Bible Study Moment

Continuing Paul’s story in Acts 23:12, more than 40 people have taken a vow not to eat or drink anything until they have killed Paul. Paul’s nephew learns of this plot and comes to where Paul is being held, telling him. Paul sends him to the commander to tell him of the plot. The commander, Claudius Lysias, orders that 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen take Paul to Caesarea (a city on the coast where the Roman governor stayed) under cover of darkness; they start at 9:00 that night.

I now see some political gamesmanship going on. Lysias writes a letter to Governor Felix (Acts 23:26-30) where his version of what has happened differs significantly from Luke’s account.

Chapter 24 is Paul before Felix, where he recounts what has happened in the less than 2 weeks that he was in Jerusalem, pointing out that those who were the first to accuse him of wrongdoing are not there. Felix keeps Paul in prison to please the Jewish leaders, while hoping that Paul or Paul’s friends will pay him a great deal of money. In other words Felix is playing political games with Paul’s freedom. After 2 years Felix is replaced by Festus and we move on to chapter 25.

Paul is brought before Governor Festus and plays his political card. He points out that he is being held in a Roman jail and therefore should be tried according to Roman law and not be tried by any Jewish authorities. He appeals to Caesar, a right he has since he is a Roman citizen and Festus grants the request. Except Festus has a problem. He doesn’t have a charge under Roman law to charge Paul with. Several days later King Agrippa and his wife Bernice arrive to formally welcome the new governor. Agrippa wants to hear from Paul himself and so Paul tells his story to King Agrippa and Bernice, which brings us to chapter 26.

Paul tells more of his story including his conversion on the road to Damascus. It is basically an evangelistic witness, trying to persuade those listening to become Christians. In verse 32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”

Next is Paul’s journey to Rome.


Mark Phillips