The idea has been mentioned by a Christian commenting to a recent post that Peter, in Acts 15:10-11 was affirming that Jewish obligation to the Torah of Moses had come to an end. The following is an attempt to test that hypothesis . . .
The apostles hold an emergency session. How can the Yeshua-movement proceed? Non-Jews are responding to the call of Yeshua to the kingdom of God. Uncircumcised Romans and Greeks are in the congregations and following a Jewish Messiah. Shouldn’t these Gentiles convert (get circumcised and obey the Torah of Moses) in order to be followers of a Jewish Messiah? The idea seemed logical in Acts 15 and it was worthy of a meeting and of prayer.
Peter stands up to speak. God has dealt with him regarding non-Jews already (Acts 10-11). He defends the legitimacy of the uncircumcised followers of Yeshua. Then he says:
Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Yeshua, just as they will. (Acts 15:10-11).
What does Peter mean? Perhaps he meant something like the following:
1. We Jews are not so good at keeping Torah.
2. God, in Yeshua, came to show us that Torah is not the way, but grace is.
3. We Jews should abandon Torah, since grace is what really matters, and we should teach the Gentiles the same.
Anything like this above hypothesis faces some damning problems:
1. James and Paul were in agreement in Acts 21 that Torah and Jewish tradition were vital (Acts 21:21, 24).
2. The issue Peter was speaking to did not concern whether Jews should obey Torah, but whether Gentiles should.
3. The anti-Torah reading of Peter’s words goes beyond what is actually said.
4. No one in 2nd Temple Judaism was a Pelagian (thinking they were saved by their good works–this point has been thoroughly established and is the scholarly consensus).
Thus, I would suggest another reading of Peter’s statement, which keeps the focus on the question at hand, requirements for Gentiles:
1. We Jews have had difficulty keeping the boundary markers of Torah (Sabbath, dietary law, circumcision).
2. How could we get Romans to adopt a lifestyle that even Jews turn away from?
3. How could we win the world to Messiah if we must first get Gentiles to keep the boundary markers of Jewishness?
4. The boundary markers of Israel are not the main point, but the redeeming death of Yeshua.
5. So let’s not burden the Gentiles with a Jewish calling, but assume that following Messiah is sufficient for them.