What does Acts 15:26 mean?
ESV: men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
NIV: men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
NASB: men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
CSB: who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
NLT: who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
KJV: Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
James, the half-brother of Jesus and pastor of the church in Jerusalem, includes a lot in a single letter. He disavows messengers he possibly sent (Galatians 2:12) but who gave the wrong message (Acts 15:1, 24). He affirms the church in Syrian Antioch and its leadership. And he sends his own messengers (Acts 15:22) while still recognizing the legitimacy of the leadership in Syrian Antioch.
Jewish Christians from Judea had gone to the church in Syrian Antioch and told the Gentiles they must be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law to receive salvation through Jesus. Paul and Barnabas argued with the Judaeans. When they reached an impasse, they took the matter to the church in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the apostles and elders side with Paul and Barnabas and write a letter to that effect (Acts 15:1–22).
In explaining and affirming their position, James needs to be respectful and conciliatory. He can't just send the letter back with Paul and Barnabas. Even though they would provide the two witnesses so important in Jewish culture, they do not carry the authority of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem doesn't want to appear to disrespect Paul and Barnabas. So, although two witnesses from the church in Jerusalem, Judas Barsabbas and Silas, will take the letter, James adds this note to show he understands and affirms the authority Paul and Barnabas hold. Barnabas' name comes first because he is well respected in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36–37).
Barnabas and Paul must have recounted the dangers they faced when they reported to the apostles and elders (Acts 15:4). Dangers included being run out of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:50), almost being stoned in Iconium (Acts 14:5–6), and Paul being stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:19–23). Ironically, many from the church in Jerusalem had been persecuted by Paul before his conversion, and some of those who fled Paul's violent reaction to the church built the church in Syrian Antioch (Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–19; 11:19–26).
Acts 15:22–29 records probably the first or second letter sent by a Christian leader with instructions as to how the church should live. A possibly earlier message is what we now call the book of James. The council in Jerusalem has decided: Gentiles do not need to convert to Judaism to receive salvation from Jesus. They are, however, asked to make a few alterations to their dietary and sexual practices. This is not for salvation, but to maintain unity and community in the Jewish-Gentile church.
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.
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.
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 3/1/2024 3:43:59 AM
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