Acts 25:13–26:32

Festus Asks King Agrippa for Advice

13 Now after* some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 And while they were staying there many days, Festus laid out the case against Paul to the king, saying, “There is a certain man left behind by Felix as a prisoner, 15 concerning whom when* I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews presented evidence, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 To themb I replied that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up any man before the one who had been accused met his* accusers face to face and received an opportunity for a defense concerning the accusation. 17 Therefore, when* they had assembled here, I made* no delay; on the next day I sat down on the judgment seat and* gave orders for the man to be brought. 18 When they* stood up, his* accusers began bringing* no charge concerning himc of the evil deeds that I was suspecting, 19 but they had some issues with him concerning their own religion, and concerning a certain Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive. 20 And because* I was at a loss with regard to the investigation concerning these things, I asked if he was willing to go to Jerusalem and to be judged there concerning these things. 21 But when* Paul appealed that he be kept under guard for the decision of His Majesty the Emperor, I gave orders for him to be kept under guard until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 So Agrippa said to Festus, “I want to hear the man myself also.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you will hear him.”

23 So on the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pageantry and entered into the audience hall, along with military tribunes and the most prominent men of the city. And when* Festus gave the order, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole population of the Jews appealed to me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he must not live any longer. 25 But I understood that he had done nothing deserving death himself, and when* this man appealed to His Majesty the Emperor, I decided to send him.* 26 I do not have anything definite to write to my* lord about him.d Therefore I have brought him before you all*—and especially before you, King Agrippa—so that after* this preliminary hearing has taken place, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner and not to indicate the charges against him.”

Paul Makes His Defense Before King Agrippa

26 So Agrippa said to Paul, “It is permitted for you to speak for yourself.” Then Paul extended his* hand and* began to defend himself:*

“Concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that before you I am about to defend myself today, because* you are especially acquainted with both all the customs and controversial questions with respect to the Jews. Therefore I beg you* to listen to me with patience.

“Now all the Jews know my manner of life from my youth, that had taken place from the beginning among my own peoplea and in Jerusalem, having known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that in accordance with the strictest party of our religion I lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on the basis of hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve him* night and day. Concerning this hope I am being accused by the Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by you people* that God raises the dead? Indeed, I myself thought it was necessary to do many things opposed to the name of Jesus the Nazarene, 10 which I also did in Jerusalem, and not only did I lock up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when* they were being executed, I cast my voteb against them.* 11 And throughout all the synagogues I punished them often and* tried to force* them* to blaspheme, and because I* was enraged at them beyond measure, I was pursuing them* even as far as to foreign cities. 12 In this activityc I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and full power of the chief priests. 13 In the middle of the day along the road, O king, I saw a light from heaven, more than the brightness of the sun, shining around me and those who were traveling with me. 14 And when* we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Aramaic language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads!’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet, because for this reason I have appeared to you, to appoint you a servant and witness both to the things in which you saw me and to the things in which I will appear to you, 17 rescuing you from the people and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but to those in Damascus first, and in Jerusalem and all the region of Judea and to the Gentiles, I proclaimed that they should repent and turn to God, doing deeds worthy of repentance. 21 On account of these things the Jews seized me ind the temple courts* and* were attempting to kill me.* 22 Therefore I have experienced help from God until this day, and* I stand here testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except what both the prophets and Moses have said were going to happen, 23 that the Christe was to suffer and that as the first of the resurrection from the dead, he was going to proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.”

24 And as* he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your* great learning is drivingf you insane!”g 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but am speaking words of truth and rationality. 26 For the king knows about these things, to whom also I am speaking freely, for I am not convinced that these things in any way have escapedh his notice, because this wasi not donej in a corner. 27 Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa? I know that you believe.” 28 But Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”k 29 And Paul replied, “I pray to God, whether in a short time or in a long time, not only you but also all those who are listening to me today may become such people as I also am, except for these bonds!”

30 Both the king and the governor got up, and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And as they* were going out, they were talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything deserving death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

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