Acts 15:1-21

Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem

1 Some men arrived in Antioch from Judea. They began to teach the believers there who were not Jews. They said to them, ‘God cannot save you unless someone circumcises you. This is in the Law that God gave to Moses.’

15:1These men were Jewish believers.

2 Paul and Barnabas did not agree with these men. They argued strongly against them. As a result, the believers in Antioch decided what to do. They chose Paul, Barnabas and some of the other believers to go to Jerusalem. They should go to meet with the apostles and the other leaders of the believers. The leaders should decide who was right in this quarrel. 3 The group of believers at Antioch sent Paul, Barnabas and the other men on their way. They travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria. They spoke to the believers in those places. They told them, ‘Gentiles are also turning to God and they are believing in Jesus.’ The believers were all very happy to hear this news. 4 When Paul, Barnabas and the other men arrived in Jerusalem, they met with the believers there. The apostles, the other leaders and the whole group of believers were happy to see them. Paul and Barnabas told them about everything that God had helped them to do.

5 Some Jewish believers were there who also belonged to the Pharisees' group. They stood up and they said, ‘We must circumcise Gentiles when they become believers. We must tell them to obey all the Law that God gave to Moses.’

6 So the apostles and the other leaders of the believers met to talk about this problem. 7 After they had all talked about this problem for a long time, Peter stood up to speak. He said, ‘My friends, you know that, a long time ago, God chose me from among all you leaders. He wanted me to teach Gentiles the good news about Jesus. God wanted them to hear his message and to believe in Jesus. 8 God knows what people truly believe. He showed clearly that he accepts Gentile believers as his people. He gave his Holy Spirit to them in the same way that he did for us. 9 He made no difference between them and us. When they believed in Jesus, he saved them. He made them clean inside.

15:7Peter was one of the apostles.

10 So do not say that God has done a wrong thing. God has shown us that he accepts Gentiles when they believe in Jesus. If you make the Gentile believers obey the Law of Moses, that is like a heavy weight on their necks. Even we Jews and our ancestors could not carry that heavy weight. 11 God saves us who are Jews when we believe in Jesus. It is not because we obey the Law of Moses. It is because the Lord Jesus is kind to us. God saves Gentiles in the same way, when they believe in Jesus.’

12 After Peter said this everybody in the group was quiet. Then Barnabas and Paul spoke to them. They said, ‘God helped us to do great miracles among the Gentiles. These showed that God was with us.’

13 When they had finished their report, James spoke to the group. He said, ‘Listen to me, my friends. 14 Simon Peter has just described to us what happened first with the Gentile believers. He explained how God chose some of them to belong to him as his own people.

15 The message of God's prophets agrees completely with this. They wrote long ago:

16 The Lord God said,

“Later I will return.

At that time I will make David's kingdom strong again.

15:16Jesus was a descendant of King David.

It has become like a house that has fallen down,

but I will build it again so that it is strong.

17 Then many other people will want to know me, the Lord God.

Those are the Gentiles that I have chosen to belong to me.

I, the Lord God, say this,

and I will make these things happen.

18 Long ago I caused people to know all these things.” ’

15:18See Amos 9:11-12.

19 James then said, ‘So this is what I have decided about this problem. Many Gentiles are now turning to God as believers. We should not make it difficult for them. 20 Instead of that, we should write a letter to tell them how to live as believers. We should say to them, “Do not eat any food which people have given to their idols. That food has become unclean. Do not have sex with anyone that you are not married to. If people have strangled an animal to kill it, do not eat its meat. Do not eat anything that still has blood in it.” 21 These rules are important, because people have known the Law of Moses for a very long time. On every Jewish day of rest, someone teaches us about the Law in our Jewish meeting places in every city.’

15:20We can read about these rules in Leviticus 18:6-23; 17:10-12.