HEARINGS AT CAESAREA

At Caesarea Paul was turned over to Felix, the governor of Judea, with a letter from Lysias. Felix questioned Paul and then directed that he be confined to the *praetorium until his Jewish accusers should arrive from Jerusalem (Acts 23:25–35).

23:25  He wrote a letter in the following manner:

23:26  Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.

23:27  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.

23:28  And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council.

23:29  I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

23:30  And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him. Farewell.

23:31  Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.

23:32  The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.

23:33  When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.

23:34  And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,

23:35  he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.

After 5 days Ananias, the high priest, accompanied by certain elders, and Tertullus, a professional orator, appeared and accused Paul of sedition and of profanation of the Temple (ch 24:1–9).

24:1  Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

24:2  And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,

24:3  we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

24:4  Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

24:5  For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

24:6  He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.

24:7  But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,

24:8  commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”

24:9  And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

After the accused had spoken in his own defense, Felix delayed making a decision until further evidence was available. In the meantime Paul was granted a large measure of freedom (vs 10–23).

24:10  Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself,

24:11  because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.

24:12  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city.

24:13  Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.

24:14  But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

24:15  I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

24:16  This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

24:17  “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation,

24:18  in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.

24:19  They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.

24:20  Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council,

24:21  unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ “

24:22  But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”

24:23  So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

Some time later he was again brought before Felix and his Jewish wife, *Drusilla. Apparently this hearing was not in the nature of a trial, but merely a pretext to hear what Paul had to say.

On this occasion Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” with the result that Felix’ conscience was greatly, but evidently only temporarily, disturbed (vs 24, 25).

nd 24:24  And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

24:25  Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

Following this event, Paul was kept a prisoner for 2 years, until Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus (vs 26, 27). This was about a.d. 60.

24:26  Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

24:27  But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Almost as soon as Festus took office the Jews requested that he send Paul to Jerusalem for trial, intending to assassinate him on the way from Caesarea.

Festus refused, but invited them to make their charges against the apostle at Caesarea. This they did, making many unproved charges. Festus inquired whether Paul would be willing to stand trial in Jerusalem.

Doubtless considering that an order to renew the trial in Jerusalem would be the equivalent to his death sentence, Paul decided to invoke his rights as a Roman citizen, and appealed to Caesar (Nero; see Caesar, 4).

The appeal was accepted, and Paul awaited transportation to Rome, safely out of reach of his angry countrymen (Acts 25:1–12).