Scripture reading – Acts 24-26
We might glean much from the apostle Paul’s courage, and defense of not only himself, but also the Gospel of Jesus Christ that he preached. He had been arrested under the false pretense of breaking the Law (Acts 21:27-28), and defiling the Temple (Acts 21:29), but had been delivered from harm, and almost certain death by Roman soldiers (Acts 21:31-35). After declaring his salvation and calling as an apostle (Acts 22:1-23), when he was arrested, Paul sought the protections allowed him as a citizen of Rome (Acts 22:24-30).
In Acts 23, he was placed under the protection of the Romans, and was given an opportunity to defend himself, and answer his accusers (23:1-11). When the chief captain of the guard realized the Jews’ plot to kill him (23:12-22), he spirited Paul away to safety with the governor of that region whose name was Felix (23:23-35).
Acts 24 – Trial before Felix at Caesarea by the Sea
Five days after Paul arrived at Caesarea, Ananias the high priest and members of the Sanhedrin gathered and put forward “a certain orator named Tertullus” (24:1), who was tasked with accusing Paul of sedition, a crime that would demand his death (24:2-9).
Paul sat in silence as Tertullus leveled false indictments at him, alleging him as a wicked, subversive man. Felix then gestured to Paul an opportunity to answer his accusers (24:10). With diplomacy, and the discretion deserving of Felix’s office as governor and Paul’s civil authority, Paul began to speak (24:10).
Paul answered the accusations brought against him by the Sanhedrin (24:11-20), proving the only dissension between him and those leaders was that he had challenged them on the doctrine of the resurrection (24:21). Felix, being the governor of that region, had “perfect knowledge of that way” (24:22; Acts 16:17; 18:25), a reference to those who believed that Jesus was the Christ, the only begotten Son of God, crucified and died for the sins of the world according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 53), and rose from the grave on the third day!
Acts 24 concludes with Governor Felix retaining Paul in custody, giving the apostle liberty to have guests, but also having opportunities for he and “his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess,” to hear Paul’s testimony and his “faith in Christ” (24:24). Paul’s witness was powerful, and we read that the governor was so moved that he “trembled” with conviction as he heard of God’s judgment that was to come (24:25).
On an interesting closing note; had Paul been inclined, he might have raised funds to bribe the governor for his release and freedom (24:26). He was held captive for two years (24:27); however, the apostle was a man of integrity, and he did not buy his freedom. Paul was persuaded that he was destined for an opportunity to go to Rome and declare Jesus Christ in the very household of Caesar (23:11), and he would not be deterred from his calling.
Paul’s passion and boldness in declaring the gospel is one of the many things I admire in the man; however, we should also note his tact, prudence, and patience in preaching Christ to those who would listen. Though bold in addressing and rebuking the hypocrisy of Jewish religious leaders (23:2-5), Paul was wise, discerning, and patient when speaking to the Roman commandant in Jerusalem, and Felix, the governor who resided in Caesarea.
A closing thought: Like Paul, those who witness for Christ should be passionate for men’s souls.
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith