Good News Translation (GNB)
15

The Meeting at Jerusalem

151

15.1:
Lev 12.3
Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires.” 2Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter.

3They were sent on their way by the church; and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported how the Gentiles had turned to God; this news brought great joy to all the believers. 4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. 5But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses.”

6The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question. 7

15.7:
Acts 10.1–43
After a long debate Peter stood up and said, “My brothers and sisters, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe. 8
15.8:
Acts 2.4
10.44
And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us. 9He made no difference between us and them; he forgave their sins because they believed. 10So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? 11No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

12The whole group was silent as they heard Barnabas and Paul report all the miracles and wonders that God had performed through them among the Gentiles. 13When they had finished speaking, James spoke up: “Listen to me, my brothers and sisters! 14Simon has just explained how God first showed his care for the Gentiles by taking from among them a people to belong to him. 15The words of the prophets agree completely with this. As the scripture says:

16

15.16–18:
Amos 9.11–12
‘After this I will return, says the Lord,

and restore the kingdom of David.

I will rebuild its ruins

and make it strong again.

17And so all the rest of the human race will come to me,

all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own.

18So says the Lord, who made this known long ago.’

19“It is my opinion,” James went on, “that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20

15.20:
Ex 34.15–17
Lev 17.10–16
18.6–23
Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood. 21For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town.”

The Letter to the Gentile Believers

22Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, decided to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, 23and they sent the following letter by them:

“We, the apostles and the elders, your brothers, send greetings to all our brothers of Gentile birth who live in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24We have heard that some who went from our group have troubled and upset you by what they said; they had not, however, received any instruction from us. 25And so we have met together and have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you. They will go with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, 26who have risked their lives in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things we are writing. 28The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: 29eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes.”

30The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the whole group of believers and gave them the letter. 31When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement. 32Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, spoke a long time with them, giving them courage and strength. 33After spending some time there, they were sent off in peace by the believers and went back to those who had sent them.15.33 Some manuscripts add verse 34: But Silas decided to stay there.

35Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch, and together with many others they taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit our brothers and sisters in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting on.” 37Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, 38

15.38:
Acts 13.13
but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia. 39There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus, 40while Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the care of the Lord's grace. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

16

Timothy Goes with Paul and Silas

161Paul travelled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek. 2All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. 3Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothy's father was Greek. 4As they went through the towns, they delivered to the believers the rules decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and told them to obey those rules. 5So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.

In Troas: Paul's Vision

6They travelled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. 7When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8So they travelled right on through16.8 travelled right on through; or passed by. Mysia and went to Troas. 9That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10As soon as Paul had this vision, we got ready to leave for Macedonia, because we decided that God had called us to preach the Good News to the people there.

In Philippi: the Conversion of Lydia

11We left by ship from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis. 12From there we went inland to Philippi, a city of the first district of Macedonia;16.12 a city of the first district of Macedonia; some manuscripts have a leading city of the district of Macedonia; or a leading city of that district in Macedonia. it is also a Roman colony. We spent several days there. 13On the Sabbath we went out of the city to the riverside, where we thought there would be a place where Jews gathered for prayer. We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. 14One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshipped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, “Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.” And she persuaded us to go.

In Prison at Philippi

16One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a young servant woman who had an evil spirit that enabled her to predict the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes. 17She followed Paul and us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They announce to you how you can be saved!” 18She did this for many days, until Paul became so upset that he turned round and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I order you to come out of her!” The spirit went out of her that very moment.

19When her owners realized that their chance of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities in the public square. 20They brought them before the Roman officials and said, “These men are Jews, and they are causing trouble in our city. 21They are teaching customs that are against our law; we are Roman citizens, and we cannot accept these customs or practise them.” 22And the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas.

