Acts 21; Acts 22; Acts 23

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Acts 21

1 After we all said good-bye to them, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes, and from there we went to Patara.
2 There we found a ship going to Phoenicia, so we went aboard and sailed away.
3 We sailed near the island of Cyprus, seeing it to the north, but we sailed on to Syria. We stopped at Tyre because the ship needed to unload its cargo there.
4 We found some followers in Tyre and stayed with them for seven days. Through the Holy Spirit they warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
5 When we finished our visit, we left and continued our trip. All the followers, even the women and children, came outside the city with us. After we all knelt on the beach and prayed,
6 we said good-bye and got on the ship, and the followers went back home.
7 We continued our trip from Tyre and arrived at Ptolemais, where we greeted the believers and stayed with them for a day.
8 The next day we left Ptolemais and went to the city of Caesarea. There we went into the home of Philip the preacher, one of the seven helpers, and stayed with him.
9 He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophesying.
10 After we had been there for some time, a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea.
11 He came to us and borrowed Paul's belt and used it to tie his own hands and feet. He said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who wears this belt. Then they will give him to those who are not Jews.'"
12 When we all heard this, we and the people there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
13 But he said, "Why are you crying and making me so sad? I am not only ready to be tied up in Jerusalem, I am ready to die for the Lord Jesus!"
14 We could not persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem. So we stopped begging him and said, "We pray that what the Lord wants will be done."
15 After this, we got ready and started on our way to Jerusalem.
16 Some of the followers from Caesarea went with us and took us to the home of Mnason, where we would stay. He was from Cyprus and was one of the first followers.
17 In Jerusalem the believers were glad to see us.
18 The next day Paul went with us to visit James, and all the elders were there.
19 Paul greeted them and told them everything God had done among the non-Jewish people through him.
20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul, "Brother, you can see that many thousands of Jews have become believers. And they think it is very important to obey the law of Moses.
21 They have heard about your teaching, that you tell the Jews who live among those who are not Jews to leave the law of Moses. They have heard that you tell them not to circumcise their children and not to obey Jewish customs.
22 What should we do? They will learn that you have come.
23 So we will tell you what to do: Four of our men have made a promise to God.
24 Take these men with you and share in their cleansing ceremony. Pay their expenses so they can shave their heads. Then it will prove to everyone that what they have heard about you is not true and that you follow the law of Moses in your own life.
25 We have already sent a letter to the non-Jewish believers. The letter said: 'Do not eat food that has been offered to idols, or blood, or animals that have been strangled. Do not take part in sexual sin.'"
26 The next day Paul took the four men and shared in the cleansing ceremony with them. Then he went to the Temple and announced the time when the days of the cleansing ceremony would be finished. On the last day an offering would be given for each of the men.
27 When the seven days were almost over, some Jews from Asia saw Paul at the Temple. They caused all the people to be upset and grabbed Paul.
28 They shouted, "People of Israel, help us! This is the man who goes everywhere teaching against the law of Moses, against our people, and against this Temple. Now he has brought some Greeks into the Temple and has made this holy place unclean!"
29 (The Jews said this because they had seen Trophimus, a man from Ephesus, with Paul in Jerusalem. The Jews thought that Paul had brought him into the Temple.)
30 All the people in Jerusalem became upset. Together they ran, took Paul, and dragged him out of the Temple. The Temple doors were closed immediately.
31 While they were trying to kill Paul, the commander of the Roman army in Jerusalem learned that there was trouble in the whole city.
32 Immediately he took some officers and soldiers and ran to the place where the crowd was gathered. When the people saw them, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander went to Paul and arrested him. He told his soldiers to tie Paul with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done wrong.
34 Some in the crowd were yelling one thing, and some were yelling another. Because of all this confusion and shouting, the commander could not learn what had happened. So he ordered the soldiers to take Paul to the army building.
35 When Paul came to the steps, the soldiers had to carry him because the people were ready to hurt him.
36 The whole mob was following them, shouting, "Kill him!"
37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the army building, he spoke to the commander, "May I say something to you?" The commander said, "Do you speak Greek?
38 I thought you were the Egyptian who started some trouble against the government not long ago and led four thousand killers out to the desert."
39 Paul said, "No, I am a Jew from Tarsus in the country of Cilicia. I am a citizen of that important city. Please, let me speak to the people."
40 The commander gave permission, so Paul stood on the steps and waved his hand to quiet the people. When there was silence, he spoke to them in the Jewish language.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 22

