Acts

Written in Greek by Paul's traveling companion, Luke the Physician, about 64-CE.

Chapter 1

1 O TheoPhilus; This is the first account that I've assembled about all the things that Jesus did and taught 2 from the day that he gave his instructions to the Apostles whom he chose by Holy Breath after he'd been raised [from the dead]╔ 3 yes, those to whom he showed himself after his suffering and to whom he provided many proofs during the forty days that they saw him, and during which he spoke to them about things concerning the Kingdom of God.

4 When they were assembled with him, he gave them this order: 'Don't leave JeruSalem, but keep awaiting the promise that was spoken by the Father and which you heard from me. 5 Indeed, John baptized you with water; however, in just a few days you will be baptized in Holy Breath.'

6 Then, when they all met with him, they asked: 'Lord, are you going to restore the Kingdom to IsraEl now?'

7 But he said: 'It isn't your business to know the times and periods over which the Father is in charge. 8 However, you will receive power when the Holy Breath comes over you, and you'll be witnesses of me in JeruSalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.'

9 Well, after he said these things; as they were looking at him, a cloud hid him from their eyes. 10 Then as they were staring into the sky watching him go, {Look!} two men in white clothes stood beside them and said: 11 'Men of Galilee; Why are you standing there looking up into the sky? This Jesus who was taken from you into the sky will return in the same way that you saw him ascending into the sky.'

12 And thereafter, they returned to JeruSalem from that hill called 'the Mount of Olives,' which is close to JeruSalem (the [maximum] legal distance for travel on a Sabbath). 13 And when they entered [the city], they all went to the upper room where they (Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, BarTholomew, Matthew, James [the son] of AlphaEus, Simon the zealous one, and Judas [the son] of James) were staying. 14 And they were all one of mind and purpose as they continued praying, along with some women who had come there with Jesus' mother Mary and his brothers.

15 It was at this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about a hundred and twenty people in all) and said: 16 'Men! Brothers! The scripture had to be fulfilled, which through [God's] Holy Breath foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas (the man who guided those who arrested Jesus, 17 who used to be one of us in sharing in this service, 18 and whose wicked wage was was paid to purchase that field into the middle of which he fell headfirst and burst, causing his intestines to pour out, 19 and which field has become known to everyone living in JeruSalem to this day as Akel Dama – the Field of Blood), 20 that this was written in the scroll of the Psalms:
Let his estate just lie empty;
And may no one else ever live there.
Then, let another take his position
.
21 Therefore, we have this obligation: One of the men who has been with us since the time that the Lord Jesus entered among us until the time that he left us 22 (starting with his baptism by John until the day that he was taken up from us and someone who witnessed his resurrection) should become one of us.'

23 So they asked the two to stand up╔ JoSeph (who is called BarSabbas and was surnamed Justus) and MatThias. 24 Then they prayed, saying: 'O Jehovah, the One who knows the hearts of all men; show us which of these two You've chosen 25 to receive the position of Apostleship that Judas abandoned so he could go his own way.'

26 Then they gave them both lots, and the selected lot fell to MatThias. As the result, he was considered as being with the other eleven Apostles.

Chapter 2

1 Now, toward the end of the day of Pentecost, while they were all observing that celebration, 2 there was a noise that suddenly came from the sky. It sounded like a violent wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which were distributed so that one sat upon each of them, 4 and they all became filled with Holy Breath and started speaking different languages, saying whatever the Breath was telling them to say.

5 Now at the time, there were reverent Jews from every nation under the sky that were staying in JeruSalem. 6 So when this sound happened, a huge crowd gathered and they were all bewildered, because they each heard one of [the disciples] speaking his own language. 7 They were astonished and started to wonder and say, 'These people who are talking are all Galileans, aren't they? 8 So how is it that we're each hearing our own native tongue being spoken?'

9 [Well, there were] Parthinians, Medes, Elamites, MesoPotamians, Judeans, CappaDocians, [and people from] Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, PamPhylia, Egypt, parts of Libya Cyrene, travelers from Rome (Jews and proselytes), 11 Cretans, and Arabians. [They said]: 'We hear them talking about the wonderful things of God in our own language!' 12 Yes, they were all astonished and confused, and they asked each other, 'What's this all about?' 13 However, others joked about them saying, 'They're full of sweet wine!'

14 But Peter stood up beside the eleven, raised his voice, and told them this: 'Men of Judea and all you who live in JeruSalem; I want you to know something╔ listen to what I'm saying to you! 15 They really aren't drunk as you think, because it's only the third hour of the day. 16 What's happening is the thing that was said through the Prophet Joel. 17 For God said:

'In the last days, says The God;
I will pour out My Breath on all flesh,
And your sons and daughters will then prophesy,
Your young men will also have visions,
And the old among you will [see things in] dreams.

18 'Yes, even upon My male servants,
And upon those who are My handmaidens,
I will pour out My Breath in those days,
And then they will all prophesy.

19 'From the skies above, I'll send omens and signs,
With blood, fire, and smoke to the earth down below,
20 Before the great, shining day of the Lord.

'For the sun will be changed into darkness,
And the moon will be changed into blood.
21 Then, all of those will be saved,
Who call on the name of the Lord.'

22 'Men of IsraEl; listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man who was shown to you by God with power, omens, and signs that God performed through him in your midst, as you already know. 23 Yet, you handed this man (who received his advice and his ability to see the future from God) over to men who didn't have the Law, and you nailed him up. 24 But God resurrected him, freeing him from the cords of death, because it wasn't possible for [death] to hold him. 25 Why, David said this about him:

'I've always put Jehovah before me.
And since He is at my right hand,
I will never be shaken.

26 'So, in my heart, I am cheerful,
And with my tongue, I'll rejoice;
For my body finds rest in the hope,
27 That in the grave, You'll not leave me,
And Your loyal one will not see decay.

28 'For the ways of life, You have shown me,
And You'll fill me with joy from Your face.
'

29 'Men! Brothers! It's good to speak to you openly about the patriarch David; for he died, was buried, and his tomb is still with us to this day. 30 Yet, he was a Prophet, and he knew that God had sworn an oath to him that He would put someone on his throne who was the fruit of his loins. 31 So [David] looked into the future and spoke about the resurrection of the Anointed One╔ that he wouldn't be abandoned in the grave and that his flesh wouldn't see decay.

32 'Now this Jesus has been resurrected by God (to which we are all witnesses), 33 and he was elevated to God's right hand, where he received the Holy Breath that the Father had promised. And he's the one who has poured out all of this that you're seeing and hearing!

34 'And although David didn't go to heaven, he said this:

'Jehovah said this to my Lord;
Sit here at My right hand,
35 'Til I set your enemies as a stool for your feet.

36 'So let the entire House of IsraEl know for sure that God appointed this Jesus whom you impaled as the Lord and His Anointed!

37 Well when they heard this, they were stabbed to the heart, and they said to Peter and the other Apostles: 'Men! Brothers! What must we do?'

38 Then Peter told them: 'Repent, and each of you get baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One, so your sins can be forgiven╔ and then you'll receive the gift of the Holy Breath. 39 That's a promise to you, to your children, and to all those who are far away╔ to all those who will be called by our God Jehovah!'

40 Well, he went on and testified to them a lot more, giving them this advice: 'Get saved from this crooked generation!'

41 Then those who welcomed his words were baptized╔ and about three-thousand people were added that day. 42 These continued to attend, listening to the Apostles as they were teaching (although they all participated), and sharing in meals and prayers. 43 Why, everyone there was in awe over the many signs and omens that were happening through the Apostles.

44 Thereafter, all who became believers started sharing everything they had. 45 Why, they even sold their belongings and properties and distributed the proceeds to anyone who was in need. 46 In addition, they also agreed to go to the Temple every day, and afterward they would eat their meals in private homes╔ eating the food happily and with sincere hearts, 47 praising God and finding favor with everyone. And all the while, the Lord kept adding the newly-saved to them each day.

Chapter 3

1 Now, Peter and John had gone to the Temple for the hour of prayer (the ninth hour), 2 and a man was there who had been lame from birth and had to be carried and placed near the Temple gate (the one called Beautiful) every day, to beg from those who were entering the Temple. 3 And when he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he started begging from them. 4 But Peter and John stared at him and said: 'Look at us!'

5 So he looked at them, expecting to get something.

6 Then Peter said: 'I don't have any silver or gold, but I'll give you what I do have╔ in the name of Jesus the Nazarene, the Anointed One, walk!'

7 Then he took him by the right hand and lifted him; and instantly, the soles of his feet and his anklebones were made well. 8 So he jumped up and stood╔ and then he started walking! So he entered the Temple with them, walking, jumping, and praising God.

9 Well, everyone noticed him walking around and praising God, 10 and they started to realize that this was the man who used to sit and beg at the Temple's Beautiful Gate. This astonished them and they were all delighted by what had happened to him. 11 So, as the man was holding onto Peter and John near what was called The Columns of Solomon, all the people came running to them, surprised out of their wits. 12 And when Peter saw this, he said: 'Men of IsraEl; Why are you surprised at this, and why are you staring at us as though we made him walk by our own power or devotion? 13 The God of AbraHam, IsaAc, and Jacob – the God of our ancestors – has glorified His servant Jesus, whom you betrayed and disowned before the face of Pilate, after he had actually decided to release him. 14 Yes, you disowned that holy and righteous man, and you asked [Pilate] to release a man who was a murderer╔ 15 so you killed the Prince of Life! However, God thereafter raised him from the dead, which we all witnessed! 16 And it is because of [our] faith in his name that this man here – whom you see and know – was made well╔ yes, it's because of faith that everything you see has happened!

17 'And now brothers; I know that what you did was done in ignorance╔ which was also true of your rulers. 18 But (just as it was foretold by the mouths of all the Prophets), it was God who caused His Anointed One to endure this, so that it could be fulfilled this way.

19 'So now, repent and turn around to get your sins erased, and that you might see a period of refreshment from Jehovah. 20 Then He will send this one whom He appointed – the Anointed Jesus. 21 However, he must remain in the heavens until the time when everything that God told us through the mouths of the holy [ones] in His age of the Prophets is restored. 22 In fact, it was Moses who said, Jehovah God will raise a Prophet like me from among your brothers, and you must listen to everything that he tells you. 23 Then if the people don't listen to that Prophet, they'll all be destroyed!

24 'Why, all the Prophets from SamuEl on – everyone who spoke – clearly talked about these days. 25 And you are the sons of the Prophets and of the Sacred Agreement that God made with your ancestors, when he told AbraHam: All the families of the earth will be blest by your seed!

26 Therefore, God raised this servant and sent him to you first as a blessing to you, so that each of you might turn from the bad things that you're doing.'

Chapter 4

1 Well, as Peter and John were talking to the people, the Chief Priests, the Temple captains, and the SadDucees came up, 2 and they were very annoyed by the fact that [Peter and John] were teaching the people and telling them how Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. 3 So they had them arrested and held until the next day (since it was already evening). 4 However, many of those who listened to the speech believed, and their numbers grew to about five thousand men.

5 Then the next day, there was a meeting held in JeruSalem that included the rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 along with AnNas the Chief Priest, CaiAphas, John, Alexander, and all the rest of the Chief Priest's relatives. 7 Then they stood [Peter and John] in their midst and asked: 'Who is it that told you and gave you the authority to do these things?'

8 So Peter, filled with Holy Breath, said to them: 'Rulers of the people and elders; 9 If we are being questioned today simply because [we] did a good deed for a handicapped person, and if we are being asked who made him well; 10 then you and all the people of IsraEl should know that it was done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth╔ the Anointed One whom you hung on a pole. For God raised him from the dead and he actually stood next to this man whom you now see here, healthy! 11 Yes, this is the stone that was rejected by you builders, but who has become the head of the corner! 12 Why, salvation doesn't come from anyone else, because there isn't another name that has been given to any man under the heavens that can save us.'

13 And when they saw the confidence of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and common, everyone was amazed. Then they started to recognize them and remember that these men used to be with Jesus. 14 However, as they looked at the man standing next to them who had been cured, they couldn't come up with anything to say. 15 So they sent them outside of the Jewish High-Court hall as they discussed the matter. 16 And they said, 'What will we do with them, for it's a fact that a sign has come through them╔ and everyone in JeruSalem saw it, so we can't deny it! 17 Therefore, to keep this from being spread around among the people, let's threaten them and tell them not to speak to anyone about this name ever again!'

18 So thereafter, they called them back in and warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus anywhere. 19 However, Peter and John replied: 'If it's righteous in God's eyes to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. 20 But we can't stop talking about the things that we've seen and heard!'

21 So after they threatened them a little more, they let them go, because they couldn't find any reason to punish them. [They also chose to do nothing] on account of the people, since they were all praising God over what had happened╔ 22 for the man who was healed was more than forty years old!

23 Well, after they were released, [Peter and John] returned to their [brothers] and reported what the Chief Priests and elders had told them. 24 And on hearing this, they all raised their voices to God together and said: 'O our only King╔ You who made the lands, the skies, the seas, and everything in them. 25 Through Your Breath, You asked by the mouth of our father David (Your servant):
Why are the nations so noisy,
And why do the people think foolish things?

26 Yet, all the kings and rulers of the land have now united against You and against Your Anointed! 27 For a fact; both Herod and Pontius Pilate (these gentiles) have joined with the people of IsraEl in this city against Your Holy servant Jesus, whom You chose 28 to do the things that Your hands and directions commanded.

29 'So, O Lord; Pay attention to their threats and allow Your slaves to keep on speaking Your Word in full confidence, 30 while You stretch out Your hand to do healing, and while signs and omens continue to happen in the name of Your Holy Servant, Jesus.'

31 Well, as they were asking God for this, the place where they were meeting started to shake. Then everyone was filled with the Holy Breath and they started speaking the word of God confidently. 32 As the result, a huge crowd became believers, and they shared [everything, as though having] a single heart and soul. None of them claimed that anything they had was their own, for they shared everything╔ 33 and all the while, the Apostles continued to give a powerful testimony about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as a great manifestation of loving-kindness came over them all. 34 In fact, nobody could be described as being needy among them, because all those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought back the money from the things that they sold, 35 laying it at the feet of the Apostles. Then everything was distributed among them according to each one's needs.

