This is part 3 of 4 selections of Bible passages about the persecution of the apostle Paul and the very first Christians, most of whom were alive when Jesus Christ was. Some of them, as in the case of the apostle Peter, had been his disciples.
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Bible topics part 3
Acts chapter 18 (TEV)
1 Paul ... went ... to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, for Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and stayed and worked with them, because he earned his living by making tents, just as they did. 4 He held discussions in the synagogue every Sabbath, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul gave his whole time to preaching the message, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 When they opposed him and said evil things about him, he protested by shaking the dust from his clothes and saying to them, "If you are lost, you yourselves must take the blame for it! I am not responsible. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
Acts chapter 18 (NIV)
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision:
"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. 13 "This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews,
"If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law--settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things."
16 So he had them ejected from the court.
17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Acts chapter 19 (CEV)
21 After all of this had happened, Paul decided to visit Macedonia and Achaia on his way to Jerusalem. Paul had said, "From there I will go on to Rome." 22 So he sent his two helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia. But he stayed on in Asia for a while.
23 At that time there was serious trouble because of the Lord's Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius had a business that made silver models of the temple of the goddess Artemis. Those who worked for him earned a lot of money. 25 Demetrius brought together everyone who was in the same business and said:
Friends, you know that we make a good living at this. 26 But you have surely seen and heard how this man Paul is upsetting a lot of people, not only in Ephesus, but almost everywhere in Asia. He claims that the gods we humans make are not really gods at all. 27 Everyone will start saying terrible things about our business. They will stop respecting the temple of the goddess Artemis, who is worshiped in Asia and all over the world. Our great goddess will be forgotten!
28 When the workers heard this, they got angry and started shouting, "Great is Artemis, the goddess of the Ephesians!"
29 Soon the whole city was in a riot, and some men grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, who had come from Macedonia with Paul. Then everyone in the crowd rushed to the place where the town meetings were held. 30 Paul wanted to go out and speak to the people, but the Lord's followers would not let him. 31 A few of the local officials were friendly to Paul, and they sent someone to warn him not to go.
32 Some of the people in the meeting were shouting one thing, and others were shouting something else. Everyone was completely confused, and most of them did not even know why they were there.
33 Several of the Jewish leaders pushed a man named Alexander to the front of the crowd and started telling him what to say. He motioned with his hand and tried to explain what was going on. 34 But when the crowd saw that he was Jewish, they all shouted for two hours, "Great is Artemis, the goddess of the Ephesians!"
35 Finally, a town official made the crowd be quiet. Then he said:
People of Ephesus, who in the world doesn't know that our city is the center for worshiping the great goddess Artemis? Who doesn't know that her image which fell from heaven is right here? 36 No one can deny this, and so you should calm down and not do anything foolish. 37 You have brought men in here who have not robbed temples or spoken against our goddess. 38 If Demetrius and his workers have a case against these men, we have courts and judges. Let them take their complaints there. 39 But if you want to do more than that, the matter will have to be brought before the city council. 40 We could easily be accused of starting a riot today. There is no excuse for it! We cannot even give a reason for this uproar.
41 After saying this, he told the people to leave.
Acts chapter 20 (GWT)
16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, if that was possible.
17 From Miletus Paul sent messengers to the city of Ephesus and called the spiritual leaders of the church to meet with him [in Miletus]. 18 When they were with him, he said to them,
"You know how I spent all my time with you from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19 I humbly served the Lord, often with tears in my eyes. I served the Lord during the difficult times I went through when the Jews plotted against me. 20 I didn't avoid telling you anything that would help you, and I didn't avoid teaching you publicly and from house to house. 21 I warned Jews and Greeks to change the way they think and act and to believe in our Lord Jesus.
22 "I am determined to go to Jerusalem now. I don't know what will happen to me there. 23 However, the Holy Spirit warns me in every city that imprisonment and suffering are waiting for me. 24 But I don't place any value on my own life. I want to finish the race I'm running. I want to carry out the mission I received from the Lord Jesus--the mission of testifying to the Good News of God's kindness.
25 "Now I know that none of you whom I told about the kingdom [of God]will see me again."
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down and prayed with all of them. 37 Everyone cried a lot as they put their arms around Paul and kissed him. 38 The thought of not seeing Paul again hurt them most of all.
Then they took Paul to the ship.
Acts chapter 21 (TEV)
1 We said good-bye to them and left.
After sailing straight across, we came to Cos; the next day we reached Rhodes, and from there we went on to Patara. 2 There we found a ship that was going to Phoenicia, so we went aboard and sailed away. 3 We came to where we could see Cyprus, and then sailed south of it on to Syria. We went ashore at Tyre, where the ship was going to unload its cargo. 4 There we found some believers and stayed with them a week. By the power of the Spirit they told Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 5 But when our time with them was over, we left and went on our way. All of them, together with their wives and children, went with us out of the city to the beach, where we all knelt and prayed. 6 Then we said good-bye to one another, and we went on board the ship while they went back home.
