At Caesarea around A.D. 58 before Felix, the emperor and ruler over the Roman province of Judea, a region along the Mediterranean Sea, Paul was charged with sedition and attempting to profane the temple in Jerusalem, offenses among the Jews punishable by death.
As Roman law did not convict anyone without a hearing, the apostle was allowed to present his defense argument in the hope to be cleared of all charges, or at the very least, avoid execution.
“10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.” (Acts 24:10-11)
Paul opens his argument by acknowledging the emperor’s experience as a judge and familiarity with the affairs of the province. The apostle testifies he had only been back in judea twelve days, after many years of absence. Of these twelve days, Paul spent 5 days at Caesarea, awaiting trial. The apostle hoped that Felix would recognize his prisoner could not have caused such an uproar of his own doing, in such a short period of time.
“12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.” (Acts 24:12-13)
Paul answers the first charge of sedition by testifying he was indeed in the temple when he was seized by the Asian Jews, not profaning but concluding his vow of purification, as requested by James, the brother of Jesus and appointed leader of the Christian church.
“14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14)
The apostle continues his defense by addressing the second charge against him, that he was a leader of the sect of Nazarenes. Paul describes the sect he belongs to as one under the God of Israel, a denomination based on the holy scriptures and faith within Judaism, a religion acknowledged by Roman law.
“15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:15-16)
Paul shares his faith and hope rests with Yahweh, just as his accusers’ hope resides with the God of Israel, and an afterlife according to judgment by the one and only heavenly Father. Because of his faith and obedience to God, Paul feels he is innocent of the charge against him that he encouraged other Jews to disobey the law.
“17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, 18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. 19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.” (Acts 24:17-19)
Again Paul defends himself by explaining his motive for going to Jerusalem, which was to bring offerings to the poor in the holy city, a sum of money gathered from the Gentile churches he planted as part of his ministry. He adds that he was concluding his vow of purification, a Jewish rite when he was taken captive by the Jews, not at all causing the uproar which was sprouted by the mob of Jews that had sought him out from Asia Minor.
Paul’s accusers were in fact the Jewish mob, and not the Sanhedrin, a group of elders who acted as judges. As such, the apostle reminds Felix of Roman law that required the accusers to be present at a trial, rather than a judging body from a lesser court.
“20 Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, 21 unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’” (Acts 24:20-21)
In his closing argument, Paul calls on the members of the Sanhedrin present at his trial, both the Pharisees and the Sadducees to find any fault in him, other than the statement he made about the resurrection, which contradicted the Sadducees’ beliefs but was well in tune with the Judaism doctrine.
Clearly, Paul could only be found guilty of the last charge brought on by the Sadducees, an offense most Jews would be found guilty of since the majority of Jews were like minded. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre