Acts 24-26 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Paul Is Accused in the Court of Felix
24 Five days later Ananias the high priest, together with some of their leaders and a lawyer named Tertullus, went to the governor to present their case against Paul. 2 So Paul was called in, and Tertullus stated the case against him:[a]
Honorable Felix, you have brought our people a long period of peace, and because of your concern our nation is much better off. 3 All of us are always grateful for what you have done. 4 I don’t want to bother you, but please be patient with us and listen to me for just a few minutes.
5 This man has been found to be a real pest and troublemaker for Jews all over the world. He is also a leader of a group called Nazarenes. 6-8 When he tried to disgrace the temple, we arrested him.[b] If you question him, you will find out for yourself that our charges are true.
9 The Jewish crowd spoke up and agreed with what Tertullus had said.
Paul Defends Himself
10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak, and he began:
I know that you have judged the people of our nation for many years, and I am glad to defend myself in your court.
11 It was no more than twelve days ago that I went to worship in Jerusalem. You can find this out easily enough. 12 Never once did the Jews find me arguing with anyone in the temple. I didn’t cause trouble in the Jewish meeting places or in the city itself. 13 There is no way that they can prove these charges that they are now bringing against me.
14 I admit that their leaders think that the Lord’s Way[c] which I follow is based on wrong beliefs. But I still worship the same God that my ancestors worshiped. And I believe everything written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets.[d] 15 I am just as sure as these people are that God will raise from death everyone who is good or evil. 16 And because I am sure, I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or for people.
17 After being away for several years, I returned here to bring gifts for the poor people of my nation and to offer sacrifices. 18 This is what I was doing when I was found going through a ceremony in the temple. I wasn’t with a crowd, and there was no uproar.
19 Some Jews from Asia were there at that time, and if they have anything to say against me, they should be here now. 20 Or ask the ones who are here. They can tell you that they didn’t find me guilty of anything when I was tried by their own council. 21 The only charge they can bring against me is what I shouted out in court, when I said, “I am on trial today because I believe that the dead will be raised to life!”
22 Felix knew a lot about the Lord’s Way.[e] But he brought the trial to an end and said, “I will make my decision after Lysias the commander arrives.” 23 He then ordered the army officer to keep Paul under guard, but not to lock him up or to stop his friends from helping him.
Paul Is Kept under Guard
24 Several days later Felix and his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, went to the place where Paul was kept under guard. They sent for Paul and listened while he spoke to them about having faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But Felix was frightened when Paul started talking to them about doing right, about self-control, and about the coming judgment. So he said to Paul, “That’s enough for now. You may go. But when I have time I will send for you.” 26 After this, Felix often sent for Paul and talked with him, because he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe.
27 Two years later Porcius Festus became governor in place of Felix. But since Felix wanted to do the Jewish leaders a favor, he kept Paul in jail.
Paul Asks To Be Tried by the Roman Emperor
25 Three days after Festus had become governor, he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 There the chief priests and some Jewish leaders told him about their charges against Paul. They also asked Festus 3 if he would be willing to bring Paul to Jerusalem. They begged him to do this because they were planning to attack and kill Paul on the way. 4 But Festus told them, “Paul will be kept in Caesarea, and I am soon going there myself. 5 If he has done anything wrong, let your leaders go with me and bring charges against him there.”
6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten more days before going to Caesarea. Then the next day he took his place as judge and had Paul brought into court. 7 As soon as Paul came in, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem crowded around him and said he was guilty of many serious crimes. But they could not prove anything. 8 Then Paul spoke in his own defense, “I have not broken the Law of my people. And I have not done anything against either the temple or the Emperor.”
9 Festus wanted to please the leaders. So he asked Paul, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried by me on these charges?”
10 Paul replied, “I am on trial in the Emperor’s court, and that’s where I should be tried. You know very well that I have not done anything to harm the Jewish nation. 11 If I had done something deserving death, I would not ask to escape the death penalty. But I am not guilty of any of these crimes, and no one has the right to hand me over to these people. I now ask to be tried by the Emperor himself.”
12 After Festus had talked this over with members of his council, he told Paul, “You have asked to be tried by the Emperor, and to the Emperor you will go!”
Paul Speaks to Agrippa and Bernice
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to visit Festus. 14 They had been there for several days, when Festus told the king about the charges against Paul. He said:
Felix left a man here in jail, 15 and when I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the Jewish leaders came and asked me to find him guilty. 16 I told them that it isn’t the Roman custom to hand a man over to people who are bringing charges against him. He must first have the chance to meet them face to face and to defend himself against their charges.
