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Paul Defends Himself

23 Paul looked straight at the Council[a] and said, “Brothers, with a clear conscience I have done my duty before God up to this very day.”

Then the high priest Ananias ordered the men standing near him to strike him on the mouth. At this Paul told him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall![b] How can you sit there and judge me according to the Law, and yet in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”

The men standing near him asked, “Do you mean to insult God’s high priest?”

Paul answered, “I didn’t realize, brothers, that he is the high priest. After all, it is written, ‘You must not speak evil about a ruler of your people.’”[c]

When Paul saw that some of them were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he shouted in the Council,[d] “Brothers, I’m a Pharisee and a descendant[e] of Pharisees. I’m on trial concerning the hope that the dead will be resurrected.”

After he said that, an angry quarrel broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided, because the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection and that there is no such thing as an angel or spirit, but the Pharisees believe in all those things.

There was a great deal of shouting until some of the scribes who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and argued forcefully, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

10 The quarrel was becoming violent, and the tribune was afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces. So he ordered the soldiers to go down, take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. 11 That night the Lord stood near Paul[f] and said, “Have courage! For just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, you must testify in Rome, too.”

Some Jews Plot to Kill Paul

12 In the morning, the Jewish leaders[g] formed a conspiracy and took an oath not to eat or drink anything before they had killed Paul. 13 More than 40 men formed this conspiracy. 14 They went to the high priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to taste any food before we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Council[h] must notify the tribune to bring him down to you on the pretext that you want to look into his case more carefully, but before he arrives we’ll be ready to kill him.”

16 But the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush, so he came and got into the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, because he has something to tell him.”

18 So the centurion[i] took him, brought him to the tribune, and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to tell you.”

19 The tribune took him by the hand, stepped aside to be alone with him, and asked, “What have you got to tell me?”

20 He answered, “The Jewish leaders[j] have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Council[k] tomorrow as though they were going to examine his case more carefully. 21 Don’t believe them, because more than 40 of them are planning to ambush him. They’ve taken an oath not to eat or drink before they’ve killed him. They are ready now, just waiting for your consent.”

22 The tribune dismissed the young man and ordered him not to tell anyone that he had notified him. 23 Then he summoned two centurions and ordered, “Get 200 soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight,[l] along with 70 mounted soldiers and 200 soldiers with spears. 24 Provide a mount for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Governor Felix.” 25 He wrote a letter with this message:

26 “From:[m] Claudius Lysias

To: Governor Felix

Greetings, Your Excellency:

27 This man had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I went with the guard and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know the exact charge they were making against him, so I had him brought before their Council.[n] 29 I found that, although he was charged with questions about their Law, there was no charge against him deserving death or imprisonment. 30 Since a plot against the man has been reported to me, I’m sending him to you at once, and I’ve also ordered his accusers to present their charges against him before you.”

31 So the soldiers, in keeping with their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day, they let the horsemen ride with Paul[o] while they returned to their barracks. 33 When these men[p] came to Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 After reading the letter, the governor[q] asked which province Paul[r] was from. On learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered Paul[s] to be kept in custody in Herod’s palace.[t]


  1. Acts 23:1 Or Sanhedrin
  2. Acts 23:3 I.e. hypocrite
  3. Acts 23:5 Cf. Exod 22:28
  4. Acts 23:6 Or Sanhedrin
  5. Acts 23:6 Or son
  6. Acts 23:11 Lit. him
  7. Acts 23:12 I.e. Judean leaders; lit. the Jews
  8. Acts 23:15 Or Sanhedrin
  9. Acts 23:18 Lit. So he
  10. Acts 23:20 I.e. Judean leaders; lit. the Jews
  11. Acts 23:20 Or Sanhedrin
  12. Acts 23:23 Lit. from the third hour of the night
  13. Acts 23:26 The Gk. lacks From
  14. Acts 23:28 Or Sanhedrin
  15. Acts 23:32 Lit. him
  16. Acts 23:33 The Gk. lacks men
  17. Acts 23:34 Lit. letter, he
  18. Acts 23:34 Lit. Paul
  19. Acts 23:35 Lit. Paul
  20. Acts 23:35 Lit. praetorium