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Bible Gemz 1844 - The Two Surprises (Acts 24:1-27)

July 24, 2018

 

Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor.

When 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.

For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you.

But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment.

We 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.

Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him.

You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.”

Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true.

The 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 defence before you.

You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple.

My 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.

These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing.

“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.

I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.

“After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God.

My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ceremony. There was no crowd around me and no rioting.

But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me!

Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of,

except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”

At 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.”

He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs. 

 

A 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.

As 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.”

He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him.

After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favour with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.  (Acts 24:1-27)

 

Did you pick up on the two surprises? 

The first is that the Roman Governor of Caesarea and the surrounding hinterland was familiar with The Way. Actually that was not such a surprise when you know all the facts. But it was certainly a surprise in the story. Paul is transferred to the Roman centre of military operations and the governor there is familiar with The Way. How ironic! Taken out of the Jerusalem and put into Roman hands and he finds a sympathizer, of sorts. That says a lot. Understandable though on the evidence. Felix’ wife was a Jew but clearly one who had heard of The Way and therefore of Christ, perhaps even of Paul himself. Clearly the evangelism that took place after the diaspora from Jerusalem following Stephen’s death reached Caesarea, even to the courts of Felix. 

 

The second surprise is what happened in the flow of this court case. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!    In terms of the formal court case it simply fizzles out. We are primed and ready waiting for Lysias to come to court whereupon proceedings will be started again. However we see a hint of what is to come in the fact that Felix allows Paul to be kept “under house arrest” – kept in custody but given freedom and his friends allowed to visit him. I am sure the friend visits stretched the ability of the prison to cope. A few days later Felix comes to the prison with his wife Drusilla. Where was Lysias? There is absolutely no mention of him. We must assume that he came and made an appearance to Felix but there is mention of any subsequent proceedings. Everything from this point onward is hush hush (nudge nudge wink wink). We are told why! Felix was hoping to get some money out of this opportunity. But it is curious that there the hearing as such peters out. There is just no mention of Lysias nor of any further formal hearing. 

 

The involvement of Drusilla is interesting. She was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She had been promised to Epiphanes in marriage if he embraced Judaism but ultimately he refused so she was married to Azizus, King of Emesa because he accepted Judaism. When Felix appeared on the scene he was captivated by Drusilla who left her husband and in defiance of Judaism went off and married a foreigner, an idolater. This was the woman who was interested in meeting Paul. Felix was clearly rather an unsavoury character. He was interested to know about this Way but was also interested in the money.       

 

They sent for Paul and he explained to them The Way.  He told them about faith in Christ Jesus, righteousness,self-control and the coming day of judgment. You can bet that Paul explained about sin, righteousness and judgement. Ouch! When Paul talked about coming judgement Felix asked him to leave. But then sent for him often, notice Drusilla was no longer interested, it was only Felix. Drusilla’s name means watered by the dew. Seemingly any interest evaporated with the morning sun. How odd that this situation continued on for a two years. What was it that kept Felix’s interest for over two years? Was it the money or was it The Way. Whatever the case both came to nothing. Felix didn't embrace the way neither did Paul give him any money. His flirtation with Judaism and with The Way came to nothing but he still had the woman, such as she was worth. In all of that time Felix kept Paul in prison (for two years) because it pleased the Jews. Which Jews? Oh no doubt the Jewish leadership. What a sham of a leader! 

 

Now Paul’s “case” had to wait for Porcius Festus. I wonder what is going to fester with this eventuality.

 

 

It’s better to hurt with a purpose than to exist without one. Craig Groeschel

 

In the soft-boiled world of today with heated toilet seats, A/C set to “freeze your a- - off” and more food than we stuff our faces with, it’s no surprise that people fail at the slightest tinge of suffering! Navy Seal


We often pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted than when we read it in the original author. What does that say about us?

 

When faced with a problem, some people will: avoid it, deny it, delay it. 

Leaders will: engage it, confront it, resolve it.  Rick Godwin

That maybe, but not these leaders. Ian

 

    

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