36 Well JoSeph (whom the Apostles called BarNabas╔ which translates as Son of Comfort), who was a Levite and a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a piece of land that he owned and brought in the money, laying it at the feet of the Apostles.

Chapter 5

1 However, a man named AnaNias (along with his wife SapPhira) also sold some property that they owned, 2 but he secretly kept part of the money╔ and his wife also knew about this. Then he brought in part of it and laid it at the feet of the Apostles.

3 But Peter asked: 'AnaNias; Why has the Opposer made you so bold as to try to fool the Holy Breath and to secretly hold back some of the money for the field? 4 As long you owned it, it was yours. And after you sold it, wasn't the money still yours? So, why did you plan to do such a thing in your heart? You should realize that you weren't lying to men, but to God!'

5 And as he heard those words, AnaNias fell to the ground and died, which really frightened everyone who heard about it. 6 Then some of the younger men got up and wrapped him in a cloth, and they carried him outside to be buried.

7 Well, it was about three hours later that his wife came in, and she didn't know what had happened. 8 So Peter asked her: 'Tell me; Did you sell the field for (so much)?'

And she answered, 'Yes, for (so much).'

9 Then Peter said: 'Why did you agree between [the two of] you to test the Spirit of the Lord? Why look! The feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they'll carry you out also.' 10 And at that, she instantly dropped dead at his feet. So when the young men returned, they also found her dead and carried her out to be buried her next to her husband. 11 And after the whole gathering (and everyone else) had heard about this, they were frightened by all that had happened.

12 Thereafter, many signs and omens continued to be performed among the people at the hands of the Apostles, who used to meet among the Columns of Solomon. 13 It's true that no one else had enough courage to join them there; but the people spoke well of them, 14 and large numbers of men and women kept on being added to those who believed in the Lord.

15 [Why, people] even brought their sick out into the main streets and laid them on little beds and cots, so that as Peter passed by, his shadow could fall on some of them. 16 Also, throngs from the cities around JeruSalem kept coming, carrying sick people and those who were bothered by unclean spirits╔ and everyone was cured!

17 However, the High Priest and all those who were with him (particularly those of the sect of SadDucees) became very jealous. 18 So they attacked the Apostles and arrested them, then they locked them up in a public jail. 19 But during the night, Jehovah's messenger opened the doors of the jail and brought them out, saying: 20 'Now, go and keep on standing in the Temple, telling the people everything about The Life.'

21 So after they heard this, they returned to the Temple at daybreak and started teaching again.

Well, when the High Priest and those who were with him finally arrived, they assembled the Jewish High Court along with all the elders of the sons of IsraEl. Then they sent [officers] to the jail to have [the Apostles] brought in. 22 But when the officers got there, they didn't find them in the lockup; so they reported back, 23 saying: 'We found the jail locked and guards posted at the doors. But when we opened it, we didn't find anyone inside!'

24 And when the Temple captain and the Chief Priests heard this, they were confused and wondered what had happened.

25 Then someone came and reported: 'Look! The men whom you put in jail are standing in the Temple teaching the people!' 26 So the captain took his officers and brought them back peacefully (because they were afraid of being stoned by the people). 27 Then they led them in and stood them in the Jewish High Court hall, where the High Priest questioned them and said: 28 'Though we ordered you not to teach about this name, {Look!} you've filled JeruSalem with your teachings and you're determined to bring the blood of this man upon us!'

29 So Peter and the Apostles replied: 'We must obey God as ruler rather than men! 30 For it was the God of our fathers who raised this Jesus whom you arrested and hung on a tree. 31 Then God raised him to His right hand to be the Primary Leader and Savior╔ and to cause IsraEl to repent, so He could forgive their sins! 32 We are witnesses to these things, as is the Holy Breath that God gave to those who are obeying Him as their ruler.'

33 Well, when [the leaders] heard this, they were really cut to heart and they wanted to murder [the Apostles]. 34 But a certain man stood up in the Jewish High Court (a Pharisee named GamaliEl, a teacher of the Law who was highly regarded by everyone) and commanded that the men be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then he said: 'Men of IsraEl; Be very careful about what you plan to do with these men. 36 Do you remember when TheuDas came along saying that he was somebody important, and quite a few men (about four hundred of them) followed him? Yet he was done away with, and all those who listened to him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 And after him, Judas the Galilean arose during the registration, and he drew people after him. But then he died, and everyone who listened to him was scattered. 38 So in this situation, I tell you not to mess with these men╔ leave them alone! Because, if the thing they're doing is from men, it will be overthrown. 39 But if it's from God, you won't be able to overthrow them and you'll actually be fighting against God!'

40 Well, they all agreed with him; so they called the Apostles back in, had them whipped, and ordered them to stop talking about the name of Jesus╔ then they let them go.

41 And as they were leaving the Jewish High Court, they were rejoicing because they had been found worthy of being dishonored for [Jesus'] name. 42 And they didn't stop╔ they kept on teaching and announcing the good news about Jesus the Anointed One every day, both in the Temple and in private homes.

Chapter 6

1 Now, back in those days when the disciples were increasing, the Greek-speaking Jews started grumbling about the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. 2 As the result, the twelve called all the disciples to them and said: 'The thought of our having to abandon the word of God to serve tables is displeasing to us. 3 So brothers; find seven qualified males among you who are filled with wisdom and the Breath [of God]. Then we'll appoint them to handle these needs, 4 so we can continue in our prayers and in serving the Word.'

5 Well, what they suggested sounded good to the whole group; so they selected Stephen (a man who was filled with faith and Holy Breath), as well as Philip, ProChorus, NiCanor, Timon, ParMenas, and NicoLaus (a proselyte from AntiOch). 6 Then they took them before the Apostles, who prayed over them and laid their hands on them.

7 Thereafter, the Word of God kept spreading and the number of disciples in JeruSalem kept multiplying. Why, even a large number of Priests started obeying the faith.

8 Now, Stephen was filled with joy and power, and he was performing great omens and signs among the people. 9 But certain men came from the so-called Synagogue of Freed Men (along with some Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Kilikians, and [people from the province of] Asia) started arguing with Stephen. 10 And because their arguments couldn't stand against the wisdom and Breath [of God] (with which he was speaking), 11 they talked some men into saying that they'd heard him say blasphemous things against Moses and God, 12 which stirred up the people. So some of the elders and scribes came and arrested him, then they dragged him up before the Jewish High Court, 13 where they produced some false witnesses who said, 'This man is speaking against this Holy Place and against the Law! 14 Why, we heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene will tear this place down and change the customs that were given to us by Moses!'

15 Then, as all those who were sitting in the Jewish High Court were looking at him, they saw his face become like that of a messenger [of God].

Chapter 7

1 And at that, the High Priest asked him, 'Is all of this true?'

2 Then [Stephen] said: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ Fathers╔ Listen! Our father AbraHam saw the Glorious God while he was in MesoPotamia, before he moved to Haran. 3 And [God] said to him, Leave your land and your relatives and come to the land that I'm going to show you. 4 So he went to the land of the Chaldeans and started living in Haran.

'Well, after his father died, [God] caused him to move to the land where you now live. 5 However, He didn't give him any land that could be inherited╔ not a foot's width. But [God] promised him property that he could own and pass on to his seed╔ even though he didn't have any children. 6 Then God told him that his seed would live in a foreign land where they would be slaves and be oppressed for four hundred years. 7 And God said, I will pass judgment on the nation [that made them] slaves╔ and then they will come here and serve Me. 8 So he made a Sacred Agreement with him [that required] circumcision. Thereafter, [AbraHam] went on to father IsaAc, whom he circumcised on the eighth day╔ as IsaAc did to Jacob, and Jacob did to the twelve family heads.

9 'However, these family heads soon became jealous of [their brother] JoSeph, and they sold him into Egypt. 10 But God was with him and He carried him through all of his problems. Then He made him likable and wise in the eyes of PharaOh, the king of Egypt. So [PharaOh] appointed [JoSeph] to govern Egypt and his entire house.

11 'Then a famine came upon Egypt and CanaAn, which created such a difficult time that our ancestors couldn't find any food. 12 But Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, so he sent our ancestors there for the first time. 13 Then on the second visit, JoSeph made himself known to his brothers╔ which was when JoSeph's ethnic background became known to PharaOh.

14 'Thereafter, JoSeph sent for his father Jacob and all of his relatives (seventy-five people); 15 and Jacob went down to Egypt, where he died, as did the rest of our ancestors╔ 16 and their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were laid in the tomb that AbraHam had purchased with silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

17 'Well, by the time that the promise God gave to AbraHam reached its fulfillment, the people had grown and multiplied in Egypt, 18 and another king had arisen to rule over Egypt who was unfamiliar with JoSeph. 19 He treated our people treacherously and forced our fathers to give up their young children to be killed. 20 Well, that's when Moses was born. He was beautiful to God, and he nursed for three months in [his] father's home. 21 But when he was discovered, the daughter of PharaOh picked him up and raised him as her own son. 22 So, this is how Moses came to be trained in the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he grew up to become mighty in everything that he said and did.

23 'Then, when he turned forty years old, [Moses] decided to pay more attention to his brothers, the sons of IsraEl. 24 And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, [Moses] came to his defense and took vengeance on behalf of the one who was being abused, by beating an Egyptian to death.

25 'Well, he assumed that his brothers would understand that God was going to use him to save them╔ however, they didn't understand. 26 So when he came to [his people] the next day and found [two of them] fighting; he tried to bring them together peacefully by saying, Men╔ you are brothers! So, why are you treating each other so badly? And at that, the one who was mistreating his neighbor just pushed him away and asked, Who appointed you as ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me the same as you killed that Egyptian yesterday? 29 And when Moses heard him say this, he ran away and lived in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons.

30 'Well, after forty more years, a messenger [from God] appeared to him in the flames of a burning thorn bush while he was in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 And when Moses saw it, he was dazzled by the sight. But as he came closer to investigate, the voice of the Lord said, 32 I am the God of your fathers╔ the God of AbraHam, IsaAc, and Jacob.

'Well, Moses started to shake so hard that he didn't want to investigate any further. 33 Then the Lord said to him: Remove your sandals; for the place where you're standing is holy ground! 34 Now, I've seen the bad treatment of My people in Egypt and I've heard their groaning, so I've come down to take them. Come, for I'm going to send you to Egypt! 35 Yet this was the same Moses that [the IsraElites] had previously disowned, asking, Who appointed you as our ruler and judge? However, he's the one that God sent off as both a ruler and savior by the hand of the messenger who had appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36 Then, after he had performed omens and signs, he's also the man who led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the desert for forty years.

37 'Yes, this is the same Moses who told the sons of IsraEl: God will raise a Prophet like me from among your brothers. 38 He's the one who was with the congregation in the desert, who talked to [God's] messenger on Mount Sinai, and who received life-giving signs for our ancestors so that we might receive them! 39 Yet, our ancestors refused to obey him╔ they just pushed him aside, and in their hearts they were back in Egypt! 40 So they told Aaron: Make gods to lead us, because we don't know what has happened to this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt!

41 'Well thereafter, [Aaron] made [an image of] a calf and they offered sacrifices to the idol╔ for they were very happy with this thing that they'd made with their hands! 42 So God handed them over to bow before the [stars] in the skies, just as it's written in the Book of the Prophets: It wasn't to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices for forty years in the desert, was it, O house of IsraEl? 43 Rather, you took up with the images that you made for worship in the tent of Moloch, and with the star of the god Rephan. So, [now] I'm going to exile you beyond Babylon!

44 'Why, our ancestors had the Tent of Proofs [when they lived] in the desert, which He had ordered Moses to build using the pattern that he was shown. 45 And our ancestors who received it (as they came here with JoShua), brought it into the land that was owned by the nations which God had pushed out ahead of them╔ and it remained here until the time of David!

46 'Then [David] found God's favor and he asked that [he be allowed] to provide a Temple for the God of Jacob╔ 47 although it was Solomon who actually built the House for him. 48 Yet, the Most High doesn't live in houses made with hands, just as the Prophet foretold. 49 For Jehovah said:
The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool;
So, what kind of House can you build Me,
And in what sort of place should I rest,
50 Since all of these things were made by My hands?
'

51 'So, O you with the hardened necks and uncircumcised hearts and ears╔ you've now become just like your ancestors. For you're always resisting [God's] Holy Breath! 52 Why, which of the Prophets didn't your ancestors persecute? They killed [many of] those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One╔ and now you've become the betrayers and murderers of him also! 53 So although you were the ones who received the Law that was brought by the messengers [of God], you haven't kept it!'

54 Well, when they heard this, they were really cut down and they were grinding their teeth at him. 55 But as he was being filled with Holy Breath, he stared into the sky and saw the Glory of God, with Jesus standing at His right hand! 56 So he said: 'Look! I see the sky opened, and there's the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'

57 Well at this, they all started shouting as loudly as they could and putting their hands over their ears. So they ran up to him and grabbed him; 58 then they took him outside of the city where they started stoning him╔ as those who came to watch laid their capes at the feet of a young man called Saul.

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed this: 'Lord Jesus; Receive my breath.' 60 Then he got down on his knees and shouted loudly: 'Lord, don't hold this sin against them!' And with that, he fell asleep [in death].

Chapter 8

1 Well, Saul approved of murdering him.

Then on that same day, a tremendous amount of persecution started to be directed toward the congregation in JeruSalem, and all except the Apostles were scattered throughout the area of Judea and Samaria. 2 However, devoted men carried Stephen out to be buried and they wept bitterly over him.

3 [This is when] Saul started wiping out the congregation [in JeruSalem]; for he invaded one house after another, dragging out both the men and the women and sending them to prison. 4 However, those who had been scattered just kept on preaching the good news of the Word wherever they went.

