And after they were silent, James responded, saying, Men, brothers, hear me:
Simon recounted how even as at first God oversaw to take a people out from among the nations for His name.
And with this agree the Words of the prophets, as it has been written,
After these things “I” will return and “will build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen,” “and I will build again the things which have been demolished,” and I will set it up, Amos 9:11, 12
so as the rest of men may seek the Lord, “even all the nations on whom My name has been called, says the Lord, who is doing all these things.” Amos 9:11, 12
All His works are known to God from eternity.
For this reason I judge not to trouble those from the nations turning to God,
but to write to them to hold back from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and that strangled, and blood.
For in every city from ancient generations Moses has those proclaiming him, having been read in the synagogues on every sabbath. (Acts 15:13-21) (LITV)
James chooses the material to back up his statement from the TANAKH (The Law, The Prophets and the Writings – OT) by choosing a quote from the Twelve (the minor prophets). Why? Even the Minor Prophets agree. All prophets are in harmony on this subject. Namely God’s intention for the Gentiles to be included among the people of God. When James uses the term “prophets” here, he is using it in the strict sense of the Prophets as in The Law, The Prophets and The Writings. The Prophets are not just what we Protestant Christian think of as the prophetic books of the Bible. If we think that way we use the prophets to mean:
The Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
But that is not how James is using the term. By The Prophets he is referring to what the Jews call the Law, THE PROPHETS and the Writings. They mean both the history and the prophetic books. All these books point toward the same conclusion – that God intended the Gentiles to be numbered among the people of God. The Jews regard their historical books and their prophetic books as being the same and they are classified as such. History is prophecy fulfilled and prophecy is history yet to happen, but can be regarded as history because God said it. When God says something will happen then you can bank on it happening. Thus James is choosing from one of the smallest prophetic books to ram his point home.
“And with this the Words of the prophets agree, as it has been written . . .” The Words of the historical books and the prophetic books agree that God oversaw to take a people out from among the nations for His name. The literal word used for “agree” is συμφωνοῦσιν from the Greek verb sumphoneō. These ancient books are all in harmony, they are symphonizing together to say the same thing. James’ intention is to say no matter where you look in the Word of God you will find the same thing. History books, major prophets and minor prophets – they all say the same thing. “The rest of men (the remainder of the nations) may seek the LORD”. “Even all the nations on whom My name has been called”. They too are “his”, “bear His name”, “belong to Him” “are called by His name”. James uses Amos 9:11 and 12 to prove it to them. Effectively he is saying, no matter where you look in the TANAKH, (the Law the Prophets and the Writings – the Hebrew Old Testament) you will find the same message. God is behind this. He is the One fulfilling His written word. The whole of Hebrew Scriptures agree on this point. God is taking out from the nations (the Gentiles) a people who should bear His name – become His chosen people.
This is not a new thing it has been predicted by God from ancient times. James then concludes “for this reason I have decided not to trouble those from the nations turning to God.”
- (ABP) Therefore I judge to not cause trouble to the ones from the nations turning towards God
- (BBE) For this reason my decision is, that we do not put trouble in the way of those who from among the Gentiles are turned to God;
- (CEV) And so, my friends, I don’t think we should place burdens on the Gentiles who are turning to God.
- (CJB) “Therefore, my opinion is that we should not put obstacles in the way of the Goyim who are turning to God.
- (ERV) “So I think we should not make things hard for those who have turned to God from among the non-Jewish people.
- (ESV) Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God,
- (GW) “So I’ve decided that we shouldn’t trouble non-Jewish people who are turning to God.
- (ISV) Therefore, I have decided that we should not trouble these gentiles who are turning to God.
- (KJV) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
- (MSG) “So here is my decision: We’re not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master.
- (Murdock) Therefore I say to you, let them not crush those who from among the Gentiles have turned unto God.
- (NLT) “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
The word at heart here is parenochleō to harass further, annoy, trouble, place a burden on, put obstacles in the way of or crush under the weight of the Jewish law.
Having gone through all the detail I am sure you get the point, understand the meaning and rightly interpret the context. James has made his point clear. He waited for the perfect moment to sum up all the discussion and bring the proceedings to a conclusion. As the [future] leader of the church in Jerusalem, in accordance with Peter, the spokesman for the church, the one who started this move toward the Gentiles and standing with Barnabas and Paul the Apostles to the Gentiles, James the Just makes his pronouncement. The very statement the church in Antioch were waiting for.
Next Gem we will examine the action James’ recommends.
In a life where predictions often falter, and change is as unexpected as it is certain, we would do well to put our hopes in unchanging Elohim, the Lord who wrestles with people in order to bless them.Susan Shore
The paralysis of defeat is sometimes the only way God can get our attention, and the crown of victory in its purist form looks a lot like a crown of thorns.Susan Shore
If you make God’s priorities your priorities, He will lead you along the path of His choosing.A R Bernard
The idea that women are equal to men is not a feminist idea. It’s God’s.Ian Vail
The idea that Gentiles and Jews are equal in God’s sight is God’s.Ian Vail