Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Acts 14; Acts 15; Acts 16

1 In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual to the Jewish syna- gogue. They spoke so well that a great many Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But some of the Jews who did not believe excited the non-Jewish people and turned them against the believers. 3 Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium a long time and spoke bravely for the Lord. He showed that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to work miracles and signs. 4 But the city was divided. Some of the people agreed with the Jews, and others believed the apostles. 5 Some who were not Jews, some Jews, and some of their rulers wanted to mistreat Paul and Barnabas and to stone them to death. 6 When Paul and Barnabas learned about this, they ran away to Lystra and Derbe, cities in Lycaonia, and to the areas around those cities. 7 They announced the Good News there, too. 8 In Lystra there sat a man who had been born crippled; he had never walked. 9 As this man was listening to Paul speak, Paul looked straight at him and saw that he believed God could heal him. 10 So he cried out, "Stand up on your feet!" The man jumped up and began walking around. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul did, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like humans and have come down to us!" 12 Then the people began to call Barnabas "Zeus" and Paul "Hermes," because he was the main speaker. 13 The priest in the temple of Zeus, which was near the city, brought some bulls and flowers to the city gates. He and the people wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. 14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard about it, they tore their clothes. They ran in among the people, shouting, 15 "Friends, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings like you. We are bringing you the Good News and are telling you to turn away from these worthless things and turn to the living God. He is the One who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In the past, God let all the nations do what they wanted. 17 Yet he proved he is real by showing kindness, by giving you rain from heaven and crops at the right times, by giving you food and filling your hearts with joy." 18 Even with these words, they were barely able to keep the crowd from offering sacrifices to them. 19 Then some Jewish people came from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the people to turn against Paul. So they threw stones at him and dragged him out of town, thinking they had killed him. 20 But the followers gathered around him, and he got up and went back into the town. The next day he and Barnabas left and went to the city of Derbe. 21 Paul and Barnabas told the Good News in Derbe, and many became followers. Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 making the followers of Jesus stronger and helping them stay in the faith. They said, "We must suffer many things to enter God's kingdom." 23 They chose elders for each church, by praying and giving up eating for a certain time. These elders had trusted the Lord, so Paul and Barnabas put them in the Lord's care. 24 Then they went through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 When they had preached the message in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 And from there they sailed away to Antioch where the believers had put them into God's care and had sent them out to do this work. Now they had finished. 27 When they arrived in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas gathered the church together. They told the church all about what God had done with them and how God had made it possible for those who were not Jewish to believe. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the followers.
1 Then some people came to Antioch from Judea and began teaching the non-Jewish believers: "You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us." 2 Paul and Barnabas were against this teaching and argued with them about it. So the church decided to send Paul, Barnabas, and some others to Jerusalem where they could talk more about this with the apostles and elders. 3 The church helped them leave on the trip, and they went through the countries of Phoenicia and Samaria, telling all about how those who were not Jewish had turned to God. This made all the believers very happy. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the apostles, the elders, and the church. Paul, Barnabas, and the others told about everything God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers who belonged to the Pharisee group came forward and said, "The non-Jewish believers must be circumcised. They must be told to obey the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this problem. 7 After a long debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to those who are not Jewish. They heard the Good News from me, and they believed. 8 God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, accepted 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. 10 So now why are you testing God by putting a heavy load around the necks of the non-Jewish believers? It is a load that neither we nor our ancestors were able to carry. 11 But we believe that we and they too will be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus." 12 Then the whole group became quiet. They listened to Paul and Barnabas tell about all the miracles and signs that God did through them among the non-Jewish people. 13 After they finished speaking, James said, "Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has told us how God showed his love for the non-Jewish people. For the first time he is accepting from among them a people to be his own. 15 The words of the prophets agree with this too: 16 'After these things I will return. The kingdom of David is like a fallen tent. But I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up. 17 Then those people who are left alive may ask the Lord for help, and the other nations that belong to me, says the Lord, who will make it happen. 18 And these things have been known for a long time.' 19 "So I think we should not bother the non-Jewish people 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), any kind of sexual sin, eating animals that have been strangled, and blood. 21 They should do these things, because for a long time in every city the law of Moses has been taught. And it is still read in the synagogue every Sabbath day." 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 Barsabbas and Silas, who were respected by the believers. 23 They sent the following letter with them: From the apostles and elders, your brothers. To all the non-Jewish believers 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. But we did not tell them to do this. 25 We have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul -- 26 people who have given their lives to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas, who will tell you the same things. 28 It has pleased the Holy Spirit that you should not have a heavy load to carry, and we agree. You need to do only these things: 29 Stay away from any food that has been offered to idols, eating any animals that have been strangled, and blood, and any kind of sexual sin. If you stay away from these things, you will do well. Good-bye. 30 So they left Jerusalem and went to Antioch where they gathered the church and gave them the letter. 31 When they read it, they were very happy because of the encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, said many things to encourage the believers and make them stronger. 33 After some time Judas and Silas were sent off in peace by the believers, and they went back to those who had sent them. 34 35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch and, along with many others, preached the Good News and taught the people the message of the Lord. 36 After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, "We should go back to all those towns where we preached the message of the Lord. Let's visit the believers and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, 38 but he had left them at Pamphylia; he did not continue with them in the work. So Paul did not think it was a good idea to take him. 39 Paul and Barnabas had such a serious argument about this that they separated and went different ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left. The believers in Antioch put Paul into the Lord's care, 41 and he went through Syria and Cilicia, giving strength to the churches.
