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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].” 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.

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]. 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. 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.”

The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this ·problem [matter]. 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. 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. 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.
    And I will rebuild the tent of David, which has fallen [C either the Davidic dynasty of kings (the “house of David”), or the nation Israel generally].
But I will rebuild its ruins,
    and I will ·set it up [restore it].
17 Then ·those people who are left alive [the remnant; L the rest of the people] may ·ask the Lord for help [L seek the Lord],
    and the ·other nations [Gentiles] ·that belong to me [L who are called by my name],
says the Lord,
    who will make it happen.
18 And these things have been known ·for a long time [from long ago; Amos 9:11–12; C a reference to God’s promise that he would restore the “remnant” of Israel and save the Gentiles].’

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:

Greetings!

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.

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 15:34 but … there Some Greek copies do not contain the bracketed text.
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