Acts 25:1–12 (ESV)
Paul Appeals to Caesar
25 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the
Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus
replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the
man, let them bring charges against him.”
6 After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went
down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against
him that they could not prove. 8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9 But
Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where
I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing
to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”
The lack of justice in Paul’s trial continues under Festus, moving Paul to appeal to Caesar’s court in Rome. Governments exist to punish evil and promote good in this life. Support
the proper functions of government. But rejoice that ultimate deliverance from evil comes when God declares us “not guilty” for the sake of Christ.
I pray: Lord,
before Your judgment seat, I deserve to die because of my sins. Thank You that, because Jesus took my punishment, You count me innocent. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1889.
Acts 24:22–27 (ESV)
Paul Kept in Custody
22 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.” 23 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.
24 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. 25 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.” 26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he
sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Although Felix listens as Paul proclaims God’s Word, Felix is most interested in a bribe. So he ignores Paul’s message and leaves him in custody. God’s Law can hurt our pride; we would rather avoid hearing about our
sins and eternal judgment. Though God’s Law and judgment are sharp, His Gospel grants full release. Rather than eternal death, Jesus grants us the riches of eternal life.
pray: We praise You, O God, for giving us many opportunities to listen to Your Word and for giving us fullness of life in Christ. Thank You for making us spiritually rich in this life and in the life to come. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis,
MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1889.
Acts 24:1–21 (ESV)
Paul Before Felix at Caesarea
24 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. 2 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, 3 in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4 But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.
5 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. 6 He even tried to profane the temple,
but we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”
9 The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
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. 11 You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12 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. 13 Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 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, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and
the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18 While
I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— 19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or
else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 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 defends himself before the Roman governor, Felix. He claims to follow what is written in the Scriptures, focusing
especially on the resurrection of the dead. Paul uses the opportunity to bear witness concerning Jesus, who has given him new life. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death and His resurrection from the dead, God forgives us and builds us up. He empowers us
to proclaim His mercy.
I pray: Lord, forgive us for wrongful speech, and give us a clear conscience toward You and our fellow man. Help us always to believe Your unchanging
Word and to hope in the resurrection. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1888.
Acts 23:23–35 (ESV)
Paul Sent to Felix the Governor
23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour
of the night. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And he wrote a letter to this effect:
26 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them
when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I
found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once,
ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.”
31 So the soldiers, according to their
instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. 33 When they had come to Caesarea and
delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said,
“I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.
Claudius Lysias turns Paul’s case over
to Felix the governor. All circumstances point to the apostle’s innocence of any crimes against the state. Life sometimes brings unjust suffering, especially to Christ’s followers. Christ’s death on the cross provides for our forgiveness
when we have been unjust to others and gives us strength to bear our sufferings in His abiding grace.
I pray: Lord, I praise You because You are just and You have justified
me through faith in Jesus. Forgive me when I am unjust to others, and give me strength to bear even unjust suffering. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1887.
Acts 23:12–22 (ESV)
A Plot to Kill Paul
12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this
conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with
the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take
this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something
to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed
to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him,
who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.” 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that
you have informed me of these things.”
Forty Jews, in conjunction with their leaders, create a plot to kill Paul. But Paul’s nephew intervenes. He is an example to us of how family members
may support one another in trying times and call upon legitimate authority in support of God’s people. Good government and family are blessings of God’s providence that enable the Gospel to spread among us.
I pray: Thank You, God, that we can always count on Your unchanging Word and Your goodwill. Grant us confidence in You and Your blessings. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The
Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1887.