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Does the Book of Acts teach Christians to become Jewish?
Published on November 20, 2005 By Sabbatismus In Religion
The Sabbath Day And the Synagogue in the Book of Acts
By Sabbatismus

Often used by the Sabbatarians as "proofs" that Gentiles and Christians are to keep the Sabbath day of the Jews are the scriptures in book of Acts. For the casual reader, who may be unfamiliar with the Synagogue and the rest of the teachings of both the Jews and Scripture, it may appear to be "proof" . But, for the real student of Judaism, Christianity and the Scriptures, i.e., the learned, they do not substantiate the claim made by the Judaizing brands of Christianity.

The Jew First
From the beginning of the gospel of salvation through Christ, it was first to be taught and preached among the Jews and later the Gentiles. Christ taught only among the Jews. In Mt.15:21-27 Christ speaks to a woman of Canaan, a gentile and says that He (Christ) is only sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Though, he greatly honors this woman for her faith, a foresight of the things to come when all the Gentiles will be saved by their faith.

Paul, a Jew himself, taught the gospel first among the Jews in every city starting at the synagogue and then in the city. On the Sabbath day, Paul would go in to the Synagogue where the Jews gathered to worship on the Sabbath. There he would preach Christ's birth, suffering, death and resurrection from the Old Testament Scriptures. And some Jews within the Synagogue would believe and some would not. The gospel must first be preached to the Jew and then to the Gentile. As Paul writes in Rom.1: 16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

The Synagogue

It is appropriate to first have an understanding of who were in the synagogue and why were they there. Of course, the devout Jews participated in the Synagogue worship as a matter of keeping the commandment given to the Jews in Exodus 20 to observe the Sabbath day. Thus, we find the faithful Jews, whom had been circumcised in the flesh and keeping all the laws of Moses as well as the Sabbath day among those in the Synagogue. Though, they are not the only people gathered there to worship.

The Gentile is gathered as well. There are two terms used in the scriptures to define two different stages of gentiles conversion to Judaism. The term "God Fearer" or "one who fears God" was a term that was used to describe the gentile who believed in the one true God and denied the idols and foreign gods of the gentile world, including emperors as gods. The "God Fearers" attended the synagogue on the Sabbath, yet were not bound to the restrictions of not working on the Sabbath. They did not eat with the Jews and could not keep the Passover without circumcision.

A "God Fearer" became a "proselyte" when he was circumcised in the flesh, and vowed to keep the whole law of Moses. The term, which is used in the scriptures, is the term, "proselyte," (which means in Greek, "to sojourn" ) is a term for a gentile who became circumcised and thereby bound to the Sabbaths and all of the laws under the Law of Moses. Nearly all "proselytes" were God Fearers first, and then from there they could become proselytes. Because not all gentiles could be free enough or desired to rest on Sabbaths, clean and unclean meats and the other non-moral requirements of the Law of Moses, most of the gentiles remained "God Fearers". The term proselyte is used in the follow verse by Christ himself when he rebukes the self-righteous Pharisees, Matt 23:15"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves"

The Difference Between the God Fearer and the Proselytes
What is not commonly known about the Jew's and their beliefs concerning the gentiles from the time of Noah, during the time of Christ and until this present day is that the none of the Jews at any time believed that the Sabbath was ever binding upon the gentiles in order for them to be accepted by God or to inherit eternal life. In the later part of this document you will find ample proof from a number of sources that prove;
1. The Jews never believed that the Sabbath or other ceremonial parts, the Sabbath, Holy Days and meat restrictions were binding on Gentiles. In the book, "Jewish Literacy, The Most Important Thinks to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History" by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Chapter 278, "RIGHTOUS NON-JEWS/HASIDEI UMMOT HA-OLAM" the Rabbi begins the first line of the chapter in this manner: "Judaism has never taught that one has to be Jewish in order to be saved."
2. The Jews do not believe that anyone prior to Abraham keep anything more than the "Noahide Law" or "Seven Laws of Noah". Quoting from the EVERYMAN'S TALMUD, "Judaism regards any non-Jew (gentile) who keeps these laws as a righteous person who is guaranteed a place in the world-to-come."

In the book, "EVERYMAN'S TALMUD, The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages"
BY Abraham Cohen, page 65 we read this concerning the Gentile whom is about
to receive circumcision. "He is told, "you must know that before taking this step (circumcision) you partook of forbidden fat and profaned the Sabbath without incurring punishment; BUT HENCEFORWARD if you do these things dire penalties will befall you." We note that the Jews fully allowed the Gentile, "God Fearers" to "profane the Sabbath" and eat unclean meats, (forbidden fats) without judgment from God or themselves until they were circumcised in the flesh.

