Leadership in the Jerusalem Church.
If he was disqualified from being one of the Twelve, he was not debarred from liberty to serve. In fact, he was a practical apostle in Jerusalem along with the rest. The Twelve kept no secrets from James. He gradually won his way to the love and confidence of all the great church in Jerusalem. His importance in Jerusalem is recognized by Paul on the occasion of his visit to Jerusalem on his return from Damascus, for he says: "Other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother." Here Paul treats him as an apostle and practically calls him so. James had probably seen Paul before, when he was the leader of the persecution against the Christians. He was doubtless glad to see this powerful addition to the forces of Christianity, but James is probably included in Luke's statement of the reception of Paul on this occasion. "And they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple" (Acts 9:26). Barnabas alone had faith in Paul and the courage to stand by him. If James was suspicious of the new convert, so were all the rest, and not without reason. It is clear from Paul's reference in Gal. 1:18 that Peter responded heartily to Paul's advances after once opening his heart to him. They had a delightful fifteen days together. It is not likely, as Farrar argues, that James, being a legalist, held aloof from Paul throughout. This is wholly gratuitous.
James is not mentioned again in Acts till 12: 17, and in a most significant manner. James, the brother of John, has been killed by Herod Agrippa I. Peter has been thrown into prison, but has been released by the angel of the Lord in response to the prayers of the church assembled in the home of Mary, mother of John Mark (12: 12). Peter goes to the house and tells the astonished group: "Tell these things to James, and to the brethren." This is somewhere about A. D. 44. James now clearly occupies a position of leadership in the church. Peter himself apparently leaves the city, for the time being (12:17). There are already "elders" (11:30) in the church at Jerusalem. We do not know what the position of James is, but certainly it is one of great honor and leadership. The apostles, since James could not be one of the Twelve who were charged with the general work of evangelization, may have been glad for James to be in charge at Jerusalem. Certainly he proved himself fully equal to the task.
James maintains the position of leadership in Jerusalem throughout the narrative in Acts. He is evidently the President of the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15: 14-21). He is in charge of the church when Paul visits Jerusalem the last time (Acts 21:18): "Paul went in with us to James: and all the elders were present." He possessed the confidence of this great Jewish church, the mother church at Jerusalem, and had the ear of the non- Christian Jewish world in a way hardly true of any other disciple of Jesus. Jews would listen to James who would not heed Simon Peter.
From Practical and Social Aspects of Christianity - The Wisdom of James by A.T. Robertson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012. The update is not complete.
Insights of the past for the present
Wisdom of James - A.T. Robertson
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.