November 26

Acts 23:1 — 25:27

Looking intently at the Sanhedrin Paul said: “Men, brothers, I have behaved before God with a perfectly clear conscience down to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him: “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. Do you at one and the same time sit to judge me in accord with the Law and, transgressing the Law, command me to be struck?” 4 Those standing by said: “Are you reviling the high priest of God?” 5 And Paul said: “Brothers, I did not know he was high priest. For it is written, ‘You must not speak injuriously of a ruler of your people.’”

6 Now when Paul took note that the one part was of Sadducees but the other of Pharisees, he proceeded to cry out in the Sanhedrin: “Men, brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Over the hope of resurrection of the dead I am being judged.” 7 Because he said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the multitude was split. 8 For Sadducees say there is neither resurrection nor angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees publicly declare them all. 9 So there broke out a loud screaming, and some of the scribes of the party of the Pharisees rose and began contending fiercely, saying: “We find nothing wrong in this man; but if a spirit or an angel spoke to him,—.” 10 Now when the dissension grew great, the military commander became afraid that Paul would be pulled to pieces by them, and he commanded the force of soldiers to go down and snatch him from their midst and bring him into the soldiers’ quarters.

11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said: “Be of good courage! For as you have been giving a thorough witness on the things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

12 Now when it became day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with a curse, saying they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty men that formed this oath-bound conspiracy; 14 and they went to the chief priests and the older men and said: “We have solemnly bound ourselves with a curse not to take a bite of food until we have killed Paul. 15 Now, therefore, YOU together with the Sanhedrin make it clear to the military commander why he should bring him down to YOU as though YOU intended to determine more accurately the matters involving him. But before he gets near we will be ready to do away with him.”

16 However, the son of Paul’s sister heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the soldiers’ quarters and reported it to Paul. 17 So Paul called one of the army officers to him and said: “Lead this young man off to the military commander, for he has something to report to him.” 18 Therefore this man took him and led him to the military commander and said: “The prisoner Paul called me to him and requested me to lead this young man to you, as he has something to tell you.” 19 The military commander took him by the hand and withdrew and began inquiring privately: “What is it you have to report to me?” 20 He said: “The Jews have agreed to request you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow as though intending to learn something more accurate about him. 21 Above all things, do not let them persuade you, for more than forty men of theirs are lying in wait for him, and they have bound themselves with a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have done away with him; and they are now ready, waiting for the promise from you.” 22 Therefore the military commander let the young man go after ordering him: “Do not blab to anyone that you have made these things clear to me.”

23 And he summoned a certain two of the army officers and said: “Get two hundred soldiers ready to march clear to Caesarea, also seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen, at the third hour of the night. 24 Also, provide beasts of burden that they may have Paul ride and convey him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And he wrote a letter having this form:

26 “Claudius Lysias to his excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings! 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be done away with by them, but I came suddenly with a force of soldiers and rescued him, because I learned he was a Roman. 28 And wishing to ascertain the cause for which they were accusing him, I brought him down into their Sanhedrin. 29 I found him to be accused about questions of their Law, but not charged with a single thing deserving of death or bonds. 30 But because a plot that is to be laid against the man has been disclosed to me, I am at once sending him to you, and commanding the accusers to speak against him before you.”

31 Therefore these soldiers took Paul according to their orders and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they permitted the horsemen to go on with him, and they returned to the soldiers’ quarters. 33 The [horsemen] entered into Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor and also presented Paul to him. 34 So he read it and inquired from what province he was, and ascertained that he was from Cilicia. 35 “I shall give you a thorough hearing,” he said, “when your accusers arrive also.” And he commanded that he be kept under guard in the praetorian palace of Herod.

Five days later the high priest Ananias came down with some older men and a public speaker, a certain Tertullus, and they gave information to the governor against Paul. 2 When he was called, Tertullus started accusing him, saying:

“Seeing that we enjoy great peace through you and that reforms are taking place in this nation through your forethought, 3 at all times and also in all places we receive it, Your Excellency Felix, with the greatest thankfulness. 4 But that I may not hinder you any further, I beseech you to hear us briefly in your kindliness. 5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow and stirring up seditions among all the Jews throughout the inhabited earth and a spearhead of the sect of the Nazarenes, 6 one who also tried to profane the temple and whom we seized. 7 —— 8 From him you yourself can by examination find out about all these things of which we are accusing him.”

