gious festivals, was a natural choice of location for those apostles whose con-
version efforts were directed more toward the Jews, and they diplomatically
followed Jewish law to do it, as mentioned earlier.)
(The debaters Paul and Barnabas faced probably figured the Jerusalem apostles
would be more likely to support their contentions about Mosaic law, so Paul and
Barnabas probably figured the apostles in Jerusalem would therefore be impres-
sive backers of their own view to their opposers.)
Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem via Phoenicia (coastland along the Medi-
terranean between Syria and Israel) and Samaria (a Roman district basically be-
tween Galilee to the north and Judea to the south). As they went, they taught
about the conversion of Gentiles and were creating joy in the Christian flocks
The Council of Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, the Christians of the Pharisees group, followers of Mosaic law,
argued for a need for Gentiles, therefore all Christians, to obey Mosaic law,
including a need for circumcision, for salvation.
But apostle Peter said that God gave the holy spirit to Gentiles who heard the
good news (the gospel about the meaning of Jesus' sacrifice for those with faith
in it, etc.) and believed,
that salvation comes to Jews and Gentiles by the undeserved kindness of the
Lord Jesus (not animal, etc., sacrifices and offerings, not rules about ritual
purification beyond baptism, and not circumcision, so there was already a clear
indication that this was a new and different covenant that called for a reas-
sessment of rules), and
that salvation is impossible by trying to be sinless and deserve it via the
yoke of the law.
Paul and Barnabas told of the Lord Jesus having signs and wonders occur
through them to show his undeserved kindness to Gentiles (Acts 14:1-3).
Apostle James backed them up by saying that it had been prophesied (Amos 9:10,
11) that God would find people of the nations, Gentiles, that bore His name,
that God would have it happen by the house of David (Jesus' human parents were
descendants of King David (Matt.1:1-17; Luke 1:32; Acts 13:22,23).
Since Moses (Mosaic law) was taught since early times in many towns, and
since the Mosaic law adherents were troubling the others that they were obliged
to follow Mosaic law (without apostolic instruction to do so),
it seemed good to the holy spirit, apostles, elders, and the rest of the con-
gregation to send Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas with a letter to the Gentile
Christians in Antioch and two provinces--Syria (Antioch was the capital) just to
the north of Palestine, and Celicia just to the north of that--
to tell the Gentile Christians that they wouldn't have to be burdened by the
law but would have to do four things: to abstain from things offered to idols,
blood, things strangled, and fornication.
(Instead of the usual "Farewell," the JWs leaders' NWT ends the letter with
"Good health to you!" The JWs leaders explained: "The comment 'Good health to
you' was not a promise to the effect, 'If you abstain from blood or fornica-
tion, you will have better health.' It was simply a closure to the letter, such
as, 'Farewell.'") ("The Watchtower," June 15, 1991)
Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas took the letter to Antioch and taught there
creating joy among the converts. Paul then took Silas to help him strengthen
the congregations in Syria and Celicia.
(If Gal.2 is contemporary to the events of Acts 15, Gal.2:7 and 9 indicate
James, Cephas/Peter/Simon, and John/Mark saw their mission as mainly being to the cir-
cumcised while Paul and Barnabas were mainly to go to the uncircumcised. See p.