Having been escorted to Caesarea on the order of Lysias, the Roman tribune, Paul finally appears before Felix after Ananias and the rest of his accusers arrive. Not much is known about the “spokesman,” Tertullus. Some suppose that he may have been a both a Gentile (which, if true, this blogger finds nearly hilariously ironic and hypocritical) and a lawyer. When he addresses Felix, he begins by flattering him with praise about his reforms and the “peace” they enjoy. This was utter nonsense! Antonius Felix is remembered today for his cruelty, bribe-taking, and general corruption; and the crime rate soared under his reign in Judea. When he went back to Rome after his tenure, he was accused of using a dispute between Jews and Syrians to murder and pillage numbers of the people of Caesarea. He escaped prosecution thanks to his brother, Marcus Antonius Pallas, who had been the secretary of treasury to Emperor Claudius.
When Felix gave him his turn, Paul laid out his defense in verses 10-21, methodically disputing the accusations with the obvious truth – which his accusers were unable to counter. In verse 14, he “confesses” that he is a part of “the Way” (which Tertullus called “the sect of the Nazarenes,”), through which he worships “the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” Thus, Paul not only makes the case that he is a “good Jew,” but that Christianity is God’s divine will.
Felix seemed to be aware of Paul’s innocence, but was more interested in the possibility of getting some money from him over a period of time (verse 26), as well as garnering support from the Jews. After two years had passed, he left Paul in prison as a favor to them when he was replaced by Porcius Festus.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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