The Jerusalem Council

David Bast

Read: Acts 15:1-21

. . . we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus. (v. 11)

Oh, no, not another church meeting! Councils . . . synods . . . assemblies . . . conferences . . . . We sometimes wonder if anything good could come out of yet one more meeting where ministers talk a lot.

Sometimes it does, and never more so than at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. There the apostolic church faced a crisis, brought about by certain Jewish believers in Jesus who taught that all believers—Gentiles included—had to be circumcised in order to be saved (v. 1). In other words, faith in Jesus was not enough. The way to salvation was faith plus circumcision, Jesus plus Moses, gospel plus law. Paul saw clearly that this introduced human works into the equation and thus destroyed the gospel. But would Peter and James agree? Or would the infant church be splintered into factions?

The Jerusalem Council declared for the gospel. Peter stated the truth for everyone: “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as [the Gentiles] will” (v. 11). And James, the Lord’s brother and the acknowledged leader of the Jerusalem church, whose backing some of the Judaizers had been claiming (cf. Gal. 2:12), stood with Peter and Paul.

So the gospel was preserved and the church was saved. Would that all church assemblies stood as faithfully for the Word of God! —David Bast

Prayer: Lord, I pray for my church’s leaders. May they be faithful.