Acts 26; Acts 27; Acts 28

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."
1 When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were turned over to an army officer. His name was Julius, and he belonged to the emperor's division. 2 We set sail on a ship from the city of Adramyttium. The ship was going to stop at ports on the coast of the province of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from the city of Thessalonica, went with us. 3 The next day we arrived at the city of Sidon. Julius treated Paul kindly and allowed him to visit his friends and receive any care he needed. 4 Leaving Sidon, we sailed on the northern side of the island of Cyprus because we were traveling against the wind. 5 We sailed along the coast of the provinces of Cilicia and Pamphylia and arrived at the city of Myra in the province of Lycia. 6 In Myra the officer found a ship from Alexandria that was on its way to Italy and put us on it. 7 We were sailing slowly for a number of days. Our difficulties began along the coast of the city of Cnidus because the wind would not let us go further. So at Cape Salmone, we started to sail for the south side of the island of Crete. 8 We had difficulty sailing along the shore of Crete. We finally came to a port called Fair Harbors. The port was near the city of Lasea. 9 We had lost so much time that the day of fasting had already past. Sailing was now dangerous, so Paul advised them, 10 "Men, we're going to face a disaster and heavy losses on this voyage. This disaster will cause damage to the cargo and the ship, and it will affect our lives." 11 However, the officer was persuaded by what the pilot and the owner of the ship said and not by what Paul said. 12 Since the harbor was not a good place to spend the winter, most of the men decided to sail from there. They hoped to reach the city of Phoenix somehow and spend the winter there. (Phoenix is a harbor that faces the southwest and northwest winds and is located on the island of Crete.) 13 When a gentle breeze began to blow from the south, the men thought their plan would work. They raised the anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete. 14 Soon a powerful wind (called a northeaster) blew from the island. 15 The wind carried the ship away, and we couldn't sail against the wind. We couldn't do anything, so we were carried along by the wind. 16 As we drifted to the sheltered side of a small island called Cauda, we barely got control of the ship's lifeboat. 17 The men pulled it up on deck. Then they passed ropes under the ship to reinforce it. Fearing that they would hit the large sandbank off the shores of Libya, they lowered the sail and were carried along by the wind. 18 We continued to be tossed so violently by the storm that the next day the men began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day they threw the ship's equipment overboard. 20 For a number of days we couldn't see the sun or the stars. The storm wouldn't let up. It was so severe that we finally began to lose any hope of coming out of it alive. 21 Since hardly anyone wanted to eat, Paul stood among them and said, "Men, you should have followed my advice not to sail from Crete. You would have avoided this disaster and loss. 22 Now I advise you to have courage. No one will lose his life. Only the ship will be destroyed. 23 I know this because an angel from the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood by me last night. 24 The angel told me, 'Don't be afraid, Paul! You must present your case to the emperor. God has granted safety to everyone who is sailing with you.' 25 So have courage, men! I trust God that everything will turn out as he told me. 26 However, we will run aground on some island." 27 On the fourteenth night we were still drifting through the Mediterranean Sea. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were approaching land. 28 So they threw a line with a weight on it into the water. It sank 120 feet. They waited a little while and did the same thing again. This time the line sank 90 feet. 29 Fearing we might hit rocks, they dropped four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for morning to come. 30 The sailors tried to escape from the ship. They let the lifeboat down into the sea and pretended they were going to lay out the anchors from the front of the ship. 31 Paul told the officer and the soldiers, "If these sailors don't stay on the ship, you have no hope of staying alive." 32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away. 33 Just before daybreak Paul was encouraging everyone to have something to eat. "This is the fourteenth day you have waited and have had nothing to eat. 34 So I'm encouraging you to eat something. Eating will help you survive, since not a hair from anyone's head will be lost." 35 After Paul said this, he took some bread, thanked God in front of everyone, broke it, and began to eat. 36 Everyone was encouraged and had something to eat. 37 (There were 276 of us on the ship.) 38 After the people had eaten all they wanted, they lightened the ship by dumping the wheat into the sea. 39 In the morning they couldn't recognize the land, but they could see a bay with a beach. So they decided to try to run the ship ashore. 40 They cut the anchors free and left them in the sea. At the same time they untied the ropes that held the steering oars. Then they raised the top sail to catch the wind and steered the ship to the shore. 41 They struck a sandbar in the water and ran the ship aground. The front of the ship stuck and couldn't be moved, while the back of the ship was broken to pieces by the force of the waves. 42 The soldiers had a plan to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43 However, the officer wanted to save Paul, so he stopped the soldiers from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore. 44 Then he ordered the rest to follow on planks or some other pieces [of wood] from the ship. In this way everyone got to shore safely.
