Acts of Apostles 15:1-41

15  Now some men came down from Ju·deʹa and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you get circumcised according to the custom of Moses,+ you cannot be saved.”  But after quite a bit of dissension and disputing by Paul and Barʹna·bas with them, it was arranged for Paul, Barʹna·bas, and some of the others to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem+ regarding this issue.  So after being escorted partway by the congregation, these men continued on through both Phoe·niʹcia+ and Sa·marʹi·a, relating in detail the conversion of people of the nations and bringing great joy to all the brothers.  On arriving in Jerusalem, they were kindly received by the congregation and the apostles and the elders, and they related the many things God had done by means of them.+  But some of those of the sect of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up from their seats and said: “It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to observe the Law of Moses.”+  So the apostles and the elders gathered together to look into this matter.  After much intense discussion had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe.+  And God, who knows the heart,+ bore witness by giving them the holy spirit,+ just as he did to us also.  And he made no distinction at all between us and them,+ but purified their hearts by faith.+ 10  So why are you now making a test of God by imposing on the neck of the disciples a yoke+ that neither our forefathers nor we were capable of bearing?+ 11  On the contrary, we have faith that we are saved through the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus+ in the same way that they are.”+ 12  At that the entire group became silent, and they began to listen to Barʹna·bas and Paul relate the many signs and wonders that God had done through them among the nations. 13  After they finished speaking, James+ replied: “Men, brothers, hear me.+ 14  Symʹe·on+ has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.+ 15  And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written: 16  ‘After these things I will return and raise up again the tent of David that is fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, 17  so that the men who remain may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things,+ 18  known from of old.’+ 19  Therefore, my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God,+ 20  but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols,+ from sexual immorality,+ from what is strangled, and from blood.+ 21  For from ancient times* Moses has had those who preach him in city after city, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.”+ 22  Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole congregation, decided to send chosen men from among them to Antioch, along with Paul and Barʹna·bas; they sent Judas who was called Barʹsab·bas and Silas,+ who were leading men among the brothers. 23  They wrote this and sent it through them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to those brothers in Antioch,+ Syria, and Ci·liʹcia who are from the nations: Greetings! 24  Since we have heard that some went out from among us and caused you trouble with what they have said,+ trying to subvert you, although we did not give them any instructions, 25  we have come to a unanimous decision to choose men to send to you together with our beloved Barʹna·bas and Paul, 26  men who have given up their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.+ 27  We are therefore sending Judas and Silas, so that they also may report the same things by word of mouth.+ 28  For the holy spirit+ and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: 29  to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols,+ from blood,+ from what is strangled,+ and from sexual immorality.+ If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” 30  So when these men were dismissed, they went down to Antioch, and they gathered the whole group together and handed them the letter. 31  After reading it, they rejoiced over the encouragement. 32  And Judas and Silas, since they were also prophets, encouraged the brothers with many talks and strengthened them.+ 33  After they had spent some time there, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 34  —— 35  But Paul and Barʹna·bas stayed in Antioch, teaching and declaring, along with many others, the good news of the word of Jehovah. 36  After some days, Paul said to Barʹna·bas: “Let us now* return and visit the brothers in every one of the cities where we proclaimed the word of Jehovah, to see how they are.”+ 37  Barʹna·bas was determined to take along John, who was called Mark.+ 38  Paul, however, was not in favor of taking him along with them, seeing that he had departed from them in Pam·phylʹi·a and had not gone with them to the work.+ 39  At this there was a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other; and Barʹna·bas+ took Mark along and sailed away to Cyʹprus. 40  Paul selected Silas and departed after he had been entrusted by the brothers to the undeserved kindness of Jehovah.+ 41  He went through Syria and Ci·liʹcia, strengthening the congregations.

Footnotes

Or “from generations of old.”
Or possibly, “by all means.”

