Great dissensions arise concerning circumcision, 1-4. The apostles consult about it, 5-21, and send their determination by letters to the churches, 22-35. Paul and Barnabas, thinking to visit the brothers together, disagree and travel different ways, 36-41.
1 And some men who came down from Judea taught the brothers, and said, "Unless you are circumcised after the manner of Moses you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul, Barnabas, and some others of them should go to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. And they caused great joy to all the brothers. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and by the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed saying that it was needful to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose and said to them, "Men, brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving the Holy Spirit to them, even as he did to us, 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they are."
12 Then all the multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought by them among the Gentiles.
13 And after they held their peace, James answered, saying, "Men, brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take from among them a people for his name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree to this, as it is written,
16 '"After this I will return and will again build the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. And I will again build its ruins and set it up,
17 So that the residue of men and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called may seek after the Lord," says the Lord who does all these things.'
18 Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world. 19 Therefore, my judgment is that we do not trouble those from among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 But that we write to them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, from lewdness, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time has in every city those who preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath."
22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brothers. 23 And they wrote letters by their hand after this manner: "The apostles, elders, and brothers send greeting to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 24 Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law,' to whom we gave no such commandment, 25 It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men who have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also tell you the same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 That you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from lewdness—which if you keep yourselves from you will do well. Farewell."
30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch. And when they had convened the multitude, they delivered the epistle, 31 Which, when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32 And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words and confirmed them. 33 And after they had tarried there a time, they were dismissed in peace from the brothers to the apostles. 34 However, it pleased Silas to remain there still. 35 But Paul and Barnabas continued in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
36 And some days after, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they are." 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul did not think it good to take with them him who departed from them in Pamphylia and did not go with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them that they departed, separating one from the other. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. 40 And Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brothers to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches.
Matthew Henry Commentary - Acts, Chapter 15[➚]
[v.16-17] - Quoting Amos 9:11-12 (LXX).
[v.34] - From the Pulpit Commentary: "This verse is omitted in the Revised Text (such as in the ASV and ERV) and by the best manuscripts and commentators. It seems to have been put in to explain verse 40. But Silas may have returned to Jerusalem, as stated in verse 33, and come back again to Antioch, from having formed a strong attachment to Paul and his views."