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1THEN some men came down from Judaea and began to teach the brothers, saying, "unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved".

2Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed with them and there was a good deal of argument. Finally it was settled that Paul and Barnabas should go up to Jerusalem with some of their own people to confer with the apostles and elders about the whale question.

3The church sent them off on their journey and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria they told the story of the conversion of the gentiles, and all the brothers were overjoyed to hear about it.

4On their arrival at Jerusalem they were welcomed by the Church, by the apostles and elders, and they reported how greatly God had worked with them.

5But some members of the Pharisees' party who had become believers stood up and declared that it was essential that these men be circumcised and told to observe the Law of Moses.

6The apostles and elders met to consider this matter.

7After an exhaustive debate Peter stood up and addressed them in these words: "Men and brothers, you know that from our earliest days together God chose me as the one from whose lips the gentiles should hear the message of the gospel and should believe it.

8Moreover, God who knows men's inmost thoughts has plainly shown that this is so, for he gave the Holy Spirit to the gentiles, exactly as he did to us.

9He made no distinction between us and them, once he had cleansed their hearts by faith.

10Why then must you now strain the patience of God by trying to put on the shoulders of these disciples a burden which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11Surely the fact is that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved through faith, just as they are!"

12These words produced absolute silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul while they gave a detailed account of the signs and wonders which God had worked through them among the gentiles.

13Silence again followed their words and then James made this reply: "Men and brothers, listen to me.

14Symeon has shown how in the first place God decided to choose a people from among the nations who should bear his name.

15This is in full agreement with what the prophets wrote, as in this scripture:

16After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up:

17That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the gentiles, upon whom my name is called, Saith the Lord who maketh these things

18known from the beginning of the world.

19"I am firmly of the opinion that we should not put any additional obstacles before any gentiles who are turning towards God.

20Instead, I think we should write to them telling them to avoid anything polluted by idols, sexual immorality, eating the meat of strangled animals, or tasting blood.

21For after all, for many generations now Moses has had his preachers in every city and has been read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

22Then the apostles, the elders and the whole Church agreed to choose representatives and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Their names were Judas, surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, both leading men of the brotherhood.

23They carried with them a letter bearing this message: "The apostles and elders who are your brothers send their greetings to the brothers who are gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.

24Since we have heard that some of our number have caused you deep distress and have unsettled your minds by giving you a message which certainly did not originate from us,

25we are unanimously agreed to send you chosen representatives with our wellloved Barnabas and Paul

26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27So we have sent you Judas and Silas who will give you the same message personally by word of mouth.

28For it has seemed right to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no further burden upon you except what is absolutely essential,

29namely, that you avoid what has been sacrificed to idols, tasting blood, eating the meat of what has been strangled and sexual immorality. Keep yourselves clear of these things and you will make good progress. Farewell."

30So this party, sent off by the Church, went down to Antioch and after gathering the congregation together, they handed over the letter to them.

31And they, when they read it, were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

32Judas and Silas were themselves both inspired preachers and greatly encouraged and strengthened the brothers by many talks to them.

33Then, after spending some time there, the brothers sent them back in peace to those who had commissioned them.

35Paul and Barnabas however stayed on in Antioch teaching and preaching the gospel of the Word of the Lord in company with many others.

36Some days later Paul spoke to Barnabas, "Now let us go back and visit the brothers in every city where we have proclaimed the Word of the Lord to see how they are."

37Barnabas wanted to take John, surnamed Mark, as their companion.

38But Paul strongly disapproved of taking with them a man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and was not prepared to go on with them in their work.

39There was a sharp clash of opinion, so much so that they went their separate ways, Barnabas taking Mark and sailing to Cyprus,

40while Paul chose Silas and set out on his journey, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers as he did so.

41He traveled through Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.

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