Paul on Trial in Caesarea

Acts 23:12-26:32

2312When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13There were more than forty people who had made this conspiracy. 14They came to the chief priests and the elders, and said,

40 SWORN ASSASSINS

We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. 15Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near.

16But Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul. 17Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said,

PAUL

Bring this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to tell him.

18So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer, and said,

A ROMAN OFFICER

Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to tell you.

19The commanding officer took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately,

CLAUDIUS LYSIAS

What is it that you have to tell me?

20He said,

PAUL’S NEPHEW

The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him. 21Therefore don’t yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you.

22So the commanding officer let the young man go, charging him,

CLAUDIUS LYSIAS

Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.

23He called to himself two of the centurions, and said,

CLAUDIUS LYSIAS

Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night.*

24He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor. 25He wrote a letter like this:

CLAUDIUS LYSIAS

26Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.
27This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council. 29I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment. 30When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell.

31So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks. 33When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said,

GOVERNOR FELIX

35I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive.

He commanded that he be kept in Herod’s palace.
241After five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down with certain elders and an orator, one Tertullus. They informed the governor against Paul. 2When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying,

TERTULLUS THE LAWYER

Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that excellent measures are coming to this nation, 3we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4But, that I don’t delay you, I entreat you to bear with us and hear a few words. 5For we have found this man to be a plague, an instigator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane the temple, and we arrested him.* 7* 8*By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.

9The Jews also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so. 10When the governor had beckoned to him to speak, Paul answered,

PAUL

Because I know that you have been a judge of this nation for many years, I cheerfully make my defense, 11seeing that you can recognize that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem. 12In the temple they didn’t find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the synagogues, or in the city. 13Nor can they prove to you the things of which they now accuse me. 14But this I confess to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; 15having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16Herein I also practice always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men. 17Now after some years, I came to bring gifts for the needy to my nation, and offerings; 18amid which certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, not with a mob, nor with turmoil. 19They ought to have been here before you, and to make accusation, if they had anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves say what injustice they found in me when I stood before the council, 21unless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!’

22But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying,

GOVERNOR FELIX

When Lysias, the commanding officer, comes down, I will decide your case.

23He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody, and should have some privileges, and not to forbid any of his friends to serve him or to visit him. 24But after some days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. 25As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered,

GOVERNOR FELIX

Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.

26Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore also he sent for him more often, and talked with him. 27But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.
251Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him, 3asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way. 4However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly.

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

5Let them therefore,

said he,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him.

6When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat, and commanded Paul to be brought. 7When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove, 8while he said in his defense,

PAUL

Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all.

9But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged by me there concerning these things?

10But Paul said,

PAUL

I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 11For if I have done wrong, and have committed anything worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!

12Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go.

13Now when some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus. 14As he stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix; 15about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for a sentence against him. 16To whom I answered that it is not the custom of the Romans to give up any man to destruction, before the accused has met the accusers face to face, and has had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter laid against him. 17When therefore they had come together here, I didn’t delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought. 18Concerning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such things as I supposed; 19but had certain questions against him about their own religion, and about one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20Being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar.

22Agrippa said to Festus,

HEROD AGRIPPA

I also would like to hear the man myself.

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

Tomorrow,

he said,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

you shall hear him.

23So on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers and principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24Festus said,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor I determined to send him. 26Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write. 27For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges against him.

261Agrippa said to Paul,

HEROD AGRIPPA

You may speak for yourself.

Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense.

PAUL

2I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you today concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews, 3especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
4Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, 7which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa! 8Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead?
9I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. 11Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
12Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, 13at noon, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me. 14When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you; 17delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you, 18to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. 21For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me. 22Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, 23how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.

24As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice,

GOVERNOR PORCIUS FESTUS

Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!

25But he said,

PAUL

I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness. 26For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.

28Agrippa said to Paul,

HEROD AGRIPPA

With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?

29Paul said,

PAUL

I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me today, might become such as I am, except for these bonds.

30The king rose up with the governor, and Bernice, and those who sat with them. 31When they had withdrawn, they spoke to one another, saying,

ROMAN AUTHORITIES

This man does nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

32Agrippa said to Festus,

HEROD AGRIPPA

This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

*Acts 23:23 about 9:00 PM
*Acts 24:6 TR adds “We wanted to judge him according to our law,”
*Acts 24:7 TR adds “but the commanding officer, Lysias, came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,”
*Acts 24:8 TR adds “commanding his accusers to come to you.”

DIGGING DEEPER

  • Paul gives his testimony twice in this passage. How does he describe his life before meeting Jesus?
  • How does Paul describe his encounter with Jesus?
  • How does Paul describe his life as a follower of Jesus?
  • Write your own story, including these three elements: your life before Jesus, your encounter with Jesus, and your life as a follower of Jesus. Make a plan to share your story with someone this week.
World English Bible (WEB)
a Public Domain Modern English translation
of the Holy Bible.

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