24 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly. 5 “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 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.  [a] 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.” 9 The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true. 10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. 17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’” 22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
Today’s passage gives an interesting insight into how the world worked back in the time of Paul. It doesn’t seem a lot different to now in certain places and in certain situations. It’s also interesting to see how Paul behaved in the circumstances. Paul was brought before the governor with some serious charges related to things Paul had not actually done.
The thing that stood out to me when I read this passage was firstly how polite and respectful Paul was to the judge. He spoke with care explaining what he did and didn’t do. The religious of the day were also very clear on their story but the story about Paul stirring up riots was not true. They also essentially complained about the behaviour of the Commander who took Paul from these people to the governor.
Paul then explained that other things the religious men said or implied about him were true. This was about who he believed in and what he believed. He remained truthful about the things that mattered. He sounds like he would have come across as a trustworthy witness.
Paul was a great example of how we should all behave. To be respectful and polite and truthful. To hold fast to what God asks of each of us.
Lord God thank you that you are always with us and that you will help us every day to be respectful and polite with everyone we encounter and that you are the one that will protect us from the untruths of others. We can trust you to do that. Awesome. Amen
Written by Therese Manning