Paul’s trial before the Roman governor Felix demonstrates that his passion to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ surpassed even his longing for freedom. Called to give an account for being a “troublemaker,” the apostle instead seized the chance to preach. Alistair Begg walks us through the charges of the high priest and Paul’s defense, noting the skillful way Paul used this challenging turn of events as an opportunity to once again share the Gospel.
1And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:
“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4But, to detain1 you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.2 8By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”
9The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
10And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— 19they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”
22But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.
24After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.