Paul and His Accusers before the Roman Governor
Now Paul and his accusers are standing before a Roman governor—a much more favorable situation than what he could have expected in Jerusalem before the Sanhedrin. American jurisprudence is itself founded upon a combination of Jewish moral law (the Ten Commandments and other moral prescriptions in the Old Testament), Greek philosophy, Roman administration in the time of the Republic, and English common law. And though no system is perfect, we are blessed to live in a land where we may trust in a largely fair and just legal system. We should bless God for this. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries live under no such system and pray for justice.
But back to Paul, he would now be judged by a Roman governor. Felix was known for corruption, taking bribes for favors; he even cherished hopes of receiving such a “gift” from Paul (24:26). He was disappointed. But though something of a scoundrel, he was relatively good to Paul, not allowing him to fall into the clutches of the Sanhedrin and even affording him some liberty and visitors. When the high priest and elders arrived five days later, they brought with them a professional lawyer (no doubt, Gentile) to present their case. The charges they brought were: 1) Paul stirs up riots among the Jews all over the world; 2) he is a ringleader of the sect called the Nazarenes; and, 3) he tried to profane the temple by bringing a Greek into it, but they seized him (which is a different story from what the mob said in 21:28-29). Paul was guilty #2, though he would have called himself an apostle, but the Jews stirred up the riots and as Paul relates of the account, “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.”
Our Lord said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Fewer things sting more than being falsely accused, especially of things you would never even dream of doing. The pagans claimed the early Christians were cannibals (because of the way they described the Lord’s Supper), incestuous (their love for the brotherhood), haters of mankind (they would not participate in pagan events and festivals), and seditious (because they would not worship Caesar)—all fabrications for which thousands died. Today, we are falsely accused of being hateful. Don’t be surprised, and pray for those who persecute you.