Acts  ◦   Chapter 15

1Some men came to Antioch from Judea and began telling those who had partaken of the Remedy: "Unless you are circumcised and follow the script given to Moses, you cannot be saved."2Paul and Barnabas opposed them fiercely, knowing they were focused on ritual and legalities rather than regeneration of heart. So Paul and Barnabas were selected as delegates, along with some local members of the Lord's spiritual health-care team, to go to Jerusalem and discuss this question with the Lord's ambassadors and mission leaders.3After they left for Jerusalem, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told of how the non-Jews had partaken of the Remedy and been joined to Christ. This brought great joy to the brothers and sisters there.4When they arrived in Jerusalem, the members of the Lord's spiritual health-care team there, along with the Lord's ambassadors and mission leaders, welcomed them. They gave a report of all that God had accomplished through them.

5Then some of those who had partaken of the Remedy and proclaimed loyalty to Christ, but were still stuck in their Pharisaical traditions, stood up and said, "The non-Jews must be circumcised, as the script given through Moses requires."

6The Lord's ambassadors and mission leaders counseled together, considering this issue.7After a long discussion, Peter stood up and said, "Friends and co-workers in God's cause, you know full well that some time ago God decided that the good news of his Remedy should be taken to the non-Jews by me, so that they might trust him and be healed.8God, who is concerned with the heart and knows their hearts well, poured the Holy Spirit upon these non-Jewish people–just as he did to us–thus confirming they were right with him.9God didn't make any difference between us and them, who are of different ancestry, for he cleansed their hearts through their trust–not by some legal act or ritual.10So why are you trying to prove you know better than God by putting legal requirements and rituals on them, which will only enslave them like a yoke around their neck, and which neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?11No way! Don't do it! We believe it is through the gracious Remedy of our Lord Jesus that we are healed, and so are they!"

12The entire room remained silent. No one said a word as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of the miracles and wonders God had done among the non-Jews through them.13When they finished, James said, "Friends and co-workers for God, listen to me:14Simon has told us that God shows no racial preferences–but sees all humanity as one–and has healed non-Jews, bringing them back to unity with him.15The words of the Lord's spokespersons agree, as it is written:16'After this I will come again and rebuild the fallen family of David. Though it is decayed and dying, I will be its Remedy,17so that the rest of humanity may come to me: yes, all the peoples of the world who desire my character restored in them. So says the Lord who accomplishes this18and has been making it known from ages past.'

19"Therefore, it is my judgment that we should not put obstacles in the way of the non-Jews who are turning to God and desire to partake of the Remedy.20Instead, let's send them a letter advising them to live pure lives: to keep their hearts pure toward God and therefore avoid anything that leads the mind toward idols; to keep their relationships pure and therefore avoid all sexual impurity; and to keep their bodies pure by not eating blood, raw meat, or any meat from animals whose blood was not drained.21For these principles are the basis of what Moses taught; they have been preached in every city since his time, and read in the synagogues each Sabbath."

22Then the Lord's ambassadors, along with team leaders and the entire spiritual health-care team, selected delegates of their own to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. They chose Judas Barsabbas and Silas, who were both leaders among them.23They sent this letter with them:

"We, the Lord's ambassadors and team leaders, and fellow workers for God's cause, send greetings to you, fellow members of the Lord's spiritual health-care team in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
24It has come to our attention that some individuals came to you from our group, without our knowledge or authorization, and presented contradictory and burdensome ideas that have undermined your peace and security in the Lord.25Because of this, we met together and decided to send out authorized delegates to you, accompanied by our dear friends Barnabas and Paul–26men who, as you know, have risked their lives to reach people with the Remedy of the Lord Jesus Christ.27We are sending Judas Barsabbas and Silas to tell you face to face that the letter we are sending is genuine, and to answer any questions you may have.28The Holy Spirit helped us realize that it is best not to burden your spiritual treatment-plan with unnecessary rituals, but you will do well to enhance your transformation with the following guidelines:29You are to live pure lives–keep your hearts pure toward God by avoiding anything that leads the mind toward idols; keep your relationships pure by avoiding all sexual impurity; and keep your bodies pure by not eating blood, raw meat, or any meat from animals whose blood was not drained. You will be physically, spiritually and relationally healthier if you avoid these things. May all go well with you."

30The delegates went to Antioch, where, upon gathering the Lord's spiritual health-care team together, they delivered the letter.31The people read it and were greatly relieved and encouraged by it.32Judas Barsabbas and Silas, who were both spokesmen for the Lord, shared many truths that encouraged and strengthened the team members.33After enjoying fellowship there for a time, they returned home with the love, affection, and goodwill of their new friends in Antioch,34Omitted. "However, Silas thought it would be best to remain there," is not part of the original greek text.

35while Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, where, with many others, they continued to distribute the Remedy and teach the Lord’s methods for spiritual renewal.

36Some time later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let’s go back and visit our team members working to distribute the Remedy in all the towns we have taken it to, and see how it is going."37Barnabas wanted John Mark to go with them,38but Paul disagreed, because he had lost confidence in John Mark's commitment to the cause, given that he'd abandoned them in Pamphylia and stopped distributing the Remedy.39They were both so convicted of their own positions that they couldn't reach a compromise, so they decided to separate their ministry: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,40while Paul took Silas and set out, with the blessings and encouragement of the team and empowerment of the Lord,41and went throughout Syria and Cilicia, building up the Lord's team.