Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gentile Conversion in the Great Commission

I just had a thought:

When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples the first time, he specifically told them to go only to Israel, not to the Gentiles, not even to the half-Israelite Samaritans (Matt 10:5-6).

In the Great Commission, he sent those same disciples (minus Judas) to "the whole world" (Mark 16:15), to the "Nations" (i.e, the Gentiles - Matt 28:19).

In that time period, when a Gentile converted to YHWH, the Gentile had to be baptized, circumcised, and had to obey the law of Moses. When Peter started converting Gentiles, starting with Cornelius and family, Peter had the Gentiles baptized (Acts 10:48). The Jews back home insisted that the Gentiles also had to be circumcised and to obey the law of Moses (Acts 15:1,5).

Had the Jews been the ones to give the Great Commission, they would have said, "He that believes and is baptized and is circumcised and obeys the law of Moses shall be saved; he that does not believe shall be condemned."

It's interesting that respecting the conversion of Gentiles, Jesus only required baptism, not baptism and circumcision and Moses-keeping.

Was Jesus' Great Commission statement concerning baptism a new requirement for all believers, or an easing of the requirements for converting Gentiles? Hmmm....