5 Well, Philip had gone to a city in Samaria, where he preached to them about the Anointed One. 6 And there, crowds of people paid attention to the things that Philip was saying, listening closely and watching the signs he performed. 7 For many who were there had been bothered by unclean spirits, which shouted loudly as they came out; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. 8 As the result, there was a lot of joy in that city.

9 Now, there was a man named Simon who lived in the city that used to practice magic. He amazed the people of Samaria and he called himself, [Simon] the Great. 10 Why, everyone (from the common people to the most powerful) paid attention to him and said, 'This man who calls himself The Great is the Power of God!' 11 So they followed him for a long time, because they were dazzled by his magic. 12 But when Philip came preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and about the name of Jesus the Anointed One, they started believing him; so, many men and women were baptized. 13 In fact, even Simon became a believer! Then after he was baptized, he stayed close to Philip and was amazed as he watched the signs and great powers.

14 Well, when the Apostles in JeruSalem heard that Samaria was starting to accept the Word of God, they sent Peter and John there, 15 where they prayed for [the believers] to receive the Holy Breath, 16 since it hadn't come to any of them yet, although they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then, when [Peter and John] laid their hands on them, they started to receive the Holy Breath.

18 Now, when Simon saw that the Apostles could give the Breath by just touching someone, he offered them money, saying: 19 'Give me the power so that anyone I lay my hands on can receive Holy Breath.'

20 But Peter said: 'May your silver be destroyed along with you! Because you think that you can buy the gift that God gives freely, 21 you aren't going to have any part in this, nor will you share in it; for God sees that your heart is crooked! 22 So, turn away from your badness and beg the Lord to forgive you for these thoughts in your heart. 23 Because, I see bitterness and hate in you, and an unrighteous alliance.'

24 Then Simon said: 'Please beg the Lord on my behalf, so that none of the things you said will happen!'

25 Well, after they had given everyone a thorough testimony and repeated the things that the Lord had told them, they returned to JeruSalem. And as the result, many Samaritan villages heard the good news.

26 Then the Lord's messenger spoke to Philip, saying: 'Get up and go south to the road that runs through the desert from JeruSalem to Gaza.'

27 And when he got there, {Look!} he found an Ethiopian who held the office of Eunuch of the Treasury under the Kandake (or queen) of the Ethiopians (possibly Amanitore) who had gone to JeruSalem to worship. 28 And as he was returning [home], he was sitting in his chariot reading [a scroll] of the Prophet IsaiAh aloud.

29 So the Breath told Philip: 'Go and catch up with his chariot!' 30 Therefore, Philip started running alongside; and on hearing him reading the Prophet IsaiAh aloud, he asked, 'Do you understand what you're reading?'

31 But [the eunuch] replied: 'How could I, unless I had someone to explain it to me?' So he begged Philip to climb aboard and sit with him.

32 Well, the particular scripture he was reading at the time was this:
'He was brought like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb that's quiet before shearers,
He did not open his mouth.

33 'In humiliation, his justice was denied.
So who'll speak of the details to his generation,
After his life is removed from the land?'

34 Then the Eunuch asked Philip: 'Just who was the Prophet saying this about╔ was he talking about himself or someone else?'

35 So Philip proceeded to explain this scripture, and he told him the good news about Jesus.

36 Now, as they were traveling along the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, 'Look╔ here's some water! What's to prevent me from getting baptized?' 37 —— 38 So he commanded the chariot [driver] to stop, and Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where he baptized him.

39 Well, after they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord sent Philip away quickly; so the eunuch didn't see him anymore╔ but he continued on his way rejoicing. 40 However, Philip found himself in AshDod. Therefore, he traveled on throughout that area, preaching the good news in all the cities, until he got to Caesarea.

Chapter 9

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples. So he went to the High Priest 2 and asked him to write letters that he could carry to the synagogues in Damascus, which would empower him to arrest anyone he found that belonged to The Way (both men and women) and bring them back to JeruSalem in chains. 3 But as he was getting close to Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed all around him 4 and he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice say, 'Saul; Saul; Why are you persecuting me?'

5 And he asked, 'Who are you Lord?'

Then came the answer: 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 6 Now, get up and enter the city, and there you'll be told what to do.'

7 Well all the while, the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless, because they heard the sound of a voice, but they couldn't see anyone. 8 And when Saul got up off the ground; although his eyes were open, he couldn't see. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9 There he remained blind for three days, and he wouldn't eat or drink anything at all.

10 Now, in Damascus there was a disciple named AnaNias. Then in a vision, the Lord called out, 'AnaNias!' And he replied, 'Here I am Lord!'

11 Then the Lord said: 'Get up and go to the house of Judas on Straight Street, and look for a man called Saul of Tarsus. Look╔ he's praying [right now]! 12 For in a vision he has seen a man named AnaNias, who will come and lay his hands on him so he can start seeing again.'

13 However, AnaNias [objected], saying: 'Lord, I've heard about this man from many people, and of all the bad things he did to your Holy Ones in JeruSalem. 14 Why, he's been empowered by the Chief Priests to lock up everyone who calls on your name!'

15 But the Lord replied: 'Go on, because this man is the one I've chosen to carry my name before nations, kings, and the sons of IsraEl. 16 I will also make sure that he understands all the things he'll have to suffer on account of my name.'

17 So AnaNias went over to the house and went inside; then he laid his hands on him and said: 'Saul; Brother; The Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here has sent me to restore your sight and to fill you with Holy Breath.'

18 Well, what looked like scales immediately fell from his eyes and he started to see; and then he got up and was baptized╔ 19 after which he started eating again and regaining his strength.

Thereafter, he spent several days there in Damascus with the disciples. 20 And he immediately started preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of The God. 21 However, all those who heard him were shocked, and asked: 'Isn't this the man who went ravaging among those who are calling on this name in JeruSalem? And didn't he come here for that same reason╔ to carry them back in chains to the Chief Priests?'

22 But Saul's power kept growing and he really confused the Jews who lived in Damascus, because he gave them logical proofs that [Jesus] is the Anointed One.

23 Then after several days, the Jews finally met to discuss ways to get rid of him. 24 However, Saul learned about their plot against him; and because they were watching the city gates closely both day and night so as to arrest him, 25 his disciples came to him one night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

26 Well, when he got to JeruSalem, he tried to join the disciples. However, they were all afraid of him, because they didn't really believe that he was a disciple. 27 But then BarNabas came to his aid╔ he took [Saul] to the Apostles and told them what had happened to him on the road, of how he had seen the Lord and spoken to him, and of how he had been boldly teaching in the name of Jesus while he was in Damascus. 28 So thereafter, [Saul] stayed with them, entering and leaving JeruSalem, as he preached in the name of the Lord.

29 He also talked and argued a lot with the Greek-speaking Jews; but then they also attempted to do away with him. 30 So when the brothers learned about their [plot], they took Paul to Caesarea and sent him on from there to Tarsus.

31 Well, there came a period of peace for the congregations of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. So [the brothers] kept walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Breath, as they continued to grow [in numbers].

32 Then as Peter was traveling around, he finally reached the Holy Ones who lived in LydDa. 33 And there he found a man named AiNean who had spent eight years lying flat on his back on a cot, paralyzed. 34 So Peter said to him: 'AiNean; Jesus the Anointed One heals you. Now, get up and make your bed!' And he immediately got up. 35 Then, when those who lived in LydDa and the area of Sharon saw this man, many started turning to the Lord.

36 Well in JopPa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translates as Dorcas), who was well-known for the good things she was doing and for helping others when they were in need. 37 However, one day she got sick and died. So they washed her body and laid her in an upstairs room.

38 Now, LydDa was close to JopPa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him to beg, 'Please hurry and come to us!' 39 And at that, Peter got up and went with them.

Well, when he got [to JopPa], they took him upstairs to the room [where she was laid]. And there, all the widows came to him crying and showing him the many pieces of clothing that Dorcas had made for them while she was with them. 40 So after sending everyone outside, Peter got down on his knees and prayed. Then he turned toward the body and said, 'Tabitha; stand again!' And at that, she opened her eyes╔ and when she saw Peter, she sat up! 41 So he gave her his hand and stood her [on her feet]; then he called the Holy Ones and widows in, and presented her to them alive. 42 And before long, this event became well known throughout JopPa, so many started believing in the Lord.

43 [Peter] thereafter stayed in JopPa for several days, [in the home of] Simon the Tanner.

Chapter 10

1 Now in Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius (he was a centurion of the Italian Division), 2 who was a devout man. He and his family feared God, praying to Him often, and they regularly helped those who were in need. 3 Well, it was about the ninth hour of the day when he clearly saw a messenger of The God who came to him in a vision and called, 'Cornelius!'

4 So he stared at [the messenger] in fright and asked, 'What do you want, Lord?'

And he answered: 'Your prayers and kind gifts have arisen and have been remembered before God. 5 So now, send some men to JopPa and call for a man named Simon, who is also known as Peter. 6 He's the guest of Simon the Tanner, who has a house by the sea.'

7 Well, as soon as the messenger [from God] who spoke to him left, he called two of his house servants and a devout soldier who was staying with him, 8 and he told them everything that had happened; then he sent them to JopPa. 9 And the next day (as they were on their way and getting close to the city), Peter had gone up on the roof (at about the sixth hour) to pray. 10 He was also very hungry and he wanted to eat╔ but then he fell into a trance. 11 And in [a vision], he saw the sky opening and some sort of container (it looked like a huge linen sheet that was being held at its four corners) coming down to the ground. 12 Inside it there were all kinds of four-footed animals, things that crawl on the ground, and birds of the sky. 13 Then a voice came to him that said: 'Get up, Peter╔ slaughter [the animals] and eat them!'

14 But Peter said: 'Not me Lord, because I've never eaten anything that is dirty and unclean!'

15 And the voice [spoke] to him a second time, saying, 'Stop calling the things that God has made clean, dirty!' 16 Then it said this two more times, and thereafter the container was immediately taken back into the sky.

17 Now, Peter was confused about the meaning of this vision. However, the men that were sent by Cornelius were already at Simon's house, standing at the gate and asking for him╔ 18 they were calling out and asking whether Simon (who is also called Peter) was a guest there. 19 And as Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Breath [of God] said: 'Look! Three men are searching for you, 20 so go downstairs and get ready to travel with them╔ don't worry, because I sent them.'

21 Then Peter went downstairs to the men and said: '{Look!} I'm the one you're looking for╔ why are you here?'

22 And they replied: 'Cornelius, an army officer who is a righteous and God-fearing man that the whole nation of the Jews speak well of, was given Divine instructions by a holy messenger to ask you to come to his house, so he can hear what you have to say.'

23 Then [Peter] invited them in and offered them some hospitality. And the next day, he got up and went with them (along with some of the brothers from JopPa), 24 arriving at Caesarea the following day.

Of course, Cornelius was expecting them, and he had called for all of his relatives and closest friends. 25 Then as Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, bowing low. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying: 'Get up! I'm just a man!'

27 Well, as they were talking, Paul walked inside; and there he found many people already assembled. 28 Then he said to them: 'You know very well how illegal it is for a Jew to associate with or even go near to people of another race. Yet, God has shown me that I shouldn't call any man dirty or unclean. 29 So when I was called for, I came without any objections. But now, let me ask: Why have you sent for me?

30 Then Cornelius told him: 'Exactly four days ago, I was praying here in my house during the ninth hour, when {Look!} a man in bright clothes came and stood in front of me and said, 31 Cornelius; Your prayers have been heard and your kind gifts have been remembered before God. 32 So send to JopPa and ask for Simon, who is also called Peter. He's staying by the sea in the house of Simon the Tanner. 33 Well, as the result, I sent for you right away╔ and it's good that you came. For now we're all assembled here before God to listen to everything that the Lord has commanded you to say.'

34 And Peter said: 'I can see for a fact that God is impartial; 35 for He accepts any man who fears Him and does righteous things, no matter what nation he's from! 36 So He's sending word to the Sons of IsraEl that they must announce the good news of peace through Jesus the Anointed One to [the gentiles] also, for he's the Lord over all!

37 'Now, I can see that you've already come to know about this thing that is being proclaimed throughout all of Judea, which started in Galilee after John came preaching about [the need] to get baptized. 38 For thereafter, God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with Holy Breath and power, and he traveled throughout the land doing good things and healing all those who were oppressed by the Slanderer. Yes, God was with him╔ 39 and we are eye-witnesses to everything that he did in the region of Judea and in JeruSalem!

'However, although they murdered him by hanging him on a tree, 40 The God raised this one on the third day and allowed him to be seen╔ 41 but not to everyone, just to witnesses whom The God had selected ahead of time for us. Why, he appeared to us, and we ate and drank with him after he was resurrected from among the dead. 42 Then he ordered us to preach to the people and to testify that he's the one who was chosen by The God to judge the living and the dead, 43 and that he's the one about whom all the Prophets had testified, saying that all who put faith in him will have their sins forgiven through this name!'

44 Well, while Peter was still talking about this, the Holy Breath came upon all of those who were listening to what he said. 45 And the faithful ones who were there with Peter (all of whom were circumcised) were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Breath was now being poured out on people of the nations╔ 46 for they heard them speaking and glorifying God in different languages!

Then Peter asked: 47 'Can anyone forbid water to baptize these who have received the Holy Breath, the same as we have?'

48 So he commanded that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One. And afterward, they asked him to stay with them for several days.

Chapter 11

1 Soon thereafter, the Apostles and other brothers in Judea heard that people of the nations were also accepting the Word of God. 2 So when Peter returned to JeruSalem, the circumcised started arguing with him, 3 complaining that he had gone into the house of uncircumcised men and had eaten with them. 4 So Peter explained it this way:

5 'While I was in the city of JopPa, I was praying. And in a trance, I saw a vision of some sort of container coming down from the sky that looked like a huge linen sheet being held by its four corners╔ it was very clear to me! 6 And as I stared at it, I saw four-footed creatures of the ground, wild animals, things that crawl, and birds of the sky. 7 Then I heard a voice say to me, Get up Peter; slaughter [the animals] and eat them! 8 But I said, Not me Lord, because I've never eaten anything that is dirty and unclean. 9 Then the voice came from the sky a second time, and it told me: Stop calling things that God has made clean, dirty. 10 Well, this happened a third time, and then everything was pulled back up into the sky.