Understanding Judaism by Benjamin Blech
Page 177 "The Jew may reach a higher level and hence be assured of greater proximity to the Almighty in the afterlife. But a non-Jew is not cut off from the creator. Non-Jews, too have their "Torah". A Torah of seven not 613. If a non-Jew observes those seven, then he or she is reckoned among "the righteous of the nations of the world" and can find favor in the sight of God. Eternal blessing and reward can await even one who is not a member of our faith community".

"A descendant of Noah is duty bound to obey those laws that define a person not as a Jew, but simply as a human being that obligation must be considered first in light of its dramatic meaning vis-a vis our understanding of the relationship between God and the entire non-Jewish world" page 175.

The book of "The Works of Josephus" manifests that the uncircumcised Gentile Sacrifices were offered at the temple, Wars Book II, Chapter 17, paragraphs 3 and 4. The temple worship and with the Levitical Priests accepted the sacrifices and offerings of the uncircumcised Gentiles who did not observe the Sabbath, Holy Days or meat restrictions of the Jews. They did so because they knew that the Gentile offerings of the devout convert to God was accepted with God and held to be righteous by their faith and turning away from idols.

It was the act of circumcision of the flesh accompanied by the vow to observe all the law of Moses that made a Gentile bound to live as a Jew, enjoined the Jewish lifestyle and all the commandments of the Law of Moses (Acts 15:5). So, we find in the Synagogue three essential types of people.
1. The circumcised Jew who was bound by the covenant between God and Israel to observe all the Sabbath days, meat restrictions and holy days and all the laws of Moses.

2. The Gentile proselyte who was once an uncircumcised Gentile, whom before hearing the gospel of Christ, attended the Synagogue on the Sabbath as a means of worship but by the act of circumcision of the flesh and the vowed to keep the "whole law of Moses" Paul writes in Gal.3: 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

3. The uncircumcised Gentile who is known as the "God Fearer" or "one who fears God" and is or was under no obligation to keep the Jewish Sabbaths or meat restrictions but may attend and worship in the Synagogue on the Sabbath but then return to work. These three make up the Synagogue and Temple worship. He was held as one "righteous among the nations" because he had forsaken idols and learned to observe the Laws of Noah which governed all the Gentile nations.

It is from this genre and background context that we must then understand the scriptures and read them. And from this we may understand that the Christian Church grew having a mixed company of Jewish believers, Gentile Proselytes and Gentile God Fearer's in each Synagogue on the Sabbath.

Acts 13
Returning to the scriptures, Acts 13 occurs well after the Apostle Peter had been shown that uncircumcised Gentiles were not to considered "unclean" once they believed in Christ, Acts 10. Both Peter and Paul had begun to preach that the Church and Christianity was not only for the Jewish Christians and Jewish converts but even for the Gentiles who were outside the Jewish faith.

So it was, that in every city, the Apostles would begin to preach Christ to the Jew first, in the Synagogue or wherever the Jewish people gathered. For they must hear the word having already known God to some degree and desiring to live a righteous life. Indeed, what we find in every case, is that the Apostles are not preaching Judaism in the Synagogue but Christ as the suffering Messiah and Christianity. Acts 13 demonstrates the Apostolic preaching so vividly. Paul goes in to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, preaching Christ to the Jew first, who must hear the word and after them, the Gentile. Paul makes no statement regarding the keeping of the Sabbath to the Gentiles because the uncircumcised are not under any obligation to keep the covenant God made with Israel regarding circumcision of the flesh or the Sabbath.

In Acts 13 as it has happens so often among at the Jewish Synagogue, the Jews begin contradicting and blaspheming, a sign of their rejection of Christ as the Messiah. But, the Gentiles believe.

Acts 15
After sufficient time, a "Sect of the Pharisees" whom believed that Christianity should only be a Jewish sect and not inclusive of the uncircumcised Gentile peoples from every nation, started an uproar over their belief which has been renewed in the Adventist and Armstrong movement.

But, the Apostles came together in the first council of the Apostles and Elders and condemned the doctrine that Christians must become or should live as do the Jews to be saved. The Sect of Pharisees preaching was Judaism rather than Christ as is followed by the Adventist and Armstrong movement today. The gospel preached by them is rather about the Law of Moses and learning to be Jewish rather than learning to be as Christ. They often use Christ and the Apostle Paul who were Jews to teach others learn to live as do the Jews but this was sorely condemned as a corruption of the gospel by the Apostles in Acts 15 and Galatians as well as other scriptures throughout the New Testament.

