I remember it well. It was a sunny afternoon when setting in a class at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1987. In this particular class the professor was discussing certain particulars concerning issues involving systematic theology. He, for about 3 minutes, mentioned the Tubigen school and their influence long before I was born where they drew attention to the hidden conflict between Paul and James and the "Petrines" (followers of Peter/James) in the early New Testament church. He quickly glossed over the "theological split" and went on to stress the attempts made by the New Testament writes to stress the idea of "unity" in reality there was little. Then we moved to the next topic.

Answer for yourself: What? A "theological split?" How can that be? Who was right? How can we know for sure?

At that time in my life my reading of the New Testament was somewhat superficial. I had not learned, at that point in my life, to look beyond the contexts of the many different stories I read or even look for disagreements within the texts when reading the different accounts of the same stories. You might could say that I was "green behind the ears." That all would change over the next 5-6 years.

Before we get to this "Pauline split" if you have been faithful to read the previous articles we have seen that Christianity, as a new religion distinct from Judaism, with a doctrine of salvation through the divine sacrifice of Jesus Christ and with new sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, did not arise through the "Jerusalem Church," which indeed was not a "Church" at all, but a monarchical movement within Judaism, with a belief in the miraculous resurrection of a human Jesus. The founder of Christianity as a separate religion was Paul, who first deified Jesus and claimed revelations from this new deity as the basis of the doctrines of his new religion. We must now enquire about the steps by which the split took place between Paul and the Jerusalem Nazarenes to whom, for a period, he was uneasily attached.


There are two sides to every coin. If you are traditional Christian you have heard "one" side your whole life. It is time to hear the other and understand why you have not heard or seen this "other side" of the coin and the true story of Paul. Understand before we go another step that much information exists that exposes the "theological split" of Paul from the Jerusalem Church and such evidence is not always outside the New Testament. Somebody failed to tell you about this "split" and the abundance of extra-biblical materials that reveal this "split" and how the New Testament tries to cover it up. But because you were not an "Old Testament Christian" before you became a "New Testament Christian" you are not familiar with the religious beliefs of the Jews nor of Jesus. If you had know Judaism as well as what you know of Gentile Christianity then the writing of this article as well as others would not be necessary. Because of the failure to teach the Old Testament in Gentile Christianity along with your personal lack of a "theological foundation" concerning this Old Testament you, the current believer, are relegated to reading the accounts and letters of Paul (he wrote 2/3 of the New Testament but only 5 % of the whole Bible) and projecting backwards your personal belief that such "beliefs" of Paul were nothing more than the "Old Testament fulfilled." Nothing could be further from the truth but such an understanding only comes when one possess what he now lacks: a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the religious doctrines and religious beliefs as taught by the Old Testament.

The Gentile part of the Jesus Movement, as it existed in Asia Minor, long after the destruction of the Temple, realized that it's success depended upon "apostolic authority" and that had to be maintained and delegated for any chance of success among the masses if they were to be the new "ambassadors" of this faith. The Jews' had their book (Torah) and the Gentiles needed their book if again they wished to have Divine authority for their actions. The book had to be written in a certain way to guarantee this success. What we find in the book of Acts therefore, the book of the Church which depicts it's mission and growth, is the purposeful minimization of the conflict between Paul and the leaders of the "Jerusalem Church," James and Peter.

On the surface we see the same story: Peter and Paul, in later Christian tradition, became twin saints, brothers in faith, and the idea that they were historically bitter opponents standing for irreconcilable religious standpoints would have been repudiated with horror. The work of the author of Acts, himself a Gentile and close friend of Paul, was well done; he rescued Christianity from the accusation of being the individual creation of Paul, and instead gave it a respectable pedigree, as a doctrine with the authority of the so-called "Jerusalem Church," conceived as continuous in spirit with the Pauline Gentile Church of Rome.

Yet, for all his efforts, the truth of the matter is not hard to recover, if we examine the New Testament evidence with an eye to telltale inconsistencies and confusions and with a sufficient background concerning Biblical Judaism and its's religious doctrines (like salvation for instance), rather than with the determination to gloss over and harmonize all difficulties in the interests of an orthodox interpretation.


