Reading: Acts 22:1-29
Text: Acts 22:30-23:11
The Lord is near
Acts 22:1-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Paul’s Defense before the Jews
22 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the [a]Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he *said,
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated [b]under Gamaliel, [c]strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders [d]can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem [e]as prisoners to be punished.
6 “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, 7 and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not [f]understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ 11 But since I could not see because of the [g]brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12 “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And [h]at that very time I looked up at him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an [i]utterance from His mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
17 “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18 and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. 20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ 21 And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22 They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!” 23 And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, 24 the [j]commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way. 25 But when they stretched him out [k]with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it [l]lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the [m]commander and told him, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.” 27 The [n]commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The [o]commander answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” And Paul said, “But I was actually born a citizen.” 29 Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately [p]let go of him; and the [q]commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had [r]put him in chains.
Acts 22:30-23:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
30 But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the [a]Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
Paul before the Council
23 Paul, looking intently at the [b]Council, said, “Brethren, I have [c]lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” 2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the [d]Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” 7 As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 And as a great dissension was developing, the [e]commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”