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Which Covenant? Do You Have Cleansing And Purification Rituals In Your Churches

Wasn't the New Covenant (NC) supposed to have "abolished" the Mosaic laws of the Old Covenant (OC)? Who was the NC available to? Were Jewish Christians beneficiaries of both the OC and the NC, or just the NC?

Now, read the following verses, taken from Acts 21, to get a sense of my questions above:

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

Basically, Paul, upon being confronted about his teaching of quintessence of the NC, backs down and performs OC rituals and cereminies. Why did he do this? Did he not believe in what he taught?

As if that was not OC enough, Paul even goes to the Temple and anounces the day of the end of the purification ceremonies, on which day offerings would be given. Are these not OC ritualims? Basically, he is showing complete allegiance to the OC here.

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As a national culture what's wrong with that?

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So, you hold that it would have been OK for a first, second, third century Jewis Christian to partake in the following as part of the national feast of their nation;

1) Sacrifice animals

2) Release a scapegoat

3) Sprinkle of blood

4) Reading the Torah

etc, etc

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Judaism is as much a religion as it is a unique national heritage of the jews. Simply because a Jew becomes a christian does not mean he has to stop partaking in usual jewish customs which are mostly based on old covenant tradition.

the key is in understanding that faith in the redemptive blood of Jesus is the only way to salvation.

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Thanks for the heads-up about Yom Kippur. Have had a quite look at Yom Kippur here (Wikipedia) .

Are Jewish Christians today encourage to partake of the full ritualism of Yom Kippur today, just as an orthodox observant Jew would? These are the rituals:

Prohibitions:

Eating and drinking

Wearing leather shoes

Bathing/washing

Anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions

Sexual relations

Is the New Covenant a two-tier systems? One for Jewish Christians and one for Gentile Christians?

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Go read up on Yom Kippur.

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By the way, what was this cleansing or purification ritual about? It looked liked it involved shaving of the head, observing some ritual practices for some days, and going to the Temple.

What were they cleansing themselves of?

Would it be right for Jewish Christians today to engage in this rituals today (assuming that they are still practiced)?

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another wild unsubstantiated allegation. All your points were DULY addressed. However you only cry foul when you suddenly realise you cant force your false interpretations into the bible. I will ONCE AGAIN attempt to put you straight . . .

This is a "question" that only a dumb 2 yr old or a fraudulent individual would be asking for the answer is quite clear in Acts 21 . . .

- Acts 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Verse 18 mentions one of the elders of the church at Jerusalem . . . James. We all know James was one of the 12 disciples and a JEW. It would make sense that the other "elders" mentioned there but not named would be contemporaries of James. Go back and read Acts 1, the pentecost that started the christian revival began at the upper room in Jerusalem . . . virtually all those involved where Jewish.

20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

Here the elders make things even clearer, they indicate they are refering to Jewish believers.

did you really miss all that? I notice you deliberately stopped your "backtracking" at verse 17, how convenient.

And yet you were asking if those Paul went to meet in Jerusalem were Jews or Gentiles?

Most jews are zealous for the law even till tomorrow.

Why were they worried about Paul's fate? - Did you skip this - Acts 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

It was not deception at all dear, i know that is the struggle you want to force into the scriptures. Paul, as a jew, was obliged anyway to partake in the purification which was a Jewish custom while he was in Jerusalem. The only difference is that unlike under the Old covenant, this physical rite was no longer an absolute requirement for acceptance before God.

Conclusion 1 is correct, conclusion 2 is your own delusion. Jewish christians were not forced to continue obeying the rites such like the yearly sacrifice of animals in the temple that had been supplanted by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But as Jewish citizens, they had every right to join their families and friends to celebrate events such as the day of purification, the feast of the passover e.t.c.

All this is legalese rubbish. More evidence you dont understand of fig of that which you criticise. Paul never told the jews to stop participating in Jewish rites, the disciples simply strove to expound to the jews that the old covenant was simply a shadow of the new:

1. Circumcision - Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

- Here Paul tells the galatians that unlike under the old covenant, the circumcision of the flesh was no longer a requirement for every Jew to be accepted before God. Colossians 2:10-11 further goes on to explain the new circumcision - water baptism.