1 Paul said, "Friends, fellow Jews, listen to my defense to you."
2 When the Jews heard him speaking the Jewish language, they became very quiet. Paul said,
3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in the country of Cilicia, but I grew up in this city. I was a student of Gamaliel, who carefully taught me everything about the law of our ancestors. I was very serious about serving God, just as are all of you here today.
4 I persecuted the people who followed the Way of Jesus, and some of them were even killed. I arrested men and women and put them in jail.
5 The high priest and the whole council of older Jewish leaders can tell you this is true. They gave me letters to the Jewish brothers in Damascus. So I was going there to arrest these people and bring them back to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 "About noon when I came near Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed all around me.
7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
8 I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' The voice said, 'I am Jesus from Nazareth whom you are persecuting.'
9 Those who were with me did not hear the voice, but they saw the light.
10 I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' The Lord answered, 'Get up and go to Damascus. There you will be told about all the things I have planned for you to do.'
11 I could not see, because the bright light had made me blind. So my companions led me into Damascus.
12 "There a man named Ananias came to me. He was a religious man; he obeyed the law of Moses, and all the Jews who lived there respected him.
13 He stood by me and said, 'Brother Saul, see again!' Immediately I was able to see him.
14 He said, 'The God of our ancestors chose you long ago to know his plan, to see the Righteous One, and to hear words from him.
15 You will be his witness to all people, telling them about what you have seen and heard.
16 Now, why wait any longer? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, trusting in him to save you.'
17 "Later, when I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple, and I saw a vision.
18 I saw the Lord saying to me, 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem now! The people here will not accept the truth about me.'
19 But I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I put the believers in jail and beat them.
20 They also know I was there when Stephen, your witness, was killed. I stood there agreeing and holding the coats of those who were killing him!'
21 But the Lord said to me, 'Leave now. I will send you far away to the non-Jewish people.'"
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they began shouting, "Kill him! Get him out of the world! He should not be allowed to live!"
23 They shouted, threw off their coats, and threw dust into the air.
24 Then the commander ordered the soldiers to take Paul into the army building and beat him. He wanted to make Paul tell why the people were shouting against him like this.
25 But as the soldiers were tying him up, preparing to beat him, Paul said to an officer nearby, "Do you have the right to beat a Roman citizenn who has not been proven guilty?"
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. The officer said, "Do you know what you are doing? This man is a Roman citizen."
27 The commander came to Paul and said, "Tell me, are you really a Roman citizen?" He answered, "Yes."
28 The commander said, "I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen." But Paul said, "I was born a citizen."
29 The men who were preparing to question Paul moved away from him immediately. The commander was frightened because he had already tied Paul, and Paul was a Roman citizen.
30 The next day the commander decided to learn why the Jews were accusing Paul. So he ordered the leading priests and the Jewish council to meet. The commander took Paul's chains off. Then he brought Paul out and stood him before their meeting.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 23

1 Paul looked at the Jewish council and said, "Brothers, I have lived my life without guilt feelings before God up to this day."
2 Ananias, the high priest, heard this and told the men who were standing near Paul to hit him on the mouth.
3 Paul said to Ananias, "God will hit you, too! You are like a wall that has been painted white. You sit there and judge me, using the law of Moses, but you are telling them to hit me, and that is against the law."
4 The men standing near Paul said to him, "You cannot insult God's high priest like that!
5 Paul said, "Brothers, I did not know this man was the high priest. It is written in the Scriptures, 'You must not curse a leader of your people.'"
6 Some of the men in the meeting were Sadducees, and others were Pharisees. Knowing this, Paul shouted to them, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, and my father was a Pharisee. I am on trial here because I believe that people will rise from the dead."
7 When Paul said this, there was an argument between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the group was divided.
8 (The Sadducees do not believe in angels or spirits or that people will rise from the dead. But the Pharisees believe in them all.)
9 So there was a great uproar. Some of the teachers of the law, who were Pharisees, stood up and argued, "We find nothing wrong with this man. Maybe an angel or a spirit did speak to him."
10 The argument was beginning to turn into such a fight that the commander was afraid the Jews would tear Paul to pieces. So he told the soldiers to go down and take Paul away and put him in the army building.
11 The next night the Lord came and stood by Paul. He said, "Be brave! You have told people in Jerusalem about me. You must do the same in Rome."
12 In the morning some of the Jews made a plan to kill Paul, and they took an oath not to eat or drink anything until they had killed him.
13 There were more than forty Jews who made this plan.
14 They went to the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders and said, "We have taken an oath not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul
15 So this is what we want you to do: Send a message to the commander to bring Paul out to you as though you want to ask him more questions. We will be waiting to kill him while he is on the way here."
16 But Paul's nephew heard about this plan and went to the army building and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the officers and said, "Take this young man to the commander. He has a message for him."
18 So the officer brought Paul's nephew to the commander and said, "The prisoner, Paul, asked me to bring this young man to you. He wants to tell you something."
19 The commander took the young man's hand and led him to a place where they could be alone. He asked, "What do you want to tell me?
20 The young man said, "The Jews have decided to ask you to bring Paul down to their council meeting tomorrow. They want you to think they are going to ask him more questions.
21 But don't believe them! More than forty men are hiding and waiting to kill Paul. They have all taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. Now they are waiting for you to agree.
22 The commander sent the young man away, ordering him, "Don't tell anyone that you have told me about their plan."
23 Then the commander called two officers and said, "I need some men to go to Caesarea. Get two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred men with spears ready to leave at nine o'clock tonight.
24 Get some horses for Paul to ride so he can be taken to Governor Felix safely."
25 And he wrote a letter that said:
26 From Claudius Lysias. Greetings.
27 The Jews had taken this man and planned to kill him. But I learned that he is a Roman citizen, so I went with my soldiers and saved him.
28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him before their council meeting.
29 I learned that the Jews said Paul did some things that were wrong by their own laws, but no charge was worthy of jail or death.
30 When I was told that some of the Jews were planning to kill Paul, I sent him to you at once. I also told those Jews to tell you what they have against him.
31 So the soldiers did what they were told and took Paul and brought him to the city of Antipatris that night.
32 The next day the horsemen went with Paul to Caesarea, but the other soldiers went back to the army building in Jerusalem.
33 When the horsemen came to Caesarea and gave the letter to the governor, they turned Paul over to him.
34 The governor read the letter and asked Paul, "What area are you from?" When he learned that Paul was from Cilicia,
35 he said, "I will hear your case when those who are against you come here, too." Then the governor gave orders for Paul to be kept under guard in Herod's palace.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.