Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Acts 14; Acts 15

1 At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue as usual. They spoke there with great power. Large numbers of Jews and non-Jews became believers. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up those who weren't Jews. They poisoned their minds against the two men and the new believers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent a lot of time there. They spoke boldly for the Lord. He gave them the ability to do miraculous signs and wonders. In this way the Lord showed that they were telling the truth about his grace. 4 The people of the city did not agree with each other. Some were on the side of the Jews. Others were on the side of the apostles. 5 Jews and non-Jews alike planned to treat Paul and Barnabas badly. Their leaders agreed. They planned to kill them by throwing stones at them. 6 But Paul and Barnabas found out about the plan. They escaped to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding area. 7 There they continued to preach the good news. 8 In Lystra there sat a man who couldn't walk. He hadn't been able to use his feet since the day he was born. 9 He listened as Paul spoke. Paul looked right at him. He saw that the man had faith to be healed. 10 So he called out, "Stand up on your feet!" Then the man jumped up and began to walk. 11 The crowd saw what Paul had done. They shouted in the Lycaonian language. "The gods have come down to us in human form!" they exclaimed. 12 They called Barnabas Zeus. Paul was the main speaker. So they called him Hermes. 13 Just outside the city was the temple of the god Zeus. The priest of Zeus brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates. He and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. 14 But the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about this. So they tore their clothes. They rushed out into the crowd. They shouted, 15 "Why are you men doing this? We are only human, just like you. We are bringing you good news. Turn away from these worthless things. Turn to the living God. He is the one who made the heavens and the earth and the sea. He made everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 But he has given proof of what he is like. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven. He gives you crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food. He fills your hearts with joy." 18 Paul and Barnabas told them all these things. But they had trouble keeping the crowd from offering sacrifices to them. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium. They won the crowd over to their side. They threw stones at Paul. They thought he was dead, so they dragged him out of the city. 20 The believers gathered around Paul. Then he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 21 Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in the city of Derbe. They won large numbers of followers. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. 22 There they helped the believers gain strength. They told them to remain true to what they had been taught. "We must go through many hard times to enter God's kingdom," they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders in the Lord's care. 24 After going through Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas came into Pamphylia. 25 They preached the word in Perga. Then they went down to Attalia. 26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch. That was where they had been committed to God's grace. They had now completed the work God had given them to do. 27 When they arrived at Antioch, they gathered the church together. They reported all that God had done through them. They told how he had opened the way for non-Jews to believe. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the believers.
1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch. Here is what they were teaching the believers. "Moses commanded you to be circumcised," they said. "If you aren't, you can't be saved." 2 But Paul and Barnabas didn't agree with this. They argued strongly with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go up to Jerusalem. Some other believers were chosen to go with them. They were supposed to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way. As they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how those who weren't Jews had turned to God. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, the church welcomed them. The apostles and elders welcomed them too. Then Paul and Barnabas reported everything God had done through them. 5 Some of the believers were Pharisees. They stood up and said, "Those who aren't Jews must be circumcised. They must obey the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After they had talked it over, Peter got up and spoke to them. "Brothers," he said, "you know that some time ago God chose me to take the good news to those who aren't Jews. He wanted them to hear the good news and believe. 8 God knows the human heart. By giving the Holy Spirit to non-Jews, he showed that he accepted them. He did the same for them as he had done for us. 9 He showed that there is no difference between us and them. He made their hearts pure because of their faith. 10 "Now then, why are you trying to test God? You test him when you put a heavy load on the believers' shoulders. Our people of long ago couldn't carry that load. We can't either. 11 No! We believe we are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus. Those who aren't Jews are saved in the same way." 12 Everyone became quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul. They were telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among non-Jews. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. "Brothers," he said, "listen to me. 14 Simon Peter has explained to us how God first showed his concern for those who aren't Jews. He chose some of them to be his very own people. 15 The prophets' words agree with that. They say, 16 " 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. I will rebuild what was destroyed. I will make it what it used to be. 17 Then the rest of the people can look to the Lord. This means all the non-Jews who belong to me. The Lord says this. He is the one who does these things.' (Amos 9:11,12) 18 The Lord does things that have been known for a long time. 19 "Now here is my opinion. We should not make it hard for the non-Jews who are turning to God. 20 Here is what we should write to them. They must not eat food polluted by being offered to statues of gods. They must not commit sexual sins. They must not eat the meat of animals that have been choked to death. And they must not drink blood. 21 These laws of Moses have been preached in every city from the earliest times. They are read out loud in the synagogues every Sabbath day." 22 Then the apostles, the elders and the whole church decided what to do. They would choose some of their own men. They would send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. So they chose two leaders among the believers. Their names were Judas Barsabbas and Silas. 23 Here is the letter they sent with them. The apostles and elders, your brothers, are writing this letter. We are sending it to the non-Jewish believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. Greetings. 24 We have heard that some of our people came to you and caused trouble. You were upset by what they said. But we had given them no authority to go. 25 So we all agreed to send our dear friends Barnabas and Paul to you. We chose some others to go with them. 26 Barnabas and Paul have put their lives in danger for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas with them. What they say will agree with this letter. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to give you a load that is too heavy. So here are a few basic rules. 29 Don't eat food that has been offered to statues of gods. Don't drink blood. Don't eat the meat of animals that have been choked to death. And don't commit sexual sins. You will do well to keep away from these things. Farewell. 30 The men were sent down to Antioch. There they gathered the church together. They gave the letter to them. 31 The people read it. They were glad for its message of hope. 32 Judas and Silas were prophets. They said many things to give strength and hope to the believers. 33 Judas and Silas stayed there for some time. Then the believers sent them away with the blessing of peace. They sent them back to those who had sent them out. 35 Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch. There they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. 36 Some time later Paul spoke to Barnabas. "Let's go back to all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord," he said. "Let's visit the believers and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. 38 But Paul didn't think it was wise to take him. Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia. He hadn't continued with them in their work. 39 Barnabas and Paul strongly disagreed with each other. So they went their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas. The believers asked the Lord to give his grace to Paul and Silas as they went. 41 Paul traveled through Syria and Cilicia. He gave strength to the churches there.
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