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Acts 22-24 Common English Bible (CEB)

Paul’s defense before his accusers

22 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.” When they heard him address them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. 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. I harassed those who followed this Way to their death, arresting and delivering both men and women into prison. 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.

“During that journey, about noon, as I approached Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven encircled me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are harassing,’ he replied. 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.

23 Paul stared at the council and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life with an altogether clear conscience right up to this very day.” The high priest Ananias ordered those standing beside Paul to strike him in the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is about to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit and judge me according to the Law, yet disobey the Law by ordering that I be struck.”

Those standing near him asked, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”

Paul replied, “Brothers, I wasn’t aware that he was the high priest. It is written, You will not speak evil about a ruler of your people.”[a]

Knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, Paul exclaimed in the council, “Brothers, I’m a Pharisee and a descendant of Pharisees. I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead!”

These words aroused a dispute between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. This is because Sadducees say that there’s no resurrection, angel, or spirit, but Pharisees affirm them all. Council members were shouting loudly. Some Pharisees who were legal experts stood up and insisted forcefully, “We find nothing wrong with this man! What if a spirit or angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so heated that the commander feared they might tear Paul to pieces. He ordered soldiers to go down and remove him by force from their midst. Then they took him back to the military headquarters.

11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Be encouraged! Just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so too you must testify in Rome.”

A murder plot discovered

12 The next morning some Jewish leaders formulated a plot and solemnly promised that they wouldn’t eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty people were involved in the conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have solemnly promised to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 You and the council must explain to the commander that you need Paul brought down to you. Pretend that you want to examine his case more closely. We’re prepared to kill him before he arrives.”

16 Paul’s sister had a son who heard about the ambush and he came to the military headquarters and reported it to Paul. 17 Paul called for one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander because he has something to report to him.”

18 He took him to the commander and said, “The prisoner Paul asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to tell you.”

19 The commander took him by the hand and withdrew to a place where they could speak privately. He asked, “What do you have to report to me?”

20 He replied, “The Jewish leaders have conspired to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow. They will pretend that they want to investigate his case more closely. 21 Don’t fall for it! More than forty of them are waiting to ambush him. They have solemnly promised not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, awaiting your consent.”

22 The commander dismissed the young man, ordering him, “Don’t tell anyone that you brought this to my attention.”

23 The commander called two centurions and said, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. 24 Have horses ready for Paul to ride, so they may take him safely to Governor Felix.” 25 He wrote the following letter:

26 Claudius Lysias, to the most honorable Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was almost killed by them. I was nearby with a unit of soldiers, and I rescued him when I discovered that he was a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to find out why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their council. 29 I discovered that they were accusing him about questions related to their Law. I found no charge deserving of death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a conspiracy against his life, I sent him to you at once and ordered his accusers to bring their case against him before you.

31 Following their orders, the soldiers took Paul during the night and brought him to Antipatris. 32 The following day they let the horsemen continue on with Paul while they returned to the military headquarters in Jerusalem. 33 The horsemen entered Caesarea, delivered the letter to the governor, and brought Paul before him. 34 After he read the letter, he asked Paul about his home province. When he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 the governor said, “I will hear your case when your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept in custody in Herod’s palace.

Paul’s trial before Felix

24 Five days later the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. They pressed charges against Paul before the governor. After the governor summoned Paul, Tertullus began to make his case against him. He declared, “Under your leadership, we have experienced substantial peace, and your administration has brought reforms to our nation. Always and everywhere, most honorable Felix, we acknowledge this with deep gratitude. I don’t want to take too much of your time, so I ask that you listen with your usual courtesy to our brief statement of the facts. We have found this man to be a troublemaker who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the empire. He’s a ringleader of the Nazarene faction and even tried to defile the temple. That’s when we arrested him.[b] By examining him yourself, you will be able to verify the allegations we are bringing against him.” The Jews reinforced the action against Paul, affirming the truth of these accusations.

10 The governor nodded at Paul, giving him permission to speak.

He responded, “I know that you have been judge over this nation for many years, so I gladly offer my own defense. 11 You can verify that I went up to worship in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago. 12 They didn’t find me arguing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd, whether in the synagogue or anywhere else in the city. 13 Nor can they prove to you the allegations they are now bringing against me. 14 I do admit this to you, that I am a follower of the Way, which they call a faction. Accordingly, I worship the God of our ancestors and believe everything set out in the Law and written in the Prophets. 15 The hope I have in God I also share with my accusers, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 On account of this, I have committed myself to maintaining a clear conscience before God and with all people. 17 After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring gifts for the poor of my nation and to offer sacrifices. 18 When they found me in the temple, I was ritually pure. There was no crowd and no disturbance. 19 But there were some Jews from the province of Asia. They should be here making their accusations, if indeed they have something against me. 20 In their absence, have these people who are here declare what crime they found when I stood before the Jerusalem Council. 21 Perhaps it concerns this one statement that I blurted out when I was with them: ‘I am on trial before you today because of the resurrection of the dead.’”

22 Felix, who had an accurate understanding of the Way, adjourned the meeting. He said, “When Lysias the commander arrives from Jerusalem, I will decide this case.” 23 He arranged for a centurion to guard Paul. He was to give Paul some freedom, and his friends were not to be hindered in their efforts to provide for him.

Paul in custody

24 After several days, Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and summoned Paul. He listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 When he spoke about upright behavior, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became fearful and said, “Go away for now! When I have time, I’ll send for you.” 26 At the same time, he was hoping that Paul would offer him some money, so he often sent for him and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Since Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 23:5 Exod 22:28
  2. Acts 24:6 Critical editions of the Gk New Testament do not include We wanted to put him on trial according to our Law, but Lysias the commander arrived and took him from our hands with great force. Then he ordered his accusers to appear before you.
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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