The first hint of dissension in Acts is at the beginning of chapter 15:

Now certain persons who had come down from Judaea began to teach the brotherhood that those who were not circumcised in accordance with Mosaic practice could not be saved. That brought them into fierce dissension and controversy with Paul and Barnabas. And so it was arranged that these two and some others from Antioch should go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

Paul and Barnabas then travel to Jerusalem, where they are welcomed by "the church and the apostles and elders." But again, there is criticism:

"Then some of the Pharisaic party who had become believers came forward and said, They [i.e. the Gentile converts] must be circumcised and told to keep the Law of Moses."

Answer for yourself: Why did these Pharisees maintain that Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses? In Israel in the first century, partly due to the tragic past where the Jews suffered at the hands of non-Jews as well as the current Roman occupation, Gentiles were not "loved" to say the least. Any attempt that the Jews had to distance themselves from these non-Jews was in vogue as seen by Shammai's 18 articles. One way to do this was to refuse acceptance of the non-Jew into the Israel of God without "circumcision" and "acceptance of all the Law-613 Laws" which was required for "full conversion." Any status as a "Godfearer" or "Ger-Toshov" (partial-conversion) or acceptance of non-Jews who adhered to the Covenant and Laws of Noah (no circumcision and only 66 subsets of Laws under 7 headings) was not accepted by all Jews. Circumcision for an adult male could mean certain death due to infection and we must remember that they had not the availability of antibiotics as we do today so this procedure was enforced on the non-Jews on purpose for the reasons above.

Then follows an account of the meeting held to discuss this matter: whether Gentile converts to Jesus' movement should become full converts to Judaism. A long debate takes place, but finally Peter makes a speech, urging his own experience (with Cornelius), and arguing that conversion to Judaism is not necessary:

"He [God] made no difference between them and us: for he purified their hearts by faith. Then why do you now provoke God by laying on the shoulders of these converts a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear" No, we believe that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved, and so are they."

The final word is given by James, as leader of the Nazarene movement:

"My judgment therefore is that we should impose no irksome restrictions on those of the Gentiles who are turning to God, but instruct them by letter to abstain from things polluted by contact with idols, from fornication, from anything that has been strangled, and from blood. Moses, after all, has never lacked spokesmen in every town for generations past; he is read in the synagogues sabbath by sabbath."

Answer for yourself: Did you notice any "problems" in the "red italicized" verses above?

You have read these verses your whole life and never new that there are severe problems in these verses. Again, this only goes to prove my point: Without a sufficient background into Biblical Judaism it is impossible to read the New Testament intelligently and understand the "truth" from "the fiction."


The above account contains many confusions, and has been colored by later Pauline Christian interpretation, but it is quite possible to work out from it what actually happened at this important conference.

The main clue is the list of commandments drawn up by James as the basis of conduct for Gentile adherents to the Jesus movement. For this list, as drawn up by James, the head Pastor of Jesus' movement, bears a strong resemblance to the list of Laws of the Sons of Noah drawn up by the Pharisee rabbis as the basis of conduct for Gentiles who wished to attach themselves to Judaism without becoming full Jews. With a little exegesis, the two lists can be shown to be even more similar than they appear at first sight.

TO ABSTAIN FROM THINGS POLLUTED BY IDOLS: This does not refer to ritual purity, for this was never regarded as a concern of non-Jews. The term "pollutionµ here is thus not meant in any technical sense, but only in its general metaphorical sense, as referring to the abomination of idol-worship. The meaning is thus that the Gentile worshippers were to refrain from eating anything that had been involved in the worship of idols. This does not mean merely food brought as offerings in pagan temples, for, as pointed out earlier, libations and offerings of food were made to the gods even at ordinary meals, thus rendering the whole meal a service to the gods. Thus, this commandment prevents the Gentile worshippers from sharing meals with idol-worshippers, and is therefore more far-reaching than it appears at first sight. The effect of this commandment, then, is to prohibit for Gentile "God-fearers" everything that is forbidden to full Jews under the heading of "partaking in idolatry."

TO ABSTAIN FROM FORNICATION: This refers to the grave sexual offences: adultery, incest, sodomy and bestiality. Intercourse of unmarried partners was not regarded as a grave offence against biblical law, though frowned on as inconsistent with a serious life.

