Paul’s Defense Before Felix

People are inclined, when in the wrong, to lay the blame on someone else. We are like the small boy who was standing on the cat’s tail. His mother hearing the terrible commotion called from an adjoining room: “Tommy, stop pulling the cat’s tail” “I&r … More

Defense

Paul, in his own defense, stood before Felix and the Jewish leaders and categorically denied the charges brought against him (v. 10). His first point was that he was only a visitor in Jerusalem, and he had been there less than two weeks (v.11). He stated that he had never once caused trouble in the temple or the Jewish meeting places (v. 12) and there is no way that they can prove these charges that they are now bringing against him (v. 13). Paul did have something to confess. He admitted belonging to what his enemies called heresy, and believing in God, the Scriptures, salvation and the resurrection of the dead (v. 14). He goes on to say he is just as sure as these people are that God will raise from the dead everyone who is good or evil (v. 15). And because I am sure, I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or for people (v. 16).

Paul’s defense is that of a man whose conscience is clear, and he simply stated the facts. The tragedy was that this all happened when he was bringing the contributions from the churches for the poor of Jerusalem (v. 17). His enemies and the real culprits were the troublemakers who had followed him from Asia Minor and had spread false rumors about him (vv. 18-19). Why weren’t his real accusers present at this trial?  They can tell you that they didn’t find him guilty of anything when he was tried by their own council (v. 20). Further Paul pointed out that the Sanhedrin itself was divided. The real point of issue was a theological one - the Resurrection (v. 21). Paul knew that he had plenty of supporters among orthodox Jews who believed in that. Therefore it certainly wasn’t any crime that he believed in the resurrection. Let us never be driven from any good way by having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshiping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures.

Application

It has been said that a man does not gain anything by trying to defend himself against his critics. Your enemies will not believe you, no matter what you say, and your friends don’t need to be convinced because they already believe you. It is my desire to let the Lord fight my battles for me instead of trying to get defensive.

Acts 24:10-21 (English Standard Version)

And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: "Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia-- they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: 'It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.'"

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