Acts 24:1-26:32 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Sanctified by Faith
Comments for Study 27

Acts 24:1-26:32
Memory Verse: 26:18


I. There is a Resurrection (24:1-27)

>1. What had happened five days before this?

* "Five days later" -Before the events of this chapter Paul was recognized and seized in the temple in Jerusalem by Jews from Asia Minor. He was about to be killed when a detachment of Roman soldiers arrested him. (21:27-36) At a trial the next day the Roman commander brought Paul before the Sanhedrin. (22:30) The next day some Jews formed a plot to kill Paul causing him to be secretly transferred to the Roman court at Caesarea. (23:12, 23) Paul, being a Roman citizen was kept in Herod's palace for five days as the court awaited the arrival of the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. (23:35) Five days would have been just enough time for a messenger to bring the news of Paul's case to Jerusalem, the high priest to get a lawyer, and then travel to Caesarea. The high priest did not waist time. If Paul had bruises from the incident in Jerusalem they would have been very black and blue and scared over.

* Paul, the High Priest, Ananias, and governor Festus represent three types of people in regards to hearing the truth.

Festus listened to Paul speaking about faith in Christ Jesus and was afraid. However, his fear did not develop into acceptance and repentance. He did not love and trust God. He did not love his fellow man. He dished out rulings based on bribes, not compassion and justice. The deceitfulness of wealth chocked the truth.

Ananias had a very hard heart. He did not accept anything to do with the good news of Jesus Christ. He enjoyed power and did anything to keep it. He lied to Felix and gave orders to kill the clearly innocent Paul. Paul was correct in calling him a whitewashed wall. He looked clean on the outside but was as hard as rock on the inside.

Paul was like both men, perhaps worse. Then Jesus came to him, called him, and blinded him for several days. Paul accepted the truth and repented. He loved God and loved his fellow man. Even though he was subject to injustice and hate he did what was true.

I was like them. Every day I can still be like them. The choice is mine. Yet no matter what I chose God is full of grace.

>How do you think the high priest felt about this situation?

* "the high priest Ananias" -Ananias was high priest from 47-59 A.D., son of Nebedaeus. He is not to be confused with the high priest Annas (6-15 A.D.) in Luke 3:2. Ananias was noted for cruelty and violence. When the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 A.D.) broke out, he was assassinated by his own people. Such is the fate of those who hear the gospel and reject it for power, fame, and vanity.

* The majority of Jewish leaders hated the Roman occupiers as much as the Roman leaders grew to dislike them. Several riots and uprisings had occurred since around 63 B.C. when Pompey of Rome conquered Palestine, putting all of Judea under Roman control. The Roman Empire is commonly associated with the establishment of stable government, uniform laws, and Roman roads, water and sewerage systems. Nevertheless, there were several Roman-Jewish Wars before the region was finally fully subjugated to Rome in 63 B.C. After subjugation, according to some sources the First Jewish-Roman War (66–-73 A.D.) commenced, followed by the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 A.D.). Other sources include the Kitos War (115-–117 A.D.) as one of the Jewish–Roman wars; however this revolt started among the Jewish diaspora in Cyrenaica, and merely its final stages were actually fought in Iudaea Province.

* "went down to Caesarea" -Jerusalem to Caesarea was a two day trip one way. The Jewish high priest probably had mixed feelings when he went to Caesarea. On the one hand he was glad that Paul mission work had been stopped. Yet they had tried to kill him only to be stopped by Roman soldiers. Now he had to leave Jerusalem to stand before a Roman court with the intent to have Paul brought back to Jerusalem so they could put him to death, or at least have Rome do it for them. This was a humiliation and a great inconvenience.

>Why would the high priest bring a lawyer? (1)

* Acts 24:1 "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."

* "Caesarea" -Caesarea is a Roman built seaport on the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans, including Herod, governed from the sea port of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great (25-13 B.C.) and named after Caesar Augustus, who gave his family power in Palestine.

* "with some of the elders" -Religious leaders from the high priest's family and the power-elite of Judea. The elders, dating back to before their Egyptian slavery, were meant to be the spokesmen of their families. (Ex. 3:16) As with all other sinful human forms of governments the elder were often corruption and provided selfish leadership.

