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Acts 24-26 (Common English Bible)

Acts 24-26

Paul’s trial before Felix

24 Five days later the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. They pressed charges against Paul before the governor. After the governor summoned Paul, Tertullus began to make his case against him. He declared, “Under your leadership, we have experienced substantial peace, and your administration has brought reforms to our nation. Always and everywhere, most honorable Felix, we acknowledge this with deep gratitude. I don’t want to take too much of your time, so I ask that you listen with your usual courtesy to our brief statement of the facts. We have found this man to be a troublemaker who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the empire. He’s a ringleader of the Nazarene faction and even tried to defile the temple. That’s when we arrested him.[a] By examining him yourself, you will be able to verify the allegations we are bringing against him.” The Jews reinforced the action against Paul, affirming the truth of these accusations.

10 The governor nodded at Paul, giving him permission to speak.

He responded, “I know that you have been judge over this nation for many years, so I gladly offer my own defense. 11 You can verify that I went up to worship in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago. 12 They didn’t find me arguing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd, whether in the synagogue or anywhere else in the city. 13 Nor can they prove to you the allegations they are now bringing against me. 14 I do admit this to you, that I am a follower of the Way, which they call a faction. Accordingly, I worship the God of our ancestors and believe everything set out in the Law and written in the Prophets. 15 The hope I have in God I also share with my accusers, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 On account of this, I have committed myself to maintaining a clear conscience before God and with all people. 17 After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring gifts for the poor of my nation and to offer sacrifices. 18 When they found me in the temple, I was ritually pure. There was no crowd and no disturbance. 19 But there were some Jews from the province of Asia. They should be here making their accusations, if indeed they have something against me. 20 In their absence, have these people who are here declare what crime they found when I stood before the Jerusalem Council. 21 Perhaps it concerns this one statement that I blurted out when I was with them: ‘I am on trial before you today because of the resurrection of the dead.’”

22 Felix, who had an accurate understanding of the Way, adjourned the meeting. He said, “When Lysias the commander arrives from Jerusalem, I will decide this case.” 23 He arranged for a centurion to guard Paul. He was to give Paul some freedom, and his friends were not to be hindered in their efforts to provide for him.

Paul in custody

24 After several days, Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and summoned Paul. He listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 When he spoke about upright behavior, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became fearful and said, “Go away for now! When I have time, I’ll send for you.” 26 At the same time, he was hoping that Paul would offer him some money, so he often sent for him and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Since Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Paul appeals to Caesar

25 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. The chief priests and Jewish leaders presented their case against Paul. Appealing to him, they asked as a favor from Festus that he summon Paul to Jerusalem. They were planning to ambush and kill him along the way. But Festus responded by keeping Paul in Caesarea, since he was to return there very soon himself. “Some of your leaders can come down with me,” he said. “If he’s done anything wrong, they can bring charges against him.”

He stayed with them for no more than eight or ten days, then went down to Caesarea. The following day he took his seat in the court and ordered that Paul be brought in. When he arrived, many Jews who had come down from Jerusalem surrounded him. They brought serious charges against him, but they couldn’t prove them. In his own defense, Paul said, “I’ve done nothing wrong against the Jewish Law, against the temple, or against Caesar.”

Festus, wanting to put the Jews in his debt, asked Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem to stand trial before me concerning these things?”

10 Paul replied, “I’m standing before Caesar’s court. I ought to be tried here. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you well know. 11 If I’m guilty and have done something that deserves death, then I won’t try to avoid death. But if there is nothing to their accusations against me, no one has the authority to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

12 After Festus conferred with his advisors, he responded, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go.”

King Agrippa informed about Paul

13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for many days, Festus discussed the case against Paul with the king. He said, “There is a man whom Felix left in prison. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and requested a guilty verdict in his case. 16 I told them it is contrary to Roman practice to hand someone over before they have faced their accusers and had opportunity to offer a defense against the charges. 17 When they came here, I didn’t put them off. The very next day I took my seat in the court and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18 When the accusers took the floor, they didn’t charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they quibbled with him about their own religion and about some dead man named Jesus, who Paul claimed was alive. 20 Since I had no idea how to investigate these matters, I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial there on these issues. 21 However, Paul appealed that he be held in custody pending a decision from His Majesty the emperor, so I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I want to hear the man myself.”

