1. How is it that Peter and the disciples thinking keep the Torah is the thing Jesus expects of them?
2. How is it that Paul, who never met Jesus, could be convinced that Torah didn't matter?
In response to 1: The Jerusalem Council said that Gentile believers only had to abstain from sexual immorality and from eating blood. So they were progressing. God gave Peter the vision of unclean animals coming down from the sky in a sheet and said "Eat" declaring that Peter, a Jew, could now eat bacon, shrimp, and catfish. The letter to the Galatians makes it clear that believers are not expected to keep the Mosaic Law.[/quote]
Yes, but you miss the point. Up and till the meeting in Acts 15 (effectively before Peter's 'vision') they all kept the whole Torah. Why? They have living with Jesus, apparently, for 3 years and yet did not get the message from Jesus, a law abiding Jew, that they no longer had to keep the law?
In response to 2: Paul's background was that he was a "Pharisee of the Pharisees" and he studied under the top rabbi at that time, Gamaliel. So what would it take for someone to go from believing that he could achieve perfect righteousness by his own efforts following the Mosaic Law to saying that the Law cannot save? Meeting Jesus on the Damascus road was probably all it took.
Right, so Paul, having not ever met Jesus 'in the flesh' so to speak is convinced by a 'vision' of something that the Jerusalem disciples were not after 3 years with Jesus? Really?
Here's what Paul had to say about the Law:
"We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:15-16, ESV)
This is what Paul has to say later. We are trying to figure out the change in Paul's and the Jerusalem Church's attitude to the Torah up to Acts 15. We have, on one hand, Torah jews worshipping Christ and we have Torah Jew giving the whole lot upwith his Gentile converts. now we could say, on the face of it, that the chnage was very convenient for the parties concerned. making the gentiles kept Torah would hardly have encouraged many in but changing to a liberal policy in which Torah is swpet away in favour of a couple of minor adjustments makes it easy to get converts.
Now remember, at this stage, we have nothing like a gospel around - irts quite early. Even if the story of Jesus completing the Torah was historic and the disciples all knew it, it is a difficult passge to work in the idea that everything they ahd done before, the Torah, could be dumped. Jesus was totally oblique if that was what he meant. Now I know you will provide the other odd texts from the gospels where Jesus tells people what you eat doesn't get into you and so on but that's only about food and only if it was written later when the gospels were written. It doesn't cover all the other 613 commandments that make up the Torah. Notice the Jesus insists on a pesach meal - or was it the day before pesach (the gospels don't agree on this) so that Jesus was still going with the Torah up to his death.
Really, nothing that Jesus was said to have done or said makes it clear that this is a new religion and the old 613 commandments are out so if the disciples changed the rules - i.e. dropped the Torah demands - they
did it and not Jesus. The terms 'vison' could just as easily be seen as someone realising something they have been thinking about all of a sudden - in this case, 'that's how we can get the gentiles to join in numbers!'
So, another go at an explanation?