Do we have defense for our Christian faith? How God took care of us in the past? How he showed his love for us? If we do not have a defense for our faith on why we believe in Jesus, it’s time to compose one right now. We will go through how Paul built his defense for Jesus Christ in Acts 24.
Paul’s own fellow Jewish men plotted to kill him after hearing his defense in Jerusalem temple. When the Centurion heard about the plot and after knowing Paul was a Roman, he had to send Paul secretly in the night to Governor Felix with the strong four hundred and seventy men to protect him. The centurion Claudius Lysias wrote a favorable letter to Governor Felix that he did not find any mistake in Paul that deserves death or imprisonment.
Felix was the procurator of Judea from AD 52 to 60. He was called back to Rome in AD 60 and banished from his position during Nero’s rule. Paul stood trial before Felix and was imprisoned for two years till Felix left his position in AD 60 (Acts 24:27) and replaced by Festus. Felix’s wife during this time was Drusilla, granddaughter of Herod the great and sister of king Agrippa II.
The case of Paul was presented before Felix in a formal manner before Felix. The high priest Ananias traveled all the way from Jerusalem and arrived at Caesarea with a lawyer named Tertullus. This shows the importance the high priest placed on the case of Paul. Tertullus being a lawyer and Paul known for his education at Hillel, both for sure would have been trained in rhetoric or persuading techniques. Paul had to choose his defense carefully before the professional lawyer. The personal testimony he had used in the Jerusalem temple may not work in the traditional courtroom setting.
Tertullus opened the discussion by praising Felix with gratitude for creating a peaceful environment in Judea. But the reason Felix was banished by Nero in AD 60 from his position was due to his cruel nature, bribes he took and unrest between Jews and Syrians. Hence clearly Tertullus started his pitch by playing with Felix’s emotions.
Here were the charges placed by Tertullus on Paul.
1. Paul was a troublemaker
2. The ring leader of the Nazarene clan, in other words, Jesus clan.
3. Caused riots everywhere
4. Tried desecrating the temple.
Paul carefully chose his defense based on the charges placed by Tertullus. He chose the facts carefully and accurately.
1. Paul went to Jerusalem temple only 12 days ago. He was outside Jerusalem for many years due to his missionary journeys. He came to Jerusalem to offer gifts to the poor. He did not have any time or motive to organize trouble.
2. There was no proof available that he argued in the temple or stirred up the crowd. He went to the temple alone.
3. He had the same hope as his fellow Jewish man. He believed in the Jewish laws, prophets (in other words the complete old testament) and the resurrection of the dead. Hence there was no mismatch in his religious belief compare to his fellow Jews.
4. He was found ceremonially clean and there was no crowd with him when he entered the temple. Hence, he did not try to desecrate the temple.
5. According to Paul, there was no crime committed by him in Sanhedrin. The only disagreement was on his belief on the resurrection of the dead. (Acts 23:6-8)
There were considerable differences between the way Paul was defending himself in Jerusalem and his defense before Felix. He provided logical evidence there was no difference between his own belief and the Jewish laws and prophecies. Hence Felix could not fine any reason, why Jewish were calling him as a trouble maker. On the other hand, Paul is a Roman citizen. According to Roman law, the accuser and the accused have to meet face to face and prove the guilt accused has committed against Roman Law. In Paul’s case, it is not really working. Turtullus could not prove that Paul has broken any Roman law.
Felix finally had to close the session by asking the centurion to put Paul under guard with some freedom. Paul ended up spending the next two years in prison. When he was called back to Rome around AD 60 Paul was still in prison. Paul gives us a great example of how to defend the gospel in a formal and intellectual setting. God gave him knowledge and timely words to respond carefully. Same God will help us too in all the situations if we remain faithful to him.
If you have a prayer request, please contact us. We are here to pray for you. May God Bless you.