The Jerusalem Council: the Second Serious Error of the Early Disciples


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

The first error of the early church was that the eleven assumed an authority which was not theirs (the selection of Matthias as an "Apostle of Jesus Christ"). It proceeded not from an underlying evil or an active 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 not nearly the class of error detailed in this Part 2 of the series.

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

That legalism would plague the Apostle Paul in his ministry throughout the northern Mediterranean during his entire career. The distinction of "essential" and "non-essential" components of doctrine is also "alived and well" into our current age.

I maintain in this article 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. Even the (relatively young) 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. As "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Cor 5.6), so the admixture of legalism/works to the gospel of grace began its inexorable pollution in Act 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.

I will also detail in the third part 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 15.]



The purpose of this article is:

The series is presented in xx chapters:

  1. Introduction