Then the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be whipped. 23After a severe beating, they were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to lock them up tight. 24Upon receiving this order, the jailer threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet between heavy blocks of wood.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, which shook the prison to its foundations. At once all the doors opened, and the chains fell off all the prisoners. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he thought that the prisoners had escaped; so he pulled out his sword and was about to kill himself. 28But Paul shouted at the top of his voice, “Don't harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for a light, rushed in, and fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 30Then he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your family.” 32Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that very hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; and he and all his family were baptized at once. 34Then he took Paul and Silas up into his house and gave them some food to eat. He and his family were filled with joy, because they now believed in God.

35The next morning the Roman authorities sent police officers with the order, “Let those men go.”

36So the jailer told Paul, “The officials have sent an order for you and Silas to be released. You may leave, then, and go in peace.”

37But Paul said to the police officers, “We were not found guilty of any crime, yet they whipped us in public — and we are Roman citizens! Then they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly. Not likely! The Roman officials themselves must come here and let us out.”

38The police officers reported these words to the Roman officials; and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. 39So they went and apologized to them; then they led them out of the prison and asked them to leave the city. 40Paul and Silas left the prison and went to Lydia's house. There they met the believers, spoke words of encouragement to them, and left.

17

In Thessalonica

171Paul and Silas travelled on through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. 2According to his usual habit Paul went to the synagogue. There during three Sabbaths he held discussions with the people, quoting 3and explaining the Scriptures and proving from them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from death. “This Jesus whom I announce to you,” Paul said, “is the Messiah.” 4Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so did many of the leading women and a large group of Greeks who worshipped God.

5But some Jews were jealous and gathered worthless loafers from the streets and formed a mob. They set the whole city in an uproar and attacked the home of a man called Jason, in an attempt to find Paul and Silas and bring them out to the people. 6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city authorities and shouted, “These men have caused trouble everywhere! Now they have come to our city, 7and Jason has kept them in his house. They are all breaking the laws of the Emperor, saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus.” 8With these words they threw the crowd and the city authorities into an uproar. 9The authorities made Jason and the others pay the required amount of money to be released, and then let them go.

In Berea

10As soon as night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue. 11The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true. 12Many of them believed; and many Greek women of high social standing and many Greek men also believed. 13But when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul had preached the word of God in Berea also, they came there and started exciting and stirring up the mob. 14At once the believers sent Paul away to the coast; but both Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. 15The men who were taking Paul went with him as far as Athens and then returned to Berea with instructions from Paul that Silas and Timothy should join him as soon as possible.

In Athens

16While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was. 17So he held discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentiles who worshipped God, and also in the public square every day with the people who happened to pass by. 18Certain Epicurean and Stoic teachers also debated with him. Some of them asked, “What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?”

Others answered, “He seems to be talking about foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching about Jesus and the resurrection.17.18 Jesus and the resurrection: In Greek, the feminine noun “resurrection” could be understood to be the name of a goddess. 19So they took Paul, brought him before the city council, the Areopagus, and said, “We would like to know what this new teaching is that you are talking about. 20Some of the things we hear you say sound strange to us, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21(For all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing.)

22Paul stood up in front of the city council and said, “I see that in every way you Athenians are very religious. 23For as I walked through your city and looked at the places where you worship, I found an altar on which is written, ‘To an Unknown God’. That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you. 24

17.24–25:
1 Kgs 8.27
Is 42.5
Acts 7.48
God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. 25Nor does he need anything that we can supply by working for him, since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone. 26From one human being he created all races on earth and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. 27He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt about for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; 28as someone has said,

‘In him we live and move and exist.’

It is as some of your poets have said,

‘We too are his children.’

29Since we are God's children, we should not suppose that his nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by human art and skill. 30God has overlooked the times when people did not know him, but now he commands all of them everywhere to turn away from their evil ways. 31For he has fixed a day in which he will judge the whole world with justice by means of a man he has chosen. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising that man from death!”

32When they heard Paul speak about a raising from death, some of them made fun of him, but others said, “We want to hear you speak about this again.” 33And so Paul left the meeting. 34Some men joined him and believed, among whom was Dionysius, a member of the council; there was also a woman named Damaris, and some other people.