Paul's Defense Before Felix
"Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: 'Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogue or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, "Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day"'" (Acts 24:10-21).

When Paul is given the opportunity to speak, he affirms that he is glad to be able to answer the charges against him before a man like Felix, who had been a judge for many years among the Jews. The years Felix had administered law in Samaria and Judea would help him understand Paul's defense. Paul is courteous but does not pile on the praise as Tertullus did. He will now answer the specific charges against him.

It had been less than two weeks ago that Paul had traveled "to Jerusalem to worship" (as a side note--and contrary to the thinking of some--all of life is not worship, as this phrase implies; worship requires intent, has a starting and stopping point, and is more than merely a spiritual attitude). While in Jerusalem, Paul states that he had not been publicly disputing or inciting any crowds (he hadn't hardly been there long enough to even attempt such), and no one could show or prove otherwise. His accusers have leveled charges against him, but they lacked proof and the accusations were not true. Paul had not been disrupting the peace in Jerusalem!

Paul goes on to explain that he worships the God of his fathers (Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob) "according to the Way" (of truth) and that he believes all things that were written in the Old Testament. This is a significant point. Paul understood that Judaism was not intrinsically in conflict with Christianity. Judaism predicted the coming of both the Messiah and a new covenant (e.g., Deut. 18:15-19; Jer. 31:31-34). Paul desired that all Jews follow his pattern of leaving Judaism behind as they embraced Jesus and His covenant. Christianity is the fulfillment of the Old Law (cf. Matt. 5:17,18). Like Paul, Christians today should believe everything written in the Old Testament, though we are not bound by its commands (cf. Gal. 3:24,25). We should learn from the things written before (cf. Rom. 15:4), but walk by faith under the law of Christ (cf. II Cor. 5:7; Gal. 6:2). Paul was not a ringleader of some new "sect" that was contrary to Judaism or Roman law!

Paul continued by explaining his belief in the afterlife. He believed all would be raised from the dead--the just and the unjust. However, the unjust would not enjoy everlasting life with God in heaven but eternal punishment (cf. John 5:28,29; Matt. 25:46). Because of this impending resurrection and judgment, Paul always strived to live in good conscience toward God and men. This is an admirable goal for us today as well.

Paul then supplied more information regarding his trip to Jerusalem. He had journeyed there to bring alms and offerings to the Jews. He was there to be benevolent, not malevolent. Paul had not profaned or attempted to profane the temple in any way! He was minding his own business when some Jews from Asia seized him and starting beating him without just cause (they were the real cause of the disturbance!). Paul declared that those Jews should be present before Felix if they have an accusation of wrong doing to level against Paul. Paul confesses freely his personal belief that he had done nothing wrong, unless they wanted to argue over the appropriateness of him crying out in the Sanhedrin council about him being judged regarding his belief about the resurrection of the dead.