Paul is not stopped from sharing the Word, despite false accusations and imprisonments.
Paul has returned from his third mission trip, was arrested by the Romans, and was brought before the Sanhedrin. Paul spoke boldly, “’…My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.’ At this, the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.” (Acts 23: 1-2) Under the laws governing the Sanhedrin, you were only allowed to speak when asked or directed. So, from their point of view, Paul was being rude, thus the order to slap him. Paul refers to them as a “whitewashed wall”. This is a metaphor for a hypocrite, someone that looks good on the outside but dirty on the inside. Paul recognized that the Sanhedrin was split between Pharisees and Sadducees, so he pointed out the fact that he was a Pharisee, thus causing huge disagreement among the Sanhedrin. The dispute got so intense that the Roman commander finally decided to take Paul back to the barracks. It was here that Paul was told by the Lord that he would leave Jerusalem and testify in Rome.
The Romans then decided to take Paul to Caesarea to testify before Governor Felix. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote of Felix. He wrote of how cruel this man was. The Roman commander sent a letter with Paul to explain to Governor Felix what had happened thus far. (See Acts 23: 26-30) Notice the commander says he came to Paul’s rescue because he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen. Remember, that’s not quite the way it happened. He didn’t find out about Paul’s citizenship until after he had him in custody. He wanted to make sure his bosses heard he was doing his job in regards to Roman citizenship. Notice also that the commander has no idea what Paul did “wrong” or why there was such a disturbance.
Five days after Paul arrived in Caesarea, the high priest Ananias and his ‘legal team’ arrived to present their case against Paul. “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.” (Acts 24: 5-6) Read Acts 24: 10-21. Paul makes his defense. Felix decides to hold off judgement until he hears from the Roman commander, and Paul would be kept under guard until Felix was ready. Legally, as a Roman citizen, Paul should not have been held under guard as he was a Roman citizen and had not been convicted of any crime. As a typical politician, Felix held Paul so as to not upset the Jews. Also, notice Felix allowed Paul to have full contact with his companions. Don’t think Felix is being nice. He’s hoping his friends will bring him money that can be given to him as a bribe for Paul’s release. Felix came to Paul with his wife Drusilla, to learn more about “The Way”. Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agrippa, who had killed the Apostle James. Her great uncle had killed John the Baptist, and her great grandfather tried to kill Jesus Christ. She and Felix were quite the pair. Isn’t it interesting that here God has given them a second chance at redemption. Paul will be held in this manner for the next two years. At that time, Felix is succeeded by Porcius Festus.
(In the next blog, Paul stands before Festus.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.