Acts 24

This devotional is written by Tom Jones.

Acts 24

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Paul's trial before Felix
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. 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 defence. 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.

24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.' 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favour to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.


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So this passage describes a court case where Paul is on trial. He's been accused of being a rabble rouser, making trouble in the holy places in Jerusalem. In some ways he doesn't have much trouble defending himself, as he points out that his accusers have no evidence for the charges they are seeking to bring, and in fact they weren't even there at the scence of the alleged crime, and they have no eye witnesses. And the Roman governor, Felix, basically accepts Paul's defence, though he does still keep him in jail for the next 2 years, as a favour to the Jews. He gives Paul relative freedom, and allows his friends to visit him and provide for him. Felix likes to talk to Paul, it seems in part because he's hoping for a bribe, but he's obviously interested in what Paul has to say about 'The Way', Paul's Christian faith. We're told Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control & the judgment to come. To be righteous is to be on the side of 'morally right', of good. Most people at least like to think that's the side they are on, but Paul knew that it was only because of Jesus that he could be good. Self-control I guess is on us, we need to choose to control our temper or our drinking, to make good choices. We don't always, but we know we should. The fact that we fail, and the fact there is judgment to come however needn't worry us. The happy thing about The Way is that we're not the ones being judged, that's what Jesus came for, and that's what Paul wants to tell everyone he meets.

Dear God, help me to make wise choices, help me to be self-controlled, and thank you that it's OK that I don't always get these things right. Amen.

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