The so-called Noahide Laws, also called Noachian Laws, or Laws of Noah, are not biblical but are a concept from the Babylonian Talmud that there were seven laws given to Adam and to Noah before the Law of Moses was given to Jews and that consequently these seven laws are binding on Gentiles. The first five commandments are against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, and robbery, while the sixth command for Gentiles, according to the Talmud, is to establish courts of justice. The seventh commandment, given to Noah, forbids the eating of flesh cut from a living animal (Gen. 9:4). Though it is not clear from Genesis that the Talmud’s interpretation of Genesis 9:4 is what the original text means.

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:3-4) 

Some haver argued that these six commands in the Talmud resemble the four demands placed on Gentile Christians by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. And certainly the “from blood” in the second of those Jerusalem requests does seem to correspond with Genesis 9:4:

28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:28-29)

It’s less clear that the other three demands of the Jerusalem Council correspond to the other six Noahide Laws in the Talmud. Or why there are only four in Acts 15, not seven.

In any case, this is all somewhat academic for the Gentile Christian both in the 1st Century and today, since Paul clearly revoked the first three of those four requests in Acts 15:29 only a few years later when he wrote to the Corinthians: “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” (1 Corinthians 10:25)  And again when he says in Colossians 2: 16 “Therefore let no one judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a feast, a New Moon, or a Sabbath.” And that statement is explicit that whatever one might not eat as a concession to the weakness of others, in no way is to one let oneself be judged or pressured into such rules.

Tagged with →  
Share →