For an introduction to this series, click here.
June 27, 2007This chapter tells of Paul's dealings with Felix, the governor at Caesarea. The high priest and some prominent Jews from Jerusalem came to state the case against Paul. They listed their accusations. Of course most of them were untrue, especially the one about Paul bringing a Gentile into the court of the Temple.
When Paul's opportunity to speak came, he explained that he was not doing anything to stir up a riot or provoke people. He mentioned the ones really to blame for the things that went on in Jerusalem were the Jews from Asia who opposed Paul and stirred up the crowd in Jerusalem against him. Paul did admit to provoking the Sanhedrin when he said that he had been arrested for preaching the resurrection of the dead, which we talked about yesterday.
Felix had a lot of experience dealing with the Jews, and came upon his own solution: he kept Paul in prison as a favor to the Jews. Next Luke tells us an interesting story: "After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, 'Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.' At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him." (24:24-26, ESV)
Paul was not going to shy away from proclaiming the Gospel whenever he had a chance. And so he took advantage of the opportunity of a private conference with Felix and told him the truth about righteousness and the coming judgment. Earlier in the chapter Luke tells us that Felix was familiar with "the Way" and so would have known most of the facts. I have heard a lot of people say that Felix never called for Paul again, but right there it says that Felix summoned Paul quite often. It is doubtful that he ever actually believed, though. Luke would likely have mentioned it if he did.
Felix left Paul in jail for two years, until his term as governor ended. Many writers think that it was at this time that Luke, who was Paul's servant (whether he was a slave or a voluntary servant is up to debate - however it is clear to me that Paul did not keep Luke against his will), began to track down many of the people involved in Christ's life and wrote his Gospel. Caesarea was not too far away from Jerusalem and wherever else the people he interviewed would have lived. Read what I am saying carefully. I talked about this when I introduced the gospel of Luke. Yes, Luke was inspired. But inspiration does not always mean that God told them in an audible voice what to write. Clearly this did happen in a few cases, particularly John and the book of Revelation. What inspiration means is that God superintended the writing to make sure that what the author was writing was what God wanted written. Luke's gospel has details, particularly involving the birth of Christ, that he could have only got from talking with Mary personally. As far as we know, Luke was not an eyewitness to any of the events in Christ's life.