The plot against Paul continues in Acts 24, where he is charged by the high priest Anais and Tertullus, an attorney, of the following: 24.5 “We have in fact found this man a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 24. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and so we seized him.”
Paul eloquently defends himself to Felix, the governor, by saying that “they did not find me disputing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd” and they cannot prove the charges. Paul affirms that he worships the God of the ancestors, that he has a hope in God, and strives his best for a clear conscience toward God and ALL people. Paul states he was in the temple to bring alms, offer sacrifices and to complete the rite of purification, without any disturbance.
Felix makes no decision, holding Paul in custody for two years (hoping for a bribe!). Paul’s friends are allowed to take care of his needs, and Felix frequently sends for him for conversation.
What else did Paul do in the two years in custody in Caesarea? While it is widely held by scholars that the four Prison Epistles (Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians) were written during Paul’s later imprisonment in Rome, there is some scholarly dissent that one or more of them may his been during his time in Caesarea.
Thinking on this as we live through our current “imprisonment” and knowing that great hope can be found in Scripture, I again read the Prison Epistles, and found comfort in them. Philippians especially touched me – a joyful letter, extolling faith in Christ, hope, and faithful service in spite of trials and anxiety.
One of my favorite New Testament passages is from Philippians:“8. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”I pray this passage brings comfort at this time. May God’s grace, peace, love and blessings be with you.
Adele Sadiq, EfM, Year 4