* "Tertullus" -Its not know whether Tertullus was a Jew or a Roman, though in verse 7 (not quoted here) he said "our law" possibly indicating he was a Jew. He was skilled in judicial oratory and was familiar with Roman legal conventions.Holman Bible Dictionary.

* "governor" -The Greek word "hegemon" and its derivatives predominate in the New Testament occurrences of governor. The term often is used to describe Roman officials who exercised the tax and military authority of the emperor.

>How does the beginning of this case stand in contrast to the previous trial? (2-9; 23:1-10)

* Acts 24:2-9 "When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: "We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly. We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him." The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true."

* "Felix" -Felix was appointed by Emperor Claudius to rule Judea in 52 A.D. He had been a slave, then freedmen, then high officials in government. The historian Tacitus said of Felix, "He held the power of a tyrant with the disposition of a slave." He married three queens in succession, on of whom was Drusilla (24:24). He persuaded her to leave her husband to marry him. He also hired assassins to murder the high priest Jonathan.

* "most excellent Felix" -During the examination in Jerusalem the high priest didn't even acknowledge the presence of the Roman commander. Here, the lawyer starts out with praise for the governor.

* "weary you any further" -Then as now during the case one is expected to give honor and praise, lip service, to the magistrate.

* "you be kind enough to hear us briefly" -The sweet sap oozes from the tree bark.

>What was truthful, misinformation, and lies in their statements?

* "we have found this man to be a troublemaker" -Indirectly Paul and many Christians have been accused of this. However, we preach the gospel; some accept and some reject. Those who reject often cause trouble for the messenger, themselves, and often those around them. In all cases Paul never started a riot.

* "troublemaker" -To excite dissension in the empire was treason against Caesar. To be a leader of a religious sect without Roman approval was contrary to Roman law.

* "He is a ringleader" -The apostles were very important; however, Jesus has been, is, and forever will be The Ringleader.

* "the Nazarene sect" -Only used here in the Bible to designate Christians; what the Jews considered a break away sect. However, it was and still is a designation used in Semitic speech and Hebrew and Arabic writings.

* "tried to desecrate the temple" -not true and not against Roman law. Here they called it an attempt. Earlier they said he had done this.

* Verse 7 is in some manuscripts as, "and wanted to judge him according to our law. But the commander, Lysais came with much force and snatched him away." This is a lie. They had skipped a trial and were in the process of stoning him.

>What does this say about the people of the world?

* Sinful mankind are incapable of ruling and judging ourselves as we are now. Politicians are often suave and selfish.

>2. Why would Paul's opening statement be important to his case? (10)

* Acts 24:10 "When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense."

* "for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation" -In essence Paul is saying because you have been here a while, acting as judge, you understand our customs. Being so, Paul knows that Felix will understand not only what he is about to say, but the underlying reason he was being accused by the Jews.

>What did he say in response to the charges made against him? (11-13)

* Acts 24:11-13 "You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me."

* "easily verify" -All Felix needed to do was get a report from the commander and troupes in Jerusalem.

* Paul had only recently arrived in Felix' territory. He had spent five days in Caesarea and nearly seven days in Jerusalem, not enough time to do all they claimed he did.

* "to worship" -Rome had no law against, or problem, nor consider it unusual wanting to worship to the God of their subjects choice as long as it was sanctioned. Worshiping in Jerusalem was sanctioned by Rome.

* "did not find me arguing" -He was saying I am not a troublemaker. I was not causing trouble in the temple.

* "stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city" -Paul was answering the claim that Paul was a problem everywhere he went. Paul was stating I wasn't even causing problems in Jerusalem, something they could have easily proven during their presentation, but did not.

* "they cannot prove" -A fact that should have been easy to see by the weak case that they made. All they had was their word.

>3. Who did Paul say he worshiped?

* Acts 24:14 "However, I admit 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"

* "I admit" -Paul did not hold back his testimony about what he believed in.

* "I worship the God of our fathers" -As found in the Old Testament.

>Why would this be important to his case?

* Paul's case was enough information for Felix to understand the then common information of the Jew's hateful actions against Christians.

>Why would he call out that they called the Way a sect?

* "the Way... a sect" -Paul admitted that he worshiped in a way that the Jews considered heresy. This established the point that the riot in Jerusalem was initiated by the Jews, who acted that way to anyone who they considered heresy, especially Christians.

