Acts 26-28 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
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.”
Paul Is Taken to Rome
27 When it was time for us to sail to Rome, Captain Julius from the Emperor’s special troops was put in charge of Paul and the other prisoners. 2 We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail to some ports along the coast of Asia. Aristarchus from Thessalonica in Macedonia sailed on the ship with us.
3 The next day we came to shore at Sidon. Captain Julius was very kind to Paul. He even let him visit his friends, so they could give him whatever he needed. 4 When we left Sidon, the winds were blowing against us, and we sailed close to the island of Cyprus to be safe from the wind. 5 Then we sailed south of Cilicia and Pamphylia until we came to the port of Myra in Lycia. 6 There the army captain found a ship from Alexandria that was going to Italy. So he ordered us to board that ship.
7 We sailed along slowly for several days and had a hard time reaching Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any farther in that direction, so we sailed past Cape Salmone, where the island of Crete would protect us from the wind. 8 We went slowly along the coast and finally reached a place called Fair Havens, not far from the town of Lasea.
9 By now we had already lost a lot of time, and sailing was no longer safe. In fact, even the Great Day of Forgiveness[a] was past. 10 Then Paul spoke to the crew of the ship, “Men, listen to me! If we sail now, our ship and its cargo will be badly damaged, and many lives will be lost.” 11 But Julius listened to the captain of the ship and its owner, rather than to Paul.
12 The harbor at Fair Havens wasn’t a good place to spend the winter. Because of this, almost everyone agreed that we should at least try to sail along the coast of Crete as far as Phoenix. It had a harbor that opened toward the southwest and northwest,[b] and we could spend the winter there.
The Storm at Sea
13 When a gentle wind from the south started blowing, the men thought it was a good time to do what they had planned. So they pulled up the anchor, and we sailed along the coast of Crete. 14 But soon a strong wind called “The Northeaster” blew against us from the island. 15 The wind struck the ship, and we could not sail against it. So we let the wind carry the ship.
16 We went along the island of Cauda on the side that was protected from the wind. We had a hard time holding the lifeboat in place, 17 but finally we got it where it belonged. Then the sailors wrapped ropes around the ship to hold it together. They lowered the sail and let the ship drift along, because they were afraid it might hit the sandbanks in the gulf of Syrtis.
18 The storm was so fierce that the next day they threw some of the ship’s cargo overboard. 19 Then on the third day, with their bare hands they threw overboard some of the ship’s gear. 20 For several days we could not see either the sun or the stars. A strong wind kept blowing, and we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 Since none of us had eaten anything for a long time, Paul stood up and told the men:
You should have listened to me! If you had stayed on in Crete, you would not have had this damage and loss. 22 But now I beg you to cheer up, because you will be safe. Only the ship will be lost.
23 I belong to God, and I worship him. Last night he sent an angel 24 to tell me, “Paul, don’t be afraid! You will stand trial before the Emperor. And because of you, God will save the lives of everyone on the ship.” 25 Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly what he promised. 26 But we will first be shipwrecked on some island.
27 For fourteen days and nights we had been blown around over the Mediterranean Sea. But about midnight the sailors realized that we were getting near land. 28 They measured and found that the water was about one hundred twenty feet deep. A little later they measured again and found it was only about ninety feet. 29 The sailors were afraid that we might hit some rocks, and they let down four anchors from the back of the ship. Then they prayed for daylight.
30 The sailors wanted to escape from the ship. So they lowered the lifeboat into the water, pretending that they were letting down an anchor from the front of the ship. 31 But Paul said to Captain Julius and the soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on the ship, you won’t have any chance to save your lives.” 32 The soldiers then cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall into the sea.
33 Just before daylight Paul begged the people to eat something. He told them, “For fourteen days you have been so worried that you haven’t eaten a thing. 34 I beg you to eat something. Your lives depend on it. Do this and not one of you will be hurt.”
