Acts 15

1Then some men came ˻to Antioch˼ from Judea. They began teaching the non-Jewish brothers: “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised. Moses taught us to do this.” 2Paul and Barnabas were against this teaching. They argued with these men about it. So the group decided to send Paul, Barnabas, and some other men to Jerusalem. These men were going there to talk more about this with the apostles and elders. 3The church helped the men leave on the trip. These men went through the countries of Phoenicia and Samaria. In these countries they told all about how the non-Jewish people had turned to the true God. This made all the brothers very happy. 4Paul, Barnabas, and the others arrived in Jerusalem. The apostles, the elders, and the whole group of believers welcomed them. Paul, Barnabas, and the others told about all the things 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. 7There was a long debate. Then Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, I know that you remember what happened in the early days. God chose me then from among you to tell the Good News to the non-Jewish people. They heard the Good News from me and they believed. 8God knows the thoughts of all men, and he accepted these non-Jewish people. God 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 around the necks of the non-Jewish brothers? 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 by the grace ˻(kindness)˼ of the Lord Jesus!” 12Then the whole group became quiet. They listened to Paul and Barnabas speak. Paul and Barnabas told about all the miracles and wonders that God did through them among the non-Jewish people. 13Paul and Barnabas finished speaking. Then James spoke. He 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 the non-Jewish people and made them his people. 15The words of the prophets agree with this too: 16'I ˻(God)˼ 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 all other people will look for the Lord ˻(God)˼— all the non-Jewish people that are my people too. The Lord ˻(God)˼ said this. And he is the One who does all these things. 18These things have been known from the beginning of time.’ 19”So I think we should not bother the non-Jewish brothers who have turned to God. 20Instead, we should write a letter to them. We should tell them these things: Don’t eat food that has been given to idols. (This makes the food unclean.) Don’t do any kind of sexual sin. Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled ˻(choked)˼ or any meat that still has the blood in it. 21They should not do these things, because there are still men ˻(Jews)˼ 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.” 22The apostles, the elders, and the whole church ˻(group of believers)˼ 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. These men were respected by the brothers ˻in Jerusalem˼. 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. The things 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. 28The Holy Spirit thinks that you should have no more burdens, and we agree. You need to do only these things: 29Don’t eat food that has been given to idols. Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled ˻(choked)˼ or any meat that still has the blood in it. Don’t do any kind of sexual sin. If you stay away from these things, you will do well. We say good-bye now. 30So Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas left Jerusalem. They went to Antioch. In Antioch they gathered the group of believers and gave them the letter. 31When the believers read it, they were happy. The letter comforted them. 32Judas and Silas were also prophets. They said many things to help the brothers ˻(believers)˼ and make them stronger. 33After Judas and Silas stayed there for a while, they left. They received a blessing of peace from the brothers. Judas and Silas went back to the brothers ˻in Jerusalem˼ who had sent them. 35But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others told the Good News and taught the people the message of the Lord. 36A few days later, Paul said to Barnabas, “We told the message of the Lord in many towns. We should go back to all those towns to visit the brothers and sisters and see how they are doing.” 37Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark with them too. 38But ˻on their first trip˼ John Mark had left them at Pamphylia; he did not continue with them in the work. So Paul did not think it was a good idea to take him. 39Paul and Barnabas had a big argument about this. They separated and went different ways. Barnabas sailed to Cyprus and took Mark with him. 40Paul chose Silas to go with him. The brothers ˻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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