11 'Then {Look!} at that very moment, there were three men standing outside of the house who had been sent from Caesarea to find me. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them and not to doubt. Why, these six brothers here also went with me, and we all entered the man's house together! 13 [Well, when we got there, the man] told us how he had seen a messenger [from God] standing in his house, who told him: Send your men to JopPa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will tell you what you must do, so that you and your household can get saved.'

15 'But after I started to speak, the Holy Breath fell upon them, the same as it did upon us long ago. 16 And then I remembered that the Lord used to say, John baptized in water, but you will be baptized in Holy Breath. 17 So if God gave them the same gifts that he gave to those of us who have believed in the Lord Jesus the Anointed; who am I that I should be strong enough to resist God?'

18 Well, after they heard this, they quieted down and started glorifying God, saying, 'So then, God has also given gentiles the opportunity for repentance into life!'

19 Now, those who had been scattered because of the problems that arose over Stephen had traveled as far away as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and AntiOch; and until then they had been spreading the Word just among the Jews. 20 However, some Cypriots and Cyrenians who went to AntiOch started talking to the Greek-speaking [Gentile] peoples, declaring the good news of the Lord Jesus to them. 21 And the hand of the Lord was certainly with them, because many of them believed and turned to the Lord. 22 And when news about this reached the ears of the congregation in JeruSalem, they sent BarNabas to AntiOch. 23 Then when he got there and saw the loving-care that God had shown for these people, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to whole-heartedly stick with the Lord! 24 ([BarNabas] is a good man who is filled with Holy Spirit and faith). So a large number were then added to the Lord.

25 Thereafter, [BarNabas] went on to Tarsus, to find Saul. 26 And when he found him, he brought him back to AntiOch, where they stayed with that congregation for a year and taught many people. (It was in AntiOch that the disciples were by Divine providence, first called Christians).

27 At the time, [brothers with the gift of] prophesying had traveled to AntiOch from JeruSalem. 28 And one of them (named Agabus) stood up and told them (through the Breath [of God]) that a great famine was about to come upon the whole habitation [of mankind]which did in fact happen in the time of Claudius [Caesar]. 29 So the disciples there decided that each of them would collect relief supplies for the brothers who lived in Judea (as they could afford to) 30 and send then to the elders through BarNabas and Saul.

Chapter 12

1 This all happened about the same time that King Herod had started persecuting many of those in the congregation [at JeruSalem], 2 for he did away with James (John's brother) with a sword. 3 And when he saw how much this pleased the Jews; during the celebration of No Fermentation, he also arrested Peter 4 and threw him in jail, assigning four shifts of four soldiers each to guard him, because he planned to put him on [trial] before the people after the Passover.

5 Well, while Peter was in jail, the congregation prayed to God intensely on his behalf. 6 And the night before Herod planned to produce him, he had Peter bound with two chains, he made him sleep between two soldiers, and he posted guards at the doors. 7 But {Look!} the Lord's messenger suddenly appeared, standing before him and creating a light in the cell. Then he tapped Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, 'Get up╔ Now!' And suddenly the chains just fell off his hands. 8 Then the messenger said to him, 'Get dressed and tie your sandals on,' which he did. Then he told him: 'Now, wrap yourself up in your robe and follow me!' 9 So [Peter] left, following [the messenger]. However, he wasn't really sure of what was happening, because, although [he knew that] the messenger was real, he thought that he was just seeing a vision.

10 Well, they walked past the first guard, then the second, and when they got to the iron gate that leads into the city, it opened by itself. Then, after they got out and started down a street, the messenger suddenly left him.

11 Well, after Peter finally came to his senses, he said: 'Now I really know that the Lord sent his messenger and saved me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jews had planned to do [to me].'

12 Then, after [taking a moment] to collect himself, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John (who was called Mark), where several had gathered to pray. 13 And when he knocked at the gate, a servant girl named Rhoda came, 14 and though she recognized Peter's voice, she was so happy that she failed to open the gate╔ she just ran inside and told everyone that Peter was standing outside.

15 Well, everyone told her that she had to be crazy, but she kept insisting. So they said, 'It's [probably] his messenger.' 16 Meanwhile, Peter was still standing outside and knocking.

Well, when they opened [the gate] and saw that it was [Peter], everyone was astonished. 17 But he motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and he told them exactly how the Lord had freed him from the jail. Then he said: 'Tell James and the other brothers what has happened.' And with that, he left and traveled on to another place.

18 Needless to say, the next day there was quite a stir among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 Herod had them search for him, and when they couldn't find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered to have them arrested. Meanwhile, [Peter] had left Judea and traveled to Caesarea, where he spent quite a bit of time.

20 Back then, [Herod] was extremely angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, so [people from there] came to him, and they convinced the Royal Eunuch Blastus to ask [Herod] for peace, since [Herod] had been supplying their country with food [during the famine].

21 Then there came a day when Herod dressed himself up in his royal clothes and he sat down on his judgment seat to give a public lecture. 22 And the crowd that was assembled started shouting, 'It's a god's voice, not a man's!' 23 Well instantly, a messenger of Jehovah struck him, because he didn't give glory to The God; then he became eaten up with worms and breathed his last.

24 Well, during this entire time, the Word of the Lord kept on growing and spreading.

25 As for BarNabas and Saul; after they'd finished delivering relief supplies to JeruSalem, they returned [to AntiOch]. And this time they took John (the one called Mark) along with them.

Chapter 13

1 Now, in the congregation at AntiOch, there were several Prophets and teachers, including BarNabas, Symeon (who was called Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, Mnaen (who had gone to school with Herod, the district ruler) and Saul. 2 And it was while they were serving the Lord and fasting that the Holy Breath told them: 'Consecrate BarNabas and Saul to me, to do the work for which I've called them.' 3 Then [the brothers] fasted, prayed, and laid their hands on them, and sent them on.

4 Well, the Holy Breath first sent these men to Seleucia, and then they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived at the city of Salamis, they started preaching the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues╔ along with John (Mark) who had come along to help them.

6 Then, after they had traveled across the whole island to Paphos, they met up with a Jew named BarJesus, who was a sorcerer and a false prophet. 7 He was with the Island's governor at the time (an intelligent man named Sergius Paulus), who had summoned BarNabas and Saul, because he really wanted to hear the Word of God. 8 But the sorcerer ElyMas (that's how his name is pronounced [in Aramaic]) opposed them and tried to keep the governor from becoming interested in the faith.

9 Then Saul (who is also called Paul) became filled with Holy Breath, and he looked at the man very hard and said: 10 'O you unethical and deceitful person; you son of the Slanderer and enemy of everything that's righteous! When will you stop twisting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now look! The Lord's hand has touched you so that you'll be blind and unable to even see the sun for a while.' And at that, [his eyes] instantly started to cloud over and grow dark, and he had to search for someone to lead him by the hand.

12 Well, when the governor saw this, he was shocked and started believing in the Lord's teachings.

13 Next, Paul and the men who were with him sailed from Paphos to [the city of] Perga in PamPhylia. However, John [Mark] left them there and returned to JeruSalem. 14 Well, from Perga they traveled on to AntiOch in Pisidia. Then on the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down; 15 and after reading the Law and the Prophets, the presiding officers of the synagogue called them forward saying, 'Men╔ Brothers╔ If you have anything encouraging to tell the people, say it!'

16 So Paul got up, and with a sweeping gesture, he said: 'Men, IsraElites, and all you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of the people of IsraEl chose our ancestors. And when they were visitors in the land of Egypt, He elevated them╔ He raised His arm and brought them out of there. 18 But after that, He [had to] put up with their bad manners in the desert for forty years. 19 Then, after destroying seven nations in the land of CanaAn, He gave them each an inheritance of land╔ 20 and all of this happened in a period of four hundred and fifty years.

'Thereafter, he gave them the judges to the time of the Prophet SamuEl, 21 when they demanded a king. So then God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, for forty years╔ a man from the tribe of BenJamin. 22 And after removing him, He promoted David to be their king, for God gave this testimony about him: I've found a man after My own heart, David the son of Jesse, who will do whatever I wish. 23 And it was from [this man's] seed (according to the promise) that God brought a Savior to IsraEl, Jesus.

24 'Now, John [the Baptist] preached publicly about a baptism of repentance to all the people of IsraEl before [Jesus] arrived. 25 And as John was finishing the race that he was to run, he asked [the people], Who are you thinking that I am? It isn't me! Rather, {Look!} someone is coming behind me whose shoelaces I'm unworthy to untie!

26 'Men╔ brothers╔ you sons of the race of AbraHam and all among you who fear God; we're the ones to whom these words of salvation have been sent! 27 However, the people who lived in JeruSalem and their rulers didn't recognize this one. And when they acted as his judges, they fulfilled the things that the Prophets said╔ the things that are read aloud [here] on each Sabbath. 28 For although they didn't find a reason for putting him to death, they demanded that Pilate should have him killed!

29 'Well, after they'd finished doing everything that was written would happen to him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 However, God raised him from the dead; 31 and for several days thereafter, those [of us] who had traveled with him from Galilee to JeruSalem, saw him! So we are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And here we are announcing the good news to you about the promise that God made to our forefathers, 33 and which He has now completely fulfilled upon their children╔ upon us! For He resurrected Jesus, just as it was written in the Second Psalm: You are my son, and today I am your Father!

34 'Yes, He resurrected him from the dead so [his body] wouldn't see corruption. For He said to him, I'll give you the sacred, trusted things of [King] David. 35 And He said in another place: You won't allow your Holy one to see corruption. 36 Now, when David (who served his generation well and followed God's instructions) fell asleep [in death], he was buried with his ancestors, and [his body] did see corruption. 37 But this one who was raised by God didn't see corruption!

38 'Understand this, men and brothers; we're declaring to you that your sins can now be forgiven through him. 39 Yes, all the wrong things for which the Law of Moses couldn't excuse you, can be excused for you by this one╔ if you believe! 40 So make sure that [this thing] that was said by the Prophet doesn't happen to you:

41 'Behold, O you who show scorn,
Yes, be amazed╔ and then perish!
For there's a work that I'll do in your days,
Which you could never believe,
Should someone declare it to you!
'

42 Well, as they were leaving, the people begged them to explain more about this on the next Sabbath. 43 So after the meeting at the synagogue was concluded, many of the Jews and proselytes followed Paul and BarNabas, who urged them to stick close to God's favor.

44 Then on the next Sabbath, almost the entire city assembled to hear the Word of God. 45 And when the Judeans saw the throngs of people, they were extremely jealous and started contradicting the things that Paul was saying in blasphemous ways. 46 But Paul and BarNabas spoke out boldly, saying: 'It was required of us to speak the Word of God to you first. But since you're just pushing it away and you don't judge yourselves to be worthy of age-long life, {Look!} we will now be turning to the gentiles. 47 In fact, Jehovah commanded us to do this when He said:

'I will make you a light to the nations╔
To bring salvation to the ends of the earth'

48 Well, when the gentiles heard this, they started rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord. Then all those who were inclined to accept age-long life became believers, 49 and the Word of the Lord was spread throughout that whole country.

50 However, the Judeans incited many of the city's elite (devout women and leading men), and they sent people against Paul and BarNabas, who threw them out of the city. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet against them, and went on to Iconium. 52 However, the disciples [in that city] continued to be filled with joy and Holy Breath.

Chapter 14

1 Then the same thing happened in Iconium. [Paul and BarNabas] went into the Jewish synagogue together to speak, and a large number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. 2 However, the Jews who wouldn't accept what they said riled up the gentiles and influenced them to act badly toward the brothers. 3 Nevertheless, [Paul, and BarNabas] spent a lot of time boldly telling them about the Lord. And [the Lord] himself testified to the fact that his favor was being shown by allowing them to perform signs and omens.

4 Well, the whole city was split╔ some were for the Jews and others for the Apostles. 5 Then the Jews and gentiles met with the local rulers to arrange to finish them off by stoning them. 6 And when [Paul and BarNabas] learned about this plot, they got out of there and traveled to the cities and countryside around Lystra and Derbe in LycaOnias, 7 where they continued preaching the good news.

8 Now in Lystra, a man was sitting there who had something wrong with his feet. In fact, he hadn't walked at all since he was born. 9 This man was listening to Paul; and when [Paul] looked at him and realized that he had enough faith to be healed, 10 he shouted: 'Get up on your feet!' And at this, he jumped up and started walking around.

11 Well, when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted (in the LycaOnian language): 'The gods have turned themselves into men and come down to us!' 12 So they started calling BarNabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes (since he was the one who took the lead in speaking). 13 Then the city's Priest of Zeus brought bulls and garlands up to the gates so that he and the crowd could offer sacrifices [to them].

14 However, when the Apostles BarNabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and jumped into the crowd, shouting and asking, 15 'Why are you doing this? We're just humans who have the same problems as you; and we're here preaching the good news in order to turn you away from this foolishness and toward the living God who made the skies, the lands, the seas, and everything in them! 16 For though He's allowed the gentiles to go their own way for generations, 17 He didn't leave Himself without witnesses. And He did good things for you by giving you rain from the sky and good harvests, and He filled your hearts with food and happiness!'

18 Yet, despite everything they said, they had a hard time keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

19 Well, some Jews finally arrived from AntiOch and Iconium, and they talked the crowd into stoning Paul. Then they dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went back into the city. And the next day, he and BarNabas left for Derbe, 21 where they preached the good news in that city, making quite a few disciples. Then they returned to Lystra in Iconium and to AntiOch, 22 in order to strengthen the disciples. They encouraged them to remain in the faith, saying, 'We will all have to endure many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.'

