Good News Translation (GNB)
23

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

23.3:
Mt 23.27–28
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!”

5

23.5:
Ex 22.28
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.’ ”

6

23.6:
Acts 26.5
Phil 3.5
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

23.8:
Mt 22.23
Mk 12.18
Lk 20.27
(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.”

The Plot against Paul's Life

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.

Paul is Sent to Governor Felix

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.

24

The Case Against Paul

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.

Paul's Defence before Felix

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.

17

24.17–18:
Acts 21.17–28
“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
24.21:
Acts 23.6
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.

Paul before Felix and Drusilla

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.

25

Paul Appeals to the Emperor

251Three days after Festus arrived in the province, he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders brought their charges against Paul. They begged Festus 3to do them the favour of bringing Paul to Jerusalem, for they had made a plot to kill him on the way. 4Festus answered, “Paul is being kept a prisoner in Caesarea, and I myself will be going back there soon. 5Let your leaders go to Caesarea with me and accuse the man if he has done anything wrong.”

6Festus spent another eight or ten days with them and then went to Caesarea. On the next day he sat down in the court of judgement and ordered Paul to be brought in. 7When Paul arrived, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem stood round him and started making many serious charges against him, which they were not able to prove. 8But Paul defended himself: “I have done nothing wrong against the Law of the Jews or against the Temple or against the Roman Emperor.”

9But Festus wanted to gain favour with the Jews, so he asked Paul, “Would you be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried on these charges before me there?”

10Paul said, “I am standing before the Emperor's own court of judgement, where I should be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you yourself well know. 11If I have broken the law and done something for which I deserve the death penalty, I do not ask to escape it. But if there is no truth in the charges they bring against me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to the Emperor.”

12Then Festus, after conferring with his advisers, answered, “You have appealed to the Emperor, so to the Emperor you will go.”

Paul before Agrippa and Bernice

13Some time later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to pay a visit of welcome to Festus. 14After they had been there several days, Festus explained Paul's situation to the king: “There is a man here who was left a prisoner by Felix; 15and when I went to Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and asked me to condemn him. 16But I told them that we Romans are not in the habit of handing over anyone accused of a crime before he has met his accusers face to face and has had the chance of defending himself against the accusation. 17When they came here, then, I lost no time, but on the very next day I sat in the court and ordered the man to be brought in. 18His opponents stood up, but they did not accuse him of any of the evil crimes that I thought they would. 19All they had were some arguments with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus, who has died; but Paul claims that he is alive. 20I was undecided about how I could get information on these matters, so I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. 21But Paul appealed; he asked to be kept under guard and to let the Emperor decide his case. So I gave orders for him to be kept under guard until I could send him to the Emperor.”

22Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”

“You will hear him tomorrow,” Festus answered.

23The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and ceremony and entered the audience hall with the military chiefs and the leading men of the city. Festus gave the order, and Paul was brought in. 24Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here with us: You see this man against whom all the Jewish people, both here and in Jerusalem, have brought complaints to me. They scream that he should not live any longer. 25But I could not find that he had done anything for which he deserved the death sentence. And since he himself made an appeal to the Emperor, I have decided to send him. 26But I have nothing definite about him to write to the Emperor. So I have brought him here before you — and especially before you, King Agrippa! — so that, after investigating his case, I may have something to write. 27For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner without clearly indicating the charges against him.”