>What did Paul believe about the Law and the Prophets?

* "the Law" -The first five books of the Old Testament.

* "the Prophets" -All the books of the Old Testament excluding the first five. The Bible says that Moses was a prophet too. However, they considered his work as different and special because it laid down the foundation of their religion.

* Paul believed that Christians understanding of the Law and the Prophets was correct and the Jews who refused to believe were not worshiping God.

>Why did Paul live by faith? (15-16)

* Acts 24:15-16 "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."

* "I have the same hope" -The Jews hoped in and believed that the Messiah would establish God's kingdom here on this earth.

* "that here is a resurrection" -They also hoped in and believed that the dead are raised from the grave in a physical resurrection.

* "of both the righteous and the wicked" -They also hoped in and believed that all would rise and be judged. We know that not all will arise at the same time. The wicked, those who have the stain of sin from their wicked deeds, will be the last to rise at the resurrection of the dead.

>What can we learn from Paul's personal profession of faith?

* "So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." (16b)

* Every human being past, present and future must accept that God will examine our lives, checking what we did and did not do. The standard for the judgement is perfection. Many believe that if a person does his or her best to live a good life, trying to follow God's regulations and laws the best they can, then God will allowed them into his kingdom. However, "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God." (Hebrews 7:18-19) Our hope is based on what Jesus did on the cross and the forgiveness that it provides. "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Rom. 8:23-25)

    The Bible teaches that there is a great gulf, literally and figuratively, between the future destiny of believers and that of unbelievers.
    1. Believers have life (not merely existence but perfect life) eternally (John 11:25-26; 17:3; I John 2:17).
    Unbelievers have death (not non-existence but separation from God) eternally (I Tim. 5:6; John 3:36; Rev. 21:8; cf. 20:10).
    2. Believers will be forever with Christ (John 14:3; I Thess. 4:17).
    Unbelievers will be forever separated from Christ (II Thess. 1:8-9).
    3. The love of God abides upon the believer (II Cor. 13:14).
    The wrath of God abides upon the unbeliever (John 3:36).
    4. Believers will have eternal joy (John 15: 11; Rev. 21:4).
    Unbelievers will have eternal torment (Rev. 14:9-11; 20:15).
    5. Believers will be in heaven (John 14:2-3; I Peter 1:3-5).
    Unbelievers will be in hell (Rev. 20: 14-15).
    From: A Self-Study Guide -Acts, Irving L. Jensen

>4. What was the reason Paul told Felix he had gone to Jerusalem and the temple? (17-18)

* Acts 24:17-18 "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance."

* "After an absence of several year" -The last time Paul was in Jerusalem was at the end of his second missionary journey in late 53 A.D. It was now 57 A.D.

* "to bring my people gifts for the poor" -This is the first time in Acts that it is mentioned that Paul collected a gift from among the Gentiles to give to the poor in Jerusalem. The amount must have been very large.

* "present offerings" -Perhaps referring to the decision made by the elders in Jerusalem and thus the whole reason why Paul was in the temple when he was nearly killed.

* "when they found me in the temple court" -Paul admitted that they did find him, but not because he had done something wrong in the temple.

* "there was no crowd with me" -Paul added facts that the Jew's lawyer left out. The fact that Paul was the only one "arrested" and now before Felix shows that there was no crowd with him.

>Who as missing from court? (19)

* Acts 24:19 "But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me."

* "Jews from the province of Asia" -See Acts 21:27-29.

* "who ought to be here" -Neither the Roman commander nor the people who started the riot where there. Paul did not come out and say that these Jews started the riot, but he was implying it.

* "and bring charges" -Paul was saying indirectly that they "arrested" him for charges that are not even being made now.

>What was missing from the case against him? (20-21)

* Acts 24:20-21 "Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin-- unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: 'It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.'"

* "when I stood before the Sanhedrin" -The Jews did not mention the case that followed the day that Paul was arrested by the Roman commander. They could not mention it because of their actions would have put them under serious charges and proved they were at fault, not Paul.

* "I shouted" -Paul was giving a hint to the disorder in the trial before the Sanhedrin.

* "the resurrection of the dead" -The core facts of the gospel is that Jesus died a physical death and rose physically from the grave in the same body.

>Was there anything false in Paul's statement? (Matt. 10:17-20)

* Matthew 10:17-20 "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."

* Paul told the truth. He knew the reason he was on trial was because he believed and preached Jesus' resurrection and the Jewish leaders not only didn't believe it, but did all they could to stop the preaching of it.

>Does this perhaps give us some understanding as to why the Lord put Gentile nations over Israel at this time?

* Sinful and unbelieving people has done many horrible things in the name of God through the ages. Many sinful people want to believe they are good and please God. They have an inward yearning for God. Some sinful people have been given both religious and political powers. When sinful people have this kind of power they do some very horrible things. Hitler, Stalin, and others has such powers and committed many sins. The Jews who believed in Jesus are the best influence for the world. The Jews who did not believe in Jesus were restrained so that they did not commit any more sins than they would have. God used Rome's political power to restrain the unbelievers from stopping the spread of the gospel.

>What danger can religion without God be for mankind? (Phil. 3:2-4, Rev. 22:15)

* Philippians 3:2-4 "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-- though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:"

* Revelation 22:15 "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

* As noted above religion without faith in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God has eternal consequences. See: COMPARISONS OF THE TWO ETERNAL STATES above.

>5. After Paul finished his defense, what did Felix do? (22-23)

* Acts 24:22-23 "Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case." He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs."

* "who was well acquainted with the Way" -The Way and Christians are two of the early titles used to describe the Jesus' followers. Felix was in the area long enough and the Christians numbers and influence was large enough that the Roman leadership knew about it. The impact of the gospel in thirty years since Jesus resurrection and ascension is testimony to the power of God.

* "when Lysias the commander comes" -Felix must have picked up on Paul's suggestion or Lysias and the troupes under him were scheduled to return to Caesarea in a few days after the crowds celebrating Pentecost (Shavuot) left Jerusalem. (20:16)

* "the centurion... under guard" -The centurion was over one hundred men.

* "to give him some freedom" -Felix did not consider Paul a threat.

* "his friends" -Paul had left Europe and Asia Minor with several men. They were still with him. They had not been arrested and were not on trial. Felix knew this and it must have given weight to Paul's case.

* "take care of his needs" -Although Paul would have gotten something to eat and drink while in custody of Rome it would not have been very good. Felix let Paul's friends bring in and prepare his own field.

>What was the main subjects of Paul's gospel message?

* Acts 24:24-25 "Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you."

* "Several days later" -How long would it take for the commander to come? Felix was in no hurry to try Paul.

* "Drusilla, who was a Jewess" -Drusilla was Felix's third wife and daughter of Herod Agrippa, the man who killed Apostle James. (12:1-2). Her great uncle had killed John the Baptist and her great grandfather tried to kill the baby Jesus. Felix was her second husband. Her son, Agrippa, died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 70 A.D. Jews were discouraged from marrying non-Jews unless those they married were converts. Even then it was frowned upon. (Gen. 28:1) Jews (and some other peoples) then as today want to keep their bloodlines. Yet, Drusilla had married an unbeliever. She was like her ancestors, not a strong follower of her faith, at least not when she married him. The fact that history says Felix was a cruel leader who was a slave says that she might have married because of his power, money and position.

* "he spoke about faith in Jesus Christ" -Paul was clear in his message to anyone, even those who sat in civil judgement over him.

* Paul's discourse contained:
    1) righteousness -Righteousness in the eyes of God is purity. No man has been pure except the Lord Jesus Christ. However, we can obtain righteousness through faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:20). Felix would have liked the sound of this except he did not want to repent. He feared (as all unrepentant) giving by faith.
    2) self-control -After God cleanses us of our impurity through faith in Jesus, God wants us to control our bodies. The gift of the Holy Spirit makes this possible. He reminds us of Jesus' words, and when full of the Spirit enables us with the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness , gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) Felix perhaps like most unrepentant must have wondered why they did some of the stupid things that they later regretted. They wondered why they didn't have more self-control.
    3) the judgment to come -As mentioned above we all will stand before Jesus and give an account of our lives. Felix had committed some bad sins, conviction was setting in.

* "Felix was afraid" -Fear of God can come after the three points are presented to people. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Pro. 1:7) The fear of God can end in repentance and humbly asking forgiveness through Jesus or stubbornly rejecting the truth.

