Acts 24:20

ESV Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council,
NIV Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin--
NASB Or else have these men themselves declare what violation they discovered when I stood before the Council,
CSB Or let these men here state what wrongdoing they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin,
NLT Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of,
KJV Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,

What does Acts 24:20 mean?

Representatives of the Sanhedrin are putting themselves at legal risk and may not know it. They are accusing Paul of inciting riots, leading an unauthorized religion, and trying to profane a religious structure, all of which were serious crimes according to the Roman law (Acts 24:5–6). However, Christianity had protected status as a branch of Judaism. The witnesses who claimed Paul desecrated the temple aren't at the trial (Acts 21:27–30; 24:18–19). Lastly, the only "riot" Paul intentionally caused was a fight within the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6–10).

The Sanhedrin is falsely accusing a Roman citizen of crimes against the state. Under Roman law, any male Roman citizen could accuse someone of a crime and seek prosecution. The members of the Sanhedrin are most likely not citizens, although Tertullus, their spokesman, may be (Acts 24:1). But if the accusers are convicted of making a false accusation, the judge can sentence them to the same punishment their intended victim would have received. It would be interesting to know if Tertullus knew how weak the evidence was when he took the job.

Paul finishes his defense with an admission. When he stood before the Sanhedrin, he did cry out, "It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial" (Acts 23:6; 24:21). Because of that statement, the Sadducees, who deny the resurrection, flew into turmoil and the Pharisees, who accept the resurrection, came to Paul's defense. The two groups fell to fighting. Perhaps it can be said that Paul's words inspired a riot, but the actual rioters are his accusers.
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