Explore the Bible Series
August 24, 2008
Background Passage: Acts 23:23-26:32
Lesson Passage:† Acts 24:22-26; 26:22-31
For the last twenty years, I have worked in a secular, academic environment.† Every day I encounter highly intelligent academics, most of whom have serious doubts about the validity of the Christian faith.† Frankly, I like these people.† I find their intellectual curiosity and honesty refreshing, and, contrary to some popular impressions, the vast majority of them have a keen sense of ethics and decency.† They struggle with the same problems I have, and they impress me with their compassion and goodwill.† Many of them graciously engage with me in respectful conversations about the gospel.† I have learned a great deal from my interactions with secular people, lessons I see reflected in the ministry of the Apostle Paul.
Some years ago I pastored a woman who expressed to me great frustration with her work environment.† She complained that few believers worked with her, and she chafed at the presence of so many secular people at her job.† I listened to her concern; then, I asked her about Godís design in her situation.† Frankly, her complaint floored me!† God had placed her in environment where she could bear witness to people who needed the hope of Christ; however, her attitude blinded her to her wonderful opportunity.† No doubt, many of you find yourselves in the company of many secular people.† Love these folks.† They are, at the core, no different than you.† They have the same heartaches and anxieties you have, and, like you, they need the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus.
Paulís Transference to
preparations for the journey to Caesarea (vv. 23-24):
B. The tribuneís letter to Festus (vv. 25-30): Roman law required that subordinate officials provide a written account of charges against citizens of the empire.
arrival in Caesarea (vv. 31-35): The large military escort accompanied Paul as
far as Antipatris (about thirty-five miles from
II. Paulís Trial Before Antonius Felix (24:1-27)
against Paul (vv. 1-9): Five days after Paulís arrival, the apostleís accusers
1. ďa creator of dissensionĒ
leader of the sect of the NazarenesĒ: Itís difficult to discern if Felix
understood this accusation.† Since Jesus
tried to profane the
B. Paulís defense before Felix (vv. 10-21): In a simple, straightforward manner, Paul refuted the spurious charges of the Jewish leaders.† In particular, the apostle highlighted the real issue at hand, his belief in the resurrection.
C. Felixís response to Paulís defense (vv. 22-27): It seems reasonable to conclude that Luke provided only a brief summary of Paulís words to Felix.† Verse twenty-two indicates that Felix left this audience with a more accurate understanding of The Way; indeed, he evidenced some curiosity about the Christian faith.† Though the procurator showed considerable kindness to Paul (allowed the prisoner some important liberties), this Roman official proved indecisive and greedy (See v. 26).††
III. Paulís Defense before Porcius Festus (25:1-27)
appointment of a new procurator (v. 1): Felix fell into disfavor with the
emperor, and Porcius Festus was appointed as the new procurator of
trial before Festus (vv. 7-12): As before, the Jews brought serious, specious
charges against Paul.† After hearing
Paulís defense against the false accusations, Festus asked Paul to return to
arrival of Herod Agrippa and Bernice (vv. 13-27): Agrippa II was son of Agrippa
I and brother to Bernice. Raised in
IV. Paulís Hearing before Herod Agrippa (26:1-32)
A. Paulís defense follows a familiar pattern of the apostleís testimony.
1. Paulís preconversion zeal for the Law (vv. 1-11): Paul recounted his previous training and practice as a Pharisee and his violent persecution of the church.†
3. Paulís appeal to Agrippa (vv. 19-27)
a. a clear concise summary of the gospel (v.v. 22-23): Paul made an appeal to the Old Testament and clearly described the centrality of the Lordís death and resurrection.†
b. a patient response (vv. 24-25): Festus interrupted Paul and accused the apostle of madness.† Easily, Paul might have responded impatiently, but he assured the procurator that insanity had not produced these convictions.†
c. an attempt to find common ground (vv. 26-27): Paul knew that Agrippa had some understanding of the Old Testament, and the wise apostle appealed to the tetrarchís knowledge of the importance of the Messiah.† Since Herod had to appease the Jews, he could not publicly deny the Jewish Scriptures.
B. Agrippaís response to Paulís witness (vv. 28-32): Itís difficult to assess Agrippaís statement that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian.† Some commentators believe Agrippa responded with sarcasm.† Others think this statement reflects Agrippaís sincere appreciation of Paulís message.† Whatever the case, Paul urged the tetrarch to embrace the gospel.† Apparently, Paulís plea did not persuade Agrippa, but the tetrarch did conclude that, if Paul had not made appeal to Nero, the apostle could have been released.