When we left off last week, the Roman Commander in Jerusalem had learned of a plot to kill the Apostle Paul. Because Paul was a Roman Citizen, the Commander had him transferred to Caesarea. In Acts 23:26-30, He explains everything in a letter he writes to Governor Felix who was going to be trying the case. Paul is then escorted by cavalry to Caesarea an handed over to Governor Felix.
Acts 23:34-35 “The governor read the letter and asked what provence he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, he said, ‘I will hear your case when your accusers get here.’ Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.”
Five days later, the High Priest and some elders from Jerusalem show up to testify against Paul and they’ve hired a real slick lawyer whose name is Tertulus. When you’re your case is weak, get yourself a good lawyer. You’ve got to love this guy. You’ve probably seen one of his ads on TV. He’s so smooth.
Acts 24:2a “When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: ‘We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you.’”
“A long period peace?” Under Felix? You’ve got to be kidding. History records that there was a steady, gradual buildup of unrest growing in Judea at this time and Felix’s superiors were aware of it. Rome was watching him.
24:2b –“’and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation,’”
His foresight? Nobody ever accused Felix of having any foresight. Foresight implies that he’s looking ahead; thinking ahead; planning ahead. Stick around and see just how much “foresight” Gov. Felix actually has. If you go back and check the history books, you won’t be able to find one good thing Felix ever did. Whatever “reforms” Tertullus was talking about here were never recorded.
Acts 24:3 “Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude.”
I can just picture others who were standing there rolling their eyes, biting their tongues or trying to keep from laughing out loud as Tertullus kept piling it on.
Acts 24:4 “But in order not to weary you further, I request that you hear us briefly”
In other words…”I can’t keep this up. I can’t even stand myself right now and I can’t think of anything else to say. Now that he’s gotten that out of the way, Tertullus proceeds to level charges against Paul.
Acts 24: 5-6 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of a Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the Temple. So we seized him.”
If you look down at the bottom of the page in your Bible, you’ll probably see some verses in small print. They separate those verses like that because scholars can’t seem to agree whether or not these words were in the original text. I believe those verses were in the original text because if you try to understand this without them, it doesn’t make any sense.
Without those verses at the bottom it reads: “so we seized him”… Acts 24:8“If you examine him yourself you’ll be able to learn the truth about these charges.”
Of course you will. The last thing in the world these elders want is for Felix to examine Paul. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He’ll guide us into the truth. We don’t want you or anyone else to know the truth. Now, let’s try reading it with those verses at the bottom of your Bible.
Acts 24:6, 7, 8 “So we seized him. And wanted to judge him according to our law. But the Commander, Lysias, came and with the use of much force snatched him from our hands and ordered his accusers to come. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about these charges we are bringing against him.”
We wanted to judge him according to our law and have him put to death. It was the Roman Commander who snatched him away so you could examine him and learn the truth about him. Commander Lysias doesn’t think this man has done anything wrong.
Acts 24:9 “The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.”
There’s a whole room full of people coming up with charges they think Tertullus has missed.
Acts 24:10a “When the Governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied.”
Let’s give Paul a week to get his thoughts together before we listen to his defense. Remember, all these events, the riots, the trial, and all these people, The Sadducees, Commander Lysias. Tertullus, Governor Felix, are all working together to carry out the will of God and help Paul finish his race and complete his task.
Paul didn’t have to constantly question or wonder about what the will of God might be. It was his constant prayer and his heart’s desire for God’s will to be done so he just had to get up every day, go out and let it happen.
Maybe we should try that and not over think and over complicate it so much. Establish it in prayer. Then go out and live each day to its fullest. Let His will unfold around you and give thanks.
“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)