Acts 15 Question


#1

I've heard several people say that Acts 15 was not an ecumenical council but I've never heard an explanation of why it isn't. Can anyone fill me in?


#2

Hmm... perhaps because it wasn't the entire Church that was assembled? That is, it was just the church in Jerusalem?


#3

[quote="Gorgias, post:2, topic:316066"]
Hmm... perhaps because it wasn't the entire Church that was assembled? That is, it was just the church in Jerusalem?

[/quote]

Maybe I'm wrong but I've always had the impression that all of the apostles were there. Wouldn't that be enough?


#4

I’m doing a Bible study of Acts of the Apostles. It’s my understanding, the Council of Jerusalem is considered a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils.


#5

[quote="asia53, post:4, topic:316066"]
I'm doing a Bible study of Acts of the Apostles. It's my understanding, the Council of Jerusalem is considered a prototype and forerunner of the later Ecumenical Councils.

[/quote]

In what way? If it's a prototype, does that mean it's an ecumenical council or not, in your opinion? Why?:thumbsup:


#6

“Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.”

Looks ecumenical in 20/20 hindsight.


#7

[quote="garysibio, post:5, topic:316066"]
In what way? If it's a prototype, does that mean it's an ecumenical council or not, in your opinion? Why?:thumbsup:

[/quote]

It may be that it is the foundation that the ecumenical councils are built. Like the bishops are the successors of the apostles. not apostles themselves. So in that sense the council of jerusalem would be higher then an ecumenical council.


#8

[quote="garysibio, post:5, topic:316066"]
In what way? If it's a prototype, does that mean it's an ecumenical council or not, in your opinion? Why?:thumbsup:

[/quote]

Ecumenical Councils are those to which the bishops, and others entitled to vote, are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) under the presidency of the pope or his legates, and the decrees of which, having received papal confirmation, bind all Christians. A council, Ecumenical in its convocation, may fail to secure the approbation of the whole Church or of the pope, and thus not rank in authority with Ecumenical councils. Such was the case with the Robber Synod of 449 (Latrocinium Ephesinum), the Synod of Pisa in 1409, and in part with the Councils of Constance and Basle.

General Councils

Bolded part is my emphasis. The whole world didn't take part in the Council of Jerusalem, so it doesn't "rank in authority with Ecumenical councils".

From my readings, whoever was in Jerusalem or in the surrounding area took part in Council of Jerusalem. It doesn't say they called the whole Christian community.


#9

[quote="kkollwitz, post:6, topic:316066"]
"Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas."

Looks ecumenical in 20/20 hindsight.

[/quote]

"The whole church", here, refers to the church of Jerusalem:

they sailed to Antioch, ... And when they arrived, they called the church together

(Acts 14:26-7). Here, "the church" refers to the church at Antioch.

it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the church

(Acts 15:2-3) Here, "by the church" means "by the church at Antioch."

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church

(Acts 15:4) Now, "the church" means the church at Jerusalem.

hen the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

(Acts 15:22) Here, "the church" again means "the church at Jerusalem."

In each case, the word used for 'church' is ekklesia -- the assembly. And, in each instance, it's meant to refer to a local church. If it were an ecumenical council, the universal church would be present; in this case, it is not.


#10

According to Haydock, it was the first general council.


#11

I believe it was as ecumenical as they could manage at the time. Not that we have to agree.


#12

[quote="asia53, post:8, topic:316066"]
General Councils

Bolded part is my emphasis. The whole world didn't take part in the Council of Jerusalem, so it doesn't "rank in authority with Ecumenical councils".

From my readings, whoever was in Jerusalem or in the surrounding area took part in Council of Jerusalem. It doesn't say they called the whole Christian community.

[/quote]

It seems to me that there were representatives there from every place the church had spread to. Am I wrong?


#13

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:316066"]
"The whole church", here, refers to the church of Jerusalem:

(Acts 14:26-7). Here, "the church" refers to the church at Antioch.

(Acts 15:2-3) Here, "by the church" means "by the church at Antioch."

(Acts 15:4) Now, "the church" means the church at Jerusalem.

(Acts 15:22) Here, "the church" again means "the church at Jerusalem."

In each case, the word used for 'church' is ekklesia -- the assembly. And, in each instance, it's meant to refer to a local church. If it were an ecumenical council, the universal church would be present; in this case, it is not.

[/quote]

So you believe there was not just one church but a bunch of separate churches, one in each city. Doesn't the fact that the decision reached by the council was binding on all of the churches, regardless of what city, seem relevant?


#14

According to New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, the first Ecumenical Council was Nicaea in 325 AD.

The First Council of Nicaea

Here's another article about general councils. Once again, Nicaea is counted as the first ecumenical council:

Historical sketch of ecumenical councils


#15

[quote="asia53, post:14, topic:316066"]
According to New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, the first Ecumenical Council was Nicaea in 325 AD.

The First Council of Nicaea

Here's another article about general councils. Once again, Nicaea is counted as the first ecumenical council:

Historical sketch of ecumenical councils

[/quote]

But that doesn't explain why the Jerusalem Council is not considered ecumenical which is what I was asking.


#16

[quote="garysibio, post:15, topic:316066"]
But that doesn't explain why the Jerusalem Council is not considered ecumenical which is what I was asking.

[/quote]

[LIST=1]
*]It was the prototype, forerunner for councils
*]The entire church wasn't represented. For instance: the places Paul had been visiting/preaching, these churches were in their infancy.
*]St Peter didn't issue the ruling. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem did.
[/LIST]


#17

[quote="asia53, post:16, topic:316066"]
The entire church wasn't represented. For instance: the places Paul had been visiting/preaching, these churches were in their infancy.

[/quote]

Exactly! The criterion for en ecumenical council is that all particular (i.e., local) churches are called to participate. The fact that the gathering is acclaimed to be binding isn't what makes a council 'ecumenical': there were many that were not ecumenical, but claimed to express the will of the Church (the 'Robber Council' comes to mind).

St Peter didn't issue the ruling. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem did.

I would assert that this is irrelevant. It's not that the 'pope' issues the document out of a council, it's that the college of bishops, acting together, issues the official statements that proceed from the council... ;)


#18

[quote="garysibio, post:13, topic:316066"]
So you believe there was not just one church but a bunch of separate churches, one in each city.

[/quote]

This is a difficult question, since the notion of the "Universal Church" hadn't yet developed.

However, the situation that developed over time (and still exists today) is the notion of particular (i.e., 'local') Churches, each led by an apostle or a successor to the apostles. Each has authority over their particular church, and each respects the role of the successor of Peter.

In the time of Acts 15, apostles were just in the process of founding churches; this means that if an apostle founded a number of local churches, he was technically the head of them all. The situation 'stabilized' after the death of the apostles, since at that point, each of the heads of the local churches were apostolic successors.

Doesn't the fact that the decision reached by the council was binding on all of the churches, regardless of what city, seem relevant?

As I mentioned in another reply, no. This speaks to authority, not ecumenical character.


#19

[quote="Gorgias, post:17, topic:316066"]

I would assert that this is irrelevant. It's not that the 'pope' issues the document out of a council, it's that the college of bishops, acting together, issues the official statements that proceed from the council... ;)

[/quote]

A council, Ecumenical in its convocation, may fail to secure the approbation of the whole Church or of the pope, and thus not rank in authority with Ecumenical councils.

Thank you, Gorgias. I attached more meaning to approbation, then there is.


#20

[quote="asia53, post:19, topic:316066"]
Thank you, Gorgias. I attached more meaning to approbation, then there is.

[/quote]

You're welcome.

:thumbsup: It's all good!


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