Study Notes

elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.​—Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”

the elders: Lit., “the older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation, although the term sometimes refers to physically older men. (See study note on Mt 16:21.) In the ancient nation of Israel, elders shared the responsibility of leadership and administration, both on a community level (De 25:7-9; Jos 20:4; Ru 4:1-12) and on a national level (Jg 21:16; 1Sa 4:3; 8:4; 1Ki 20:7). This is the first use of the term in connection with the Christian congregation. As had been true in fleshly Israel, the elders in spiritual Israel were responsible for the direction of the congregation. In this context, the elders were the ones who received the relief contribution, and they supervised its distribution to the congregations in Judea.

intense discussion: Or “disputing.” The Greek word used here is related to a verb meaning “to seek” (ze·teʹo) and denotes “a seeking; a questioning.” (Kingdom Interlinear) It thus indicates that the apostles and elders diligently searched out the matter by asking questions, by carefully investigating the issue, and no doubt by frankly and openly expressing their different opinions.

elders: Lit., “older men.” Here the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers to those who held a position of responsibility in the early Christian congregation. The elders of the Jerusalem congregation are mentioned together with the apostles as the ones to whom Paul, Barnabas, and some other brothers from Syrian Antioch went in order to get the matter of circumcision settled. So just as some elders served in fleshly Israel on a national level, these elders together with the apostles formed a governing body for all the Christian congregations in the first century C.E. This indicates that the original group serving as a governing body, the 12 apostles, had now been enlarged.​—Ac 1:21, 22, 26; see study notes on Mt 16:21; Ac 11:30.

issue: Or “dispute.” The Greek word zeʹte·ma often refers to a controversial question or a specific issue being debated. It is related to a Greek word meaning “to seek” (ze·teʹo).​—See study note on Ac 15:7.

Repent: The Greek word used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, “repent” refers to a person’s relationship with God.​—See study notes on Mt 3:8, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

fruit that befits repentance: Refers to evidence and actions that would indicate a change of mind or attitude on the part of those listening to John.​—Lu 3:8; Ac 26:20; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

Repent . . . and turn around: The Greek word me·ta·no·eʹo, “to repent,” literally means “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, repentance involved a person’s wanting to repair or restore his relationship with God. A sinner who genuinely repents deeply regrets his wrong course and is determined not to repeat his sin. (2Co 7:10, 11; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 8.) Moreover, true repentance moves a sinner to “turn around,” abandoning his wrong course and pursuing a course that is pleasing to God. Both in Hebrew and in Greek, the verbs for “to turn around” (Hebrew, shuv; Greek, streʹpho; e·pi·streʹpho) mean “to return; to turn back (around)” in a literal sense. (Ge 18:10; 50:14; Ru 1:6; Ac 15:36) When used in a positive spiritual sense, however, this may denote turning to God from a wrong way.​—1Ki 8:33; Eze 33:11; see study notes on Ac 15:3; 26:20.

repent: The Greek word used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, the admonition to “repent” is connected with the expression and turn to God and is therefore referring to a person’s relationship with God. For a person to be genuinely repentant, he must do works that befit repentance. In other words, his actions would give evidence that a real change of mind or attitude had taken place.​—See study notes on Mt 3:2, 8; Lu 3:8 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

conversion: The Greek word used here, e·pi·stro·pheʹ, comes from a verb that means “to return; to turn back (around).” (Joh 12:40; 21:20; Ac 15:36) Used in a spiritual sense, it may involve turning to or returning to the true God as well as turning away from idols and false gods. (This verb appears at Ac 3:19; 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20; 2Co 3:16.) At 1Th 1:9, the verb is used in the phrase “how you turned to God from your idols.” Conversion is preceded by repentance.​—See study notes on Mt 3:2, 8; Ac 3:19; 26:20.

