The Conference at Jerusalem: Eating Blood

Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14; Acts 15  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
It is often questioned whether the prohibitions against eating blood in Gen. 9:44But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. (Genesis 9:4), Lev. 17:10-1410And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. 12Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. 13And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. 14For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:10‑14), and Acts 15 are binding on Christians. The conference at Jerusalem (Acts 15) settles for us the question of abstaining from blood. It does not take up Leviticus 17, but the command to Noah as to this. The question to be settled was, could the Gentiles become Christians without first becoming Jews? Amos 9 is cited for the sake of the words, "And all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called." It is not that the prophecy was fulfilled, but that the name of the Lord could be called on them as Gentiles. Jerusalem herself gives up the title to impose the law on the nations, and the Apostle of the circumcision uses the remarkable expression, "We shall be saved, even as they" (v. 2); that is, through grace—the manner in which a Gentile is dealt with, mercy being God's way, through grace, with the Jew (compare Eph. 2:4-84But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:4‑8), etc.). When the "apostles and elders and brethren" write their decision, in verses 23 to 29, they embody in it those "necessary things" which were opportune and right for Christians to observe. First, the unity of the Godhead was to be maintained, in contrast to the "idols" of the heathen. Second, that life belonged to Him they were to abstain from "blood, and from things strangled." Third, the marriage tie was sacred and to be kept pure. In fact, they go back to what was right and ordered of God in creation, coupling it with those things I name; not as enacting new laws, but giving what was right to be observed in the midst of an evil world.
Thus, what was enacted in Gen. 9:44But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. (Genesis 9:4), is held good in Christianity. I do not think therefore we are exempt, but bound, as in all things, to do the will of the Lord.