Acts 23-25 Amplified Bible (AMP)
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 [a]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 [b]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 [c]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 [d]Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred [e]spearmen; 24 also provide mounts for Paul to ride, and bring him safely to [f]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).
Paul before Felix
24 Five days later, the high priest Ananias came down [from Jerusalem to Caesarea] with some elders and an attorney named Tertullus [acting as spokesman and counsel]. They presented to the governor their [formal] charges against Paul. 2 After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began the complaint [against him], saying to the governor:
“Since through you we have attained great peace, and since by your foresight reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3 in every way and in every place, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with all gratitude. 4 But so that I do not weary you further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5 For we have found this man to be a public menace and one who [g]instigates dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the [heretical] [h]sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to desecrate the temple, but we took him into custody [i][and we intended to judge him by our Law, 7 but Lysias the commander came, and with great force took him out of our hands, 8 and ordered his accusers to come before you.] By interrogating him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to determine [the truth about] these things with which we charge him.” 9 The Jews also joined in the attack, declaring and insisting that these things were so.
10 When the governor nodded for him to speak, Paul answered,
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I make my defense cheerfully and with good courage. 11 As you can easily verify, it has been no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor elsewhere in the city did they find me carrying on a discussion or disputing with anybody or causing a crowd to gather. 13 Nor can they present evidence to you to prove what they now bring against me. 14 But I confess this to you, that according to [j]the Way, which they call a [divisive and heretical] sect, I do worship and serve the God of our fathers, [confidently] believing everything that is in accordance with the Law [of Moses] and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having [the same] hope in God which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of [the dead], both of the righteous and of the wicked. 16 In view of this, I also do my best and strive always to have a clear conscience before God and before men. 17 Now after several years I came [to Jerusalem] to bring to my people charitable contributions and offerings. 18 They found me in the temple presenting these offerings, after I had undergone [the rites of] purification, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from [the west coast province of] Asia [Minor], 19 who ought to have been here before you to present their charges, if they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men tell what crime they found [me guilty of] when I stood before the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), 21 other than for this one statement which I had shouted out as I stood among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”
22 But Felix, having a rather accurate understanding about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he ordered the centurion to keep Paul in custody, but to let him have some freedom, and [he told the centurion] not to stop any of his friends from providing for his needs.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife [k]Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control [honorable behavior, personal integrity], and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for now, and when I find [a convenient] time I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was also hoping to get money from Paul [as a bribe]; so he continued to send for him quite often and talked with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded [in office] by [l]Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.
Paul before Festus
25 Now Festus arrived in the province, and three days later he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea [Maritima]. 2 And [there in Jerusalem] the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul [before Festus], and they repeatedly pleaded with him, 3 asking as a concession against Paul, that he would have him brought to Jerusalem; (meanwhile planning an ambush to kill him on the way). 4 Festus answered that Paul was being held in custody in Caesarea [Maritima] and that he himself was about to leave shortly. 5 “So,” he said, “let those who are in a position of authority among you go there with me, and if there is anything criminal about the man, let them bring charges against him.”
6 Now after Festus had spent no more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal (the judicial bench), and ordered Paul to be brought [before him]. 7 After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him which they were not able to prove, 8 while Paul declared in his own defense, “I have done no wrong and committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul, “[m]Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial there in my presence [before the Jewish Sanhedrin] on these charges?” 10 Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know. 11 Therefore, if I am guilty and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not try to escape death; but if there is nothing to the accusations which these men are bringing against me, no one can hand me over to them. I [n]appeal to Caesar (Emperor Nero).” 12 Then Festus, after conferring with [the men who formed] his council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.”
13 Now several days later, [o]Agrippa [II] the king and [p]Bernice [his sister] arrived at Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus [the new governor]. 14 While they were spending many days there, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left as a prisoner by Felix. 15 When I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews [told me about him and] brought charges against him, petitioning for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man [for punishment] before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has the opportunity to defend himself against the charges. 17 So after they arrived together here, I did not delay, but on the next day took my place on the tribunal and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18 When his accusers stood up, they brought no charges against him of crimes that I was expecting [neither civil nor criminal actions], 19 instead they had some points of disagreement with him about their own [q]religion and about one Jesus, a man who had died, but whom Paul kept asserting and insisting [over and over] to be alive. 20 And I, being at a loss as to how to investigate these things, asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for a decision by the Emperor [Nero], I ordered him to be kept in custody until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” Festus replied, “you will hear him.”
Paul before Agrippa
23 So the next day Agrippa and [his sister] Bernice came with great pageantry, and they went into the auditorium accompanied by the military commanders and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all you gentlemen present with us, you see this man [Paul] about whom all the Jewish people appealed to me, both at Jerusalem and here, loudly insisting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing worthy of death; however, since he appealed to the Emperor [Nero], I decided to send him [to Rome]. 26 But I have nothing specific about him to write to my lord. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the investigation has taken place, I will have something to put in writing. 27 For it seems absurd and unreasonable to me to send a prisoner [to Rome] without indicating the charges against him.”
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