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When the World Is Against You
How should you be when the world is against you?
Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • June 18, In the year of our Lord, 2017
Acts 21 shows the Jews arresting and attacking Paul, but the Romans save him.
Acts 22 shows him speaking to his Jewish brethren.
Acts 23 shows him speaking to both Jewish and Roman leaders.
Now Acts 24 shows
the Jews with an orator speaking to the Roman governor of their charge accusations against Paul, and
then his defense before that same governor, and
some further meetings he had with the governor,
who favored Paul, but the governor also favored the Jews.
Acts 24.1–9 | The Nature of Our Enemy 1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us. 5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law. 7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.
Tertullus must have been
a good speaker and
had skills of persuasion.
I think he was a good liar.
If I had been his friend and
head him say, “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness,”
I would have chuckled,
trying hard to silence it,
knowing that he and I despised the Romans.
Finally, he speaks, but only offers accusations, that
Paul was a plague,
a creator of dissension,
a ringleader of an alleged sect, and
a profaner of the temple.
Yet, Tertullus offered
no witnesses and
no other evidence.
He then makes it sound as though the Jews merely wanted to judge Paul by their law, but
they were rudely interrupted by the Roman commander Lysias,
who took Paul away with violence.
No, the Jews did not want to judge him by their law, but
they became violent toward him, and
the Romans came and saved him from death.
Nor was Paul a plague and he did not set out to create dissension.
He only showed the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies
that the Lord had made to Israel and to the world.
Therefore, the Way, which we also call the church,
simply continues the plan of God.
Paul did not profane the temple, but
kept the law regarding the temple
by performing a vow.
However, what Tertullus neglected to mention was
that he and the Jews thought Paul had brought a Greek into the temple,
which he had not,
although he had been with a Greek in the city, and
that Paul had mentioned in his defense before Jews
his vision that he had from the Lord Jesus Christ
that He was sending Paul to the Gentiles.
You see the biggest problem that the Jews had with the church
was they, as we do today, included Gentiles,
such as the Roman governor Felix, if he so desired to become a part.
Tertullus would not have gotten far in his case against Paul,
if Tertullus, who claimed that he accepted Felix,
really did not accept him and
that was the reason they hated Paul who accepted Gentiles.
Then the rest of the Jews agreed with Tertullus,
giving the impression that he had spoken the truth about Paul.
If they had spoken to the press today,
the press would have accepted what Tertullus and his buddies said,
it would have spread to social media, and
Paul would be guilty in everyone’s eyes,
even before they had a chance to hear from him.
What do you do when a group of people,
especially those who used to be your friends,
lie about you?
Let us see what Paul did.
Acts 24.10–21 | The Defense of an Honest Man 10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 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. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. 17 Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, 18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. 19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. 20 Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, 21 unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’”
Felix had wisdom and experience enough to know
that Tertullus used flattery and
had no evidence, but
obviously something was going on, and
the Jews were the ones accusing Paul,
he did not accuse them,
so Felix nodded for Paul to speak.
Paul did not flatter Felix with lies, but
simply stated he was cheerful to answer for himself
before a man who had been a judge of Israel for many years.
Paul give specific data on how long it had been since he had gone up to Jerusalem to worship.
They did not find him disputing with anyone at the temple,
nor was he inciting a crowd,
whether in the synagogues, or
in the city.
If he had been,
Felix would have known in the past 12 days of such riotous behavior.
Paul also argued that the Jews did not have proof of any of their accusations.
However, he would boldly confess some truths in regard to this matter:
that he worshiped God according to the Way,
that he believed the Law and the Prophets,
that he hoped in the general resurrection that all people shall be raised,
that he strove to have a conscience void of offense toward God and men,
that he brought he brought gifts to his nation, and
that the Jews did find him in the temple without a mob or pandemonium.
Then Paul mentioned something that may have surprised Felix.
Tertullus and his friends had not been in Jerusalem to witness these things.
The Jews who accused him or witnessed him were not even present!
I have had people say things of people
that they heard from others, and
although they had not been present,
they believed anyway, and
the same thing is happening in political America right now.
Then Paul boldly pointed out the Jews who were present,
that they could agree on something that he said at the Jewish Council, “Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.”
That did divide his enemies, but not Jerusalem.
They would not dare
to disagree with him on this point, because
they also believed in the resurrection.
How would you judge if you had heard these two men?
Tertullus did not present evidence or witnesses
to persuade that his accusations were true.
Paul gave details that Tertullus failed to provide.
I would need to hear more from both of them.
That is the path that Felix took.
Acts 24.22–27 | Felix and Paul 22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” 23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him. 24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” 26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.
Felix knew more about the Way than what either Tertullus or Paul spoke.
Perhaps Felix favored it somewhat.
He had a great chance to hear one of the major proponents of it.
However, he had to remain objective about the present matter.
Since he could ask a third party,
he deferred further decision until he heard from that third party.
Felix could see that Paul was harmless.
Therefore, the governor let Paul in the charge of the centurion
with the instructions
that Paul had liberty, and
that any of his friends could visit him.
That shows you what Felix thought of Paul as a troublemaker.
Although Felix had to follow procedure and keep Paul under guard.
Felix even wanted to hear more about the Way.
He already had some knowledge of it, but
what he knew led him to want to know more.
Therefore, he would bring his Jewish wife with him to hear Paul teach.
However, speaking about Jesus Christ included more than
showing the wonderful ministry of Jesus Christ, and
the hope of our resurrection because of the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul would explain that living faith in Christ meant
exercising self-control, and
being aware of the Judgment to come.
The Way is not only about the fascinating things we learn
about Jesus, and
the other things revealed in Scripture, but
knowledge of those things leads to life changes, because
we shall all appear at the Judgment to come.
Those topics made Felix afraid and
he would tell Paul to go away, and
Felix would hear the apostle at a more convenient time,
way of excusing himself from the demands of the Way.
However, putting off the teachings of Christ
does not put off our appearing at the Judgment.
Nor does expecting to receive a bribe from a preacher.
Felix may have favored Paul and may have admire the Way, but
Felix also favored the Jews, and
since he received no bribe money from Paul,
Felix figured he could get something out of the Jews, and
left Paul in prison after two years of being there!
Even as God’s Judgment fell upon
Egypt of the Exodus,
all of Israel’s oppressors,
so the world shall come under judgment,
as Paul has already said earlier in Acts, 30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17.30–31).
Paul connected righteousness with the Judgment in Acts 17 and 24.
The way to prepare for for the coming Judgment is to
live in righteousness and
If something stands between you and God’s approval at the Judgment
do something about it now.
Death will come sooner than you think and
after the death
comes the Judgment.