Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 327

Bible text(s)

The Case Against Paul

1Five 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. 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“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 — 21except 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.

Paul Appeals to the Emperor

1Three 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.”

Paul Defends Himself before Agrippa

1Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak on your own behalf.” Paul stretched out his hand and defended himself as follows:

2“King Agrippa! I consider myself fortunate that today I am to defend myself before you from all the things these Jews accuse me of, 3particularly since you know so well all the Jewish customs and disputes. I ask you, then, to listen to me with patience.

4“All the Jews know how I have lived ever since I was young. They know how I have spent my whole life, at first in my own country and then in Jerusalem. 5They have always known, if they are willing to testify, that from the very first I have lived as a member of the strictest party of our religion, the Pharisees. 6And now I stand here to be tried because of the hope I have in the promise that God made to our ancestors — 7the very thing that the twelve tribes of our people hope to receive, as they worship God day and night. And it is because of this hope, Your Majesty, that I am being accused by these Jews! 8Why do you who are here find it impossible to believe that God raises the dead?

9“I myself thought that I should do everything I could against the cause of Jesus of Nazareth. 10That is what I did in Jerusalem. I received authority from the chief priests and put many of God's people in prison; and when they were sentenced to death, I also voted against them. 11Many times I had them punished in the synagogues and tried to make them deny their faith. I was so furious with them that I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

Paul Tells of his Conversion

12“It was for this purpose that I went to Damascus with authority and orders from the chief priests. 13It was on the road at midday, Your Majesty, that I saw a light much brighter than the sun, coming from the sky and shining round me and the men travelling with me. 14All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself by hitting back, like an ox kicking against its owner's stick.’ 15‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. And the Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus, whom you persecute. 16But get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant. You are to tell others what you have seen of me today and what I will show you in the future. 17I will rescue you from the people of Israel and from the Gentiles to whom I will send you. 18You are to open their eyes and turn them from the darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God, so that through their faith in me they will have their sins forgiven and receive their place among God's chosen people.’

Paul Tells of his Work

19“And so, King Agrippa, I did not disobey the vision I had from heaven. 20First in Damascus and in Jerusalem and then in all Judea and among the Gentiles, I preached that they must repent of their sins and turn to God and do the things that would show they had repented. 21It was for this reason that these Jews seized me while I was in the Temple, and they tried to kill me. 22But to this very day I have been helped by God, and so I stand here giving my witness to all, to small and great alike. What I say is the very same thing which the prophets and Moses said was going to happen: 23that the Messiah must suffer and be the first one to rise from death, to announce the light of salvation to the Jews and to the Gentiles.”

24As Paul defended himself in this way, Festus shouted at him, “You are mad, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!”

25Paul answered, “I am not mad, Your Excellency! I am speaking the sober truth. 26King Agrippa! I can speak to you with all boldness, because you know about these things. I am sure that you have taken notice of every one of them, for this thing has not happened hidden away in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do!”

28Agrippa said to Paul, “In this short time do you think you will make me a Christian?”

29“Whether a short time or a long time,” Paul answered, “my prayer to God is that you and all the rest of you who are listening to me today might become what I am — except, of course, for these chains!”

30Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others got up, 31and after leaving they said to each other, “This man has not done anything for which he should die or be put in prison.” 32And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to the Emperor.”

Acts 24:1-26:32GNBOpen in Bible reader
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