Acts 21:23-26

Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who [a]are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and [b]pay their expenses so that they may shave their [c]heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from [d]meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul [e]took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

Paul Seized in the Temple

When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from [f]Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was provoked, and [g]the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the [h]commander of the Roman [i]cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the [j]commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the [k]commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the [l]facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the [m]mob; for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!”

As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the [n]commander, “May I say something to you?” And he *said, “Do you know Greek? Then you are not the Egyptian who some [o]time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” But Paul said, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there [p]was a great hush, he spoke to them in the [q]Hebrew dialect, saying,

Paul’s Defense before the Jews

“Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.”

And when they heard that he was addressing them in the [r]Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he *said,

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated [s]under Gamaliel, [t]strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders [u]can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem [v]as prisoners to be punished.

“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not [w]understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ But since I could not see because of the [x]brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And [y]at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an [z]utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

“It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’

They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!” And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, the [aa]commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way. But when they stretched him out [ab]with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it [ac]lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the [ad]commander and told him, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.” The [ae]commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.” The [af]commander answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” And Paul said, “But I was actually born a citizen.” Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately [ag]let go of him; and the [ah]commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had [ai]put him in chains.

But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the [aj]Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Paul before the Council

Paul, looking intently at the [ak]Council, said, “Brethren, I have [al]lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the [am]Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the [an]commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.

But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”

A Conspiracy to Kill Paul

When it was day, the Jews formed a [ao]conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who formed this plot. They came to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn oath to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. Now therefore, you [ap]and the [aq]Council notify the [ar]commander to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case by a more thorough investigation; and we for our part are ready to slay him before he comes near the place.”

But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, [as]and he came and entered the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Lead this young man to the [at]commander, for he has something to report to him.” So he took him and led him to the [au]commander and *said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to lead this young man to you since he has something to tell you.” The [av]commander took him by the hand and stepping aside, began to inquire of him privately, “What is it that you have to report to me?” And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down tomorrow to the [aw]Council, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more thoroughly about him. So do not [ax]listen to them, for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they slay him; and now they are ready and waiting for the promise from you.” So the [ay]commander let the young man go, instructing him, “Tell no one that you have notified me of these things.”

Paul Moved to Caesarea

And he called to him two of the centurions and said, “Get two hundred soldiers ready by [az]the third hour of the night to proceed to Caesarea, [ba]with seventy horsemen and two hundred [bb]spearmen.” They were also to provide mounts to put Paul on and bring him safely to Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter having this form:

“Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, greetings.

“When this man was arrested by the Jews and was about to be slain by them, I came up to them with the troops and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. “And wanting to ascertain the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their [bc]Council; and I found him to be accused over questions about their Law, but [bd]under no accusation deserving death or [be]imprisonment.

“When I was informed that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, also instructing his accusers to [bf]bring charges against him before you.”

So the soldiers, in accordance with their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. But the next day, leaving the horsemen to go on with him, they returned to the barracks. When these had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. When he had read it, he asked from what province he was, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia, he said, “I will give you a hearing after your accusers arrive also,” giving orders for him to be kept in Herod’s [bg]Praetorium.

Paul before Felix

After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, [bh]with an [bi]attorney named Tertullus, and they [bj]brought charges to the governor against Paul. After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor,

“Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you [bk]to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout [bl]the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and [bm]then we arrested him. [[bn]We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, ordering his accusers to come before you.] By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.

When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:

“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing [bo]a riot. Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve [bp]the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also [bq]do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. Now after several years I came to bring [br]alms to my nation and to present offerings; in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from [bs]Asia— who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the [bt]Council, other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”

But Felix, [bu]having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the [bv]commander comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.

But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his [bw]wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. But after two years had passed, Felix [bx]was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.

Paul before Festus

Festus then, having arrived in the province, three days later went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and they were urging him, requesting a [by]concession against [bz]Paul, that he might [ca]have him brought to Jerusalem (at the same time, setting an ambush to kill him on the way). Festus then answered that Paul was being kept in custody at Caesarea and that he himself was about to leave shortly. “Therefore,” he *said, “let the influential men among you [cb]go there with me, and if there is anything wrong [cc]about the man, let them [cd]prosecute him.”

After he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove, while Paul said in his own defense, “I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and [ce]stand trial before me on these charges?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know. If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then when Festus had conferred with [cf]his council, he answered, “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go.”

Now when several days had elapsed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea [cg]and paid their respects to Festus. While they were spending many days there, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man who was left as a prisoner by Felix; and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges. So after they had assembled here, I did not delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought before me. When the accusers stood up, they began bringing charges against him not of such crimes as I was expecting, but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own [ch]religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive. Being at a loss how to investigate [ci]such matters, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these matters. But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for [cj]the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he *said, “you shall hear him.”

Paul before Agrippa

So, on the next day when Agrippa came [ck]together with Bernice amid great pomp, and entered the auditorium [cl]accompanied by the [cm]commanders and the prominent men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. Festus *said, “King Agrippa, and all you gentlemen here present with us, you see this man about whom all the people of the Jews appealed to me, both at Jerusalem and here, loudly declaring that he ought not to live any longer. But I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death; and since he himself appealed to [cn]the Emperor, I decided to send him. [co]Yet I have nothing definite about him to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him before you all and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the investigation has taken place, I may have something to write. For it seems absurd to me in sending a prisoner, not to indicate also the charges against him.”

Paul’s Defense before Agrippa

Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense:

“In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; [cp]especially because you are an expert in all customs and [cq]questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

“So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. And now I am [cr]standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?

“So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is [cs]just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the [ct]saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to [cu]foreign cities.