I am a Pharisee: Some of those in the audience knew Paul. (Ac 22:5) They would have understood that by calling himself a son of Pharisees, he was acknowledging his common heritage with them. They understood that Paul was not misrepresenting himself, since the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin knew that he had become a zealous Christian. But in this context, Paul’s statement about being a Pharisee could be understood in a relative sense; Paul was identifying himself with the Pharisees rather than the Sadducees because he shared the Pharisees’ belief in the resurrection. In so doing, he established a common ground with the Pharisees who were present. He apparently hoped that raising this controversial issue would cause some members of the Sanhedrin to sympathize with his argument, and the strategy worked. (Ac 23:7-9) Paul’s statement here at Ac 23:6 also harmonizes with how he described himself when he later defended himself before King Agrippa. (Ac 26:5) And when writing from Rome to fellow Christians in Philippi, Paul again made reference to his heritage as a Pharisee. (Php 3:5) It is also worth noting how other Christians who were former Pharisees are described at Ac 15:5.​—See study note on Ac 15:5.

those of the sect of the Pharisees: Apparently, these Christians were still identified in some sense with their Pharisaic background.​—Compare study note on Ac 23:6.

intense discussion: Or “disputing.” The Greek word used here is related to a verb meaning “to seek” (ze·teʹo) and denotes “a seeking; a questioning.” (Kingdom Interlinear) It thus indicates that the apostles and elders diligently searched out the matter by asking questions, by carefully investigating the issue, and no doubt by frankly and openly expressing their different opinions.

wonders: Or “portents.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word teʹras is consistently used in combination with se·meiʹon (“sign”), both terms being used in the plural form. (Mt 24:24; Joh 4:48; Ac 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; 2Co 12:12) Basically, teʹras refers to anything that causes awe or wonderment. When the term clearly refers to something portending what will happen in the future, the alternate rendering “portent” is used in a study note.

wonders: Or “portents.”​—See study note on Ac 2:19.

James: This half brother of Jesus is evidently the James who is mentioned at Ac 12:17 (see study note) and Ga 1:19 and who wrote the Bible book by that name.​—Jas 1:1.

James: Most likely referring to Jesus’ half brother. He may have been next to Jesus in age, being the first named of Mary’s four natural-born sons: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3; Joh 7:5) James was an eyewitness at Pentecost 33 C.E. when thousands of visiting Jews from the Diaspora responded to the good news and got baptized. (Ac 1:14; 2:1, 41) Peter instructed the disciples to “report . . . to James,” indicating that James was taking the lead in the Jerusalem congregation. He is apparently also the James mentioned at Ac 15:13; 21:18; 1Co 15:7; Ga 1:19 (where he is called “the brother of the Lord”); 2:9, 12 and the one who wrote the Bible book bearing his name.​—Jas 1:1; Jude 1.

James: Likely referring to Jesus’ half brother and the James mentioned at Ac 12:17. (See study notes on Mt 13:55; Ac 12:17.) It appears that when the circumcision issue came before “the apostles and elders in Jerusalem,” James presided over the discussion. (Ac 15:1, 2) Apparently referring to that occasion, Paul mentions that James, Cephas (Peter), and John were “the ones who seemed to be pillars” of the Jerusalem congregation.​—Ga 2:1-9.

Simon, the one called Peter: Peter is named in five different ways in the Scriptures: (1) the Greek form “Symeon,” which closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name (Simeon); (2) the Greek “Simon” (both Symeon and Simon come from a Hebrew verb meaning “hear; listen”); (3) “Peter” (a Greek name that means “A Piece of Rock” and that he alone bears in the Scriptures); (4) “Cephas,” which is the Semitic equivalent of Peter (perhaps related to the Hebrew ke·phimʹ [rocks] used at Job 30:6; Jer 4:29); and (5) the combination “Simon Peter.”​—Ac 15:14; Joh 1:42; Mt 16:16.

