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. Chapter 15.

The Council at Jerusalem (Jerusalem)

1 NOW CERTAIN PERSONS who had come down from Judaea began to teach the brotherhood that those who were not circumcised in accordance with Mosaic practice could not be saved. 2 That brought them into fierce dissension and controversy with Paul and Barnabas. And so it was arranged that these two and some others from Antioch should go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

3 They were sent on their way by the congregation, and travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling the full story of the conversion of the Gentiles. The news caused great rejoicing among all the Christians there.

4 When they reached Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, and reported all that God had helped them to do. 5 Then some of the Pharisaic party who had become believers came forward and said, 'They must be circumcised and told to keep the Law of Moses.'

6 The apostles and elders held a meeting to look into this matter; and, after a long debate. 7 Peter rose and addressed them. 'My friends,' he said, 'in the early days, as you yourselves know. God made his choice among you and ordained that from my lips the Gentiles should hear and believe the message of the Gospel. 8 And God, who can read men's minds, showed his approval of them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, as he did to us. 9 He made no difference between them and us; for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Then why do you now provoke God by laying on the shoulders of these converts a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear? 11 No, we believe that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved, and so are they.'

12 At that the whole company fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and miracles that God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

13 When they had finished speaking, James summed up: 'My friends,' he said, 'listen to me. 14 Simeon has told how it first happened that God took notice of the Gentiles, to choose from among them a people to bear his name; 15 and this agrees with the words of the prophets, as Scripture has it:

19 'My judgement therefore is that we should impose no irksome restrictions on those of the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but instruct them by letter to abstain from things polluted by contact with idols, from fornication, from anything that has been strangled, and from blood. [Some witnesses omit: from fornication; others omit: from anything that has been strangled; some add (after: blood): and to refrain from doing to others what they would not like done to themselves.] 21 Moses, after all, has never lacked spokesmen in every town for generations past; he is read in the synagogues Sabbath by Sabbath.'

The Reply of the Council

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the agreement of the whole church, resolved to choose representatives and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two leading men in the community, Judas Barsabbas and Silas 23 and gave them this letter to deliver:

'We, the apostles and elders, send greetings as brothers to our brothers of gentile origin in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard that some of our number, without any instructions from us, have [Some witnesses read: have gone out and ...] disturbed you with their talk and unsettled your minds, 25 we have resolved unanimously to send to you our chosen representatives with our well-beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have devoted themselves to the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We are therefore sending Judas and Silas, who will themselves confirm this by word of mouth. 28 It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and our decision, to lay no further burden upon you beyond these essentials: 29 you are to abstain from meat that has been offered to idols, from blood, from anything that has been strangled, [Some witnesses omit: from anything that has been strangled.] and from fornication. [Some witnesses omit: and from fornication: and some add: and refrain from doing what you would not like done to yourselves.] If you keep yourselves free from these things you will be doing right. Farewell.'

30 So they were sent off on their journey and travelled down to Antioch, where they called the congregation together, and delivered the letter. 31 When it was read, they all rejoiced at the encouragement it brought. 32 Judas and Silas, who were prophets themselves, said much to encourage and strengthen the members, 33 and, after spending some time there, were dismissed with the good wishes of the brethren, to return to those who had sent them." 34 [Some manuscripts add: But Silas decided to remain there.] 35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed on at Antioch, and there, along with many others, they taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Paul leads the advance

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 AFTER A WHILE Paul said to Barnabas, 'Ought we not to go back now to see how our brothers are faring in the various towns where we proclaimed the word of the Lord?' 37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them; 38 but Paul judged that the man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on to share in their work was not the man to take with them now. 39 The dispute was so sharp that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus, 40 while Paul chose Silas. He started on his journey, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord, 41 and travelled through Syria and Cilicia bringing new strength to the congregations.

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