Acts 24:10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
In today’s text we see that Paul was given opportunity to speak for himself. He did not need some orator to speak on his behalf. He was a saved man and he had been taught by the Lord Jesus Christ in preparation for the ministry of an apostle. He was filled with the Holy Ghost and God would guide him in answering before Felix.
Today, there are no apostles. Those who are saved need to be taught by other saved people who are not novices. As we have mentioned before, every local church should be a Bible School. The preaching and teaching of God’s Word is the main purpose for any true church. There is great fellowship to be had in spending time with God’s people in the study of God’s Word. Those who are taught properly and who walk humbly with the Lord, will be able to give an answer of the reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and with fear. We do not need some orator who may be versed in the law, but void of God’s truth.
Rather than using flattery, Paul acknowledged Felix’s place as the governor of that area. He knew that Felix had experience in judging others and Paul was happy to be able to give an answer before him. He was reminding Felix that just judgment was important.
In verse 11 Paul began by laying out the time frame of his time in Jerusalem. He had been there for 12 days, having been in many different places prior to that time. He tells us that he came to Jerusalem with an offering from some of the other churches that he had directed to establish. There was a need in Jerusalem, and he had encouraged the saints in other parts of that region to give towards the needs at Jerusalem. That is how God’s people work. God’s people are happy to help other saints who are in need. It was not that the church at Jerusalem was the mother church and the others owed her something. It was that there was a need in Jerusalem and others had an opportunity to be a blessing in this way.
In verse 12 Paul began to refute the false accusations made against him. He did not go to Jerusalem to cause trouble. He did not even have much to do with the temple. The temple would soon be destroyed. Paul met with the saints in the church that was in Jerusalem. That church did not meet in the temple.
Paul also assured Felix that he was not causing sedition in Jerusalem. He was not trying to cause a riot, nor was he trying to turn the people against the government. It was important for the saints to follow God and build their lives upon the truth. The government of Rome was not particularly hostile to the truth at that time. They would become that way in a few years, but for that time, there was still quite a lot of freedom to travel and to preach the truth. The greater opposition was from the Judaizers who were lost Jews and did not want to hear the truth.
In verse 13 Paul reminded Felix that the Jews that had agreed to Tertullus’ lies, could not prove any of the accusations they made against him. Paul was not ashamed nor intimidated by this group of false professors. He would speak plainly and truthfully.
In verse 14, Paul turned the conversation to that which was important. He spoke of his faith that he had in the true God. We noted earlier that the Roman government was not really interested in God’s truth. However, Paul knew it was important for Felix and others there to know the truth.
As the governor, Felix had many things to occupy his time. He did not take the time to pursue the truth. However, God demonstrated His care for Felix and for the soldiers and others that were present there. God provided a way for them to hear the truth even though they did not go to where the truth was being taught. God brought the truth to them. The apostle Paul had a great opportunity before him to give a very clear testimony of his salvation and of the importance of this salvation for all. Had Paul hid behind an orator, he would never have had that opportunity. The testimony of the truth can only be properly given by someone who actually believes the truth. Most lawyers do not believe the truth. They have been trained in secular schools to learn how to confuse and confound the hearers. They are well trained in twisting facts and distorting things to try to get the decision they want to have.
God’s people speak the truth in love and with conviction. God’s people are led by the Holy Spirit and they let God guide them to be able to see and hear what is actually being said and then how to respond to that.
Paul acknowledged that he had hope toward God. He also acknowledged that the false teachers also allowed for hope toward God. The difference was that the false teachers did not believe in the true God.
In verse 16 Paul again stated that his desire and his goal was to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men. That is the desire of every true child of God. We do not speak the truth out of revenge or to try to beat others up. We speak the truth with conviction because we desire to see others come to know God’s peace and forgiveness.
As we noted, in verse 17 Paul spoke in part of why he came to Jerusalem. He came to bring alms and offerings. He was chosen by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles. That did not mean he could have nothing to do with the Jews. He was a Jew and thus he spoke of the Jews as “my nation”. He desired to see Jews saved. He desired to see them having their needs met.
In verse 18 he admitted that he had gone to the temple. He had met some others who were there. However, he did not have a multitude there nor did he cause a tumult. Everywhere Paul went, his desire was to point people to the truth.
In verse 19 he stated that those Jews that had caused the riot because he was teaching the truth, should have been there to make their accusation against him. However, they chose not to be there. Instead, they had sent others to speak to the matter. If the original protestors were so concerned, they should have been willing to bring their accusation forward and defend themselves.
As we noted before, both sides need to be heard. However, if one side does not want to show up, they cannot complain if they do not get a hearing. Sometimes people take offence because someone they know was offended. It is not really their issue, but they just join the opposition because.
We notice in Jesus’ earthly ministry, that the Pharisees, and the Sadducees and the Herodians and the Scribes were willing to work together to try to defeat Jesus. Normally they were not that supportive of each other, but they had a common goal and they were willing to set aside their differences to try to achieve that common goal. Their goal was evil, but that did not matter to them.
Christians need to work together where possible. However, true Christians do not hold their noses and align themselves with others whose doctrine is false. True Christians are willing to stand under God’s authority as the apostle Paul did here. They know they have God’s authority in their lives. They know they have a message that needs to be told and needs to be heard. They are not afraid of telling the truth.
That was what Paul was willing to do. He had nowhere else to be at that time. He was a servant of God and this was his lot in life for that time. He would honour God and give a clear testimony before Felix and the rest who were present. God would be glorified through Paul’s words and actions. That is what God’s people need to pray for and work towards.