2. Dietary laws - Read Peter's vision in the book of acts.

3. Hygiene laws - Salvation is no longer of works. That does not imply christians shld be dirty.

4. Religious laws - aptly dealt with here - Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

1. Paul was a jew and like other Jews was obliged (not forced) to partake in the purification rites when in Jerusalem.

2. Under the old covenant, a gentile could not approach God without partaking in certain Jewish rites such as circumcision and cleansing. Under the new covenant, they no longer needed such rigid rules. Faith in Christ Jesus cleanses from ALL sin.

The above is a reflection of your confusion. I cant see much sense here . . .

As a christian there are certain cultural events particular to where i was born that i am obliged to follow that dont detract from my being a born again child of God. Ditto for the jew. the common ground for the gentile and the jew is faith in the redemptive blood of Jesus.

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You seem to have a way of using sleight of hand to avoid my points. OK, let us backtrack to where you want to start, viz Acts 21: 10.

Verse 10 - 11: A prophets foresees Pauls arrest and warns Paul about going to Jerusalem.

Verse 12 - 13: They (Christians) beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul says he was prepared to go and possible die for Jesus

"Am I not ready to be tied up in Jerusalem, I am ready to die for the Lord Jesus."

Verse 14: Having failed to persuade him to avoid Jerusalem, they give up and pray for his safety.

Verse 17: "In Jerusalem, the believers were glad to see us"

Now, who are these believers, gentile Christians or Jewish Christians?

Verser 18: Paul goes to visit James and the elders and Pauls explains to them is work with the gentiles.

Now, Paul and his entourage are now in Jerusalem and narrative proceeds as follows;

20 When [b]they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. [/b]

Thousands of Jewish Christians are zealous for the law, correct? Is this correct? Am I misrepresenting anything here?

22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you.

"So do what we tell you" Why are they worried about Paul's fate here? Were they anticipating trouble as a result of Paul's presence in the city? If so, why would Paul's presence have caused trouble in the city?

They now urge Paul to make a gesture to show that he was still obedient to the Laws of Moses, ie, the Old Covenant. And unashamedly, Paul accepts to partake of the OC ritualism, as in the following verses:

24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

Now, why did Paul, accept to partake in this rites? Was it because he knew it would save his skin? Was this not deception? Did he not say earlier that he was prepared to die for Jesus?

How were the non-Jewish Christians to behave? Well, this is addressed in verser 25:

25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

What can one draw from the above with respect to Jew, gentile and their allegiance to the law?

1) That non-Jewish Christians did not have to abide by the Law as long as the abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, strangled animals and sexual immorality.

2) That Jewish Christians had to continue in their tradition of obeying the laws of Moses.

Are any of the above two comments misrepresenting the preceeding events and narrative of Acts?

Now, what were the Jewish traditional rites and Laws of Moses that these Jewish Christians had to perpetuate?

a) Circumsicion

b) Dietary laws

c) Hygiene Laws

d) Other religious laws about such as Sabbath, sacrifices, purification, etc, etc.

Now, we have seen above how Paul partakes of the purifications rituals and festivities. Did he advise his followers to also partake of circumcision, avoid unclean animal, give animal sacrifices etc, etc.

Which other OC practice did he encourage?

Dear David, You have not shown us why Paul took part in purification ritualism but did not encourage similar OC practice amongst the followers of Jesus.

Under the New Covenant, I was given to understand the the distinction between Gentile and Jews hand been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Or would it be acceptable for Jewish Christians today to follow the Laws of Moses as well as other Christian ritualism such as baptism, communion, etc, while Gentiles abandon the Laws and only observe the modern rituals?

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the sheer level of either shoddy scholarship or deliberate distortion of facts in your "riposte" leaves me physically sick.

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This is a very deceptive statement.