What about Acts 15:21 Moses Is Preached in Every City.
Acts 15: 21 "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach HIM (Moses), being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

We should not let Sabbatarians disturb us, with this verse. The Sabbatarians, Judaizers teach that the Gentiles are to be sent into the synagogue in every city where they will learn, "Moses" and that they are obligated to keep the law of Moses. That is in direct contradiction to EVERYTHING that the Apostles have said before and will say afterwards. It is absolutely false. The Apostles and Elders foregoing statements all tell us, they are opposed to adding anything further than the four things listed.

When the gospel was preached among the gentiles Christ had commanded that the gospel first go to the Jew and then the gentile. The Jew in the synagogues had made a habit of trying to convert the gentile and thus make the gentiles become circumcised and "commanding him to keep the Law of Moses." They were preaching Moses and this is what started the entire problem. After God had given salvation and the Holy Spirit by grace through faith as Peter declares, some of the Sect of the Pharisees began preaching Moses. Let me post verse five of this chapter here, "5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. In order to avoid any confusion, this letter was sent to the churches so that there would be no confusion or misunderstanding. The decree supplied written proof that the Gentiles are to left alone and not to be nagged, pestered and troubled over keeping the law of Moses and circumcision.

The gentiles were not to be made bound to either circumcision or the Law of Moses. The point in verse 21 is to say that it was necessary to write to the gentiles because in every city was a synagogue where the Jews would preach Moses (not Christ, not the gospel, but Moses as ADDITIONAL TO the way to salvation, ADDED TO CHRIST. The apostles wanted no misunderstanding, the gentiles were not to be circumcised and commanded to keep the law of Moses because faith in Christ is the way unto salvation. When the Apostles and Elders wrote "NO OTHER BURDEN" , they didn't mean go to a synagogue and learn the rest of the burdens of Law of Moses. Peter said it was a burden which "they nor their fathers were able to bear. "

When the Apostles and Elders wrote "NO OTHER BURDEN", they didn't mean go to a synagogue and learn the rest of the burdens of Law of Moses. Peter said it was a burden which "they nor their fathers were able to bear. " It is entirely wrong to think that the Apostles desired to send Gentile Christians into the synagogue so they could be "troubled" and have their faith further "subverted" by those preaching Moses and further "tempt God" as Peter said. The context clearly spells out, the last thing the Apostles wanted was for the faith of the uncircumcised Gentiles to be further "troubled", "subverted" and corrupted by those preaching the law of Moses in the synagogue. So they put a decree in writing that says, leave the Gentiles alone! Do not trouble them!

In Acts 16: Immediately after the council of Jerusalem condemning the doctrine of Judaizing the Gentiles, we find Paul in 16:13 continuing to preach the gospel of Christ, going first to where the Jews would gather on the Sabbath. What is occurring is that rather than making Christians Jewish, Paul is busy making Jews Christians.

Acts 17: shows how Paul after first preaching Christ to the Jews, then preaches to the Gentiles. From one city unto the next even unto Mars hill. Yet, none of these places do you find Paul preaching that Gentiles must live as do the Jews and become Sabbath and Jewish Holy Day observers and keep the meat and diet restrictions of the Jews. That is far from his teachings and had already been settled forever at the council of Jerusalem by all the Apostles and Elders of the Church.

Acts 18
Acts 18 is no different than the rest of the scriptures. Paul first preaches the gospel to those in the Jewish Synagogue and then to the whole city. Verse 4 shows that Paul made it an appointment in this city to reason in the synagogue every Sabbath day. These verses are often used by the Adventist and Armstrong followers to claim to be "proof" that the Paul taught Gentiles to live as do the Jews. Not at all is it proof. Paul was a Jew, when he lived among the Jews he lived as the Jews but condemned any Jewish Christian that might teach that the Gentiles had to become Jewish too. That was an absolute corruption of the gospel. The learned Jews of the scriptures held no such doctrine.

When Paul heard how some or most the Jews refused to believe the gospel, he said in verse 6: 6And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. " Never does Paul make any requirement that Gentiles either attend the Sabbath, the Synagogue or keep any of the Jewish laws of distinction. To do so, would first require circumcision of the flesh (Acts 15:5, Gal.3:5) and is totally contrary to the council condemnation of the Judaizing of Gentile Christians.

