Downtown Richmond, across from the capitol. Click [here] to see what it looked like after civil war burning:
Sunday, 12 March 2023
“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:11
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
The NKJV, following the rendering of the KJV, changes the order of the clauses, thus obscuring the intent of the wording. Young’s renders it thus
“…but, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, even as also they.”
One can see how dramatically different the two thoughts are. Young’s will be used for analysis. Peter had just challenged the Judaizers with the words, “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” With that remembered, he now says, “but through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter is making an absolute contrast between the law and grace. The law is of works; grace is unmerited favor. The two are mutually exclusive. The law puts a yoke on the necks of those under it; grace is burden-free. One under law attempts to be justified by works; one who trusts is saved through grace.
But even the thought of grace must be qualified to ensure that the proper means of grace that Peter is referring to is understood. Thus, he added the words kuriou Iesou Christou – “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace is the subject; the Lord Jesus Christ is the means. With that, Peter continues with action and its result, saying, “we believe to be saved.”
This is exactly what Paul writes about in detail in his epistles, such as –
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
Why this translational difference is important: ** One can see that the NKJV changes the formula, removing belief as part of the process of salvation. Rather, it makes it a mere hope of the subject.** Surprisingly, the Catholic Public Domain Version, though paraphrasing the verse, gives the proper sense of what is being conveyed –
“But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe in order to be saved, in the same manner also as them.”
Again, grace is the subject, the Lord Jesus Christ is the means, belief in Christ is the activator of the process, and salvation is the result. This is just what Paul conveys in Ephesians 2:8, 9. With this understood, Peter next says, “even as also they.”
Peter has been speaking as a Jew to his Jewish brethren. Not one of them was saved by law observance. And yet, they were attempting to impose law observance on the Gentiles who were not even given the law! Their thinking was twisted and perverse.
It is an amazing set of words to consider because it is the last recorded words of Peter in the book of Acts. He sets forth the gospel, the one and only gospel, that is identical in thought to that of Paul. With this, his words in Acts are ended.
Life application: In Peter’s words, several points of incorrect doctrine are laid to rest. He has proclaimed the gospel that saves. It is identical to the gospel that Paul proclaims. This refutes the heresy known as hyperdispensationalism which proclaims there are two gospels, one to the Jews and one to the Gentiles, among other errors.
Peter has proclaimed that salvation (for all) comes by grace through faith, apart from any works of the law. He has gone further with this by indicating that the Gentiles were not under the law and were not to be put under the law. This refutes the heresy of the Judaizers, today known as the Hebrew Roots movement.
Peter’s words were improperly translated by the KJV, thus showing that it is not the only infallible translation of the Bible.
The words of Peter in these past few verses implicitly help to dispel the false teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists, the Church of Christ, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others – especially the Roman Catholic Church – who teach a system of works leading to (or guaranteeing) salvation.
Think about the goodness of God in sending Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. And then think about how depraved the human heart is to constantly want to add to this simple offering. Be on the lookout for any teaching that would attempt to rob you of the freedom, surety, and eternal hope you can (and should) possess because of your faith in the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Yes! Lord God, we are so very thankful to You because of Your wonderful love for us in the giving of Jesus to bring us back to You. Help us to never add to the simplicity of the gospel. May we confidently trust in the full, final, and forever work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!