23 They also appointed elders in each of the congregations; and with prayer and fasting, they entrusted them into the hands of [the God in whom] they'd come to believe.

24 Well from there, they traveled through Pisidia to PamPhylia. 25 And after teaching the Word in Perga, they went on to Attalia. 26 Then they finally sailed back to AntiOch, where by God's kindness, they had first been entrusted with the work that they were performing so well. 27 And when they arrived, they gathered the congregation and told them everything that God had done through them, and of how He had opened the door of faith to the gentiles. 28 Thereafter, they spent a long time (in AntiOch) with the disciples.

Chapter 15

1 However, some men who came down from Judea started teaching the brothers that if they didn't get circumcised following the custom of Moses, they couldn't get saved. 2 But after Paul and BarNabas opposed and argued with them, they arranged for Paul, BarNabas, and some others who were there, to go to the Apostles and elders in JeruSalem to ask [their opinion] about the matter.

3 So the congregation sent them off. And as they were traveling through Phoenicia and Samaria, they spoke [to the congregations] along the way about the conversion of gentiles, which brought great joy among all the brothers. 4 And when they got to JeruSalem, they were welcomed by the congregation (which included the Apostles and the elders), and they told them about all the things that God had been accomplishing through them. 5 However, some of those who were believers from the sect of the Pharisees then stood up and said: 'We must circumcise them and order them to obey the Law of Moses!'

6 Well, the Apostles and the elders thereafter held a meeting to look into this matter. 7 And after a lot of wrangling, Peter stood up and said: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ You know how long it has been since God chose to have gentiles hear the Word of the Good News and believe through my mouth, 8 and of how God (who knows the heart) testified about them by giving them the Holy Breath╔ the same as He did to us. 9 As you can see, He didn't create a difference between us. Rather, He has also purified their hearts in the faith. 10 So, why are you testing God by putting this yoke on the neck of the disciples, which we and our fathers couldn't carry? 11 For, we believe that they've been saved the same as we have through the loving care of our Lord Jesus!'

12 Well at that, the group became silent as they listened to BarNabas and Paul tell about the many signs and omens that God had used them to perform among the gentiles. 13 And when they'd finished speaking, James said: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ Hear me! 14 Simon has explained to us how for the first time, God has [chosen] to take a people for His Name from among the gentiles. 15 And the words of the Prophet agree with this, for it's written:

16 'After this, I will return and rebuild the Tent of David that has fallen and is buried╔ I will rebuild it and make it stand again, 17 so that all those who remain can seek Jehovah, along with people from all the nations who are called by My Name. And this was said by our Lord who made all of this happen, 18 because He's known about these things through the ages!

19 'So I've decided not to create problems for the gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Rather, I will send word to them to stay free from things polluted by idols, from immorality, from things that are strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient generations, [this Law of] Moses has been preached in city after city and read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.'

22 Well after that, the Apostles, elders, and the whole congregation were unanimously in favor of sending men whom they had selected from among themselves, to AntiOch. And [among those who traveled there] with Paul and BarNabas were Judas (who was called BarSabbas) and Silas╔ leading men from among the brothers. 23 And this was what was written by their hands:

'[From] the Apostles and the older brothers, to those gentile brothers in AntiOch, Syria, and Kilikia; Rejoice! 24 We've heard that some who came from us have been stirring things up there with speeches, and they've urged you to make changes in your lives (although we didn't tell them to do this). 25 Therefore, we've unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our beloved BarNabas and Paul╔ 26 these men who've been willing to give their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. 27 Yes, Judas and Silas can further explain these things to you. 28 For through the Holy Breath, it has become clear to us that we shouldn't put any burdens on you other than these necessary things: 29 Stay away from things that are sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things that are strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you stay away from these things, you'll do well. Good health to you!'

30 So when these men whom they sent got back to AntiOch, they assembled the group and presented them with the letter. 31 And after reading it, [the brothers in AntiOch] were very happy over the encouragement that the letter conveyed.

32 Then Judas and Silas (since they were also Prophets) gave instructions to the brothers with many speeches to strengthen them. 33 And after some time had passed, [the congregation] allowed them to return to those who had sent them with that message of peace. 34 —— 35 However, Paul and BarNabas stayed on in AntiOch for a while (along with many others), teaching and preaching the good news of the Word of the Lord.

36 Then after many days, Paul said to BarNabas: 'Now that these matters have been settled, let's go back and visit the brothers in all those cities where we preached the Word, to see how they're doing.' 37 However, BarNabas wanted to bring John (who was called Mark) along with them. 38 But Paul didn't think he was worthy and he didn't want to take him, because he'd left them at PamPhylia and he hadn't continued in the work. 39 So there was quite an argument over this, which resulted in each going his own way. BarNabas took Mark and sailed off to Cyprus, 40 while Paul chose Silas.

Then, after sharing the joy of the Lord with the brothers, [Paul] traveled on, 41 going through Syria and Kilikia, strengthening the congregations.

Chapter 16

1 [Paul] traveled as far as Derbe, and then he continued on to Lystra. {Look!} There he found a disciple named Timothy, who was the son of a believing Jewish woman and a Greek father. 2 The brothers in Lystra and Iconium had many good things to say about him, 3 and Paul wanted to take this man along with him. So he went and circumcised him, because of the many Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek.

4 Well, as they traveled through the cities, they taught the decisions of the Apostles and elders in JeruSalem, and urged the brothers to obey them. 5 So the congregations kept getting stronger in the faith and growing day by day.

6 From there, they traveled through Phrygia and the country of Galatia. However, the Holy Breath [of God] wouldn't allow them to teach the Word in [the province of] Asia. 7 And when they got down to Mysia, they tried to go on to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't allow them to do so. 8 As the result, they passed Mysia and went on to Troas. 9 And there, during the night, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man who was standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us!' 10 And as soon as he saw this vision, we started out for Macedonia, assuming that God had called us to preach the good news to them.

11 So, having been led from Troas, we set a straight course for Samothrace. Then the next day we traveled to NeApolis, 12 and from there to Philippi (a [Roman] colony, which is one of the main cities in that part of Macedonia), where we spent several days. 13 And on the Sabbath, we went to the riverbank outside the city gate, where we thought we would find a place to pray. Then we sat down there and started talking to the women who had assembled.

14 Well, a woman named Lydia from Thyatira (an importer of purple [cloth]), who was a worshiper of The God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to the things that Paul was saying. 15 Then, as she and her household were being baptized, she begged: 'If you men have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house!' And she urged us to come.

16 Thereafter, as we were going somewhere to pray, a servant girl with a divining spirit came and met us. Her masters used her to make predictions, which earned a tidy profit for them. 17 And she kept following Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are slaves of the Most High God and they're preaching to you about the way of salvation!'

18 Well, she kept doing this for several days, and finally Paul got tired of it; so he turned and said to the spirit: 'I order you in the name of Jesus the Anointed One to come out of her!' And it came right out. 19 But when her masters saw that they had just lost their hope of any income [from her], they grabbed hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the rulers in the marketplace. 20 There they brought them before the judges and said: 'These men are Jews who are creating a disturbance in our city 21 and they're preaching customs that are illegal for us as Romans to either accept or to practice!'

22 Well, the entire crowd arose against them. So the judges had their clothes stripped off and commanded that they should be beaten with rods. 23 Then, after they had received many blows, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them safe. 24 And since he had received such an order, he took them into the innermost dungeon and put their feet in stocks.

25 However, about the middle of the night, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing sacred hymns (within earshot of the rest of the prisoners there), 26 a great earthquake occurred that shook the jail to its foundation╔ and this immediately opened all the doors and loosened all the chains. 27 And when the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out loudly, 'Don't harm yourself╔ we're all here!'

29 So he asked for lamps to be brought in; and shaking in fear, he jumped in and fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and asked: 'Lords; What must I do so that I might get saved?'

31 And they replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and all in your house will be saved.' 32 Then they spoke to him and all those in his house about the word of God (or 'the word of the Lord,' according to other texts).

33 So at that hour of the night, he went and washed their whip wounds; then he and his family were immediately baptized. 34 And thereafter, he brought them into his home, sat them at the table, and he and his entire household started rejoicing over their coming to believe in The God.

35 Well, the next morning the magistrates sent officers who told him to release them.

36 And the jailer said to Paul, 'The magistrates have sent men to release you. So now that you're free, you may go your own way in peace.'

37 But Paul said to him: 'Although we weren't found guilty [of anything], they had us publicly flogged and thrown in jail╔ and we are Romans! Are they now going to try to throw us out secretly? No, let them come down here and bring us out themselves!'

38 Well thereafter, the officers went back and reported to the judges what he had said, and they were frightened when they heard that the men were Romans. 39 So they called for them and released them, then they asked them to leave their city.

40 So after they were released, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them before leaving.

Chapter 17

1 From there they traveled through AmphiPolis and Apollonia to ThesSalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 And as it was Paul's custom, he went inside and reasoned with [the Jews] from the Scriptures for three Sabbaths. 3 He opened [the scriptures] and proved that the Anointed One had to suffer and be resurrected from the dead. Then he said, 'This Jesus whom I'm preaching to you is that Anointed One!' 4 And as the result, some of them became believers and associated themselves with Paul and Silas, as did a large number of devout Greeks, many women, and quite a few of the [city's] leaders.

5 However, the Judeans got jealous and formed a mob╔ they assembled a group of wicked men who had been hanging around in the market, and they created quite an uproar in the city. Then they all went to Jason's house and demanded to have [Paul and Silas] brought out. 6 But when they didn't find them there, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city council, shouting, 'These men who are creating confusion throughout the whole world are here also╔ 7 and Jason has even welcomed them into his home! Yet, these people oppose the decrees of Caesar by saying that there's another king╔ someone called Jesus!'

8 Well, when they heard the crowd say this, the city council became agitated 9 and demanded a large bail from Jason and the others, before they would release them. 10 Then that night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea.

Well, [upon arriving in Berea], they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And there they found that these people were more noble-minded than those in ThesSalonica, because they eagerly welcomed the Word and studied the Scriptures each day to make sure that the things [they were being told] were true. 12 So, many of them became believers, as did a number of the prominent Greek women and quite a few men.

13 But when the Jews in ThesSalonica learned that Paul was also preaching the Word of God in Berea, they traveled there to incite and agitate the crowds. 14 As the result, the brothers immediately sent Paul off all the way to the sea╔ however, Silas and Timothy stayed behind. 15 Then those who were taking Paul, brought him to Athens. And before they returned, he ordered them to send Silas and Timothy to him as soon as possible.

16 Well, while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he became disgusted to the core when he saw that the city was filled with idols. 17 So he started reasoning with the Jews and other worshipers in the synagogue╔ as well as with whomever happened to be in the markets each day.

18 Then some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers came to hear him and they started asking each other, 'What is this seed-picker trying to say?' And someone replied, 'He seems to be preaching a foreign demon' (because he was telling them the good news about Jesus and the resurrection). 19 So they grabbed him and took him up to the AeroPagus, where they asked him: 'Tell us; What is this new thing that you're preaching? 20 For we've heard that you've brought some strange new ideas, and we want to know what they are!'

21 It's a fact that all Athenians and even foreigners who traveled there had nothing to do other than spend their leisure time telling something new or listening to something new. 22 So Paul stood up in the middle of the AeroPagus and said: 'Men of Athens; I see that you have a greater fear of the demons than do others. 23 And as I was going along and noticing all the things that you worship, I found an altar with the inscription: To an unknown God. So I'm here to preach to you about something that you don't know, but already worship. 24 For this is the [same] God who made the cosmos and everything in it; and this Lord of the sky and the earth doesn't live in handmade Temples, 25 nor does He need human hands to take care of Him (or anything at all [for that matter]), because He gives life, breath, and everything else to each one of us. 26 Why, He's the One who made all the nations of men who dwell on the face of the earth from just one man, and He's the One who determined the times and the boundaries of [when and] where they would live, 27 so that we would each search for God and grope around to find Him╔ though He really isn't very far from any of us. 28 Why, it's through Him that we have life, and move, and exist╔ even as some of your own poets have said: We are His offspring!

29 'So, since we are the offspring of God, we shouldn't think of this Divine One as being like gold, silver, stone╔ or like anything else that some man has artistically sculpted! 30 Yet God has overlooked such periods of ignorance, and now He's telling all men wherever they may be, to repent, 31 because He's set a day when He's going to judge the entire habitation of mankind righteously by a man whom He has appointed. And He has given all of us a reason to believe in this one by resurrecting him from the dead!'

32 Well, when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some started joking about it. But others said, 'We'll listen to more about this at some other time!' 33 So then Paul left them.

34 However, some of the men started following him and became believers. This included Dionysius (a judge of the AeroPagus Supreme Court), a woman named Damaris, and several others.

Chapter 18

1 After that, he left Athens and traveled on to Corinth. 2 And there he found a Judean (from Pontus) named Aquila, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (gr. Priskillan), because Claudius [Caesar] had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. So he went to see them; 3 and because they shared the same trade (they all worked as tent makers), he stayed at their house. 4 He also spoke in the synagogue on every Sabbath and he kept reasoning with both the Jews and the Greeks.

5 Now, when Silas and Timothy finally arrived from Macedonia, Paul really intensified his work of witnessing to the Jews, proving that Jesus is the Anointed One. 6 However, they just kept on opposing him and blaspheming; so he shook out his clothes and said, 'Your blood is now on your own heads╔ I am clean of it! So from now on, I'll just be going to the gentiles.'

7 Then he left them and he went to the home of a man named Titius Justus (a worshiper of God), whose house adjoined the synagogue. 8 And later, Crispus (the synagogue's presiding officer) became a believer in the Lord, as did his whole household; and many Corinthians who heard about it also became believers and were baptized.

9 Then one night, the Lord said this to Paul in a vision: 'Don't be afraid; keep on talking here and don't stop, 10 because I'm with you! Nobody will attack you or try to hurt you, since I have many people in this city.' 11 So he stayed there for a year and a half, teaching the Word of God among them.

