Jesus's Words

Chapter 15: Law Report.—Jews Versus Paul: Trials Five, With Observations

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Section 4: Trial III. Place, Cæsarea.—Acts 24:1-23

Scene, "Governor" Felix's judicatory. Judge, said Governor. Prosecutor, Orator Tertullus: Present, his clients,—the "High Priest" and "the Elders." Procedure, accusatorial. Time, "twelve days," Acts 24:11, "after Trial 1; eleven, after Trial 2."

  1. I. Counsel's Speech—Points touched upon in it, these:—verses 1-4.
    • 1. Opening compliment to Governor Judge.—His "providence" and "clemency."
  2. II. 1. Vituperative surplusage, of course, as if in B. R.: though not paid for, in fees and taxes, by the sheet.—Defendant, "a pestilent fellow."
  3. Charges three. To make the matter more intelligible, had the proceeding been by writing in the first instance, they might have been styled counts.
    • 2. Charge 1. Defendant "a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world."
    • 3. Charge 2. Said Defendant "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."
    • 4. Charge 3. Defendant "gone about to profane the temple."
    • 5. Statement made of Trial 2, and the termination given to it by Roman chief captain Lysias, taking said Defendant out of their hands, and commanding accusers' appearance in this court: Acts 24:7-8.
    • 6. Viva voce evidence accordant: witnesses, neither quality nor number stated. "And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so." ver. 9.
  4. III. Defendant's defence: verses 10-21. Points touched upon in it, these:
    • 1. Defendant's confidence in this his judge.
    • 2. At Jerusalem "to worship" was his errand. The ostensible one, yes: of the real one,—supplanting the Apostles,—of course nothing said.
    • 3. In the temple, defendant was not "found by them," by whom? "disputing with any man." Disputing? No. It was to take the oath—the seven-days-long false oath,—that he went there:—this, and nothing else. The priests, in whose keeping he was, and on whose acceptance the validity and efficacy of the ceremony depended, were not men to be disputed with.
    • 4. Defendant not found by them "raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city." ver. 12. No: neither was any such raising charged upon him: nor would it have suited his purpose. Seditious acts are one thing; seditious discourses, another. From seditious acts he had nothing to gain; from seditious discourses everything: to wit, in so far as the effect of it was to weaken men's attachment to the law of the land, and engage them to transfer it to the schism he had raised in the religion of Jesus.
    • 5. General denial: but not amounting to Not Guilty. "Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me." ver. 13.
    • 6. In verses 14, 15, 16, matter nothing to the purpose. Orthodox his belief: among the objects of it, the resurrection: void of offence towards God and man, his conscience.
    • 7. False pretence—object of this his visit to Jerusalem—of this his Invasion Visit—falsely stated. "Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings." ver. 17.
    • 8. When Defendant was "found purified in the temple," it was "neither with multitude, nor with tumult." True: but nothing to the purpose: the priests, in whose boarding-house he was, while the purifying, that is to say, the eating and paying, process was carrying on, were not a multitude: nor would tumult have been either profitable or practicable.
    • 9. The men, who so found Defendant there, were "certain Jews from Asia," and, if they were accusers or witnesses, ought to have appeared in that character on the present occasion. "Who ought," says ver. 19, "to have been here before thee, and object, if they had aught against me." Ought? why ought they? Defendant called no witnesses: by non-appearance of witnesses, if against him, so far from being injured, he was benefited. The proceeding, too, was inquisitorial, not accusatorial: it required no accusers. Jews of Asia indeed? as if there were any Jews of Asia, to whom any more natural or legitimate cause of indignation could have been given by his misdeeds, than had been given by them to all the Jews in Jerusalem, not to speak of the rest of the world, or the Christianized Jews.
    • 10. By Defendant's saying to the judges in Trial 2, that it was for preaching the resurrection that he stood accused by and before them—by this, without anything else, the indignation thereupon expressed by them against him had been excited. "Or else," say verses 20-21, "let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, Except it be for this one voice, that I cried, standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day."

Follows the judge's decision, And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.Acts 24:22 Such is stated to have been the decision of the judge: and, so far as regarded what passed on Defendant's trial before Jerusalem council, it was clearly the only proper one: a more impartial, as well as, in every point of view, suitable witness, the case could hardly have afforded: and, as to the main question, nothing could be more natural, than that what it had fallen in Lysias's way on that occasion to observe, might afford instructive light.

Interlocutory order. Defendant recommitted: but access to him free for everybody. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.Acts 24:23

In this state continues Paul for "two years": at which time, Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.Acts 24:27

In verses 24-26, this interval of delay is filled up with an account, such as it is, of certain intrigues, of which the Defendant was the subject. The Roman has a Jewess for his wife. The prisoner is sent for, and wife shares with husband the benefit of his eloquence. Self-constituted Apostle preaches: heathen trembles: trembling, however, prevents not his "hoping" to get money out of the prisoner, if this part of the history is to be believed. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning what is here called, the faith in Christ.Acts 24:24 Faith in Christ indeed? After the word faith, the word Christ costs no more to write than the word Paul: but in whatever was said about faith by Paul, which would be the most prominent figure,—Christ or Paul—may by this time be imagined. As for any faith which it was in the nature of the case, that the Roman heathen should derive from the Greek Jew's eloquence, it must have been faith in Paul, and Paul only. Paul he had seen and heard, Christ he had neither seen nor heard; nor, for aught that appears, anything concerning him, till that very time.

And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.Acts 24:25-26

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