When they arrived in Caesarea, they presented Paul and the letter [Lysias’s] to Governor Felix. He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from. “Cilicia,” Paul answered. “I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive,” the governor told him . Then the governor ordered him kept in the prison at Herod’s headquarters.
Five days later Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor: “You have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you. But I don’t want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him. You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.”
Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true. The governor then motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, so I gladly present my defense before you. You can quickly discover that I arrived in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago to worship at the Temple. My accusers never found me arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city. These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing. But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.
After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God. My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ceremony. There was no crowd around me and no rioting. But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me! Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of, except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”
At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.Acts 23:33-24:23
The thing that shocked me most was that Lysias told the Council where Paul was being taken. But he had to do that. The matter was now under Roman jurisdiction and so the law had to follow its course. And don’t forget Luke has told us, Paul has been told by Jesus that he was heading for Rome.
For this next segment I have served you up a very different cut than that offered by Robert Estienne. You will notice with the pieces I have put together for us to look at next, I have given you a different slice of the text in order to highlight something. Go back and read Lysias’ letter again from the previous portion. In effect this story of Paul’s trials is running in parallel to the trials of Jesus before his crucifixion. Lysias’ summation fits right in with Pilate and Herod’s verdict on Christ.
Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!”Luke 23:4
Herod came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty.Luke 22:15
For the third time he [Pilate] demanded, “Why? What crime has he committed? I have found no reason to sentence him to death. So I will have him flogged, and then I will release him.”Luke 23:22
Do you get the same sense as me that the way Luke is telling this story deliberately parallels the story of Jesus. Paul is walking in the footsteps of his LORD. Every Roman magistrate before whom Paul appears pronounces him innocent – Gallio, Lysias, Felix and Festus (the latter is still to come in the story). One little thing that I picked up on was that Lysias in his letter rearranged his summation to give the impression that he knew Paul was a Roman citizen which then prompted him to rescue the defendant, rather than what was more in line with the facts that he heard Paul was a Roman citizen after the fact. Just a little quibble.
Notice the time frame involved here. It took Ananias, some of the elders and Tertullis, the lawyer, five days to arrive from Jerusalem, after they had been forewarned by Lysias in Jerusalem. Paul arrived in two days – overnight to Antipatris and then on to Caesarea the next day. The hearing is conducted after Ananias and his group arrive on the fifth day. Assumedly the High Priest’s party arrived on the fourth day and they started the hearing on the fifth day.
Question: where was Lysias and how long did it take him to come to the court?
Hint: Keep your wits about you on this passage.
Words Are No More Than Sound Unless Your Actions Prove Them To Be True.Robb Thompson
The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.Lane Kirkland
Religion is like a swimming pool – all the noise is at the shallow end.William H. Vanstone
A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.Fred Allen