1. First and foremost Paul WAS A JEW. Christ WAS ALSO BORN A JEW.

2. Judaism is was as much a national religion as it was a unique form of Jewish identity.

Salvation did not automatically repudiate their jewish citizenship, Christ still observed the passover and the several jewish feasts, just the same way the disciples and other apostles including Paul did each time they were at Jerusalem. The BIG DIFFERENCE is that under the old covenant, gentiles (non Jews) were obligated to perform jewish rites of cleansing before they could be accepted under the law. But when Christ died on the cross, those jewish customs were no longer required as a means to God. Which is THE POINT the elders made clear in Acts 21:25 as concerning the gentiles.

But as JEWS, it was a part of the culture they had grown up with and they were well permitted to partake of.

Exactly why he still travelled to Jerusalem even when it was clear the Jews would kill him.

Another disingenous piece of slander. If he TRULY was not ready to die for Christ he wouldnt have come to Jerusalem AT ALL.

NO! You have to read the entire chapter to understand the whole story, this hypocritical and deceitful habit of just cherry picking 2-4 verses and building a temple of confusion is reprehensible. That was why i took my time to backtrack when i carefully explained the issue to you. It however seems u're more interested in throwing mud than actually understanding the story.

This is another false allegation. The people who wanted to kill Paul were not Christians at all!! Verse 20 talks about the converts to the Jewish church in jerusalem, it doesnt IN ANY FORM link them to those trying to lynch Paul. Verse 27 EXPLICITLY describes those who wanted to lynch Paul.

More rubbish. As a jew Paul was within his rights to partake in the days of purification. Even Christ did.

1. Paul wasnt there making announcements. If you were not being a deceitful demagogue you shld know that only the levitical priests have jurisdiction over the temple.

2. The temple was and still remains the center of Jewish nationalism, christianity never came to take that away from them.

Neither did Christ have anything to fear from the Roman authorities, infact Pontius Pilate famously said - i find no fault in this man.

But the Romans still crucified Him no?

Well the jews of those days being a colony of Rome had no authority to carry out capital punishment but had the power to recommend "heretics" be killed by the Roman authorities. Just the very same way they rallied to get Christ crucified.

He doesnt "back down" . . . that is false language deliberately forced into a verse you dont understand. Paul was a jew, christianity did not repudiate his culture even though it was now clear that salvation could only be obtained in the blood of Christ.

Read through the entire epistles . . . the only time this came up as an issue was when some jews felt that the gentiles must needs partake in Jewish customs such as circumcision to be saved. Jews still circumcise themselves till tomorrow, it doesnt make them any less christians.

Jews still perform the feast of purim, the passover and the day of purification till tomorrow, it remains a part of their national identity that has no effect on the individual being a born again child of God.

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So Paul and the elders of the Church resorted to deception to avoid a lynching of Paul. Although Paul had said he was prepared to die for his Jesus, he conspired to deceive to avoid dying for Jesus?

If he know he had been involved in such deception and was guilty in his heart, why did he not present a retractions and a confessions of this shameful behaviour?

While all the real apostle were busy dying for Jesus, this upstart from Tarsus would back down on the real first opportunity to be a martyr. What a wimp?

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David, many thanks for your detailed response. Much appreciated and I also am pleased with way you have chosen to represent your premise this time by making detailed supporting references. May you keep this standard up.

OK, let us look at the substance of your response:

Essentially, you are saying that Paul relented and participated in the OC ritualism to save his physical skin. Otherwise he would have been killed by a lynchmob, a "Christian?" Jewish mob, I might add.

For a start, was it not paul would say he was prepared to die in the names of JEsus? Act 21 : 13-14.;

13 Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus ." 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."

Why would Paul, say this and then in the hit of the moment accept a compromise that result in him backing down? Why was he not ready to die for his Jesus when given the opportunity?

This is the main body of the narrative:

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

From Verse 20, we learn that these were Jewish Christians, who also hung onto the OC of Moses. Now, why would Christians want to lynch one of their own?

Essentially, the elders (whomever they may be) advised Paul on how to avoid the expected lynching, by performing OC ritualism. Paul takes it up with gusto and even goes as far as anouncing the day of the end of the festivals at the Temple.