* "!" -When ancient writers wanted to show strong emotions they pushed hard on the writing utensil. We use the exclamation point.

>Did Felix believe even though he was afraid?

* "When I find it convenient" -Some of the saddest words the witnesses of Jesus here are these. When the gospel is presented and a person is being moved by the Holy Spirit and still the person does not believe, that is sad for it many never be convenient again. When will you die or have an accident and go into comma? It could be tomorrow. It could be later today. Then it will be to late to repent.

* Proverbs 3:28 "Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you."

* Proverbs 27:1 "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."

>What kept him from believing? (26-27)

* Acts 24:26-27 "At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison."

* "At the same time" -In other words he didn't want to hear move because he was convicted and didn't' want to repent, and because of a desire of selfish gain.

* "he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe" -The love of money can bring about many wrong doings; injustice is one of them. Felix, like many in powerful positions, love money and the things it can bring. The love of money makes the heart of many grow cold to others.

* "sent for him frequently" -Hoping Paul would give him some money, not because he wanted to here Paul's message. Sometimes people will "put up" with listening to God's word over and over again because they want selfish gain. Thus, throughout this age many people sat amongst Jesus' congregation never intending to believe what they hear.

* "kept Paul in prison" -Paul kept preaching for two years to Felix without a confession of faith from Felix. Our mission is to preach the gospel, not to convert souls. The Holy Spirit does all the converting. We just preach.

* "Felix was succeeded" -Felix was recalled to Rome because of his poor leadership in 59/60 A.D.

* "favor" -Felix wanted to get on the Jews good side because he knew he would soon give an account to Caesar and the Roman senate. The Jews then be making their case for or against him, especially concerning the way Felix handled the recent riots between the Jewish and Syrian inhabitants.

* Several times a year you might hear a youth pastor say, "Statistics show that most people that are accepting the gospel do so at a young age." What this statistic does not show is that the rest keep putting it off until they die. In other words many hear the gospel at a young age; some accepting and the rest put off the decision. The truth of the statistic should not be used to say that youth ministries are more important then adult ministries. Rather, we should recognize and preach that people should not put off today what they may not be able to accept tomorrow. Not only do we not know tomorrow, but after hearing the gospel clearly and putting off the decision to repent and believe the hearers heart grows harder and colder. Someday it will as hard as a path and so the seed of the gospel cannot penetrate it and Satan comes and takes away the seed. Beware there are many birds waiting in the mustard plant wanting to eat some seeds.

>What can we learn from this? (Rom. 10:8-21)

* Romans 10:8-21 ("But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."

II. Jesus, A Dead Man who Paul Claimed was Alive (25:1-27)

>6. How was the Jew's death plot against Paul spoiled? (1-5)

* Acts 25:1-5 "Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where the chief priests and Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. They urgently requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. Festus answered, "Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. Let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against the man there, if he has done anything wrong."

* "Porcius Festus" -Porcius Festus assumed this office at Nero’s appointment in A.D. 60. He held it until his death in A.D. 62.

* Just because someone has religious authority does not make them righteous.

* "three days... the chief priests and Jewish leaders... presented the charges against Paul" -The Jewish leadership did not waist anytime. Even two years had not quenched their thirst for Paul's blood.

* "urgently" -Further shows their evil desire.

* "as a favor to them" -They wanted to put the new governor under their influence.

* "nothing against the law" -Not only didn't he break the law, but he taught the need to follow civil law. (Rom. 7:12, 8:3-4, 13:1-7; and 1 Cor. 9:20)

* Festus, Felix, King Agippa, and the Jewish leaders were political minded. A political mindset selfishly uses every chance, every thing, and everyone to maintain and gain power and control. A political mind uses power for selfish gain. Festus, Felix, King Agippa, and the Jewish leaders were using Paul to either gain favor and thus power, or maintain power over their rivals. Ultimately, political minded leaders become so self absorbed that the society they uses collapses.

Everyone to one degree or another is politically minded. Our fallen nature desires by any means what we believe will be best for us. The extreme political mind will allow harm to others and even murder for selfish gain. This is the secret reason most of human societies and kingdoms have collapsed.

Controlling and denying a selfish political mindset does not mean that I should ignore the care of the body gave me, though at times allowing myself to be crucified with Christ is needed. Nor does this mean that I should permit others to use me. It means to deny self and seek good for others.

