Open main menu

OrthodoxWiki β

Apostolic Council of Jerusalem

The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem was the first council in the Church’s history and is described in the Acts of the Apostles. It took place around the year 50 in Jerusalem.

The council was attended by the Apostles to decide how far Gentile converts should be subject to the Law of Moses. The Council of Jerusalem was an exceptional gathering of leaders of the entire Church for which there was no parallel until the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, in 325.

At the Council, after everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul tell about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles, and advice offered by the Apostle Peter (Acts 15:7–11), James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, gave his decision (later known as the "Apostolic Decree"):

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and fornication, and things strangled, and blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day. (Acts 15:19–21)

In a letter sent to the Church of Antioch, it can be seen how the council was confident the they spoke for the Holy Spirit:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell. (Acts 15:28–29)