The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.
The original copy of the letter sent from Jerusalem to the Antioch church has been lost to history. Nevertheless, this document is reliably reproduced here in its entirety by Luke, the author of the Book of Acts.
One can easily imagine the anxiety in the hearts of the Gentile members of the Antioch fellowship. An unease created by an unauthorized group of Jerusalem Christians who earlier visited the Antioch believers with a troubling idea – Now that you have accepted the Message of Jesus, you must keep the Jewish traditions also.
Now comes a most Welcomed Letter from the council recently concluded in Jerusalem. Gentile Christians are not required to be circumcised or keep any of the traditions of Moses!
The letter is straightforward and to the point:
First an explanation - some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.
Then the conclusion of the apostles and elders - It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
You will do well to avoid these things.
1. You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols,
2. from blood,
3. from the meat of strangled animals and
4. from sexual immorality.
Though the Gentile Christians are not required to keep the Jewish traditions, they must be careful not to remain involved in the traditions of Gentile culture either! All of these restrictions are specifically designed to keep Gentile believers from the pitfalls of the practices associated with the worship of idols.
The letter closes simply, Farewell. Indeed! They will fare very well now!