Acts 24

Acts 24 has Paul in prison under Felix’ protection.  “After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus”.  This guy was a lawyer very schooled in Roman law, a slick speaker who could impress judges.  He was brought along to try and frame Paul. He gets in front of Felix and makes his accusation.  “For we have found this man a plague, one who 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, but we seized him….By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him”.

Not a very strong case as to why the Roman leader would want to take any action.  Then Felix allows Paul to speak.  “You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city”.  This big disruption his accusers talk about had to have happened fast.  Paul makes it clear he has only been in town for less than two weeks.  Accusation one put to bed.  “Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me”.  Paul makes it clear, they have no case.

That is, except as it comes to Jesus.  “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect,  I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust”.  Paul says ‘I’m guilty of believing what scripture says and the Savior it proclaims.  Then he makes clear what this is all about.  “It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day”.

Felix obviously isn’t at his first powder keg situation.  “Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.  He knows Paul is innocent but decides to kick the can down the road rather than set him free and endanger his life.  The Jews weren’t about to let this drop.  So Felix does the next best thing in his mind, retain him and treat him very well.  “Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs”.  House arrest for the most part – protection but most of his freedom.

Paul had the opportunity to share with Felix and his wife Drusilla about Jesus.  It hit Felix who was ‘alarmed’ by what Paul shared.  Felix hoped “that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him”.  Best case for Felix was that Paul would buy his freedom and leave the country.  But Paul doesn’t.  “When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison”.  Paul sticks out his prison stay to the next ruler – Festus – who now inherits the challenging situation.

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