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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Acts 24 – Paul before Felix

The trial before Felix says more about his priorities than it does about his character. He was not a just ruler and was only prepared to help Paul if he gave a bribe. He may have concluded that it would be better to keep Paul under house arrest than to have him free as a possible cause of unrest among the Jews.

The Jewish leadership seem to have noticed the effectiveness of Paul in giving his explanation of his life when speaking to the mob in Jerusalem. This would explain why they engaged a lawyer to present their case against Paul. From their point of view, Paul was everything a Jewish leader should not be, which he would have seen as a compliment.

Paul explained to Felix his actions and his motives. In his statement, he does not refer to Jesus by name, but merely recounts what he did in Jerusalem before his arrest. He does highlight his faith in the resurrection, which was the message of the Old Testament, but which his accusers denied. In a sense, Paul was informing Felix that he was more loyal to the Old Testament than were his accusers. Perhaps he spoke in this way to show that he was innocent of the charges made against him

We can see in the wisdom that Paul showed here an example of the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus to his disciples concerning appearing in court because of their faith: ‘And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 13:10-11).

Felix is a sad example of a hearer of the gospel. When he heard Paul a second time, he listened to an explanation of the need for faith in Jesus and of holy living and of a solemn judgement in the future. What he heard alarmed him, one reason being that the truth exposed him to himself. Yet his primary motive was to get a bribe from Paul, and he was prepared to go through frequent one to one conversations with the apostle in order to get it. What we can say about Felix is that he lost his soul without gaining a penny from Paul, even although the apostle offered him greater riches than he could imagine.

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