Acts 26:31

ESV And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.”
NIV After they left the room, they began saying to one another, 'This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.'
NASB and when they had gone out, they began talking to one another, saying, 'This man is not doing anything deserving death or imprisonment.'
CSB and when they had left they talked with each other and said, "This man is not doing anything to deserve death or imprisonment."
NLT As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, 'This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.'
KJV And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

What does Acts 26:31 mean?

When Paul told the Sanhedrin, "I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day" (Acts 23:1), the high priest had him struck for insolence. The Sanhedrin told Governor Felix that Paul, "stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple" (Acts 24:5–6). Felix saw through that lie, realizing Paul was innocent. And yet, Felix kept Paul in custody for two years to placate Jewish religious leaders (Acts 24:27). When the Sanhedrin brought the same charges before the new governor, Festus, he tried to accommodate the council while still respecting Paul's rights as a Roman citizen. By that time, Paul was done with them. If Rome's appointed representatives could not make a fair judgment, he would go to Rome, itself (Acts 25:2–12).

This leaves Festus, who is by all accounts a good ruler, in a quandary. He must send Paul to a higher court in Rome, but he has nothing to charge him with. He invites King Agrippa II, the king's sister Bernice, and the civil and military leaders of Caesarea Maritima to hear Paul's story and determine if he has committed a crime (Acts 25:23–27).

After listening to Paul's explanation of his early life persecuting the church, his meeting with Jesus and conversion, his decades spreading Jesus' message, and evidence that Jesus fulfills the Jewish prophets' descriptions of the Messiah (Acts 26:2–23), the council is unanimous: Paul hasn't done anything wrong.

Still, they will send him to Caesar. The ship that takes him will go through a horrible storm. When it runs aground some distance from an island, Paul will be saved from the soldiers' swords by the centurion. When he reaches for firewood to try to warm himself, he will be struck by a viper, which does him no harm. Once he reaches Rome, he will be under house arrest for two years (Acts 27—28). But right now, because of his unjust treatment, he has the opportunity to share Jesus' offer of forgiveness with the leaders of the capital, as well as a king. And when he is incarcerated in Rome, he will watch members of Caesar's household come to Christ (Philippians 4:22) and write letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians as well as to Philemon. Paul proves that sometimes God does His best work through us when we are helpless.
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