12 Now, it was while Gallio was governor of Akhaea that the Jews got together and came against Paul. They took him to court and charged him, 13 saying, 'This man is violating the Law by trying to convert people of other faiths to worshiping [his] God.' 14 But just as Paul was about to answer, Gallio told them: 'O Jews; I'd be patient and put up with this if you were talking about [his doing] something wrong or committing some foul act. 15 But if all you want to do is complain about words, names, and your Law, take care of it yourselves. I don't wish to be the judge of such matters!' 16 And with that, he threw them out of his court.

17 So then they dragged [Paul] before Sosthenes, the presiding officer of the synagogue. And right there in front of the Judgment Seat, they started beating him up! However, Gallio didn't pay any attention to this.

18 Well, after staying there for several more days, Paul said goodbye to the brothers and sailed off for Syria, along with Priscilla and Aquila. Then [Paul] had his hair sheared in Kenchrea, because of a vow he'd made.

19 Now, when they arrived at Ephesus, he left [Priscilla and Aquila] and went into the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20 And although they asked him to stay there for a while, he wouldn't do it. 21 He just said goodbye and told them: 'If it's God's will, I'll come back again.'

Then he traveled from Ephesus 22 to Caesarea, where he went up and greeted the congregation; and then he traveled on to AntiOch.

23 Well, after staying [in AntiOch] for some time, he left and traveled throughout the areas of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples there.

24 Now, a Jew named Apollos (a native of Alexandria), who was an excellent speaker and knew the Scriptures very well, arrived at Ephesus. 25 He had been taught the ways of the Lord and was aglow with the Breath [of God]. So what he said and taught about Jesus was correct; however, he only knew about the baptism of John.

26 Well, he was boldly speaking in the synagogue when Priscilla and Aquila heard him; so they took him under their wing and explained the ways of God to him more completely. 27 Then, because he wanted to travel across Achaea, the brothers wrote to the disciples there, telling them to welcome him. And when he got there, he provided assistance to all those who (through [God's] loving care) became believers, 28 as he publicly and very enthusiastically proved that the Jews were absolutely wrong, using the Scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Anointed One.

Chapter 19

1 Well, while Apollos stayed in Corinth, Paul traveled inland. And when he got to Ephesus, he found some disciples 2 and asked them: 'Did you receive the Holy Breath [of God] when you became believers?'

And they answered: 'Why, we've never even heard that there is Holy Breath.'

3 And he asked: 'Then, into what were you baptized?'

And they replied: 'In John's baptism.'

4 So Paul told them: 'When John baptized, it was a baptism of repentance. However, he told the people to believe in the one coming after him╔ in Jesus.'

5 Well when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Breath came over them and they started speaking in different languages and prophesying 7 (there were about twelve men altogether).

8 Then [Paul] went into the synagogue, where he spoke boldly╔ for the next three months he reasoned and talked persuasively about the Kingdom of God. 9 But when [he noted] that some were just becoming more difficult, refusing to believe and saying bad things about The Way in front of the crowds, he left them╔ he separated the [true] disciples from among them and started giving lectures in the School of Tyrannous each day; 10 and this went on for two years. So everyone who lived in [the province of] Asia (both Jews and Greeks) heard the Word of the Lord. 11 And [all the while], God kept showing unusual power through the hands of Paul. 12 Why, even the bandannas and aprons he wore were carried to sick people, which caused their diseases to leave and wicked spirits to come out.

13 However, there were some traveling Judean exorcists who also started using the name of the Lord Jesus against wicked spirits, saying, 'I order you in the name of Jesus, the one whom Paul preaches ╔ ' 14 And Sceva (a Judean Chief Priest) had seven sons who were doing this. 15 However, one wicked spirit said to them: 'I know Jesus, and I'm familiar with Paul, but just who are you?' 16 And with that, the man who was possessed by a wicked spirit jumped on them, overpowered each one and beat them up╔ so they had to flee from the house naked and injured.

17 Why, everyone in Ephesus (both Jews and Greeks) heard about this, and it frightened them. As the result, the name of the Lord Jesus kept growing in praise, 18 and many that became believers would come and openly confess, telling of [the bad] things they had done. 19 In fact, several who used to practice magic brought their books together and burned them up in front of everyone. And when they calculated how much they'd paid for them, they found that they [were worth] some fifty thousand silver coins. 20 So the power of the Word of the Lord kept growing and getting stronger.

21 Well, after all these things had happened, Paul resolved that he would travel to Macedonia and Achaea, and then on to JeruSalem. He also said: 'After I get there, I want to see Rome!' 22 So he sent two of those who served [with] him (Timothy and Erastus) to Macedonia, while he spent some time in [the province of] Asia.

23 However, a big disturbance had arisen there because of The Way. 24 For there was a man named Demetrius who was a silversmith that made silver shrines of Artemis╔ which was a very profitable business for him and his employees. 25 So he gathered them along with others in his trade and said: 'Men, you know that we make a very good living from this business. 26 But now you're seeing and hearing how this Paul is persuading large numbers of people, making converts of them not just in Ephesus but in almost all [the province of] Asia, saying that hand-made gods really aren't gods! 27 Why, this not only endangers our business by damaging its reputation, but [soon] the temple of the great goddess Artemis will become unimportant, and her magnificence – which the whole [province of] Asia and the entire land worships – is about to be brought to nothing!'

28 Well when they heard this, they all became very angry and started shouting, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians,' 29 and the whole city became filled with confusion. Then they rushed into the theater and [dragged off] Gaius and AristArchus (Macedonians who traveled with Paul). 30 So thereafter, Paul wanted to go to visit them in public, but the disciples wouldn't allow it. 31 Why, even some of the public game commissioners (who were friends of Paul) sent word to him, begging him not to enter the theater.

32 In the meantime, some [in the theater] were shouting one thing and others were shouting something else, for the whole group was confused and most of them didn't even know why they were there. 33 So they located Alexander in the midst of the crowd, and the Judeans pushed him up to the front. Then Alexander started waving his hands to defend himself before the people. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they started a shout that lasted for two hours: 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'

35 Well, when the City Recorder finally quieted the crowd, he said: 'Men! Ephesians! Who in the world doesn't know that the City of Ephesus is the place where the temple of the Great Artemis and the image that fell from the sky is kept? 36 So, since these things are undeniable, it would seem better if you'd just calm down and not act so foolishly!

37 'Now, you've grabbed hold of these men, who aren't guilty of either robbing Temples or blaspheming our goddess. 38 But if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a case against them╔ [remember that] there are court days and there are governors! So, let them bring charges there. 39 If you're looking for anything more, it has to be decided in a legal hearing!

40 'Now, we are really in danger of being charged with rioting today, and we don't have a good reason for doing that! Who can give me an explanation for this disorderly mob?'

41 And after he said that, he dismissed the assembly.

Chapter 20

1 Now, when all the rioting was over, Paul sent for the disciples. And after encouraging them, he said goodbye and left for Macedonia. 2 Then, after traveling around to encourage the people there with many speeches, he went to Greece, 3 where he then spent three months. However, the Jews [in Greece] started plotting against him. And although he first decided to leave for Syria, he later changed his mind and returned through Macedonia.

4 Accompanying him [to Greece] were Sopater (the son of PyrRhus of Berea), AristArchus, Secundus (of the Thessalonians), Gaius (of Derbe), and Timothy, as well as Tychicus and Trophimus (from the [province of] Asia). 5 These went on ahead and waited for us in Troas. 6 Then after the period of No Fermentation, we sailed from Philippi to Troas, where they were, which took five days, and then we spent seven more days there.

7 Then on Sunday, when we met to have a meal, Paul gave a public talk (because he was going to leave the next day). However, his speech went on until midnight, 8 so many lamps were lit in the upstairs room where we met.

9 Well, there was a young man named EuTychus who was sitting in a window and fell fast asleep while Paul was talking╔ he slumped over and fell out of the third-story window. And when they picked him up, he was dead. 10 But Paul went downstairs and threw himself on top of him, hugged him, and said, 'Don't worry; he's still alive!' 11 So he went back upstairs, started the meal, and they all ate and talked until daybreak╔ then he left. 12 Meanwhile, they had taken the boy [home] alive, and everyone was extremely encouraged.

13 From there, we went on ahead of Paul by boat and sailed to Assos, where we waited for him (because that's what he told us to do), since he was going to travel there on foot. 14 So when he caught up with us in Assos, we took him aboard and we went on to Mitylene; 15 then we sailed from there the next day, coming ashore across from Chios. On the following day we stopped at Samos, and then we arrived at Miletus the next day.

16 Now, Paul had planned to sail past Ephesus, so he wouldn't spend any time in the [province of] Asia, because he was in a hurry to get to JeruSalem before Pentecost, if he could. 17 However, [while he was] in Miletus, he sent word to Ephesus to call the elders of the congregation to him. 18 And when they arrived, he told them: 'You know very well that from the first day I stepped foot into Asia, I was with you all the time, 19 humbly slaving for the Lord. And [you know] of all the tears and trials that I endured because of the plots of the Jews. 20 Yet, I didn't fail to remind you and teach you both both in public and in [your] homes; 21 for I thoroughly testified to both Jews and Greeks about [the need to] repent before God, and [to have] faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 'But now {Look!} I'm traveling to JeruSalem as though I were already in chains. For I don't know what's going to happen to me there. 23 [All I know is that] in city after city, the Holy Breath keeps testifying to me, telling me that chains and difficulties are awaiting me there. 24 Yet, I won't say anything that would make my life more valuable to me, so I can faithfully finish my course and fulfill the service assignment that I received from the Lord Jesus╔ to testify completely about the good news of God's loving care.

25 'Now, {Look!} I know that all of you to whom I preached the Kingdom will see my face no more. 26 So I'm testifying to you today that I'm clean from the blood of all men, 27 because I haven't held back from telling you any of God's purposes. 28 Therefore, you need to pay close attention to yourselves and to the whole flock over which the Holy Breath [of God] has appointed you watchmen and shepherds╔ this congregation of God that He purchased with the blood of [His own Son]. 29 For I know that after I leave, oppressive wolves will enter among you who won't spare the flock, 30 and that men from among you will arise and speak twisted things to attract some of the disciples toward following them. 31 So stay awake╔ and keep those three years in mind during which I didn't stop counseling each of you tearfully, both night and day.

32 'And now, I'm entrusting you into loving care of our Lord, who can build you up and give you an inheritance among all the Holy Ones.

33 '[You know that] I haven't longed for anyone's silver, gold, or clothing; 34 for you're aware of how I've used my own hands to take care of my own needs and [for the needs] of those who were with me. 35 I've demonstrated to you how necessary it is for us to work like this, so we can help those who are weak. Therefore, remember the words that were said by our Lord Jesus: There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.' 36 And after he said this, he kneeled down with them all and prayed.

37 Well, many tears flowed as they hugged Paul's neck and tenderly kissed him. 38 For when he said that they wouldn't see his face again, they were deeply saddened. Then they all accompanied him out to the boat.

Chapter 21

1 Now, when we finally tore ourselves away from them and put out to sea, we ran straight over to Cos, then to Rhodes the next day, and from there, to Patara. 2 And when we found a boat that was going to Phoenicia, we went aboard and sailed off.

3 Well, we came in sight of the Island of Cyprus, passing it on our left, and we sailed on to Syria, landing at Tyre (because that's where the boat unloaded its cargo). 4 There we searched for and found the disciples, and we stayed with them for seven days. However, by the Breath [of God], they repeatedly warned Paul not to set foot in JeruSalem.

5 [A week later], we got ready to continue our journey; and everyone (including the women and children) followed us outside the city. And then kneeling down on the beach, we had a prayer 6 before saying goodbye to each other. So then we boarded the ship as they returned to their homes.

7 Well after we left Tyre, we finally arrived at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and spent the day with them. 8 Then the next day we traveled on to Caesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelizer (one of the seven men), and stayed with him. 9 This man had four virgin daughters who all prophesied.

10 But after we'd stayed there for several days, a Prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He walked up to us and removed Paul's sash, then he used it to tie up his own hands and feet, and he said: 'Thus says the Holy Breath [of God]: This is how the Judeans will bind the man to whom this sash belongs and hand him over to the gentiles.'

12 Well, when we heard this, we all (everyone there) started begging [Paul] not to go to JeruSalem. 13 But Paul replied: 'Why are you crying and crushing my heart? I'm not only ready to be bound, but also to die in JeruSalem for the name of our Lord Jesus.' 14 And when we couldn't change his mind, we gave in, saying, 'May [God's] Will be done.'

15 So after several days, we prepared for the journey and headed toward JeruSalem. 16 Meanwhile, some of the disciples from Caesarea traveled with us and led us to the home of a man who showed us some hospitality╔ Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple.

17 Well, when we arrive in JeruSalem, the brothers were all happy to see us. 18 And the next [day], we went with Paul to see James and the rest of the elders. 19 So [Paul] greeted them and started giving a detailed account of the things that God had done among the nations through his ministry. 20 And after hearing about it, they glorified God.

Then they told him: 'Our brother; You know how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they all zealously obey the Law. 21 But they have heard the rumor that you're teaching Jews who live among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to follow our traditions. 22 So what do you suppose we can do about this?

'Now, they're going to hear that you've arrived. 23 So do what we are telling you to do: We have four men who have taken a sacred vow╔ 24 take them with you, and all of you should cleanse yourselves ceremonially, then pay to have your heads shaved. That way, everyone will know that there's no truth to the rumors we've heard about you, and that you're personally following the rules and obeying the Law.

25 'As for the gentiles who've become believers; We've already sent them our decision to stay free from things that are sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things that are strangled, and from sexual immorality.'