7 We continued our voyage, sailing from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the believers and stayed with them for a day.
8 On the following day we left and arrived in Caesarea. There we stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen as helpers in Jerusalem. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who proclaimed God's message.
10 We had been there for several days when a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea. 11 He came to us, took Paul's belt, tied up his own feet and hands with it, and said,
"This is what the Holy Spirit says: The owner of this belt will be tied up in this way by the Jews in Jerusalem, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles."
12 When we heard this, we and the others there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 13 But he answered, "What are you doing, crying like this and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but even to die there for the sake of the Lord Jesus."
14 We could not convince him, so we gave up and said, "May the Lord's will be done."
15 After spending some time there, we got our things ready and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us and took us to the house of the man we were going to stay with-Mnason, from Cyprus, who had been a believer since the early days. 17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the believers welcomed us warmly.
18 The next day Paul went with us to see James; and all the church elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and gave a complete report of everything that God had done among the Gentiles through his work. 20 After hearing him, they all praised God.
Then they said, "Brother Paul, you can see how many thousands of Jews have become believers, and how devoted they all are to the Law. 21 They have been told that you have been teaching all the Jews who live in Gentile countries to abandon the Law of Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or follow the Jewish customs. 22 They are sure to hear that you have arrived. What should be done, then?
23 This is what we want you to do. There are four men here who have taken a vow. 24 Go along with them and join them in the ceremony of purification and pay their expenses; then they will be able to shave their heads. In this way everyone will know that there is no truth in any of the things that they have been told about you, but that you yourself live in accordance with the Law of Moses. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent them a letter telling them we decided that they must not eat any food that has been offered to idols, or any blood, or any animal that has been strangled, and that they must keep themselves from sexual immorality."
26 So Paul took the men and the next day performed the ceremony of purification with them. Then he went into the Temple and gave notice of how many days it would be until the end of the period of purification, when a sacrifice would be offered for each one of them.
27 But just when the seven days were about to come to an end, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and grabbed Paul. 28 "People of Israel!" they shouted. "Help! This is the man who goes everywhere teaching everyone against the people of Israel, the Law of Moses, and this Temple. And now he has even brought some Gentiles into the Temple and defiled this holy place! 29 (They said this because they had seen Trophimus from Ephesus with Paul in the city, and they thought that Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
30 Confusion spread through the whole city, and the people all ran together, grabbed Paul, and dragged him out of the Temple. At once the Temple doors were closed. 31 The mob was trying to kill Paul, when a report was sent up to the commander of the Roman troops that all of Jerusalem was rioting. 32 At once the commander took some officers and soldiers and rushed down to the crowd. When the people saw him with the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander went over to Paul, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked, "Who is this man, and what has he done?"
34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing, others something else. There was such confusion that the commander could not find out exactly what had happened, so he ordered his men to take Paul up into the fort. 35 They got as far as the steps with him, and then the soldiers had to carry him because the mob was so wild. 36 They were all coming after him and screaming, "Kill him!" 37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the fort, he spoke to the commander: "May I say something to you?"
"You speak Greek, do you?" the commander asked. 38 "Then you are not that Egyptian fellow who some time ago started a revolution and led four thousand armed terrorists out into the desert?"
39 Paul answered, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Please let me speak to the people."
40 The commander gave him permission, so Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand for the people to be silent. When they were quiet, Paul spoke to them in Hebrew:
Acts chapter 22 (TEV)
1 "My fellow Jews, listen to me as I make my defense before you!"
2 When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew, they became even quieter; and Paul went on:
3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up here in Jerusalem as a student of Gamaliel. I received strict instruction in the Law of our ancestors and was just as dedicated to God as are all of you who are here today. 4 I persecuted to the death the people who followed this Way. I arrested men and women and threw them into prison. 5 The High Priest and the whole Council can prove that I am telling the truth. I received from them letters written to fellow Jews in Damascus, so I went there to arrest these people and bring them back in chains to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 "As I was traveling and coming near Damascus, about midday a bright light from the sky flashed suddenly around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, "Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?'
8 "Who are you, Lord?' I asked.
"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute,' he said to me.
9 The men with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
10 I asked, "What shall I do, Lord?' and the Lord said to me, "Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that God has determined for you to do.'
11 I was blind because of the bright light, and so my companions took me by the hand and led me into Damascus.
12 "In that city was a man named Ananias, a religious man who obeyed our Law and was highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He came to me, stood by me, and said, "Brother Saul, see again!' At that very moment I saw again and looked at him.
14 He said, "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see his righteous Servant, and to hear him speaking with his own voice. 15 For you will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard.
16 And now, why wait any longer? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him.'
17 "I went back to Jerusalem, and while I was praying in the Temple, I had a vision, 18 in which I saw the Lord, as he said to me, "Hurry and leave Jerusalem quickly, because the people here will not accept your witness about me.'
