The meeting of delegates of the church in Antioch with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts.15.1-Acts.15.41; Gal.2.1-Gal.2.10) is usually called the “Council of Jerusalem,” though the text does not contain the word “council.” Its primary concern was the admission of Gentile converts into what was up to that time a “Jewish” Christian church.
, an assembly
, a group sitting together
, a consultation
In the OT God was frequently described as being in council with the host of heaven (Job 15:8; Ps 89:7; Jer 23:18; Amos 3:7). Likewise the ruler or king had his council of advisors and nobles; they were distinguished as those who were permitted in the royal presence to see his face (2 Kings 25:19; Jer 52:25). The commanders of the army were found to be in council by the young man, the prophet, who was sent by Elisha to Ramoth-gilead to anoint Israel’s new king (2 Kings 9:5). The psalmist wrote of the princes of Judah “in their throng” (Ps 68:27). The term “throng” was a literal tr. of rigmah, which meant “a heap.”
In the NT a consultation of persons was described by sumboulion. The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus in order to destroy Him (Matt 12:14). Festus, the Rom. procurator at Caesarea who had Paul as a prisoner, conferred with his council of advisors before making a judgment on Paul’s appeal to Caesar.
The Jews had lesser courts which were referred to as councils. Such a court (sunedrion) was in mind when Jesus said “Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils” (Matt 10:17; Mark 13:9). According to the law of the Jews, each town in Pal. had such a council and two were provided to Jerusalem.
By far the most frequent use of the term sunedrion in the NT was a reference to the high court of the Jews, the Sanhedrin, which many of the rabbis wanted to believe went back to Moses but which in actuality cannot be determined as to its origin. During most of the Rom. period, the internal government of the Jews was administered by this body. Thus it is that except for Matthew 10:17 and Mark 13:9 all other references to “council” in the NT are references to this highest of all Jewish tribunals, comprised of seventy elders, presided over by the high priest.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
koun’-sil, koun’-siler (sumboulion): An assembly of advisers (Ac 25:12); a body of those taking counsel (see Schurer’s Jewish People in the Time of Christ, I (1), 60). Distinguished from sunedrion, the supreme court of the Jews, by being of a less formal character, i.e. less of an institution. For "council" in the latter sense, its most frequent use, see Sanhedrin. A councilor (Greek bouleutes) was a member of the Sanhedrin. Applied to Joseph of Arimathea (Mr 15:43; Lu 23:50). In the King James Version "counsellor."