Acts 15 Expanded Bible (EXB)
The Meeting in Jerusalem
15 Then some people came to Antioch from Judea and began teaching the Gentile believers [L brothers (and sisters)]: “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised ·as Moses taught us [L according to the custom of Moses; compare Gen. 17:9–14].” 2 Paul and Barnabas ·were against this teaching and argued [L had no small argument and debate] with them about it. So the church ·decided to send [commissioned; appointed] Paul, Barnabas, and some others to Jerusalem where they could talk more about this disagreement with the apostles and elders.
3 The church ·helped them leave [sent them] on the trip, and they went through the countries of Phoenicia and Samaria, telling all about ·how the other nations had turned to God [L the conversion of the Gentiles]. This made all the ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)] very ·happy [joyful]. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the apostles, the elders, and the church. They told about everything God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers who belonged to the Pharisee ·group [sect; party; faction] ·came forward [L stood up] and said, “·The Gentile believers [L They] must be circumcised. They must be ·told to obey [ordered to keep] the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this ·problem [matter]. 7 After a long debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “[L Men,] Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose me from among you to preach the ·Good News [Gospel] to the ·nations [Gentiles]. They heard the ·Good News [Gospel] from ·me [L my mouth], and they believed. 8 God, who knows the ·thoughts of everyone [L heart], ·accepted [showed his approval of; L testified for] them. He showed this to us by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 To God, those people are not different from us. When they believed, he made their hearts ·pure [clean]. 10 So now why are you testing God by putting a ·heavy load around [L yoke on] the necks of the ·Gentile believers [L disciples]? It is a ·load [yoke] that neither we nor our ·ancestors [forefathers; fathers] were ·able [strong enough] to ·carry [bear]. 11 But we believe that we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”
12 Then the whole ·group [assembly] became quiet. They listened to Paul and Barnabas tell about all the [miraculous] signs and ·miracles [wonders] that God did through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James said, “[L Men,] Brothers, listen to me. 14 ·Simon [C Peter; v. 7] has told us how God ·showed his love for [cared for; intervened with; visited] the Gentiles [Acts 10—11]. For the first time he is ·accepting [taking; selecting] from among them a people ·to be his own [L for his name]. 15 The words of the prophets agree with this too [L as it is written]:
16 ‘After these things I will return.
19 “So I ·think [conclude; judge] we should not ·bother [trouble; cause trouble for] the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write a letter to them telling them these things: Stay away from food ·that has been offered to idols (which makes it unclean) [L polluted by idols], ·any kind of sexual sin [or prohibited marriages; C the Greek word could mean any sexual sin, or marriages viewed as incestuous by OT law], eating animals that have been strangled [C leaving the blood inside, which the OT law prohibited; Gen. 9:4], and blood [C consuming blood was forbidden in the OT law; Lev. 17:10–12]. 21 They should do these things, because for a long time in every city ·the law of Moses has been taught [L Moses has been preached/proclaimed; C referring to the Torah (the Law)]. And it is still read in the synagogue every Sabbath day.” [C These guidelines were to keep from offending pious Jews in the community and so promote unity in the Church.]
Letter to Gentile Believers
22 The apostles, the elders, and the whole church decided to send some of their men with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. They chose Judas [L called] Barsabbas [1:23] and Silas [15:40; 1 Thess. 1:1], who were ·respected by [or leaders among] the ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)]. 23 ·They sent the following letter with them [L Writing by their hand; C an idiom for composing and sending a letter]:
From the apostles and elders, your brothers.
To all the Gentile ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)] in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some of our group have come to you and said things that trouble and ·upset you [unsettle your minds/souls]. But we did not ·tell [instruct; authorize; order] them to do this. 25 We have ·all [unanimously; with one accord] agreed to choose some ·messengers [L men] and send them to you with our ·dear friends [beloved] Barnabas and Paul— 26 people who have ·given [dedicated; or risked] their lives ·to serve [L for the name of] our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas, who will tell you the same things [in person; L through word]. 28 It has pleased the Holy Spirit that you should not have a heavy ·load [burden] to carry, and we agree. You need to do only these things: 29 Stay away from any food that has been ·offered [sacrificed] to idols, eating any animals that have been strangled, and blood, and any kind of sexual sin [see v. 20]. If you stay away from these things, you will do well.
·Good-bye [Best wishes; May you fare well].
30 So they ·left Jerusalem [were sent off/dismissed] and went to Antioch where they gathered the ·church [congregation; assembly] and ·gave them [delivered] the letter. 31 When they read it, they ·were very happy [rejoiced] because of the encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who were ·also [themselves] prophets, said many things to encourage the ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)] and make them stronger. 33 After some time ·Judas and Silas [L they] were sent off in peace by the ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)], and they went back to those who had sent them|, 34 but Silas decided to remain there|.[a]
35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch and, along with many others, preached the ·Good News [Gospel] and taught the people the ·message [L word] of the Lord.
Paul and Barnabas Separate
36 After some ·time [days], Paul said to Barnabas, “·We should [Let’s] go back to visit the ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)] in all those ·towns [or cities] where we preached the ·message [L word] of the Lord [chs. 13—14] and see how they are doing.”
37 Barnabas wanted to take John [L who is called] Mark with them [C John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas; Col. 4:10]. 38 But Paul ·did not think it was a good idea to [or insisted that they should not] take him, since Mark had ·left [deserted] them at Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work [13:13]. 39 Paul and Barnabas had such a ·serious argument [sharp disagreement] about this that they ·separated and went different ways [parted company; L separated from one another]. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus [C an island off the coast of Syria, and the homeland of Barnabas; 4:36; 13:4], 40 but Paul chose Silas [v. 32; 16:37; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1] and left. The ·believers [L brothers (and sisters)] in Antioch ·put [commended; entrusted] Paul ·into the Lord’s care [L to the grace of the Lord], 41 and he went through Syria and Cilicia, ·giving strength to [building up; encouraging] the churches.