Aug 13, 2009

Longenecker on the Effect of the Jerusalem Council Decision (Acts 15)

“The effect of the decision made Jerusalem was far-reaching. In the first place, it freed the Gospel from any necessary entanglement with Judaism and the institutions of Israel, though without renouncing the legitimacy of the continued Christian expression and mission within those confines. Thus, the Gentile and Jewish missions of the church were able to progress side by side in the decade to follow without any essential conflict. Secondly, reactions to Paul within the Jerusalem church were clarified. It is possible that some of the Jewish believers were even more fixed in their enmity than before. But others of the Christian community at Jerusalem came to have more positive attitudes toward him, as seems to have been the case with John Mark. And some felt themselves happier in a Gentile ministry than at Jerusalem because of the deliberations of the council, as was evidently true of Silas (Acts 15:27, 32, 34, 40). Thirdly, the decision made at the Council had the effect of permanently antagonizing the Jews. From this time forward, the Christian mission within the nation- and especially to Jew in and around Jerusalem- would face very rough sledding indeed. Paul said in Romans 11:28 to a predominantly Gentile audience, that the Jewish people, so far as concerns the Gospel, ‘are enemies of God, for your sake.’”

Richard N. Longenecker, The Ministry and Message of Paul (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 56–7.

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