Bible Studies for Sep. 22 & 23

Sep. 22. Jewish Plot Against Paul Acts 23:12-35

While Paul was being held in protective custody by the Romans, a group of more than forty Jews bound themselves together by an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. They went to the chief priests and elders and suggested that they send for Paul to be brought before them under the pretense of further questioning. Their plan was to ambush the soldiers and kill him as they were bringing him to the council.

Paul’s Roman citizenship allowed him more privileges than just a Jew would have received. His nephew had heard of the scheme and had reported it to him in the barracks. A centurion was then called to escort the young man to the commander, “for he has something to tell him.”

Upon hearing the scheme of the Jews, the commander gave orders to two centurions. They were to prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to take Paul safely during the third hour of the night to Caesarea. There he would stand before Felix, the governor.

The commander, Claudius Lysias wrote the following letter to Felix: “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. And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. 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.”

Paul and the letter were presented to Felix the next day. When he had read the letter, the governor asked him where he was from. After learning that he was from Cilicia, he ordered him to be kept in Herod’s headquarters until his accusers had come.

Sep. 23. Paul Appears Before Governor Felix Acts 24:1-27

Five days after Paul had been brought to Caesarea, he appeared before Felix as Ananias, the elders and Tertullus, an orator (lawyer) made their case against him.

Tertullus began his testimony against Paul by being highly complementary of Felix to gain immediate favor in the governor’s eyes. He then listed three things of which Paul was accused. First, he had caused dissention among all of the Jews in the world. Second, he was the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Third, he had tried to profane the temple.

The prosecution further stated that the commander Lysias had removed Paul by great violence from the Jews and ordered them to appear before Felix. Tertullus further suggested that if he questioned Lysias about the matter, he would get the same information.

When Paul was given permission to speak, he reasoned that in the short time that he had been in Jerusalem, he could not have caused the uproar that Tertullus had described. He did state, however “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.”

As for profaning the temple, Paul stated that after many years he had brought alms and offerings to his nation. This was the contribution that he had collected from the Gentiles in Macedonia and Achaia. He said that the Jews from Asia who had seen him in the temple should have come to state their charges against him. Their only possibility of a case was his statement concerning the resurrection of the dead, of which the majority of the Jews believed.

Felix was convinced that Paul’s problem was with the Jews and that he was innocent of any crime against Rome. If he had been truly concerned for justice, he would have released Paul for lack of evidence. Since he was a corrupt politician and wanted to please the Jews, he continued to hold Paul until he could question the commander, Lysias. Even though he was at liberty to visit his friends, Paul was chained to a soldier to prevent his escape.

After a period of time, Felix along with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess called for Paul to explain things concerning the faith in Christ. Felix was familiar with Christianity and Drusilla was closely related to the kings who had persecuted Christians.

Paul explained the evils of the sins that Felix and Drusilla had committed and the consequences that they faced in the judgment if they did not turn from their wickedness. Even a tyrant can be touched by the gospel for Felix was terrified by Paul’s teaching, but Satan prodded Felix to say, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” As far as we know, he never again had a “convenient time.” Today is the day of salvation!

Felix, hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom called him many times, but the bribe did not come. After two years, Nero removed him as governor and named Porcius Festus as his successor. Even then, in order to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.