THE JERUSALEM CONFERENCE (ACTS 15:6-35). The first ecumenical council in church history was held at Jerusalem. There were three sessions: (1) the welcoming of the Antioch delegation by the whole Jerusalem church (verses 4-5); (2) the private meeting of the apostles and elders with the delegates from Antioch to consider the problem (verses 6-11); and (3) the testimony of Peter, Paul and Barnabas before the whole church and James’ decision (verses 12-21).
The Judaizers were willing to accept the Gentiles into the church if they became Jews. This prompted a meeting of the apostles and elders to consider privately the question. The very survival of Christianity depended upon their decision. When they came back before the whole assembly, Peter, Paul and Barnabas testified. James, the brother of Jesus, rendered the decision that kept the church from becoming another sect of Judaism.
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers and sent a letter of their decision with them. The letter was delivered to the Antioch church who received its message with gladness.