1 Certain men [i.e., believers, see verse 5] came down from Judea [to Antioch of Syria] and began teaching the brothers this: You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised according to the custom [required] by Moses. 2 After Paul and Barnabas had a heated debate and argued with these men [over this issue], the brothers [of the Antioch church] decided that Paul and Barnabas, along with certain others, should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the question with the apostles and elders there. 3 So, they were sent on their way with the backing of the [Antioch] church and traveled through both Phoenicia and Samaria, telling them about the conversion of the Gentiles. This brought great rejoicing to all the brothers [who heard about it].
4 When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church, together with the apostles and elders, and then reported everything that God had done through their ministry. 5 But certain believers, [who had been] members of the sect called Pharisees [i.e., a strict sect of the Jewish religion], began saying, "It is necessary to circumcise people [see verse 1] and require them to keep [the ordinances of] the law of Moses."
6 So, the apostles and elders [of the Jerusalem church] met together to discuss this problem. 7 And after many questions were asked [about it] Peter stood up and addressed the assembly [including the former Pharisees who were now brothers]: "Brothers, you are aware that some time ago God decided that, from among your number, it would be through my ministry that the Gentiles would hear and believe the Gospel message. 8 And God, who knows [all people's] hearts, gave His testimony [to their acceptance] by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us [See 11:15-17]. 9 And He did not discriminate between us [i.e., Jews] and them [i.e., Gentiles], cleansing their hearts [also] by faith [in Jesus]. 10 Why are you putting God on trial by trying to harness the disciples with a burden [i.e., compliance with the law of Moses], which neither our forefathers nor we could possibly bear? 11 For we believe that [both] we [Jews] and they [Gentiles] will be saved in the same way, through the unearned favor of the Lord Jesus."
12 The whole crowd remained quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul reporting on the [miraculous] signs and wonders God had performed among the Gentiles through them. 13 Then, after they finished speaking, James [the Lord's half-brother, See 12:17] spoke up and said, "Brothers, listen to me. 14 Symeon [i.e., Peter] reported how God first sent [someone to preach] to the Gentiles in order to reach a group of them [with the Gospel message] for His name. 15 And this was predicted by the message of the prophets when they wrote [Amos 9:11ff],
16 After these things [have transpired], I will return [to my people] and will rebuild the Tabernacle [i.e., the Temple] of David, which has been destroyed. I will rebuild it from its ruins and reestablish it, 17 so that the rest of mankind, including all the Gentiles [or nations], may seek after the Lord and be called by my name. 18 This is what the Lord said when He predicted these things long ago.'
19 So, my advice is not to make it difficult for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but to write [urging] them to avoid [eating] what is contaminated by [its association with] idol worship, from sexual immorality, from [eating] strangled animals and from [drinking] blood. 21 [For] every city has had for many generations people who proclaim [the teaching of] Moses, reading [his writings] in the synagogues every Sabbath day."
22 Then it seemed wise to the apostles and the elders, [along] with the entire church, to select men from their number and send them with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. So, they chose Judas, who was [also] called Barsabbas, and Silas, [who were] principal men among the brothers. 23 This is what they wrote [in the letter]: "[This is] from your brothers, the apostles and elders [of the Jerusalem church]: Greetings to [our] Gentile brothers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
24 We have heard that certain [men] who left here have been upsetting you people and [even] undermining [some people's] spiritual lives by what they have been teaching. This was done without our authorization [or approval]. 25 So, after we came to full agreement, it seemed wise to us to choose [two] men [See verse 22] to accompany our dear Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore, we are sending Judas and Silas [with them] to tell you [these same] things in person. 28 For it was the judgment of the Holy Spirit, and we agreed, that no greater burden be placed on you people than the following necessary things: 29 Avoid [eating] things sacrificed to idols; avoid [drinking] blood; avoid [eating] things [that were] strangled [to death] and avoid sexual immorality. If you avoid [all] these things, you will be doing well. Goodbye."
30 So, when Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas left [the meeting] they went down to Antioch and, after gathering a large group [of the church] together, they presented the letter to them. 31 And when they had read it, the people [of the Antioch church] rejoiced over the encouragement it gave them. 32 And Judas and Silas, who also were prophets, exhorted and strengthened the brothers with many [other] words. 33 After they [Judas and Silas] had spent some time [there at Antioch], the brothers [in Antioch] sent them away [back to Jerusalem]. A peaceful spirit prevailed [among all of them]. {{Some manuscripts add verse 34 But Silas decided to stay on [at Antioch]}}. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch and, along with a number of other [brothers], taught and proclaimed the message of the Lord [there].
36 Then after some days Paul suggested to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we proclaimed the message of the Lord, to see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas [agreed, and] wanted to take John Mark [his cousin, See Col. 4:10] with them. 38 But Paul was not at all in favor of taking someone who had left them and refused to continue on in the work [of preaching the Gospel] when they were in Pamphylia. [See 13:13]. 39 A heated discussion developed [over this matter] so that Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways [over it], with Barnabas sailing for Cyprus and taking [John] Mark with him. 40 But Paul chose Silas and, after being commended to the [care and] favor of the Lord by the brothers, he left, 41 traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches [along the way].