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Volume 31 - Page 136 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
Jews. This he was able to do after three days. The dispensational importance of
Acts 28: is worthy of all the space we can spare, and is dealt with in the series on the
"Acts of the Apostles". But our concern at the moment is the Roman element in the trial,
and to this we now address ourselves.
The Roman courts required the personal presence of the prosecutor. The crown was
not the prosecutor, as in English law. We learn from Josephus that at about this same
time two embassies set out from Jerusalem for Rome; one, to impeach Felix for his
conduct while Governor (we remember how, upon his recall, he sought to placate the
Jews by leaving Paul bound, Acts 24: 27), the other, to intercede with Nero on the
subject of Agrippa's palace, which overlooked the temple. As the High Priest himself
was included in this latter embassy, he may also have been entrusted with the prosecution
"The law's delays" are no modern evil. Josephus tells us of three Jews who had
languished in prison for three years without a hearing, and who were finally released
upon his appeal to PoppŠa. It was Nero's custom to consider separately each charge
against a prisoner (Suet. Nero, 15), and in the case of Paul we have seen that there were
three counts against him. A further source of delay was that proceedings would be
adjourned from time to time to suit the Emperor's convenience. Eusebius, in his
"Ecclesiastical History", is the only authority that we have for the opinion that Paul was
tried on the occasion of this first imprisonment, for the Acts does not record the trial.
"After defending himself successfully, it is currently reported that the apostle again
went forth to preach the gospel, and afterwards came to Rome a second time."
The Apostle's statement in Phil. 1: 12-14, 25; and 2: 23, 24 suggests that a trial is
nearing its end, and that the result is a foregone certainty. Tiberius and Claudius
followed the ancient custom of hearing causes in the Forum, but Nero sat for this purpose
in his palace. Standing before the tribunal, the Apostle's bonds would become manifest
in the whole PrŠtorium (Phil. 1: 13). The preliminaries of the trial had already taken
place under Felix and Festus, the prisoner being therefore already in a state of accusation.
The termination of the proceedings was announced by a crier proclaiming "Dixerunt"
(they have spoken). The jury then voted by depositing in an urn wax tablets bearing the
letter A, for Absolvo, C, Condemno, or N.50:, Non liquet, A new trial.
The question of the interval between the first imprisonment and the second arrest has
already been considered in some detail on pages 159-164, which the reader should
At his second arrest Paul did not receive the humane treatment that characterized the
first. He now suffered as an "evil doer". His place of detention is no longer the house of
a friend or his own hired house, but a dungeon, so damp and cold that he asks Timothy to
bring with him when he comes his cloke that had been left behind at Troas.