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Controversy about Moses’ Teachings

15 Some men came from Judea and started to teach believers that people can’t be saved unless they are circumcised as Moses’ Teachings require. Paul and Barnabas had a fierce dispute with these men. So Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were sent to Jerusalem to see the apostles and spiritual leaders[a] about this claim.

The church sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem. As they were going through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told the whole story of how non-Jewish people were turning to God. This story brought great joy to all the believers.

The church in Jerusalem, the apostles, and the spiritual leaders welcomed Paul and Barnabas when they arrived. Paul and Barnabas reported everything that God had done through them. But some believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “People who are not Jewish must be circumcised and ordered to follow Moses’ Teachings.”

The apostles and spiritual leaders met to consider this statement. After a lot of debating, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know what happened some time ago. God chose me so that people who aren’t Jewish could hear the Good News and believe. God, who knows everyone’s thoughts, showed that he approved of people who aren’t Jewish by giving them the Holy Spirit as he gave the Holy Spirit to us. God doesn’t discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish people. He has cleansed non-Jewish people through faith as he has cleansed us Jews. 10 So why are you testing God? You’re putting a burden on the disciples, a burden neither our ancestors nor we can carry. 11 We certainly believe that the Lord Yeshua saves us the same way that he saves them—through his kindness.”[b]

12 The whole crowd was silent. They listened to Barnabas and Paul tell about all the miracles and amazing things that God had done through them among non-Jewish people.

13 After they finished speaking, James responded, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has explained how God first showed his concern by taking from non-Jewish people those who would honor his name. 15 This agrees with what the prophets said. Scripture says,

16 ‘Afterwards, I will return.
    I will set up David’s fallen tent again.
    I will restore its ruined places again.
    I will set it up again
17 so that the survivors and all the people who aren’t Jewish
    over whom my name is spoken,
        may search for the Lord, declares the Lord.
18 He is the one who will do these things that have always been known!’

19 “So I’ve decided that we shouldn’t trouble non-Jewish people who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write a letter telling them to keep away from things polluted by false gods, from sexual sins, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from eating bloody meat. 21 After all, Moses’ words have been spread to every city for generations. His teachings are read in synagogues on every day of worship.”

22 Then the apostles, the spiritual leaders, and the whole church decided to choose some of their men to send with Paul and Barnabas to the city of Antioch. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, who were leaders among the believers. 23 They wrote this letter for them to deliver:

From the apostles and the spiritual leaders, your brothers.

To their non-Jewish brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

Dear brothers and sisters,

24 We have heard that some individuals who came from us have confused you with statements that disturb you. We did not authorize these men to speak. 25 So we have come to a unanimous decision that we should choose men and send them to you with our dear Barnabas and Paul. 26 Barnabas and Paul have dedicated their lives to our Lord, the one named Yeshua Christ. 27 We have sent Judas and Silas to report to you on our decision. 28 The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to place any additional burdens on you. Do only what is necessary 29 by keeping away from food sacrificed to false gods, from eating bloody meat, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual sins. If you avoid these things, you will be doing what’s right.


30 So the men were sent on their way and arrived in the city of Antioch. They gathered the congregation together and delivered the letter. 31 When the people read the letter, they were pleased with the encouragement it brought them. 32 Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, spoke a long time to encourage and strengthen the believers.

33 After Judas and Silas had stayed in Antioch for some time, the congregation sent them back to Jerusalem with friendly greetings to those who had sent them.[c] 35 Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught people about the Lord’s word and spread the Good News.

Paul and Barnabas Disagree

36 After a while Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back to every city where we spread the Lord’s word. We’ll visit the believers to see how they’re doing.”

37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along. 38 However, Paul didn’t think it was right to take a person like him along. John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to work. 39 Paul and Barnabas disagreed so sharply that they parted ways. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to the island of Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas and left after the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s care.[d]

41 Paul went through the provinces of Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.


  1. Acts 15:2 Or “pastors,” or “elders.”
  2. Acts 15:11 Or “grace.”
  3. Acts 15:33 Some manuscripts and translations add verse 34: “But Silas decided to stay there, and Judas went back to Jerusalem alone.”
  4. Acts 15:40 Or “grace.”