Council of Jerusalem

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The Council of Jerusalem was the convening of the Apostles, with Saint Paul and other Christian leaders, around A.D. 48 to decide the controverted matter of whether Jewish traditions like circumcision would be required of Gentiles who had newly converted to Christianity. The Apostolic Council unanimously ruled that circumcision was not necessary, since Gentiles, like Jews, were now saved by Grace, through faith in, and love of, Jesus Christ.

Specifically, some had disturbed the consciences of Gentile converts to Christ by claiming that non-Jewish converts to Christianity needed to be circumcised and to accept Jewish law, while St. Paul correctly argued that that should not be required. The Apostolic Council praised St. Paul and finally agreed, after speeches by Saint Peter, the first Pope, and Saint James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, as a decision of the Holy Spirit, that St. Paul's views were correct, and the requirements that converts be circumcised was henceforth completely dropped as undesirable.

The Council decided to make the burdens as light as possible on converts:[1]

It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and ourselves not to saddle you with any burdens beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these and you will do what is right.

The Catholic Church sees in Acts 15 the divinely inspired precedent of calling an authoritative council of Christian bishops to settle matters of dispute over doctrine and practice.[2]


  1. Acts 15:28-29
  2. See Acts 20:28-32; Titus 3:0-11; Matthew 18:15-20; James 5:19-20;
    John 14:15-17, 23-26; 15:1-10; 16:12-15.

See also



Ecumenical council


Great Apostasy