The Jerusalem Council
1Some people came down from Judea teaching the family of believers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom we’ve received from Moses, you can’t be saved." 2Paul and Barnabas took sides against these Judeans and argued strongly against their position.
The church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and several others from Antioch to go up to Jerusalem to set this question before the apostles and the elders. 3The church sent this delegation on their way. They traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling stories about the conversion of the Gentiles to everyone. Their reports thrilled the brothers and sisters. 4When they arrived in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders all welcomed them. They gave a full report of what God had accomplished through their activity. 5Some believers from among the Pharisees stood up and claimed, "The Gentiles must be circumcised. They must be required to keep the Law from Moses."
6The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this matter. 7After much debate, Peter stood and addressed them, "Fellow believers, you know that, early on, God chose me from among you as the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and come to believe. 8God, who knows people’s deepest thoughts and desires, confirmed this by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, but purified their deepest thoughts and desires through faith. 10Why then are you now challenging God by placing a burden on the shoulders of these disciples that neither we nor our ancestors could bear? 11On the contrary, we believe that we and they are saved in the same way, by the grace of the Lord Jesus."
12The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity. 13When Barnabas and Paul also fell silent, James responded, “Fellow believers, listen to me. 14Simon reported how, in his kindness, God came to the Gentiles in the first place, to raise up from them a people of God. 15The prophets’ words agree with this; as it is written,
16After this I will return,
and I will rebuild David’s fallen tent;
I will rebuild what has been torn down.
I will restore it
17so that the rest of humanity will seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who belong to me.
The Lord says this, the one who does these things#Amos 9:11-12
18known from earliest times.
19"Therefore, I conclude that we shouldn’t create problems for Gentiles who turn to God. 20Instead, we should write a letter, telling them to avoid the pollution associated with idols, sexual immorality, eating meat from strangled animals, and consuming blood. 21After all, Moses has been proclaimed in every city for a long time, and is read aloud every Sabbath in every synagogue."
Letter to the Gentile believers
22The apostles and the elders, along with the entire church, agreed to send some delegates chosen from among themselves to Antioch, together with Paul and Barnabas. They selected Judas Barsabbas and Silas, who were leaders among the brothers and sisters. 23They were to carry this letter:
The apostles and the elders, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings! 24We’ve heard that some of our number have disturbed you with unsettling words we didn’t authorize. 25We reached a united decision to select some delegates and send them to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul. 26These people have devoted their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore, we are sending Judas and Silas. They will confirm what we have written. 28The Holy Spirit has led us to the decision that no burden should be placed on you other than these essentials: 29refuse food offered to idols, blood, the meat from strangled animals, and sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid such things. Farewell.
30When Barnabas, Paul, and the delegates were sent on their way, they went down to Antioch. They gathered the believers and delivered the letter. 31The people read it, delighted with its encouraging message. 32Judas and Silas were prophets, and they said many things that encouraged and strengthened the brothers and sisters. 33Judas and Silas stayed there awhile, then were sent back with a blessing of peace from the brothers and sisters to those who first sent them.#Critical editions of the Gk New Testament do not include 15:34 Silas decided to remain there. 35Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, where, together with many others, they taught and proclaimed the good news of the Lord’s word.
Paul and Barnabas part company
36Some time later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let’s go back and visit all the brothers and sisters in every city where we preached the Lord’s word. Let’s see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. 38Paul insisted that they shouldn’t take him along, since he had deserted them in Pamphylia and hadn’t continued with them in their work. 39Their argument became so intense that they went their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. 40Paul chose Silas and left, entrusted by the brothers and sisters to the Lord’s grace. 41He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.