The yoke that neither Peter nor their fathers had been able to bear was the ritual law
Peter was talking about
the yoke that represented the strict
obedience of the ritual law. Why I say it was the ritual
law? Because every time someone
sinned, he had to come from Galilee
During the time prior to Christ's sacrifice, in order to purge his sins, the believer had to sacrifice lambs, go through the ceremonial washing and countless other rituals.
A regular person that sinned by work, word or thought two or three times a month could not present all the sacrifices or ceremonies required. Such would be economically prohibitive for any ordinary man, especially if we take into consideration not only his sins but those of his family.
addition, there was the logistic
Those not living in
That is why
Peter says here that the ritual laws
were a yoke that neither he nor his fathers could bear. Of
course, it was almost impossible
to obey all the ritual laws necessary to be
redeemed, every time anyone sinned
in any way; especially those living
far, like Peter and the other
apostles who lived in
This becomes even clearer when we read Acts 15:10-11, especially verse 11, which is written as a direct consequence of the previous verse 10.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Act 15:10-11)
As we can
see, Peter was already convinced
that to be forgiven of our sins it was not necessary any more to go offer
lamb sacrifices to the
If we read the origin of this argument in 15:1-2 and 5-6 we will see that what they wanted to impose on the converted Gentiles as a condition for salvation, were the rituals of the Jewish law, starting with circumcision. It wasn't that the apostles rejected God's law for human behavior; they rejected the continuation of ritual law as a requirement for salvation, as it had been done so far.
And certain men which came
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (Act 15:5-6)
The yoke that Peter says that neither he nor their fathers could bear was the yoke of the ritual law. Add to that the enormous burden that the scribes and Pharisees had added to both the laws for human behavior and the ritual laws, as the Lord himself declared in Luke 11:46, and we can see why Peter said the yoke was unbearable.
And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. (Lk 11:46)
It is obvious that the yoke that the believers before Christ could not bear was the yoke of the ritual law, and the impositions of the scribes and Pharisees, and not the Ten Commandments and other laws for human behavior that God had established.