The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 125 of 181
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Paul before Felix.
pp. 67 - 71
The letter that accompanied Paul when he went to Felix was as follows:
"Claudius Lysias, unto the most excellent governor Felix, greeting. This man was
seized of the Jews, and was about to be slain, when I came upon them with the soldiers
and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And, desiring to know the cause
wherefore they accused him, I brought him down unto their council; whom I found to be
accused about questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of
death or bonds. And when it was shown to me that there would be a plot against this
man, I sent him forth to thee, forthwith, charging his accusers also to speak against him
before thee" (Acts 23: 26-30).
In view of the fact that Lysias Claudius had purchased his freedom "with a great sum"
(Acts 22: 28), his double name suggests that he was originally a Greek (Lysias) and that
he had been set free by one of the house of Claudius, whose name he had assumed when
he entered upon his Roman citizenship. The letter would naturally be written in Latin.
Luke gives the Greek translation of it and tells us that it was "after this type"
(Acts 23: 25).  A letter of this kind, accompanying the accused, was known as the
elogium, and it was customary to give it careful attention at the beginning of the case.
It was incumbent upon a Roman judge to try a prisoner, who had been sent with an
elogium, if possible, within three days. In this case, however, Felix had to sent to
Jerusalem and demand the presence of Paul's accusers, and this delayed his trial till the
fifth day. Being a Roman citizen, Paul received a fuller hearing and greater consideration
than did his Lord when He stood before Pilate.
Felix follows the normal order of procedure and, having received the elogium, enters
upon the interrogatio, which resolves itself into settling the question of the province to
which Paul belonged. When Felix understand that Paul is from Cilicia, he says:
"I will hear thee, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be
kept in Herod's judgment hall" (Acts 23: 34, 35).
From the descriptions we have of trial carried out in Rome, we can reconstruct with a
fair measure of probable accuracy the general arrangement of the court. Felix himself
would be seated proudly on his sella curulis--a chair, usually inlaid with ivory, and
shaped rather like a camp-stool with curved legs, and would be surrounded by the clerks
and lectors--the latter being officers who attended upon the Roman magistrate, and
carried before him the bundle of rods and the axe that symbolized his authority. Before
Felix would stand Paul the accused, and the high Priest Annas and other members of the