Acts 23 New Testament for Everyone (NTE)
Paul Before the Sanhedrin
23 Paul looked hard at the Sanhedrin.
‘My brothers,’ he said. ‘I have conducted myself before God in a completely good conscience all my life up to this day.’
2 Ananias, the high priest, ordered the bystanders to strike Paul on the mouth.
3 ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!’ said Paul to Ananias. ‘You are sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet you order me to be struck in violation of the law?’
4 ‘You are insulting the high priest?’ asked the bystanders.
5 ‘My brothers,’ replied Paul, ‘I didn’t know he was the high priest. Scripture says, of course, “You mustn’t speak evil of the ruler of your people.” ’
6 Paul knew that one part of the gathering were Sadducees, and the other part Pharisees.
‘My brothers,’ he shouted to the Sanhedrin, ‘I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees. This trial is about the Hope, about the Resurrection of the Dead!’
7 At these words, an argument broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and they were split among themselves. 8 (The Sadducees deny that there is any resurrection, or any intermediate state of ‘angel’ or ‘spirit’, but the Pharisees affirm them both.) 9 There was quite an uproar, with some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party standing up and arguing angrily, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man! What if a spirit spoke to him, or an angel for that matter?’
10 Faced with another great riot, the tribune was worried that Paul was going to be pulled in pieces between them. He ordered the guard to go down and snatch him out of the midst of them and bring him back up into the barracks.
11 On the next night, the Lord stood by him.
‘Cheer up!’ he said. ‘You have given your testimony about me in Jerusalem. Now you have to do it in Rome.’
The Oath and the Plot
12 The next morning, the Jews made a plot together. They swore an oath, binding themselves not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty of them who made this solemn vow with one another. 14 They went to the high priest and the elders.
‘We have sworn a solemn and binding oath’, they said, ‘not to taste anything until we have killed Paul. 15 What you need to do is this: tell the tribune, with the Sanhedrin, to bring him down to you, as if you wanted to make a more careful examination of his case. And then, before he arrives, we’ll be ready to dispatch him.’
16 Paul’s nephew (his sister’s son) heard of the plot. He went off, entered the barracks, and told Paul about it. 17 Paul called one of the centurions.
‘Take this young man to the tribune,’ he said. ‘He’s got something to tell him.’
18 So he took him off and brought him to the tribune.
‘Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you,’ he said. ‘Apparently he’s got something to tell you.’
19 So the tribune took the young man by the hand, and led him off into a private room.
‘What is it you have to tell me?’ he asked.
20 ‘The Judaeans have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It will look as if they’re wanting to make a more thorough investigation about him. 21 But don’t do what they want! There are more than forty men who are setting an ambush for him, and they’ve sworn a solemn oath not to eat or drink until they’ve killed him. They are ready right now, waiting for the word from you!’
22 So the tribune dismissed the lad.
‘Don’t tell anyone at all that you’ve told me about this,’ he said.
We Have Ways of Keeping You Safe
23 So the tribune summoned two of the centurions.
‘Get ready a squad of two hundred,’ he said. ‘They’re going to Caesarea. Also take seventy horsemen and two hundred light-armed guards. They leave at nine o’clock tonight. 24 Get horses ready for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Felix the governor.’
25 He wrote a letter which went like this:
26 ‘Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, greeting. 27 This man was seized by the Jews, who were going to kill him. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen I went with the guard and rescued him. 28 I wanted to know the charge on which they were accusing him, so I took him into their Sanhedrin. 29 There I discovered that he was being accused in relation to disputes about their law, but that he was not being charged with anything for which he would deserve to die or to be imprisoned. 30 I then received information that there was to be a plot against him. So I am sending him to you at once. I have told his accusers that they must inform you of their charges against him.’
31 So the soldiers did what they were told. They took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris, 32 and the next day they allowed the horsemen to go on with him while they returned to barracks. 33 The company arrived at Caesarea and handed over the letter to the governor, presenting Paul at the same time. 34 Felix read the letter, and asked which jurisdiction Paul was from. He found out that he was from Cilicia.
35 ‘I will hear your case’, he said, ‘when your accusers arrive.’
He ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod’s Praetorium.
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