What does Acts 15:13 mean?
ESV: After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.
NIV: When they finished, James spoke up. 'Brothers,' he said, 'listen to me.
NASB: After they stopped speaking, James responded, saying, 'Brothers, listen to me.
CSB: After they stopped speaking, James responded, "Brothers, listen to me.
NLT: When they had finished, James stood and said, 'Brothers, listen to me.
KJV: And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Verse Commentary:
James is the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. He is addressing the council gathered to determine if Gentiles must convert to Judaism as part of truly following Jesus Christ. Paul and Barnabas have given their account of the Gentiles who came to a saving relationship with Jesus (Acts 15:4, 12). Peter has reminded the group of his experience in Caesarea Maritima when a house filled with friends and family of the centurion Cornelius received the Holy Spirit. This happened before Peter had even finished speaking (Acts 10; 15:7–9). Now, James will give his verdict.

This is not the apostle James, the brother of John, who was martyred by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1–2). This is the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) who once thought his older sibling was "out of his mind" (Mark 3:21) and taunted Him about keeping His ministry quiet instead of publicly revealing Himself in Jerusalem (John 7:1–9). He is also one of the few who did not follow Jesus before the crucifixion but saw Him after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was with Jesus' followers after the ascension (Acts 1:14) and during Pentecost (Acts 2:1–3). He rose to a leadership position quickly; when Peter was rescued from prison by an angel, he specifically instructed that James be told (Acts 12:17). Church tradition celebrates his humility and his reliance on Scripture. Church history says the high priest took advantage of a time between the transition of the Roman procurators and threw James from the top of the temple to the ground where he was either beaten by clubs or stoned to death.

James is standing before Paul and defending him. When he was younger, Paul had watched with approval while a mob murdered the Christian deacon Stephen (Acts 7:54—8:1). Paul then went on a rampage, first trying to rid Jerusalem of all Jesus-followers (Acts 8:3) and then traveling as far as Damascus, far to the north, to bring Jewish Christians to trial (Acts 9:1–2). Now, two devout Jews who vehemently worked against Jesus join forces to defend Gentiles who seek Him for salvation.

Some Bible translations adjust masculine terms when their original use implies people of both genders. Properly translated, this verse maintains the term "brothers," as the apostles and elders present would have exclusively been men.
Verse Context:
Acts 15:12–21 continues the account of the church of Jerusalem's debate. They are discussing whether Gentiles must convert to Judaism to be saved by Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Paul, Barnabas, and Peter say salvation is through the grace of Christ (Acts 15:2, 7–11). Jewish Christians from the Pharisee sect disagree (Acts 15:1, 5). Now, Barnabas and Paul will relate their work among the Gentiles on their first missionary journey. James, the half-brother of Jesus, will share his conviction: God has not placed ritual requirements on Gentiles for salvation. However, Gentiles should make reasonable concessions to maintain unity with Jewish brothers and sisters.
Chapter Summary:
Paul and Barnabas are in Syrian Antioch, home from their first missionary journey. Legalistic Christians from Jerusalem arrive and insist Gentiles must convert to Judaism. When negotiations fail, a delegation travels to Jerusalem to request clarification from Jesus' closest students. The leadership in Jerusalem agree with Paul and Barnabas. They write a letter that Gentiles should only make concessions, mostly dietary, which will ensure unity with the Jews in their congregation. After delivering the letter to Antioch, Paul takes Silas and Barnabas takes John Mark to share the letter to other churches they have planted.
Chapter Context:
Acts chapter 15 resembles Acts 11:1–18, where Peter testified before the leadership of the church in Jerusalem. His subject was how the Holy Spirit had fallen on uncircumcised and unbaptized Gentiles. Here Paul and Barnabas also testify that Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus without being circumcised. The issue the leadership must decide is the extent Gentiles must be responsible to follow the Mosaic law. Their decision is that the Law is in no way required to be saved, but Gentiles should graciously make concessions so their Jewish brothers and sisters feel free to live in community. This forms a partial background to the rest of Paul's missionary journeys as explained in Acts.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 2/21/2024 7:25:44 AM
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