Paul Before Felix at Caesarea
 And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul.  And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:
“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation,  in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.  But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.  For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.  He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.  By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”
 The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
 And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.  You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem,  and 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.  Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me.  But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship 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.  So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.  Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings.  While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me.  Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council,  other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”
Paul Kept in Custody
 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.”  Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.
 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.  When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. (ESV)
- Lies, lies, and more lies
Paul had to deal with at least three false accusations made against him by Tertullus. First, he was accused of stirring up riots, which, in fact, were stirred up by the Jews, not Paul. Second, he was accused of leading an uprising against the Jews. Though there were a number of rebellions against the Jews, Paul had no interest in leading one. Third, he was accused of profaning the temple by bringing a Gentile into the inner court. Each accusation was an attempt to destroy Paul’s reputation and undermine his ministry.
- Paul’s defense
Each accusation leveled against Paul was patently false. He was guilty of nothing. But he was not content to simply argue his innocence. Paul argued the continuity between what he believed and what the Pharisees believed, identifying their shared faith in the God of Abraham, belief in the Law and the Prophets, and the resurrection of the dead. In making his case this way, Paul was not simply refuting their false accusations but was also exposing that they were out of step with their own Jewish faith.
- Going there
John the Baptist was a prisoner of Herod because he spoke out against Herod’s immorality and adulterous marriage (Mark 6:18). As a result, he was imprisoned, and though Herod was curious about John, he ultimately beheaded him. Paul’s story follows a very similar arc: imprisoned by an immoral, adulterous king who is intrigued by Paul’s message and teaching. Luke shares that Paul spoke to Felix about righteousness and self-control, things Felix knew little about. Additionally, Paul spoke about the coming judgment, something that would have been deeply troubling to Felix, given his rampant immorality. It was clear that Paul cared more about the truth of God and the salvation of Felix than he did about his own freedom.
- Have you ever been the victim of false accusations? How did you respond? What did the accusations reveal about your accuser?
- Throughout the book of Acts, Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the Jewish people, not a break from it. In what ways did Jesus fulfill the Old Covenant and the Old Testament story and expectations?
- There are times when witnessing to the truth of Jesus will put you in very uncomfortable situations. How can Paul’s bold witness to Felix encourage you in bold witness?
Call to Worship
Lead Me in Your Righteousness
To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.
 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
God of grace and truth, in Jesus Christ You came among us as light shining in darkness. We confess that we have not welcomed the light, or trusted good news to be good. We have closed our eyes to glory in our midst, expecting little and hoping for less. Forgive our doubt and renew our hope, so that we may receive the fullness of Your grace and live in the truth of Christ the Lord. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.