Apostolical Constitutions

Apostolical Constitutions

SEE CONSTITUTIONS.

Apostolical Council is a title properly applied to the first convention or synod of the Christian Church authorities, an account of which is given in Acts 15, A.D. 47. The conversion of Cornelius having thrown open the church to Gentiles, many uncircumcised persons were soon gathered into the communion formed at Antioch under the labors of Paul and Barnabas; but, on the visit of certain Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, a dispute arose as to the admission of such Gentiles as had not even been proselytes to Judaism, but were brought in directly from paganism. To settle this question, the brotherhood at Antioch deputed Paul and Barnabas, with several others, to lay the matter before a general meeting of the apostles and elders at the mother church at Jerusalem, and obtain their formal and final decision on a point of so vital importance to the progress of the Gospel in all heathen lands. On their arrival and presentation of the subject, a similar opposition (and of a warm character, as we find from the notices in Galatians 2) was made by Christians formerly of the Pharisaic party at the metropolis; so that it was only when, after considerable dispute, Peter had rehearsed his experience with reference to Cornelius, and the signal results of the labors of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles had been recounted, that James, as president of the council, pronounced in favor of releasing those received into the church from Gentilism without requiring circumcision or the observance of the Mosaic ceremonial law. This conclusion was generally assented to, and promulgated in a regular ecclesiastical form, which was sent as an encyclical letter by Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch, to be thence circulated in all the churches in pagan countries. For an elucidation of the heathen practices forbidden in the same document, SEE DECREE. For a discussion of the chronological difficulties connected with the subject, SEE PAUL. — Neander, Panting and Training, 1, 133 sq.; Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, 1, 212 sq.; Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. 8, 283 sq. SEE COUNCIL.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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