The Jerusalem Council - James Speaks

Acts 15:13-21
   And after they had held their peace, *James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
  Simeon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
   After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
  That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
  For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

   James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, was in a very prominent position at this time in the first century church if he was not in fact the "top man." His sentence regarding the question before the council comes last and holds the most weight. In fact, his statement regarding grace and the Gentiles makes up the body of the written declaration sent back to the Gentile believers as a result of this council meeting.

   The heart of James' sentence is "that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God." This is a great declaration for the church at Jerusalem and for the Gentile believers. Although Peter had seen the grace of God toward the Gentiles some seventeen years earlier and reported it back to the leadership in Jerusalem at that time, it appears that James is just coming to a recognition of the ONE BODY here at the council.

   What is missing from this statement (if James was indeed the leader of the church) is that it was not made at the beginning of the meeting. James did NOT stand up early on and say: "We have known for years that the Gentiles have been blessed by God and saved by grace and I have been telling you since Peter went to the Gentiles that we have got to walk with them and not trouble them." Only after the presentations by Peter and Paul does James recognize the grace of God toward the Gentiles. The other thing this statement does NOT say is that the Judean believers also did not have to keep the law of Moses.

   In summary, the only requirement laid out for the Gentile believers was that they abstain from idolatry. James says that there is agreement that the Gentiles do not have to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses; but that the church is not going to tolerate them worshiping idols, having sex in their services, or partaking of things strangled or of blood like the Gentiles do in their idol worship services. We are not going to have them doing these things in our fellowships. There is also recognition that there are Judeans out there in synagogues who are practicing the law of Moses and who might believe regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, get born again, and attend the Gentile believer fellowships. These will be won to the Lord much easier if the Gentile believers walk wisely concerning idolatry.

Acts 15:22
   Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas chief men among the brethren:

   The church at Jerusalem concluded the matter by choosing two highly respected men to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch and confirm the decision of the church. Then they drafted a letter for these men to carry with them, explaining what had been done.

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