Acts 24 Reading Through the NT 2015

Read all of Chapter 24 of the book of Acts.

The high priest, Ananias, took some fellow elders and their lawyer, Tertullus, to bring charges against Paul before Felix. Tertullus opened his case by sweet talking this Roman governor, praising his reforms and expressing gratitude for how he had run the government so far. Then he asked that Felix be kind enough to hear him out. He said that Paul was a troublemaker who stirred up riots among the Jews and he was a “ringleader” of the Nazarene sect. He accused Paul of desecrating the temple and said that is why they seized him. These Jewish religious leaders wanted Felix to interrogate Paul and get him to confess to these accusations and they all chimed in stating what their lawyer said was true. These men were on the warpath to try to stop the spread of Christianity in it’s tracks. They insulted the followers of Jesus by calling them a “Nazarene sect.” Everything they were telling Felix was a lie, and their motive was to get rid of Paul so that this movement would be thwarted before it took a lot of people away from the Jewish faith. As Christians today, we are constantly being insulted by the media, thought of as ultra-conservative and out of touch with reality. When we talk about Biblical ethics and morals and encourage people to turn away from their self-centered lifestyle and turn to God, we get mocked, scorned and dismissed out of hand. Some people are so good at arguing with lies and deceit, that they turn away those who are on the fence who might otherwise have considered a real relationship with God through Jesus if they only had someone tell them the truth of the Gospel. We need to be on the alert for false teachers and know what God’s Word has to say so we are armed for the battle.

Felix asked Paul to speak, and Paul was grateful for the opportunity. He refuted what these men were accusing him of doing, saying he had only been in Jerusalem for 12 days when he was arrested, and the true witnesses of what he was doing there were not even present to testify. They had not found him arguing or stirring up the crowd, but he admitted that he was a follower of “the Way.” He reaffirmed his belief in the Law and what was written in the Prophets, which now included his hope in the resurrection of the dead. He told Felix that his conscious was clear before both God and man.

Paul continued his defense by telling them his purpose for coming to Jerusalem – he was there to bring gifts for the poor and to present offerings. He was taking part in a purification ritual at the time he was taken and there was no crowd or rioting. He told Felix that the only thing he could think they might accuse him of was talking about the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees did not believe in. There was no legal reason to keep Paul imprisoned, but Felix decided to keep him locked up, with some freedom to allow his friends to visit and take care of his needs. Life is not always fair, and when we are falsely accused of something we did not do, we usually respond with anger, and an indignant attitude. Paul stated the facts but did not argue. He did not shout and rant and rave, but quietly shared his side of the story. His confidence was in God, not in man. If he was beaten, imprisoned and put through tough times, he was not worried, because his hope was in his future, not his present circumstances. We can learn a lot from Paul’s hard times. He had heard a word from the Lord, and his mission was clear. He was to testify to Rom and take the Gospel to the Gentiles. If there were Jews willing to listen along the way, all the better.

Felix was curious and decided to bring his wife, Drusilla, a Jew, to talk to Paul. Paul shared his faith in Jesus and preached to them about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. This couple had a sordid past, with several failed marriages and adulterous affairs, and Paul did not miss this opportunity to give them a heads up on what God had to say about this kind of behavior. When Felix heard all Paul had to say, he was afraid. He sent him back to his prison and said he would call for him at a later time. He secretly wanted Paul to offer him a bribe (this was customary for someone who wanted to get out of prison,) and sent for him frequently in case he might pay his way out. During this time, Paul always took advantage of their time together to share the good news of salvation with Felix.

When someone hears what God has to say about their bad behavior, which God calls sin, the response may be fear, but it also may be rejection of the truth. We love our sinful ways, and don’t want to give them up. It is only when we put our lives in God’s hands, and confess that we are incapable of living a good life, that God offers us His grace and forgiveness for our wrongdoings. All of us sin and fall short of God’s way of living. The good news is that we can always come before God and He welcomes us with open arms with love and mercy. He will strengthen us and uphold us and help us when we are weak. He wants us to come to Him, just as a small child comes to their daddy, and admits their mistakes. Daddy loves his children so much, gathers them in his arms for a hug, and they happily move on together.

After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded in office by Porcius Festus, and to please the Jews, Felix had left Paul in prison all this time. Even though Felix was trying to please the Jews, Paul was actually being protected from being killed by these people. God had given Paul a divine promise – to witness in Rome, and the current circumstance he was in gave him this very chance to carry out God’s orders. Sometimes we don’t know why things happen to us, but in hindsight, we can see how God orchestrated everything in just the right way. It may mean tough times and circumstances we don’t want to be in, but He knows what He is doing. We can trust Him as He watches over our lives as our loving Father!