Friday, December 14, 2007

Acts, Chapter 24

Can you imagine being placed in prison for several years simply because of what you believe in? This is nothing new, as it has happened for centuries for a variety of reasons. Let's add an interesting element to this situation though, as it is one that Paul faced. Imagine that being in prison is a good thing, because it is protecting you from the very people that you are trying to speak to. These people are trying to kill you for what you believe in, but instead you are protected by a group they view as an oppressive force. We see this in Paul's imprisonment here in Chapter 24, as it is a case of, "my enemy's enemy being my friend."

What we see in chapter 23 is also Paul's trial, as those that have a case against him are allowed to speak, but Paul is allowed to speak in his own defense as well. Much like a case that eventually works its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, it took years for Paul to mount his defense as he stood for trial after trial in front local and regional judges before going to the "Supreme Court" in Rome. What stands out here in Chapter 24 is that he used this platform to still preach the good news of Christ. Most people would view this as insanity, as he was continuing to do the very thing he was being accused of. God gave him the strength to stand firm in the face of these trials though, and we can learn from this by standing firm in our own trials.

14However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. – Acts 24:14-16

This is almost like standing up at a trial and saying, "Yeah, I did it. So what?" The Jews thought he was desecrating the temple, but Paul states otherwise and does a masterful job of defending his position. By his account he was doing nothing wrong, and even called upon the Jews in Asia to come and speak their case rather than hide behind the Jews in Jerusalem. Keep in mind here that Felix was still a secular judge assigned to make a ruling on a local religious matter. He must have thought it was ludicrous he was being brought in to decide a case that was clearly a local matter. He did know of the Way though, and as such Paul even tried to reach him with the gospel.

24Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." 26At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. 27When 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. – Acts 24:24-27

What did Paul have to lose here? Obviously Felix was intrigued by the message of Christ if he continued to talk to Paul over two years. It was also a blessing in disguise as Paul's imprisonment kept him safe from the people who were trying to kill him. After what we read yesterday, I am sure they were very hungry by that point as well. From Paul's perspective he must have been fairly satisfied as well because he was still alive to preach the gospel, plus he knew of God's promise to send him to Rome. He stood strong in the face of these trials, just as we must stand strong when we face lesser trials in the course of our own lives.


  1. Why would the Jews say Paul was desecrating the temple?
  2. Why was important for Paul to keep his conscience clear before God and man?
  3. Do you feel Felix was changed by Paul preaching the gospel to him?

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