The Yoke Broken
Acts 15:23-29
And they wrote letters by them after this manner…

I. THE RELATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO JUDAISM. The decision was an admission that the Jewish ordinances were not permanent or essential. That old system had only "a shadow of good things to come." It educated for the gospel, and having accomplished this its work really ended. The gospel succeeded. Christ was declared to be the end of the law to everyone that believeth; and the apostle to the Gentiles said, "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly," but "We are the circumcision which worship God," etc. To insist on the continued obligation of the Mosaic customs would be like drilling a reader in the alphabet. As well might the butterfly keep up its caterpillar existence — fly and crawl at the same time. For the Gentiles to practise the customs of the Old Law would be both irksome and also liable to lead to the error that salvation was dependent on these observances. Against this danger Paul most carefully guarded. The epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians are the strong ramparts which were erected to oppose it.

II. THE TOLERANT SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY. It seems strange to have such an example in the infant Church, since toleration is usually the fruit of long experience. Even more surprising is it, when we consider the antecedents of the men who displayed it. They were Jews, of a most bigoted race. One of the hardest lessons for men to learn is to unlearn, and act contrary to early convictions. Though they themselves, through force of habit, continued to observe the national customs, they would not bind the Gentiles to do the same. It is strange that this decision should have been ever forgotten. The intolerance which has resulted from losing sight of it has been the disgrace of Christianity. The greatest names have been in fault here. As an old divine says, "Whilst we wrangle here in the dark, we are dying and passing to that world which will decide all controversies: the safest passage thither is by peaceable righteousness."

III. CHRISTIANITY, WHILE TOLERANT IN SPIRIT, HAS ITS SELF-DENIALS (ver. 29). If, after their conversion from heathenism to Christianity, they still continued to eat meat offered to idols, and to frequent the idolatrous feasts where it was served, they were more likely to relapse into their old heathen life. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." The same thing in effect has to be perpetually guarded against. The Christian of today must, for his own spiritual good, beware of certain worldly habits and indulgences, lest he go back to the world.

(A. H. Currier.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

WEB: They wrote these things by their hand: "The apostles, the elders, and the brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: greetings.

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