Paul and Barnabas Travel to Jerusalem
(1) At this time, some Jews traveled from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the non-Jewish believers: “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses.“ (2) In response, Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed and debated with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed—along with some other Antioch believers—to go up to Jerusalem (about 391 miles/624 km) and talk with the apostles and elders about the question concerning whether non-Jewish believers were required to be circumcised in order to be saved.
(3) The Antioch church sent them on their way to Jerusalem, and as they traveled through Phoenicia (in the Mediterranean coastal region in the Roman province of Syria and modern Lebanon) and Samaria, they shared how the non-Jews had believed in Jesus. All the believers were very happy when they heard this good news.
The Jerusalem Council
Acts 15:4-21 (AD 48)
(4) When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them among the non-Jews.
(5) But then some of the Jewish believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The non-Jews must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
(6) The apostles and elders gathered together to discuss this question. (7) After much discussion, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God chose me from among you to declare the message of the good news (gospel) to the non-Jews, that they may believe. (8) God, who knows each person’s heart, revealed that he accepted them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us Jews. (9) He did not discriminate between Jews and non-Jews, because he cleansed (purified) their hearts by faith. (10) Therefore, why are you now testing God by putting on the necks of non-Jewish believers a burden that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to carry? (11) No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we Jews are saved, just as the non-Jews are.”
(12) The whole assembly became very quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling them about the miraculous signs and wonders (miracles) God had done among the non-Jews through them.
(13) When they finished talking, James (Jesus’ younger brother, and now the Jerusalem church’s primary leader) spoke up and said, “Brothers, listen to me. (14) Simon (Peter) has told us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the non-Jews. (15) The words of Amos 9:11-12 agree with what he has said, (16) ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, (17) so that the rest of the human race can seek the Lord, even all the nations who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things—(18) things known from long ago.’ (19) Therefore, it is my judgment that we should not make it so hard for the non-Jews who are turning to God. (20) Instead, we should write to them telling them to abstain from eating food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from meat of strangled animals, and from blood. (21) For the law of Moses has been proclaimed in every city from the earliest generations and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath day.”
The Jerusalem Letter Is Read in Antioch
(22) Then it seemed good to the Jerusalem apostles and elders—along with the whole church—to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, leaders among the church, (23) with this letter:
‘From the Jerusalem apostles and elders—your brothers—to the non-Jewish believers in Antioch and in the Roman province of Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. (24) We have heard that some people have visited you from Jerusalem without our permission—troubling you with their teaching and disturbing your minds. (25) So we all agreed to choose some men to send to you with our dear friends Paul and Barnabas. (26) Judas and Silas are respected leaders in the Jerusalem church who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (27) Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to explain to you what we have written in this letter. (28) For we were in full agreement with the Holy Spirit that we should not burden you with anything beyond these requirements: (29) We ask you to abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from meat of strangled animals, and from sexual perversion. You will do good if you avoid these things. Farewell.‘ “
(30) So the men were sent off from Jerusalem and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and gave them the letter. (31) The believers read it and rejoiced for its encouraging message. (32) Judas and Silas—who were prophets—said many other things to encourage and strengthen the believers.
(33-34) After spending some time in Antioch, they were sent back by the believers with the blessing of peace to those who sent them. (35) But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and proclaimed the word of the Lord.
THE SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
(Spring AD 49 to Fall AD 51)
Silas Joins Paul in Antioch
Acts 15:36-41 (Spring AD 49)
(36) Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the believers in all the places where we preached the Lord’s word during our first mission journey, and see how they are doing.“
(37) However, Barnabas wanted to take his nephew John Mark with them, (38) but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Perga of the Roman province of Pamphylia and had not remained with them.
(39) Paul and Barnabas had a major disagreement, and so they decided to separate from each other. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to the island of Cyprus, (40) but Paul chose Silas. Paul and Silas left Antioch after being dedicated by the believers to the Lord’s grace. (41) They traveled through the Roman province of Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches along the way.