Acts 23; Acts 24; Acts 25

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.
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."
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