The Church’s Progress to the Council of Jerusalem according to the Book of Acts -- By: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 07:1 (NA 1997)
Article: The Church’s Progress to the Council of Jerusalem according to the Book of Acts
Author: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

The Church’s Progress to the Council
of Jerusalem according to
the Book of Acts1

J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Wheaton College Graduate School

The book of Acts portrays stages of the development of the self-awareness of primitive Christianity. The account has important sociological as well as theological implications for the study of Christian origins. Acts indicates that geographical and cultural expansion exposed and focused attention upon underlying causes of disputes and debates which were a part of the self-definition process. From focus upon “side issues” such as ritual and ethnic practice the church came to the realization that the real struggle lay in varying views of the Christian way of salvation and its relation to Judaism. It was these issues which made necessary the Council of Jerusalem of Acts 15.

Key Words: eating/foods, circumcision, saved

The proper response to the Kingdom of God announced by Jesus (Mark 1:14-15; Matt 4:17) is to identify oneself with him, to believe the “good news” (Gospel). For post-ascension disciples this required at least two initial, essential questions, “Who is Jesus?” and “What must I do to be saved?” It was on the plain of history, within the experiences of the early Church, that answers became available. History and theology are inseparably wed. Consequently, an understanding of the nature and experiences of the Church, primarily in the Apostolic Age, is an essential step to understanding the nature and implications of the kingdom.2

Attempts to reconstruct the history of the church during the Apostolic Age are fraught with difficulties.3 The use of the Book of Acts as a source for that history is significant among these problems.4 Nevertheless, it is a significant part of the literature which deserves investigation. This study is concerned, first of all, with one phase of early Christian history, that recorded in Acts 1:1-15:1. It will suggest

a reconstruction which, it is hoped, will clarify the stages of the struggle through which the primitive fellowship passed and which climaxed in the Council of Jerusalem of Acts 15. It will be particularly important to consider the relevant material a...

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