November 27

Acts 26:1 — 28:31

Agrippa said to Paul: “You are permitted to speak in behalf of yourself.” Then Paul stretched his hand out and proceeded to say in his defense:

2 “Concerning all the things of which I am accused by Jews, King Agrippa, I count myself happy that it is before you I am to make my defense this day, 3 especially as you are expert on all the customs as well as the controversies among Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

4 “Indeed, as to the manner of life from youth up that I led from [the] beginning among my nation and in Jerusalem, all the Jews 5 that have been previously acquainted with me from the first know, if they but wish to bear witness, that according to the strictest sect of our form of worship I lived a Pharisee. 6 And yet now for the hope of the promise that was made by God to our forefathers I stand called to judgment; 7 whereas our twelve tribes are hoping to attain to the fulfillment of this promise by intensely rendering him sacred service night and day. Concerning this hope I am accused by Jews, O king.

8 “Why is it judged unbelievable among YOU men that God raises up the dead? 9 I, for one, really thought within myself I ought to commit many acts of opposition against the name of Jesus the Nazarene; 10 which, in fact, I did in Jerusalem, and many of the holy ones I locked up in prisons, as I had received authority from the chief priests; and when they were to be executed, I cast my vote against them. 11 And by punishing them many times in all the synagogues I tried to force them to make a recantation; and since I was extremely mad against them, I went so far as to persecuting them even in outside cities.

12 “Amid these efforts as I was journeying to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests, 13 I saw at midday on the road, O king, a light beyond the brilliance of the sun flash from heaven about me and about those journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground I heard a voice say to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? To keep kicking against the goads makes it hard for you.’ 15 But I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 Nevertheless, rise and stand on your feet. For to this end I have made myself visible to you, in order to choose you as an attendant and a witness both of things you have seen and things I shall make you see respecting me; 17 while I deliver you from [this] people and from the nations, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, in order for them to receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those sanctified by [their] faith in me.’

19 “Wherefore, King Agrippa, I did not become disobedient to the heavenly sight, 20 but both to those in Damascus first and to those in Jerusalem, and over all the country of Judea, and to the nations I went bringing the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance. 21 On account of these things Jews seized me in the temple and attempted to slay me. 22 However, because I have obtained the help that is from God I continue to this day bearing witness to both small and great, but saying nothing except things the Prophets as well as Moses stated were going to take place, 23 that the Christ was to suffer and, as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to publish light both to this people and to the nations.”

24 Now as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice: “You are going mad, Paul! Great learning is driving you into madness!” 25 But Paul said: “I am not going mad, Your Excellency Festus, but I am uttering sayings of truth and of soundness of mind. 26 In reality, the king to whom I am speaking with freeness of speech well knows about these things; for I am persuaded that not one of these things escapes his notice, for this thing has not been done in a corner. 27 Do you, King Agrippa, believe the Prophets? I know you believe.” 28 But Agrippa said to Paul: “In a short time you would persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 At this Paul said: “I could wish to God that whether in a short time or in a long time not only you but also all those who hear me today would become men such as I also am, with the exception of these bonds.”

30 And the king rose and so did the governor and Bernice and the men seated with them. 31 But as they withdrew they began talking with one another, saying: “This man practices nothing deserving death or bonds.” 32 Moreover, Agrippa said to Festus: “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Now as it was decided for us to sail away to Italy, they proceeded to hand both Paul and certain other prisoners over to an army officer named Julius of the band of Augustus. 2 Going aboard a boat from Adramyttium that was about to sail to places along the coast of the [district of] Asia, we set sail, there being with us Aristarchus a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3 And the next day we landed at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul with human kindness and permitted him to go to his friends and enjoy [their] care.

4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the [shelter of] Cyprus, because the winds were contrary; 5 and we navigated through the open sea along Cilicia and Pamphylia and put into port at Myra in Lycia. 6 But there the army officer found a boat from Alexandria that was sailing for Italy, and he made us board it. 7 Then, after sailing on slowly quite a number of days and coming to Cnidus with difficulty, because the wind did not let us get on, we sailed under the [shelter of] Crete at Salmone, 8 and coasting along it with difficulty we came to a certain place called Fair Havens, near which was the city Lasea.

9 As considerable time had passed and by now it was hazardous to navigate because even the fast [of atonement day] had already passed by, Paul made a recommendation, 10 saying to them: “Men, I perceive that navigation is going to be with damage and great loss not only of the cargo and the boat but also of our souls.” 11 However, the army officer went heeding the pilot and the shipowner rather than the things said by Paul. 12 Now as the harbor was inconvenient for wintering, the majority advised setting sail from there, to see if they could somehow make it to Phoenix to winter, a harbor of Crete that opens toward the northeast and toward the southeast.

13 Moreover, when the south wind blew softly, they thought they had as good as realized their purpose, and they lifted anchor and began coasting inshore along Crete. 14 After no great while, however, a tempestuous wind called Euroaquilo rushed down upon it. 15 As the boat was violently seized and was not able to keep its head against the wind, we gave way and were borne along. 16 Now we ran under [the shelter of] a certain small island called Cauda, and yet we were hardly able to get possession of the skiff at the stern. 17 But after hoisting it aboard they began using helps to undergird the boat; and being in fear of running aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear and thus were driven along. 18 Yet because we were being violently tossed with the tempest, the following [day] they began to lighten the ship; 19 and the third [day], with their own hands, they threw away the tackling of the boat.

