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Bible Studies

Acts of the Apostles
Lesson 7
The Council of Jerusalem

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Reading assignment for this lesson: Acts 15:1-35

The Council of Jerusalem was possibly the most important event in early Church history. The Council finally settled the question of whether Gentile converts to Christianity had to be circumcised and observe other aspects of the Jewish Law. This issue threatened to divide the Church and jeopardize its mission to the Gentiles. Led by the Holy Spirit, the apostles worked out a compromise to preserve Church unity.

1. Why was there a need for a Church Council? (See Acts 15:1-5, Galatians 2:15-16.)

2. Who participated in the Council of Jerusalem? (See Acts 15:2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 14.)

3. a) What was the position of the Pharisees?
b) Why did they hold this opinion? (See Acts 15:1, 5, Genesis 17:9-11, 14, Exodus 20:8-11, Leviticus 11:29-47.)

4. a) What was the position of Paul and the other missionaries to the Gentiles?
b) Why did they hold this opinion? (See Acts 15:7-12, 10:44-47, Romans 3:28-31, Galatians 2:15-16.)

5. a) What procedures did the Council use to reach a decision?
b) Is this a good model to use for deciding issues in our churches today? (See Acts 15:5-7, 12, 22, 25.)

6. a) How did the decision favor the Gentile segment of Christianity?
b) How did the decision favor the Jewish segment of Christianity?

7. a) The Council of Jerusalem settled the Jewish-Gentile issue in a way that preserved the unity of the Church. How has Christianity failed to preserve that unity in more recent times?
b) Are the divisions within Christianity good or bad?
c) What signs can you see that God is working through the Christian Church today, despite its failings?

8. Many people think Paul's account in Galatians 2:1-10 also describes the Council of Jerusalem. If so, how does Paul's account differ from the account in Acts?

9. Should Christians obey the rules and teachings of the Old Testament?

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