“In a previous article you answered that it is okay to eat blood. What about Acts 15:20,29?”
When Paul began preaching that Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses to be saved, the leaders of the Hebrew kingdom church were concerned, and convened in Jerusalem to consider the matter (Acts 15:1-6). When Paul later wrote that he “went up…to Jerusalem” to attend this council “by revelation” (Gal. 2:1,2), that meant the Lord revealed to him that he should respectfully seek approval of his new ministry from the leaders of the Hebrew kingdom church. Thanks to Peter’s testimony about his experience with the Gentiles (Acts 15:7-11), James gave this approval, saying,
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God” (Acts 15:19).
But he added,
“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (v. 20).
James perceived the grace that was given to Paul (Gal. 2:9), and so recognized that the new Gentile converts were not under the law. But he wasn’t sure what not being under the law would involve! You see, the details of the revelation of the mystery weren’t given to him, they were given to Paul. And so, while James perceived that he could not withstand this new revelation from God to accept the Gentiles any more than Peter could (cf. Acts 11:17), he directed that while the Gentiles were not under the law, they should at least refrain from things that members of the Hebrew kingdom church would find offensive.
But we know that James was in no position to determine God’s policy in the Body of Christ because Paul later reversed the Jerusalem council’s directive that the Gentiles “abstain from meats offered to idols” (Acts 15:29 cf. 1 Cor. 8:1-6; 10:23-27). And when Paul also taught that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused” when it came to abstaining from meats (1 Tim. 4:3,4), it is clear that the council’s instruction that the Gentiles abstain from eating “things strangled, and from blood” was similarly not binding on the Gentiles.
Just remember, while you are free to enjoy blood soup, or other such dishes, Paul makes it clear that you should not enjoy them in the presence of someone who is weak in the faith when it comes to their understanding of things like this (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:28-33).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.