Friday, November 9, 2007

Acts 24

Acts 24:1-9: The scene has shifted to Caesarea, the imperial headquarters for the region and Felix is the governor there. Paul’s accusers come from Jerusalem to present their case against him. Included in the group are Ananias the high priest and a lawyer named Tertullus. The chapter presents an interesting look into the Roman justice system and the place accorded Judaism in the Roman empire.

Paul’s accusers compliment Felix and the empire – “because of you we have long enjoyed peace, and reforms have been made for this people because of your foresight.” Apparently Felix had brought a measure of peace to the region, in part, through the suppression of some Jewish rebels. Paul is accused of being a threat to the public peace and welfare. He is accused of being a ringleader of “the sect of the Nazarenes.” This was the Jewish term for the emerging Jesus movement, and the word “sect” here carries negative connotations.

Acts 24:10-23: Paul offers his reply to Felix. Paul denies being a public threat. Furthermore, he asserts that following “the Way” is his way of worshipping the God he had always worshipped, “the God of our ancestors.” He affirms that he has a hope in God, a hope for a general resurrection. Paul argues that his trip to the temple was a religious pilgrimage, and he was simply following the rituals of his faith when he was in the temple. Felix, however, is no novice when it comes to religious matters. He was “rather well informed about the Way.” He keeps Paul in custody, but treats him well. He will wait until the tribune comes to offer judgment about Paul.

Acts 24:24-27: Not only is Felix well informed about the Way, but his wife is Jewish. Paul was invited to come and discuss “faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul discussed this in terms of “justice, self-control, and the coming judgment.” These are interesting phrases to talk about what is important in faith in Christ Jesus. Felix probably called Paul in out of curiosity, but finds out that he may need to make some decision about this Way, and he backs away. After two years, Paul is still in prison, and Felix is replaced.

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