[cv]While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, [cw]brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the [cx]Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? [cy]It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have [cz]seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; [da]that [db]the Christ was [dc]to suffer, and [dd]that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”


Footnotes
  1. Acts 21:23 Lit have a vow on them
  2. Acts 21:24 Lit spend on them
  3. Acts 21:24 Lit head
  4. Acts 21:25 Lit the thing
  5. Acts 21:26 Or took the men the next day, and purifying himself
  6. Acts 21:27 I.e. west coast province of Asia Minor
  7. Acts 21:30 Lit a running together of the people occurred
  8. Acts 21:31 I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  9. Acts 21:31 Or battalion
  10. Acts 21:32 V 31, note 1
  11. Acts 21:33 V 31, note 1
  12. Acts 21:34 Lit certainty
  13. Acts 21:35 Lit crowd
  14. Acts 21:37 V 31, note 1
  15. Acts 21:38 Lit days
  16. Acts 21:40 Lit occurred
  17. Acts 21:40 I.e. Jewish Aramaic
  18. Acts 22:2 I.e. Jewish Aramaic
  19. Acts 22:3 Lit at the feet of
  20. Acts 22:3 Lit according to the strictness of the ancestral law
  21. Acts 22:5 Lit testifies for me
  22. Acts 22:5 Lit having been bound
  23. Acts 22:9 Or hear (with comprehension)
  24. Acts 22:11 Lit glory
  25. Acts 22:13 Or instantly; lit at the very hour
  26. Acts 22:14 Or message; lit voice
  27. Acts 22:24 I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  28. Acts 22:25 Or for the whip
  29. Acts 22:25 Interrogation by torture was a procedure used with slaves
  30. Acts 22:26 V 24, note 1
  31. Acts 22:27 V 24, note 1
  32. Acts 22:28 V 24, note 1
  33. Acts 22:29 Lit withdrew from
  34. Acts 22:29 V 24, note 1
  35. Acts 22:29 Lit bound him
  36. Acts 22:30 Or Sanhedrin
  37. Acts 23:1 Or Sanhedrin
  38. Acts 23:1 Or conducted myself as a citizen
  39. Acts 23:6 Or Sanhedrin
  40. Acts 23:10 I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  41. Acts 23:12 Or mob
  42. Acts 23:15 Lit with
  43. Acts 23:15 Or Sanhedrin
  44. Acts 23:15 V 10, note 1
  45. Acts 23:16 Or having been present with them, and he entered
  46. Acts 23:17 V 10, note 1
  47. Acts 23:18 V 10, note 1
  48. Acts 23:19 V 10, note 1
  49. Acts 23:20 Or Sanhedrin
  50. Acts 23:21 Lit be persuaded by them
  51. Acts 23:22 V 10, note 1
  52. Acts 23:23 I.e. 9 p.m.
  53. Acts 23:23 Lit and
  54. Acts 23:23 Or slingers or bowmen
  55. Acts 23:28 Or Sanhedrin
  56. Acts 23:29 Lit having
  57. Acts 23:29 Lit bonds
  58. Acts 23:30 Lit speak against him
  59. Acts 23:35 I.e. governor’s official residence
  60. Acts 24:1 Lit and
  61. Acts 24:1 Lit orator
  62. Acts 24:1 Or presented their evidence or case
  63. Acts 24:4 Lit to hear...briefly
  64. Acts 24:5 Lit the inhabited earth
  65. Acts 24:6 Lit also
  66. Acts 24:6 The early mss do not contain the remainder of v 6, v 7, nor the first part of v 8
  67. Acts 24:12 Lit an attack of a mob
  68. Acts 24:14 Lit the ancestral God
  69. Acts 24:16 Lit practice myself
  70. Acts 24:17 Or gifts to charity
  71. Acts 24:18 I.e. west coast province of Asia Minor
  72. Acts 24:20 Or Sanhedrin
  73. Acts 24:22 Lit knowing more accurately
  74. Acts 24:22 I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  75. Acts 24:24 Lit own wife
  76. Acts 24:27 Lit received a successor, Porcius Festus
  77. Acts 25:3 Or favor
  78. Acts 25:3 Lit him
  79. Acts 25:3 Lit send for him to Jerusalem
  80. Acts 25:5 Lit go down
  81. Acts 25:5 Lit in
  82. Acts 25:5 Or accuse
  83. Acts 25:9 Lit be judged
  84. Acts 25:12 A different group from that mentioned in Acts 4:15 and 24:20
  85. Acts 25:13 Lit greeting Festus
  86. Acts 25:19 Or superstition
  87. Acts 25:20 Lit these
  88. Acts 25:21 Lit the Augustus’s (in this case Nero)
  89. Acts 25:23 Lit and Bernice
  90. Acts 25:23 Lit and with
  91. Acts 25:23 I.e. chiliarchs, in command of one thousand troops
  92. Acts 25:25 V 21, note 1
  93. Acts 25:26 Lit About whom I have nothing definite
  94. Acts 26:3 Or because you are especially expert
  95. Acts 26:3 Or controversial issues
  96. Acts 26:6 Lit being tried
  97. Acts 26:10 Lit also
  98. Acts 26:10 Or holy ones
  99. Acts 26:11 Or outlying
  100. Acts 26:12 Lit In which things
  101. Acts 26:13 Lit above the brightness of
  102. Acts 26:14 I.e. Jewish Aramaic
  103. Acts 26:14 An idiom referring to an animal’s futile resistance to being prodded with goads
  104. Acts 26:16 Two early mss read seen Me
  105. Acts 26:23 Lit whether
  106. Acts 26:23 I.e. the Messiah
  107. Acts 26:23 Lit subject to suffering
  108. Acts 26:23 Lit whether

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