Again, what is sorely missing from the Adventist and Armstrong learning is the reality of the fact that neither the Jews or the Apostles approved of preaching that the Gentiles had to become or live a Jewish life in order to be righteous or saved by God. Jews nor the Christians held any such belief that one must keep the Sabbath or Annual Holy Days of the Israel to be saved. No, both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians lived and worshiped among and with each other and did not proclaim one as better than the other. Because, they were all one in Christ and "Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" Gal.3:27

Finally, after the Sect of Pharisees saw their defeat, yet insisted on teaching Judaism among the Gentile Christians, Paul let it be known, that if even HE changed his mind or the Apostle Peter or an Angel of God came down and corrupted the gospel by preaching something, in this case a requirement to be or live as a Jew to be saved, then the congregation of Christians were to "LET THEM be anathema" .

Acts 21
To demonstrate that nothing whatsoever had changed after the Council in Jerusalem of Acts 15, more than a decade later in Acts 21, Paul had returned to the center of Judaism, Jerusalem. "Paul had come to Jerusalem and they had heard from other Jews, that Paul was not only teaching the Gentiles not to circumcise their children or to walk after the customs of Moses, but also the Jews. James asks Paul to clear himself of the charges by performing the ceremonial rites of uncleanness and once again confirms that nothing had changed in the ten years or more, saying to confirm that “thou thyself (Paul, a Jew) also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25As 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.” Acts 21:25. All of these commandments for the Gentiles to keep were known as the "Laws of Noah" .


Paul, as Jew continued to live as a Jew among the Jews. In 1Cor.9: 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law." Paul's words are very well stated. And it gives us a good deal of understanding how he might do both live a Jew among the Jews and follow the Sabbath, Holy Day and meat restrictions. Paul as a Jew, he knew well that the uncircumcised Gentiles were free from the Sabbath, Holy Day and meat restriction obligations and were able to live as "the righteous among the nations" by keeping the laws of the covenant with Noah, repeated in the council of Jerusalem. And more excellently the commandments of Christ and the Apostles to love one another fulfilled all the law, Gal.5:13-14.

There is no scriptural support for the Judaizing of Christians. There is abundant scriptural condemnation of anyone that preaches that Gentiles must live as or become Jewish to be saved. For all the shouting by the Adventist and Armstrong followers about Paul entering the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, you won't find one of them who is willing to be so bold as the Apostle and enter a Synagogue on the Sabbath and Preach Christ they way Paul did. Nor, will you find them to be as willing to defend the freedom of the Gentiles from the requirements of the Sabbaths, New Moons and Holy Days, as the Apostles. They are nothing like the true Apostles who condemned those who taught, "It is needful to circumcise the Gentiles and command them to keep the law of Moses".

How did The Lord's Day become the Christian Sabbath?
Christianity was a new religion. Many of the first Christians were Jewish long before they had heard the gospel. It was natural for these Christians to continue keeping the observance of the Law of Moses as the book of Acts generally makes clear. However, when the uncircumcised Gentiles who converted to Christ became Christians, they were not to be commanded to live a Jewish life, in order to saved. The Jewish Christians are warned in the first council of the church in Acts 15 not to pester, discriminate or belittle the Gentile Christian who did not keep the Jewish Sabbath days and meat distinctions.

During the early centuries of the church, the Lord's Day, "Upon the first day of the week" had special meaning because it was the resurrection of the Christ from the dead. It was the living proof of Christ being the Messiah and Savior of Man. At first the Lord's Day was celebrated by the sharing of the body of Christ and communion of the saints in worship in recognition and celebration of Christ as Lord and Savior. Many of the first Christians were slaves and had no opportunity to refuse to serve their masters. It was unchristian and not according to mercies and justice taught by Christ to force slaves to rebel against their masters in order to keep the Lord's Day sacred as the new day of rest in Christ. The earliest Christians would meet early in the morning or at night "upon the first day of the week" to celebrate the resurrection and memorial of Christ.

In the course of time, Christianity was able to influence world leaders to allow the Christians free to worship "upon the first day of the week", The Lord's day worship became a Sabbath rest for the Gentiles as the Saturday was the Sabbath was for the Jews. Hence, it has been understood the Sunday does not replace the Jewish Sabbath, but was added along side the Jewish Sabbath as day of rest for Christians. The Sabbath for the Jew keeping the Law of Moses will always be Saturday. But, Sunday, the day our Lord was resurrected, called "The Lord's Day" is known as the Christian Sabbath, as Saturday is known as the Jewish Sabbath.


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