February 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm #446
“Compel Christendom to pay obedience to the decision of this council.” — Martin Luther, 16th Century
Martin Luther, Authority of Councils and Churches (London: William Edward Painter, 1847), 33.
“There was a grievous complaint of Gregory Nazianzene extant, that there was never any Council which had a good end.” — John Calvin, 16th Century
John Calvin, Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, (London: Calvin Translation Society, 1844), 41.
“By respecting the Council they gave us all the criteria which should be observed in all later times that is, to place full faith in the authority of synods confirmed by Peter and his legitimate successors. They say, It has seemed has good to the Holy Spirit and to us; thus, the Council’s decision is the decision of the Holy Spirit himself.” — Melchor Cano, 16th Century
Jose Maria Casciaro, ed., The Navarre Bible: Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. (New York, Scepter Publishers, 2005), 120.
“This council differed from all other councils that were ever afterwards held in this material circumstance, that its members were under the especial guidance of the Spirit of God.” — Bishop Tomline, 1840
George D’Oyly and Richard Mant, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, to the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, Taken Principally From the Most Eminent Writers of the United Church of England and Ireland (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1840), 1156.
“These are strange words, if the holy breathing of God does not truly work in the mind of Man.” — Rowland Williams, 1857
Rowland Williams, Christian Freedom in the Council of Jerusalem (Cambridge: Deighton, Bell and Co., 1857), 3.
“In the Council of Jerusalem, to have questioned the Apostles’ teaching, would have been to deny the faith and to destroy its foundations. … From that sentence (James’ ruling), none could depart, who did not deny Apostolic authority and with it the foundation of the faith and the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so had become an apostate. … The words spoken there by the Apostles were the words of God, and were owned as such then, as they are owned by us now.”
Edward B. Pusey, The Councils of the Church: From the Council of Jerusalem, A.D. 51, to the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, Chiefly as to Their Constitution, but Also as to Their Objects and History (Oxford, John Henry Parker, 1857), 29-31.
“The question of circumcision or of the terms of admission of the Gentiles to the Christian church was a burning question of the apostolic age. It involved the wider question of the binding authority of the Mosaic law, yea the whole relation of Christianity to Judaism. For circumcision was in the synagogue what baptism is in the church, a divinely appointed sign and seal of the covenant of man with God with all its privileges and responsibilities and bound the circumcised person to obey the whole law on pain of forfeiting the blessing promised.”
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1883), 335.
“Dispensationally, Acts 15:13-18 is the most important passage in the New Testament. It gives the divine purpose for this age.”
C.I. Scofield, ed., The Scofield Reference Bible (New York, Oxford University Press, 1917), 1169.
“The Council of Jerusalem is an event to which Luke plainly attaches the highest importance; it is epoch-making, in his eyes.”
F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1954), 298.
“Justin Martyr has to admit that, while he himself does not object to Jewish Christians who continue in the observance of the Mosaic law, some Gentile Christians deny them all hope of salvation. It is the complete reversal of the situation that had confronted St. Paul … It is now for the Jewish Christians to seek recognition from the Gentiles, and they seek it largely in vain.” — Henry Chadwick
Kesich, V. “Apostolic Council at Jerusalem.” St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly 6.3 (1962): 117. (Kesich cited Henry Chadwick, The Circle and the Ellipse, Rival conceptions of authority in the Early Church, inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), 14.)
“No item in the New Testament has caused more debate than this account of the Jerusalem Conference.”
Floyd V. Filson, A New Testament History (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964), 218.
“Acts chapter 15 is the turning-point, ‘centrepiece’ and ‘watershed’ of the book, the episode which rounds off and justifies the past developments, and makes those to come intrinsically possible.” — Ernst Haenchen, 1971
Ernst Haenchen, Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 1971), 461.
“It is truly amazing how little hard exegetical and contextual work has been done on these key passages. Even the journal literature on these texts of Amos 9 and Acts 15 is extremely rare.”
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. “Davidic Promise and the Inclusion of the Gentiles (Amos 9:9-15 and Acts 15:13-18): A Test Passage for Theological Systems.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20.2 (1977): 100.
“The four prohibitions are ecclesiastical halakhoth based on the Jewish law and are to be obeyed as law is to be obeyed.”
Margaret R. Diffenderfer, “Conditions of Membership in the People of God: A Study Based on Acts 15 and Other Relevant Passages in Acts” (PhD diss., Durham University, 1986), ii.
“The investigation of the Apostolic Decree in recent times owes much to the radical criticism emanating from Germany during the nineteenth century. The Tubingen school, with its reinterpretation of the historical development of earliest Christianity, used Acts 15 and Galatians 2 as points de depart to discredit the historicity of the Lukan account of the early period of the church.”
David J. Nixon, “The Text of the Apostolic Decree” (Master of Arts thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1990), 13.
“We ourselves, from our later perspective of church history, can see the crucial importance of this first ecumenical Council held in Jerusalem.” — John Stott, 1990
John Stott, The Message of Acts: To the Ends of the Earth (Leicester: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 241.
“This spirit and perspective of mutual (Jew and Gentile) recognition was constantly clouded by conflict and friction throughout the Apostolic era. Sadly, the situation degenerated further through various events later in church history. It is perhaps because of this reality that the Decree is now viewed suspiciously and dismissed as fiction by so many scholars. The Decree continues to serve as a useful discussion point for the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the economy of God’s salvation.”
Colin Kohlsmith, “The Apostolic Decree in Its Cultural Context” (Master of Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1991), 118.
“Certain New Testament chapters are uniquely important. … This is one of those chapters.”
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary: A Companion Volume to the Jewish New Testament (Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books, 1992), 273.
“James’ conclusion constitutes the most important missiological statement ever made this side of Pentecost.”
