| || |The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 128 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
Speaking of the "Jews from Asia" (verse 18), Paul objects that they "ought to have
been here before thee". The Apostle was certainly within his rights in demanding the
presence of witnesses.
It becomes clear as the account proceeds that Felix is convinced of Paul's innocence,
and the case therefore breaks down. The differences that existed between Paul and his
Jewish accusers were of no importance in the eyes of the Roman law, as the doctrine of
the Nazarenes had not yet been proscribed as a religio illicita. Felix had a "more
accurate knowledge of that way" (Acts 24: 22) than either the Jews or Tertullus had
supposed, and the trial is postponed on the ground that Lysias, a most important witness,
was not present.
Felix's wife at this time was a Jewess, Drusilla, and it is possible also that he may
have known Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort. All this, no doubt, helped to
mitigate the severity of the Apostle's remand.
Felix would have laid himself open to severe punishment if he had taken a bribe--the
lex Julia de repetundis (B.C.59) forbade any magistrate to receive money or articles of
value, the penalty being deportation or exile--but these penalties were often evaded, and
we read the Felix kept Paul bound for two years, hoping that "money should have been
given him". At the end of this period Felix is replaced by Porcius Festus, and, "willing to
show the Jews a pleasure", he leaves Paul still a prisoner.
Here for the moment we must stop. The concluding part of the trial we shall hope to
deal with in our next article.
Paul before Festus and Agrippa.
The appeal to Cęsar.
pp. 100 - 102
The two years during which Paul had remained in bonds at Cęsarea did not see any
abatement in the Jews' feelings of hatred towards him. Upon the arrival of Festus, the
new governor, the Jews, knowing that a new governor was likely to do things that would
put him in the good graces of the people, informed him that Paul was till unpunished, and
suggested that he should be sent to Jerusalem--"laying wait in the way to kill him"
(Acts xxv.3). Festus, however, apparently saw through their scheme and said:
"Let them which among you are able, go down with me and accuse this man, if there
by any wickedness in him" (Acts 25: 5).
The High Priest had asked as a "favour" the handing over of Paul to the Jews. The
governor answered that they would get Roman justice instead, and so Paul's life was