Acts 22–24; Psalm 133

22 wBrothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.

And when they heard that he was addressing them in xthe Hebrew language,1 they became even more quiet. And he said:

yI am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated zat the feet of aGamaliel2 baccording to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, cbeing zealous for God das all of you are this day. eI persecuted fthis Way gto the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as hthe high priest and ithe whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to jthe brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

kAs I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone 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 lJesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting. mNow those who were with me saw the light but did not understand3 the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, nWhat shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do. 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 And oone Ananias, a devout man paccording to the law, qwell spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 rcame to me, and standing by me said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And sat that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, tThe God of our fathers uappointed you to know his will, vto see wthe Righteous One and xto hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for yyou will be a witness for him to everyone of what zyou have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? aRise and be baptized and bwash away your sins, ccalling on his name.

17 dWhen I had returned to Jerusalem and ewas praying in the temple, I fell into fa trance 18 and saw him saying to me, gMake haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me. 19 And I said, Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another hI imprisoned and ibeat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen jyour witness was being shed, kI myself was standing by and lapproving and kwatching over the garments of those who killed him. 21 And he said to me, Go, for I will send you mfar away to the Gentiles.

Paul and the Roman Tribune

22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, nAway with such a fellow from the earth! For ohe should not be allowed to live. 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into pthe barracks, saying that he should be qexamined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips,4 Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, Is it lawful for you to flog ra man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned? 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen. 27 So the tribune came and said to him, Tell me, are you a Roman citizen? And he said, Yes. 28 The tribune answered, I bought this citizenship for a large sum. Paul said, But I am a citizen by birth. 29 So those who were about sto examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also twas afraid, ufor he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that vhe had bound him.

Paul Before the Council

30 But on the next day, wdesiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, Brothers, xI have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day. And the high priest yAnanias commanded those who stood by him zto strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, God is going to strike you, you awhitewashed bwall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet ccontrary to the law you corder me to be struck? Those who stood by said, Would you revile dGod’s high priest? And Paul said, eI did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, fYou shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.

Now when Paul perceived that one part were gSadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Brothers, hI am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is iwith respect to the jhope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial. And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees ksay that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of lthe scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, mWe find nothing wrong in this man. What nif a spirit or an angel spoke to him? 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into othe barracks.

11 pThe following night qthe Lord stood by him and said, rTake courage, for sas you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must ttestify also in Rome.

A Plot to Kill Paul

12 When it was day, uthe Jews made a plot and vbound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.

16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered wthe barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him. 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, Paul xthe prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you. 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, What is it that you have to tell me? 20 And he said, yThe Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who zhave bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent. 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.

Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night.5 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to aFelix bthe governor. 25 And he wrote a letter to this effect:

26 Claudius Lysias, to chis Excellency the governor Felix, dgreetings. 27 eThis man was seized by the Jews and fwas about to be killed by them fwhen I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, ghaving learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And hdesiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found that he was being accused iabout questions of their law, but jcharged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 kAnd when it was disclosed to me lthat there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, mordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.

31 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they returned to nthe barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. 33 When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what oprovince he was from. And when he learned pthat he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, I will give you a hearing qwhen your accusers arrive. And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s rpraetorium.

Paul Before Felix at Caesarea

24 And safter five days the high priest tAnanias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before uthe governor their case against Paul. And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:

Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, vmost excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain6 you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. For we have found this man a plague, wone who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of xthe sect of the Nazarenes. yHe even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.7 By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.

The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.

10 And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:

Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11 You can verify that zit is not more than twelve days since I awent up bto worship in Jerusalem, 12 and cthey did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13 dNeither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to ethe Way, which they call fa sect, gI worship hthe God of our fathers, believing everything ilaid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 jhaving ka hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be la resurrection mof both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always ntake pains to have a oclear conscience toward both God and man. 17 Now pafter several years qI came to bring alms to rmy nation and to present sofferings. 18 While I was doing this, they found me tpurified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But usome Jews from Asia 19 vthey ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing wthat I cried out while standing among them: It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.

Paul Kept in Custody

22 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of xthe Way, put them off, saying, When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case. 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion that he yshould be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that znone of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.

24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about afaith bin Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned cabout righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, Go away for the present. dWhen I get an opportunity I will summon you. 26 At the same time he hoped ethat money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius fFestus. And gdesiring to do the Jews a favor, hFelix left Paul in prison.


When Brothers Dwell in Unity

A Song of mAscents. Of David.

133  Behold, how good and pleasant it is

when ebrothers dwell in unity!1

It is like the precious foil on gthe head,

running down on the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

running down on hthe collar of his robes!

It is like ithe dew of jHermon,

which falls on kthe mountains of Zion!

For there the Lord lhas commanded the blessing,

life forevermore.