1 Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, where a follower named Timothy lived. Timothy's mother was Jewish and a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 The believers in Lystra and Iconium respected Timothy and said good things about him. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to travel with him, but all the Jews living in that area knew that Timothy's father was Greek. So Paul circumcised Timothy to please the Jews. 4 Paul and those with him traveled from town to town and gave the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches became stronger in the faith and grew larger every day. 6 Paul and those with him went through the areas of Phrygia and Galatia since the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the Good News in the country of Asia. 7 When they came near the country of Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not let them. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went to Troas. 9 That night Paul saw in a vision a man from Macedonia. The man stood and begged, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we immediately prepared to leave for Macedonia, understanding that God had called us to tell the Good News to those people. 11 We left Troas and sailed straight to the island of Samothrace. The next day we sailed to Neapolis. 12 Then we went by land to Philippi, a Roman colonyn and the leading city in that part of Macedonia. We stayed there for several days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the river where we thought we would find a special place for prayer. Some women had gathered there, so we sat down and talked with them. 14 One of the listeners was a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira whose job was selling purple cloth. She worshiped God, and he opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15 She and all the people in her house were baptized. Then she invited us to her home, saying, "If you think I am truly a believer in the Lord, then come stay in my house." And she persuaded us to stay with her. 16 Once, while we were going to the place for prayer, a servant girl met us. She had a special spiritn in her, and she earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God. They are telling you how you can be saved." 18 She kept this up for many days. This bothered Paul, so he turned and said to the spirit, "By the power of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!" Immediately, the spirit came out. 19 When the owners of the servant girl saw this, they knew that now they could not use her to make money. So they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the city rulers in the marketplace. 20 They brought Paul and Silas to the Roman rulers and said, "These men are Jews and are making trouble in our city. 21 They are teaching things that are not right for us as Romans to do." 22 The crowd joined the attack against them. The Roman officers tore the clothes of Paul and Silas and had them beaten with rods. 23 Then Paul and Silas were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to guard them carefully. 24 When he heard this order, he put them far inside the jail and pinned their feet down between large blocks of wood. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs to God as the other prisoners listened. 26 Suddenly, there was a strong earthquake that shook the foundation of the jail. Then all the doors of the jail broke open, and all the prisoners were freed from their chains. 27 The jailer woke up and saw that the jail doors were open. Thinking that the prisoners had already escaped, he got his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted, "Don't hurt yourself! We are all here." 29 The jailer told someone to bring a light. Then he ran inside and, shaking with fear, fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 He brought them outside and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said to him, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved -- you and all the people in your house." 32 So Paul and Silas told the message of the Lord to the jailer and all the people in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. Then he and all his people were baptized immediately. 34 After this the jailer took Paul and Silas home and gave them food. He and his family were very happy because they now believed in God. 35 The next morning, the Roman officers sent the police to tell the jailer, "Let these men go free." 36 The jailer said to Paul, "The officers have sent an order to let you go free. You can leave now. Go in peace." 37 But Paul said to the police, "They beat us in public without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens. And they threw us in jail. Now they want to make us go away quietly. No! Let them come themselves and bring us out." 38 The police told the Roman officers what Paul said. When the officers heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. 39 So they came and told Paul and Silas they were sorry and took them out of jail and asked them to leave the city. 40 So when they came out of the jail, they went to Lydia's house where they saw some of the believers and encouraged them. Then they left.
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