Vol.VI No.VI Pg.7
August 1969

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Is the word repent ever used in the N. T. to refer to change from right to wrong—— repent of good? GL


Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, is reported to have said, for us repentance from the better to the worse is impossible. (Martyrdom of Polycarp, 11:1)

N. T. usage seems to confirm this, although the word itself bears no moral identification. It means, literally, to perceive afterwards and Vine says the word implies change. In 2 Cor. 7:10 repentance to salvation not to be repented of — where the second use (KJ) seems to indicate a change for worse — the AS says with good reason, which bringeth no regret. In the final analysis, a word is a living thing; and its origin or classical, literal meaning is tempered by contextual usage.

Bro. Turner:

Acts 15:28-29 names four necessary restrictions. Would not it be as wrong to eat blood today, as to commit fornication? RE


The four items given in the Jerusalem letter were not linked together on the basis of moral equality. The thing they had in common was their importance in the Jew — Gentile conflict. In addition to circumcision, these were the usual points of conflict in ordinary intercourse between the two groups (because of vastly different backgrounds) at the time this letter was written.

Fornication is unlawful universally, and is certainly not in the same moral classification as eating things sacrificed to idols. See 1 Cor. 8:1-f. where Paul makes the eating of such meats a thing of indifference. Paul did not understand the listing of meats in Acts 15:19-21, 28-29, to make it necessary to abstain under any and all circumstances.

But Paul does urge brethren to refrain from eating if this would cause a brother to stumble. (Cf. Rom. 14:14) That is exactly the point under consideration in Acts 15. It was necessary — for the Gentiles to whom the Jerusalem letter was directed to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication for the reason indicated when the letter was being planned — viz., For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

This passage (vs. 21) does not mean that the Law was bound upon Gentiles. That was the very error they were seeking to correct. To bind even a small part of the Law would have been an intolerable compromise. But they remind the Gentiles of the centuries — old teaching received by Jewish brethren — a continuing environment — and on this basis urge them to give up conflicting heathen practices.

I have no desire to eat blood, but must maintain that there is no general prohibition of such in Acts 15. It becomes wrong only if we stifle conscience to eat, or eat without regard for the conscience of a weak brother.