JohnSWilson3 Blog

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
January 24, 2010, 2:44 pm
Filed under: E Acts

In Acts 24 Paul is now in Caesarea. He has been taken to Caesarea primarily because the Roman commander Claudius Lysias was at a loss as what to do with Paul, not able to understand why Paul “was seized by the Jews” and “about to kill him” and since issues with Paul, according to “their Sanhedrin,” dealt with “questions about their law” he felt the Roman governor was probably best able to know what to do with him. Of course the matter of the conspiracy quickened Lysias to action to send him to the governor with an escort of over 470 soldiers! As I read this narrative which continues to the end of Acts, the story describes how often as Christians things happen that we have no control over. In fact when we have no control over the events as seen in the life of Paul, even when those events seem disastrous, God uses those events to bring greater glory to Himself! Perhaps Paul reminded himself of his letter to the Philippians how he told them “that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Perhaps we too should have a view of such things.

“Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor.” Tertullus was a grand orator it seems, trying to persuade the governor into condemning Paul. While the charges made against Paul were to implicate Paul as a rioter, their focus was that Paul was a rioter “among the Jews all over the world.” While for a Jew this might be a problem but for a Roman governor, I’m not sure if he was really interested in whether someone stirred up the Jews or not. To Romans the Jews were not necessarily the best people to deal with and were best either to be ignored or trampled upon. But as governor of that area he would have to listen to the Sanhedrin since it was the Jewish governing body. So Felix the governor listens. Felix listens to them and then finally asks Paul to speak. Paul is cordial and matter of fact. He “gladly” makes his defense. Paul knows that God is using this situation and perhaps more like these to be the Lord’s witness. The Spirit now empowers Paul just as Jesus “stood near Paul” back in the Roman barracks in Jerusalem and said “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” So Paul’s opportunity to go to visit the Roman Christians will be “in chains.” He had asked the Roman Christians to “pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.” While to the elders of the church in Jerusalem gave assent to the “service” of Paul I’m sure the poor Christians in Jerusalem truly appreciated the gifts Paul and his companions provided. But God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like. While Paul was rescued from the Jewish unbelievers in Judea he of course was not rescued from the chains of being a prisoner of the Roman unbelievers. So God’s answer to the Christians prayers were to some degree answered but not to the expectation of Paul. Paul is not complaining, Paul knows that God is in control, His visitation to Paul confirms God’s hand in the matter. When God’s hand is confirmed in a matter, no matter how he does it, faith and confidence in Jesus ensues and life is lived to the fullest, to the glory of God! So Paul takes the opportunity given to speak in his defense. Paul strikes down any notion of wrong doing on his part according to the accusations of the Jews. But Paul does not shirk from the fact that “I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” It is a wonderful thing to have a clear conscience! How as Christians we must always allow Jesus life to live through us, to live and walk by the Spirit. How important it is to commune with Jesus in our soul and can have a clear conscience before Him! Paul concludes his defense restating the events that occurred while in the temple in Jerusalem and before the Sanhedrin. Felix apparently does not want to make a decision yet, as a politician perhaps scheming how he can get something from the Jews or Paul, so he decides to adjourn “the proceedings.” It says that Felix “was well acquainted with the Way” and perhaps there is a tug at his heart about the things he has heard about Jesus. Felix does bring “his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess” to go and see Paul. They listen to Paul “about faith in Christ Jesus.” But it seems Felix heart becomes hardened to the gospel.

Even though Felix stated he would “decide” Paul’s case “when Lysias the commander comes” instead has Lysias “keep Paul under guard.” Paul should have been released, but Felix “was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe.” This went on for “two years.” Paul was given “some freedom” and permitted to have “his friends to take care of his needs.” Perhaps Timothy and his companions spent much of their time with Paul for these two years. Luke perhaps was not here and was doing his phenomenal research into the life of Jesus that he would later write in his gospel account. Luke was probably traveling the hills of Judea and Galilee, going along the Jordan River, and to the cities where Jesus traveled. Perhaps Paul got word from Timothy or others about what Luke was doing and realized what God was up to and why he was seemingly being left in prison for two years. But God has His reasons and His perfect timing! May God grant us patience and peace in the midst of the interruptions of life, for perhaps God has something greater in mind, to bring Himself greater glory!

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