Why would Christians have associated with the Temple? Was it not the centre of OC, Judaism? What was Paul doing there making anouncements about a OC Jewish festival?

Paul had nothing to fear from the Roman government. He claims to have dual citizenship, Roman and Jewish. In fact, in another incident, he appeals to his Roman citizenship and Romans soldiers are sent to rescue him from a tight situations - see Acts 21: 30 - Acts 22: 6.

So essentially, Paul had nothing to fear from the Roman authorities.

You have not explained why he backs down. Why did Paul back down and:

1) Took part in the festival of shaven heads with the other men?

2) Go to the Temple, the centre of OC Judaism to announce the end of the festival. ?

3) Was NC Christianity ever associated with the Temple?

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Now back to Huxley's false allegations:

Really?

Now that we have established the REASON why the jews at jerusalem particularly wanted to kill Paul, it would be mindful to note that the elders of the church at jerusalem also knew this and wanted to find a way around it . . . hear them . . .

Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

23 Do therefore this that we say to thee:

Verses 20 - 22 are very important for here the elders of the church lay down the premise for the jewish angst against Paul. The jews were zealous of the law and were ready to kill anyone preaching anything contrary to the laws of Moses.

Verse 23 i decided to put in bold because it is the very foundation on which Huxley's false, pedantic allegations crumble . . . it is clear that the elders were trying to fashion out a way to difuse the tension among the jews by making Paul perform (to a certain extent) some of the jewish customs in the presence of the angry jews so they could relax their anger.

Now Huxley makes this other false allegation:

The answer is NO. Paul was not confronted by the church elders in Jerusalem, they were only trying to help Paul avoid a potential lynching by the zealous but angry Jewish crowd at Jerusalem. The evidence that the church elders supported Paul's preaching is given in verse 25 of Acts 21:

25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

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Really?

To determine whether this allegation is true, we have to do a lot more than just cherry pick a couple of verses and build a sermon on them. Lets backtrack a little to understand what was really going on here.

Acts 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

Things to note here:

1. There came a prophet (a christian believer) called Agabus from Judea (Jerusalem). (It is important to note where he came from as that gives us a window into WHY he came to Paul at all).

2. There was already a plan by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem (where Agabus was coming from) to capture Paul and deliver him up to be killed by the gentiles (in this case the Roman government in Judea).

Acts 21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.

Despite being privy to the plot to ambush and kill him in Jerusalem, Paul was still willing to go up to Jerusalem to meet with the elders of the church there.

- At this point we must note that Jerusalem was the seat of the JEWISH CHRISTIAN CHURCH. So those that Paul would be meeting there would be primarily Jews to whom the old covenant had pertained before the crucifixtion of Christ.

Now lets backtrack a bit . . . why were the Jews planning to kill Paul?

Acts 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Paul's offence is clear from this verse:

1. teaching the people not to observe the Mosaic laws under the old covenant (which wasnt entirely true)

2. Bringing gentiles into the temple - under the old mosaic laws this was an offence for indeed the bible had spoken of it in Ez 44:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

- But under the new covenant, the temple ceased to become the center of God's presence (now Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit dwells in each individual)

- John 4:21 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21 - 23 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

In essence, Christ was foretelling of the hour when the temple of Jerusalem would cease to become the center of worship as salvation moved from being a national birthright to an individual choice to accept salvation under the new covenant of grace.

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Let me spell it out simply for you. This is my allegation:

Paul was only paying lip service to the concept of a New Covenant.

Now, you may ask - "where is the evidence for this comment?" And would say, - "Look at Acts 21 where Paul participates in Old Testament ritualism"

Did Paul not participate in this OC ritualism? I would argue categorically that he did.

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Nothing as irksome as irrational, unsubstantiated allegations as well.

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This is simply an example of dishonesty, deliberate misrepresentation of the bible and a clear lack of understanding of the issues being discussed on Acts 21.

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Who are the apologists for the New Covenant willing to stand up for it here, if Paul could not?

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Can Paul be trusted? Can the bible be trusted?

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