ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Because of this there was trouble,
and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them.
For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers.
Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that
Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem
to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders.
They were sent on their way by the Church.
As they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria
they reported how the non-Jews had turned to God,
and there was great joy among the brothers and sisters.
On their arrival in Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the Church,
the apostles and the elders,
to whom they told all that God has done through them.
Some believers, however, who belonged to the party of Pharisees, stood up said that
non-Jewish men must be circumcised and instructed to keep the law of Moses.
So the apostles and elders met together to consider this matter.
As the discussion became heated,
Peter stood up and said to them,
you know that from the beginning God chose me among you
so that non-Jews could hear the Good News from me and believe.
God, who can read hearts, put himself on their side
by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he did to us.
He made no distinction between us and them and cleansed their hearts through faith.
So why do you want to put God to the test?
Why do you lay on the disciples a burden that neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry?
We believe, indeed,
that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus,
just as they are.”
The whole assembly kept silent as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jews.
After they had finished,
James spoke up,
“Listen to me, brothers.
Symeon has just explained how God first showed his care by taking a people for himself from non-Jewish nations.
And the words of the prophets agree with this, for Scripture says,
‘After this I will return and rebuild the booth of David which has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again.
Then the rest of humanity will look for the Lord,
and all the nations will be consecrated to my Name. So says the Lord,
who does today what he decided from the beginning.’
Because of this, I think that we should make difficulties for those non-Jews who are turning to God.
Let us just tell them not to eat food that is unclean from having been offered to idols;
to keep themselves from prohibited marriage;
and not to eat the flesh of animals that have been strangled, or any blood.
For from the the earliest times Moses has been taught in every place, and every Sabbath his laws are recalled.
Then the apostles and the elders together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers.
They took with them the following letter:
“Greetings from the apostles and elders, your brothers,
to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
We have heard that some persons from among us
have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind.
They were not appointed by us.
But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly,
to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.
We, with the Holy Spirit,
have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary:
You are to abstain from blood from the meat of strangled animals
and from prohibited marriage.
If you keep yourselves from these,
you will do well.
After saying good-bye, the messengers went to Antioch,
where they assembled the community and handed them the letter.
When they read the news, all were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.
Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, spoke at length to encourage and strengthen them.
After they had spent some time there,
the messengers were sent off in peace by the believers;
So Paul and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others the word of God.
After some days Paul said to Barnabas,
“Let us return and visit the believers in every town where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are getting on.”
Barnabas wanted to take with them John also called Mark,
but Paul did not think it right to take him
since he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission,
but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia.
Such a sharp disagreement resulted that the two finally separated.
Barnabas took Mark along with him and sailed for Cyprus.
Paul, for his part, chose Silas and left,
commended by the
brothers and sisters
to the grace of the Lord.
He travelled throughout Syria and Cilicia,
strengthening the churches there.