In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to."
Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed God's message in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant.
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God's message.
But Elymas, the sorcerer, which is how his name is translated, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
Then Saul-- also called Paul-- filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer
and said, "You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won't you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?
Now, look! The Lord's hand is against you: you are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time." Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem.
They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent [word] to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak."
Then standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and spoke: "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen!
The God of this people Israel chose our forefathers, exalted the people during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm.
And for about 40 years He put up with them in the desert;
then after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land to them as an inheritance.
This all took about 450 years. After this, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.
Then they asked for a king, so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for 40 years.
After removing him, He raised up David as their king, of whom He testified: ' I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will carry out all My will.'
"From this man's descendants, according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus, to Israel.
Before He came to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Then as John was completing his life work, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not the One. But look! Someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on His feet.'
"Brothers, sons of Abraham's race, and those among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us.
For the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers, since they did not recognize Him or the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled their words by condemning Him.
Though they found no grounds for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have Him killed.
When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb.
But God raised Him from the dead,
and He appeared for many days to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people.
And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our forefathers.
God has fulfilled this to us their children by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.
Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings made to David.
Therefore He also says in another passage, You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay.
For David, after serving his own generation in God's plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed.
But the One whom God raised up did not decay.
Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you,
and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything, which you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.
So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
Look, you scoffers, marvel and vanish away, because I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you."
As they were leaving, they begged that these matters be presented to them the following Sabbath.
After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord.
But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him.
Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: "It was necessary that God's message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles!
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have appointed you as a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth."
When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.
So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region.
But the Jews incited the religious women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.
But shaking the dust off their feet against them, they proceeded to Iconium.
And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
The same thing happened in Iconium; they entered the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.
But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers.
So they stayed there for some time and spoke boldly, in reliance on the Lord, who testified to the message of His grace by granting that signs and wonders be performed through them.
But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles.
When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to assault and stone them,
they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns called Lystra and Derbe, and to the surrounding countryside.
And there they kept evangelizing.
In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat
and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed,
[Paul] said in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he jumped up and started to walk around.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the form of men!"
And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker.
Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice.
The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting:
"Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.
In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way,
although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good: giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness."
Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.
After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch,
strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, "It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God."
When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia.
After they spoke the message in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work they had completed.
After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
And they spent a considerable time with the disciples.
Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!"
But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy.
When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, explaining in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they created great joy among all the brothers.
When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!"
Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.
After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them: "Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe.
And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us.
He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
Why, then, are you now testing God by putting on the disciples' necks a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are."
Then the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
After they stopped speaking, James responded: "Brothers, listen to me!
Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for His name.
And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written:
After these things I will return and will rebuild David's tent, which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins and will set it up again,
so that those who are left of mankind may seek the Lord-- even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does these things,
which have been known from long ago.
Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles,
but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood.
For since ancient times, Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, and he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day."
Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men from among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers.
They wrote this letter to be delivered by them: From the apostles and the elders, your brothers, To the brothers from among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.
Because we have heard that some to whom we gave no authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts,
we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth.
For it was the Holy Spirit's decision-- and ours-- to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things:
that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell.
Then, being sent off, they went down to Antioch, and after gathering the assembly, they delivered the letter.
When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
Both Judas and Silas, who were also prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and strengthened them with a long message.
After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.
But Paul and Barnabas, along with many others, remained in Antioch teaching and proclaiming the message of the Lord.
After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord, and see how they're doing."
Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark.
But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work.
There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus.
Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers.
He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.