Acts 15

Acts 15

The Jerusalem Council of Apostles
1While Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch, some false teachers came from Judea to trouble the believers. They taught, “Unless you are circumcised, as the law of Moses requires, you cannot be saved.” 2This sparked a fierce argument between the false teachers and Paul and Barnabas. So the church appointed a delegation of believers, including Paul and Barnabas, to go to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders of the church and resolve this issue. 3So the church sent them on their way.
As they passed through Lebanon # 15:3 Or “Phoenicia.” and Samaria, they stopped to share with the believers how God was converting many from among the non-Jewish people. # 15:3 The Aramaic is “the reconciliation of the gentiles.” Hearing this report brought great joy to all the churches.
4When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders. They explained to them everything God had done among them. 5But some of the believers who were of the religious group called “separated ones” # 15:5 Or “Pharisees.” The legalism of the Pharisees continued even among some believers, who were still bound in the expressions of external religion. were insistent, saying, “We must continue the custom of circumcision and require that the people keep # 15:5 The Aramaic is “to put a fence around the Torah”; that is, to guard the Torah and keep it as a sacred duty to man. The apostolic council of Acts 15 makes it clear that gentile believers had no obligation to keep that “fence” around the Torah (observing the Mosaic laws). the law of Moses.”
6So the apostles and elders met privately to discuss the matter further. 7After a lengthy debate, Peter rose to his feet and said to them, “Brothers, you know how God has chosen me # 15:7 The wording of the Aramaic text is different, stating, “God chose the gentiles from the beginning to hear the manifestation of the gospel from my mouth and to believe.” from the beginning to preach the wonderful news of the gospel to the non-Jewish nations. 8God, who knows the hearts of every person, confirmed this when he gave them the Holy Spirit, just like he has given the Spirit to us. # 15:8 This is in reference to the events of Acts 10–11. 9So now, not one thing separates us as Jews and gentiles, for when they believe he makes their hearts pure. 10So why on earth would you now limit God’s grace # 15:10 The text is “testing [provoking] God”; e.g., by limiting his grace among the gentiles. by placing a yoke of religious duties on the shoulders of the believers that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11Don’t you believe that we are introduced to eternal life through the grace of our Lord Jesus—the same grace that has brought these people new life?”
12Everyone became silent and listened carefully as Paul and Barnabas shared with the council at length about the signs and wonders and miracles God had worked through them while ministering to the non-Jewish people.
13When they had finished, Jacob took the floor and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, listen. 14Peter has explained thoroughly that God has determined to win a people for himself from among the non-Jewish nations. 15And the prophet’s words are fulfilled:
16‘After these things I will return to you
and raise up the tabernacle of David
that has fallen into ruin.
I will restore and rebuild what David experienced
17so that all of humanity will be able to encounter the Lord
including the gentiles whom I have called
to be my very own,’ says the Lord.
18‘For I have made known my works from eternity!’ # 15:18 As translated from the Aramaic. This prophecy (vv. 16–18) is found in Amos 9:11–12.
19“So, in my judgment, we should not add any unnecessary burden upon the non-Jewish converts who are turning to God. 20We will go to them as apostles # 15:20 Or “We will be apostles [sent ones] to them.” As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “to send a message” (letter). and teach them to be set free from offering sacrifices to idols, sexual immorality, and eating anything strangled or with any blood. # 15:20 See Lev. 17:12–16. 21For many generations these words of Moses have been proclaimed every Sabbath day in the synagogues.”
The Apostles’ Letter to the Non-Jewish People
22The apostles and elders and the church of Jerusalem chose delegates to go to Antioch in Syria. They chose Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leaders in the church, to accompany Paul and Barnabas. 23They sent with them this letter:
“Greetings from the apostles and pastors, and from your fellow believers—to our non-Jewish brothers and sisters living in Antioch in Syria and the nearby regions. # 15:23 Or “Cilicia,” which is the southwestern region of coastal Turkey that borders Syria.
24“We are aware that some have come to you from the church of Jerusalem. These men were not sent by us, but came with false teachings that have brought confusion and division, telling you to keep the law and be circumcised—things we never commanded them to teach. # 15:24 As translated from the Aramaic and implied in the Greek. The Greek does not make explicit the false teaching, but says simply, “They have upset and unsettled you.” 25-27So after deliberation, we’re sending you our beloved brothers Paul and Barnabas, who have risked their lives # 15:25–27 The Aramaic is “they have devoted their souls.” for the glory of the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. They are accompanied by Judas and Silas, whom we have unanimously chosen to send as our representatives to you. They will validate all that we’re wanting to share with you. # 15:25–27 Significant changes in the order of the clauses in these three verses have been made for the sake of clarity of the English narrative.
28“For it pleases the Holy Spirit and us # 15:28 Or “the Holy Spirit and we have determined” (decided). that we not place any unnecessary burden on you, except for the following restrictions: 29Stay away from anything sacrificed to a pagan idol, from eating what is strangled or with any blood, and from any form of sexual immorality. You will be beautiful believers # 15:29 As translated from the Aramaic. if you keep your souls from these things, and you will be true and faithful to our Lord Jesus. May God bless you!”
30They sent the four men off for Antioch, and after gathering the regional church together, they delivered the letter. 31When the people heard the letter read out loud, they were overjoyed and delighted by its encouraging message. 32Then Judas and Silas, who were both prophets, spoke to them affirming words # 15:32 The Aramaic is “an abundant word” or “a rich word.” that strengthened the believers. # 15:32 The ministry of the New Testament prophet is to strengthen the church.
33After the four men spent some time there, the church sent them off in peace to return to the apostles in Jerusalem. # 15:33 Or “sent them with peace back to those who sent them.” 34-35However, only Judas departed; # 15:34–35 The most reliable Greek manuscripts do not mention Silas remaining in Antioch. However, many manuscripts include this information, such as the Aramaic, codices D and C, the Harklean Syriac Version of AD 616, the Sahidic Version of the second to third centuries, and the St. Ephraim of Syria version of the fourth century. Regardless, v. 40 indicates that Silas did remain behind. An argument could be made that copyists inserted the data in v. 34 to explain the presence of Silas from v. 40. Paul, Barnabas, and Silas stayed in Antioch, where they and many others preached and taught the wonderful message of the word of God.
Paul and Barnabas Disagree
36After some days, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s travel to the regions where we’ve preached the word of God and see how the believers are getting along.”
37Barnabas wished to take Mark (also known as John) along with them, 38but Paul disagreed. He didn’t think it was proper to take the one who had deserted them in south-central Turkey, # 15:38 Or “Pamphylia.” leaving them to do their missionary work without him. 39It became a heated argument between them, a disagreement so sharp that they parted from each other. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. 40And Paul chose Silas # 15:40 The apostle Silas was acknowledged in church history as one of the seventy apostles whom Jesus sent out. See Luke 10:1–11. After his missionary journey with Paul, he remained in Corinth and ministered there until his death. as his partner.
After the believers prayed for them, asking for the Lord’s favor on their ministry, they left 41for Syria and southeast Turkey. # 15:41 Or “Cilicia.” Every place they went, they left the church stronger and more encouraged than before.
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