CAESAREA : FACING SECULAR PEOPLE
Acts 23:23-26:32 August 24 2008
On learning of the Jews’ plot to kill Paul, the Roman commander
sent him to Caesarea with a detachment of soldiers for protection.
The commander also wrote a letter to Felix, the governor, explaining
why he was sending Paul. Felix detained Paul until his accusers
came (Acts 23:23-35).
A J wish delegation arrived in Caesarea and leveled charges
against Paul (Acts 24:1-9). Paul presented his defense, stressing he
had not created a disturbance in Jerusalem. Furthermore , as Christ’s
follower he believed the Hebrew Scriptures and held to the doctrine
of resurrection. He said the Asian Jews should have been present to
accuse him (Acts 24:10-21).
while Paul remained in Caesarea, King Herod Agrippa II came with
his sister Bernice to Caesarea. Festus discussed Paul’s case with
Agrippa , who expressed interest in talking with Paul (Acta 25:13-22).
Paul appeared before Agrippa and presented his defense. Then Paul
recounted his conversion experience and appealed to Agrippa to
become a Christian. Agrippa did not do so but said if Paul had not
appealed to Caesar, he could have been released (Acts 25:23-26:32).
1. Some will Wait: Keep Talking (Acts 24:22-26)
Acts 24:22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way,
adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,”
he said, “I will decide your case.” 24:23 He ordered the centurion
to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit
his friends to take care of his needs. 24:24 Several days later
Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for
Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
24:25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the
judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for
now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
24:26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him
a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
Well Acquainted with the way . Felix could not have governed
Judea and Samaria for six years without becoming familiar with
the place and activities of the Christians. To give him somefreedom .
Perhaps Paul was under house arrest similar to what he experienced
while waiting trial in Rome (Acts 28:30-31 )—in recognition of the
fact that he was a Roman citizen who had not been found guilty of
any crime. Drusilla. Felix’s third wife, daughter of Herod Agrippa I.
At age 15 she married Azizus, king of Emesa, but deserted him for
Felix a year later. Her son, also named Agrippa, died in the eruption
of Vesuvius (A.D. 79).
Felix was afraid . Hearing of righteousness, self-control and the
judgment, Felix looked at his past life and was filled with fear.
He had a spark of sincerity and concern. When I find it convenient.
Lust, pride, greed and selfish ambition made it continually
inconvenient to change. Offer him a bribe . Felix supposed that Paul
had access to considerable funds. He had heard of his bringing an
offering to the Jewish Christians in Palestine (Acts 24:17). So he
wanted Paul to give him money in order to secure his release. Paul
no longer had the money, nor would he offer a bribe if he had it.
2. Some Will Ridicule :Show Respect (Acts 26:22-25)
Acts 26:22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I
stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing
beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen — 26:23
that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead,
would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 26:24
At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your
mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
26:25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What
I am saying is true and reasonable.
The Prophets and Moses . The OT Scriptures (Luke 24:27,44). The
first to rise from the dead . The firstfruits of the dead —to die no
more (1Cor 15:20; Col 1:18). To the Gentiles . (Isa 49:6). You are out
of your mind. (John 10:20; 1Cor 14:23). The governor felt that Paul’s
education and reading of the sacred Scriptures had led him to a mania about prophecy and resurrection.
3. Some Will Be Silent: Ask Questions (Acts 26:26-27)
Acts 26:26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak
freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his
notice, because it was not done in a corner. 26:27 King Agrippa,
do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
Not done in a corner . This gospel is based on actual events,
lived out in historical times and places. The king must himself
attest to the truth of what Paul has affirmed. Do you believe the
prophets? King Agrippa was faced with a dilemma. If he said “Yes,”
Paul would press him to recognize their fulfillment in Jesus; if
he said “No,” he would be in trouble with the devout Jews, who
accepted the message of the prophets as the very word of God.
4. Some Will Refuse: Express Concern (Acts 26:28-31)
Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such
a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 26:29 Paul
replied, “Short time or long —I pray God that not only you but all
who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for
these chains.” 26:30 The king rose, and with him the governor
and Bernice and those sitting with them. 26:31 They left the
room, and while talking with one another, they said, “This man is
not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
In such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian ?
His question is an evasion of Paul’s question and an answer to
what he anticipates Paul’s next question to be. His point is that
he will not be persuaded by such a brief statement. These chains .
Paul was still bound as a prisoner.
The Caesarea mentioned prominently in Acts is
different from Caesarea Philippi , which was located about 25
miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The Caesarea in Acts was
on the Mediterranean cost about 60 miles northwest of Jerusalem.
In Paul’s time it was the home of the Roman governor of Judea and
the province’s capital.
After the Roman occupied the area under Pompey ,
Augustus Caesar gave the city to Herod the Great. Herod honored
Augustus by naming the Herod embarked on a 12 – year rebuilding
project that was completed in 10 B.C. Though the city’s population
was essentially pagan , a sizeable number of Jews lived there.
Philip traveled to Caesarea on a preaching mission
(Acts 8:40). Peter evangelized Gentiles in Cornelius’s house
there (Acts 10). Paul landed there after his second missionary
journey (Acts 18:22) and passed through on his way to Jerusalem
after his third missionary journey (Acts 21:8). after his arrest,
Paul was taken there to appear before Felix and Festus, Roman
governors, and before King Herod Agrippa II . Paul remained
imprisoned in Caesarea for two years before he sailed for Rome.