35 After Paul had said this, he took a piece of bread and gave thanks to God. Then in front of everyone, he broke the bread and ate some. 36 They all felt encouraged, and each of them ate something. 37 There were 276 people on the ship, 38 and after everyone had eaten, they threw the cargo of wheat into the sea to make the ship lighter.
39 Morning came, and the ship’s crew saw a coast that they did not recognize. But they did see a cove with a beach. So they decided to try to run the ship aground on the beach. 40 They cut the anchors loose and let them sink into the sea. At the same time they untied the ropes that were holding the rudders. Next, they raised the sail at the front of the ship and let the wind carry the ship toward the beach. 41 But it ran aground on a sandbank. The front of the ship stuck firmly in the sand, and the rear was being smashed by the force of the waves.
42 The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But Captain Julius wanted to save Paul’s life, and he did not let the soldiers do what they had planned. Instead, he ordered everyone who could swim to dive into the water and head for shore. 44 Then he told the others to hold on to planks of wood or parts of the ship. At last, everyone safely reached shore.
On the Island of Malta
28 When we came ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The local people were very friendly, and they welcomed us by building a fire, because it was rainy and cold.
3 After Paul had gathered some wood and had put it on the fire, the heat caused a snake to crawl out, and it bit him on the hand. 4 When the local people saw the snake hanging from Paul’s hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer! He didn’t drown in the sea, but the goddess of justice will kill him anyway.”
5 Paul shook the snake off into the fire and wasn’t harmed. 6 The people kept thinking that Paul would either swell up or suddenly drop dead. They watched him for a long time, and when nothing happened to him, they changed their minds and said, “This man is a god.”
7 The governor of the island was named Publius, and he owned some of the land around there. Publius was very friendly and welcomed us into his home for three days. 8 His father was in bed, sick with fever and stomach trouble, and Paul went to visit him. Paul healed the man by praying and placing his hands on him.
9 After this happened, everyone on the island brought their sick people to Paul, and they were all healed. 10 The people were very respectful to us, and when we sailed, they gave us everything we needed.
From Malta to Rome
11 Three months later we sailed in a ship that had been docked at Malta for the winter. The ship was from Alexandria in Egypt and was known as “The Twin Gods.”[c] 12 We arrived in Syracuse and stayed for three days. 13 From there we sailed to Rhegium. The next day a south wind began to blow, and two days later we arrived in Puteoli. 14 There we found some of the Lord’s followers, who begged us to stay with them. A week later we left for the city of Rome.
15 Some of the followers in Rome heard about us and came to meet us at the Market of Appius and at the Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged.
Paul in Rome
16 We arrived in Rome, and Paul was allowed to live in a house by himself with a soldier to guard him.
17 Three days after we got there, Paul called together some of the Jewish leaders and said:
My friends, I have never done anything to hurt our people, and I have never gone against the customs of our ancestors. But in Jerusalem I was handed over as a prisoner to the Romans. 18 They looked into the charges against me and wanted to release me. They found that I had not done anything deserving death. 19 The Jewish leaders disagreed, so I asked to be tried by the Emperor.
But I don’t have anything to say against my own nation. 20 I am bound by these chains because of what we people of Israel hope for. That’s why I have called you here to talk about this hope of ours.
21 The leaders replied, “No one from Judea has written us a letter about you. And not one of them has come here to report on you or to say anything against you. 22 But we would like to hear what you have to say. We understand that people everywhere are against this new group.”
23 They agreed on a time to meet with Paul, and many of them came to his house. From early morning until late in the afternoon, Paul talked to them about God’s kingdom. He used the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[d] to try to win them over to Jesus.
24 Some of the leaders agreed with what Paul said, but others did not. 25 Since they could not agree among themselves, they started leaving. But Paul said, “The Holy Spirit said the right thing when he sent Isaiah the prophet 26 to tell our ancestors,
‘Go to these people
28-29 Paul said, “You may be sure that God wants to save the Gentiles! And they will listen.”[e]
30 For two years Paul stayed in a rented house and welcomed everyone who came to see him. 31 He bravely preached about God’s kingdom and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one tried to stop him.
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