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The Council at Jerusalem


Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. 3So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. 7After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 8And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; 9and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 10Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

12 The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me. 14Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. 15This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,


‘After this I will return,

and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;

from its ruins I will rebuild it,

and I will set it up,


so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—

even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.

Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things 18known from long ago.’

19 Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, 20but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. 21For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.”

The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers

22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, 23with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds, 25we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: 29that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So they were sent off and went down to Antioch. When they gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31When its members read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation. 32Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33After they had been there for some time, they were sent off in peace by the believers to those who had sent them. 35But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, and there, with many others, they taught and proclaimed the word of the Lord.


Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. 39The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

12. All the multitude held their peace. By these words, Luke giveth us to understand that the Spirit of God did so reign in that assembly, that they yielded forthwith to reason. The disputation was hot before; but now, after that Peter hath laid open the counsel of God, and hath handled the question according to the doctrine of the Scripture, by and by all noise being stayed, they are quiet and whist who did of late unadvisedly defend the error. This is a lively image of a lawful Council, when the truth of God alone, so soon as it is once come to light, maketh an end of all controversies; and assuredly it is effectual enough to appease all discord when the Spirit beareth the chief sway; because he is again a fit governor, as well to moderate their tongues who must speak before others as to keep the rest under obedience, that they be not too much addicted to themselves and wedded to their own wills, but that, laying away stubbornness, they may show themselves obedient to God. Neither is it to be doubted but that there was some few which would not yield, as it falleth out in a great assembly; yet the truth of God had the upper hand, so that the silence whereof Luke speaketh was a manifest testimony of common obedience. And this was no small moderation in Peter, in that having suffered every one to say for himself what he could, he deferred his judgment (lest it should be prejudicial to others) so long, until the question had been thoroughly discussed to and fro.

They heard Barnabas and Paul. We may gather by these words that they were not heard with silence before.: For seeing that the more part was persuaded that they did wickedly admit the profane Gentiles into the Church, there should nothing which they should have said have been patiently received until this false opinion were corrected and reformed; but all should have been taken at the worst. We see what a poison displeasure conceived for no cause is, which doth so possess men’s minds, that it stoppeth the way, so that the truth can never have en, trance. Hereby we learn how true that saying is, All things are sound to the sound, (Titus 1:15,) for there is nothing so wholesome but corrupt affection do turn the same into that which is hurtful. And to this end tendeth the narration made by Paul and Barnabas, that they may show and prove that God doth allow their apostleship among the Gentiles; forasmuch as it was ratified and confirmed by miracles, which are, as it were, certain seals thereof.

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