TO ABSTAIN FROM ANYTHING THAT HAS BEEN STRANGLED: This means that meat is forbidden unless the animal is killed in the Jewish way (shehitah), by which the blood is drained away. The meat must be, as far as possible, bloodless. This commandment has an obvious connection with the command given to Noah (and therefore to all Gentiles), ". . . you must not eat flesh with life, that is to say blood, in it" (Genesis 9:4). This does not mean, however, that the other Jewish dietary laws are to apply to Gentile "God-fearers." They may eat the meat of all animals, since these were permitted to the descendants of Noah (". . . every living and crawling thing shall provide food for you" Genesis 9:3), but must abstain from the blood of all animals.

TO ABSTAIN FROM BLOOD: This appears to be a repetition of the third commandment, but a glance at the commandments given to Noah will provide the true meaning. Immediately following the prohibition of animals' blood comes a prohibition of the bloodshed of one's fellow man: "He who sheds man's blood shall have his blood shed by man" (Genesis 9 6). The meaning here, then, contrary to the commentary usually given, is a prohibition of bloodshed or murder.

The four commandments given to the "God-fearers" are thus basic moral imperatives. Many commentators have tried to explain them differently, as mere dietary laws, intended to facilitate social intercourse and the sharing of meals between Jewish and Gentile adherents to Christianity. This interpretation, in the view of some scholars, is said to not be able to explain the second commandment at all, since no ingenuity can turn this into a dietary law, and it also depends on inadequate understanding of the other three commandments. I cannot concur as I see in them "both" moral imperatives as well as an answer to the "Jew/non-Jew" problem in the first century. In any case, these commandments, when properly understood, can facilitate the sharing of meals by Jewish and Gentile Christians. Although these commandments still permit the eating of pork and other "uncleanµ meats by the Gentiles, which could not be shared by the Jews, we find the non-Jew called to a higher level of "holiness" as found in Isa. 56 if he so desires. Such is the heart for God and an expression of our love for our Creator. That being said, I must therefore conclude that the Jerusalem Council here laid down an overall basic moral code and social code for Gentiles which applies to their relationship with and in the Israel of God and we must consider what this implies about the intentions of the Council.

It is important to be clear that the drawing up of a basic moral code for Gentiles was one of the preoccupations of the Pharisaic rabbis, and the Jerusalem Council was by no means making a pioneering effort in this regard. To draw up such a code did not in any way throw doubt on the validity of the Torah as a code for Jews. It was a familiar concept in the Pharisaic movement that the Torah was never intended for more than a small minority of mankind: for those who were born Jews (who were under an obligation to keep it from birth), and for those Gentiles who elected to become full Jews and thus join the "kingdom of priests" (who thus undertook full observance of the Torah for themselves and their descendants through full-conversion). The majority of mankind, i.e. the "sons of Noah", were obliged to keep only the commandments which were given to Noah after the Flood by God (7 categories of Laws properly understood as their Covenant stipulations and requirements...which actually consisted of 66 separate laws). There were differences of opinion among the rabbis (as on so many other topics) about the exact details of these Noahide laws, and about how to derive them by exegesis from the relevant verses in Genesis; but they were agreed that these laws were few in number, but that by keeping them Gentiles were accounted righteous and were eligible to have "a share in the World to Come."

The list of the Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah, as found in the rabbinical sources, is as follows: prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, fornication, murder, robbery and eating limbs cut off from a live animal; and, finally, an injunction to set up courts of law to administer justice. Three of these are identical to laws included in the list drawn up by the Jerusalem Council: idolatry, fornication and murder. The one dietary law differs, however: the Jerusalem Council forbids "anything that has been strangled," while the rabbis substitute the prohibition of "a limb from a live animal." This difference clearly arises from differing interpretations of the verse, "You must not eat flesh with life, that is to say, blood, in it" (Genesis 9:4). This difference of interpretation is well within the limits of rabbinical disagreement, and, though the rabbinical writings which have come down to us do not preserve a record of the interpretation given to the verse by James and the Jerusalem Council, this is an opinion that may well have been held by a minority of the rabbis. The difference does not militate against the general explanation given here that we have to do with a version of the Noahide laws, but, on the contrary, confirms this explanation, since the difference is evidently an outcome of exegesis of the same biblical verse, which forms part of the biblical passage which (together with God's injunctions to Adam) is the basis of the Noahide laws.

