Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 63

Acts 25–28, Psalm 2, Proverbs 26

Bible text(s)

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

(Acts 9.1–19; 22.6–16)

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.”

Paul Sails for Rome

1When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to Julius, an officer in the Roman regiment called “The Emperor's Regiment”. 2We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium, which was ready to leave for the seaports of the province of Asia, and we sailed away. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3The next day we arrived at Sidon. Julius was kind to Paul and allowed him to go and see his friends, to be given what he needed. 4We went on from there, and because the winds were blowing against us, we sailed on the sheltered side of the island of Cyprus. 5We crossed over the sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia and came to Myra in Lycia. 6There the officer found a ship from Alexandria that was going to sail for Italy, so he put us aboard.

7We sailed slowly for several days and with great difficulty finally arrived off the town of Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any further in that direction, so we sailed down the sheltered side of the island of Crete, passing by Cape Salmone. 8We kept close to the coast and with great difficulty came to a place called Safe Harbours, not far from the town of Lasea.

9We spent a long time there, until it became dangerous to continue the voyage, for by now the Day of Atonement was already past. So Paul gave them this advice: 10“Men, I see that our voyage from here on will be dangerous; there will be great damage to the cargo and to the ship, and loss of life as well.” 11But the army officer was convinced by what the captain and the owner of the ship said, and not by what Paul said. 12The harbour was not a good one to spend the winter in; so most people were in favour of putting out to sea and trying to reach Phoenix, if possible, in order to spend the winter there. Phoenix is a harbour in Crete that faces south-west and north-west.

The Storm at Sea

13A soft wind from the south began to blow, and the men thought that they could carry out their plan, so they pulled up the anchor and sailed as close as possible along the coast of Crete. 14But soon a very strong wind — the one called “North-easter” — blew down from the island. 15It hit the ship, and since it was impossible to keep the ship headed into the wind, we gave up trying and let it be carried along by the wind. 16We got some shelter when we passed to the south of the little island of Cauda. There, with some difficulty, we managed to make the ship's boat secure. 17They pulled it aboard and then fastened some ropes tight round the ship. They were afraid that they might run into the sandbanks off the coast of Libya, so they lowered the sail and let the ship be carried by the wind. 18The violent storm continued, so on the next day they began to throw some of the ship's cargo overboard, 19and on the following day they threw part of the ship's equipment overboard. 20For many days we could not see the sun or the stars, and the wind kept on blowing very hard. We finally gave up all hope of being saved.

21After those on board had gone a long time without food, Paul stood before them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete; then we would have avoided all this damage and loss. 22But now I beg you, take heart! Not one of you will lose your life; only the ship will be lost. 23For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me 24and said, ‘Don't be afraid, Paul! You must stand before the Emperor. And God in his goodness to you has spared the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ 25So take heart, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told. 26But we will be driven ashore on some island.”

27It was the fourteenth night, and we were being driven about in the Mediterranean by the storm. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were getting close to land. 28So they dropped a line with a weight tied to it and found that the water was forty metres deep; a little later they did the same and found that it was thirty metres deep. 29They were afraid that the ship would go on the rocks, so they lowered four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. 30Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. 31But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don't stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.” 32So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the boat and let it go.

33Just before dawn, Paul begged them all to eat some food: “You have been waiting for fourteen days now, and all this time you have not eaten anything. 34I beg you, then, eat some food; you need it in order to survive. Not even a hair of your heads will be lost.” 35After saying this, Paul took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and began to eat. 36They took heart, and every one of them also ate some food. 37There was a total of 276 of us on board. 38After everyone had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing all the wheat into the sea.

The Shipwreck

39When day came, the sailors did not recognize the coast, but they noticed a bay with a beach and decided that, if possible, they would run the ship aground there. 40So they cut off the anchors and let them sink in the sea, and at the same time they untied the ropes that held the steering oars. Then they raised the sail at the front of the ship so that the wind would blow the ship forward, and we headed for shore. 41But the ship hit a sandbank and went aground; the front part of the ship got stuck and could not move, while the back part was being broken to pieces by the violence of the waves.

42The soldiers made a plan to kill all the prisoners, in order to keep them from swimming ashore and escaping. 43But the army officer wanted to save Paul, so he stopped them from doing this. Instead, he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore; 44the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore.

In Malta

1When we were safely ashore, we learnt that the island was called Malta. 2The natives there were very friendly to us. It had started to rain and was cold, so they lit a fire and made us all welcome. 3Paul gathered up a bundle of sticks and was putting them on the fire when a snake came out on account of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. 4The natives saw the snake hanging on Paul's hand and said to one another, “This man must be a murderer, but Fate will not let him live, even though he escaped from the sea.” 5But Paul shook the snake off into the fire without being harmed at all. 6They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after waiting for a long time and not seeing anything unusual happening to him, they changed their minds and said, “He is a god!”

7Not far from that place were some fields that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us kindly and for three days we were his guests. 8Publius' father was in bed, sick with fever and dysentery. Paul went into his room, prayed, placed his hands on him, and healed him. 9When this happened, all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10They gave us many gifts, and when we sailed, they put on board what we needed for the voyage.

