Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Acts 23; Acts 24; Acts 25

1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin. "My brothers," he said, "I have always done my duty to God. To this very day I feel that I have done nothing wrong." 2 Ananias the high priest heard this. So he ordered the men standing near Paul to hit him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "You pretender! God will hit you! You sit there and judge me by the law. But you yourself broke the law when you commanded them to hit me!" 4 Those who were standing near Paul said, "How dare you talk like that to God's high priest! 5 Paul replied, "Brothers, I didn't realize he was the high priest. It is written, 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.' "(Exodus 22:28) 6 Paul knew that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees. So he called out in the Sanhedrin. "My brothers," he said, "I am a Pharisee. I am the son of a Pharisee. I believe that people will rise from the dead. That's why I am on trial." 7 When he said this, the Pharisees and the Sadducees started to argue. They began to take sides. 8 The Sadducees say that people will not rise from the dead. They don't believe there are angels or spirits either. But the Pharisees believe all these things. 9 People were causing trouble and making a lot of noise. Some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up. They argued strongly. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" 10 The arguing got out of hand. The commanding officer was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by those who were arguing. So he ordered the soldiers to go down and take him away from them by force. They were supposed to bring him into the fort. 11 The next night the Lord stood near Paul. He said, "Be brave! You have given witness about me in Jerusalem. You must do the same in Rome." 12 The next morning the Jews gathered secretly to make plans against Paul. They took an oath that they would not eat or drink anything until they had killed him. 13 More than 40 men took part in this plan. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders. They said, "We have taken a strong oath. We have made a special promise to God. We will not eat anything until we have killed Paul 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin must make an appeal to the commanding officer. Ask him to bring Paul to you. Pretend you want more facts about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here." 16 But Paul's nephew heard about this plan. So he went into the fort and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the commanders. He said to him, "Take this young man to the commanding officer. He has something to tell him." 18 So the commander took Paul's nephew to the officer. The commander said, "Paul, the prisoner, sent for me. He asked me to bring this young man to you. The young man has something to tell you." 19 The commanding officer took the young man by the hand. He spoke to him in private. "What do you want to tell me?" the officer asked 20 He said, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin tomorrow. They will pretend they want more facts about him. 21 Don't give in to them. More than 40 of them are waiting in hiding to attack him. They have taken an oath that they will not eat or drink anything until they have killed him. They are ready now. All they need is for you to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin. 22 The commanding officer let the young man go. But he gave him a warning. "Don't tell anyone you have reported this to me," he said. 23 Then the commanding officer called for two of his commanders. He ordered them, "Gather a company of 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 men armed with spears. Get them ready to go to Caesarea at nine o'clock tonight. 24 Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix." 25 Here is the letter the officer wrote. 26 I, Claudius Lysias, am writing this letter. I am sending it to His Excellency, Governor Felix. Greetings. 27 The Jews grabbed Paul. They were about to kill him. But I came with my soldiers and saved him. I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were bringing charges against him. So I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found out that the charge against him was based on questions about their law. But there was no charge against him worthy of death or prison. 30 Then I was told about a plan against the man. So I sent him to you at once. I also ordered those bringing charges against him to tell you their case. 31 The soldiers followed their orders. During the night they took Paul with them. They brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the horsemen go on with him. The soldiers returned to the fort. 33 The horsemen arrived in Caesarea. They gave the letter to the governor. Then they handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter. He asked Paul where he was from. He learned that Paul was from Cilicia. 35 So he said, "I will hear your case when those bringing charges against you get here." Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace.