This leaves three of the Seven Laws unmentioned in our passage of Acts: the prohibitions against blasphemy and robbery, and the injunction to set up courts of law. Actually, the manuscripts show considerable divergence at this point: some omit "from fornication," some omit "from anything that has been strangled," and some even add "...and to refrain from doing to others what they would not like done to themselves" (an interesting negative version of the Golden Rule, taking the form used by Hillel, not the positive form ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels). It is clear that there were different traditions about the list of commandments and this is not surprising, since there are divergencies in the various Talmudic lists too, and there was no unanimous agreement about how to list the Noahide laws. The omission of the injunction to set up courts of law is understandable, as this was intended to apply to whole nations who became converted to monotheism, not to individual "God-fearers" who attached themselves to the synagogues. This is of supreme importance for the Christian today as we see that the normative practice in the first century was for the non-Jewish "believer" in God, whether Messianic or not, to be included in the Israel of God and participate in the synagogue; both in the study of Moses, the Law, as well as the worship and liturgy. Nowhere here is any idea of "separateness" from the Jewish faith...only finding the non-Jews' relationship within it!The omission of "blasphemy" may be because it was felt to be implied by the prohibition of idolatry; and similarly the prohibition of "robbery" may have been regarded as implied by the prohibition against bloodshed; but, again, these may both have been included in the original list and have dropped out through the reluctance of Christian editors to admit that the list is, in fact, a version of the Noahide laws. Indeed, we find throughout chapter 15 a strong reluctance to interpret the commandments listed by James as Noahide commandments, for to do so would be to admit that, when James issued these commandments, he was in no way going beyond accepted Jewish thought.


Answer for yourself: Now, do you remember what Peter was supposed to have said in Acts as recorded by the pro-Pauline Gentile author of Acts? Let me refresh your memory:

Acts 15:9-10 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (KJV)

Answer for yourself: Would Peter really have said this? Was this what he and the Jerusalem church believed? The answer is "NO"as seen in the following decision of the Acts 15 council.

Thus, the speech ascribed to Peter in the above account of the debate in Jerusalem goes far beyond the question of whether Gentile converts should be required to adopt the whole of the Torah: it slips over into the assertion that the Torah is not necessary for Jews either:

"He made no difference between them and us (Gentiles and Jews): for he purified their hearts by faith. Then why do you now provoke God by laying on the shoulders of these converts a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear" No, we believe that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved, and so are they."

Answer for yourself: Do you not see this? We have here Peter saying the Torah is no longer necessary for Jews...let alone the Gentile Torah in the Laws and Covenant of Noah! Was Jesus' incompetent from picking this Peter to be "his rock" when he would later contradict what Judaism and Jesus both believed and stood for? What kind of "rock" is this Peter when Jesus has said in Matt. 5:17:

Matt 5:17-18 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (KJV)

The Gentile pro-Pauline writer of Acts has put into the mouth of Peter a total contradiction of Biblical Judaism and the teachings of Jesus! The author of Acts has just make Peter say that the Torah is no longer necessary for Jews! If this were truly spoken by Peter, which was not, then he would be answering charges from James the way Paul will in Acts 21!

Acts 21:21 21 And they are informed of thee (Paul), that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (KJV) WOW!

This speech in Acts is a fraud; it is full of Pauline concepts which were quite alien to the Jerusalem community of Jesus' followers, who, as Acts testifies elsewhere, did not regard the Torah as a yoke too burdensome to bear, but on the contrary as a gift from God for which they were grateful.

Acts 21:20 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: (KJV)

Peter here has been given his usual role in Acts, in keeping with the Gentile agenda: he is represented as being the stepping-stone between the old dispensation and the new. This my friends is a perfect example of Gentile anti-Semitic creationism in the writing of the New Testament! If you know anything about Biblical Judaism then there is no way to deny this has happened in the pro-Gentile account in the book of Acts! Listen; Acts starts with a Jewish movement and ends with a Roman church...wake up!