Symeon: That is, Simon Peter. The Greek form Sy·me·onʹ closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name (Simeon). The use of the Greek form of the name that closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name indicates that Hebrew may have been the language spoken at this meeting. In the Bible, the apostle Peter is only once called by this form of the name.​—See study note on Mt 10:2.

a people for his name: This expression may allude to statements in the Hebrew Scriptures where Jehovah is said to have chosen a people as his special property. (Ex 19:5; De 7:6; 14:2; 26:18, 19) This new people bearing Jehovah’s name, referred to as “the Israel of God,” that is, spiritual Israel, would now also include non-Jewish believers. (Ga 6:16; Ro 11:25, 26a; Re 14:1) They were to declare the praises of the One they represented and were to glorify his name publicly. (1Pe 2:9, 10) As had been true of fleshly Israel, members of spiritual Israel were the ones Jehovah called “the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.” (Isa 43:21) Those early Christians boldly proclaimed that Jehovah is the one true God, exposing as false all the gods that were being worshipped at that time.​—1Th 1:9.

in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms: Jesus was here evidently grouping the entire inspired Hebrew Scriptures in the way adopted by the Jews and known to them. “The Law” (Hebrew, Toh·rahʹ) refers to the Bible books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. “The Prophets” (Hebrew, Nevi·ʼimʹ) refers to the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures, including the so-called Former Prophets (the Bible books of Joshua through Kings). “Psalms” refers to the third section, which contains the remaining books of the Hebrew Scriptures and is called the Writings, or in Hebrew, Kethu·vimʹ. The designation “Psalms” is used because it was the first book of the third section. The term “Tanakh,” a Jewish designation for the Hebrew Scriptures, comes from combining the first letter of each of these three sections (TaNaKh). Jesus’ use of these three terms indicates that the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was well-established when he was on earth and was approved by him.

the words of the Prophets: The speech by Symeon, or Simon Peter (Ac 15:7-11), and the evidence submitted by Barnabas and Paul (Ac 15:12) probably brought to James’ mind pertinent scriptures that shed light on the subject under discussion. (Joh 14:26) After saying that “the words of the Prophets agree” with what was just presented, James quoted Am 9:11, 12, a book in the part of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly called “the Prophets.”​—Mt 22:40; Ac 15:16-18; see study note on Lu 24:44.

the tent of David: Or “the booth (dwelling) of David.” Jehovah promised that David’s kingdom would “be secure forever.” (2Sa 7:12-16) “The tent of David,” that is, his royal house, or dynasty, fell when King Zedekiah was dethroned. (Eze 21:27) From that time on, no king of the line of David occupied “Jehovah’s throne” in earthly Jerusalem. (1Ch 29:23) However, Jehovah would rebuild the symbolic tent of David with David’s descendant Jesus as the permanent King. (Ac 2:29-36) James indicated that this rebuilding foretold by Amos (the reestablishment of the kingship in David’s line) would include the gathering of Jesus’ disciples (Kingdom heirs) from among both Jews and Gentiles.​—Am 9:11, 12.

the words of the Prophets: The speech by Symeon, or Simon Peter (Ac 15:7-11), and the evidence submitted by Barnabas and Paul (Ac 15:12) probably brought to James’ mind pertinent scriptures that shed light on the subject under discussion. (Joh 14:26) After saying that “the words of the Prophets agree” with what was just presented, James quoted Am 9:11, 12, a book in the part of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly called “the Prophets.”​—Mt 22:40; Ac 15:16-18; see study note on Lu 24:44.

so that the men who remain may earnestly seek Jehovah: As shown in the study note on Ac 15:15, James quoted the words of Am 9:11, 12. Parts of this quote, however, read somewhat differently from the Hebrew text that is currently available. It has been suggested that the difference may exist because James quoted from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. However, when James referred to Peter, he used a Greek form of the name that closely reflects the Hebrew name Simeon, indicating that Hebrew may have been spoken at this meeting. (Ac 15:14) If that is so, another possibility is that James quoted the verses in Hebrew but Luke recorded the quotation using the wording from the Septuagint. This approach was used by Luke, James, and other Bible writers when they quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. While some of such verses quoted from the Septuagint vary slightly from the Hebrew text that is available today, Jehovah permitted the Bible writers to use this translation, thereby making such quotes part of the inspired record. (2Ti 3:16) Regarding this quotation from Am 9:12, it is noteworthy that the Septuagint reads “the men who remain,” whereas the available Hebrew manuscripts read “what is remaining of Edom.” Some suggest that the difference may have arisen because in ancient Hebrew the word for “men” looked very similar to the word for “Edom.” The Hebrew words for “seek” and “possess” also look similar. It has been suggested that the Septuagint rendering of Am 9:12 was based on an ancient Hebrew text that varied from the Hebrew text available today; however, that remains uncertain. Whatever the case, the Septuagint and the Hebrew Masoretic text convey the basic thrust of James’ argument; both texts indicate that Amos foretold that Gentiles would be called by Jehovah’s name.