20 When, now, neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no little tempest was lying upon us, all hope of our being saved finally began to be cut off. 21 And when there had been a long abstinence from food, then Paul stood up in the midst of them and said: “Men, YOU certainly ought to have taken my advice and not have put out to sea from Crete and have sustained this damage and loss. 22 Still, now I recommend to YOU to be of good cheer, for not a soul of YOU will be lost, only the boat will. 23 For this night there stood near me an angel of the God to whom I belong and to whom I render sacred service, 24 saying, ‘Have no fear, Paul. You must stand before Caesar, and, look! God has freely given you all those sailing with you.’ 25 Therefore be of good cheer, men; for I believe God that it will be exactly as it has been told me. 26 However, we must be cast ashore on a certain island.”

27 Now as the fourteenth night fell and we were being tossed to and fro on the [sea of] Adria, at midnight the sailors began to suspect they were drawing near to some land. 28 And they sounded the depth and found it twenty fathoms; so they proceeded a short distance and again made a sounding and found it fifteen fathoms. 29 And because of fearing we might be cast somewhere upon the rocks, they cast out four anchors from the stern and began wishing for it to become day. 30 But when the sailors began seeking to escape from the boat and lowered the skiff into the sea under the pretense of intending to let down anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the army officer and the soldiers: “Unless these men remain in the boat, YOU cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

33 Now close to the approach of day Paul began to encourage one and all to take some food, saying: “Today is the fourteenth day YOU have been on the watch and YOU are continuing without food, having taken nothing for yourselves. 34 Therefore I encourage YOU to take some food, for this is in the interest of YOUR safety; for not a hair of the head of one of YOU will perish.” 35 After he said this, he also took a loaf, gave thanks to God before them all and broke it and started eating. 36 So they all became cheerful and themselves began taking some food. 37 Now, all together, we souls in the boat were two hundred and seventy-six. 38 When they had been satisfied with food, they proceeded to lighten the boat by throwing the wheat overboard into the sea.

39 Finally when it became day, they could not recognize the land but they were observing a certain bay with a beach, and on this they were determined, if they could, to beach the boat. 40 So, cutting away the anchors, they let them fall into the sea, at the same time loosing the lashings of the rudder oars and, after hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41 When they lighted upon a shoal washed on each side by the sea, they ran the ship aground and the prow got stuck and stayed immovable, but the stern began to be violently broken to pieces. 42 At this it became the determination of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, that no one might swim away and escape. 43 But the army officer desired to bring Paul safely through and restrained them from their purpose. And he commanded those able to swim to cast themselves into the sea and make it to land first, 44 and the rest to do so, some upon planks and some upon certain things from the boat. And thus it came about that all were brought safely to land.

And when we had made it to safety, then we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 And the foreign-speaking people showed us extraordinary human kindness, for they kindled a fire and received all of us helpfully because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul collected a certain bundle of sticks and laid it upon the fire, a viper came out due to the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the foreign-speaking people caught sight of the venomous creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another: “Surely this man is a murderer, and although he made it to safety from the sea, vindictive justice did not permit him to keep on living.” 5 However, he shook the venomous creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting he was going to swell up with inflammation or suddenly drop dead. After they waited for a long while and beheld nothing hurtful happen to him, they changed their mind and began saying he was a god.

7 Now in the neighborhood of that place the principal man of the island, named Publius, had lands; and he received us hospitably and entertained us benevolently three days. 8 But it happened that the father of Publius was lying down distressed with fever and dysentery, and Paul went in to him and prayed, laid his hands upon him and healed him. 9 After this occurred, the rest of the people on the island who had sicknesses also began to come to him and be cured. 10 And they also honored us with many gifts and, when we were setting sail, they loaded us with things for our needs.

11 Three months later we set sail in a boat from Alexandria that had wintered in the island and with the figurehead “Sons of Zeus.” 12 And putting into port at Syracuse we remained three days, 13 from which place we went around and arrived at Rhegium. And a day later a south wind sprang up and we made it into Puteoli on the second day. 14 Here we found brothers and were entreated to remain with them seven days; and in this way we came toward Rome. 15 And from there the brothers, when they heard the news about us, came to meet us as far as the Marketplace of Appius and Three Taverns and, upon catching sight of them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 When, finally, we entered into Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him.

17 However, three days later he called together those who were the principal men of the Jews. When they had assembled, he proceeded to say to them: “Men, brothers, although I had done nothing contrary to the people or the customs of our forefathers, I was delivered over as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 And these, after making an examination, were desirous of releasing me, as there was no cause for death in me. 19 But when the Jews kept speaking against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, but not as though I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 Really on this account I entreated to see and speak to YOU, for because of the hope of Israel this chain I have around me.” 21 They said to him: “Neither have we received letters concerning you from Judea, nor has anyone of the brothers that has arrived reported or spoken anything wicked about you. 22 But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 They now arranged for a day with him, and they came in greater numbers to him in his lodging place. And he explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some began to believe the things said; others would not believe. 25 So, because they were at disagreement with one another, they began to depart, while Paul made this one comment:

“The holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to YOUR forefathers, 26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “By hearing, YOU will hear but by no means understand; and, looking, YOU will look but by no means see. 27 For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes; that they should never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn back, and I should heal them.”’ 28 Therefore let it be known to YOU that this, the means by which God saves, has been sent out to the nations; they will certainly listen to it.” 29 ——

30 So he remained for an entire two years in his own hired house, and he would kindly receive all those who came in to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance.