But certain persons who had come down from Judaea tried to convince the brethren, saying, "Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the Mosaic custom, you cannot be saved."
Between these new comers and Paul and Barnabas there was no little disagreement and controversy, until at last it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some other brethren should go up to consult the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem on this matter.
So they set out, being accompanied for a short distance by some other members of the Church; and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told the whole story of the conversion of the Gentiles and inspired all the brethren with great joy.
Upon their arrival in Jerusalem they were cordially received by the Church, the Apostles, and the Elders; and they reported in detail all that God, working with them, had done.
But certain men who had belonged to the sect of the Pharisees but were now believers, stood up in the assembly, and said, "Yes, Gentile believers ought to be circumcised and be ordered to keep the Law of Moses."
Then the Apostles and Elders met to consider the matter;
and after there had been a long discussion Peter rose to his feet. "It is within your own knowledge," he said, "that God originally made choice among you that from my lips the Gentiles were to hear the Message of the Good News, and believe.
And God, who knows all hearts, gave His testimony in their favour by bestowing the Holy Spirit on them just as He did on us;
and He made no difference between us and them, in that He cleansed their hearts by their faith.
Now, therefore, why try an experiment upon God, by laying on the necks of these disciples a yoke which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we, as well as they, shall be saved."
Then the whole assembly remained silent while they listened to the statement made by Paul and Barnabas as to all the signs and marvels that God had done among the Gentiles through their instrumentality.
When they had finished speaking, James said, "Brethren, listen to me.
Symeon has related how God first looked graciously on the Gentiles to take from among them a People to be called by His name.
And this is in harmony with the language of the Prophets, which says:
"`"Afterwards I will return, and will rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will set it up again;
In order that the rest of mankind may earnestly seek the Lord--even all the nations which are called by My name,"
Says the Lord, who has been making these things known from ages long past.'
"My judgement, therefore, is against inflicting unexpected annoyance on those of the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Yet let us send them written instructions to abstain from things polluted by connexion with idolatry, from fornication, from meat killed by strangling, and from blood.
For Moses from the earliest times has had his preachers in every town, being read, as he is, Sabbath after Sabbath, in the various synagogues."
Thereupon it was decided by the Apostles and Elders, with the approval of the whole Church, to choose suitable persons from among themselves and send them to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas. Judas, called Bar-sabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, were selected,
and they took with them the following letter: "The Apostles and the elder brethren send greeting to the Gentile brethren throughout Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
As we have been informed that certain persons who have gone out from among us have disturbed you by their teaching and have unsettled your minds, without having received any such instructions from us;
we have unanimously decided to select certain men and send them to you in company with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul,
who have endangered their very lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who are themselves bringing you the same message by word of mouth.
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no burden heavier than these necessary requirements--
You must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. Keep yourselves clear of these things, and it will be well with you. Farewell."
They, therefore, having been solemnly sent, came down to Antioch, where they called together the whole assembly and delivered the letter.
The people read it, and were delighted with the comfort it brought them.
And Judas and Silas, being themselves also Prophets, gave them a long and encouraging talk, and strengthened them in the faith.
After spending some time there they received an affectionate farewell from the brethren to return to those who had sent them.
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and, in company with many others, telling the Good News of the Lord's Message.
After a while Paul said to Barnabas, "Suppose we now revisit the brethren in the various towns in which we have made known the Lord's Message--to see whether they are prospering!"
Barnabas, however, was bent on taking with them John, whose other name was Mark,
while Paul deemed it undesirable to have as their companion one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work.
So there arose a serious disagreement between them, which resulted in their parting from one another, Barnabas taking Mark and setting sail for Cyprus.
But Paul chose Silas as his travelling companion; and set out, after being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord;
and he passed through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Churches.