1Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyera Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. 2When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor:
“You have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. 3For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you. 4But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. 5We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. 6Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him.b 8You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.” 9Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true.
10The governor then motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, so I gladly present my defense before you. 11You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple. 12My accusers never found me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city. 13These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing.
14“But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. 15I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.
17“After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God. 18My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ceremony. There was no crowd around me and no rioting.19But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me! 20Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high councilc found me guilty of, 21except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”
22At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” 23He ordered an officerd to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.
24A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” 26He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him.
27After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.
Thank God the American justice system is not like this.
- Paul’s accusers make charges but offer no evidence.
- Paul makes a respectful defense to an judge who knows something about Judaism.
- Paul spends two years in prison while the judge looks for a bribe!
But as unjust as this all is, God is using, and controlling everything. Paul is testifying to nobles and Roman leaders. Felix’s wife is even a Jew so Felix would have a greater understanding about the “Way”. And Paul likely wrote three important letters while in prison those 2 years.
Lastly notice that Paul is still trying to be both a Jew and a Christian. He says he returned to the Temple to offer sacrifices, though he knows and preaches that Jesus is the final sacrifice. I think, though it is just me, that Paul is used as an example to his fellow Christians that they cannot be Christian and still fit into the old ways of the world. Paul doesn’t fit in among Jews, and he doesn’t fit in with the rulers. He is a man without a home…at least here on earth.
Lord help me to become so close to you, that I don’t fit in here on Earth at all. Change me and mold me Lord so I have no home here. Help me to live a life that only has a home with You.