ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Chapter 23:23-35; chapters 24-26
Paul Speaks to Authorities
Introduction: Remember the 40 men who were not going to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul? They certainly were wrong. The Lord was standing by Paul. He wouldn’t allow these wicked men to carry out their threats. The chief captain, Claudius Lysias, had protected Paul. He now knew he had to get him out of Jerusalem. He made ready to send him to Felix, the governor at Caesarea.
The letter Claudius Lysias, the chief captain sent to Felix – Acts 23:23-30. Claudius Lysias made sure that Paul was guarded well on his way to Caesarea. He sent two centurions who were in charge of 100 men each, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen. They went in the middle of the night. They took Paul on a beast (horse, we suppose). Claudius Lysias told Felix in the letter that he had rescued Paul from the Jews, since he understood he was a Roman. He caught on that the problem the Jews had with Paul was over a question of their law, but there was no reason why Paul deserved to die. He told Felix that some of those trouble makers (accusers) would be going to Caesarea where Felix was. The soldiers took him part way that night, leaving the horsemen to take him the rest of the way. Felix read the letter and kept Paul a prisoner until he could hear what the accusers had to say.
Paul before Felix – Acts 24:1-27. After five days Ananias the high priest came down to Caesarea with the elders. They brought along an orator, a lawyer, named Tertullus. He would do the speaking. The first thing Terrullus did was to flatter (soft soap) Felix. Then he went on to bring the charges against Paul. He claimed Paul was a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world. This meant that Paul had made a pest of himself and was guilty of treason (causing trouble for the Roman government). Then he said Paul had defiled the temple. All the Jews who came with them agreed. Then it was Paul’s turn to speak, for Felix gave him that right. Paul didn’t flatter Felix. He just said he knew he had been a judge there for a long time. He told Felix he had done none of those things of which they accused him, and they could not prove he did. Paul did give a good testimony about his faith. He had hope of the resurrection, which, he said his accusers (supposedly) believed also. Then he said he had a good conscience toward God and men. He also said he came to Jerusalem to bring alms (help) to the nations. He said he had not acted in the wrong way in the temple. He called on the ones there to say if he had said or done wrong when he stood before the council. The only thing to which they could object was what Paul said about the resurrection. Felix said that was enough for that time. He said he would hear more when the chief captain would come down. The Felix gave Paul a lot of liberty and had a soldier keep track of Paul. He said Paul could have company.
Paul had the second opportunity to talk with Felix. This time his young Jewish wife Drusilla was there. Paul talked of his faith in Christ. He talked about some very important things such as righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. Felix had a hard time with that because he knew about those things and had not done right at all. It says that Felix TREMBLED. He was under conviction. He put off doing anything about it right then claiming he would hear more later. Actually he was hoping someone would give him money to let Paul go. He did send for Paul after that, but we don’t hear that he ever gave his life to the Lord. There in Caesarea, Paul was a prison for two years.
Paul before Festus the new Governor – Acts 25:1-12. Festus was only in that area for three days before he went to Jerusalem. The high priest and chief of the Jews told him all they could against Paul. They wanted Festus to bring Paul to Jerusalem. They still thought they would have this chance to kill him. Festus did not agree. He said they would need to come to Caesarea. They did. Again they brought all those charges against Paul. Paul said he was not guilty. When Festus asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem. Paul said that he was a Roman and he appealed to Caesar. Remember Caesar was in Rome. NOT Jerusalem. Then Festus said that is where Paul should go – to Rome.
Paul Gave King Agrippa the Message of Jesus – Acts 25:12-27; 26:1-32. Festus did not know much about the Jews’ way of thinking and was glad to have Herod Agrippa come down to visit. He brought Bernice, his sister, along. Festus needed to have proper papers to send with Paul when he would be taken to Rome. Agrippa wanted to hear Paul. There was quite a gathering the next day. It says they came with great pomp. Here were Paul’s accusers, Festus, King Agrippa, and Bernice. What an opportunity Paul had to give his testimony to this group. He told of the day he was saved. He told of his commission to preach. He said he was obedient to the heavenly vision. He said the Jews didn’t like it, that he preached about Jesus. He also said they caught him in the temple and tried to kill him. He gave the message of Jesus in a clear way – 26:23. Fesus became very upset and accused Paul of being mad (crazy). Paul told him he wasn’t mad, but had spoken the truth. Then he spoke to Agrippa and told him plainly that he knew all about this and he even must have believed. The problem is he would not commit himself. He would not be saved He wasn’t ready to give up his sinful life and become a born-again believer.
V. 28 really means, like it says in the margin of the verse, “With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.” He was being sarcastic, like saying – “It will take more than this to make me a Christian.” So he rejected the message too. The dignitaries talked among themselves. They realized Paul was not guilty and they could have let Paul go free if he had not appealed to Caesar.
Conclusion: Look at these three men – Felix the governor at Caesarea knew he should be saved but just put it off. Festus laughed it all off, accusing Paul of being crazy or insane. Agrippa really knew Paul was right, but rejected the message in favor of doing his own thing and living a wicked life. There are all kinds of people who hear the message of salvation. As far as we know, none of these men were ever saved. Folks reject the message for various reasons. They will regret it. The only way to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died for you, and accept Him into your life. John 1:12.