At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.
There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.
But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country,
where they continued to preach the gospel.
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked.
He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed
and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!"
Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
"Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
In the past, he let all nations go their own way.
Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.
But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia,
and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
Certain individuals came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."
This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad.
When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses."
The apostles and elders met to consider this question.
After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.
He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?
No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
When they finished, James spoke up. "Brothers," he said, "listen to me.
Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.
The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
" 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things'--
things known from long ago.
"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.
For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, who were leaders among the believers.
With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.
So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul--
men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
So they were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.
The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.
Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.
After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,
but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.
He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.