Acts 15:1-21

The Council at Jerusalem

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed greatly and debated with them, so it was determined that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others from their group would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders [and confer with them] concerning this issue. So, after being supplied and sent on their way by the church, they went through both Phoenicia and Samaria telling in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they brought great joy to all the [a]believers. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received warmly by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported to them all the things that God had accomplished through them. But some from the sect of the Pharisees who had believed [in Jesus as the Messiah] stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentile converts and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders came together to consider this matter. After a long debate, Peter got up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the message of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows and understands the heart, testified to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith [in Jesus]. Now then, why are you testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to endure? But we believe that we are saved through the [precious, undeserved] grace of the Lord Jesus [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life], in just the same way as they are.”

All the people remained silent, and they listened [attentively] to Barnabas and Paul as they described all the signs and wonders (attesting miracles) that God had done through them among the Gentiles.

James’ Judgment

When they had finished speaking, [b]James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. [c]Simeon (Simon Peter) has described how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name [to honor Him and be identified with Him]. The words of the Prophets agree with this, just as it is written [in Scripture],

After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the tent of David which has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,

So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles upon whom My name has been invoked,’

Says the Lord,
Who has been making these things known from long ago.

Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble and make it difficult for those who are turning to God among the Gentiles [by putting obstacles in their way], but that we write to them that they are to abstain from [d]anything that has been contaminated by [being offered to] idols and from sexual impurity and from [eating the meat of] what has been strangled and from [the consumption of] [e]blood. For from ancient generations [the writing of] Moses has been preached in every city, since [f]he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

  1. Acts 15:3 Lit brethren.
  2. Acts 15:13 Jesus’ half brother, James, was leader of the church in Jerusalem.
  3. Acts 15:14 This Greek transliteration of Peter’s Hebrew name is also used in 2 Pet 1:1.
  4. Acts 15:20 Lit the pollutions of idols.
  5. Acts 15:20 For the OT prohibition against eating blood, and the reasons for it, see Lev 17:10-14. There, in v 13, hunters are instructed to pour out the blood of an animal before eating it.
  6. Acts 15:21 I.e. the first five books of the OT, Gen through Deut.

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