7.THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM
Towards the year 48 AD a problem arose over whether or not non-Jews should be circumcised, since some Christians from Judea claimed Ďthe freedom acquired in Jesus Christí which Paul and Barnabas also invoked so as not to impose this ritual on pagans who became Christians. The community decided to ask the opinion of the Apostles and the Elders in Jerusalem so they sent Paul and Barnabas, together with a Greek companion Titus and a delegation.
The Apostles and the Elders in Jerusalem accepted Titus who was not circumcised, thus recognising the validity Paulís proclamation of the freedom of grace. The Assembly also confirmed the principle leaders of the Church, recognising Peterís vocation among the circumcised and Paulís among the non-circumcised. From then on, the missionary work was divided with James, Cephas and John preaching to the Jews, while Paul and Barnabas went out to the pagans.
8.THE INCIDENT IN ANTIOCH
This incident which took place during Peterís visit to Antioch bears witness to Paulís rectitude Ėfor him the truth of the Gospel could not be altered. What happened? A circumcised Jewish convert to Christianity could not sit down at table with a pagan Christian without risking impurity. Now in the context of Antioch, Peter witnessed to the supremacy of faith in Christ who draws all men to Himself and opposed this principle. Upon the arrival of some Christians sent by James, who headed the community in Jerusalem, Peter began to conceal his true opinions. Paul at this point objected saying ĎI protested to his face since he was wrong..í
The compromise worked out in Jerusalem protected the existence of those mixed communities which Paul had preached among the young Churches in Asia Minor. All the same, full communion between circumcised and non-circumcised remained a problem. Was salvation in Jesus Christ to be held as a secondary consideration? Paul proclaimed new life in faith, the gift of the Spirit and the supremacy of Godís promise over the Law. A contrast emerged with James and the Church in Jerusalem against Peter and Barnabas (hesitating as he allies himself with James) and the Church in Antioch which validated this compromise (Acts 15:40) Only Silas followed Paul. After this lengthy novitiate which lasted for fifteen years, a new period of Paulís life began.