The Council of Jerusalem

Unlike any other book of the New Testament, the book of Acts is a historical work, and the so-called council of Jerusalem is a historical event. All too often historical events get interpreted through the lens of one’s current ideology. In the case of the Jerusalem council, the long-held interpretation that the apostles and elders came together to decide whether Gentiles need circumcision, was interpreted through the lens of post-Nicene church leaders who themselves asserted similar authority and needed a Scriptural example for doing it.

Unlike Christians in the past who were denied Scriptural examination, we have the privilege of not only examining Scripture, but to do it in any language or translation we like. So when Christians today propagate the same interpretations held by those who formed them for selfish gain, it astonishes me. It astonishes me because Luke, the author of the book of Acts, took valuable time and effort to lay the foundation of what transpired in Jerusalem nearly two millennia ago; context that is largely ignored.

A new page on the Onefold Blog details the event in context. Beginning with Paul’s conversion to the faith, the article walks the reader through the context laid out by Luke and adds historical insight. It follows Paul and Peter along different paths and demonstrates that they, and the other apostles and elders, had been of the same understanding regarding Gentiles for nearly twenty years prior to the meeting in Jerusalem. It examines the underlying issue in the Jerusalem church that grew like a cancer and eventually culminated in the largest controversy of the apostolic church.

To read the article, click here, or navigate through the menu above.

Thank you!

Brian Culliton
Onefold admin


6 Responses to The Council of Jerusalem

  1. Steven147 says:

    An excellent rendition of the events in Acts .
    This leaves a person wondering how Catholics interpreted the ban on drinking blood and whether they held another Council to reverse the ban and permit drinking blood at Mass .
    It seems it would have been done surreptitiously centuries later away from people of Jewish background.


  2. Good point, Steven. Every-day Christians were at a disadvantage because only the educated leaders had access to the Scriptures. It was the perfect situation for them to debate among themselves and develop doctrines that elevated their authority over common believers. And that is really what the real presence doctrine is – a means by which the leaders can rule over the common folks and make them believe their salvation is dependent upon the church.


  3. Gary says:

    When I tell Christians that I believe that it is it is wrong and foolish to believe any truth claim “by faith”, they complain. “You obviously don’t understand the word ‘faith’. We all use faith in many areas of our lives.”

    A typical evangelical Christian’s definition of faith: Faith is trust based on past performance. It is faith in a person, not so much the claims about that person. It is based on personal knowledge of that person gained by personal experience.

    Skeptic: But don’t you believe that faith is a gift from God as the Apostle Paul claims in his Epistle to the Ephesians?

    Christian: Yes. The faith that leads us to personally grasp hold of the promises God made to us in Christ Jesus is something that is given to us.

    Skeptic: So if we combine these two statements we have this: Faith is trust based on personal knowledge about someone (or some thing); a personal knowledge that is given to us as a gift from God.

    Isn’t this statement saying that it is impossible to believe in Jesus as one’s god unless Jesus has gifted you the knowledge (about him) to believe? If that is true, what is the point of Christian apologetics? If only God can flip the switch in the human heart (brain) to believe, why do Christian apologists go to such lengths to debate evidence in an effort to convert skeptical non-believers? And why do Christian apologists accuse skeptics of being biased against “good” evidence, when what they really believe is that no amount of good evidence will ever convince the skeptic to believe in Jesus as his or her Savior? If faith is truly a gift from God, debating evidence is pointless.

    So why do Christian apologists persist in doing it?


  4. Gary,

    We persist because it is fruitful. You speak as though it is impossible for a skeptic to believe and come to Christ. Such a notion is not true; the Apostle Paul also wrote:

    “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

    The Scriptures do not advocate for blind faith. The gift of faith is availed through hearing the word of God. Many skeptics have challenged the word of God and came out as believers. So long as that is the case, Christian apologists will continue to reach out to them.


  5. LAYNE says:

    Well said, Brian.


  6. Jesse says:

    Great article. Great blog. It sucks that I found it at a much later time than others; then I could have been more involved in all the heated discussions in the comment sections here.


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