This is part 4 of 4 selections of Bible passages about the persecution of the apostle Paul and the very first Christians, most of whom were alive when Jesus Christ was. Some of them, as in the case of the apostle Peter, had been his disciples.
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Bible topics part 3
Acts chapter 24 (GWT)
1 Five days later the chief priest Ananias went to the city of Caesarea with some leaders of the people and an attorney named Tertullus. They reported to the governor their charges against Paul. 2 When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him. He said to Felix,
"Your Excellency, through your wise leadership we have lasting peace and reforms that benefit the people. 3 We appreciate what you've done in every way and in every place, and we want to thank you very much. 4 I don't want to keep you too long. Please listen to us. We will be brief.
5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker. He starts quarrels among all Jews throughout the world. He's a ringleader of the Nazarene sect. 6 He also entered the temple courtyard in a way that violates our tradition. So we arrested him. 7 8 When you cross-examine him, you'll be able to find out from him that our accusations are true."
9 The Jews supported Tertullus' accusations and asserted that everything Tertullus said was true.
10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul responded,
"I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years. So I'm pleased to present my case to you. 11 You can verify for yourself that I went to Jerusalem to worship no more than twelve days ago. 12 No one found me having a discussion with anyone in the temple courtyard or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues throughout the city. 13 These people cannot even prove their accusations to you. 14 But I'll admit to you that I'm a follower of the way [of Christ], which they call a sect. This means that I serve our ancestors' God and believe everything written in Moses' Teachings and the Prophets. 15 I hope for the same thing my accusers do, that people with God's approval and those without it will come back to life. 16 With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people.
17 After many years I have come back to my people and brought gifts for the poor and offerings [for God]. 18 My accusers found me in the temple courtyard doing these things after I had gone through the purification ceremony. No crowd or noisy mob was present. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia were there. They should be here in front of you to accuse me if they have anything against me. 20 Otherwise, these men who are accusing me should tell what I was charged with when I stood in front of their council. 21 They could accuse me of only one thing. As I stood among them, I shouted, 'I'm being tried in front of you because [I believe that] the dead will come back to life.'"
22 Felix knew the way [of Christ] rather well, so he adjourned the trial. He told them, "When the officer Lysias arrives, I'll decide your case."
23 Felix ordered the sergeant to guard Paul but to let him have some freedom and to let his friends take care of his needs.
24 Some days later Felix arrived with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish.
He sent for Paul and listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discussed the subjects of God's approval, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became afraid and said, "That's enough for now. You can go. When I find time, I'll send for you again."
26 At the same time, Felix was hoping that Paul would give him some money. For that reason, Felix would send for Paul rather often to have friendly conversations with him.
27 Two years passed. Then Porcius Festus took Felix's place. (Since Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.)
Philippians chapter 1 (TEV)
12 I want you to know, my friends, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. 13 As a result, the whole palace guard and all the others here know that I am in prison because I am a servant of Christ. 14 And my being in prison has given most of the believers more confidence in the Lord, so that they grow bolder all the time to preach the message fearlessly.
15 Of course some of them preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will. 16 These do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel. 17 The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison. 18 It does not matter! I am happy about it-just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy, 19 because I know that by means of your prayers and the help which comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ I shall be set free.
20 My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.
21 For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more. 22 But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. 23 I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; 24 but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. 25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that when I am with you again, you will have even more reason to be proud of me in your life in union with Christ Jesus.
27 Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians chapter 1 (NLT)
28 Don't be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle.
Acts chapter 25 (GWT)
1 Three days after Festus took over his duties in the province of Judea, he went from the city of Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 The chief priests and the other important Jewish leaders informed Festus about their charges against Paul. They were urging 3 Festus to do them the favor of having Paul brought to Jerusalem. The Jews had a plan to ambush and kill Paul as he traveled to Jerusalem. 4 Festus replied that he would be returning to Caesarea soon and would keep Paul there. 5 He told them,
"Have your authorities come to Caesarea with me and accuse him there if the man has done something wrong."
6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten days at the most and then returned to Caesarea.
The next day Festus took his place in court and summoned Paul. 7 When Paul entered the room, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem surrounded him. They made a lot of serious accusations that they couldn't prove.
8 Paul defended himself by saying, "I haven't broken any Jewish law or done anything against the temple or the emperor."
9 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he asked Paul, "Are you willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on these charges with me as your judge?"
10 Paul said, "I am standing in the emperor's court where I must be tried. I haven't done anything wrong to the Jews, as you know very well. 11 If I am guilty and have done something wrong for which I deserve the death penalty, I don't reject the idea of dying. But if their accusations are untrue, no one can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal my case to the emperor!"
12 Festus discussed the appeal with his advisers and then replied to Paul,
"You have appealed your case to the emperor, so you'll go to the emperor!"
Acts chapter 25 (NLT)
13 A few days later King Agrippa arrived with his sister, Bernice, to pay their respects to Festus. 14 During their stay of several days, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. "There is a prisoner here," he told him, "whose case was left for me by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and other Jewish leaders pressed charges against him and asked me to sentence him. 16 Of course, I quickly pointed out to them that Roman law does not convict people without a trial. They are given an opportunity to defend themselves face to face with their accusers.
17 "When they came here for the trial, I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. 18 But the accusations made against him weren't at all what I expected. 19 It was something about their religion and about someone called Jesus who died, but whom Paul insists is alive. 20 I was perplexed as to how to conduct an investigation of this kind, and I asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial on these charges in Jerusalem. 21 But Paul appealed to the emperor. So I ordered him back to jail until I could arrange to send him to Caesar."
22 "I'd like to hear the man myself," Agrippa said. And Festus replied, "You shall - tomorrow!"
