May 10, 2010

Why Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15?

"Since the positions taken on these two issues by Judean Messianists run counter to the experience of Paul, Barnabas, and the church at Antioch (11:19–30), the matter needs to be settled in Jerusalem. The assumption is that Jerusalem has the authority to decide the issue. Why Jerusalem? Whereas for ancient Greeks Delphi was the center of the world, for Jews Jerusalem was (Ezek 5:5; 38:12; Jubilees 8:19; 1 Enoch 26:1; Rev 20:8–9; b Sanhedrin 37a). To it Jews came on pilgrimage; to it they sent offerings. From it letters went out to the Diaspora to give guidance (2 Macc 1:1–10a; 1:l0b–2:18). Acts notes the links between Jerusalem and the developing mission (8:14–15; 9:27; 9:32–11:18; 11:22–29; 12:25; 15:4). The Twelve are tied to Jerusalem (8:1). It is, therefore, the center of the true tradition of the Messianists."

Charles H. Talbert, Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, rev. ed. (Macon, GA: Smith & Helwys, 2005), 129.

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