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the
Lord Jesus, just as they will.

James’ Speech

[12] And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul
as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the
Gentiles. [13] After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brethren, listen to me.
[14] Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a
people for His name. [15] And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is
written, [16] ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which
has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, [17] that the rest of men may
seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name, [18] says the
Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’ [19] Therefore my judgment
is that we should not trouble those the Gentiles who turn to God, [20] but should
write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from
what is strangled and from blood. [21] For from early generations Moses has had
in every city those who preach him, for he is read every Sabbath in the syna-


7-11. Peter’s brief but decisive contribution follows on a lengthy discussion which
would have covered the arguments for and against the need for circumcision to
apply to Gentile Christians. St. Luke does not give the arguments used by the
Judaizing Christians (these undoubtedly were based on a literal interpretation of
the compact God made with Abraham—cf. Genesis 17)—and on the notion that
the Law was perennial.)

Once again, Peter is a decisive factor in Church unity. Not only does he draw
together all the various legitimate views of those trying to reach the truth on this
occasion: he points out where the truth lies. Relying on his personal experience
(what God directed him to do in connection with the baptism of Cornelius: cf.
Chapter 10), Peter sums up the discussion and offers a solution which coin-
cides with St. Paul’s view of the matter: it is grace and not the Law that saves,
and therefore circumcision and the Law itself have been superseded by faith in
Jesus Christ. Peter’s argument is not based on the severity of the Old Law or
the practical difficulties Jews experience in keeping it; his key point is that the
Law of Moses has become irrelevant; now that the Gospel has been proclaimed
the Law is not necessary for salvation: he does not accept that it is necessary
to obey the Law in order to be saved. Whether one can or should keep the Law
for other reasons is a different and secondary matter.

As a gloss on what Peter says, St. Ephraem writes that “everything which God
has given us through faith and the Law has been given by Christ to the Gentiles
through faith and without observance of the Law” (”Armenian Commentary, ad

11. St. Paul makes the same point in his letter to the Galatians: “We ourselves,
who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not
justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed
by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law
shall no one be justified” (2:15f).

“No one can be sanctified after sin,” St. Thomas Aquinas says, “unless it be
through Christ. [...] Just as the ancient fathers were saved by faith in the Christ
to come, so we are saved by faith in the Christ who was born and suffered”
(”Summa Theologiae”, III, q. 61, a. 3 and 4).

“That thing is absolutely necessary without which no one can attain salvation:
this is the case with the grace of Christ and with the sacrament of Baptism, by
which a person is reborn with Christ” (”ibid.”, q. 84, a. 5).

13-21. James the Less, to whose authority the Judaizers had appealed follows
what Peter says. He refers to the Apostle by his Semitic name — Symeon — and
accepts that he has given a correct interpretation of what God announced though
the prophets. In saying that God had “visited the Gentiles to take out of them a
people for His name” he seems to be giving up the Jewish practice of using “peo-
ple” to refer to the Israelites (Exodus 19:9; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2) as distinct
from the Gentiles—gain the central message of Paul, that baptized pagans also
belong to the people of the promise: “You are no longer strangers and sojour-
ners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household
of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

James’ concurrence with what Peter says and the fact that both are in agree-
ment with the basic principles of Paul’s preaching indicate that the Holy Spirit
is at work, giving light to all to understand the true meaning of the promises con-
tained in Scripture. “As I see it, the richness of these great events cannot be ex-
plained unless it be with help from the same Holy Spirit who was their author”
(Origen, “In Ex Hom.”, IV, 5).

James immediately goes on to propose that the meeting issue a solemn, formal
statement which proclaims the secondary character of the Law and at the same
time makes allowance for the religious sensitivity of Jewish Christians by prohibi-
ting four things—1) the eating of meat from animals used in sacrifice to idols; 2)
avoidance of fornication, which goes against the natural moral order; 3) eating
meat which has blood in it; and 4) eating food made with the blood of animals.

These prohibitions are laid down in Leviticus and to be understood properly they
must be read in the light of Leviticus. The Jews considered that if they ate meat
offered to idols this implied in some way taking part in sacrilegious worship (Le-
viticus 17:7-9). Although St. Paul makes it clear that Christians were free to act
as they pleased in this regard (cf. 1 Corinthians 8-10), he will also ask them not
to scandalize “the weak”.

Irregular unions and transgressions in the area of sexual morality are mentioned
in Leviticus 18:6ff; some of the impediments will later be included in Church law
on marriage.

Abstention from blood and from the meat of strangled animals (cf. Leviticus 17:
10ff) was based on the idea that blood was the container of life and as such be-
longed to God alone. A Jew would find it almost impossible to overcome his reli-
gious and cultural repugnance at the consumption of blood.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 05/09/2012 9:28:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: John 15:9-11

The Vine and the Branches (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [9] “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved
you; abide in My love. [10] If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My
love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. [11]
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy
may be full.”


9-11. Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love the Three Divine Per-
sons have for one another and for all men: “We love, because He first loved us”
(1 John 4:19).

The certainty that God loves us is the source of Christian joy (verse 11), but it is
also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part, which should take
the form of a fervent desire to do God’s will in everything, that is, to keep His
commandments, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who did the will of His Father (cf.
John 4:34).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 05/09/2012 9:29:42 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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