1 When we were safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The people who lived on the island were unusually kind to us. They made a fire and welcomed all of us around it because of the rain and the cold. 3 Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire. The heat forced a poisonous snake out of the brushwood. The snake bit Paul's hand and wouldn't let go. 4 When the people who lived on the island saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer! He may have escaped from the sea, but justice won't let him live." 5 Paul shook the snake into the fire and wasn't harmed. 6 The people were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they had waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. 7 A man named Publius, who was the governor of the island, had property around the area. He welcomed us and treated us kindly, and for three days we were his guests. 8 His father happened to be sick in bed. He was suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, prayed, placed his hands on him, and made him well. 9 After that had happened, other sick people on the island went to Paul and were made well. 10 They showed respect for us in many ways, and when we were going to set sail, they put whatever we needed on board. 11 After three months we sailed on an Alexandrian ship that had spent the winter at the island. The ship had the gods Castor and Pollux carved on its front. 12 We stopped at the city of Syracuse and stayed there for three days. 13 We sailed from Syracuse and arrived at the city of Rhegium. The next day a south wind began to blow, and two days later we arrived at the city of Puteoli. 14 In Puteoli we discovered some believers who begged us to spend a week with them. 15 Believers in Rome heard that we were coming, so they came as far as the cities of Appius' Market and Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and felt encouraged. So we finally arrived in the city of Rome. 16 After our arrival, Paul was allowed to live by himself, but he had a soldier who guarded him. 17 After three days Paul invited the most influential Jews in Rome to meet with him. When they assembled, he said to them, "Brothers, I haven't done anything against the Jewish people or violated the customs handed down by our ancestors. Yet, I'm a prisoner from Jerusalem, and I've been handed over to the Roman authorities. 18 The Roman authorities cross-examined me and wanted to let me go because I was accused of nothing for which I deserved to die. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal my case to the emperor. That doesn't mean I have any charges to bring against my own people. 20 That's why I asked to see you and speak with you. I'm wearing these chains because of what Israel hopes for." 21 The Jewish leaders told Paul, "We haven't received any letters from Judea about you, and no Jewish person who has come to Rome has reported or mentioned anything bad about you. 22 However, we would like to hear what you think. We know that everywhere people are talking against this sect." 23 On a designated day a larger number of influential Jews [than expected] went to the place where Paul was staying. From morning until evening, Paul was explaining the kingdom of God to them. He was trying to convince them about Jesus from Moses' Teachings and the Prophets. 24 Some of them were convinced by what he said, but others continued to disbelieve. 25 The Jews, unable to agree among themselves, left after Paul had quoted this particular passage to them: "How well the Holy Spirit spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah! 26 The Spirit said: 'Go to these people and say, "You will hear clearly but never understand. You will see clearly but never comprehend. 27 These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see. Their ears never hear. Their minds never understand. And they never turn to me for healing."' 28 "You need to know that God has sent his salvation to people who are not Jews. They will listen." 29 30 Paul rented a place to live for two full years and welcomed everyone who came to him. 31 He spread the message about God's kingdom and taught very boldly about the Lord Jesus Christ. No one stopped him.
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