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Acts 24 v 1 - 27

We are now in the Roman courts and there is only a tenuous connection to the even handed justice of the Roman commanders we had witnessed before. Felix was corrupt, but he still was aware that Rome was looking on at what he did and that Paul was a Roman citizen. It can be instantly recognised that the words of Tertullus are honeyed and false: the Jews did not 'arrest' Paul, but attempted to lynch him. Anyway, the main charges he levels against Paul are:

1. Paul was an agitator, always stirring things up wherever he went. Tertullus would have been aware that the one thing Rome would not tolerate was civil disorder.

2. Paul was a leader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Again, Rome was only too aware what mass hysteria could be caused by those claiming to be a Messiah, and the upset from that.

3. Paul was a defiler of the Temple. Tertullus was aware that the Romans generally favoured the Sadducees, who were priests at the Temple, as they were the collaborationist party. This charge was the most dangerous of the three.

Paul defended himself before Felix against these charges. He gave the answers plainly. When he was arrested he was doing good: supporting those who had made a vow and bringing money to poor believers in Jerusalem: however, his words are not those of one who is self-pitying or bitter, but they have the force of indignation. Paul was not a man who could be trampled on!

Interestingly, Felix treated Paul with kindness, although he was afraid of Paul's high moral standards. So, as always, postponing the decision seemed appropriate to a man who had lived a compromised morally corrupt life. Paul remained under house arrest for two years, when Felix was recalled to Rome. He had overstepped the mark by sending in large numbers of troops to counter Jewish rioting and there was a massacre and much looting of wealthier Jews' homes. They complained to Rome and he was sent home. Felix had kept Paul in prison to keep the Jews sweet, but ultimately it proved to no avail.

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