James, on the other hand, is not given this treatment. Nowhere in Acts is he represented as anything other than a loyal follower of the Torah. In this passage under discussion, he does not respond to Peter's suggestions that the Torah should be regarded as altogether abrogated, even for Jews. James's final judgment assumes just the contrary; that the Torah remains valid, but that Gentile converts to the community of Jesus should not be required to become full converts to Judaism, but only to the Noahide laws. His final remark is:

Acts 15:19-21 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them (no longer enforcing upon the Gentiles the taking upon themselves the whole 613 Laws of the Torah for inclusion into the Israel of God as had been the common practice), which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. (KJV)

This remark has proved very puzzling to Christian commentators, but its meaning is surely clear. James is saying, "There is no need for us to worry about the survival of Judaism or the proper religious education of the non-Jews who are coming to God through the Jesus' movement. Its future is assured, for the Jewish people are loyal to the law of Moses, whose words they constantly repeat in the synagogues. James was saying that beyond the "minimum" of the Laws of Noah the non-Jews, in their attendance in the synagogues, will learn the rest of the Laws and Commandments and then understand how they can acquire more mitzvot in fulfilling Isa. 56 and "choosing things that please the LORD." Therefore, there is no need to look for recruits to Judaism, or to provide reinforcements by insisting on full conversion to Judaism on the part of Gentiles. Circumcision and enforced "conversion" for fellowship will not longer be required. Rabbi Shammai and his 18 articles will no longer apply. Let the non-Jewish believers in God, and who see in Jesus the Messiah of Israel, simply declare their adherence to monotheism by adopting the Noahide code. James' remark thus implies his own unquestioning adherence to Judaism, and his confidence that Judaism would continue.

Answer for yourself: Do you now see more clearly the "two sides" of this coin and "theological split?"


There is therefore a tension in our passage between two opposing interpretations of the debate in Jerusalem.

This decision was in one way quite in accordance with normal Judaism; but, in another way, it was unprecedented. It was quite in accordance with Judaism to make a distinction between two kinds of believers in monotheism, Torah-practicers and Noahides. But it was unprecedented that both should be combined in one Messianic movement.


The Nazarene movement, continuing in existence, began to attract the attention of Gentiles, who were specially disposed to become converted to Judaism just because Judaism now offered a Messiah near at hand.

At first, it seemed obvious that any Gentile particularly attracted by Jesus would have to become a full Jew, i.e. become circumcised, commit himself to the Torah, and join the Jewish nation, for if not, when Jesus returned to Earth as King of the Jews, no Gentile would belong to his nation or be his subject. Even those Gentiles who had become "God-fearers" would not belong to the nation of the Messiah, but still belong to their own nation, revering the Messiah from a distance. Moreover, it was thought, there was some urgency in the matter; for it was a Pharisaic doctrine that full converts to Judaism would not be accepted any more after the advent of the Messiah (since it would then be to everybody's advantage to become a Jew, and sincere conversion would be impossible)."· Consequently, any Gentile who wished to be part of the inner Messianic circle after the advent of the Messiah should become a full Jew, and not be content with the status of a "God-fearer."

However, this produced the anomalous situation that, whereas the average Pharisaic synagogue contained its nucleus of full Jews and its outer circle of "God-fearers", the Nazarene synagogues of Jesus' followers contained only full Jews, whether born or converted. There was thus some pressure towards accepting "God-fearers" as members of the Jesus movement, so that the pattern of Nazarene missionary activity should come in line with that of Judaism in general, even though the logic of Messianism seemed to demand the acceptance of full converts only into the Nazarene movement, since the King of the Jews could not be a king over other nations too. This is a concept of Messianic Judaism and the Jerusalem Church that mainline Christianity today, as a "Gentile replacement religion," has absolutely no grasp upon! It will be a terrible thing to consider yourself as a "follower of Jesus" and a "lover of Jesus" and be rejected by him, let alone his true church, when you die...but he warned us of this...but you have to look in the Greek to see it because English is such a poor translation so often (Matt. 7:21-23). As members of a Messianic movement, the Nazarenes were interested in adding to the subjects of King Jesus; but as Jews, they were interested, like other Jews, in adding to the subjects of God, whether in the form of Torah observing Jews or Gentile "God-fearers."


The "God-fearers" thus constituted a problem for the Nazarenes, and the story of Cornelius shows that the "Jerusalem Church" was divided on the question. Peter was criticized by Paul for his alleged vacillation in this matter, but, of course, Paul had quite a different starting-point from Peter in weighing the question, for Paul was convinced, by this time, that the Torah had been abolished by the divine Jesus, and that therefore the distinction between Jews and Gentiles had been abolished. Paul's theology changed over time; the early Paul of the "Galatians letter period" was a Torah observer who was against only the Law of circumcision but the Paul of Acts 21 had dismissed the Torah for both Jews and non-Jews. At this point he had become a complete apostate from Judaism.