“Tomorrow,” Festus replied, “you will hear him.”

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great fanfare. They entered the auditorium with the military commanders and the city’s most prominent men. Festus then ordered that Paul be brought in. 24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and everyone present with us: You see this man! The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. 25 I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome. 26 I have nothing definite to write to our lord emperor. Therefore, I’ve brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this investigation, I might have something to write. 27 After all, it would be foolish to send a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.”

Paul’s defense before Agrippa

26 Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak for yourself.”

So Paul gestured with his hand and began his defense. “King Agrippa, I consider myself especially fortunate that I stand before you today as I offer my defense concerning all the accusations the Jews have brought against me. This is because you understand well all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I ask you to listen to me patiently. Every Jew knows the way of life I have followed since my youth because, from the beginning, I was among my people and in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time. If they wanted to, they could testify that I followed the way of life set out by the most exacting group of our religion. I am a Pharisee. Today I am standing trial because of the hope in the promise God gave our ancestors. This is the promise our twelve tribes hope to receive as they earnestly worship night and day. The Jews are accusing me, King Agrippa, because of this hope! Why is it inconceivable to you that God raises the dead?

“I really thought that I ought to oppose the name of Jesus the Nazarene in every way possible. 10 And that’s exactly what I did in Jerusalem. I locked up many of God’s holy people in prison under the authority of the chief priests. When they were condemned to death, I voted against them. 11 In one synagogue after another—indeed, in all the synagogues—I would often torture them, compelling them to slander God. My rage bordered on the hysterical as I pursued them, even to foreign cities.

12 “On one such journey, I was going to Damascus with the full authority of the chief priests. 13 While on the road at midday, King Agrippa, I saw a light from heaven shining around me and my traveling companions. That light was brighter than the sun. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice that said to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me? It’s hard for you to kick against a spear.’[b] 15 Then I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are harassing. 16 Get up! Stand on your feet! I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you as my servant and witness of what you have seen and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you 18 to open their eyes. Then they can turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, and receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are made holy by faith in me.’

19 “So, King Agrippa, I wasn’t disobedient to that heavenly vision. 20 Instead, I proclaimed first to those in Damascus and Jerusalem, then to the whole region of Judea and to the Gentiles. My message was that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God, and that they should demonstrate this change in their behavior. 21 Because of this, some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to murder me. 22 God has helped me up to this very day. Therefore, I stand here and bear witness to the lowly and the great. I’m saying nothing more than what the Prophets and Moses declared would happen: 23 that the Christ would suffer and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to my people and to the Gentiles.”

24 At this point in Paul’s defense, Festus declared with a loud voice, “You’ve lost your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you mad!”

25 But Paul replied, “I’m not mad, most honorable Festus! I’m speaking what is sound and true. 26 King Agrippa knows about these things, and I have been speaking openly to him. I’m certain that none of these things have escaped his attention. This didn’t happen secretly or in some out-of-the-way place. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

28 Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you trying to convince me that, in such a short time, you’ve made me a Christian?”

29 Paul responded, “Whether it is a short or a long time, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today will become like me, except for these chains.”

30 The king stood up, as did the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them. 31 As they left, they were saying to each other, “This man is doing nothing that deserves death or imprisonment.”

32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 24:6 Critical editions of the Gk New Testament do not include We wanted to put him on trial according to our Law, but Lysias the commander arrived and took him from our hands with great force. Then he ordered his accusers to appear before you.
  2. Acts 26:14 Or goads
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Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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