The Jerusalem Council: the Second Serious Error of the Apostles


This article is Part 2 of a planned 3-part series on the Office of Apostle in the NT.

In Part 1 of this series, I documented from the Scriptures the first serious error of the early church, namely that the eleven assumed an authority which was not theirs by their unwarranted selection of Matthias as an "Apostle of Jesus Christ". The very best that may be said of their action is that the elevan chose actually did choose an apostle—an apostle of their own and not an "Apostle of Jesus Christ". The Lord alone has the authority to appoint His own apostles.

I want to be very clear here: this very unwise action proceeded not from an underlying evil or a desire to distort truth; rather, it has all the characteristics of immaturity and impetuosity. It was ignorant, not malevolent; it was wrong, to be sure, but the error detailed in this Part 2 of the series is in a class by itself.

This second error, initiated by the Council of Jerusalem (Act 15):

The legalism spawned in that Council would plague the Apostle Paul throughout his ministry. And, that legalisem and the hellish distinction of "essential" and "non-essential" doctrine is still "alive and well" in our current age.

I maintain in this series that in that Council decision can be found the beginnings of all "Christian religions" that have as their foundation the necessity of human works to gain Divine approval or—somehow—change the message of the gospel into a form better suited for proclamation.

Even the (relatively young and inexperienced) Apostle Paul did not immediately spot the error (or at least react to it) until later in his ministry.

[As will be shown in this Part 2 series, the Apostle Paul would attempt to "undo" the legalism error in two lengthy sections in the first epistle to the Corinthians and in his account of the conflict with Peter at Syrian Antioch. Just as "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor 5.6), so the admixture of legalism to the gospel of grace began its inexorable pollution in with that fateful council in Acts chapter 15.

It is not stretching the truth to suggest that Apollyon's greatest triumph in the history of Acts was that Council and its decision voiced by James, the brother of the Lord.

I will also detail in Part 3 of this series how the Jerusalem "Apostles and Elders" began to misuse their power and authority, likely having its genesis from what took place in Act s chapter15.]



The purpose of this article is:

The series is presented in xx chapters:

  1. Introduction