Acts 15:13
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brothers, listen to me:
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(13) James answered.—The position which James the brother of the Lord (see Notes on Acts 12:17; and Matthew 12:46; Matthew 13:55) occupies in the Council is clearly that of pre-eminence, justifying the title of Bishop of Jerusalem, which later writers give him. No one speaks after him; he sum up the whole debate; he proposes the decree which is to be submitted to the Council for approval.

15:7-21 We see from the words purifying their hearts by faith, and the address of St. Peter, that justification by faith, and sanctification by the Holy Ghost, cannot be separated; and that both are the gift of God. We have great cause to bless God that we have heard the gospel. May we have that faith which the great Searcher of hearts approves, and attests by the seal of the Holy Spirit. Then our hearts and consciences will be purified from the guilt of sin, and we shall be freed from the burdens some try to lay upon the disciples of Christ. Paul and Barnabas showed by plain matters of fact, that God owned the preaching of the pure gospel to the Gentiles without the law of Moses; therefore to press that law upon them, was to undo what God had done. The opinion of James was, that the Gentile converts ought not to be troubled about Jewish rites, but that they should abstain from meats offered to idols, so that they might show their hatred of idolatry. Also, that they should be cautioned against fornication, which was not abhorred by the Gentiles as it should be, and even formed a part of some of their rites. They were counselled to abstain from things strangled, and from eating blood; this was forbidden by the law of Moses, and also here, from reverence to the blood of the sacrifices, which being then still offered, it would needlessly grieve the Jewish converts, and further prejudice the unconverted Jews. But as the reason has long ceased, we are left free in this, as in the like matters. Let converts be warned to avoid all appearances of the evils which they formerly practised, or are likely to be tempted to; and caution them to use Christian liberty with moderation and prudence.James answered - James the Less, son of Alpheus. See the notes on Acts 12:1.

Hearken unto me - This whole transaction shows that Peter had no such authority in the church as the papists pretend, for otherwise his opinion would have been followed without debate. James had an authority not less than that of Peter. It is possible that he might have been next in age (compare 1 Corinthians 15:7); and it seems morally certain that he remained for a considerable part of his life in Jerusalem, Acts 12:17; Acts 21:18; Galatians 1:19; Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12.

13. James answered, saying, &c.—Whoever this James was (see on [2022]Ga 1:19), he was the acknowledged head of the church at Jerusalem, and here, as president of the assembly, speaks last, winding up the debate. His decision, though given as his own judgment only, could not be of great weight with the opposing party, from his conservative reverence for all Jewish usages within the circle of Israelitish Christianity. After they had held their peace; Barnabas and Paul had finished their narrative.

James, who was surnamed the Just, and was the son of Alpheus, and a kinsman to our Saviour, now being president of this council.

Answered; that is, began to speak. And after they had held their peace,.... Meaning not the multitude, but Paul and Barnabas; when they had finished their account, and had done speaking:

James answered; or rose up, as the Syriac version reads, he stood up and began to speak. This was James the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve apostles, sometimes called the brother of the Lord; for the other James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, was dead, being killed by Herod, Acts 12:2 but this was the brother of Jude, and the same that wrote the epistle that bears his name: whether he was now bishop or pastor of the church at Jerusalem, is not certain; nor whether he was president in this council; the speeches made in it do not appear to be directed to him: he began his oration thus,

saying, men and brethren, hearken to me; the titles he uses, and the manner of desiring audience, were what were common with the Jews; see Acts 2:14.

And after they had held their peace, {g} James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

(g) The son of Alphaeus, who is also called the Lord's brother.

Acts 15:13. When these had finished speaking (σιγῆσαι), James, not the son of Alphaeus, but the brother of the Lord (Acts 12:17), a strict legalist, and highly esteemed in Jerusalem as chief leader of the church, delivered his address having reference to these matters (ἀπεκρίθη). He first confirmed, by a prophetic testimony, the divine call of the Gentiles brought into prominence by Peter (Acts 15:13-17), and then made his conciliatory proposal for the satisfaction of both parties—in concise, but all the more weighty language.Acts 15:13. μετὰ δὲ τὸ σ., i.e., after Barnabas and Paul had ceased speaking.—ἀπεκ. . λ.: his speech may be divided into two parts: (1) reference to the prophecy foretelling the reception of the Gentiles; (2) his opinion on the conditions of that reception. . ἀκούσατέ μου: only here and in Jam 2:5.13–21. James sums up the discussion, and pronounces the decision of the Church on this Controversy

13. James] i.e. the brother of the Lord, and bishop of Jerusalem, see above on Acts 12:17.

Men and brethren] See note on Acts 1:16.

hearken unto me] The president’s summary takes no note of the “much disputing” (Acts 15:7) but points out that a divine revelation had been made to Peter, and that it was accordant with the words of Old Testament prophecy. On these warrants he based his decision.Acts 15:13. Μετὰ, after that) All things were done in order.Verse 13. - Brethren for men and brethren, A.V., as ver. 7. James answered. James's place as presiding bishop is here distinctly marked by his summing up the debate. "This (James)was bishop, as they say, and, therefore, he speaks last" (Chrysost., ' Hem.,' 33.). And again, "No word speaks John here, no word the other apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule." "He says well with authority, 'My sentence is" (ibid.). A remarkable testimony against papal supremacy. James

See Introduction to Catholic Epistles.

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