9 With that the Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so. 10 And Paul, when the governor nodded to him to speak, answered:

“Knowing well that this nation has had you as judge for many years, I readily speak in my defense the things about myself, 11 as you are in a position to find out that for me it has not been more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem; 12 and they found me neither in the temple arguing with anyone nor causing a mob to rush together, either in the synagogues or throughout the city. 13 Nor can they prove to you the things of which they are accusing me right now. 14 But I do admit this to you, that, according to the way that they call a ‘sect,’ in this manner I am rendering sacred service to the God of my forefathers, as I believe all the things set forth in the Law and written in the Prophets; 15 and I have hope toward God, which hope these [men] themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 In this respect, indeed, I am exercising myself continually to have a consciousness of committing no offense against God and men. 17 So after quite a number of years I arrived to bring gifts of mercy to my nation, and offerings. 18 While I was at these matters they found me ceremonially cleansed in the temple, but not with a crowd or with a tumult. But there were certain Jews from the [district of] Asia, 19 who ought to be present before you and to accuse me if they might have anything against me. 20 Or, let the [men] here say for themselves what wrong they found as I stood before the Sanhedrin, 21 except with respect to this one utterance which I cried out while standing among them, ‘Over the resurrection of the dead I am today being judged before YOU!’”

22 However, Felix, knowing quite accurately the matters concerning this Way, began to put the [men] off and said: “Whenever Lysias the military commander comes down, I shall decide upon these matters involving YOU.” 23 And he ordered the army officer that the man be kept and have some relaxation [of custody], and that he forbid no one of his people to wait upon him.

24 Some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla his wife, who was a Jewess, and he sent for Paul and listened to him on the belief in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he talked about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and answered: “For the present go your way, but when I get an opportune time I shall send for you again.” 26 At the same time, though, he was hoping for money to be given him by Paul. On that account he sent for him even more frequently and would converse with him. 27 But, when two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and because Felix desired to gain favor with the Jews, he left Paul bound.

Therefore Festus, after entering upon the [government of the] province, went up three days later to Jerusalem from Caesarea; 2 and the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews gave him information against Paul. So they began to entreat him, 3 asking for themselves as a favor against the [man] that he would send for him to come to Jerusalem, as they were laying an ambush to do away with him along the road. 4 However, Festus answered that Paul was to be kept in Caesarea and that he himself was about to depart shortly for there. 5 “Hence let those who are in power among YOU,” he said, “come down with me and accuse him, if there is anything out of the way about the man.”

6 So when he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he sat down on the judgment seat and commanded Paul to be brought in. 7 When he arrived, the Jews that had come down from Jerusalem stood round about him, leveling against him many and serious charges for which they were unable to show evidence.

8 But Paul said in defense: “Neither against the Law of the Jews nor against the temple nor against Caesar have I committed any sin.” 9 Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, said in reply to Paul: “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be judged there before me concerning these things?” 10 But Paul said: “I am standing before the judgment seat of Caesar, where I ought to be judged. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also are finding out quite well. 11 If, on the one hand, I am really a wrongdoer and have committed anything deserving of death, I do not beg off from dying; if, on the other hand, none of those things exists of which these [men] accuse me, no man can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal to Caesar!” 12 Then Festus, after speaking with the assembly of counselors, replied: “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived in Caesarea for a visit of courtesy to Festus. 14 So, as they were spending a number of days there, Festus laid before the king the matters respecting Paul, saying:

“There is a certain man left prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the older men of the Jews brought information about him, asking a judgment of condemnation against him. 16 But I replied to them that it is not Roman procedure to hand any man over as a favor before the accused man meets his accusers face to face and gets a chance to speak in his defense concerning the complaint. 17 Therefore when they got together here, I made no delay, but the next day I sat down on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 Taking the stand, the accusers produced no charge of the wicked things I had supposed concerning him. 19 They simply had certain disputes with him concerning their own worship of the deity and concerning a certain Jesus who was dead but who Paul kept asserting was alive. 20 So, being perplexed as to the dispute over these matters, I proceeded to ask if he would like to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be kept for the decision by the August One, I commanded him to be kept until I should send him on up to Caesar.”

22 Here Agrippa [said] to Festus: “I myself would also like to hear the man.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.” 23 Therefore, on the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with much pompous show and entered into the audience chamber together with military commanders as well as men of eminence in the city, and when Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all YOU men who are present with us, YOU are beholding this man concerning whom all the multitude of the Jews together have applied to me both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I perceived he had committed nothing deserving of death. So when this [man] himself appealed to the August One, I decided to send him. 26 But concerning him I have nothing certain to write to [my] Lord. Therefore I brought him forth before YOU, and especially before you, King Agrippa, in order that, after the judicial examination has taken place, I might get something to write. 27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner and not also to signify the charges against him.”