19 "Lord,' I answered, "they know very well that I went to the synagogues and arrested and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when your witness Stephen was put to death, I myself was there, approving of his murder and taking care of the cloaks of his murderers.'
21 "Go,' the Lord said to me, "for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "
22 The people listened to Paul until he said this; but then they started shouting at the top of their voices, "Away with him! Kill him! He's not fit to live!" 23 They were screaming, waving their clothes, and throwing dust up in the air. 24 The Roman commander ordered his men to take Paul into the fort, and he told them to whip him in order to find out why the Jews were screaming like this against him. 25 But when they had tied him up to be whipped, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried for any crime?"
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked him, "What are you doing? That man is a Roman citizen!"
27 So the commander went to Paul and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?"
"Yes," answered Paul.
28 The commander said, "I became one by paying a large amount of money."
"But I am one by birth," Paul answered.
29 At once the men who were going to question Paul drew back from him; and the commander was frightened when he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had put him in chains.
30 The commander wanted to find out for sure what the Jews were accusing Paul of; so the next day he had Paul's chains taken off and ordered the chief priests and the whole Council to meet. Then he took Paul and made him stand before them.
Acts chapter 23 (NLT)
1 Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: "Brothers, I have always lived before God in all good conscience!"
2 Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.
3 But Paul said to him, "God will slap you, you whitewashed wall! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?"
4 Those standing near Paul said to him, "Is that the way to talk to God's high priest?"
5 "I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was the high priest," Paul replied, "for the Scriptures say, 'Do not speak evil of anyone who rules over you.'"
6 Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were all my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!"
7 This divided the council - the Pharisees against the Sadducees - 8 for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these. 9 So a great clamor arose. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up to argue that Paul was all right. "We see nothing wrong with him," they shouted. "Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him." 10 The shouting grew louder and louder, and the men were tugging at Paul from both sides, pulling him this way and that. Finally, the commander, fearing they would tear him apart, ordered his soldiers to take him away from them and bring him back to the fortress.
11 That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, "Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome."
12 The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty of them. 14 They went to the leading priests and other leaders and told them what they had done. "We have bound ourselves under oath to neither eat nor drink until we have killed Paul. 15 You and the high council should tell the commander to bring Paul back to the council again," they requested. "Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way."
16 But Paul's nephew heard of their plan and went to the fortress and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the officers and said, "Take this young man to the commander. He has something important to tell him." 18 So the officer did, explaining, "Paul, the prisoner, called me over and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you."
19 The commander took him by the arm, led him aside, and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"
20 Paul's nephew told him, "Some Jews are going to ask you to bring Paul before the Jewish high council tomorrow, pretending they want to get some more information. 21 But don't do it! There are more than forty men hiding along the way ready to jump him and kill him. They have vowed not to eat or drink until they kill him. They are ready, expecting you to agree to their request."
22 "Don't let a soul know you told me this," the commander warned the young man as he sent him away.
23 Then the commander called two of his officers and ordered, "Get two hundred soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o'clock tonight. Also take two hundred spearmen and seventy horsemen. 24 Provide horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix."
25 Then he wrote this letter to the governor:
26 "From Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency, Governor Felix. Greetings!
27 This man was seized by some Jews, and they were about to kill him when I arrived with the troops. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen, I removed him to safety. 28 Then I took him to their high council to try to find out what he had done. 29 I soon discovered it was something regarding their religious law - certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death. 30 But when I was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you. I have told his accusers to bring their charges before you."
31 So that night, as ordered, the soldiers took Paul as far as Antipatris. 32 They returned to the fortress the next morning, while the horsemen took him on to Caesarea.
33 When they arrived in Caesarea, they presented Paul and the letter to Governor Felix. 34 He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from.
"Cilicia," Paul answered.
35 "I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive," the governor told him. Then the governor ordered him kept in the prison at Herod's headquarters.
Romans chapter 15 (NLT)
30 Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. 31 Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God.
Romans chapter 12 (NLT)
14 If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.
Romans chapter 8 (TEV)
18 I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.
Hebrews chapter 10 (TEV)
32 Remember how it was with you in the past. In those days, after God's light had shone on you, you suffered many things, yet were not defeated by the struggle. 33 You were at times publicly insulted and mistreated, and at other times you were ready to join those who were being treated in this way. 34 You shared the sufferings of prisoners, and when all your belongings were seized, you endured your loss gladly, because you knew that you still possessed something much better, which would last forever. 35 Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward.
2 Corinthians chapter 6 (NLT)
4 In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God.
We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.
5 We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.
6 We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
7 We have faithfully preached the truth.
God's power has been working in us.
We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves.
8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.
We are honest, but they call us impostors.
9 We are well known, but we are treated as unknown.
We live close to death, but here we are, still alive.
We have been beaten within an inch of our lives.
10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.
We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others.
We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|Or go directly to the next in the series: Paul On Trial; Shipwreck; And His Journey To Rome To Be Tried By Caesar.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials:
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There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:
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