C. Peter Wagner, The Book of Acts: A Commentary (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1994), 336.
“There are many differences (in the historic councils), but most of them only put the Jerusalem Council in a favorable light vis-à-vis the later councils. Alone among the great councils of the first eight centuries, the Jerusalem Council was not summoned or influenced by a Roman Emperor. Not surprisingly then, the Jerusalem Council was notably lacking in the murder or exile of some of the disputants. And alone among the great councils, most of which look like Eastern synods, the Jerusalem Council could claim, from a proportional point of view, to be truly reflective of the greater part of Christian believers at the time it was held.”
John P. Meier, “Biblical Reflection: The Jerusalem Council,” Midstream 35 (October 1, 1996): 466.
“We cannot instantly dismiss Acts 15 as a unique moment in church history, now long past; if it does not apply to us, we must understand why that is.”
John Proctor, “Proselytes and Pressure Cookers: The Meaning and Application of Acts 15:20,” International Review of Mission 85 (1996): 477-78.
“In the first century, the most heated, controversial, doctrinal issue of all that the Church faced was: ‘How do the Gentiles fit into all of this?’ It was a very important issue. Identity, purpose, and destiny depended upon it. It nearly split the early Church.”
Daniel Gruber, The Church and the Jews: The Biblical Relationship (Hanover, NH: Serenity Books, 1997), viii.
“It is no exaggeration to say that Acts 15 is the most crucial chapter in the whole book.”
Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 439.
“The Acts 15 decision from long ago has been blatantly misunderstood and/or ignored for the past 20 centuries.”
Patrice Fischer, The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism, ed. John Fischer (Baltimore, MD: Lederer, 2000), 171.
“Honesty of mind drives every generation to seek an answer that does not smack of ignorance or arrogance.”
Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God (Nashville: Nelson, 2004), 52.
“It is one of the oddities of Luke’s narrative that he does not tell us precisely what the decree was for nor what it meant.”
S.G. Wilson, Luke and the Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 81.
“Observance of the four prohibitions in the apostolic decree was widespread in Christianity down to the third century.”
Bauckham, Richard. “James and the Jerusalem Community.” Pages 55–95 in Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007, 74.
“This apostolic letter is an early form of church canon.”
Jack N. Sparks, ed., The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Nelson, 2008), 1497.
“The Council discussed whether it was lawful for Gentiles not to be bound by the Mosaic Law, that is the observance of the norms required in order to be upright, law-abiding people, and, especially, not to be bound by those norms that concerned religious purification, clean and unclean foods, and the Sabbath.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Paul (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2009), 38.
“Following the consecration of a noncelibate gay man as bishop in 2003, the Episcopal Church was asked by the wider Anglican Communion to explain ‘from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received … how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ.’ The response, titled To Set Our Hope on Christ, did not, as one might expect, focus primarily on passages directly addressing homosexuality, such as Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 (although those passages are mentioned). Rather, its primary scriptural response is an extended reflection on Acts 10-15.”
John Perry, “Are Christians the ‘Aliens Who Live in Your Midst’? Torah and the Origins of Christian Ethics in Acts 10-15” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 2.29 (2009): 159-60.
“The Council of Nicea convened by the emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. became the first of what came to be known as the seven Ecumenical Councils. Spanning a period of 462 years, both the first and seventh councils were convened at Nicea. The canon law decreed in these councils became the foundation of Church doctrine that nearly every Christian movement has built upon. Even the most protestant of Protestant churches today still base much of their theology and practice on these councils.”
Gavriel Gefen, “Indigenous Expressions of Biblical Faith” (Jerusalem, 2009), 8.
“If the Holy Spirit was directing him (James), and there is no reason to assume otherwise, then these four rules can rightly be called commandments from Jesus to the Gentile believers through the head of the ‘Mother Church’ in Jerusalem.”
Avram Yehoshua, The Lifting of the Veil: Acts 15:20-21 (Bloomington, IN: Trafford Publishing, 2011), 172.
“Acts 15 can provide useful biblical guidance for how the church should respond to serious division over ethical matters.” — Andrew Goddard, 2001
Andrew Goddard, God, Gentiles and Gay Christians: Acts 15 and Change in the Church (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2011), 22.
“We should desire to evaluate the gravity of the Jerusalem Council, as many of us feel that the Father has given His people a second chance to really get it right before His Son returns.”
J.K. McKee, Acts 15 for the Practical Messianic (Richardson, TX: TNN Press, 2012), 4.
For many interpreters, it is sufficient to say that the purpose of the prohibitions is to facilitate Jewish and Gentile social interaction or table-fellowship. While this is correct, it seems likely that there is more involved here than social interaction. A theological point is being made.
Charles H. Savelle, “The Jerusalem Council and the Lukan Perspective of the Law in Acts” (PhD diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2013), 178.
“The solemn decision of the apostles and elders, guided by the Holy Spirit, established a precedent for councils throughout church history.”
William S. Kurz, et al., eds., Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 241.
“The most important council was the first one – the Jerusalem Council – because it established the answer to the most vital doctrinal question of all: ‘What must a person do to be saved?'”
John F. MacArthur, Acts: The Spread of the Gospel (Nashville: Nelson, 2015), 82.
“James’ proposal to put the council’s decision in writing (Acts 15:20) should not be overlooked. … A written ruling has a certain fixedness and bears the writer’s authority, offering greater surety than an oral report. The letter was very brief, yet the written medium gave its contents the weight of legal authority and fixedness. The halakhah for Gentiles in the new covenant was set, and Luke’s written volume has ensured its permanence.”
David Woods, “Does Acts 15:9 Refute Intra-Ecclesial Jew-Gentile Distinction?” Conspectus 19 (2015): 129-30.
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