Acts Devotionals

People of Truth

There was a radio host on one or two radio stations in South Africa known as Eusebuis McKaiser. He was an exceptionally talented man, gifted with a good brain. I used to pray that God would save his soul because with such giftedness he could have been a great defender of the Christian Faith. He openly confessed to being agnostic (uncertain whether there is a God. He said we Christians needed to prove to him that God existed and until then, he would not believe there was a God.) The second matter is that he openly confessed to being “a gay man”. I prefer the word the Bible uses … homosexual. He died on Tuesday, 30 May of an unexpected epileptic seizure. He is no longer agnostic! Today he knows that God exists! If only lawyers would belief that there is a God and that He is real and exists and that everyone, including lawyers will stand before the great Judge of all the world and give an account of their personal lives. We are dealing with Tertullus and …

(4) The prosecution case against Paul. Remember we dealt with …

(i) Buttering up the governor … and …

(ii) Thinking the case is a walk in the park. Now we come to …

(iii) The accusations against Paul.

Ac 24:5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.

Although we have dealt with some of these allegations already, let’s remember that Paul was …

(a) A peacemaker. He proclaimed the Gospel and all receiving the Gospel and believing in Jesus find peace with God. The Jews called him a troublemaker because they defiantly rejected God’s Messiah that Paul proclaimed.

(b) The Asian Jews caused riots in Europe. They stirred up the crowds in places like Athens and Ephesus. Paul only proclaimed the Lordship of Christ. Never once did he cause a riot.

(c) The name Nazarene comes from the fact that Jesus, although “born” in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth in Galilee. The so called “sect” was named after Jesus the Nazarene. How far wrong they were as the Church Fathers (apostles and elders under the leadership of James) were based in Jerusalem. Paul was not the head of the Church, he was only visiting Jerusalem. As you know, Jesus appointed Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles.

(d) Paul never desecrated the temple. The Asian Jews saw Paul with Trophimus, the Ephesian (a Greek Christian) and assumed Paul took him into the temple. They also accused him of speaking against the Jewish Law. Both these accusations as we have already seen were false.

(iv) Thinking the case already won. Tertullus presented these four accusations against Paul to governor Felix and thought he had done sufficient to win the case.

Ac 24:8 “By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

On the one hand he buttered up the governor and on the other hand he belittled the integrity of the governor. The statement Tertullus makes is loaded with lies … yet he speaks of it as truth. One needs to be extra cautious that we do not believe everything that people have to say about others without conducting our own personal and credible investigations. Don’t jump to conclusions! Often what people tell us could be loaded with a personal flavor that moves from truth to desired objective.

(v) Tertullus’ support.

Ac 24:9 The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.

Just how they cooperated by supporting Tertullus is unknown, but I would think it was verbal … maybe even a joint chorus. Did the governor think they had proved their case against Paul?

(5) Paul defends himself. Perhaps we ought to say Paul defends the Gospel. Verses 10 to 21 is his defense. Being lengthy, we will chip away at it.

(i) What we need to observe is the content difference between Paul, God’s man and Tertullus, the Jews man. Tertullus really insulted the governor by his short, unsupported charges whilst Paul exercised great intelligence, integrity and precision as he relayed his defense to the governor. Before we even start understanding what Paul says, we need to grasp that as Christians we are always God’s representatives wherever we are and whatever we are doing. This means that going to the store, filling up with gas, talking to the neighbor, fulfilling our responsibilities at work, studying at school, being at Church … and everything else is us being God’s men and women wherever we are and whatever we are doing. This means we do not fabricate stories, we don’t tell lies and we don’t support those bent on obstructing justice.

(ii) Governor Felix gave Paul the right of response to defend himself.

Ac 24:10 When the governor motioned for him to speak.

By now we understand that it was his duty to do so because Paul, unlike the chief priest and his eldership, was a Roman Citizen who was protected by all the Roman infrastructure available to any citizen.

(iii) Paul’s defense. Remember Paul has been encouraged by the risen, reigning Lord Jesus that he shall be protected and reach Rome with the Gospel. He is confident and fearless for he knows the true Judge is on his side.

(a) Stating the truth. Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.” There is no flattery here. He is aware of Felix’s appointment as governor (proconsul) years before. This means Felix has experience and shall judge impartially. With this is mind Paul was happy to defend himself before Felix. Should we are Christians land up in court for any unjust reason, we need to tell the truth remembering that the same real Judge of all the world who sustained and stood by Paul shall stand by us too. Saying this though, we need to remember that we live in the presence of our Sovereign God each day of our lives. This ought to necessitate belief that God is always with us and as we live for His glory, He shall always defend us when we are accused unjustly. Our task is to trust Him!

(b) Ascertaining the facts.

Ac 24:11 “You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship.”

The word “verify” comes from a word meaning “to know accurately”. Used here it means “to find out” … that is, to find out or ascertain the accuracy of what is being said. Travel was far easier than today. Although a document equivalent to a military passport was introduced under emperor Claudius in 52 AD, only in 1870 when the Italian unification came into being were actual passports required. Only after the First World War did the League of Nations introduce a standardized passport system in the later part of 1920. I share this because in Paul’s day, you did not need passports or visas for travel. In other words there was no documentation evidence of movement from lace to place. It is for this reason Paul says Felix could quite easily find out that he (Paul) only went up to Jerusalem 12 days prior to this court sitting. His purpose was to worship at the temple. Like the Jews had witnesses filled with lies, Paul also could obtain witnesses who would testify to the truth. See:

Ac 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.

His friends … ministry team were with him. Again we must be reminded that as the children of the Living God, we subscribe to His requirements … one of which is:

Ex 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

God is Truth and we need to be people of Truth.

Our Father, You are holy and have called us to be holy. Set a guard over our lips that prevent us from telling lies. May only truth flow through the lips resulting in You receiving glory. Amen .

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