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Tuesday, 14 March 2023
And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Acts 15:13
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
In the previous verse, the words of Barnabas and Paul concerning their evangelism of the Gentiles were recorded, God having worked through the apostles with signs and wonders. With that, it now says, “And after they had become silent.”
It is certainly referring to the words of Barnabas and Paul as well as the voices of anyone else who may have had questions or comments. In other words, the dialogue has wound down and now a decision must be rendered by the council. With that, “James answered, saying.”
It is generally (though not universally) agreed that this is James, the son of Alpheus, also known as the brother of the Lord. He was the one singled out by Peter in Acts 12:17. Later, in Galatians 2:9, he is noted by Paul as one of the pillars of the church. The words here in Acts indicate that he is presiding over the council. As with other clues in Acts, it reveals that this James was the accepted leader of the church at this time.
Without the matter being explained in Acts, and though not explicitly stated, the implication is that James held the administrative reigns in church matters. He was obviously qualified to handle the affairs of the church in a better manner than the apostles. As such, he now addresses the assembly, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me.”
As the assembly fell silent, and as James now addresses them to sum up the deliberations, it is certain that he is the overseer of the church at this time. His coming words will show that he was a man of understanding in Scripture and one who was able to come to a sound conclusion. With his conclusion, he will also render a judgment for the church to adhere to.
Life application: As noted above, nothing is said in Acts about how James came to be the leader of the church at this time. That would seem to be a glaring omission unless one understands that it is irrelevant to the purpose of the book. Acts has been written with various main themes and purposes in mind, but one of them is not how to structure the church.
Surprisingly, the epistles give scant information on how to do so as well. The pastoral epistles provide relevant information on some key points, but nothing is said about meeting times or places, order of worship, frequency of various events to be held, what to do with church resources (with but a few exceptions such as provision for widows in 1 Timothy 5), etc.
Individual churches are given great latitude in how they operate. The primary role of the church is certainly to bring forth the word of God to people, both the saved and the unsaved. The word is what explains the defect of sin in man and the sending of Jesus to bring him back to God through the forgiveness of sin. Once reconciliation between the two has been made, it is then time to properly instruct believers in the word.
Churches that get too far off from this main idea will eventually devolve into nothing more than a social meeting or a congregation that is constantly trying to earn what Christ offers for free. Be sure that where you attend the word is read and explained at every gathering.
Lord God, help us not to get misdirected from the main goal and purpose of the church, which is to get out the word concerning Jesus. You have sent Him to bring the world back to You through Him. Unless that is expressed and explained, we are not competently handling our time. Guide us, O God. Help us to get the good news out! Amen.