“For in every city from ancient generations Moses has those proclaiming him, having been read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
Proclaiming - Peter delivered the final word on salvation. It is God’s work alone. No man can add to God’s grace formula. Now James endorses Peter’s statement, but he amplifies the thought by explaining why he isn’t concerned that this freedom will lead to uncontrolled indulgence. James says that Moses is proclaimed in every synagogue every Sabbath. The Greek is kerusso, the same word used for preaching. There is no need to worry that grace will open the door to license. Every one of these converts is listening to Moses’ words every week. They are getting a full explanation of the relationship between Law and Grace.
Do you see the implications here? First, the Gentile converts to Messianic congregations are meeting in synagogues on the Sabbath. That means that they are not gathering for community worship on an alternative day. The Sabbath is part of living an obedient life just as the commandment requires. Becoming a believer in the Messiah doesn’t change that.
Second, James is confident that all the converts are learning the torah. Moses’ words have been part of the educational process of godly living for generations. The event of the resurrection didn’t change that. These men assume that torah education will continue just as it always has. That’s what it means to be obedient to God and to live according to His plan. James doesn’t show the slightest concern about proper behavior because he knows that every convert is being trained in torah.
Both of these obvious assumptions raise significant issues for contemporary Christianity. This church council occurs long after Jesus returned to the Father. The council convenes in the presence of Paul and Barnabas. Yet there is no controversy at all about living according to torah. Torah-obedience is simply assumed. That means worshipping on the Sabbath and keeping the torah instructions. No one objects to any of this. Why? Because they all knew that God still expected it. Every one of these men believed Jesus was the Messiah. Every one of them recalled His teaching. Yet none of them felt any discrepancy with torah-obedience.
Something happened between the first church council and the third century political endorsement of Christianity. By the third century, the church no longer worshipped on the Sabbath. It no longer proclaimed the words of Moses every week. When Constantine was finished with revising Christianity, the religious basis of the faith was no longer connected to the culture of the Messiah. It has been lost ever since.
You might consider just how odd it is that we are so far removed from the first council of the believing church. Don’t give me the excuse that the church was Jewish. It wasn’t. The purpose of the counsel was to address Gentile converts, so the Jewish excuse won’t fly. And don’t try to claim that this event occurred before the full revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. Obviously, that isn’t true either. Something else happened that pushed Christianity away from its first expressions of faith. Do you know what it was? You might want to take a serious look, especially when you see that God never endorsed the change. But someone did.
Topical Index: The Church