Acts 21New Testament for Everyone (NTE)
21 When we had left them behind and had set sail, we made a straight course to Cos, and went on the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 There we found a ship heading for Phoenicia, and we got on board and set sail. 3 We came in sight of Cyprus, passed it on our left side, sailed to Syria and arrived in Tyre, which was where the boat was going to unload its cargo. 4 We found some disciples and stayed there a week – and they told Paul, by the spirit, not to go to Jerusalem. 5 When our time there was up, we left and went on our way, with everyone, women and children included, coming with us out of the city. We knelt down on the seashore and prayed. 6 Then we said our farewells to one another. We got on the ship and they returned home.
7 The end of our voyage from Tyre saw us arrive at Ptolemais. There we greeted the Christians, and stayed a day with them. 8 On the next day we left and went on to Caesarea, and went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10 After we’d been there several days, Agabus the prophet arrived from Jerusalem. 11 He came to us, took Paul’s girdle, and tied himself up with it, hand and foot.
‘This is what the holy spirit says,’ he declared. ‘The Judaeans in Jerusalem will tie up the man to whom this girdle belongs, just like this, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.’
12 When we heard that, we and the people of that place begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul responded.
‘What are you doing with all this weeping,’ he said, ‘breaking my heart in pieces? I am quite prepared not only to be tied up but to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’
14 When we realized we couldn’t dissuade him, we gave up the attempt.
‘May the Lord’s will be done,’ was all we said.
Warding off the Inevitable
15 After those days we made preparations to go up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, and took us to the house of Mnason, an elderly disciple from Cyprus. That was where we were going to be staying.
17 When we came to Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters welcomed us gladly. 18 On the next day Paul went in with us to see James, with all the elders present. 19 He greeted them and laid out before them everything which God had done through his ministry among the Gentiles, telling it all step by step. 20 They praised God when they heard it.
‘You see, brother,’ they said, ‘that there are many thousands of Jews who have believed. They are all of them fiercely enthusiastic for the law. 21 But what they have heard about you is that you teach all the Jews who live among the nations to abandon Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children and not to keep the customs. 22 Where does this leave us? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 So do what we tell you: there are four men here who have taken a vow upon themselves. 24 Join in with these men. Purify yourself along with them, and pay the expenses for them as they have their heads shaved. That way everyone will know that there is no truth in the accusations against you, but rather that you too are behaving as a law-observant Jew should. 25 As for the Gentiles who have believed, we have written to them with our decision that they should keep themselves from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from fornication.’
26 So Paul took the men and, the next day, underwent the ritual of purification alongside them. He went into the Temple and made the declaration, stating when the days of purification would be completed and when the time would come for sacrifice to be offered for each of them.
Riot in the Temple
27 When the seven days were completed, some Jews from Asia spotted Paul in the Temple. They gathered a crowd and grabbed him.
28 ‘Men of Israel,’ they yelled, ‘come and help us! This is the man who’s been teaching everybody everywhere against our people, our law, and this place! And now, what’s more, he’s brought some Greeks into the Temple, and he’s defiled this holy place!’ 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with Paul in the city, and they thought Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
30 The whole city was stirred up, and people rushed together from all around. They seized Paul and dragged him outside the Temple, and the gates were shut at once. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word reached the tribune of the guard that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 At once he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When the crowd saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up, arrested him, ordered him to be bound with two chains, and asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd said one thing, some said another. Since he couldn’t find out what was really going on because of the uproar, he gave orders for Paul to be brought into the barracks. 35 When they got to the steps, the pressure of the crowd was so strong that the soldiers had to carry Paul. 36 The great mob of people was following, and shouting, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’
Why Not Hear My Story?
37 As they were about to go into the barracks, Paul turned to the tribune.
‘Am I allowed to say something to you?’ he asked.
‘Well!’ replied the tribune. ‘So you know some Greek, do you? 38 Aren’t you the Egyptian who raised a revolt some while back and led those four thousand “assassins” into the desert?’
39 ‘Actually,’ replied Paul, ‘I’m a Jew! I’m from Tarsus in Cilicia. That’s not an insignificant place to be a citizen of. Please, please, let me speak to the people.’
40 So he gave him permission. Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people. When, eventually, there was silence, he spoke to them in Aramaic.
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