Acts 21-22 Common English Bible (CEB)
Paul travels to Jerusalem
21 After we tore ourselves away from them, we set sail on a straight course to Cos, reaching Rhodes the next day, and then Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, boarded, and put out to sea. 3 We spotted Cyprus, but passed by it on our left. We sailed on to the province of Syria and landed in Tyre, where the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 We found the disciples there and stayed with them for a week. Compelled by the Spirit, they kept telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 5 When our time had come to an end, we departed. All of them, including women and children, accompanied us out of town where we knelt on the beach and prayed. 6 We said good-bye to each other, then we boarded the ship and they returned to their homes.
7 Continuing our voyage, we sailed from Tyre and arrived in Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers and sisters there and spent a day with them. 8 The next day we left and came to Caesarea. We went to the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who were involved in the work of prophecy. 10 After staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In Jerusalem the Jews will bind the man who owns this belt, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers urged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Paul replied, “Why are you doing this? Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I’m ready not only to be arrested but even to die in Jerusalem for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus.”
14 Since we couldn’t talk him out of it, the only thing we could say was, “The Lord’s will be done.”
15 After this, we got ready and made our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and led us to Mnason’s home, where we were guests. He was from Cyprus and had been a disciple a long time. 17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters welcomed us warmly.
Meeting the Jerusalem church leaders
18 On the next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James. All of the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he gave them a detailed report of what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 Those who heard this praised God. Then they said to him, “Brother, you see how many thousands of Jews have become believers, and all of them keep the Law passionately. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to reject Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to live according to our customs. 22 What about this? Without a doubt, they will hear that you have arrived. 23 You must therefore do what we tell you. Four men among us have made a solemn promise. 24 Take them with you, go through the purification ritual with them, and pay the cost of having their heads shaved. Everyone will know there is nothing to those reports about you but that you too live a life in keeping with the Law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we wrote a letter about what we decided, that they avoid food offered to idols, blood, the meat from strangled animals, and sexual immorality.” 26 The following day Paul took the men with him and went through the purification ritual with them. He entered the temple and publicly announced the completion of the days of purification, when the offering would be presented for each one of them.
Paul seized by the people
27 When the seven days of purification were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the temple. Grabbing him, they threw the whole crowd into confusion by shouting, 28 “Fellow Israelites! Help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, the Law, and this place. Not only that, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” (29 They said this because they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him earlier, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the temple.) 30 The entire city was stirred up. The people came rushing, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the gates were closed. 31 While they were trying to kill him, a report reached the commander of a company of soldiers that all Jerusalem was in a state of confusion. 32 Without a moment’s hesitation, he took some soldiers and officers and ran down to the mob. When the mob saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 When the commander arrived, he arrested Paul and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Only then did he begin to ask who Paul was and what he had done.
34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing, others shouted something else. Because of the commotion, he couldn’t learn the truth, so he ordered that Paul be taken to the military headquarters. 35 When Paul reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers in order to protect him from the violence of the crowd. 36 The mob that followed kept screaming, “Away with him!”
37 As Paul was about to be taken into the military headquarters, he asked the commander, “May I speak with you?”
He answered, “Do you know Greek? 38 Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists into the desert some time ago?”
39 Paul replied, “I’m a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Please, let me speak to the people.” 40 With the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and gestured to the people. When they were quiet, he addressed them in Aramaic.
Paul’s defense before his accusers
22 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.” 2 When they heard him address them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. 3 Paul continued, “I’m a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city. Under Gamaliel’s instruction, I was trained in the strict interpretation of our ancestral Law. I am passionately loyal to God, just like you who are gathered here today. 4 I harassed those who followed this Way to their death, arresting and delivering both men and women into prison. 5 The high priest and the whole Jerusalem Council can testify about me. I received letters from them, addressed to our associates in Damascus, then went there to bring those who were arrested to Jerusalem so they could be punished.
6 “During that journey, about noon, as I approached Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven encircled me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?’ 8 I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are harassing,’ he replied. 9 My traveling companions saw the light, but they didn’t hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. 10 I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ ‘Get up,’ the Lord replied, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told everything you have been appointed to do.’ 11 I couldn’t see because of the brightness of that light, so my companions led me by the hand into Damascus.
12 “There was a certain man named Ananias. According to the standards of the Law, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the Jews living there. 13 He came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ he said. Instantly, I regained my sight and I could see him. 14 He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has selected you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear his voice. 15 You will be his witness to everyone concerning what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.’
17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I had a visionary experience. 18 I saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem at once because they won’t accept your testimony about me.’ 19 I responded, ‘Lord, these people know I used to go from one synagogue to the next, beating those who believe in you and throwing them into prison. 20 When Stephen your witness was being killed, I stood there giving my approval, even watching the clothes that belonged to those who were killing him.’ 21 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go! I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they shouted, “Away with this man! He’s not fit to live!” 23 As they were screaming, throwing off their garments, and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander directed that Paul be taken into the military headquarters. He ordered that Paul be questioned under the whip so that he could find out why they were shouting at him like this.
25 As they were stretching him out and tying him down with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Can you legally whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t been found guilty in court?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. He asked, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 The commander went to Paul and demanded, “Tell me! Are you a Roman citizen?”
He said, “Yes.”
28 The commander replied, “It cost me a lot of money to buy my citizenship.”
Paul said, “I’m a citizen by birth.” 29 At once those who were about to examine him stepped away. The commander was alarmed when he realized he had bound a Roman citizen.
Paul appears before the Jewish council
30 The commander still wanted to know the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews. Therefore, the next day he ordered the chief priests and the entire Jerusalem Council to assemble. Then he took Paul out of prison and had him stand before them.