Moshe and Nickos


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MOSHE, A JEW, AND NIKOS, A GREEK, had grown up together in Egypt. When Moshe's family moved to Jerusalem, the two boys promised they would always try to find each other again as adults. Some years later, Moshe became a follower of Jesus Christ. He had to deal with the problem of casting off allegiance to non-biblical Pharisaical additions to the law of Moses while still living as a good Jew.

How thrilled Moshe was to discover that his childhood friend, Nickos, had also become a Christian and was living in the city of Antioch. Moshe went to visit him and the two once again became firm friends. The two of them soon became embroiled in a huge controversy that began to grip the early church when some Jewish Christians began to insist that if a Gentile such as Nickos wished to have a relationship with the one true God, the God of Israel, they would have to become Israelites, Jews.

According to prevailing Jewish ideas, aspiring converts to Judaism had to not only keep the laws commanded by the God of Israel, they not only had to be willing to break completely with their "Gentileness", they also had to rigorously observe the halakhah — the oral rabbinical traditions added to the Old Testament law, and that were called by the same name as the Old Testament law — the Law of Moses (Stern p. 273). Some even put the oral law ahead of the biblical law, or at least on the same level as Scripture, and said they should be observed with even greater stringency.

When they heard of this idea that was gaining momentum in the church rather rapidly, Moshe and Nikos were shocked. What could they do? They had visited each other's homes regularly in Alexandria. What a paradox. Now they were both followers of Jesus Christ, through whom they both believed the wall between their respective peoples had been dismantled, and now they were being told the wall was still there. It had never occurred to either of them that a Gentile might actually have to become a Jew in order to enjoy the freedom found in Jesus Christ.

But they both took heart in the fact that Paul and Barnabas seemed to think the same way they did. And they were delighted to hear that Paul and Barnabas would go to Jerusalem to get it sorted out once and for all. Little did they realize that history was in the making.

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