Acts 25-26 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Paul before Festus
25 Now Festus arrived in the province, and three days later he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea [Maritima]. 2 And [there in Jerusalem] the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul [before Festus], and they repeatedly pleaded with him, 3 asking as a concession against Paul, that he would have him brought to Jerusalem; (meanwhile planning an ambush to kill him on the way). 4 Festus answered that Paul was being held in custody in Caesarea [Maritima] and that he himself was about to leave shortly. 5 “So,” he said, “let those who are in a position of authority among you go there with me, and if there is anything criminal about the man, let them bring charges against him.”
6 Now after Festus had spent no more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal (the judicial bench), and ordered Paul to be brought [before him]. 7 After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him which they were not able to prove, 8 while Paul declared in his own defense, “I have done no wrong and committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul, “[a]Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial there in my presence [before the Jewish Sanhedrin] on these charges?” 10 Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know. 11 Therefore, if I am guilty and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not try to escape death; but if there is nothing to the accusations which these men are bringing against me, no one can hand me over to them. I [b]appeal to Caesar (Emperor Nero).” 12 Then Festus, after conferring with [the men who formed] his council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.”
13 Now several days later, [c]Agrippa [II] the king and [d]Bernice [his sister] arrived at Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus [the new governor]. 14 While they were spending many days there, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left as a prisoner by Felix. 15 When I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews [told me about him and] brought charges against him, petitioning for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man [for punishment] before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has the opportunity to defend himself against the charges. 17 So after they arrived together here, I did not delay, but on the next day took my place on the tribunal and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18 When his accusers stood up, they brought no charges against him of crimes that I was expecting [neither civil nor criminal actions], 19 instead they had some points of disagreement with him about their own [e]religion and about one Jesus, a man who had died, but whom Paul kept asserting and insisting [over and over] to be alive. 20 And I, being at a loss as to how to investigate these things, asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for a decision by the Emperor [Nero], I ordered him to be kept in custody until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” Festus replied, “you will hear him.”
Paul before Agrippa
23 So the next day Agrippa and [his sister] Bernice came with great pageantry, and they went into the auditorium accompanied by the military commanders and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all you gentlemen present with us, you see this man [Paul] about whom all the Jewish people appealed to me, both at Jerusalem and here, loudly insisting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing worthy of death; however, since he appealed to the Emperor [Nero], I decided to send him [to Rome]. 26 But I have nothing specific about him to write to my lord. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the investigation has taken place, I will have something to put in writing. 27 For it seems absurd and unreasonable to me to send a prisoner [to Rome] without indicating the charges against him.”
Paul’s Defense before Agrippa
26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are [now] permitted to speak on your own behalf.” At that, Paul stretched out his hand [as an orator] and made his defense [as follows]:
2 “I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, since it is before you that I am to make my defense today regarding all the charges brought against me by the Jews, 3 especially because you are an expert [fully knowledgeable, experienced and unusually conversant] in all the Jewish customs and controversial issues; therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “So then, all the Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation [the Jewish people], and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify to it, that according to the [f]strictest sect of our religion, I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 Which hope [of the Messiah and the resurrection] our twelve tribes [confidently] expect to realize as they serve and worship God in earnest night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews! 8 Why is it thought incredible by [any of] you that God raises the dead?
9 “So then, I [once] thought to myself that it was my duty to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; I not only locked up many of the saints (God’s people) in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being condemned to death, I [g]cast my vote against them. 11 And I often punished them [making them suffer] in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme; and in my extreme rage at them, I kept hunting them even to foreign cities [harassing and persecuting them].
12 “While so engaged, as I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission and full power of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven surpassing the brightness of the sun, shining all around me and those who were traveling with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? [h]It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the [i]goads [offering pointless resistance].’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 Get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you [to serve] as a minister and as a witness [to testify, with authority,] not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you, 17 [choosing you for Myself and] rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their [spiritual] eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness and release from their sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified (set apart, made holy) by faith in Me.’
19 “So, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but I openly proclaimed first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent [change their inner self—their old way of thinking] and turn to God, doing deeds and living lives which are consistent with repentance. 21 Because of this some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had help from God to this day, and I stand [before people] testifying to small and great alike, stating nothing except what the Prophets and Moses said would come to pass— 23 that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to suffer, and that He by being the first to rise from the dead [with an incorruptible body] would proclaim light (salvation) both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
24 While Paul was making this defense, Festus said loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great education is turning you toward madness.” 25 But Paul replied, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent and noble Festus, but [with a sound mind] I am uttering rational words of truth and reason. 26 For [your majesty] the king understands these things, and [therefore] I am also speaking to him with confidence and boldness, since I am convinced that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner [hidden from view, in secret]. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the [writings of the] Prophets [their messages and words]? I know that you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time [and with so little effort] you [almost] persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 And Paul replied, “Whether in a short time or long, I wish to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”
30 Then the king stood up, and [with him] the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them; 31 and after they had gone out, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or [even] of imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to [j]Caesar (Emperor Nero).”
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