Misunderstood Verses of the New Testament - Week 6
In this week's edition of Misunderstood Verses of the New Testament we are going to briefly cover the questions "Are there only 4 things Gentiles should do" and "Is Acts 20 proof that Sunday is the new sabbath?".
Let us know your thoughts on this week's posting and the series in general. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!
Problem: 18Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
It is often taught that the only thing the Gentiles have to do are these 4 things.
Solution: Verse 21 - 21For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
The first thing the new converts had to do was to stop following the pagan practices associated with worshiping other gods (the 4 things). They would then learn how to live by going to the synagogue on the Sabbath in order to learn the law of God so they could then properly worship Him and live according to His ways, not man’s ways. Verse 20 is straight out of the Law of Moses (Leviticus 17:12-16; Deut. 32:17). For more on this topic please see our teaching Acts 15: Obedience or Legalism?.
Problem: On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
Many use this verse to defend having Sunday as the “new” Sabbath.
Solution: Verse 6 - But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
Verse 6 needs to be looked at for context and the time frame. We note that the Feast of Unleavened Bread has just occurred. This means we are now in the timeframe of the “counting of the Omer”, or “Counting of Weeks”, before Shavuot/Pentecost (Leviticus 23:4-6, 15). The Counting of Weeks involves counting out 7 Sabbaths. So, back to verse 7, if we go to the Greek where verse 7 says “first day of the week”, the Greek says, actually...mia ton sabbaton. The Greek word mia means “one,” not “first” ... it is the Greek word ‘protos’ that means “first,” which is not present in the text ... we cannot make it say something that it does not. It actually translates as “one of the Sabbaths”. Plural. Not “First day of the week”. Singular. The word ‘day’ does not even exist in the Greek, making it all the more difficult to understand the translation being “first DAY of the week”. When connecting this back to verse 6 we can better see what is going on and the timing makes more sense as they were counting the Sabbaths for the counting of the Omer, not the first day of the week. For more on this topic, please see our teaching The Sabbath Day.