Peter had quite different considerations in mind: he was concerned that it might not be doing a kindness to Gentile "God-fearers" to admit them to the Nazarene movement, when on the advent of King Jesus they would have to be treated as foreigners and sent back to their own kingdoms, or, at best, be regarded as resident aliens. Surely it would be better to encourage them to become full Jews and so have a full share in the Messianic kingdom" Yet, on the other hand, the right of a Gentile to seek his salvation under the Noahide dispensation had to be respected.

The above discussion shows that the Nazarene movement had special problems not because it was a new religion, which it was not, but because it was a monarchical, Messianic, political movement within Judaism. It was never thought or meant to be a separate religion from Judaism which would would lose it's Jewish roots and end up with more in common with Roman sun-worship than with Moses and the Torah. This does not mean that it was a political party in the modern sense, for its aims were always primarily religious; but its religious aims were couched in political terms, in a way characteristic of Judaism generally. Just as political liberation had been the theme of Judaism from its inception in the exodus from Egypt, so the Nazarene movement made the religious future of the Jews and of the world depend on liberation from the Roman Empire.


  • One interpretation (evidently that of the Gentile pro-Pauline author of Acts) is that this debate marked the breakdown of all distinctions between Jews and Gentiles in the Christian movement.
  • The other interpretation (which can be discerned as the substratum of the discussion, and is thus the authentic and original meaning of the incident) is that it was decided that the Jesus movement should consist of two categories of people: Jews, practising the whole Torah; and Gentiles, practising the Noahide laws only.
  • The two interpretations of the debate which we find so confusingly intertwined in Acts reflect two interpretations that were felt at the time of the debate itself, though not openly in both cases. For Paul, who travelled to Jerusalem to be present in the debate, came away from it with his own purposes confirmed. As he understood the matter, the conference had given him carte blanche to work in the Gentile field without having to impose the demands of the whole Torah on his converts as had been done previously by R. Shammai and those influenced by him (almost all of Israel). This was a great step forward for Paul, even though he well understood that the motives of James in assenting to this policy were quite different from his own. In Paul's mind, the whole distinction between Jews and Gentiles had ceased to be valid, for the revelation at Damascus had convinced him that the spiritual dilemma of mankind could be solved not by Torah or any other kind of moral code, but only through "faith," i.e. through identification with the cosmic sacrifice of Jesus through immersion and partaking of his supper (Eucharist), conceived as a divine figure.

    Answer for yourself: Was this "belief" by Paul espoused openly at the Acts 15 council? No!

    Paul, it appears, did not voice this view at the conference itself. He confined himself to giving an account of his successes in winning over Gentiles to adherence to Jesus. It was the extent of these successes that finally convinced even James that Gentile adherents would have to be given official standing in the movement, rather than being regarded as having merely the status of "God-fearers" in the periphery of the synagogues. Paul, then, employed cautious tactics at this important conference. He knew that a full disclosure of his position would have aroused strong opposition from James (and Peter, whose views, historically speaking, were the same as those of James), so he went along with the main lines which the discussion followed. He went away with the permission he wanted, to admit Gentile converts to the Jesus Movement, to which he was the chief ambassador, without full conversion, and kept his "gospel" and his special understanding of the "cosmic nature of Jesus" to himself. This "Jesus" of Paul's creation could be taught to Gentiles in Asia Minor who already had dying and resurrected sun-godmen and Jesus was just a "Jewish" version of the same. This would play for Paul in Asia Minor but would be strongly rebuked in Jerusalem. Paul kept this to himself at this point in his clash with James and the Jerusalem Church.

    Indeed, the mere fact that Paul obeyed the summons to come to Jerusalem and face the charges made against him shows that at this time he was not revealing openly his full doctrines.


    For, in reality, Paul did not accept, either in his private thoughts or in his teaching to his Gentile converts, that he was under the authority of the Jerusalem community led by James. On the contrary, he regarded his own authority as higher than theirs, since his doctrines came direct from the risen Christ, while theirs came only from the earthly Jesus. Yet he came meekly to Jerusalem when summoned, and submitted himself to the decision of James, for he did not consider the time ripe for a complete break with Jewish Christianity. Without Paul resting on Jerusalem's recognition and support for his efforts then Paul understood that he would be unsanctioned and his results would be severely compromised.