Acts 15:29

ESV that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
NIV You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
NASB that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from acts of sexual immorality; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.'
CSB that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things.Farewell."
NLT You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.'
KJV That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

What does Acts 15:29 mean?

These are the requirements the leadership of the church in Jerusalem places on Gentile Christians. They are not required for salvation. They are concessions to maintain unity so the Jewish Christians—who still follow the Mosaic law—can feel comfortable in community with Gentiles.

The restriction against eating food sacrificed to idols seems straightforward. Revelation 2:14 says Balaam and Balak enticed the Israelites to not only "whore with the daughters of Moab," but also to eat food sacrificed to Baal (Numbers 25:1–3). The interesting turn is that Paul doesn't strictly enforce this requirement (1 Corinthians 10:25–26). He understands that in cities and towns that are not in Jewish territories, it is difficult to find meat that hasn't been dedicated to a god before it is sold in the market. The equivalent would be like going to Israel and trying to find meat that isn't kosher. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells the church to abstain from food sacrificed to idols under certain conditions: First, in the presence of someone who had worshiped those idols and still strongly feels that to eat is to worship that idol. Or, in such a way as to make a casual person think you are endorsing the idol's temple. (1 Corinthians 8); Third, when invited to eat by an unbeliever who brags the meat has been sacrificed to an idol (1 Corinthians 10:27–29). In both cases, it is for the conscience of the other person, not because eating the meat is a sin.

The restriction on blood started when Noah landed on dry land after the flood (Genesis 9:4). It was reiterated several times in the Mosaic law:
"If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood" (Leviticus 17:10–12).
A strangled animal was one that was not properly butchered and still had the blood in the meat. Spartans at the time ate a pork soup with blood in it. The Talmud, the extra laws that the Pharisees followed, states that a Jew isn't to eat more than the volume of an olive of an animal's lifeblood; the blood left mingled into the fibers of meat after proper butchering doesn't count.

Scholars debate today whether the restriction against blood still stands or whether Jesus lifted it (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:9–16; Romans 14:20). It's at least ironic; when pagan citizens of the Roman Empire hear that Christians eat Christ's body and drink His blood during communion, they miss the symbolism and accuse the church of cannibalism.

The restriction against sexual immorality is puzzling if only because it seems redundant. Certainly, the sexual sanctification of Greeks and Romans takes time and significant work by the Holy Spirit, and Paul speaks against sexual sin often (Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9–20; 1 Timothy 1:10). It's unclear if the church in Jerusalem is reinforcing the standard or if they're referring to marriage between close relatives, like that of Herod Antipas and his brother's wife Herodias (Mark 6:17).

The council in Jerusalem accomplishes two great feats. It sets standards for how Jews and Gentiles should be able to worship and live together in community. But it also sets the standard for how a multicultural church can respectfully work together. They listen, testify, and argue, and in the end determine the least burdensome requirements (Acts 15:6–20). If Christian leaders and laity take their example, the church can be a peaceful, unified place.
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