Pt. 1# The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-2) (A DIFFICULT QUESTION) (7-17-21)
(DON’T COME NEAR ME WITH THAT SHARP KNIFE!: ‘WHAT! ARE YOU SURE I HAVE TO BE CIRCUMCISED TO BE SAVED?’)
And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "UNLESS YOU ARE CIRCUMCISED ACCORDING TO THE CUSTOM OF MOSES, YOU CANNOT BE SAVED.”
Who were these men who came down from Judea? THEY WERE BELIEVING JEWS, who according to verse 5, belonged to a ‘Jesus Believing Sect Of Pharisees.’ The fact that there were Pharisees who were believers should not come as a surprise to us at all. The Apostle Paul (Shaul) himself belonged to the party of the Pharisees and remained in that Sect long after he was Saved…
“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I AM A PHARISEE (He Didn’t Say: ‘I WAS A PHARISEE’), 'I AM A PHARISEE', the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.”
For two thousand years, there has not been much debate among Christians and Jews regarding Paul and The Faith of The Jews. Both groups claim that Paul left The Jewish Faith in favor of Christianity. For Jews, historically speaking, Paul is largely seen as an ‘Ex-Jew who established Christianity to replace Judaism. But Nothing Could Be Farther From The Truth: (BRETHERN, I AM A PHARISEE)!
Paul never abandoned the Torah. He remained a Torah-observant Jew until the day he died. His enemies claimed otherwise. False rumors circulated about Paul and his work among the Gentiles.
When Paul came to Jerusalem after many years of spreading The Gospel among the Gentiles, he met with James the brother of Jesus and the other Elders Of The Community, along with the survivors among the Jesus’ original disciples and His family. James presided over the Jerusalem Council Of Elders. History remembers James as a man so devoutly Torah-observant that he was called "James (Ya’akov) The Righteous" even by non-Messianic Jews. The original disciples of Jesus and the ultra-observant brother of Jesus voiced their concerns regarding Paul's ministry to the Gentiles. They had heard the rumors that Paul taught against Torah, but they were not willing to believe the slander.
Nonetheless, The Jerusalem Elders expressed their concerns, not because they thought Paul was actually teaching against Torah but because they wanted to clear his name among the believers:
"Then they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who Believe (SAVED), and they are all ‘Zealous For The Law (TORAH). They have been informed concerning you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to Forsake Moses, telling them ‘Not To Circumcise Their Children nor to observe the customs. What then shall be done? The assembly will certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come’.
According to James and the elders, three specific allegations had been raised against Paul:
1. He taught Jews to turn away from Moses. (Moses = Torah)
2. He taught Jews not to circumcise their children.
3. He taught Jews not to live according to the customs.
When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which ‘THEY COULD NOT PROVE’, 8 while he answered for himself, "NEITHER AGAINST THE LAW OF THE JEWS, NOR AGAINST THE TEMPLE, NOR AGAINST CAESAR HAVE I OFFENDED IN ANYTHING AT ALL."
Ironically, most Christian theologians have accepted these false allegations as gospel truth. In their zeal to prove that Paul taught against the Torah, they naturally want to believe that the accusations reflect the actual teachings of Paul. According to Christianity's traditional view of Paul, they are quick to agree, "Of course Paul taught against Torah, against circumcision and against Jewish customs."
This is where the 'Council of Jerusalem' came in to settle a major debate over whether or not Gentiles who converted to Christianity needed to uphold Jewish customs and laws or not.
The leader of the Church in Jerusalem was James, the brother of our Lord. Attempting to mediate between Paul, the missionary among the Gentiles, and those zealots in the Church at Jerusalem, who insisted that all the Gentiles converted toChristianity be circumcised, and at the same time, he advocated that the Church try to stop any attempts to make a break between herself and the ancient people of God (Israel).
(DON’T COME NEAR ME WITH THAT SHARP KNIFE!: ‘WHAT! ARE YOU SURE I HAVE TO BE CIRCUMCISED TO BE SAVED?’)!