221“My fellow-Jews, listen to me as I make my defence before you!” 2When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew, they became even quieter; and Paul went on:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up here in Jerusalem as a student of Gamaliel. I received strict instruction in the Law of our ancestors and was just as dedicated to God as are all of you who are here today. 4
I persecuted to the death the people who followed this Way. I arrested men and women and threw them into prison. 5The High Priest and the whole Council can prove that I am telling the truth. I received from them letters written to fellow-Jews in Damascus, so I went there to arrest these people and bring them back in chains to Jerusalem to be punished.
6“As I was travelling and coming near Damascus, about midday a bright light from the sky flashed suddenly round me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ 8‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute,’ he said to me. 9The men with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10I asked, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ and the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that God has determined for you to do.’ 11I was blind because of the bright light, and so my companions took me by the hand and led me into Damascus.
12“In that city was a man named Ananias, a religious man who obeyed our Law and was highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13He came to me, stood by me, and said, ‘Brother Saul, see again!’ At that very moment I saw again and looked at him. 14He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see his righteous Servant, and to hear him speaking with his own voice. 15For you will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16And now, why wait any longer? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him.’
17“I went back to Jerusalem, and while I was praying in the Temple, I had a vision, 18in which I saw the Lord, as he said to me, ‘Hurry and leave Jerusalem quickly, because the people here will not accept your witness about me.’ 19‘Lord,’ I answered, ‘they know very well that I went to the synagogues and arrested and beat those who believe in you. 20
And when your witness Stephen was put to death, I myself was there, approving of his murder and taking care of the cloaks of his murderers.’ 21‘Go,’ the Lord said to me, ‘for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
22The people listened to Paul until he said this; but then they started shouting at the top of their voices, “Away with him! Kill him! He's not fit to live!” 23They were screaming, waving their clothes, and throwing dust up in the air. 24The Roman commander ordered his men to take Paul into the fort, and he told them to whip him in order to find out why the Jews were screaming like this against him. 25But when they had tied him up to be whipped, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried for any crime?”
26When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked him, “What are you doing? That man is a Roman citizen!”
27So the commander went to Paul and asked him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes,” answered Paul.
28The commander said, “I became one by paying a large amount of money.”
“But I am one by birth,” Paul answered.
29At once the men who were going to question Paul drew back from him; and the commander was frightened when he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had put him in chains.
30The commander wanted to find out for certain what the Jews were accusing Paul of; so the next day he had Paul's chains taken off and ordered the chief priests and the whole Council to meet. Then he took Paul and made him stand before them.
231Paul looked straight at the Council and said, “My fellow-Israelites! My conscience is perfectly clear about the way in which I have lived before God to this very day.” 2The High Priest Ananias ordered those who were standing close to Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3
Paul said to him, “God will certainly strike you — you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the Law, yet you break the Law by ordering them to strike me!”
4The men close to Paul said to him, “You are insulting God's High Priest!”
Paul answered, “My fellow-Israelites, I did not know that he was the High Priest. The scripture says, ‘You must not speak evil of the ruler of your people.’ ”
When Paul saw that some of the group were Sadducees and the others were Pharisees, he called out in the Council, “Fellow-Israelites! I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees. I am on trial here because of the hope I have that the dead will rise to life!”
7As soon as he said this, the Pharisees and Sadducees started to quarrel, and the group was divided. 8
(For the Sadducees say that people will not rise from death and that there are no angels or spirits; but the Pharisees believe in all three.) 9The shouting became louder, and some of the teachers of the Law who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and protested strongly: “We cannot find anything wrong with this man! Perhaps a spirit or an angel really did speak to him!”
10The argument became so violent that the commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces. So he ordered his soldiers to go down into the group, get Paul away from them, and take him into the fort.
11That night the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Don't be afraid! You have given your witness for me here in Jerusalem, and you must also do the same in Rome.”
12The next morning some Jews met together and made a plan. They took a vow that they would not eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul. 13There were more than forty who planned this together. 14Then they went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn vow together not to eat a thing until we have killed Paul. 15Now then, you and the Council send word to the Roman commander to bring Paul down to you, pretending that you want to get more accurate information about him. But we will be ready to kill him before he ever gets here.”
16But the son of Paul's sister heard about the plot; so he went to the fort and told Paul. 17Then Paul called one of the officers and said to him, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18The officer took him, led him to the commander, and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to say to you.”
