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Paul before Felix at Caesarea


Five days later the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an attorney, a certain Tertullus, and they reported their case against Paul to the governor. 2When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:

“Your Excellency, because of you we have long enjoyed peace, and reforms have been made for this people because of your foresight. 3We welcome this in every way and everywhere with utmost gratitude. 4But, to detain you no further, I beg you to hear us briefly with your customary graciousness. 5We have, in fact, found this man a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane the temple, and so we seized him. 8By examining him yourself you will be able to learn from him concerning everything of which we accuse him.”

9 The Jews also joined in the charge by asserting that all this was true.

Paul’s Defense before Felix

10 When the governor motioned to him to speak, Paul replied:

“I cheerfully make my defense, knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation. 11As you can find out, it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem. 12They did not find me disputing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd either in the synagogues or throughout the city. 13Neither can they prove to you the charge that they now bring against me. 14But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets. 15I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience toward God and all people. 17Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation and to offer sacrifices. 18While I was doing this, they found me in the temple, completing the rite of purification, without any crowd or disturbance. 19But there were some Jews from Asia—they ought to be here before you to make an accusation, if they have anything against me. 20Or let these men here tell what crime they had found when I stood before the council, 21unless it was this one sentence that I called out while standing before them, ‘It is about the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ”

22 But Felix, who was rather well informed about the Way, adjourned the hearing with the comment, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23Then he ordered the centurion to keep him in custody, but to let him have some liberty and not to prevent any of his friends from taking care of his needs.

Paul Held in Custody

24 Some days later when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him speak concerning faith in Christ Jesus. 25And as he discussed justice, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity, I will send for you.” 26At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul, and for that reason he used to send for him very often and converse with him.

27 After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and since he wanted to grant the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

25. And as he disputed. Felix hoped that he should take some delight in Paul’s sermon; as men who are desirous of new things do willingly feed their ears with subtle disputations; also he meant to satisfy his wife’s desire without his own trouble; now, he is enforced to feel that force of the Word of God, whereof he never thought, which driveth away all his delights. Paul, out of bonds, disputeth of the judgment of God; he which had power to put him to death, or to save his life, is afraid and quaketh as if he stood before his own judge; neither doth he find any other comfort, but to send him away out of his sight. Let us first learn by this, what great force of the Spirit of God there was both in the heart and also in the tongue of Paul, because he seeth that he must speak in the name of Christ, he doth not behave himself like an underling; 593593     “Non submisse agit,” he does not act crouchingly. but he declareth the embassage which was enjoined him, with a grace, as from on high, and having forgotten that he was in bonds, he denounceth the heavenly judgment in the person of Christ. And now seeing Felix’ heart is so pricked with the voice of a prisoner, the majesty of the Spirit doth show itself in that also, which Christ extolleth; when the Spirit shall come he shall judge the world, etc., and that force of prophesying, which the same Paul setteth forth elsewhere (1 Corinthians 14:24). Also, that is fulfilled which he saith in another place, that the word of God was not bound with him; which he did not only stoutly maintain and affirm to be true, but which did effectually pierce into the hearts of men, (and that of such as were proud of their greatness) as if it did lighten from heaven.

Again, we must note, that although the reprobate be stricken with the judgment of God, yet are they not renewed unto repentance by that terror alone. Felix is touched indeed, when he heareth that God shall be the Judge of the world; yet he fleeth therewithal from his judgment-seat, (whereof he is afraid) so that this is feigned sorrow, which doth not work salvation. Therefore, repentance requireth such fear as may both engender a voluntary hatred of sin, and may also present a man before God, that he may willingly suffer himself to be judged by his word. And this is a token of true profiting when the sinner seeketh for medicine there, from whence he received his wound. Furthermore, this place doth teach that men are then examined and tried to the quick, when their vices, wherewith they are infected, are brought to light, and their consciences are called back unto the judgment to come. For when Paul disputeth of righteousness and temperance, he did rub Felix sore upon the gall; forasmuch as he was both a man given to filthy pleasure, and also to dissolute riot, and given over unto iniquity.

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