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Acts 21; Acts 22; Acts 23 (GOD'S WORD Translation)

1 When we finally left them, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we sailed to the island of Rhodes and from there to the city of Patara. 2 In Patara, we found a ship that was going to Phoenicia, so we went aboard and sailed away. 3 We could see the island of Cyprus as we passed it on our left and sailed to Syria. We landed at the city of Tyre, where the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 In Tyre we searched for the disciples. After we found them, we stayed there for seven days. The Spirit had the disciples tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 5 When our time was up, we started on our way. All of them with their wives and children accompanied us out of the city. We knelt on the beach, prayed, 6 and said goodbye to each other. Then we went aboard the ship, and the disciples went back home. 7 Our sea travel ended when we sailed from Tyre to the city of Ptolemais. We greeted the believers in Ptolemais and spent the day with them. 8 The next day we went to Philip's home in Caesarea and stayed with him. He was a missionary and one of the seven men who helped the apostles. 9 Philip had four unmarried daughters who had the ability to speak what God had revealed. 10 After we had been there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea. 11 During his visit he took Paul's belt and tied his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. Then they will hand him over to people who are not Jewish.'" 12 When we heard this, we and the believers who lived there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul replied, "Why are you crying like this and breaking my heart? I'm ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but also to die there for the sake of the Lord, the one named Jesus." 14 When Paul could not be persuaded, we dropped the issue and said, "May the Lord's will be done." 15 After that, we got ready to go to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us. They took us to Mnason's home, where we would be staying. Mnason was from the island of Cyprus and was one of the first disciples. 17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the believers welcomed us warmly. 18 The next day Paul went with us to visit James. All the spiritual leaders were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul related everything God had done through his work with non-Jewish people. 20 When the spiritual leaders heard about everything, they praised God. They said to Paul, "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews are now believers, and all of them are deeply committed to Moses' Teachings. 21 But they have been told that you teach all the Jews living among non-Jewish people to abandon Moses. They claim that you tell them not to circumcise their children or follow Jewish customs. 22 What should we do about this? They will certainly hear that you're in town. 23 So follow our advice. We have four men who have made a vow to God. 24 Take these men, go through the purification ceremony with them, and pay the expenses to shave their heads. Then everyone will know that what they've been told about you isn't true. Instead, they'll see that you carefully follow Moses' Teachings. 25 "[To clarify this matter,] we have written non-Jewish believers a letter with our decision. We told them that they should not eat food sacrificed to false gods, bloody meat, or the meat of strangled animals. They also should not commit sexual sins." 26 The next day, Paul took the men and went through the purification ceremony with them. Then he went into the temple courtyard to announce the time when the purification would be over and the sacrifice would be offered for each of them. 27 When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the temple courtyard. They stirred up the whole crowd and grabbed Paul. 28 Then they began shouting, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere to turn against the Jewish people, Moses' Teachings, and this temple. He has even brought Greeks into the temple courtyard and has made this holy place unclean." 29 They had seen Trophimus from Ephesus with him in the city earlier and thought Paul had taken him into the temple courtyard. 30 The whole city was in chaos, and a mob formed. The mob grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple courtyard. The courtyard doors were immediately shut. 31 As the people were trying to kill Paul, the officer in charge of the Roman soldiers received a report that all Jerusalem was rioting. 32 Immediately, he took some soldiers and officers and charged the crowd. When the crowd saw the officer and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the officer went to Paul, grabbed him, and ordered him to be tied up with two chains. The officer asked who Paul was and what he had done. 34 Some of the crowd shouted one thing, while others shouted something else. The officer couldn't get any facts because of the noise and confusion, so he ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul came to the stairs of the barracks, the crowd was so violent that the soldiers had to carry him. 36 The mob was behind them shouting, "Kill him!" 37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the officer, "May I say something to you?" The officer replied to Paul, "Can you speak Greek? 38 Aren't you the Egyptian who started a revolution not long ago and led four thousand terrorists into the desert?" 39 Paul answered, "I'm a Jew, a citizen from the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia. I'm asking you to let me talk to the people." 40 The officer gave Paul permission to speak. So Paul stood on the stairs of the barracks and motioned with his hand for the people to be quiet. When the mob was silent, Paul spoke to them in the Hebrew language. 1 "Brothers and fathers, listen as I now present my case to you." 2 When the mob heard him speak to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then Paul continued, 3 "I'm a Jew. I was born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia and received my education from Gamaliel here in Jerusalem. My education was in the strict rules handed down by our ancestors. I was as devoted to God as all of you are today. 4 I persecuted people who followed the way [of Christ]: I tied up men and women and put them into prison until they were executed. 5 The chief priest and the entire council of our leaders can prove that I did this. In fact, they even gave me letters to take to the Jewish community in the city of Damascus. I was going there to tie up believers and bring them back to Jerusalem to punish them. 6 "But as I was on my way and approaching the city of Damascus about noon, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?' 8 "I answered, 'Who are you, sir?' "The person told me, 'I'm Jesus from Nazareth, the one you're persecuting.' 9 "The men who were with me saw the light but didn't understand what the person who was speaking to me said. 10 "Then I asked, 'What do you want me to do, Lord?' "The Lord told me, 'Get up! Go into the city of Damascus, and you'll be told everything I've arranged for you to do.' 11 "I was blind because the light had been so bright. So the men who were with me led me into the city of Damascus. 12 "A man named Ananias lived in Damascus. He was a devout person who followed Moses' Teachings. All the Jews living in Damascus spoke highly of him. 13 He came to me, stood beside me, and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' At that moment my sight came back and I could see Ananias. 