Acts 24; Acts 25; Acts 26

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."
1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You may now speak for yourself." So Paul motioned with his hand. Then he began to stand up for himself. 2 "King Agrippa," he said, "I am happy to be able to stand here today. I will speak up for myself against all the charges brought by the Jews. 3 I am very pleased that you are familiar with Jewish ways. You know the kinds of things they argue about. So I beg you to be patient as you listen to me. 4 "The Jews all know how I have lived ever since I was a child. They know all about me from the beginning of my life. They know how I lived in my own country and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time. So if they wanted to, they could give witness that I lived by the rules of the Pharisees. Those rules are harder to obey than the rules of any other group in the Jewish faith. 6 "Today I am on trial because of the hope I have. I believe in what God promised our people long ago. 7 It is the promise that our 12 tribes are hoping to see come true. Because of this hope they serve God with a true and honest heart day and night. King Agrippa, it is also because of this hope that the Jews are bringing charges against me. 8 Why should any of you think it is impossible for God to raise the dead? 9 "I myself believed that I should do everything I could to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 That's just what I was doing in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests, I put many of God's people in prison. I agreed that they should die. 11 I often went from one synagogue to another to have them punished. I tried to force them to speak evil things against Jesus. I hated them so much that I even went to cities in other lands to hurt them. 12 "On one of these journeys I was on my way to Damascus. I had the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, I was on the road. I saw a light coming from heaven. It was brighter than the sun. It was shining around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground. I heard a voice speak to me in the Aramaic language. 'Saul! Saul!' it said. 'Why are you opposing me? It is hard for you to go against what you know is right.' 15 "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus,' the Lord replied. 'I am the one you are opposing. 16 Now get up. Stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you to serve me and be my witness. You will tell others that you have seen me today. You will also tell them that I will show myself to you again. 17 " 'I will save you from your own people and from those who aren't Jews. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes. I want you to turn them from darkness to light. I want you to turn them from Satan's power to God. I want their sins to be forgiven. They will be forgiven when they believe in me. They will have their place among God's people.' 19 "So then, King Agrippa, I obeyed the vision that appeared from heaven. 20 First I preached to people in Damascus. Then I preached in Jerusalem and in all Judea. I preached also to people who are not Jews. I told them to turn away from their sins to God. The way they live must prove that they have turned away from their sins. 21 That's why the Jews grabbed me in the temple courtyard and tried to kill me. 22 "But God has helped me to this very day. So I stand here and give witness to both small and great. I have been saying nothing different from what the prophets and Moses said would happen. 23 They said the Christ would suffer. He would be the first to rise from the dead. He would announce the light of life to his own people and to those who aren't Jews." 24 While Paul was still speaking up for himself, Festus interrupted. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you crazy!" 25 "I am not crazy, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things. So I can speak openly to him. I am certain he knows everything that has been going on. After all, it was not done in secret. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do." 28 Then Agrippa spoke to Paul. "Are you trying to talk me into becoming a Christian?" he said. "Do you think you can do that in such a short time?" 29 Paul replied, "I don't care if it takes a short time or a long time. I pray to God for you and all who are listening to me today. I pray that you may become like me, except for these chains." 30 The king stood up. The governor and Bernice and those sitting with them stood up too. 31 They left the room and began to talk with one another. "Why should this man die or be put in prison?" they said. "He has done nothing worthy of that!" 32 Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free. But he has made an appeal to Caesar."
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