15
The Meeting at Jerusalem
1Then some men came to Antioch from Judea and began teaching the non-Jewish believers: “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us.” 2Paul and Barnabas were against this teaching and argued with these men about it. So the group decided to send Paul, Barnabas, and some others to Jerusalem to talk more about this with the apostles and elders.
3The church helped them get ready to leave on their trip. The men went through the countries of Phoenicia and Samaria, where they told all about how the non-Jewish people had turned to the true God. This made all the believers very happy. 4When the men arrived in Jerusalem, the apostles, the elders, and the whole church welcomed them. Paul, Barnabas, and the others told about all that God had done with them. 5Some of the believers in Jerusalem had belonged to the Pharisees. They stood up and said, “The non-Jewish believers must be circumcised. We must tell them to obey the Law of Moses!”
6Then the apostles and the elders gathered to study this problem. 7After a long debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, I am sure you remember what happened in the early days. God chose me from among you to tell the Good News to those who are not Jewish. It was from me that they heard the Good News and believed. 8God knows everyone, even their thoughts, and he accepted these non-Jewish people. He showed this to us by giving them the Holy Spirit the same as he did to us. 9To God, those people are not different from us. When they believed, God made their hearts pure. 10So now, why are you putting a heavy burden#15:10 burden The Jewish law. Some of the Jews tried to make the non-Jewish believers follow this law. around the necks of the non-Jewish followers of Jesus? Are you trying to make God angry? We and our fathers were not able to carry that burden. 11No, we believe that we and these people will be saved the same way—by the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
12Then the whole group became quiet. They listened while Paul and Barnabas told about all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jewish people. 13When they finished speaking, James said, “My brothers, listen to me. 14Simon Peter has told us how God showed his love for the non-Jewish people. For the first time, God accepted them and made them his people. 15The words of the prophets agree with this too:
16‘I will return after this.
I will build David’s house again.
It has fallen down.
I will build again the parts of his house that have been pulled down.
I will make his house new.
17Then the rest of the world will look for the Lord God—
all those of other nations who are my people too.
The Lord said this.
And he is the one who does all these things.’ Amos 9:11-12
18‘All this has been known from the beginning of time.’#15:18 See Isa. 45:21.
19“So I think we should not make things hard for those who have turned to God from among the non-Jewish people. 20Instead, we should send a letter telling them only the things they should not do:
Don’t eat food that has been given to idols. This makes the food unclean.
Don’t be involved in sexual sin.
Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled or any meat that still has the blood in it.
21They should not do any of these things, because there are still men in every city who teach the Law of Moses. The words of Moses have been read in the synagogue every Sabbath day for many years.”
The Letter to the Non-Jewish Believers
22The apostles, the elders, and the whole church wanted to send some men with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. The group decided to choose some of their own men. They chose Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were respected by the believers. 23The group sent the letter with these men. The letter said:
From the apostles and elders, your brothers,
To all the non-Jewish brothers in the city of Antioch and in the countries of Syria and Cilicia.
Dear Brothers:
24We have heard that some men have come to you from our group. What they said troubled and upset you. But we did not tell them to do this. 25We have all agreed to choose some men and send them to you. They will be with our dear friends, Barnabas and Paul. 26Barnabas and Paul have given their lives to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. 27So we have sent Judas and Silas with them. They will tell you the same things. 28We agree with the Holy Spirit that you should have no more burdens, except for these necessary things:
29Don’t eat food that has been given to idols.
Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled or any meat that still has the blood in it.
Don’t be involved in sexual sin.
If you stay away from these, you will do well.
We say goodbye now.
30So Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas left Jerusalem and went to Antioch. There they gathered the group of believers together and gave them the letter. 31When the believers read it, they were happy. The letter comforted them. 32Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, said many things to encourage the believers and make them stronger in their faith. 33After Judas and Silas stayed there for a while, they left. They received a blessing of peace from the believers. Then they went back to those who had sent them. 34#15:34 Some Greek copies add verse 34: “But Silas decided to remain there.”
35But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught the believers and told other people the Good News about the Lord.
Paul and Barnabas Separate
36A few days later, Paul said to Barnabas, “We should go back to all the towns where we told people the message of the Lord. We should visit the believers to see how they are doing.”
37Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark with them too. 38But on their first trip John Mark did not continue with them in the work. He had left them at Pamphylia. So Paul did not think it was a good idea to take him this time. 39Paul and Barnabas had a big argument about this. It was so bad that they separated and went different ways. Barnabas sailed to Cyprus and took Mark with him.
40Paul chose Silas to go with him. The believers in Antioch put Paul into the Lord’s care and sent him out. 41Paul and Silas went through the countries of Syria and Cilicia, helping the churches grow stronger.
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