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15 Some men came from Judea and taught the Christian brothers. They said, `You must be circumcised with the mark made on your body in the way Moses taught us. If you are not circumcised you cannot be saved.'

Paul and Barnabas did not agree with them. There was much talking about it. Then they decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the other men should go to Jerusalem. They would ask the apostles and church leaders there about it.

So the church people sent them on their way. They passed through the districts of Phoenicia and Samaria. They told them that some who were not Jews were believing in God. This news made all the Christian brothers very happy.

When they reached Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church people, the apostles, and the church leaders. They told all that God had done as he worked with them.

But some of the believers who belonged to the Pharisee group stood up and said, `They must be circumcised [like the Jews]. We must tell them to keep all the laws of Moses.'

The apostles and the church leaders met together to talk the matter over.

After much talking about it, Peter stood up. He said, `Men and brothers, you know what happened in the first days. God chose me to tell the good news to those who are not Jews. They believed.

God knows what is in a person's heart. He proved that they believed. He gave them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us.

God made no difference between them and us. He made their hearts clean when they believed.

10 So now why are you doing what God did not do? You give the disciples a hard thing to do. Our fathers could not do it. And we cannot do it.

11 We believe that the Lord Jesus saves us because he is kind. And that is why he saves them.'

12 Then all the people stopped talking. They listened to what Paul and Barnabas had to say. They told them about all the signs and wonderful things that God had helped them to do among the people who were not Jews.

13 When they had finished talking, James said, `Men and brothers, listen to me.

14 Simeon has told us how God came the first time to the people who are not Jews. God chose some of them to belong to him and be his people.

15 This is what the prophets of God said long ago.

16 They said, "After this, I will come back and build up again the house of David which has fallen down. I will take the broken pieces and build a house again.

17 Then all the other people will find God, even those who are not Jews but who belong to me. So says the Lord, who is doing all these things."

18 `He told us these things long ago.

19 So now, this is what I think. We should not trouble those who are not Jews but who have turned to God.

20 We should write them a letter and tell them what they must not do. They must not eat food that has been given to idols. They must not have sex with someone who is not their husband or wife. They must not eat the meat of animals that are killed by choking. They must not taste blood.

21 Since the times of long ago there have been men who told about Moses in every city. They read his laws in the meeting places every Sabbath day.'

22 Then the apostles, and the leaders, and all the church people chose men from among themselves. They sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas, whose other name was Barsabbas, and Silas. They were leaders among the Christian brothers.

23 They sent a letter with them. It said, `The apostles, the church leaders, and the Christian brothers send greetings to the Christians who are not Jews in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

24 We have heard that some of our people visited you and talked to you. They taught things that troubled you and made you believe wrong things. They said, "You must be circumcised like the Jews and keep the law." We did not tell them to teach you this.

25 All of us gathered here have chosen some men. We are sending them with our dear brothers, Barnabas and Paul.

26 Barnabas and Paul have been willing to die for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 We are sending Judas and Silas. They will tell you the same things that we have written in the letter.

28 The Holy Spirit and we thought it was not good to give you a hard thing to do. But here is what you must not do.

29 You must not eat food that has been given to idols. You must not eat the meat of animals that are killed by choking. You must not taste blood. You must not commit adultery. If you keep away from these things, you will do well. Goodbye.'

30 So the men left and went to Antioch. There they called the people together and gave them the letter.

31 When the people read the letter, they were very glad. It helped them to become stronger in what they believed.

32 Judas and Silas were prophets. They said many things to the Christian brothers and helped them to believe more strongly.

33 They stayed there for a while. Then the brothers sent them back to those who had sent them. They sent a greeting of peace with them.

34 But Silas thought it was good to stay at Antioch.

35 Paul and Barnabas stayed there too. They taught the people and told them the Lord's message. Many other men did this also.

36 Some days later, Paul said to Barnabas, `Let us go back and visit the brothers in every city where we have told the Lord's message. Let us see how they are doing.'

37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them.

38 But Paul did not think that they should take him. John Mark had left them when they were at Pamphylia. He had not gone along with them to do the work.

39 The feeling about this matter was very strong between Barnabas and Paul, so they did not go together. Barnabas took Mark and went in a boat to Cyprus.

40 Paul chose Silas. The Christian brothers asked the Lord to bless Paul. Then he went on his way.

41 Paul travelled through Syria and Cilicia. He helped the church people to believe more strongly.