Clint Arnold has a nice sidebar in his commentary on Acts entitled “Jerusalem: Nine Years Before the War.” I have long thought that the political situation in Jerusalem is the key to understanding James and his chilly reception of Paul. James was faced pressure from Jews who were Christians to be spiritual prepared for the coming Messiah and Jews who rejected Jesus as messiah but were every bit as much zealous for the Law. Likely there were many who were unhappy with James’ decision to side with Paul and not require Gentile conversion to Judaism as a requirement of salvation. If the political climate of Jerusalem made James’ position dangerous, it made Paul’s position on Gentiles lethal.
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