Acts 21:37-23:35 Amplified Bible (AMP)
37 Just as Paul was about to be taken into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” And the man replied, “Do you know Greek? 38 Then you are not [as I assumed] the Egyptian who [a]some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led those 4,000 men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul said, “I am a Jew from [b]Tarsus in Cilicia (Mersin Province, Turkey), a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” 40 When the commander had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, gestured with his hand to the people; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic), saying,
Paul’s Defense before the Jews
22 “Brethren and fathers (kinsmen), hear my defense which I now offer to you.”
2 When they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet. And he continued,
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of [c]Gamaliel according to the strictness of the law of our fathers, being ardent and passionate for God just as all of you are today. 4 I persecuted and pursued the followers of this [d]Way to the death, binding them with chains and putting [followers of Jesus] both men and women into prisons, 5 as the high priest and all the Council of the elders (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) can testify; because from them I received letters to the brothers, and I was on my way to Damascus in order to bring those [believers] who were there to Jerusalem in chains to be punished.
6 “But as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a great blaze of light suddenly flashed from heaven and shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 And I replied, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me [e]saw the light, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10 And I asked, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that is appointed and destined for you to do.’ 11 But since I could not see because of the [glorious intensity and dazzling] brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to [f]the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to [see] me, and standing near, he said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I [recovered my sight and] looked up at him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, [and to progressively understand His plan with clarity and power] and to see the Righteous One [Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and to hear a message from His [own] mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men testifying of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now, why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name [for salvation].’
17 “Then it happened when I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple [enclosure], that I fell into a trance (vision); 18 and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know [without any doubt] that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You [and Your message of salvation]. 20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing nearby approving and consenting [to his death], and guarding the coats of those who were killing him.’ 21 And the Lord said to me, ‘Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22 They listened to Paul until [he made] this [last] statement, but now they raised their voices and shouted, “Away with such a man from the earth! He is not fit to live!” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their coats [getting ready to stone Paul] and tossing dust into the air [expressing their anger], 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he was to be [g]interrogated with a whip in order to learn why the people were shouting against him that way. 25 But when they had stretched him out [h]with the leather straps [in preparation for the whip], Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it legal for you to whip a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned [without a trial]?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and said to him, “What are you about to do? This man is a [i]Roman!” 27 So the commander came and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The commander replied, “I [j]purchased this citizenship [of mine] for a large sum of money [so how did you acquire yours?].” Paul said, “But I was actually born a citizen.” 29 So those who were about to interrogate him by torture immediately let him go; and the commander was also afraid when he realized that Paul was a Roman and he had put him in chains.
30 But on the next day, wanting to know the real reason why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) to assemble; and brought Paul down and presented him before them.
Paul before the Council
23 Then Paul, looking intently at the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), said, “Kinsmen, I have lived my life before God with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.” 2 [At this] the high priest [k]Ananias ordered those who stood beside him to strike Paul on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you [l]whitewashed wall! Do you actually sit to judge me according to the Law, and yet in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But those who stood near Paul said, “Are you insulting the high priest of God?” 5 Paul said, “I was not aware, brothers, that he was [m]high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 But recognizing that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began affirming loudly in the Council chamber, “Kinsmen, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” 7 When he said this, an angry dispute erupted between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the [whole crowded] assembly was divided [into two factions]. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no [such thing as a] resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees [speak out freely and] acknowledge [their belief in] them all. 9 Then a great uproar occurred, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and began to argue heatedly [in Paul’s favor], saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has [really] spoken to him?” 10 And as the dissension became even greater, the commander, fearing that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered the troops to go down and forcibly take him from them, and bring him to the barracks.
11 On the following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Be brave; for as you have solemnly and faithfully witnessed about Me at Jerusalem, so you must also testify at Rome.”
A Conspiracy to Kill Paul
12 Now when day came, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath (curse), saying that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty [men] who formed this plot [and swore this oath]. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn oath not to taste anything [neither food nor drink] until we have killed Paul. 15 So now you, along with the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), notify the commander to bring Paul down to you, as if you were going to investigate his case more thoroughly. But we are ready to kill him before he comes near [the place].”
16 But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their [planned] ambush, and he went to the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul, calling in one of the centurions, said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and led him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called for me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to tell you.” 19 The commander took him by the hand and stepping aside, began to ask him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) tomorrow, as if they were going to interrogate him more thoroughly. 21 But do not listen to them, for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him, and they have bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. Even now they are ready, just waiting for your promise.” 22 So the commander let the young man leave, instructing him, “Do not tell anyone that you have given me this information.”
Paul Moved to Caesarea Maritima
23 Then summoning two of the centurions, he said, “Have two hundred soldiers ready by the third hour of the night (9:00 p.m.) to go as far as [n]Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred [o]spearmen; 24 also provide mounts for Paul to ride, and bring him safely to [p]Felix the governor.” 25 And [after instructing the centurions] he wrote a letter to this effect:
“Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, greetings.
This man was seized [as a prisoner] by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, when I came upon him with the troops and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And wanting to know the exact charge which they were making against him, I brought him down to their Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court); 29 and I discovered that he was accused in regard to questions and issues in their Law, but [he was] under no accusation that would call for the penalty of death or [even] for imprisonment.
When I was told that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you immediately, also directing his accusers to bring their charges against him before you.”
31 So the soldiers, in compliance with their orders, took Paul and brought him to Antipatris during the night. 32 And the next day, leaving the horsemen to go on with him, they returned to the barracks. 33 When these [horsemen] reached Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor, and also presented Paul to him. 34 After reading the letter, he asked which province Paul was from, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia [an imperial province], 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers have arrived,” giving orders that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s Praetorium (the governor’s official residence).
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