Jehovah: James says at Ac 15:14 that Symeon related “how God . . . turned his attention to the nations,” and in verse 19, James refers to “the nations who are turning to God.” James is here quoting from Am 9:11, 12. In the original Hebrew text, the divine name appears once, in the expression “declares [or, “says”] Jehovah.” However, the Greek term Kyʹri·os (Lord) appears twice here at Ac 15:17, both times referring to Jehovah. In view of the context, the Hebrew Scripture background, and the use of the term Kyʹri·os in the Septuagint and elsewhere in the Christian Greek Scriptures, there are good reasons for using the divine name in both occurrences of Kyʹri·os in this verse.​—See App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 15:17.

together with people of all the nations: That is, with non-Jews, or Gentiles. A Gentile who submitted himself to circumcision would no longer be considered a man of the nations but would “become like a native of the land,” in other words, a Jew. (Ex 12:48, 49) In Esther’s day, many Gentiles “were declaring themselves Jews.” (Es 8:17) It is worth noting that the Septuagint rendering of Es 8:17 says that these Gentiles “were circumcised, and became Jews.” The prophecy at Am 9:11, 12, as quoted here in Acts, stated that “people of all the nations” (uncircumcised Gentiles) would join “the men who remain” of the house of Israel (Jews and circumcised proselytes) and would become “people who are called by my [Jehovah’s] name.” On the basis of this prophecy, the disciples discerned that uncircumcised people of the nations would not have to get circumcised to become acceptable to God.

people who are called by my name: Or “people on whom my name has been called.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehovah’s name being called on the Israelites indicated that they were his people. (De 28:10; 2Ch 7:14; Isa 43:7; 63:19; Da 9:19) Jehovah also placed his name on Jerusalem with its temple, thereby accepting it as the approved center for worship of him.​—2Ki 21:4, 7.

says Jehovah: In this quote from Am 9:12, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.​—See App. C.

who is doing these things, [vs. 18] known from of old: Or according to another understanding of the Greek text, this could be translated “who has been making these things [vs. 18] known from of old.”

my decision is: Or “my opinion (conclusion) is.” Lit., “I am judging.” As the Greek expression is used here, it does not indicate that James, who apparently was acting as chairman of the meeting, tried to impose his own opinion on the entire group. Rather, he was proposing for their consideration a course of action based on the evidence heard and on what the Scriptures said about the matter. One lexicon defines the Greek word in this context as “to make a judgment based on taking various factors into account.” Therefore, the verb used here refers, not to a formal judicial decision, but to James’ opinion based on his conclusion from the scripture just quoted.

sexual immorality: The Greek word por·neiʹa is a general term for all sexual activity that is unlawful according to the Bible. It includes adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, homosexual acts, and bestiality.​—See Glossary.

what is strangled: Or “what is killed without draining its blood.” This prohibition would apparently also include an animal that dies by itself or as a result of a wound caused by another animal. In either case, the animal’s body would not have been properly drained of its blood.​—Ex 22:31; Le 17:15; De 14:21.

stood up to read: Scholars note that this is the earliest known description of a synagogue service. According to Jewish tradition, the service usually began with private prayers as the congregants entered the building, after which the words of De 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 were recited. Public prayers followed, after which a portion of the Pentateuch was read aloud according to a schedule. Ac 15:21 states that in the first century C.E., such reading was done “on every Sabbath.” The next portion of the service, which seems to be the focus of this verse, was a reading from the prophets along with a lesson based on the reading. The reader customarily stood, and he may have had some freedom to choose his prophetic passage.​—See study note on Ac 13:15.

