There is a need for good practice for handling disputes in family life, in the workplace and in the church. Often people err in being either too harsh or too lenient. The Council of Jerusalem has lessons for us in good practice in this regard. What do we learn?
Firstly, we see that the controversy was recognised. The issue was recognised as being of vital importance and could not be left unanswered. The Council was therefore convened when the danger to the health and security of the churches was clearly recognised. Secondly, the matter was thoroughly debated. Everyone involved had the right to speak and be heard, including those who were among the Judaizers. Those who spoke had to produce evidence which was heard with respect. There was also to be agreement with the word of God in what was being said. Finally we see that the issues were not fudged which is often the case today in church bodies. The wise ruling arose from the properly constituted debate. It addressed the problem, did not hide from the dispute and clearly sided with Paul and Barnabas. It did not try to reconcile opposites but roundly refuted the divergent and erroneous views. But it did not hesitate to offer judicious compromise on non-essential matters for the sake of unity.