Contemporary English Version
Peter Reports to the Church in Jerusalem
11 The apostles and the followers in Judea heard that Gentiles had accepted God’s message. 2 So when Peter came to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish followers started arguing with him. They wanted Gentile followers to be circumcised, and 3 they said, “You stayed in the homes of Gentiles, and you even ate with them!”
4 Then Peter told them exactly what had happened:
5 I was in the town of Joppa and was praying when I fell sound asleep and had a vision. I saw heaven open, and something like a huge sheet held by its four corners came down to me. 6 When I looked in it, I saw animals, wild beasts, snakes, and birds. 7 I heard a voice saying to me, “Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them.”
8 But I said, “Lord, I can’t do that! I’ve never taken a bite of anything that is unclean and not fit to eat.”[a]
9 The voice from heaven spoke to me again, “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” 10 This happened three times before it was all taken back into heaven.
11 Suddenly three men from Caesarea stood in front of the house where I was staying. 12 The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry. Then six of the Lord’s followers went with me to the home of a man 13 who told us that an angel had appeared to him. The angel had ordered him to send to Joppa for someone named Simon Peter. 14 Then Peter would tell him how he and everyone in his house could be saved.
15 After I started speaking, the Holy Spirit was given to them, just as the Spirit had been given to us at the beginning. 16 I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 17 God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So how could I have gone against God?
18 When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They said, “God has now let Gentiles turn to him, and he has given life to them!”
The Church in Antioch
19 Some of the Lord’s followers had been scattered because of the terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed. They went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they told the message only to the Jews.
20 Some of the followers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles[b] the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and many people turned to the Lord and put their faith in him. 22 News of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem. Then they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
23 When Barnabas got there and saw what God had been kind enough to do for them, he was very glad. So he begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 Barnabas was a good man of great faith, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many more people turned to the Lord.
25 Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 He found Saul and brought him to Antioch, where they met with the church for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch the Lord’s followers were first called Christians.
27 During this time some prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch. 28 One of them was Agabus. Then with the help of the Spirit, he told that there would be a terrible famine everywhere in the world. And it happened when Claudius was Emperor.[c] 29 The followers in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers in Judea. 30 So they had Barnabas and Saul take their gifts to the church leaders in Jerusalem.
Herod Causes Trouble for the Church
12 At that time King Herod[d] caused terrible suffering for some members of the church. 2 He ordered soldiers to cut off the head of James, the brother of John. 3 When Herod saw that this pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested during the Festival of Thin Bread. 4 He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival.
5 While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him.
Peter Is Rescued
6 The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail. 7 Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, and light flashed around in the cell. The angel poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then he said, “Quick! Get up!”
The chains fell off his hands, 8 and the angel said, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” Peter did what he was told. Then the angel said, “Now put on your coat and follow me.” 9 Peter left with the angel, but he thought everything was only a dream. 10 They went past the two groups of soldiers, and when they came to the iron gate to the city, it opened by itself. They went out and were going along the street, when all at once the angel disappeared.
11 Peter now realized what had happened, and he said, “I am certain that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish leaders planned to do to me.” 12 Then Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John whose other name was Mark. Many of the Lord’s followers had come together there and were praying.
13 Peter knocked on the gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she heard Peter’s voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and said that Peter was standing there.
15 “You are crazy!” everyone told her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, “It must be his angel.”[e] 16 But Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. They saw him and were completely amazed.
17 Peter motioned for them to keep quiet. Then he told how the Lord had led him out of jail. He also said, “Tell James[f] and the others what has happened.” After that, he left and went somewhere else.
18 The next morning the soldiers who had been on guard were terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod ordered his own soldiers to search for him, but they could not find him. Then he questioned the guards and had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
20 Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon were very angry with each other. But their country got its food supply from the region that he ruled. So a group of them went to see Blastus, who was one of Herod’s high officials. They convinced Blastus that they wanted to make peace between their cities and Herod, 21 and a day was set for them to meet with him.
Herod came dressed in his royal robes. He sat down on his throne and made a speech. 22 The people shouted, “You speak more like a god than a man!” 23 At once an angel from the Lord struck him down because he took the honor that belonged to God. Later, Herod was eaten by worms and died.
24 God’s message kept spreading. 25 And after Barnabas and Saul had done the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem[g] with John, whose other name was Mark.
Barnabas and Saul Are Chosen and Sent
13 The church at Antioch had several prophets and teachers. They were Barnabas, Simeon, also called Niger, Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen, who was Herod’s[h] close friend, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and going without eating,[i] the Holy Spirit told them, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have chosen them.” 3 Everyone prayed and went without eating for a while longer. Next, they placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul to show that they had been appointed to do this work. Then everyone sent them on their way.
Barnabas and Saul in Cyprus
4 After Barnabas and Saul had been sent by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia. From there they sailed to the island of Cyprus. 5 They arrived at Salamis and began to preach God’s message in the Jewish meeting places. They also had John[j] as a helper.
6 Barnabas and Saul went all the way to the city of Paphos on the other end of the island, where they met a Jewish man named Bar-Jesus. He practiced witchcraft and was a false prophet. 7 He also worked for Sergius Paulus, who was very smart and was the governor of the island. Sergius Paulus wanted to hear God’s message, and he sent for Barnabas and Saul. 8 But Bar-Jesus, whose other name was Elymas, was against them. He even tried to keep the governor from having faith in the Lord.