the public reading of the Law and the Prophets: In the first century C.E., this public reading was done “on every Sabbath.” (Ac 15:21) One feature of synagogue worship was the reciting of the Shema, or what amounted to the Jewish confession of faith. (De 6:4-9; 11:13-21) The Shema received its name from the first word of the first scripture used, “Listen [Shemaʽʹ], O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (De 6:4) The most important part of the service was the reading of the Torah, or Pentateuch. In many synagogues, the entire Law was scheduled to be read in the course of one year; in others, the program took three years. Portions of the Prophets were also read and explained. At the conclusion of the public reading, a discourse was given. It was after the public reading in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch that Paul was invited to speak words of encouragement to those assembled.​—See study note on Lu 4:16.

stood up to read: Scholars note that this is the earliest known description of a synagogue service. According to Jewish tradition, the service usually began with private prayers as the congregants entered the building, after which the words of De 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 were recited. Public prayers followed, after which a portion of the Pentateuch was read aloud according to a schedule. Ac 15:21 states that in the first century C.E., such reading was done “on every Sabbath.” The next portion of the service, which seems to be the focus of this verse, was a reading from the prophets along with a lesson based on the reading. The reader customarily stood, and he may have had some freedom to choose his prophetic passage.​—See study note on Ac 13:15.

the public reading of the Law and the Prophets: In the first century C.E., this public reading was done “on every Sabbath.” (Ac 15:21) One feature of synagogue worship was the reciting of the Shema, or what amounted to the Jewish confession of faith. (De 6:4-9; 11:13-21) The Shema received its name from the first word of the first scripture used, “Listen [Shemaʽʹ], O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (De 6:4) The most important part of the service was the reading of the Torah, or Pentateuch. In many synagogues, the entire Law was scheduled to be read in the course of one year; in others, the program took three years. Portions of the Prophets were also read and explained. At the conclusion of the public reading, a discourse was given. It was after the public reading in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch that Paul was invited to speak words of encouragement to those assembled.​—See study note on Lu 4:16.

Moses: James referred to the writings of Moses, which included not only the Law code but also a record of God’s dealings with His people and the indications of His will that predated the Law. For example, God’s view on the consumption of blood, on adultery, and on idolatry can be plainly seen in the book of Genesis. (Ge 9:3, 4; 20:2-9; 35:2, 4) Jehovah thus revealed principles that are binding on all of mankind, whether Jew or Gentile. The decision recorded at Ac 15:19, 20 would not “trouble,” or make things difficult for, Gentile Christians by imposing on them the many requirements of the Mosaic Law. It would also show respect for the conscientious views held by Jewish Christians, who over the years had heard Moses . . . read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath. (See study notes on Lu 4:16; Ac 13:15.) The recommended course would strengthen the bond between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath: See study notes on Lu 4:16; Ac 13:15.

elders: Lit., “older men.” Here the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers to those who held a position of responsibility in the early Christian congregation. The elders of the Jerusalem congregation are mentioned together with the apostles as the ones to whom Paul, Barnabas, and some other brothers from Syrian Antioch went in order to get the matter of circumcision settled. So just as some elders served in fleshly Israel on a national level, these elders together with the apostles formed a governing body for all the Christian congregations in the first century C.E. This indicates that the original group serving as a governing body, the 12 apostles, had now been enlarged.​—Ac 1:21, 22, 26; see study notes on Mt 16:21; Ac 11:30.

the apostles and the elders: See study note on Ac 15:2.

Claudius Lysias to His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings!: This was a common introduction used in ancient letters. First the writer was mentioned, then the person was addressed, and third the common greeting was given using the Greek word khaiʹro, which literally means “to rejoice.” It expressed the thought: “May things be well with you.” It commonly appears in non-Biblical papyrus letters. In this context, the Greek word can appropriately be rendered “Greetings!” A similar introduction to a letter can be found at Ac 15:23 and Jas 1:1.​—See study note on Ac 15:23.