19The commander took him by the hand, led him off by himself, and asked him, “What have you got to tell me?”
20He said, “The Jewish authorities have agreed to ask you tomorrow to take Paul down to the Council, pretending that the Council wants to get more accurate information about him. 21But don't listen to them, because there are more than forty men who will be hiding and waiting for him. They have taken a vow not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are now ready to do it and are waiting for your decision.”
22The commander said, “Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me.” And he sent the young man away.
23Then the commander called two of his officers and said, “Get 200 soldiers ready to go to Caesarea, together with seventy horsemen and 200 spearmen, and be ready to leave by nine o'clock tonight. 24Provide some horses for Paul to ride and get him safely through to the governor Felix.” 25Then the commander wrote a letter that went like this:
26“Claudius Lysias to His Excellency, the governor Felix: Greetings. 27The Jews seized this man and were about to kill him. I learnt that he was a Roman citizen, so I went with my soldiers and rescued him. 28I wanted to know what they were accusing him of, so I took him down to their Council. 29I found out that he had not done anything for which he deserved to die or be put in prison; the accusation against him had to do with questions about their own law. 30And when I was informed that there was a plot against him, at once I decided to send him to you. I have told his accusers to make their charges against him before you.”
31The soldiers carried out their orders. They got Paul and took him that night as far as Antipatris. 32The next day the foot soldiers returned to the fort and left the horsemen to go on with him. 33They took him to Caesarea, delivered the letter to the governor, and handed Paul over to him. 34The governor read the letter and asked Paul what province he was from. When he found out that he was from Cilicia, 35he said, “I will hear you when your accusers arrive.” Then he gave orders for Paul to be kept under guard in the governor's headquarters.
241Five days later the High Priest Ananias went to Caesarea with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. They appeared before Felix and made their charges against Paul. 2Then Paul was called in, and Tertullus began to make his accusation, as follows:
“Your Excellency! Your wise leadership has brought us a long period of peace, and many necessary reforms are being made for the good of our country. 3We welcome this everywhere and at all times, and we are deeply grateful to you. 4I do not want to take up too much of your time, however, so I beg you to be kind and listen to our brief account. 5We found this man to be a dangerous nuisance; he starts riots among Jews all over the world and is a leader of the party of the Nazarenes. 6He also tried to defile the Temple, and we arrested him.24.6 Some manuscripts add verses 6b–8a: We planned to judge him according to our own law, 7 but Lysias the commander came, and with great violence took him from us. 8 Then Lysias gave orders that his accusers should come before you. 8If you question this man, you yourself will be able to learn from him all the things that we are accusing him of.” 9The Jews joined in the accusation and said that all this was true.
10The governor then motioned to Paul to speak, and Paul said,
“I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years, and so I am happy to defend myself before you. 11As you can find out for yourself, it was no more than twelve days ago that I went to Jerusalem to worship. 12The Jews did not find me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor did they find me stirring up the people, either in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13Nor can they give you proof of the accusations they now bring against me. 14I do admit this to you: I worship the God of our ancestors by following that Way which they say is false. But I also believe in everything written in the Law of Moses and the books of the prophets. 15I have the same hope in God that these themselves have, namely, that all people, both the good and the bad, will rise from death. 16And so I do my best always to have a clear conscience before God and human beings.
“After being away from Jerusalem for several years, I went there to take some money to my own people and to offer sacrifices. 18It was while I was doing this that they found me in the Temple after I had completed the ceremony of purification. There was no crowd with me and no disorder. 19But some Jews from the province of Asia were there; they themselves ought to come before you and make their accusations if they have anything against me. 20Or let these who are here tell what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before the Council — 21
except for the one thing I called out when I stood before them: ‘I am being tried by you today for believing that the dead will rise to life.’ ”
22Then Felix, who was well informed about the Way, brought the hearing to a close. “When Lysias the commander arrives,” he told them, “I will decide your case.” 23He ordered the officer in charge of Paul to keep him under guard, but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to provide for his needs.
24After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he talked about faith in Christ Jesus. 25But as Paul went on discussing about goodness, self-control, and the coming Day of Judgement, Felix was afraid and said, “You may leave now. I will call you again when I get the chance.” 26At the same time he was hoping that Paul would give him some money; and for this reason he would often send for him and talk with him.
27After two years had passed, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor. Felix wanted to gain favour with the Jews so he left Paul in prison.