Acts 15:19

Richmond architecture.

Monday, 20 March 2023

“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, Acts 15:19

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).

The NKJV follows enough of the errors of the KJV to make it unsuitable for analysis. It should read, “Therefore, I judge not to trouble those from the Gentiles [who] are turning to God.”

James had just stated, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” With that, he will now begin to express his judgment of the matter at hand, starting with, “Therefore.” It is the conjunction dio, coming from dia (through, or across to the other side) and hos (which). Thus, it signifies “through which thing.”

James has reviewed the matter from the beginning to the end, taking in all of the reasonings provided. Based on those things, he has concluded and will now render what he has determined, saying, “I judge not to trouble those from the Gentiles.”

Here, James uses a verb found nowhere else in Scripture, parenochleó. It signifies to annoy or harass. It is as if the Judaizers were being instigators in a poking contest, treating those who have come to Christ as if their faith was insufficient and untrustworthy in and of itself. “Look at our circumcision! This makes us way better than you. If you don’t get circumcised, your faith is definitely not genuine.”

The words of James indicate that the view of the Judaizers was, in fact, a view that had caused, and would continue to cause, trouble among the Gentiles. It would be a hindrance to some, and it would become a burden upon all. James, as a law-observant Jew, knew this. He was fully aware of the yoke of the law that rested upon his people, and he would save the Gentiles from being burdened with it as well.

But more, and without need to repeat what was presented by Peter and also by Barnabas and Paul, it was a burden that God Himself had not imposed upon the Gentiles when they first believed. Rather, He had saved them apart from any works of the law. James graciously, and without pointing any accusing fingers, is implying that to add the law to what had occurred among the Gentiles could only diminish and disgrace the work of Jesus Christ.

This is implicit. However, Paul will eventually make it explicit in his writings. As this is understood, even if unsaid, James says that this applies to all Gentiles who “are turning to God.” The verb is a present participle. They were turning to God from moment to moment as the work continued on. By adding in legalistic standards, this momentum would begin to flounder and eventually capsize in a sea of turmoil.

Life application: The attitude of the Judaizers in the world today is just like those at the time of the council in Jerusalem. The Hebrew Roots Movement, the Seventh Day Adventists, and all others who reinsert the Law of Moses in varying degrees have an arrogant, haughty attitude of their superiority over those who do not conform to their unbiblical and high-handed form of legalism.

Their doctrine looks down on others who live by faith alone in what Christ has done, claiming it is insufficient to please God. But this attitude extends also to those who claim that “good works stem naturally from saving faith.” Without ever defining what “good works” means, the attitude of these people is that if you aren’t doing stuff to prove you are saved, then you are probably (or certainly!) not saved.

This can be targeted, such as those who do not tithe, or it can be general, such as “you are not living in accord with what I believe a Christian should be doing.” Such fallacious thinking denies the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. It adds works as an afterthought, but still something necessary to signify Jesus really saved the person.

Don’t be misled either way. Stand firm on the simple gospel. If you have believed the gospel, you don’t need to worry about what other people think. Having said that, it is biblically right and good that you should mature in your Christian walk. You should be growing in Christ and in holiness. But this is not to prove you are saved. It is to be a demonstration of your gratitude to the One who has saved you.

Jesus died to save you. Live for Jesus henceforth!

Heavenly Father, how thankful we are for the simple gospel of our salvation. You have done the work; we are the recipients of that. Henceforth, may we live our lives for Jesus, growing in our knowledge of Him, deepening our faith in You because of Him, and walking rightly in a world that is constantly trying to pull us back from You. Help us in this, O God. Amen.