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Lesson 12: Confinement in Caesarea *

Introduction: Very few people look forward to a trial. When we last left Paul, the Governor told him, "I will hear your case when your accusers get here." In our study this week, Paul's accusers arrive and we study the charges and how Paul defends himself in not one but two trials! Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Trial Before Felix

    1. Read Acts 24:1-4. Have we seen the Jewish leaders hire a lawyer before to bring charges against Paul? (Not that I recall.)

      1. Why do they hire a lawyer this time? (They want to be rid of Paul. It might also reflect that this is a more formal setting.)

      2. How does the lawyer Tertullus start his case against Paul? (He starts out complimenting Governor Felix.)

        1. What does this tell us about Felix? (He is vain and perhaps not too smart. Felix should realize this has nothing to do with the charges against Paul.)

      3. Have you ever heard a lawyer argue? If so, did you hear a promise to be brief? (This is a promise often made and often broken.)

    2. Read Acts 24:5-9. What are the charges against Paul? (He creates trouble and starts riots. He is a leader of the Christian church. He tried to desecrate the temple.)

      1. Are these charges true? (It is true that the Jews often riot when they hear Paul's message. So do others. This, of course, is a crime on the rioter's part, and not Paul's crime. It is true that Paul is a leader in the Church. The last charge has changed, compare Acts 21:28-29.)

    3. Read Acts 24:10. Is Paul also starting with an irrelevant statement? (Paul is saying that Felix knows the Jewish leaders are trouble. He is not complimenting Felix, he is telling Felix to consider his own experience with these leaders.)

    4. Read Acts 24:11-13. Does this meet the rioting charge against Paul? (The charge is that Paul is starting riots everywhere. Paul denies that he was stirring up the crowd in Jerusalem twelve days earlier.)

      1. Who has the burden of proof here? (Paul asserts that the Jewish leaders have the burden of proof.)

    5. Read Acts 24:14-16. What does Paul say about the charge that he is a leader in the Church? (He admits it.)

      1. Paul goes on to talk about theology. Why is that important? (Read Acts 23:29. This is part of the letter from Claudius Lysias to Governor Felix. Lysias says that the charges against Paul have to do with religion, not some civil charge worthy of imprisonment or worse. Paul is reinforcing that conclusion.)

    6. Read Acts 24:17-21. We find here a defense to the charge of riots around the world. What is Paul's defense? (Those who made the original charges are not here. There is no first hand testimony about this. Paul did nothing wrong when he was in the temple in Jerusalem, so nothing in his current conduct would suggest wrongdoing in other places.)

      1. Of what charge did the Sanhedrin find Paul guilty? (Read Acts 23:9-10. The Sanhedrin did not reach a verdict because the place broke out in a riot.)

    7. Read Acts 24:22-23. Why would Felix wait for Lysias? Will Lysias add anything? He already wrote a letter stating that Paul is not guilty.

      1. How are we to understand the statement that Felix knows a lot about Christianity?

    8. Read Acts 24:24-25. Is there any legal problem here? (Felix the judge, is listening only to Paul's side of the case. In an American court of law, both sides are supposed to be present.)

      1. Why would the judge become afraid? Does this teach us something about the way that we should witness? (This shows that Felix is not a good man. He does not want to hear about self-control or "the judgment to come.")

        1. Paul is a big proponent of grace? What does this say about grace? (Grace does not free us to live any way that we want. God has right living in mind for us.)

    9. Read Acts 24:26. Why would Felix think that Paul might offer a bribe? (Re-read Acts 24:17. Paul is bringing money to the poor, perhaps he might bring some to Felix. This, of course, if further proof that Felix is a bad man.)

    10. Read Acts 24:27. What is the most important factor in this trial? (Not a search for the truth, but rather political considerations.)

      1. Why would God allow this? Remember that this is the same God who walked Peter out of prison. See Acts 12:6-10. (We know that God has the power to free Paul. Thus, God has His reasons for leaving Paul in custody.)

  2. The Trial Before Festus

    1. Read Acts 25:1-3. What would motivate Festus to agree to this? (He was new to the job. An important part of his job was to keep peace with the Jews.)

    2. Read Acts 25:4-5. On what basis does Festus decide to reject the proposal of the Jewish leaders? (It seems like the convenient solution for everyone except the Jewish leaders.)

      1. What presumption does Festus express with regard to Paul's trial? (He presumes him innocent.)

    3. Read Acts 25:6. Notice that within two weeks of starting the job, Festus hears the case against Paul. What does that suggest? (Paul's case is important. Imagine all the other things that Festus is supposed to do in his new job.)

    4. Read Acts 25:7-11. How is it a favor to the Jews to move the trial to Jerusalem if Festus is still going to be the judge?

      1. Recall that in Acts 25:3 we learned that the Jews wanted to kill Paul during the transfer. Do you think that Festus understood this? (I doubt it, unless he had been briefed on the previous plot against Paul in Jerusalem.)

      2. Why would Festus seek Paul's consent for the transfer to Jerusalem? (If Paul agrees it is a simple decision.)

        1. Why does Paul not agree? (In Acts 25:11 he refers to being handed over to the Jews. Paul knows they will have more practical power over him in Jerusalem.)

      3. How do you think the trial is going so far for Paul? (Very well.)

        1. If it is going well, why does Paul appeal to Caesar?

    5. Read Acts 25:12. Is this an easy decision for Festus?

    6. Read Acts 25:16-21. Now we learn the private thoughts of the judge! Why was Festus willing to let Paul be transferred to Jerusalem if Paul consented?

      1. How would Festus have decided the case if Paul had not appealed? (Paul would have won.)

    7. Read Acts 25:23-27. What is the most pressing problem for Festus? (He cannot even put together a reasonable statement of the charges against Paul.)

    8. In Acts 26:1-21 Paul recites his conversion story and the gospel mission given to him by God as his defense to the charges made against him. Notice that at this hearing Paul has no accusers. Read Acts 26:22-24. What has made Festus think Paul is out of his mind? (The talk about Jesus being the first to rise from the dead.)

      1. Is there a compliment in Festus's charge? (Paul is a man of great learning.)

    9. Read Acts 26:25-28. Does King Agrippa think Paul is insane? (Quite the opposite. He merely says that he is not convinced.)

    10. Read Acts 26:29-32. Was it a mistake for Paul to appeal to Caesar?

      1. Read Acts 28:17-19. What do you think about Paul's explanation for his appeal?

      2. Let's revisit something we have already read. Read Acts 23:11. Do you think these words from Jesus motivated Paul?

    11. Friend, these trials and hearings show that Paul is innocent of any criminal charges, yet he continues to be confined. Have unjust things happened in your life? Were they the result of your obedience to God? Will you determine that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to remain faithful to God even when unjust things happen to you?

  3. Next week: Journey to Rome.
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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