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Acts 24; Acts 25; Acts 26 (GOD'S WORD Translation)

1 Five days later the chief priest Ananias went to the city of Caesarea with some leaders of the people and an attorney named Tertullus. They reported to the governor their charges against Paul. 2 When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him. He said to Felix, "Your Excellency, through your wise leadership we have lasting peace and reforms that benefit the people. 3 We appreciate what you've done in every way and in every place, and we want to thank you very much. 4 I don't want to keep you too long. Please listen to us. We will be brief. 5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker. He starts quarrels among all Jews throughout the world. He's a ringleader of the Nazarene sect. 6 He also entered the temple courtyard in a way that violates our tradition. So we arrested him. 7 8 When you cross-examine him, you'll be able to find out from him that our accusations are true." 9 The Jews supported Tertullus' accusations and asserted that everything Tertullus said was true. 10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul responded, "I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years. So I'm pleased to present my case to you. 11 You can verify for yourself that I went to Jerusalem to worship no more than twelve days ago. 12 No one found me having a discussion with anyone in the temple courtyard or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues throughout the city. 13 These people cannot even prove their accusations to you. 14 But I'll admit to you that I'm a follower of the way [of Christ], which they call a sect. This means that I serve our ancestors' God and believe everything written in Moses' Teachings and the Prophets. 15 I hope for the same thing my accusers do, that people with God's approval and those without it will come back to life. 16 With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people. 17 After many years I have come back to my people and brought gifts for the poor and offerings [for God]. 18 My accusers found me in the temple courtyard doing these things after I had gone through the purification ceremony. No crowd or noisy mob was present. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia were there. They should be here in front of you to accuse me if they have anything against me. 20 Otherwise, these men who are accusing me should tell what I was charged with when I stood in front of their council. 21 They could accuse me of only one thing. As I stood among them, I shouted, 'I'm being tried in front of you because [I believe that] the dead will come back to life.'" 22 Felix knew the way [of Christ] rather well, so he adjourned the trial. He told them, "When the officer Lysias arrives, I'll decide your case." 23 Felix ordered the sergeant to guard Paul but to let him have some freedom and to let his friends take care of his needs. 24 Some days later Felix arrived with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discussed the subjects of God's approval, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became afraid and said, "That's enough for now. You can go. When I find time, I'll send for you again." 26 At the same time, Felix was hoping that Paul would give him some money. For that reason, Felix would send for Paul rather often to have friendly conversations with him. 27 Two years passed. Then Porcius Festus took Felix's place. (Since Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.) 1 Three days after Festus took over his duties in the province of Judea, he went from the city of Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 The chief priests and the other important Jewish leaders informed Festus about their charges against Paul. They were urging 3 Festus to do them the favor of having Paul brought to Jerusalem. The Jews had a plan to ambush and kill Paul as he traveled to Jerusalem. 4 Festus replied that he would be returning to Caesarea soon and would keep Paul there. 5 He told them, "Have your authorities come to Caesarea with me and accuse him there if the man has done something wrong." 6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten days at the most and then returned to Caesarea. The next day Festus took his place in court and summoned Paul. 7 When Paul entered the room, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem surrounded him. They made a lot of serious accusations that they couldn't prove. 8 Paul defended himself by saying, "I haven't broken any Jewish law or done anything against the temple or the emperor." 9 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he asked Paul, "Are you willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on these charges with me as your judge?" 10 Paul said, "I am standing in the emperor's court where I must be tried. I haven't done anything wrong to the Jews, as you know very well. 11 If I am guilty and have done something wrong for which I deserve the death penalty, I don't reject the idea of dying. But if their accusations are untrue, no one can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal my case to the emperor!" 12 Festus discussed the appeal with his advisers and then replied to Paul, "You have appealed your case to the emperor, so you'll go to the emperor!" 13 Later King Agrippa and Bernice came to the city of Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for a number of days, Festus told the king about Paul's case. Festus said, "Felix left a man here in prison. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the Jewish leaders brought me some information about him and asked me to condemn him. 16 "I replied to them, 'That's not the Roman way of doing things. A person can't be sentenced as a favor. Before he is sentenced, he must face his accusers and have a chance to defend himself against their accusation.' 17 "So the Jewish leaders came to Caesarea with me. The next day I immediately convened court and summoned the man. 18 When his accusers stood up, they didn't accuse him of the crimes I was expecting. 