Apostles’ Guidance

Apostles’ Guidance April 3, 2024

Practical Spirituality series

It’s not always clear in the New Testament who the apostles were speaking to. It takes some study to decipher which group. They understood Jews would remain Jews if they wanted to. The apostles gave non-Jews a different standard of conduct. The laws of Judaism applied to Jews only. They exempted non-Jews from that expectation.

The apostles of Jesus debated this question of who the Law applied to until they finally decided that they would not give the law of Moses to non-Jews.

Noahide Law, Ten Commandments, and Most Important Commandment, compiled by Dorian Cole
Noahide Law, Ten Commandments, and Most Important Commandment, compiled by Dorian Cole

“After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.” “But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” – Acts 21: 17-22, 25 (NASB)
Also see Galatians 2:14 and Romans 2:12-29.

The complicated laws of Judaism

The first five books of the Bible (laws of Moses, or the Torah) gave the Jews commandments regarding “the way to behave.” Jewish priests prior to Jesus time found 613 such laws guiding day-to-day life. These include laws on morality, ceremony, and judicial matters. In addition, Jews have the “Oral Torah,” which is traditions of the fathers.

Judaism doesn’t feel that Christians are subject to any of these laws except those that came from Noah (seven laws reflected in the Ten Commandments).

The apostles didn’t pass on any laws to Christianity. Christians read the Hebrew Bible and think that they are subject to laws found in it, but they aren’t. And Christians distort many of these. And even Jews have difficulty interpreting some of them. The Jews from antiquity, who lived with their laws, know the history of interpretation. Christians usually aren’t aware of this history and interpret without context, even though they aren’t subject to the laws of Judaism.

Apostles’ advice to Christians

Over time the apostles gave slightly different advice to Christians on behaviors to avoid. The most common advice was about sexual relations. The apostles considered the physical body as a temple and believed that Christians should keep it pure. But they weren’t against sex in marriage.

The best interpretation of their concerns about sex was that it happen in a loving, committed relationship and not be promiscuous. Promiscuous means having many sexual partners and probably with minimal protection from unwanted pregnancy and disease. In other words, someone who sleeps with everyone all the time.

Jesus was quick to forgive women who were promiscuous, adulterers, and prostitutes. But he told them to sin no more. He told those in committed relationships not to lust after people outside their marriage.

Sexuality is a natural part of life. But like with all good things, if we don’t control them they lead to disaster.

Does this advice hold for today?

Everything about promiscuity and sex in uncommitted relationships shouts, “Be careful.” This comes from the experience of many people. The 1960s and the advent of birth control saw a revolution in sexual freedom, but many who have experienced unlimited freedom experience regret. The “walk of shame” after an overnight fling is no myth. In colleges, promiscuity and drinking are associated with risky behavior that frequently ends in rape. Disease is a frequent consequence and can lead to cancer.

Family is revered throughout history in most cultures. Not that all people have to be married, but family is revered. Those who have a person who loves them and stays with them have longer, happier lives, as disclosed in a TED Talk, What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness, about a 60 year Harvard study of individuals.

The decision, or the default some have of not using protection, starts a family. In families, people love and protect each other. They are responsible and stay in the marriage. Starting a family without these ingredients is a recipe for having children with significant problems in life. I’ve seen a huge amount of problems that came from bad marriages and it’s sickening.

Lusting and pornography

We live in a sexually saturated culture, and pornography has become a huge business. When people who are married use pornography, it tears away at their marriage, according to studies. It also sets unreachable expectations for teens that can delay marriage. Plenty of TED Talks are on the subject.

Studies show that people who watch pornography become desensitized to what they typically see and crave ever increasing extremism. In their marriages, they gradually lose interest in sex, which destroys marriage. It leads to unrealistic expectations from partners. If you want to destroy your marriage, watch pornography regularly.

This isn’t meant to condemn all uses of pornography, just for those who regularly watch it and for whom marriage is a consideration. Everyone should recognize the dangers. Some people will never get married or have those kinds of relationships. Some couples watch it to get in the mood. These aren’t mine to criticize. But we all need to make informed decisions.


Jesus didn’t ask the Jews to stop being Jews. He asked them to focus on love. Jesus didn’t ask non-Jews to become Jews and take on Jewish law. He asked them to focus on love.

Jesus’ focus on love was to bring transformation into our hearts and minds. He brought major change so that we would create needed change.

We all are required to think seriously about our behavior. We have to think about how it affects us and others. The apostles were concerned about sexual behavior for good reason. Sex can lead to very sinister consequences, even today.

The most sinister aspect of sex is Christians who solely focus on criticizing it, and misinterpret what the Bible says.

Probability Space

We can show love to others and have a positive impact on their lives in many ways. It’s letting our light shine. It’s about focusing on others as much we do on our own riches. What probability spaces can we open to focus on making specific changes in the world? Where do we see injustice, tragic inequality, and ways to improve the lives of others?

Potential Space

If you think creatively and allow your mind to wander and explore, how can we make the world more just, eliminate tragic inequality, and improve the lives of others?

Some do this through medicine, some government (legislation), technology, and direct help. Are there major changes we can make that enshrine our conscience and love into our way of life?

–           Dorian

Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.




About Dorian Scott Cole
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