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The Circumcision Council
Christianity began through the people of Judah, so many in the early Church at first assumed that specific symbolic rituals that were given to Abraham (who was an Iraqi-born "gentile" - see Israel's Iraqi Roots and the Fact Finder question below) applied to people of all nations who became Christians. The controversy resulted in the so-called "Council at Jerusalem," which was actually "about this question" of circumcision.
"15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
"God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us"
Most realize that there were at least two Pharisees who became Christians at or not long after the time of Christ's crucifixion (i.e. Nicodemus and Paul - see Paul's Blindness Lesson and Was Paul Among Them?), but there were others "which believed" - but still had not fully separated God's Law from the "traditions of men" (see Did Jesus Break The Law?).
"15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." (Acts 15:5 KJV)
Both Peter (see Peter's Ministry and Peter's Prophecy) and Paul (see Paul's Ministry) were present at the council. Interestingly, Peter, "the apostle to the Jews" ("the apostleship of the circumcision" Galatians 2:8 KJV) who was recorded foremost in the book of Acts up to that point, is not mentioned again in Acts (and hardly at all again in the entire New Testament). Acts (and most of the New Testament) thereafter deals almost entirely with Paul, "the apostle to the gentiles" ("I am the apostle of the Gentiles" Romans 11:13 KJV).
"15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them The Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 15:10 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? 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15:6-11 KJV)
Paul then reported how God was calling even more "gentiles" into His Church than from the people of Judah, a natural result because the people of Judah compose only a very small part of humanity - and salvation is open to anyone who truly repents and obeys the LORD according to His Word.
"15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
Fact Finder: What was the purpose of circumcision? What made Abraham righteous in God's sight? Was it before or after he was circumcised?