A mock trial

Paul’s trial before the Roman governor Felix probably made it clear to him that his days were numbered. Similar to what they had done with Jesus, the Jewish religious leaders brought Paul to court with trumped up charges. Paul was accused of leading an uprising against the Roman government, but when it came down to it, he was really just a nuisance to those that wanted to live a compromised lifestyle.

Paul distinguished himself as a true believer. He testified that he was living according to God’s standards and said, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14, NKJV). Paul’s reference to believing all things was most likely meant to emphasize the importance of faith in worshiping God and to point out that Christianity was really about believing God’s word.

Paul might have been considered a traitor because he had once been a part of the Jews’ effort to stamp our Christianity. It is possible that some of the elders that came with the high priest Ananias to accuse Paul were once his friends. In his defense, Paul refrained from making any slanderous remarks, perhaps out of respect for the men he had once associated with. For the most part, Paul just said that what they were accusing him of wasn’t true (Acts 24:12).

Unlike his appearance before King Agrippa, Paul didn’t share his testimony with Felix. Most likely, Paul was merely testing the waters when he said, “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). The topic of the resurrection was controversial not only because not all Jews believed in life after death, but also because the Gentiles were most likely offended by the idea that they would be judged by God. Like most unbelievers today, the Romans assumed that death was the end of a person’s existence.

Felix was married to a Jewess and had prior knowledge of the teaching of Christianity. He may even have heard the gospel before Paul came into his court. It says in Acts 24:22, “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysius the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.” The Greek term translated perfect knowledge implies that Felix had enough knowledge of the gospel to make a decision to accept Christ.

Felix might have thought he was doing Paul a favor by keeping him in prison and may have even seen himself as Paul’s protector. During the two years that Paul was under his guard, it says that Felix talked with him often and communed with Paul as if they were friends (Acts 24:26). In spite of the time they spent together, there is no evidence that Paul convinced Felix to accept Christ as his savior. In the end, it says only that after two years, “Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound” (Acts 24:27).

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