Sunday 28 August, 2016

Acts 24:1-23

24 Five days later Ananias the high priest went down to Caesarea. Some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus went with him. They brought their charges against Paul to the governor. 2 So Paul was called in. Tertullus began to bring the charges against Paul. He said to Felix, “We have enjoyed a long time of peace while you have been ruling. You are a wise leader. You have made this a better nation. 3 Most excellent Felix, we gladly admit this everywhere and in every way. And we are very thankful. 4 I don’t want to bother you. But would you be kind enough to listen to us for a short time? 5 “We have found that Paul is a troublemaker. This man stirs up trouble among Jews all over the world. He is a leader of those who follow Jesus of Nazareth. 6-7 He even tried to make our temple impure. So we arrested him. 8 Question him yourself. Then you will learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.” 9 The other Jews said the same thing. They agreed that the charges were true. 10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know that you have been a judge over this nation for quite a few years. So I am glad to explain my actions to you. 11 About 12 days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. You can easily check on this. 12 Those bringing charges against me did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple. I wasn’t stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 They can’t prove to you any of the charges they are making against me. 14 It is true that I worship the God of our people. I am a follower of the Way of Jesus. Those bringing charges against me call it a cult. I believe everything that is in keeping with the Law. I believe everything that is in keeping with what is written in the Prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men themselves have. I believe that both the godly and the ungodly will rise from the dead. 16 So I always try not to do anything wrong in the eyes of God or in the eyes of people. 17 “I was away for several years. Then I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for those who were poor. I also came to offer sacrifices. 18 They found me doing this in the temple courtyard. I had already been made pure and ‘clean’ in the usual way. There was no crowd with me. I didn’t stir up any trouble. 19 But there are some other Jews who should be here in front of you. They are from Asia Minor. They should bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Let the Jews who are here tell you what crime I am guilty of. After all, I was put on trial by the Sanhedrin. 21 Perhaps they blame me for what I said when I was on trial. I shouted, ‘I believe that people will rise from the dead. That is why I am on trial here today.’ ” 22 Felix knew all about the Way of Jesus. So he put off the trial for the time being. “Lysias the commanding officer will come,” he said. “Then I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the commander to keep Paul under guard. He told him to give Paul some freedom. He also told him to allow Paul’s friends to take care of his needs.

Paul was brought before governor Felix on false charges by Ananias the high priest, other Jewish leaders and a lawyer – a credible contingent to say the least. This contingent suggested that Felix should question Paul for himself and then he would find out that the charges the Jewish leaders brought against him were true. Felix did question Paul which revealed that the charges brought against him seemed to be fictitious. Felix was then unsure what to do with Paul as he did not want to upset the Jewish leaders and deferred his decision until after he had spoken to commander Lysias. All the while Paul was held under guard.

Paul was glad to defend himself in Felix’s court. Paul recounted that he had only been in Jerusalem twelve days and hadn’t caused trouble in the temple as the Jewish leadership had alleged. Paul also explained that he wasn’t with a crowd nor had there been an uproar. He even brought gifts for the poor. Importantly, Paul highlighted the real reason for the charges – different beliefs. The Jewish leaders knew that Paul believed in the resurrection of the dead and that he was a very persuasive speaker – he needed to be shut down so they falsely accused him and brought him before governor Felix.

­Paul understood what he believed would cause division. After all, our beliefs are central to who we are so we need to be able to understand and articulate them confidently. At the same time Paul aimed to have a clear conscience in whatever he did for God or for people. These are great aims for us to follow as well.

Lord please help me to be ready to explain what I believe in a humble manner. Help my actions to confirm what I believe too, Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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