14 "Ananias said, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the one who has God's approval, and to hear him speak to you. 15 You will be his witness and will tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.' 17 "After that, I returned to Jerusalem. While I was praying in the temple courtyard, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord. He told me, 'Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem immediately. The people here won't accept your testimony about me.' 19 "I said, 'Lord, people here know that I went from synagogue to synagogue to imprison and whip those who believe in you. 20 When Stephen, who witnessed about you, was being killed, I was standing there. I approved of his death and guarded the coats of those who were murdering him.' 21 "But the Lord told me, 'Go! I'll send you on a mission. You'll go far away to people who aren't Jewish.'" 22 Up to that point the mob listened. Then they began to shout, "Kill him! The world doesn't need a man like this. He shouldn't have been allowed to live this long!" 23 The mob was yelling, taking off their coats, and throwing dirt into the air. 24 So the officer ordered the soldiers to take Paul into the barracks and told them to question Paul as they whipped him. The officer wanted to find out why the people were yelling at Paul like this. 25 But when the soldiers had Paul stretch out [to tie him to the whipping post] with the straps, Paul asked the sergeant who was standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't had a trial?" 26 When the sergeant heard this, he reported it to his commanding officer. The sergeant asked him, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen." 27 The officer went to Paul and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" Paul answered, "Yes." 28 The officer replied, "I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen." Paul replied, "But I was born a Roman citizen." 29 Immediately, the soldiers who were going to question Paul stepped away from him. The officer was afraid when he found out that he had tied up a Roman citizen. 30 The officer wanted to find out exactly what accusation the Jews had against Paul. So the officer released Paul the next day and ordered the chief priests and the entire Jewish council to meet. Then the officer brought Paul and had him stand in front of them. 1 Paul stared at the Jewish council and said, "Brothers, my relationship with God has always given me a perfectly clear conscience." 2 The chief priest Ananias ordered the men standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you hypocrite! You sit there and judge me by Moses' Teachings and yet you break those teachings by ordering these men to strike me!" 4 The men standing near Paul said to him, "You're insulting God's chief priest! 5 Paul answered, "Brothers, I didn't know that he is the chief priest. After all, Scripture says, 'Don't speak evil about a ruler of your people.'" 6 When Paul saw that some of them were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he shouted in the council, "Brothers, I'm a Pharisee and a descendant of Pharisees. I'm on trial because I expect that the dead will come back to life." 7 After Paul said that, the Pharisees and Sadducees began to quarrel, and the men in the meeting were divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that the dead won't come back to life and that angels and spirits don't exist. The Pharisees believe in all these things.) 9 The shouting became very loud. Some of the scribes were Pharisees who argued their position forcefully. They said, "We don't find anything wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an angel actually spoke to him!" 10 The quarrel was becoming violent, and the officer was afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces. So the officer ordered his soldiers to drag Paul back to the barracks. 11 The Lord stood near Paul the next night and said to him, "Don't lose your courage! You've told the truth about me in Jerusalem. Now you must tell the truth about me in Rome." 12 In the morning the Jews formed a conspiracy. They asked God to curse them if they ate or drank anything before they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men took part in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and leaders [of the people] and said, "We've asked God to curse us if we taste any food before we've killed Paul 15 Here's our plan: You and the council must go to the Roman officer on the pretext that you need more information from Paul. You have to make it look as though you want to get more accurate information about him. We'll be ready to kill him before he gets to you." 16 But Paul's nephew heard about the ambush. He entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the sergeants and told him, "Take this young man to the officer. He has something to tell him." 18 The sergeant took the young man to the officer and said, "The prisoner Paul called me. He asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you." 19 The officer took the young man by the arm, went where they could be alone, and asked him, "What do you have to tell me? 20 The young man answered, "The Jews have planned to ask you to bring Paul to the Jewish council tomorrow. They're going to make it look as though they want more accurate information about him. 21 Don't let them persuade you to do this. More than forty of them are planning to ambush him. They have asked God to curse them if they eat or drink anything before they have murdered him. They are ready now and are expecting you to promise [that you will bring Paul]. 22 The officer dismissed the young man and ordered him not to tell this information to anyone else. 23 Then the officer summoned two of his sergeants and told them, "I want 200 infantrymen, 70 soldiers on horseback, and 200 soldiers with spears. Have them ready to go to Caesarea at nine o'clock tonight. 24 Provide an animal for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Governor Felix." 25 The officer wrote a letter to the governor with the following message: 26 Claudius Lysias sends greetings to Your Excellency, Governor Felix: 27 The Jews had seized this man and were going to murder him. When I found out that he was a Roman citizen, I went with my soldiers to rescue him. 28 I wanted to know what they had against him. So I took him to their Jewish council 29 and found their accusations had to do with disputes about Jewish teachings. He wasn't accused of anything for which he deserved to die or to be put into prison. 30 Since I was informed that there was a plot against this man, I immediately sent him to you. I have also ordered his accusers to state their case against him in front of you. 31 So the infantrymen did as they had been ordered. They took Paul to the city of Antipatris during the night. 32 They returned to their barracks the next day and let the soldiers on horseback travel with Paul. 33 When the soldiers arrived in the city of Caesarea with Paul, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 After the governor had read the letter, he asked Paul which province he was from. When he found out that Paul was from the province of Cilicia, 35 he said, "I'll hear your case when your accusers arrive." Then the governor gave orders to keep Paul under guard in Herod's palace.
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