9 Then Saul, better known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked straight at Elymas 10 and said, “You son of the devil! You are a liar, a crook, and an enemy of everything that is right. When will you stop speaking against the true ways of the Lord? 11 The Lord is going to punish you by making you completely blind for a while.”
Suddenly the man’s eyes were covered by a dark mist, and he went around trying to get someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he was amazed at this teaching about the Lord. So he put his faith in the Lord.
Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Pisidia
13 Paul and the others left Paphos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. But John[k] left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 The rest of them went on from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia. Then on the Sabbath they went to the Jewish meeting place and sat down.
15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets,[l] the leaders sent someone over to tell Paul and Barnabas, “Friends, if you have anything to say that will help the people, please say it.”
16 Paul got up. He motioned with his hand and said:
People of Israel, and everyone else who worships God, listen! 17 The God of Israel chose our ancestors, and he let our people prosper while they were living in Egypt. Then with his mighty power he led them out, 18 and for about forty years he took care of[m] them in the desert. 19 He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and gave their land to our people. 20 All this happened in about 450 years.
Then God gave our people judges until the time of the prophet Samuel, 21 but the people demanded a king. So for forty years God gave them King Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. 22 Later, God removed Saul and let David rule in his place. God said about him, “David the son of Jesse is the kind of person who pleases me most! He does everything I want him to do.”
23 God promised that someone from David’s family would come to save the people of Israel, and that one is Jesus. 24 But before Jesus came, John was telling everyone in Israel to turn back to God and be baptized. 25 Then, when John’s work was almost done, he said, “Who do you people think I am? Do you think I am the Promised One? He will come later, and I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
26 Now listen, you descendants of Abraham! Pay attention, all of you Gentiles who are here to worship God! Listen to this message about how to be saved, because it is for everyone. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t realize who Jesus was. And they didn’t understand the words of the prophets that they read each Sabbath. So they condemned Jesus just as the prophets had said.
28-29 They did exactly what the Scriptures said they would. Even though they couldn’t find any reason to put Jesus to death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed.
After Jesus had been put to death, he was taken down from the cross[n] and placed in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from death! 31 Then for many days Jesus appeared to his followers who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about him.
32 God made a promise to our ancestors. And we are here to tell you the good news 33 that he has kept this promise to us. It is just as the second Psalm says about Jesus,
“You are my son because today
I have become your Father.”
34 God raised Jesus from death and will never let his body decay. It is just as God said,
“I will make to you
the same holy promise
that I made to David.”
35 And in another psalm it says, “God will never let the body of his Holy One decay.”
36 When David was alive, he obeyed God. Then after he died, he was buried in the family grave, and his body decayed. 37 But God raised Jesus from death, and his body did not decay.
38 My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The Law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins. 39 But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free. 40 Make sure that what the prophets have said doesn’t happen to you. They said,
41 “Look, you people
who make fun of God!
I will do something today
that you won’t believe,
even if someone
tells you about it!”
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the meeting, the people begged them to say more about these same things on the next Sabbath. 43 After the service, many Jews and a lot of Gentiles who worshiped God went with them. Paul and Barnabas begged them all to remain faithful to God, who had been so kind to them.
44 The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord.[o] 45 When the Jewish people saw the crowds, they were very jealous. They insulted Paul and spoke against everything he said.
46 But Paul and Barnabas bravely said:
We had to tell God’s message to you before we told it to anyone else. But you rejected the message! This proves that you don’t deserve eternal life. Now we are going to the Gentiles. 47 The Lord has given us this command,
“I have placed you here
as a light
for the Gentiles.
You are to take
the saving power of God
to people everywhere on earth.”
48 This message made the Gentiles glad, and they praised what they had heard about the Lord. [p] Everyone who had been chosen for eternal life then put their faith in the Lord.
49 The message about the Lord spread all over that region. 50 But the Jewish leaders went to some of the important men in the town and to some respected women who were religious. They turned them against Paul and Barnabas and started making trouble for them. They even chased them out of that part of the country.
51 Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet[q] and went on to the city of Iconium.
52 But the Lord’s followers in Antioch were very happy and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
- 11.8 unclean and not fit to eat: See the note at 10.14.
- 11.20 Gentiles: This translates a Greek word that may mean “people who speak Greek” or “people who live as Greeks do.” Here the word seems to mean “people who are not Jews.” Some manuscripts have “Greeks,” which also seems to mean “people who are not Jews.”
- 11.28 when Claudius was Emperor: A.D. 41-54.
- 12.1 Herod: Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great.
- 12.15 his angel: Probably meaning “his guardian angel.”
- 12.17 James: The brother of the Lord.
- 12.25 went back to Jerusalem: Some manuscripts have “left Jerusalem,” and others have “went to Antioch.”
- 13.1 Herod’s: Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
- 13.2 going without eating: The Jews often went without eating as a way of showing how much they loved God. This is also called “fasting.”
- 13.5,13 John: Whose other name was Mark (see 12.12,25).
- 13.5,13 John: Whose other name was Mark (see 12.12,25).
- 13.15 the Law and the Prophets: The Jewish Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament.
- 13.18 took care of: Some manuscripts have “put up with.”
- 13.28,29 cross: This translates a Greek word that means “wood,” “pole,” or “tree.”
- 13.44,48 the Lord: Some manuscripts have “God.”
- 13.44,48 the Lord: Some manuscripts have “God.”
- 13.51 shook the dust from that place off their feet: This was a way of showing rejection.