Greetings!: The Greek word khaiʹro, which literally means “to rejoice,” is here used as a salutation and conveys the thought “may things be well with you.” The introduction to this letter concerning circumcision, which was sent to the congregations, follows the common ancient form of letter writing. First the writer was mentioned, then a person was addressed, and third the common greeting was given. (See study note on Ac 23:26.) Of all the letters included in the Christian Greek Scriptures, only the letter of James uses the Greek term khaiʹro as a salutation in the same way as this letter from the first-century governing body. (Jas 1:1) The disciple James was involved in formulating this letter, which supports the conclusion that the James who wrote the letter bearing his name is the same as the one who had a prominent part in the meeting recounted in Acts chapter 15.

subvert you: Or “unsettle you.” Here “you” is rendered from the Greek “the souls of you [plural].” In this context, psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” refers to the person himself, so it is rendered by the pronoun “you.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

unanimous: Lit., “like-mindedly (of one mind).” The Greek word ho·mo·thy·ma·donʹ appears several times in the book of Acts, often describing the unique unity among the early Christians. Some examples are “with one purpose,” Ac 1:14; “with a united purpose,” Ac 2:46; “with one accord,” Ac 4:24.

have given up their lives for: Here the plural form of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, often rendered “soul,” is rendered “lives.” It can refer to a person or to a person’s life. (See Glossary, “Soul.”) The whole phrase could be understood to mean “have risked their lives (souls) for” or “have devoted their lives (or, themselves) to.”

what is strangled: Or “what is killed without draining its blood.” This prohibition would apparently also include an animal that dies by itself or as a result of a wound caused by another animal. In either case, the animal’s body would not have been properly drained of its blood.​—Ex 22:31; Le 17:15; De 14:21.

sexual immorality: The Greek word por·neiʹa is a general term for all sexual activity that is unlawful according to the Bible. It includes adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, homosexual acts, and bestiality.​—See Glossary.

keep abstaining from: Or “keep away from.” The verb used here could apply to all the practices that follow. Christians were to avoid idolatry, sexual immorality, and the eating of meat from animals that were strangled and thus not bled properly. With regard to abstaining from blood, the meaning of this verb is broader than simply not consuming blood. It implies avoiding all misuse of blood, showing regard for its sacredness.​—Le 17:11, 14; De 12:23.

keep abstaining . . . from blood: This decree rests, ultimately, on God’s command not to eat blood, a command given to Noah and his sons and, therefore, to all mankind. (Ge 9:4-6) Eight centuries later, God put that command in his Law to the Israelites. (Le 17:13-16) Fifteen centuries after that, he reaffirmed it to the Christian congregation, as mentioned here. In God’s eyes, abstaining from blood is as important as avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality.

what is strangled: See study note on Ac 15:20.

sexual immorality: See study note on Ac 15:20.

Good health to you!: Or “Farewell.” The Greek expression used here was typical for letters of that time. It does not necessarily mean that the requirements mentioned immediately before were given as health measures, suggesting that ‘if you abstain from these things, you will have better health.’ However, it was a closing wish for the recipient to have strength, health, and happiness. The expression is similar in intent to the Hebrew expression sha·lohmʹ, wishing “peace” to the recipient. (Ex 4:18; Jg 18:6; 19:20; 1Sa 1:17) In fact, one translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures into modern Hebrew (referred to as J22 in App. C4) renders the expression sha·lohmʹ la·khemʹ, “May you have peace!”

