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Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide - 3rd Quarter 2015, Aug 27 2015

Thursday Aug, 27

The Jerusalem Decree

Early success of the mission to the Gentiles raised the crucial question for the early church in regard to the question of Gentiles becoming believers in Jesus, a belief that grafted them into biblical faith (Rom. 11:17). Tensions always appear when people from other religions and cultures join an established believing community. In this case, Jesus Christians with their high regard for the requirement of the Old Testament laws and rituals, assumed that Gentile converts would accept and obey these laws and rituals. The main focus was circumcision, the fundamental indication of entry into the Jewish community for males. Symbolizing compliance with all the requirements of Judaism. Should Gentile converts to Christianity be required to undergo circumcision? Some Jewish Christian in Judea certainly thought so and stated their conviction in stark theological language: to them it was essential for salvation.

What happened at the Jerusalem Council that helped settle this important issue? Acts 15:1-35.

Although the question of circumcision was the main reason for the Jerusalem Council, it dealt with a range of cultural practices that the gospel did not require of its converts. The decree of the council (v.. 23-29) provided a common platform where Jewish and Gentiles Christians could coexists in fellowship. Jewish core values were respected, but gentiles were allowed to avoid circumcision. The council decision was both practical and theological. IT set as pattern of the church to deal with issues and problem s before they became too divisive. Experienced missionaries learn to identify core Christian belied issues and keep the focus on them as opposed to getting bogged down with things that are not essential to the faith.

What lesson can we take away from the Jerusalem Council that could help the church today as it deal with controversial issues? What did they do that can server as a model for us?

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