26 So the next day, Paul took the [four] men along and they cleansed themselves ceremonially. Then they entered the Temple to give notice of their ceremonial cleansing (to start counting the days until an offering should be made for each of them). 27 But when the seven days were about up, some Judeans from [the province of] Asia saw him in the Temple and started a riot among the crowd╔ they grabbed him, 28 shouting, 'Men of IsraEl! Help! This is the man who is teaching against our people, against the Law, and against this place to everyone everywhere. Why, he has even defiled this Holy Place by bringing Greeks into the Temple!' 29 ([They said this], because they had seen him in the city earlier with Trophimus the Ephesian, and they thought that Paul had also brought him into the Temple.)

30 Well, the whole city was in an uproar and many people started running there. So they grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the Temple, then they closed the [Temple] doors 31 and tried to kill him. But when the commander of the [Roman] garrison heard the uproar there in JeruSalem, 32 he immediately took a contingent of officers and soldiers, and ran down to them. So when [the mob] saw the commander coming with his soldiers, they stopped beating on Paul.

33 However, the commander arrested [Paul] and ordered him bound with two chains. Then he asked [the mob] who he was and what he had done. 34 However, some in the crowd started shouting one thing and others shouted something else. So, because he was unable to be sure of anything (due to all the confusion), he commanded [that Paul] should be taken back to their garrison.

35 Well, when they reached the stairs, the situation got even worse. For the mob became so violent that the soldiers had to literally carry him along╔ 36 as the people followed, shouting, 'Take him away!'

37 Then as he was being carried into the garrison, Paul asked the commander: 'Am I allowed to say something to you?'

And he replied: 'Can you speak Greek? 38 Aren't you the Egyptian who started a rebellion and led four-thousand dagger men into the desert some time ago?'

39 But Paul said: 'For a fact, I'm a Jew from Tarsus in Kilikia╔ I'm a citizen of a well-known city. So I beg you; Allow me to speak to the people!'

40 Well at that, he gave Paul permission. So [Paul] stood on the stairs and waved his arms [to quiet] the people. And when everything quieted down, he spoke to them in Hebrew, saying:

Chapter 22

1 'Men╔ brothers and fathers! Allow me to say something in my own defense now.' 2 Well, when they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, things got quieter. And he said, 3 'I'm a Jew who was born in Tarsus of Kilikia. I went to school right here in this city, and I received my instruction at the feet of GamaliEl, who taught me to obey the Law of our fathers strictly and to show the same zeal for God that you're showing today.

4 'Why, I personally persecuted this Way, by arresting and delivering their men and women to prisons for execution. 5 The High Priest and the entire assembly of elders can testify to this, because I obtained letters from them to our brothers in Damascus, where I went to bring all those who they had in prison back to JeruSalem for punishment. 6 But as I was on my way and getting close to Damascus, at about noon, a bright light in the sky flashed all around me. 7 Then I fell to the ground and I heard a voice say to me, Saul; Saul; Why are you persecuting me? 8 So I asked, Who are you, Lord? And he replied, I'm Jesus the Nazarene, the one whom you're persecuting.

9 'Well, the men who were with me saw the light, but they didn't hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 Then I asked, What must I do Lord? And the Lord told me: Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told of everything that you've been assigned to do. 11 But, since I could no longer see due to the brilliance of that light, those who were [traveling] with me had to lead me into Damascus by the hand.

12 'Now, AnaNias – a man who devoutly obeyed the Law and who was well spoken of by all the Judeans who live there – 13 came and stood next to me. Then he said, Saul╔ Brother╔ See again! And I could immediately see him.

14 'Then he said: The God of our fathers has selected you to learn about His Will, to see the Righteous One and to hear the voice from his mouth, 15 because you are to be his witness to everything that you've seen and heard. 16 So now, why are you wasting time? Get up, get baptized, and wash your sins away by calling on his name.

17 'Then after I returned to JeruSalem, I was praying in the Temple when I fell into a trance where I saw [Jesus]. 18 And he told me: Hurry! You must leave JeruSalem right away, because the [people here] don't want to listen to your testimony about me!

19 'But I said: Lord; they all know very well that in one synagogue after another I used to have all those who believe in you arrested and whipped. 20 And when the blood of your witness Stephen was being spilled, I stood there and approved╔ in fact, I guarded the robes of those who did away with him! 21 But he just told me: Leave, because I'm sending you to far-away nations.'

22 Now, they had been listening to him until he said that; but then they started shouting, 'Kill this man, for he isn't fit to live!' 23 And because they were shouting, throwing their clothes around and tossing dirt in the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul should be taken inside the garrison.

Then he gave orders to scourge him with a whip to force him to explain why everyone was shouting about him that way. 25 But when they stretched him out to be whipped, Paul asked the centurion who was standing there, 'Is it legal for you to whip a man who is a Roman and hasn't been charged with a crime?'

26 Well, when the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and asked, 'Just what do you intend to do? Why, this man is a Roman!'

27 So the commander came to [Paul] and asked, 'Tell me; Are you a Roman?'

And he answered, 'Yes.'

28 Then the commander said, 'Why, I paid a lot to obtain my citizenship.'

And Paul said, 'I was born [a citizen].'

29 Well, the men who were about to torture him left immediately. And on learning that he had arrested a Roman [citizen], the military commander was frightened. 30 So the next day, because he wanted to know for sure just what the Jews were accusing him of; he [unshackled] him and commanded the Chief Priests and the entire Jewish Court to assemble. Then he brought Paul down and stood him among them.

Chapter 23

1 Well, Paul just glared at the [judges of the] Jewish Court, and said: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ I have a perfectly clear conscience about the way I've been behaving before God down to this day.'

2 And at that, the High Priest AnaNias ordered those who were standing by him to hit him in the mouth.

3 So Paul said: 'God is going to hit you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit there judging me by the Law, and at the same time break the Law by telling them to hit me?'

4 Then those who were standing by him said: 'Are you speaking against the High Priest of God?'

5 And Paul answered: 'Brothers; I didn't know he was the High Priest. For it's written: You must not speak badly of the one who rules your people.'

6 Well, when Paul noticed that part of the group were SadDucees and the rest were Pharisees, he called out in the High Court: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ it is because I'm a Pharisee and the son of Pharisee that I'm being judged over my hope in the resurrection of the dead!'

7 And after he said this, quite an argument broke out between the Pharisees and SadDucees, which divided the crowd; 8 because, the SadDucees say there is no such thing as a resurrection, or [divine] messengers, or the Breath [of God]. However, the Pharisees publicly preach all of those things. 9 So there was a lot of shouting, and some of the Pharisees' scribes stood up and started heatedly arguing, saying, 'We don't find anything wrong with this man! For if the Breath [of God] or [one of His] messengers spoke to him╔ '

10 Well, the argument became so heated that the commander feared they would pull Paul to pieces. So he ordered the soldiers to go down and take him from their midst and bring him back to the garrison.

11 Then on the following night, the Lord stood next to [Paul] and said: 'Be strong! So far, you've thoroughly testified to things about me in JeruSalem; but now you must also testify about me in Rome.'

12 Well the next morning, the Judeans formed an alliance and swore with a curse that they wouldn't eat or drink until after they had killed Paul 13 (there were more than forty men who formed this oath-bound conspiracy). 14 So they went to the Chief Priests and elders and said: 'We've taken a solemn oath with a curse not to take a bite of food until we've killed Paul. 15 Therefore, we want you and the High Court to explain to the military commander that he should bring [Paul] to you, so you can learn more about the charges against him╔ and we'll be ready to do away with him before he gets there!'

16 However, Paul's nephew heard that they would be laying for him, so he went to the garrison and reported it to Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said: 'Take this young man to the commander, because he has something to report.'

18 So [the soldier] took [Paul's nephew] to the commander and told him: 'The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to tell you.'

19 Well, the commander took him by the hand and led him in, then he asked him privately: 'What is it that you want to report to me?'

20 And he answered: 'The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Jewish Court tomorrow, pretending to want to learn more about the charges against him. 21 But whatever you do, don't let them convince you to do this, because they have more than forty men who are waiting to ambush him. These men have sworn an oath with a curse not to eat or drink until they've done away with him. And all they're awaiting is a promise from you.'

22 So at that, the commander sent the young man away, giving him the order: 'Don't tell anyone that you've explained this to me.' 23 Then he called in two of his centurions and said: 'I want you to get two hundred soldiers ready, plus seventy cavalrymen and two hundred spearmen╔ have them prepared to march all the way to Caesarea at eight o'clock tonight. 24 Also, provide animals for Paul to ride, then carry him safely to Governor Felix.'

25 And thereafter, he wrote a letter that read like this: 26 'Claudius Lysias, to the mighty Governor Felix:
Rejoice!
27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to do away with him. However, I came there quickly with a contingent of soldiers and rescued him, because I learned that he was a Roman. 28 And because I wanted to know what they were accusing him of, I took him down to their High Court. 29 And there I found that they had accused him over questions having to do with their Law╔ but he hadn't been charged with anything that deserves death or jail. 30 However, because I learned about a plot against this man, I am sending him to you right away, and I'm ordering his accusers to speak against him there before you.'

31 So these soldiers followed their orders and took Paul to AntiPatris that night.

32 Then the next day, they sent him on with the cavalry (which later returned to the garrison). 33 And when they got to Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor along with Paul.

34 Well, after he read the letter, [Felix] asked [Paul] which province he came from. And when he heard that he was from Kilikia, he said: 35 'I'll give you a thorough hearing after your accusers get here.'

So he gave orders that [Paul] should be kept under guard in the Praetorian Palace of Herod.

Chapter 24

1 Well, five days later, High Priest AnaNias arrived with some elders and an orator named Tertullus, and they explained their accusations against Paul to the governor. 2 Then when he was called forward, Tertullus said this:

'You've brought about so much peace, and we welcome the well-thought-out reforms that you've brought to our nation 3 in every way and everywhere, with the greatest thankfulness, O mighty Felix. 4 But, so that I don't waste any of your time, I beg you to hear us briefly, in your kindness.

5 'We found this man (this plague) stirring up rebellions among the Judeans throughout the whole inhabited earth, for he's the leader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 And when he tried to profane our Temple, we arrested him. 7 —— 8 You can examine him yourself to learn more about all these things that we're accusing him of.'

9 And at this, the Judeans also joined in the attack, affirming that the things [Tertullus] said were true.

10 Then the governor nodded for Paul to speak. And he said: 'I know very well that you've been the judge of our nation for many years. So I'm happy to speak in my own defense about these things that I've been accused of, 11 since you are in a good position to understand them.

'It hasn't been more than twelve days since I went to worship in JeruSalem, 12 and they didn't find me in the Temple arguing with anyone, nor did they find me inciting a riot in the synagogues╔ or anywhere else in the city for that matter! 13 So right now, they can't prove any of the things they're accusing me of before you. 14 But I do admit to this: That which they're calling a sect, is nothing more than the way that I've always been worshiping the God of my fathers.

'I believe everything that is written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 And I have this hope in God (which they also share) that there's going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 This is why I'm constantly on the alert so as to not offend my conscience by doing anything against God or men. 17 And this is also the reason why, after [being gone for] several years, I returned [to JeruSalem]╔ to bring gifts to the poor in my nation and to present my offerings [before God].

18 'It was while I was doing this that they found me in the Temple╔ ceremonially cleansed! I didn't bring along a mob or start a riot! Why, some Jews from the [province of] Asia 19 should be here before you to accuse me╔ that is, if they can find something against me. 20 Why not ask these who are here to tell you what wrong things they found me doing as I stood before their High Court╔ 21 there was just the thing that I shouted while I was standing among them when I said, I am being judged before you today over the resurrection of the dead!'

22 Well, although Felix knew a lot about things that have to do with the Way, he just put them off, saying, 'When Commander Lysias gets here, I'll make a decision on this matter that you're so concerned about.' 23 Then [Felix] ordered the centurion not to kill [Paul], but to allow him some liberty, and not to prevent his people from serving his needs.

24 It was several days later that Felix arrived with his woman Drousille. And since she was a Jew, he sent for Paul and they listened to him talk about his belief in the Anointed Jesus. 25 However, Felix became frightened when he talked about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment; so he said, 'That's enough for now! Go on back, and when I have the time, I'll send for you again.' 26 However, he really hoped that Paul would try to bribe him; so he sent for him and talked to him frequently.

27 Well after two years, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to be liked by the Judeans, he kept Paul locked up.

Chapter 25

1 It was just three days after Festus was appointed the provincial governor that he traveled from Caesarea to JeruSalem. 2 And there the Chief Priests and Judean leaders talked to him about Paul. 3 They begged him (asking it as a favor) to send [Paul] to JeruSalem╔ since they planned to ambush and kill him along the road. 4 However, Festus replied that he would just keep Paul in Caesarea. But because he would be leaving [JeruSalem] shortly, he told them, 5 'Those of you who have been empowered to do so should come back with me, and if he has committed some crime, you can make your accusations against him there.'

6 Well, after he had spent about eight to ten days [in JeruSalem], he returned to Caesarea. And the next day, he sat on the Judgment Seat and ordered Paul to be brought in. 7 And when [Paul] arrived, the Jews who had come from JeruSalem stood all around him and charged him with several serious offenses╔ but they couldn't prove anything.

8 Then Paul spoke in his own defense, saying, 'I haven't committed any sins against the Law of the Jews, against the Temple, or against Caesar!'

9 However, Festus (in an attempt to gain favor with the Jews) asked Paul: 'Do you want to go back to JeruSalem and to be judged over these things before me there?'

10 But Paul said: 'I'm standing before the Judgment Seat of Caesar, and this is where I ought to be judged! I've done nothing wrong to the Judeans, as you're finding out for yourself. 11 However, if I really am a wrongdoer and have done something that I should die for, I'm not begging off from dying. On the other hand, if none of the things they are accusing me of are true, then no one can just hand me over to them as a favor. So I appeal to Caesar!'

12 Well, after discussing it with his counselors, Festus replied: 'You have appealed to Caesar; so to Caesar you will go!'