17 So when they came here with me, I wasted no time. On the very next day I took my place on the judge’s bench and ordered him to be brought in. 18 But when the men stood up to make their charges against him, they did not accuse him of any of the crimes that I thought they would. 19 Instead, they argued with him about some of their beliefs and about a dead man named Jesus, who Paul said was alive.
20 Since I did not know how to find out the truth about all this, I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be put on trial there. 21 But Paul asked to be kept in jail until the Emperor could decide his case. So I ordered him to be kept here until I could send him to the Emperor.
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would also like to hear what this man has to say.”
Festus answered, “You can hear him tomorrow.”
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice made a big show as they came into the meeting room. High ranking army officers and leading citizens of the town were also there. Festus then ordered Paul to be brought in 24 and said:
King Agrippa and other guests, look at this man! Every Jew from Jerusalem and Caesarea has come to me, demanding for him to be put to death. 25 I have not found him guilty of any crime deserving death. But because he has asked to be judged by the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.
26 I have to write some facts about this man to the Emperor. So I have brought him before all of you, but especially before you, King Agrippa. After we have talked about his case, I will then have something to write. 27 It makes no sense to send a prisoner to the Emperor without stating the charges against him.
Paul’s Defense before Agrippa
26 Agrippa told Paul, “You may now speak for yourself.”
Paul stretched out his hand and said:
2 King Agrippa, I am glad for this chance to defend myself before you today on all these charges that my own people have brought against me. 3 You know a lot about our religious customs and the beliefs that divide us. So I ask you to listen patiently to me.
4-5 All the Jews have known me since I was a child. They know what kind of life I have lived in my own country and in Jerusalem. And if they were willing, they could tell you that I was a Pharisee, a member of a group that is stricter than any other. 6 Now I am on trial because I believe the promise God made to our people long ago.
7 Day and night our twelve tribes have earnestly served God, waiting for his promised blessings. King Agrippa, because of this hope, the Jewish leaders have brought charges against me. 8 Why should any of you doubt that God raises the dead to life?
9 I once thought that I should do everything I could to oppose Jesus from Nazareth. 10 I did this first in Jerusalem, and with the authority of the chief priests I put many of God’s people in jail. I even voted for them to be killed. 11 I often had them punished in our meeting places, and I tried to make them give up their faith. In fact, I was so angry with them, that I went looking for them in foreign cities.
12 King Agrippa, one day I was on my way to Damascus with the authority and permission of the chief priests. 13 About noon I saw a light brighter than the sun. It flashed from heaven on me and on everyone traveling with me. 14 We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice say to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me? It’s foolish to fight against me!”
15 “Who are you?” I asked.
Then the Lord answered, “I am Jesus! I am the one you are so cruel to. 16 Now stand up. I have appeared to you, because I have chosen you to be my servant. You are to tell others what you have learned about me and what I will show you later.”
17 The Lord also said, “I will protect you from the Jews and from the Gentiles that I am sending you to. 18 I want you to open their eyes, so that they will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then their sins will be forgiven, and by faith in me they will become part of God’s holy people.”
19 King Agrippa, I obeyed this vision from heaven. 20 First I preached to the people in Damascus, and then I went to Jerusalem and all over Judea. Finally, I went to the Gentiles and said, “Stop sinning and turn to God! Then prove what you have done by the way you live.”
21 That is why some men grabbed me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 But all this time God has helped me, and I have preached both to the rich and to the poor. I have told them only what the prophets and Moses said would happen. 23 I told them how the Messiah would suffer and be the first to be raised from death, so that he could bring light to his own people and to the Gentiles.
24 Before Paul finished defending himself, Festus shouted, “Paul, you’re crazy! Too much learning has driven you out of your mind.”
25 But Paul replied, “Honorable Festus, I am not crazy. What I am saying is true, and it makes sense. 26 None of these things happened off in a corner somewhere. I am sure that King Agrippa knows what I am talking about. That’s why I can speak so plainly to him.”
27 Then Paul said to Agrippa, “Do you believe what the prophets said? I know you do.”
28 Agrippa asked Paul, “In such a short time do you think you can talk me into being a Christian?”
29 Paul answered, “Whether it takes a short time or a long time, I wish you and everyone else who hears me today would become just like me! Except, of course, for these chains.”
30 Then King Agrippa, Governor Festus, Bernice, and everyone who was with them got up. 31 But before they left, they said, “This man isn’t guilty of anything. He doesn’t deserve to die or to be put in jail.”
32 Agrippa told Festus, “Paul could have been set free, if he had not asked to be tried by the Roman Emperor.”
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