Next week, the world church adult Sabbath School lesson covers the Jerusalem Council. Adult Sabbath school teachers and students across North America will be studying and discussing this important event in the history of the early church.
The Jerusalem Council and its decision has generated a lot of thought and discussion in a variety of contexts. For instance:
- The Jerusalem Council’s decision is used by Sunday keepers to argue that the Sabbath, like circumcision, is a relic of Judaism which was done away by the cross two thousand years ago. Sabbath keepers have been likened to the obstructionists of the Gospel in Paul’s day who promoted circumcision.
- Some years ago, an article in Ministry magazine (a journal for Adventist ministers) opined that the Jerusalem Counsel made its decision, not on the basis of biblical exegesis, but on the basis of social equality.
- An editorial in the current Adventist Review refers to the Jerusalem Council in support of a view on church structure.
- Such examples could be multiplied.
The General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee contains an interesting and careful study of the Jerusalem Council, entitled, "Church Unity, Testimony, and the Jerusalem Council.” It can be downloaded from the General Conference archives.
We must respect the context of the Word of God, not reading into it agendas, private interpretations and personal opinions. When studied and obeyed, it will lead us as God led the Israelites--a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Let us bind its precepts as signs upon our hands and as frontlets between our eyes. Through it, God sends to us His two divine allies: Truth and Love.