Some later Greek manuscripts and some ancient translations into other languages, with slight variations in wording, add: “But it seemed good to Silas to remain there further; however Judas alone departed for Jerusalem.” These words, though, do not appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and thus are not part of the original text of Acts. The passage was probably a marginal note intended to explain Ac 15:40; in time, it was added to the text of a minority of manuscripts.​—See App. A3.

the word of Jehovah: This expression has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it appears as a combination of a Hebrew term for “word” and the divine name. Together with the expression “Jehovah’s word,” it occurs in some 200 verses. (Some examples are found at 2Sa 12:9; 24:11; 2Ki 7:1; 20:16; 24:2; Isa 1:10; 2:3; 28:14; 38:4; Jer 1:4; 2:4; Eze 1:3; 6:1; Hos 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zec 9:1.) When this expression occurs at Zec 9:1 in an early copy of the Septuagint found at Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Greek word loʹgos is followed by the divine name written in ancient Hebrew characters (). This parchment scroll is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the word of Jehovah” in the main text, although many Greek manuscripts of Ac 8:25 read “the word of the Lord,” are explained in App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:25.

the word of Jehovah: This expression has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it appears as a combination of a Hebrew term for “word” and the divine name. Together with the expression “Jehovah’s word,” it occurs in some 200 verses. (Some examples are found at 2Sa 12:9; 24:11; 2Ki 7:1; 20:16; 24:2; Isa 1:10; 2:3; 28:14; 38:4; Jer 1:4; 2:4; Eze 1:3; 6:1; Hos 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zec 9:1.) When this expression occurs at Zec 9:1 in an early copy of the Septuagint found at Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Greek word loʹgos is followed by the divine name written in ancient Hebrew characters (). This parchment scroll is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the word of Jehovah” in the main text, although many Greek manuscripts of Ac 8:25 read “the word of the Lord,” are explained in App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:25.

of Jehovah: In the book of Acts, the expression undeserved kindness is most often connected with God. (Ac 11:23; 13:43; 20:24, 32) At Ac 14:26, the similar expression “entrusted to the undeserved kindness of God” is found.​—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 15:40.

Media

Acts of Apostles—Paul’s Second Missionary Tour (Ac 15:36–18:22) c. 49-52 C.E.
Acts of Apostles—Paul’s Second Missionary Tour (Ac 15:36–18:22) c. 49-52 C.E.

Events are listed in chronological order

1. Paul and Barnabas separate; Paul travels with Silas, while Barnabas takes along John (also called Mark) (Ac 15:36-41)

2. Paul travels to Derbe and then to Lystra, where he selects Timothy to accompany him (Ac 16:1-4)

3. Holy spirit forbids Paul from speaking the word in the province of Asia; Paul travels through Phrygia and Galatia and then comes down to Mysia (Ac 16:6, 7)

4. When Paul and his companions come down to Troas, Paul sees a vision of a Macedonian man inviting the brothers to go to Macedonia (Ac 16:8-10)

5. Paul and his companions sail from Troas for Neapolis and then travel to Philippi (Ac 16:11, 12)

6. Outside a gate of Philippi, beside a river, Paul speaks to women; Lydia and her household get baptized (Ac 16:13-15)

7. Paul and Silas are imprisoned in Philippi; the jailer and his household get baptized (Ac 16:22-24, 31-33)

8. Paul requests an official apology; the city magistrates escort the brothers out of prison; Paul visits Lydia and encourages the newly baptized ones (Ac 16:37-40)

9. Paul and his companions come through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica (Ac 17:1)

10. Paul preaches in Thessalonica; some Jews as well as many Greeks become believers; unbelieving Jews cause an uproar in the city (Ac 17:2-5)

11. On arriving at Beroea, Paul and Silas preach in the synagogue there; Jews from Thessalonica agitate the crowd (Ac 17:10-13)

12. Paul goes to Athens by sea, while Silas and Timothy stay in Beroea (Ac 17:14, 15)

13. In Athens, Paul speaks at the Areopagus; some become believers (Ac 17:22, 32-34)

14. Paul spends 18 months in Corinth, teaching the word of God; some oppose him, but many believe and get baptized (Ac 18:1, 8, 11)

15. From Cenchreae, a port of Corinth, Paul, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila, sails for Ephesus, where Paul preaches in the synagogue (Ac 18:18, 19)

16. Paul sails for Caesarea, but Priscilla and Aquila stay in Ephesus; apparently, Paul goes to Jerusalem and then goes to Antioch of Syria (Ac 18:20-22)