Paul’s Trial Before Felix
NOVEMBER 22 - Nº 326 Acts 24
Five days after Paul arrived in Caesarea, his accusers showed up to bring charges against him. They included Ananias, the high priest of Israel, some of the highest officers in the Sanhedrin, and a skilled lawyer named Tertullus. These were some of the most powerful men in Israel, and they were determined to get Paul convicted and sentenced to death. Tertullus began his case against Paul by flattering Felix, the Roman governor. He praised the great leadership that Felix provided, saying that it allowed the Jews to enjoy peace as his subjects. But none of this was true. According to Tacitus, a Roman historian, Felix was an extremely cruel ruler, and the Jews hated him! Tertullus then stated the charges the Jewish leaders were bringing against Paul. He started by accusing Paul of being a troublemaker who stirred up riots all over the world. The lawyer portrayed him as the ringleader of a group known as the ‘Nazarene sect.’ (This was a derogatory term for anyone who believed in Jesus.) Tertullus then proceeded to make these followers of Jesus sound like terrorists. He added, “and this man has even blasphemed against our Temple.” There was no proof to support this accusation except hearsay evidence from the elders. But they were present in the courtroom and backed up everything Tertullus said. When it was time for Paul to defend himself, he said, “I did nothing to deserve what was done to me. It is true that I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, but I have not deserted the God of my fathers or the Law that He gave to Moses. And I still believe everything written by the prophets. While I was in Jerusalem, I did not argue with anyone at the Temple, or stir up a crowd in the synagogue. I simply came to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings at the Temple to fulfill a vow. These men standing before you today have no evidence for any of their accusations. As a matter of fact, we agree on many things, including the fact that there will be a resurrection from the dead.” Felix listened to both sides, but he did not make a ruling. He decided to wait until Lysias, the commander who had rescued Paul from the mob, could arrive and tell his side of the story. He sent the Jewish leaders and their lawyer back to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, he commanded the centurion to place Paul in custody. Although Paul was still a prisoner, he was given some freedom and his friends were allowed to take care of his needs. Felix was fascinated by what Paul had said. A few days later he sent for him. Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla sat and listened to Paul as he taught about righteousness and self-control. He also talked about the judgment that God would eventually pass on everyone. When Paul mentioned judgment, Felix became afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You can leave. When it is convenient, I will send for you.” Felix did send for Paul quite often. He liked listening to what he had to say. He knew Paul was innocent and that he should release him. But in the back of his mind, Felix kept hoping that Paul would give him a large sum of money as a bribe to purchase his freedom. This went on for two years!
Take a few minutes and think through all the things you hope to do in the next two years. Now imagine that everything in your life is put on hold. You aren’t able to do anything you want to do because someone has falsely accused you. Would you still be faithful to God like Paul was? Would you be patient enough to let Him accomplish His purposes through your life? Would you be able to praise Him in the process?