From Malta to Rome

11After three months we sailed away on a ship from Alexandria, called “The Twin Gods”, which had spent the winter in the island. 12We arrived in the city of Syracuse and stayed there for three days. 13From there we sailed on and arrived in the city of Rhegium. The next day a wind began to blow from the south, and in two days we came to the town of Puteoli. 14We found some believers there who asked us to stay with them a week. And so we came to Rome. 15The believers in Rome heard about us and came as far as the towns of Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was greatly encouraged.

In Rome

16When we arrived in Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself with a soldier guarding him.

17After three days Paul called the local Jewish leaders to a meeting. When they had gathered, he said to them, “My fellow-Israelites, even though I did nothing against our people or the customs that we received from our ancestors, I was made a prisoner in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18After questioning me, the Romans wanted to release me, because they found that I had done nothing for which I deserved to die. 19But when the Jews opposed this, I was forced to appeal to the Emperor, even though I had no accusation to make against my own people. 20That is why I asked to see you and talk with you. As a matter of fact, I am bound in chains like this for the sake of him for whom the people of Israel hope.”

21They said to him, “We have not received any letters from Judea about you, nor have any of our people come from there with any news or anything bad to say about you. 22But we would like to hear your ideas, because we know that everywhere people speak against this party to which you belong.”

23So they fixed a date with Paul, and a large number of them came that day to the place where Paul was staying. From morning till night he explained to them his message about the Kingdom of God, and he tried to convince them about Jesus by quoting from the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets. 24Some of them were convinced by his words, but others would not believe. 25So they left, disagreeing among themselves, after Paul had said this one thing: “How well the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah to your ancestors! 26For he said,

‘Go and say to this people:

You will listen and listen, but not understand;

you will look and look, but not see,

27because this people's minds are dull,

and they have stopped up their ears

and closed their eyes.

Otherwise, their eyes would see,

their ears would hear,

their minds would understand,

and they would turn to me, says God,

and I would heal them.’ ”

28And Paul concluded: “You are to know, then, that God's message of salvation has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen!”

30For two years Paul lived in a place he rented for himself, and there he welcomed all who came to see him. 31He preached about the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking with all boldness and freedom.

God's Chosen King

1Why do the nations plan rebellion?

Why do people make their useless plots?

2Their kings revolt,

their rulers plot together against the LORD

and against the king he chose.

3“Let us free ourselves from their rule,” they say;

“let us throw off their control.”

4From his throne in heaven the Lord laughs

and mocks their feeble plans.

5Then he warns them in anger

and terrifies them with his fury.

6“On Zion, my sacred hill,” he says,

“I have installed my king.”

7“I will announce,” says the king, “what the LORD has declared.

He said to me: ‘You are my son;

today I have become your father.

8Ask, and I will give you all the nations;

the whole earth will be yours.

9You will break them with an iron rod;

you will shatter them in pieces like a clay pot.’ ”

10Now listen to this warning, you kings;

learn this lesson, you rulers of the world:

11Serve the LORD with fear;

12tremble and bow down to him;

or else his anger will be quickly aroused,

and you will suddenly die.

Happy are all who go to him for protection.

1Praise for a fool is out of place, like snow in summer or rain at harvest time.

2Curses cannot hurt you unless you deserve them. They are like birds that fly by and never settle.

3You have to whip a horse, you have to bridle a donkey, and you have to beat a fool.

4If you answer a silly question, you are just as silly as the person who asked it.

5Give a silly answer to a silly question, and the one who asked it will realize that he's not as clever as he thinks.

6If you let a fool deliver a message, you might as well cut off your own feet; you are asking for trouble.

7A fool can use a proverb about as well as crippled people can use their legs.

8Praising someone who is stupid makes as much sense as tying a stone in a sling.

9A fool quoting a wise saying reminds you of a drunk trying to pick a thorn out of his hand.

10An employer who hires any fool that comes along is only hurting everybody concerned.

11A fool doing some stupid thing a second time is like a dog going back to its vomit.

12The most stupid fool is better off than someone who thinks he is wise when he is not.

13Why don't lazy people ever get out of the house? What are they afraid of? Lions?

14Lazy people turn over in bed. They get no farther than a door swinging on its hinges.

15Some people are too lazy to put food in their own mouths.

16A lazy person will think he is more intelligent than seven people who can give good reasons for their opinions.

17Getting involved in an argument that is none of your business is like going down the street and grabbing a dog by the ears.

18-19Someone who misleads someone else and then claims that he was only joking is like a mad person playing with a deadly weapon.

20Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarrelling stops.

21Charcoal keeps the embers glowing, wood keeps the fire burning, and troublemakers keep arguments alive.

22Gossip is so tasty! How we love to swallow it!

23Insincere talk that hides what you are really thinking is like a fine glaze on a cheap clay pot.

24A hypocrite hides hatred behind flattering words. 25They may sound fine, but don't believe him, because his heart is filled to the brim with hate. 26He may disguise his hatred, but everyone will see the evil things he does.

27People who set traps for others get caught themselves. People who start landslides get crushed.

28You have to hate someone to want to hurt him with lies. Insincere talk brings nothing but ruin.

Proverbs 26GNBOpen in Bible reader
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