“Bad Blood” – Acts 24
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The feud between the Apostle Paul and the Jewish religious leaders continues.
On Paul's part, his desire was only to share the Truth with them in love.
The religious leaders desire was to shed Paul's blood, through the Roman's, if possible, by their law!
This "legal" tactic was successful against the Lord Jesus, so why not employ if again?
Satan's desire was, and is, always to destroy Christ, and the salvation He provided through His blood, and His followers, the Church.
The setting for this trial is Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital in Judea. The judge is Antonius Felix.
The prosecution is headed up by a lawyer named Tertullus, in the employ of the High Priest Annas and the elders of Israel.
The Apostle Paul had no advocate except the Lord. He was not worried, he understood that with God, one is never outnumbered.
You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.'
And never unprepared:
You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
"...a certain orator named Tertullus..."
* "Tertullus" - Was probably a Roman proselyte to Judaism.
* "Orator" - A lawyer who spoke Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Well versed in Roman law, as he was a Roman, and knowledgeable in the Mosaic law as he was a convert to Judaism.
"...peace and prosperity..."
* "Peace" - Pax Romana
* "Prosperity" - Taxation by Rome.
In the conquered territories of Rome, Pax Romana (peace) existed to facilitate the collection of taxes, and their transport to Rome.
The Roman Empire would not tolerate dissension or disruption of this "peace."
"...we accept it always..."
* It was accepted by the Jews through the force of Roman arms only.
"...most noble Felix..."
* Complete obsequious flattery, Felix was a brute and tyrant.
* This is the biggest lie of the three! The Jews hated their Roman conquerors, but had no option but obedience.
"Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us."
* Tertullus knows what kind of man Felix is and hopes to appease his pride an arrogance by appealing to his "courtesy" (graciousness), which he is totally lacking.
"...a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world..."
* Dissension was the precursor of rioting, and the disruption of taxes and, ultimately, rebellion against authority.
* This was a serious crime, sedition, punishable by death.
* The same accusation was made against Christ, as recorded by Dr. Luke:
And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King."
"...a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarene's..."
* The religious authorities hated and feared the Christians.
- They hated them because they thought they were uneducated country hicks. (Jn. 1:42)
- They feared them because they thought that they would lose their place of power. (Jn. 11:48)
- They despised them because they spoke the Truth, which they considered sacrilege, as had Christ (“blasphemy”).
"He even tried to profane the temple..."
* "Profane" - Desecrate - A capital offense.
* He allegedly brought a Gentile into the temple, “Trophimus the Ephesian.” (Acts 21:29)
"...we seized him and wanted to judge him according to our law..."
* They accused Stephen of profaning the temple, and "judged him according to our law" and murdered him for ultimately preaching the same Truth. (Acts 6:13-14, 7:57-58)
"...with great violence..."
* Military force, Tribune Claudius Lysias actually kept the peace, stopped a riot and the murder of Paul.
And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done.
"...took him out of our hands..."
* To prevent the crowd from tearing "him" to pieces. (Acts 21:30-33)
"...commanding his accusers to come to you..."
* Under Roman law, a citizen had the right to face his accusers before the judge.
"And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so."
* "Assented" - Joined the attack, with false accusations.
Thus ends the prosecutions charges against Paul.
But they had a problem, they had lost the right of capital punishment under Roman rule. (Jn. 18:31)
The Roman governor would not execute Paul for violations of Jewish law, sacrilege.
But he would if they could prove Paul was guilty of sedition.
"...answer for myself..."
* Paul had no "orator," but he didn't need one. He had the Holy spirit. (Matt. 10:18-20)
* Paul was also brilliant in his own right, a Jewish Rabbi, Greek philosopher/orator and a free-born Roman citizen.
"...according to the Way..."
* "The Way" - Early Christians called themselves "the Way" followers of The Way.
Jesus said to him, "I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
"...so I worship the God of my fathers..."
* Same as the Jews: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
* Paul was a "Jew first" but now a follower of Christ, the Son of the Father.
"Believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets..."
* "All things which are written" - In the Old Testament.
- The O.T. points to Christ and the cross.
- As believers in Christ, we must believe everything written in O.T. Scripture as well as N.T. Scripture, which points back to the cross of Christ.
In Jesus' and Paul's time, the only Scripture they had was "the law, prophets, writings."
And Christ came to fulfill all the Law.
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
"...a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust..."
* All will rise from the grave for judgment.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.
"...a conscience without offense toward God and men."
* How can this be? Only by keeping the "Great Commandment":
Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 22:37-40)
Simply - Love God, love others!
"...I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation..."
* Paul brought "gifts" from the Gentile churches in Macedonia and Asia Minor for the relief of the Jewish brethren. (1 Cor. 16:1-4)
"...Jews from Asia..."
* Asia Minor - Ephesus
"They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me."
* Paul had a right to face his accusers as a Roman citizen.
* The Ephesian Jews (Acts 21:27-29) were not there in person to accuse him. By Roman law this trial was now invalid, and the accusers should now be prosecuted.
"Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council..."
* Paul turns the tables on Tertullus and his employers - now they must become his "accusers" and prove their charges against him.
* Hearsay has no validity in a Roman court.
Paul was loyal to both Roman law and Jewish law. (Rm. 113:1-7, vs. 14)
"...concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged..."
* True for Paul, true for all who follow “the Way” in God's judgment:
- Belief in Christ's resurrection is central to our redemption and salvation.
"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures..."
(1 Cor. 15:1-4)
* But within the Sanhedrin, there was great contention over the resurrection. The sect of the Pharisee's believed in resurrection, the sect of the Sadducees denied it. (Acts 23:6-10)
Stay of Judgment
"...Felix...having more accurate knowledge of the Way..."
* Felix's predecessor was Pontius Pilate. Felix knew all about the Jewish religious leader’s persecution of Christ, and their manipulation of Pilate. (Jn. 18:28-19:16)
"...he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ..."
* Paul was "the apostle to the Gentiles" and fulfilled his ministry with whomever, where ever!
"Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come..."
* "Righteousness" - Rightness before God, justified through Christ’s blood.
* "Self-Control" - The ability to control yourself and be obedient to God through the Holy Spirit within.
* "The Judgment" - The day we stand before God and give account of all we have said and done.
Paul was afraid of no man or his feelings. He never sugar-coated the Gospel or skipped over the hard things.
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
John the Baptist was beheaded for preaching the same to Herod Antipas. (Mk. 6:16-18)
But Paul sought the approval of God, not men.
This greatly frightened Felix!
"...Felix was afraid..."
* "Felix trembled" - King James Version
Rightly so, Paul had shown him the sinner that he was, and that he should fear "the judgment to come." Judgment to hell for the unrepentant sinner.
Interestingly, Jesus, the Lord of love, spoke more of hell than heaven, because He was “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
"When I have a convenient time, I will call you..."
* Felix was a procrastinator, not Procurator.
* For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2)
"Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him."
* Felix sought a bribe; his heart was still more about the things of this world than the things of the Kingdom!
Let us not make the same error as Felix; procrastinating, waiting for a "convenient time" to come to Christ, or come back to Him.
We can't be sure of another day of life, not even another breath in our lungs:
Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent...
What is your desire?
The choice is yours!