13 Then, after several days had passed, Agrippa (the king) and Bernice arrived in Caesarea to pay a courtesy visit on Festus. 14 So, since they were to spend several days there, Festus laid the matter of Paul before the king, saying, 'There's a man here who was left as a prisoner by Felix. 15 And when I was in JeruSalem, the Chief Priests and Judean elders brought me some information about him and asked me to condemn him to death. 16 But I told them that it isn't the Roman way to just hand a man over as a favor before he meets his accusers face to face and gets a chance to speak in his own defense. 17 So when they got here, I didn't delay the matter╔ the next day I sat down on the Judgment Seat and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 And when they came [before me], his accusers didn't really produce any serious charges as I thought they would. 19 They simply complained about some dispute they had with him over questions about their religion and about some Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul kept claiming was alive!

20 'Well, I became so confused over the matter that I finally asked if he would like to go to JeruSalem to be judged there over these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be bound over for a decision by the August One, I ordered him to be held until I can send him to Caesar.'

22 So Agrippa told Festus: 'I'd like to hear from this man also.'

And he said: 'Tomorrow you will hear him!'

23 Then the next day, Agrippa and Bernice arrived with a lot of pomp and ceremony and went into the hearing room along with some military commanders and prominent men from the city. And when Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in.

24 So Festus said: 'King Agrippa and all of you who are here with us; Now you can see this man about whom all the Judeans, both here and in JeruSalem, are shouting that he shouldn't be allowed to live any longer. 25 However, I haven't found anything that he's done to deserve death; so when he appealed to the August One, I decided to send him there╔ 26 but I really don't have anything to write to [my] lord about. Therefore, I brought him here before you╔ and especially before you, King Agrippa, so you can examine him and judge something that I might write. 27 For it seems unreasonable for me to send a prisoner [to Rome] and not be able to specify the charges against him.'

Chapter 26

1 Then Agrippa told Paul: 'You may now speak on your own behalf.'

So Paul stretched his hands out and said this in his defense: 2 'King Agrippa; I'm happy to be here so as to defend myself before you today over all these things that I've been accused of by the Jews, 3 because you're an expert on all Judean customs and controversies. So I beg you to listen to me patiently.

4 'This is the way that I've lived since I was a boy: From long ago, everyone in my nation (all in JeruSalem and all the Jews 5 who used to know me) can testify to the fact that I was raised in the strictest sect of our type of worship╔ I was a Pharisee. 6 And now, it's over the hope of a promise that was made by God to our ancestors that I'm standing here being judged, 7 since it's concerning the hope of attaining this that our twelve tribes have been so earnestly serving [God] night and day. And it's over this same hope that I'm being accused by these Judeans, O king. 8 So, why is it that you all find it unbelievable that God can raise the dead?

9 'For a fact, I once thought that it was right to do whatever I could to oppose the name of Jesus the Nazarene╔ 10 and I did this in JeruSalem. Why, I locked up many of the Holy Ones and threw them in jail, because I was authorized to do this by the Chief Priests. And as they were being brought up for execution, I voted against them! 11 I often punished them in synagogues and tried to make them commit blasphemy; and since I was so crazy [in my hatred] against them, I even traveled to other cities to persecute them.

12 'Well, it was because I was doing this that I traveled to Damascus with an authorization and a commission from the Chief Priests. 13 Then at noon, while I was on the road, O king, I saw a light that was brighter than the sun that flashed from the sky around me and those who were traveling with me. 14 Then we all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew: Saul; Saul; Why are you persecuting me? It's so hard for you to keep kicking against the goad!'

15 'Then I asked, Who are you Lord? And the Lord replied: I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 Now, get up and stand on your feet. I've made myself visible to you so as to take you ahead of time to be my servant, and you can testify to the fact that you saw me and all the things that I'm going to make you see. 17 For I'm selecting you out of the people and out of the nations where I'm going to send you, 18 to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and to lead them from the power of the Opposer, toward God. I'm doing this so that their sins can be forgiven and they can receive an inheritance among those who have been made holy by [their] faith in me.

19 'As the result, King Agrippa; I didn't disobey this vision from heaven. 20 First, I went to those in Damascus, then to those in JeruSalem and the entire countryside around Judea╔ and finally to the gentiles, to whom I carried the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing things that prove their repentance. 21 And this is why the Judeans grabbed me in the Temple and tried to beat me to death!

22 'However, through the help of God, I've kept witnessing to both the least and the greatest down to this day. I haven't been saying anything other that what the Prophets and Moses told us would happen╔ 23 that the Anointed One was to going to suffer. And that, as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to proclaim light to these gentiles.'

24 Now, while he was saying these things in his defense, Festus shouted: 'You're crazy, Paul! All the writings are driving you mad!'

25 But Paul said, 'I'm not going crazy, O mighty Festus; I'm telling you things that are true and which make good sense! 26 For a fact, the king that I'm speaking to so openly knows a lot about these things! Why, I believe that none of this has escaped his notice, because none of it was done off in some corner! 27 King Agrippa; Do you believe the Prophets? I know that you believe!'

28 But Agrippa said to Paul: 'It wouldn't take long for you to convince me to become a Christian also!'

29 And at this, Paul said: 'I wish to God (whether it takes a short time or a long time) that not only you, but also everyone who hears me today would become men just like me╔ except for these chains.'

30 Then the king got up, as did the governor, Bernice, and the men who were sitting with them. 31 And as they were walking out, they were talking to each other, saying, 'This man hasn't done anything deserving of death, or even for which he should be locked up!'

32 Then Agrippa said to Festus: 'Well, this man could have been released if he hadn't appealed to Caesar.'

Chapter 27

1 Thereafter, since it had been decided that we had to sail away to Italy, they handed Paul (along with some other prisoners) over to a centurion named Julius, who was [a soldier] of the Augustus Division. 2 So we boarded a ship along with AristArchus (a Macedonian from ThesSalonica).

Now, the ship had come from AdraMyttium, and it was sailing to places along the coast of the [province of] Asia. 3 So the next day, when we landed at Sidon, Julius treated Paul very kindly by allowing him to visit friends who cared for his needs.

4 Then from there, we sailed around Cyprus, because the winds were against us, 5 hitting the open sea [south of] Kilikia and PamPhylia, then putting into port at Myra in Lukias. 6 There the centurion found a ship that was coming from Alexandria and sailing for Italy, which he made us board. 7 Then, after sailing slowly (and with a lot of difficulty) for several days, we stopped at Knidos. And because the winds wouldn't let us go on, we sailed [south of] Salmone, Crete. 8 Then following the coastline carefully, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

9 Well, since we had lost so much time (it was already past [Yom Kippur]) and the sea was hazardous to navigate, Paul made a recommendation. 10 He said: 'Men; I see that any further navigation is going to result in damage and huge losses not only to the cargo and ship, but to our lives!'

11 However, the army officer preferred to listened to the pilot and the ship's owner, rather than to what Paul was saying.

12 Now, since this harbor was a poor place to winter, the majority recommended that they set sail and go on, in an attempt to make it to Phoenix, where they could spend the winter (it's a harbor in Crete, which has openings to the northeast and southeast).

13 Well, when the south wind started blowing gently, they thought that this would meet their needs. So they weighed anchor and coasted along the shore next to Crete. 14 But after a little while, a typhoon wind they call the Euro Clydon bore down on us. 15 And because the ship was being tossed so violently that it couldn't maintain its heading, we just gave up and [allowed ourselves to be] carried along by the wind.

16 Then, when we passed south of a small island called Cauda, we used all our strength to get hold of the rowboat that was tied at the rear of the ship. 17 And after we hoisted it aboard, they started wrapping the ship with [ropes and chains]. And since they were afraid of running aground on the shoals, they lowered the masts and we were just carried along. 18 Then on the next day (because we were still being violently tossed by the storm), they started to lighten the ship. 19 And by the third [day], they had tossed all the boat's furnishings overboard with their own hands.

20 Now, since we hadn't seen the sun or stars for several days and a storm was still over us, we had lost any hope of being saved╔ 21 and considerable time had elapsed since anyone had been able to eat. Then Paul stood up in the midst of them and said, 'Men; You certainly should have taken my advice and not put out to sea from Crete, just to suffer this kind of damage and loss. 22 But now I'm telling you to be happy, because not a single life will be lost╔ though the ship will [be lost]. 23 You see; a messenger from the God that I serve and to whom I belong came to me this evening and said: 24 Don't be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. And {Look!} God has favored you by also giving you [the lives of] those who are sailing with you.

25 'So be happy, men! Because, I believe that God will do exactly as He told me! 26 However, we will be cast ashore on an island.'

27 Well thereafter, on the evening starting the fourteenth day, as we were being carried along in the Adriatic Sea (at about midnight), the sailors thought that we were getting close to land. 28 So they did a depth sounding and found it at twenty fathoms. Then after we had traveled on a little farther, they took another depth sounding, and this time it was fifteen fathoms. 29 So, because they were afraid that we might soon run aground on the rocks, they threw out four anchors at the stern and waited for daylight.

30 Meanwhile, the crew tried to escape from the ship by lowering the rowboat into the sea, as they were pretending to drop anchors from the prow. 31 But Paul then told the centurion and his soldiers: 'Unless those men stay on this ship, you can't be saved.' 32 So the soldiers cut away the ropes that held the rowboat and let it drop.

33 Well, very close to dawn, Paul encouraged everyone to eat something, saying: 'Today makes the fourteenth day that you've been on watch, and all that time you've gone without food or taking anything else into you. 34 So I encourage you to eat something, since that will help you to survive. Then, not so much as a hair on any of your heads will be destroyed!'

35 And after he said this, he took a loaf [of bread], gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and started eating. 36 So they all became more cheerful and started eating some food.

37 At the time, there were two hundred and seventy-six people on the ship. 38 And after they had enough food, they lightened the boat some more by throwing all the wheat into the sea.

39 But when it finally became light, they didn't recognize where they were╔ there was just a bay with a beach, and they decided to try to get to the beach in the ship. 40 So they cut away the anchors, letting them drop into the sea; then they untied the ropes that held the rudder, hoisted the foresail to the wind, and headed for the beach. 41 But then they hit a shoal out in the water, where the ship ran aground (the prow was stuck and it couldn't be moved), and the stern started falling apart in the crashing waves. 42 So the soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43 However, because the centurion wanted Paul to make it, he prevented them from doing that. He told everyone who could swim to dive into the sea and get to the shore first, 44 then the rest could [float in] on planks and other things from the ship╔ and that's how everyone got to land safely.

Chapter 28

1 Well, after we made it to safety, we recognized that this was the island of Malta. 2 There the native people found us and showed us uncommon hospitality, building a fire and welcoming all of us in the cold and the rain.

3 Then, when Paul went and collected a bundle of sticks and laid it on the fire, a viper was driven out by the heat and bit into his hand. 4 Well, when the native people saw this dangerous animal hanging from his hand, they said to each other: 'This man must be a murderer; for although he made it to safety from the sea, justice isn't going to allow him to live!'

5 But [Paul] just shook the animal off into the fire, and he didn't suffer any ill effects╔ 6 though they thought he was going to swell up and suddenly drop dead. However, after they waited a long time and saw that nothing bad had happen to him, they started saying that he was a god!

7 At the time, there was some property located nearby that belonged to the island's leader ([a man] named Publius). He welcomed us also and treated us kindly and hospitably for three days. 8 So when Publius' father became very sick with a fever and dysentery, Paul went into his room and prayed, then he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 And after this, the rest of the sick people on the island started coming to him to be cured, 10 honoring us with many gifts, and several brought us provisions that we would need.

11 Well, three months later, a boat from Alexandria called The Sons of Zeus (which had been wintering on the island) took us aboard 12 and carried us to Syracuse, where we stayed for three days. 13 Then from there, we traveled around [Sicily] and arrived at Rheggium. And a day later, we caught a south wind and made it to Puteoli in just two days, 14 where we found some of our brothers who begged us to stay with them for the next seven days. Then from there, we traveled on to Rome.

15 Well, when the brothers [in Rome] got the news about us, they came as far as the Market of Appius and the Three Shops to meet us. And when Paul saw them, he thanked God, because he was very encouraged. 16 Then, when we finally entered Rome, they allowed Paul to live on his own, with just a soldier to guard him.

17 Well, three days later, he called a meeting of the local Jewish leaders. And when they had assembled, he said to them: 'Men╔ Brothers╔ Although I haven't done anything against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was taken prisoner in JeruSalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 But after [the Romans] examined me, they wanted to release me, because they couldn't find any reason to put me to death. 19 However, when the Judeans kept opposing [my release], I was forced to appeal to Caesar╔ though I didn't do this in order to accuse my nation.

20 'Well, this is why I begged to see you and to talk to you╔ for, it's because of the hopes of IsraEl that I have this chain around me!'

21 Then they told [Paul]: 'We haven't received any letters about you from Judea, nor have any of the brothers who've arrived from there reported or said anything bad against you. 22 So we think it's worthwhile to listen to what you have to say, because we know for a fact that this sect is spoken against everywhere.'

23 Well after that, they arranged for a day when many more could come to hear him at the place where he was staying. And there he laid things out for them by completely testifying about the Kingdom of God. He also reasoned with them about Jesus from morning until evening, citing both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. 24 So some started to believe in what he said, but the rest didn't. 25 And since they couldn't reach a consensus, they all got ready to leave. So Paul said this: 'The Holy Breath [of God] spoke very accurately to your ancestors through IsaiAh the Prophet, when he said:

26 'You must go to these people and say:
When you listen, you'll hear, but not understand.
And when you look, you'll look, but not see.
27 For these peoples' hearts have been closed.
So though they can hear with their ears,
They will just not respond;
And they have eyes that are closed.

'Thus, though they have eyes, they can't see,
Nor can they hear with their ears,
Or understand with their hearts,
And return, so I can bring healing to them.

28 'Therefore, I'm warning you that God is now giving this hope of salvation to the gentiles╔ and they'll listen to it!' 29 ——

30 Well, he stayed in that rented house for two whole years, welcoming everyone who came to visit him, 31 telling them about the Kingdom of God and teaching them things about the Lord Jesus the Anointed One openly and without any interference.

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