1 Five days later Ananias the high priest went down to Caesarea. Some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus went with him. They brought their charges against Paul to the governor. 2 So Paul was called in. Tertullus began to bring the charges against Paul. He said to Felix, "We have enjoyed a long time of peace while you have been ruling. You are a wise leader. You have made this a better nation. 3 Most excellent Felix, we gladly admit this everywhere and in every way. And we are very thankful. 4 I don't want to bother you. But would you be kind enough to listen to us for a short time? 5 "We have found that Paul is a troublemaker. He stirs up trouble among Jews all over the world. He is a leader of those who follow Jesus of Nazareth. 6 He even tried to pollute our temple. So we arrested him. 8 Question him yourself. Then you will learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him." 9 The Jews said the same thing. They agreed that the charges were true. 10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, "I know that you have been a judge over this nation for quite a few years. So I am glad to stand up for myself. 11 About 12 days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. You can easily check on this. 12 Those bringing charges against me did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple. I wasn't stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 They can't prove to you any of the charges they are making against me. 14 "It is true that I worship the God of our people. I am a follower of the Way of Jesus. Those bringing charges against me call it a cult. I believe everything that agrees with the Law. I believe everything written in the Prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men have. I believe that both the godly and the ungodly will rise from the dead. 16 So I always try not to do anything wrong in the eyes of God and man. 17 "I was away for several years. Then I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for those who were poor. I also came to offer sacrifices. 18 They found me doing this in the temple courtyard. I had already been made pure and clean in the usual way. There was no crowd with me. I didn't stir up any trouble. 19 "But there are some other Jews who should be here in front of you. They are from Asia Minor. They should bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Let the Jews who are here tell you what crime I am guilty of. After all, I was put on trial by the Sanhedrin. 21 Perhaps they blame me for what I said when I was on trial. I shouted, 'I believe that people will rise from the dead. That is why I am on trial here today.' " 22 Felix knew all about the Way of Jesus. So he put off the trial for the time being. "Lysias the commanding officer will come," he said. "Then I will decide your case." 23 He ordered the commander to keep Paul under guard. He told him to give Paul some freedom. He also told him to allow Paul's friends to take care of his needs. 24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla. She was a Jew. Felix sent for Paul and listened to him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Paul talked about how to live right. He talked about how people should control themselves. He also talked about the time when God will judge everyone. Then Felix became afraid. "That's enough for now!" he said. "You may leave. When I find the time, I will send for you." 26 He was hoping that Paul would offer him some money to let him go. So he often sent for Paul and talked with him. 27 Two years passed. Porcius Festus took the place of Felix. But Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he left Paul in prison.
1 Three days after Festus arrived, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 There the chief priests and Jewish leaders came to him and brought their charges against Paul. 3 They tried to get Festus to have Paul taken to Jerusalem. They asked for this as a favor. They were planning to hide and attack Paul along the way. They wanted to kill him. 4 Festus answered, "Paul is being held at Caesarea. Soon I'll be going there myself. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me. If the man has done anything wrong, they can bring charges against him there." 6 Festus spent eight or ten days in Jerusalem with them. Then he went down to Caesarea. The next day he called the court together. He ordered Paul to be brought to him. 7 When Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many strong charges against him. But they couldn't prove them. 8 Then Paul spoke up for himself. He said, "I've done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple. I've done nothing wrong against Caesar." 9 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he said to Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem? Are you willing to go on trial there? Are you willing to face these charges in my court?" 10 Paul answered, "I'm already standing in Caesar's court. This is where I should go on trial. I haven't done anything wrong to the Jews. You yourself know that very well. 11 If I am guilty of anything worthy of death, I'm willing to die. But the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true. No one has the right to hand me over to them. I make my appeal to Caesar!" 12 Festus talked it over with the members of his court. Then he said, "You have made an appeal to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!" 13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea. They came to pay a visit to Festus. 14 They were spending many days there. So Festus talked with the king about Paul's case. He said, "There's a man here that Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and the elders brought charges against the man. They wanted him to be found guilty. 16 "I told them that this is not the way Romans do things. We don't judge people before they have faced those bringing charges against them. They must have a chance to speak up for themselves. 17 When the Jews came back with me, I didn't waste any time. I called the court together the next day. I ordered the man to be brought in. 18 Those bringing charges against him got up to speak. But they didn't charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they argued with him about their own beliefs. They didn't agree about a dead man named Jesus. Paul claimed Jesus was alive. 20 "I had no idea how to look into such matters. So I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem. There he could be tried on these charges. 21 But Paul made an appeal to have the Emperor decide his case. So I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar." 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear this man myself." Festus replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him." 23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived. They acted like very important people. They entered the courtroom. The most important officers and the leading men of the city came with them. When Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all who are here with us, take a good look at this man! Both in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea a large number of Jews have come to me about him. They keep shouting that he shouldn't live any longer. 25 I have found that he hasn't done anything worthy of death. But he made his appeal to the Emperor. So I decided to send him to Rome. 26 "I don't have anything certain to write about him to His Majesty. So I have brought him here today. Now all of you will be able to hear him. King Agrippa, it will also be very good for you to hear him. As a result of this hearing, I will have something to write. 27 It doesn't make sense to send a prisoner to Rome without listing the charges against him."
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