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Chapter 15

1Some people came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers that unless they were circumcised as Moses prescribed, they could not be saved. 2This created a disturbance and a serious discussion between Paul and Barnabas and them, and it was agreed that Paul and Barnabas and some others of their number should go up to Jerusalem to confer with the apostles and elders about this question.

3The church saw them off upon their journey, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria they told of the conversion of the heathen, and caused great rejoicing among all the brothers. 4When they reached Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported how God had worked with them. 5But some members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers got up and said that such converts ought to be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses.

6The apostles and elders had a meeting to look into this matter. 7After a long discussion, Peter got up and said to them,

“Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose that of you all I should be the one from whose lips the heathen should hear the message of the good news and believe it. 8And God who knows men’s hearts testified for them by giving them the holy Spirit just as he had done to us, 9making no difference between us and them, but cleansing their hearts by faith. 10Then why do you now try to test God, by putting on the necks of these disciples a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11Why, we believe that it is by the mercy of the Lord Jesus that we are saved just as they are.”

12This quieted the whole meeting, and they listened while Barnabas and Paul told of the signs and wonders which God had done among the heathen through them. 13When they finished James made this response:

“Brothers, listen to me. 14Symeon has told how God first showed an interest in taking from among the heathen a people to bear his name. 15And this agrees with the predictions of the prophets which say,

16“ ‘Afterward I will return, and rebuild David’s fallen dwelling.

I will rebuild its very ruins, and set it up again,

17So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,

And all the heathen who are called by my name,

Says the Lord, 18who has been making this known from of old.’

19In my opinion, therefore, we ought not to put obstacles in the way of those of the heathen who are turning to God, 20but we should write to them to avoid anything that has been contaminated by idols, immorality, the meat of strangled animals, and the tasting of blood. 21For Moses for generations past has had his preachers in every town, and has been read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

22Then the apostles and elders with the whole church resolved to select representatives and send them with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. They were Judas who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. 23They were the bearers of this letter: “The apostles and the brothers who are elders send greeting to the brothers of heathen birth in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24As we have heard that some of our number, without any instructions from us, have disturbed you by their teaching and unsettled your minds, 25we have unanimously resolved to select representatives and send them to you with our dear brothers Barnabas and Paul, 26who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27So we send Judas and Silas to you, to give you this same message by word of mouth. 28For the holy Spirit and we have decided not to lay upon you any burden but this indispensable one, 29that you avoid whatever has been sacrificed to idols, the tasting of blood and of the meat of animals that have been strangled, and immorality. Keep yourselves free from these things and you will get on well. Goodbye.”

30So the delegates went down to Antioch and gathered the congregation together and delivered the letter; 31and when they read it they were delighted with the encouragement it gave them. 32Judas and Silas were themselves prophets, and gave the brothers much encouragement and strength by their words. 33After they had stayed some time, the brothers let them go, with a greeting to those who had sent them.

35But Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch and taught, and with many others preached the good news of the Lord’s message.

36Some time after, Paul said to Barnabas,

“Come, let us go back and revisit the brothers in each of the towns where we made the Lord’s message known, to see how they are doing.”

37Now Barnabas wanted to take John who was called Mark with them. 38But Paul did not approve of taking with them a man who had deserted them in Pamphylia instead of going on with them to their work. 39They differed so sharply about it that they separated, and Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. 40But Paul selected Silas and set out, the brothers commending him to the Lord’s favor. 41He traveled through Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.

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