19 They were disputing with him about their own religion and about some man named Jesus who had died. But Paul claimed that Jesus is alive. 20 Their debate about these things left me puzzled. So I asked Paul if he would like to go to Jerusalem to have his case heard there. 21 But Paul appealed his case. He asked to be held in prison and to have His Majesty the Emperor decide his case. So I ordered him to be held in prison until I could send him to the emperor." 22 Agrippa told Festus, "I would like to hear the man." Festus replied, "You'll hear him tomorrow." 23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the auditorium with a lot of fanfare. Roman army officers and the most important men of the city entered the auditorium with them. Festus gave the order, and Paul was brought into the auditorium. 24 Then Festus said, "King Agrippa and everyone who is present with us! All the Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea have talked to me about this man you see in front of you. They shout that he must not be allowed to live any longer. 25 However, I don't think that he has done anything to deserve the death penalty. But since he made an appeal to His Majesty the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I don't have anything reliable to write our emperor about him. So I have brought him to all of you, and especially to you, King Agrippa. Then I'll have something to write after he is cross-examined. 27 I find it ridiculous to send a prisoner to Rome when I can't specify any charges against him." 1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You're free to speak for yourself." Paul acknowledged King Agrippa and then began his defense. 2 "King Agrippa, I think I'm fortunate today to stand in front of you and defend myself against every charge that the Jews brought against me. 3 I say this since you are especially familiar with every custom and controversy in Judaism. So I ask you to listen patiently to me. 4 "All the Jews know how I lived the earliest days of my youth with my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They've known me for a long time and can testify, if they're willing, that I followed the strictest party of our religion. They know that I lived my life as a Pharisee. 6 "I'm on trial now because I expect God to keep the promise that he made to our ancestors. 7 Our twelve tribes expect this promise to be kept as they worship with intense devotion day and night. Your Majesty, the Jews are making accusations against me because I expect God to keep his promise. 8 Why do all of you refuse to believe that God can bring dead people back to life? 9 "I used to think that I had to do a lot of things to oppose the one named Jesus of Nazareth. 10 That is what I did in Jerusalem. By the authority I received from the chief priests, I locked many Christians in prison. I voted to have them killed every time a vote was taken. 11 I even went to each synagogue, punished believers, and forced them to curse [the name of Jesus]. In my furious rage against them, I hunted them down in cities outside [Jerusalem]. 12 "I was carrying out these activities when I went to the city of Damascus. I had the power and authority of the chief priests. 13 Your Majesty, at noon, while I was traveling, I saw a light that was brighter than the sun. The light came from the sky and shined around me and those who were with me. 14 All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It's hard for [a mortal like] you to resist God.' 15 "I asked, 'Who are you, sir?' "The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus, the one you're persecuting. 16 Stand up! I have appeared to you for a reason. I'm appointing you to be a servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from the Jewish people and from the non-Jewish people to whom I am sending you. 18 You will open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God's. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and a share among God's people who are made holy by believing in me.' 19 "At that point I did not disobey the vision I saw from heaven, King Agrippa. 20 Instead, I spread the message that I first told to the [Jewish] people in Damascus and Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea. I spread the same message to non-Jewish people. Both groups were expected to change the way they thought and acted and to turn to God. I told them to do things that prove they had changed their lives. 21 For this reason the Jews took me prisoner in the temple courtyard and tried to murder me. 22 "God has been helping me to this day so that I can stand and testify to important and unimportant people. I tell them only what the prophets and Moses said would happen. 23 They said that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to come back to life and would spread light to Jewish and non-Jewish people." 24 As Paul was defending himself in this way, Festus shouted, "Paul, you're crazy! Too much education is driving you crazy!" 25 Paul replied, "I'm not crazy, Your Excellency Festus. What I'm saying is true and sane. 26 I can easily speak to a king who knows about these things. I'm sure that none of these things has escaped his attention. None of this was done secretly. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe them!" 28 Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think you can quickly persuade me to become a Christian?" 29 Paul replied, "I wish to God that you and everyone listening to me today would quickly and completely become as I am (except for being a prisoner)." 30 The king, the governor, Bernice, and the people who were sitting with them got up. 31 As they were leaving, they said to each other, "This man isn't doing anything for which he deserves to die or be put in prison." 32 Agrippa told Festus, "This man could have been set free if he hadn't appealed his case to the emperor."
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