The Lord said, "It is more blessed to give than receive." (Acts 20:35) Jesus taught, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31) And Jesus taught, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

Finally Jesus taught his disciples the way to overcome a political mindset with this thought, Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:25-28)

>What problem did the Jew's case against Paul still have? (6-8)

* Acts 25:6-8 "After spending eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. When Paul appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar."

* "with them" -The new governor and the Jews wanted to make political alliances.

* "the next day" -Festus did not waist time since the Jews were pressing him.

* "stood around him" -Reminds me of a pack of wolves surrounding their prey.

* "which could not be proved" -They hoped their position and word would be enough since they had not proof to show.

>After two years why hadn't they been able to change their defense strategy? (24:27; 25:3,9; Mark 15:15)

* Acts 25:9 "Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?"

* Acts 24:27 "When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison."

* Acts 25:3 "They urgently requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way."

* Mark 15:15 "Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified."

* As already noted political gains are often at the expense of the innocent. For this reason mankind apart from God can not rule, judge, or lead other men.

>7. What legal truth did Paul remind Festus? (10-11)

* Acts 25:10-11 "Paul answered: "I am now standing before Caesar's court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!"

* "before Caesar's court" -The Roman's prided themselves on their system of civil laws and courts. They claimed that it was fair and just. However, written laws do not dictate and document the human soul and written words cannot make a human replaceable. For example: A growing movement in industry documents every action a person, agency, department, and business makes, thus creating a type of "flowing law of an occupation." The belief is that any human function can be occupied by anyone if they learn it from their predecessor in written word. If mankind were machines, without heart or soul no matter if it is sinful or clean, this maybe possible. The problem with this business philosophy is that it fails to take into account that mankind and our occupations are by our very self and often the simplest of human tasks takes many words. Thus the documenting of an occupation by modern industry is either ignored by those who do the function or if the documents are attempted to be followed failure results. Reduce the human condition to a set of words, pictures, and diagrams human society and everything about us falls apart. Roman law was only as good as the people who enforced it and the people who had to live under it.

* "where I ought to be tried" -As opposed to the Sanhedrin court. All but one accusation against Paul was was a civil offense.

* "I do not refuse to die" -Paul was willing to be punished if he was guilty.

* "no one has the right to hand me over" -Paul sensed that the new governor was going to please the Jews and hand Paul over to them.

* "I appeal to Caesar" -Appealing to Caesar was an ancient and highly cherished right of Roman citizens, dating back to 509 B.C.Nero had become the emperor by this time. It was the right of every Roman citizen to have his case heard before Caesar himself (or his representative) in Rome. This was the highest court of appeal, and winning such a case could have lead to more than just Paul's acquittal. It could have resulted in official recognition of Christianity as distinct from Judaism. Nero eventually burned Rome, blaming the Christians and thus persecuted them. In effect he either killed or drove many of them out of Rome and Italy and started a worldwide persecution against Christians. Jews also lost favor with Nero.

>Why couldn't Festus do what he wanted to do? (12)

* Acts 25:12 "After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!"

* "conferred with his council" -The local governor had to give approval for anyone to appear before Caesar. This was not small act. A person sent there with a case not worthy of Caesar might lead to being removed from office.

* Paul's appeal to Caesar had to affect on Festus:
    1) He could not please the high priest for favor
    2) He was released from the high priest's pressure.

>8. What changes did Festus make to his recount of events? (13-21)

* Acts 25:13-21 "A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. He said: "There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned. 16 "I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over any man before he has faced his accusers and has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 When Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."

* "since they were spending many days there" -This came up in small talk, talk that filled the empty spaces of silence.

* Verses 14, 15 and 21 are accurate. Verse 17 is new to the account. verses 18-19 can be expected. verse 20 is a twist of the truth and Roman law as Paul pointed out to him.

>What one thing was make clear to Festus? (19)

* Acts 25:19 "Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive."

* The whole case was about Jesus, the dead man who was raised from the dead. Festus said it in a way so everyone knew he did not believe it himself.

* After witnessing the gospel to someone they should know at least that Jesus is raised from the dead and is still alive.

>What problem did Festus hope King Agrippa could help him with? (23-27)

* Acts 25:23-27 "The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: "King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send on a prisoner without specifying the charges against him."

