oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - Does Acts 15 : 9 refute intra-ecclesial Jew-Gentile distinction?

Volume 19, Issue 03
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



This study examines Peter's comment in Acts 15:9, that God made 'no distinction' between Gentile and Jewish Jesus-believers in purifying their hearts by faith, to determine whether the text teaches that the ecclesia is composed of an undifferentiated mix of people from the two groups. Textual analysis shows that the comment could be interpreted at a lexical level as a denial of intra-ecclesial Jew-Gentile distinction, but the context of Acts 15:1-29 demands a narrower interpretation: there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in terms of how they are saved, but they remain distinct in other respects. Both Peter's speech and James' verdict provide strong evidence that the leaders of the nascent ecclesia made distinction between its Jewish and Gentile members, upholding Jews' obligation to Jewish Law and faith tradition, whilst imposing only a few moral prohibitions on Gentile believers.

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