Episode #113. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 24 together. The Jerusalem Jews come to Caesarea to accuse Paul, Paul defends himself in front of Felix, and his verdict is postponed.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #113. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 24 together: The Jerusalem Jews come to Caesarea to accuse Paul; Paul defends himself in front of Felix; and his verdict is postponed.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I believe I have told you several times that I am reading the Apocrypha this year.
For the record, dictionary.com defines the Apocrypha as follows: A group of 14 books, not considered canonical, included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate as part of the Old Testament, but usually omitted from Protestant editions of the Bible. Let me wade quickly thru the church words for you. The Septuagint is the Old Testament translated into the Greek from Hebrew. The Vulgate is the Latin version of the Bible.
Anyway, I know that the Apocrypha is not considered reliable enough to be included in modern translations, but I had heard that it is excellent for Bible history, so I wanted to read it. I have found it to be interesting in most places, weird in others. This morning, I was struck by verses 2 & 3 of the 2nd Mandate as written by Hermas. This is what it says:
2 First of all, speak evil of no man, neither take pleasure in listening to a slanderer. Otherwise thou that hearest too shalt be responsible for the sin of him that speaketh the evil, if thou believest the slander, which thou hearest; for in believing it thou thyself also wilt have a grudge against thy brother. So then shalt thou be responsible for the sin of him that speaketh the evil.
3 Slander is evil; it is a restless demon, never at peace, but always having its home among factions. Refrain from it therefore, and thou shalt have success at all times with all men.
A Sobering Revelation
We have heard such poisonous speech of late. It’s disturbing. It’s an undercurrent in our collective conscientiousness. I think that’s why this jumped out at me. This passage seems to be suggesting that if I listen to slander, I am accountable as if I did the slandering. That’s a sobering revelation and makes me want to be more choosy about the conversations in which I partake.
Oh, and on a lighter note, aren’t you glad we’re reading a modern translation rather than the Old English?
Acts Chapter 24:
The Accusation against Paul
Five days later Ananias the high priest came down with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. These men presented their case against Paul to the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus began to accuse him and said, “We enjoy great peace because of you, and reforms are taking place for the benefit of this nation because of your foresight. We acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with utmost gratitude.
But, so that I will not burden you any further, I request that you would be kind enough to give us a brief hearing. For we have found this man to be a plague, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the Roman world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to desecrate the temple, and so we apprehended him. By examining him yourself you will be able to discern the truth about these charges we are bringing against him.”
The Jews also joined in the attack, alleging that these things were true.
Paul’s Defense before Felix
When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied, “Because I know you have been a judge of this nation for many years, I am glad to offer my defense in what concerns me. You can verify for yourself that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem. They didn’t find me arguing with anyone or causing a disturbance among the crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or anywhere in the city. Neither can they prove the charges they are now making against me. But I admit this to you: I worship the God of my ancestors according to the Way, which they call a sect, believing everything that is in accordance with the law and written in the prophets.
I have a hope in God, which these men themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous. I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and men. After many years, I came to bring charitable gifts and offerings to my people. While I was doing this, some Jews from Asia found me ritually purified in the temple, without a crowd and without any uproar. It is they who ought to be here before you to bring charges, if they have anything against me. Or let these men here state what wrongdoing they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin, other than this one statement I shouted while standing among them, ‘Today I am on trial before you concerning the resurrection of the dead.’”
The Verdict Postponed
Since Felix was well informed about the Way, he adjourned the hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” He ordered that the centurion keep Paul under guard, though he could have some freedom, and that he should not prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.
Several days later, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.” At the same time he was also hoping that Paul would offer him money. So he sent for him quite often and conversed with him.
After two years had passed, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix, and because Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.
Now, we could talk about a lot of things in this chapter, and you’re always welcome to bring up a conversation on my Facebook page or on my website, liftinghervoice.com. But the pea under my mattress – and I’m going to assume yours too from time to time – is found in verse 25. “Felix became afraid.” In some translations, it says “alarmed.” When we are faced with truth – undeniable truth – and we are still in our sin, it’s uncomfortable. We know it in our gut. It’s called being convicted by the Holy Spirit. And He is relentless. Not unkind. But relentless.
According to one commentary I read, apparently, Felix had lured Drusilla away from her husband. No wonder he was afraid in the light of truth. Felix would have done well to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit and repent. You and I would do well to do the same.
Let’s pray. Holy Spirit, we pray that You will always be relentless. Do not let us continue in our sins but always help us to turn away and run toward You. We cannot do this on our own. Even the most disciplined among us will conform to this world sometimes. Thank You for Your mercy and Your grace and Your relentless love. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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