Paul Is Accused
1Five days later Ananias the high priest, together with some of their leaders and a lawyer named Tertullus, went to the governor to present their case against Paul. 2So Paul was called in, and Tertullus stated the case against him:
Honorable Felix, you have brought our people a long period of peace, and because of your concern our nation is much better off. 3All of us are always grateful for what you have done. 4I don't want to bother you, but please be patient with us and listen to me for just a few minutes.
5This man has been found to be a real pest and troublemaker for our people all over the world. He is also a leader of a group called Nazarenes. 6-8When he tried to disgrace the temple, we arrested him. If you question him, you will find out for yourself that our charges are true.
9The Jewish crowd spoke up and agreed with what Tertullus had said.
Paul Defends Himself
10The governor motioned for Paul to speak, and he began:
I know that you have judged the people of our nation for many years, and I am glad to defend myself in your court.
11It was no more than twelve days ago that I went to worship in Jerusalem. You can find this out easily enough. 12Never once did the Jews find me arguing with anyone in the temple. I didn't cause trouble in the synagogues or in the city itself. 13There is no way that they can prove these charges they are now bringing against me.
14I admit that their leaders think the Lord's Way which I follow is based on wrong beliefs. But I still worship the same God that my ancestors worshiped. And I believe everything written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets. 15I am just as sure as these people are that God will raise from death everyone, good or evil. 16And because I am sure, I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or for people.
17 After being away for several years, I returned here to bring gifts for the poor people of my nation and to offer sacrifices. 18This is what I was doing when I was found going through a ceremony in the temple. I wasn't with a crowd, and there was no uproar.
19Some Jews from Asia were there at that time, and if they have anything to say against me, they should be here now. 20Or ask the ones who are here. They can tell you that they didn't find me guilty of anything when I was tried by their own council. 21 The only charge they can bring against me is what I shouted out in court, when I said, “I am on trial today because I believe that the dead will be raised to life!”
Under the supervision of the governor Felix, accusations are brought against Paul by Ananias the high priest and his followers. They have an orator named Tertullus as their spokesman. He begins by heaping praise on Felix for providing a long period of prosperity and peace. This hardly accords with what we know about Felix from elsewhere. I am reminded of the saying “flattery will get you anywhere.”
There were three charges levelled against Paul. The first charge was that he was a troublemaker. The second said that Paul led a sect called the Nazarenes, the name likely coming from Jesus’ home town of Nazareth. The third charge accused Paul of desecrating the Temple.
He denies the first charge saying he had not come to evangelize but to bring aid to the suffering and poor. He admits that he is a follower of Jesus but flatly rejects the accusation that he profaned the Temple. In fact Christians still went to the Temple to worship (see Acts 21:24).
Paul stresses that he was ceremonially clean when he entered the Temple and that he was not the one who had caused the disturbance.
“Asia” in the Roman empire refers to the territory we now know as Turkey, and the “Jews from Asia” were the Jews from Ephesus, who were especially hostile to Paul. They had followed him to Jerusalem and it was they who had caused the riot in the Temple (Acts 21:27-36). Paul now pointed out that these Asian Jews who accused him were not present at the hearing before Felix. It was a serious breach of Roman law to hear a case when the accusers weren’t present. Paul said their real charge was that he believed in the resurrection of the dead.
Father, Help us to live with integrity. Keep us from the temptation to use flattery to get what we want, or to engage in any dishonest behaviour. We pray for the courage to speak the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.