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Acts 23

Paul speaks to the meeting of Jewish leaders

1 Paul looked at the group of Jewish leaders and he said to them, ‘My Jewish friends, God knows that I have nothing to be ashamed about today. I have always respected God's Laws.’ 2 The most important priest, who was called Ananias, heard Paul's words. He said to the men who were near Paul, ‘Hit that man on his mouth!’ 3 Paul said to him, ‘God will certainly hit you! You are a hypocrite! You are sitting there and you are judging me. You are asking if I really obey the Law of God. But you yourself do not obey the Law! You should not have said, “Hit that man!” ’

23:3Paul said that Ananias was like a wall that people had painted with white paint to make it look nice. This showed that Ananias was doing one thing, but he was saying something else. Ananias wanted people to think that he was good. But on the inside he was really dirty.

4 The men who were standing near Paul said to him, ‘You must not say bad things against our most important priest!’

5 Paul replied, ‘My brothers, I did not know that this man is the most important priest. Our Jewish law says, “Do not say bad things against the man who rules your people.” So, I should not have said anything bad against him.’

23:5Brother is a name that a Jew sometimes called another Jew.

6 Then Paul saw that there were some Sadducees and also some Pharisees in the meeting. So he shouted out to the whole group of Jewish leaders, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee! My father was also a Pharisee. I believe that dead people will certainly rise and they will live again. That is the reason why you are judging me today.’

7 As soon as Paul said that, the Pharisees and Sadducees began to argue with each other. People in the group thought different things about Paul. 8 (The Sadducees do not believe that dead people will live again. They do not believe that there are angels or spirits. But the Pharisees believe in all these things.)

9 The Sadducees and the Pharisees began to shout louder and louder against each other. There were some teachers of God's Law who were in the group of Pharisees. They stood up in the meeting and they said, ‘We do not believe that this man has done anything wrong. What he says may be true. A spirit or an angel may have spoken to him.’

10 The two groups argued more and more strongly. The leader of the soldiers thought that the people there might hurt Paul badly. So he said to his soldiers, ‘Go down into the group and take Paul away from them. Take him back with you into our strong building.’

11 The next night, the Lord Jesus came and he stood near Paul. He said to Paul, ‘Do not be afraid! You have told people here in Jerusalem about me. You must also do the same thing in Rome.’

The Jews in Jerusalem decide to kill Paul

12 The next morning, a group of Jews talked together about how they might kill Paul. They agreed to make a promise to God. They would not eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul. 13 More than 40 men were in the group that decided this. 14 They went to the leaders of the priests and the important Jews. They said to them, ‘We have agreed together to make a serious promise to God. We will not eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 So, now we want you and the group of Jewish leaders to send a message to the leader of the Roman soldiers. Ask him, “Please bring Paul to the meeting of the Jewish leaders. We want to know more about the wrong things that he has done.” That will be the message. But, we will wait for Paul and we will be ready to kill him. We will do this before he arrives here at the meeting.’

16 But the son of Paul's sister heard what the Jews had decided to do. He went into the soldiers' building and he told Paul about it.

17 So Paul asked one of the soldiers' officers to come to him. He said, ‘Please take this young man to your leader. He has something important to tell him.’ 18 Then the officer led the young man to the soldiers' leader. He said to him, ‘Paul, who is here in the prison, spoke to me. He asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to tell you.’

19 The leader of the soldiers held the young man's hand and he led him to another place. When they were alone, he asked the young man, ‘What do you want to tell me?’

20 The young man said, ‘Some Jewish men have agreed together to send a message to you. They will ask you to take Paul down to the meeting of the Jewish leaders tomorrow. They will say that they want to ask him more questions. But that is not true. 21 Do not agree to do what they want. There are more than 40 men who will be hiding somewhere. They are waiting for Paul. They have made a serious promise to God. They will not eat or drink anything until they have killed Paul. They are now ready to do this. They will be waiting to hear your answer.’

22 The leader of the soldiers said to him, ‘Do not tell anybody that you told me about this.’ Then he sent the young man away.

The soldiers' leader sends Paul to Felix

23 Then the soldiers' leader told two of his officers to come to him. He said to them, ‘Tell 200 of our soldiers to prepare themselves. They must go to Caesarea at 9 o'clock tonight. 70 soldiers who ride on horses must also go. There must also be another 200 soldiers with their weapons. 24 Take some horses for Paul to ride on. Take him to Felix the Roman ruler, and keep him safe on the journey.’

25 Then the soldiers' leader wrote a letter to Felix. He sent this message:

26 ‘I, Claudius Lysias, write this letter. I say “hello” to you, Felix, our great ruler.

27 I am sending this man to you. The Jews took hold of him and they wanted to kill him. I found out that he is a citizen of Rome. Because of that, I took my soldiers and I saved him from them. 28 The Jews said that he had done some wrong things. I wanted to know what was really true, so I took him to a meeting of their leaders. 29 The Jewish leaders said that he had not obeyed their own laws. But that was all. We could not put him in prison or kill him because of these things. That would not be right. 30 But a group of Jews decided to kill him. Someone told me about this, so I decided to send him to you immediately. I have told the Jewish leaders also to come to you in Caesarea. They can then tell you why they say that this man has done bad things.’

31 The soldiers did what their leader had told them to do. They took Paul out from the prison in their building. That night, they took him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day, the soldiers who had walked returned to their building in Jerusalem. But the soldiers who rode horses continued to travel with Paul.

23:32Antipatris was 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Jerusalem. This was a long way for the soldiers to walk in one night. Not many Jews lived between Antipatris and Caesarea. So, after that night, the 200 soldiers could return to Jerusalem. They did not need many soldiers to keep Paul safe after this.

33 When they arrived in Caesarea, they gave the letter to Felix, the ruler. They also brought Paul to him. 34 Felix read the letter and he asked Paul, ‘Which Roman region are you from?’ Paul answered, ‘I am from Cilicia.’ 35 Felix said, ‘When the Jews arrive, they will tell me about you. I will also listen to you. I will decide what is right.’

Felix then said to his soldiers, ‘Put this man in the prison in Herod's house. Guard him carefully!’