Acts 23-25 New International Version

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23 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." 2  At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3  Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!" 4  Those who were standing near Paul said, "How dare you insult God's high priest!" 5  Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'[1] "

6  Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead." 7  When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8  (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) 9  There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" 10  The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks. 11  The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

The Plot against Paul's Life

12  The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13  More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14  They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15  Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here." 16  But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul. 17  Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him." 18  So he took him to the commander. The centurion said, "Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you." 19  The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?" 20  He said: "Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21  Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request." 22  The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: "Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me."

Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

23  Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen[2] to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24  Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix." 25  He wrote a letter as follows: 26  Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27  This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28  I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29  I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30  When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him. 31  So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32  The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33  When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34  The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35  he said, "I will hear your case when your accusers get here." Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace.

Paul's Defense before Felix

24 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2  When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: "We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3  Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4  But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly. 5  "We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6  and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.By[3] 8  examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him." 9  The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.

10  When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11  You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12  My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13  And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14  However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15  and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16  So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. 17  "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18  I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19  But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20  Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin- 21  unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: 'It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.' "

22  Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case." 23  He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. 24  Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25  As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." 26  At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. 27  When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because 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 from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2  where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3  They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4  Festus answered, "Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5  Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there." 6  After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7  When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them. 8  Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar." 9  Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?" 10  Paul answered: "I am now standing before Caesar's court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11  If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!" 12  After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!"

Paul Brought before Agrippa and Bernice

13  A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14  Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. He said: "There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15  When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned. 16  "I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. 17  When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18  When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19  Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20  I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21  But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar." 22  Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear this man myself." He replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him." 23  The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24  Festus said: "King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25  I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26  But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27  For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him."

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[1] 23:5 Exodus 22:28

[2] 23:23 The meaning of the Greek for this word is uncertain.

[3] 24:6 Some manuscripts include here "him, and we would have judged him in accordance with our law. " 7"But the commander Lysias came and took him from us with much violence, " 8"ordering his accusers to come before you."

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