* "King Agrippa" -King Agrippa II son of Herod whose death is recorded in Acts 12:20-23. With his death the Herodian dynasty came to an end, in title as well as in fact.

* "Bernice" -Bernice is sister of Drusilla and Agrippa II, and wife of Felix.

* "shouting that he ought not live any longer" -Something not stated before.

* "nothing to write" -Festus didn't have writers block as he indicates. Rather he had nothing to write because there was no case against him.

III. Sanctified by Faith in Me (26:1-32)

>8. How did Paul open his message? (1-3)

* Acts 26:1-3 "Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently."

* "well acquainted with the Jewish customs" -According to the NIV Study Bible and other sources, "Agrippa as king controlled the temple treasury and the investments of the high priest, and could appoint the high priest. He was consulted by the Romans on religious matters. This is one of the reasons Festus wanted him to assess Paul."

* "Jewish customs and controversies" -Paul only good report to the man's understanding of Jewish ways. He did not mention all the man's sins as John the Baptist had done to his ancestor.

* "I beg you" -Paul understood the civil authority. He wrote that we should respect the authority that God has placed over us. He is not recorded to speak ill many leaders who tried to kill him.

* The gospel was clearly presented to King Agippa, Governer Festus, the high priest, and all those present. Jesus, the Messiah suffered, died, and became the first to rise from the dead (23). He died so that I could be freed from the power of that which separates me from God. He rose so that I could be freed from the power of that which keeps me dead and buried in the ground.

Paul and all Jesus' people are instructed to open others eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus (18) This is great news to share. I should not be afraid nor ashamed to share it. I have shared it many times. Yet at times a sudden fear comes upon me, the fear of rejection and ridicule. Paul experienced these.

However, telling others the good news has benefits too. Friends are made and found. Some accept the message too. To witness someone coming to first faith in Jesus is a wonderful thing. Seeing their life change for the better is another joy to behold.

>Why? (25-27)

* Acts 26:25-27 "I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."

* Paul intent as always was to preach the word so that anyone could believe. Paul remembered all his sins for he constantly told people about the way Jesus called him. With remembrance of the grace of Jesus in his own life he showed grace to those he met, even if they had an incestuous relationship with their sister as King Agripa did. When we witness to other people we better be sure not to judge them. We need to share the gospel as Paul did. See notes above on Acts 24:24-25.

* Paul was direct in his question, a question that demanded a yes or no answer.

>What is the hope Of Israel? (4-8)

* Acts 26:4-8 "The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?"

* "The Jews" -Paul is referring to the Jewish leaders who had made claims against him.

* "my hope in what God has promised our fathers" -They hoped in the coming of the Messiah.

* "the promise our twelve tribes are hoping" -The Jews consists of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and some of the Levites. The other tribes were scatted around the world. Yet Paul points out all twelve, perhaps referring to all Israel since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). These three were the ones who received the promise that Paul mentions.

* "it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me" -Not all the descendants of Abraham accepted the promised Messiah when he came. How tragic and ironic.

* "God raises the dead" -Jesus' bodily resurrection and the future bodily resurrection is a solid core of the gospel and the hope of Israel. It is also the most rejected of the gospel. Without the resurrection the cross means nothing. Without the cross the resurrection means nothing. The two go together. Most accept Jesus was a real person and died. Few accept his resurrection. A growing number of people reject any life after death.

>9. What sins did Paul publicly confess? (9-11)

* Acts 26:9-11 "I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them."

* Paul confessed he was a murderer and yet no one now arrested him for that. Why? because it would expose the fact that the Jews were the one causing the riots and even worse crimes. The political powers before him wouldn't face the possible civil unrest that would follow such a case.

* Public confession of sin is a testimony to the grace of God.

>10. What is stated here that wasn't stated in the earlier accounts of Jesus' visit to Paul? (12-14; 9:4; 22:7)

* Acts 26:12-14 "On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'"

* Acts 9:4 "He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

* Acts 22:7 "I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'"

* "About noon" -New fact

* "brighter than the sun" -not stated before but implied.

* "We all fell to the ground" -Earlier it was stated the men fell down, however not Paul.

* "in Aramaic" -not stated before

* "it is hard to kick against the goads" -not stated before.

>What is it hard to kick against the goads?

