Acts, CHAPTER 15
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question.
They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”
The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.
After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”
The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.
After they had fallen silent, James responded, “My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:
‘After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.’
It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”
Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number [who went out] without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, exhorted and strengthened the brothers with many words.
After they had spent some time there, they were sent off with greetings of peace from the brothers to those who had commissioned them.
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming with many others the word of the Lord.
After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us make a return visit to see how the brothers are getting on in all the cities where we proclaimed the word of the Lord.”
Barnabas wanted to take with them also John, who was called Mark,
but Paul insisted that they should not take with them someone who had deserted them at Pamphylia and who had not continued with them in their work.
So sharp was their disagreement that they separated. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.
But Paul chose Silas and departed after being commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
He traveled through Syria and Cilicia bringing strength to the churches.