Posted by / Sunday 5 February 2017 / No comments

The council of Jerusalem

Cyprus, Ayia Napa, Sunset, Afternoon

There were some who left Judea and went to spread the news that the Gentiles who are converted must be circumcised before they could be saved. However, Paul and Barnabas contested this doctrine. In order to settle this matter, Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to put the matter before the Apostles and the elders of the church for a proper adjudication. The gathering of the Apostles and elders is what is referred to as the Council of Jerusalem.

When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Jerusalem, there were still others, like the Pharisees who were still insisting that the Gentiles must be circumcised and must abide by the laws of Moses before they could be saved.

The Council therefore gathered to settle the matter and after a lengthy debate, Peter stood up and addressed the meeting.

Peter reminded them about how, in the early days God used him to preach to the Gentiles and how God blessed them with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit without distinguishing between a Hebrew and a Gentile. He argued that if God did not make any distinction why should they human beings. Peter further argued that their own forefathers who did not obey those same laws believed they would be saved by grace. Why then must they burden the Gentiles with burdens they themselves could not bear? There was dead silence after Peter had spoken. Paul and Barnabas also spoke about how many signs and wonders God had used them to perform among the Gentiles.

After all these, James, passed a judgment that the Gentiles must not be given any further burdens except to abstain from idols, from the blood of strangled animals and to be chaste. This judgment pleased the Council so they agreed to send some men to accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch with an official letter of the decision of the Council. Barsabbas and Silas were chosen to follow Paul and Barnabas.

When the team arrived in Antioch, they gathered the people together and read the letter out to them and they were very happy. Silas and Barsabbas admonished them to remain strong and after they had strengthened them, they departed back to Judea. However, Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch and continued to preach the word of God.

1. The decision brought a closure to the question of circumcision of the Gentiles before they could be saved.
2. It opened the flood gates for evangelism among the Gentiles.
3. From this point onward, the churches in the gentile land enjoyed a long period of peace.
4. It also indicated that in the early days, James had assumed a position of leadership in the church.

1. a. How was the question of circumcision in the early church settled?
    b. In which three ways was the decision of the Council significant?

2. a. What circumstances led to the decision of the Council of Jerusalem that the Gentiles must not be burdened with circumcision?   
    b. In which three ways was the decision of the Council significant?

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