23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in.
24 Then Festus said, "King Agrippa and all present, this is the man whose death is demanded both by the local Jews and by those in Jerusalem. 25 But in my opinion he has done nothing worthy of death. However, he appealed his case to the emperor, and I decided to send him. 26 But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no real charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write. 27 For it doesn't seem reasonable to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!"
Acts chapter 26 (NLT)
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak in your defense."So Paul, with a gesture of his hand, started his defense:
2 "I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3 for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
4 "As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. 6 Now I am on trial because I am looking forward to the fulfillment of God's promise made to our ancestors. 7 In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, O king, they say it is wrong for me to have this hope! 8 Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
9 "I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.
12 "One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to fight against my will.'
15 "'Who are you, sir?' I asked.
"And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you. 17 And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles, 18 to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God's people, who are set apart by faith in me.'
19 "And so, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must turn from their sins and turn to God - and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God protected me so that I am still alive today to tell these facts to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen - 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead as a light to Jews and Gentiles alike."
24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, "Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!"
25 But Paul replied, "I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. I am speaking the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do - " 28 Agrippa interrupted him. "Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?"
29 Paul replied, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains."
30 Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. 31 As they talked it over they agreed, "This man hasn't done anything worthy of death or imprisonment." 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, "He could be set free if he hadn't appealed to Caesar!"
Acts chapter 27 (TEV)
1 When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to Julius, an officer in the Roman army regiment called "The Emperor's Regiment." 2 We 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.
3 The 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.
4 We went on from there, and because the winds were blowing against us, we sailed on the sheltered side of the island of Cyprus. 5 We crossed over the sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia and came to Myra in Lycia. 6 There the officer found a ship from Alexandria that was going to sail for Italy, so he put us aboard. 7 We sailed slowly for several days and with great difficulty finally arrived off the town of Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any farther in that direction, so we sailed down the sheltered side of the island of Crete, passing by Cape Salmone. 8 We kept close to the coast and with great difficulty came to a place called Safe Harbors, not far from the town of Lasea. 9 We 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." 11 But the army officer was convinced by what the captain and the owner of the ship said, and not by what Paul said.
12 The harbor was not a good one to spend the winter in; so almost everyone was in favor of putting out to sea and trying to reach Phoenix, if possible, in order to spend the winter there. Phoenix is a harbor in Crete that faces southwest and northwest. 13 A 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. 14 But soon a very strong wind-the one called "Northeaster"-blew down from the island. 15 It 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. 16 We 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. 17 They pulled it aboard and then fastened some ropes tight around 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. 18 The violent storm continued, so on the next day they began to throw some of the ship's cargo overboard, 19 and on the following day they threw part of the ship's equipment overboard. 20 For 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.
21 After everyone had gone a long time without food, Paul stood before them and said, "You should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete; then we would have avoided all this damage and loss. 22 But now I beg you, take courage! Not one of you will lose your life; only the ship will be lost. 23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me 24 and 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.' 25 So take courage, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told. 26 But we will be driven ashore on some island."
27 It was the fourteenth night, and we were being driven in the Mediterranean by the storm. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were getting close to land. 28 So they dropped a line with a weight tied to it and found that the water was one hundred and twenty feet deep; a little later they did the same and found that it was ninety feet deep. 29 They 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. 30 Then 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. 31 But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, "If the sailors don't stay on board, you have no hope of being saved." 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the boat and let it go.
33 Just 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 a thing. 34 I beg you, then, eat some food; you need it in order to survive. Not even a hair of your heads will be lost." 35 After saying this, Paul took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and began to eat. 36 They took courage, and every one of them also ate some food. 37 There was a total of 276 of us on board. 38 After everyone had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing all the wheat into the sea.
39 When 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. 40 So 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. 41 But 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. 42 The soldiers made a plan to kill all the prisoners, in order to keep them from swimming ashore and escaping. 43 But the army officer wanted to save Paul, so he stopped them from doing this. Instead, he ordered everyone who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore; 44 the 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.
Acts chapter 28 (TEV)
1 When we were safely ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives there were very friendly to us. It had started to rain and was cold, so they built a fire and made us all welcome. 3 Paul 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. 4 The 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." 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire without being harmed at all. 6 They 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!"
7 Not far from that place were some fields that belonged to Publius, the chief of the island. He welcomed us kindly and for three days we were his guests. 8 Publius' father was in bed, sick with fever and dysentery. Paul went into his room, prayed, placed his hands on him, and healed him. 9 When this happened, all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10 They gave us many gifts, and when we sailed, they put on board what we needed for the voyage.
11 After three months we sailed away on a ship from Alexandria, called "The Twin Gods," which had spent the winter in the island. 12 We arrived in the city of Syracuse and stayed there for three days. 13 From 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. 14 We found some believers there who asked us to stay with them a week. And so we came to Rome.
15 The 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.
16 When we arrived in Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself with a soldier guarding him.
17 After 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. 18 After questioning me, the Romans wanted to release me, because they found that I had done nothing for which I deserved to die. 19 But 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. 20 That 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."
21 They 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. 22 But we would like to hear your ideas, because we know that everywhere people speak against this party to which you belong."
23 So they set 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. 24 Some of them were convinced by his words, but others would not believe. 25 So 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! 26 For he said, "Go and say to this people: You will listen and listen, but not understand; you will look and look, but not see, 27 because 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.' "
28 And Paul concluded: "You are to know, then, that God's message of salvation has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen!"
30 For two years Paul lived in a place he rented for himself, and there he welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He preached about the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking with all boldness and freedom.
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|Or go directly to the next in the series: What the Bible and a psychology book say about homosexuality.|