* "goads" -A goad is a thing that stimulates someone into action; for example; a spiked stick that is used for driving cattle and oxen was around eight feet (2.5m) long.

* During the time of the judges, the Israelites hired Philistine blacksmiths to sharpen the goads (1 Sam. 13:21), either by fashioning metal points for the pointed ends or making metal casings for the blunt end which might be used to knock dirt clods from the plow. Goads might be used as a weapon (Judg. 3:31). The sayings of the wise are “goads” that prod thought (Eccl. 12:11). (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* God warned Paul not to kick against the goads (KJV pricks) by refusing to submit to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:14).

>11. What did Jesus tell Paul? (15-18)

* Acts 26:15-18 "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"

* "I have appeared to you" -Not the rapture and the second coming. Rather a personal vision as it sates in verse 19.

* "appoint you as a servant and as a witness" -Jesus calls and appoints all of his sheep as a good shepherd should. He calls them in different ways. For me it was through the Gospel of John and the book Power for Living in 1982.

* "what you have seen of me" -This not only included this vision, but what he had heard of through the Apostles and Stephen in the temple. (8:1)

* "what I will show you" -Paul spent several years in the desert and teaching in Antioch.

>What wonderful message of hope did Paul preach everywhere he went? (19-23)

* Acts 26:19-23 "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-- that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."

* "to the vision from heaven" -Jesus does speak to his people in visions. This is purely his grace, not on merit as it is in Paul's case.

* Paul here gives a small history of his mission life.

* "Damascus" -Damascus is about one hundred and fifty miles (200km) north by north-east of Jerusalem. In tat day it was at the center of a vast commercial network and caravan trade routes. Damascus, under Arabia control was the eastern gateway of the Roman Empire. It had been conquered by David and is a part of the Promised Land. With the introduction of the gospel to this city, it was set to go to every part of the northern hemisphere, especially to Arabia and the far east.

* "Judea" -Place name meaning, “Jewish.” In Ezra 5:8, the Aramaic designation of a province that varied in size with changing political circumstances, but always included the city of Jerusalem and the territory immediately surrounding it. The area, formerly called Judah, was first given the name Judea following the Babylonian Exile. During the Persian period, Judea occupied a very small area. Under the Maccabean, however, the territory was expanded in size and enjoyed a period of political independence. Herod the Great, appointed over roughly the same territory by Rome, had the title king of Judea. Judea, Samaria, and Galilee were generally considered, in Roman times, to be the three main geographical divisions of Palestine. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "and to the Gentiles" -Even though Damascus was in Gentile territory, the first converts there were Jews or Jewish converts. when Paul means Gentiles here he is stating him mission to the Gentiles as he traveled in low Jewish populated areas. Some of the cities he witnessed about Jesus in didn't even have a synagogue.

* "the prophets and Moses said would happen" -Moses' writings are the first five books of the Old Testament. Paul calls the rest the prophets. "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10b)

* "would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles" -Jesus not only taught the resurrection, but he lived it, died it, and lived again. Jesus' resurrection is a light that shines in the valley of death that surrounds us.

>What does this tell us about what we can easily tell others?

* We can testify:
    1) Share how we came to know Jesus; that is, our person testimony. It would be good to think about this and write it out beforehand and if possible have a mature Christian review it.
    2) We are sinful, unable to save ourselves so we need to repent (reject sin) and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh. This includes the gospel -Jesus' death for our sins and resurrection, the first to rise and we will follow him.
    3) We need to follow our decision with a life of faith -proving repentance by deeds.
    4) Confess how God has helped you walk your personal life of faith and how Jesus will be with them too, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

>What was Paul prayer topic?

* Acts 26:28-32 "Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" 29 Paul replied, "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains." The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. They left the room, and while talking with one another, they said, "This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment." Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."

* "in such a short time" -King Arippa has known of Christianity. How could he live and work in Jerusalem and Judea and now here of it? Yet, here the gospel was presented clearly. Short time or long time is not a reason to reject it. He was being like Festus and Felix. Jesus taught, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."

* "this man could have been set free" -Such a true testimony, yet he was kept in prison even now. These two men could have released Paul even at this time.

* "May become what I am" -Paul lived and breathed the hope and prayer topic that all and any could become Christians. This shoulg be the live goal and prayer of all Christians. Pray to witness to someone. This is God's will and he will answer it.


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