Acts 21-23 New Revised Standard Version

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Paul's Journey to Jerusalem

21 1  When we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2  When we found a ship bound for Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail. 3  We came in sight of Cyprus; and leaving it on our left, we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 4  We looked up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5  When our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed 6  and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. 7  When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers and stayed with them for one day.

8  The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9  He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. 10  While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11  He came to us and took Paul's belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, "This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' " 12  When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13  Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14  Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, "The Lord's will be done."

15  After these days we got ready and started to go up to Jerusalem. 16  Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came along and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to stay.

Paul Arrested in the Temple

17  When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. 18  The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. 19  After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20  When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. 21  They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. 22  What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23  So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. 24  Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. 25  But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." 26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

27  When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, 28  shouting, "Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." 29  For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30  Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31  While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32  Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33  Then the tribune came, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; he inquired who he was and what he had done. 34  Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35  When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36  The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Away with him!"

Paul's Defense before the People

37  Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, "May I say something to you?" The tribune replied, "Do you know Greek? 38  Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?" 39  Paul replied, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people." 40  When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

22 1  "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you." 2  When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said:

3  "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. 4  I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, 5  as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

Paul Tells of His Conversion

6  "While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. 7  I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' 8  I answered, "Who are you, Lord?' Then he said to me, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.' 9  Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10  I asked, "What am I to do, Lord?' The Lord said to me, "Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.' 11  Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. 12  "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, 13  came to me; and standing beside me, he said, "Brother Saul, regain your sight!' In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. 14  Then he said, "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; 15  for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. 16  And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.'

Paul's Call to the Gentiles

17  "After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18  and saw Jesus saying to me, "Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' 19  And I said, "Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20  And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.' 21  Then he said to me, "Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "

Paul in the Custody of the Chief Captain

22  Up to this point they listened to him, but then they shouted, "Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live." 23  And while they were shouting, throwing off their cloaks, and tossing dust into the air, 24  the tribune directed that he was to be brought into the barracks, and ordered him to be examined by flogging, to find out the reason for this outcry against him. 25  But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?" 26  When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, "What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen." 27  The tribune came and asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" And he said, "Yes." 28  The tribune answered, "It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship." Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." 29  Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Paul before the Council

30  Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

23 1  While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, "Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God." 2  Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. 3  At this Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?" 4  Those standing nearby said, "Do you dare to insult God's high priest? 5  And Paul said, "I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest; for it is written, "You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.' "

6  When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead." 7  When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8  (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) 9  Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees' group stood up and contended, "We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" 10  When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks. 11  That night the Lord stood near him and said, "Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome."

The Plot against Paul's Life

12  In the morning the Jews joined in a conspiracy and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13  There were more than forty who joined in this conspiracy. 14  They went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food until we have killed Paul 15  Now then, you and the council must notify the tribune to bring him down to you, on the pretext that you want to make a more thorough examination of his case. And we are ready to do away with him before he arrives." 16  Now the son of Paul's sister heard about the ambush; so he went and gained entrance to the barracks and told Paul. 17  Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to report to him." 18  So he took him, brought him to the tribune, and said, "The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you; he has something to tell you." 19  The tribune took him by the hand, drew him aside privately, and asked, "What is it that you have to report to me? 20  He answered, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more thoroughly into his case. 21  But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him. They have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they kill him. They are ready now and are waiting for your consent. 22  So the tribune dismissed the young man, ordering him, "Tell no one that you have informed me of this."

Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

23  Then he summoned two of the centurions and said, "Get ready to leave by nine o'clock tonight for Caesarea with two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. 24  Also provide mounts for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Felix the governor." 25  He wrote a letter to this effect: 26  "Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, but when I had learned that he was a Roman citizen, I came with the guard and rescued him. 28  Since I wanted to know the charge for which they accused him, I had him brought to their council. 29  I found that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but was charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30  When I was informed that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him. " 31  So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him during the night to Antipatris. 32  The next day they let the horsemen go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33  When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34  On reading the letter, he asked what province he belonged to, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35  he said, "I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive." Then he ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod's headquarters.

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