Sep 6 — Acts 24-25

Acts 24 — Paul Before Felix at Caesarea
Acts 25 — Paul Appeals to Caesar, Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice

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One Reply to “Sep 6 — Acts 24-25”

  1. Today we get to peak inside the Roman legal system and see how they handle cases. Lawyers reading these chapters are probably noticing their pulses racing a bit…how exciting! The not-so-high-priest (my interpretation) Ananias goes to Caesarea with his council, Tertullus to present their case against Paul. I.e., The Jewish Leaders v. Paul the Radical. Their main point, “we have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world” (Acts 24:5). Paul easily defuses their accusations, yet seizes the moment to inject, “However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect” (24:14). Further, he provides data to which they apparently have no argument: “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings” (24:17). This must have raised eyebrows, even for the Roman leaders. This man is gone for years, returns to bring gifts and offerings and they turn around a have him imprisoned, demanding death? Crazy talk!

    Governor Felix defers judgment until Lysias returns, ordering “centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs” (24:23). Felix is neutral, not wanting to commit to Christ, but not sure what to do…so…he does nothing. “When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison” (24:27). The Roman leaders are still trying to appease the Jewish leaders, apparently opting for peaceful coexistence rather than actually making decisions.

    Festus gets the idea he should try this case soon, so just 3 days after taking over, he hears the case. Fortunately, Festus is not swayed by the Jewish leaders, rather he opts to keep the trial under Roman rules. “They brought many serious charges agains him, but they could not prove them” (Acts 25:7). Paul then pulls the wildcard: “I appeal to Caesar!” (25:11). Since Paul is a Roman citizen, he has the right to be heard by Caesar, but only through due process. Festus is trying to find something worthy of this appeal so he consults with King Agrippa. He didn’t understand the Jews’ complaint, “they had some points of dispute…about a dead man name Jesus who Paul claimed was alive…I was at a loss how to investigate such matters” (25:19-20). Tomorrow we’ll dive into the discussion with Agrippa and Paul (stay tuned!).

    Paul is very careful to navigate the legal system that governs the land at the time. We face the same problems today as the courts hear arguments for and against Christians. We need voices of Paul in our favor, voices that are based in fact and most importantly, in sincerity. Paul didn’t just have a good case, he was truly devoted to Christ. Paul didn’t just speak good words, his defense was his complete faith in Jesus Christ. He loved the Lord and loved people. Lord help us to honor you in all we do and when we are faced with trials (literally in courts or trial), give us the right words to say, backed up by true acts of faith and kindness.

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