In our last post, we left Paul imprisoned in Caesarea at Herod’s Praetorium. (You can go to Categories and look up all of the Israel Bible Study Posts under Walking the Ancient Paths. The study is following a journey through the cities of Israel starting in Joppa and ending in Jerusalem, with some very interesting stops along the way!) Right now we are in the books of Acts to see all of the biblical events that took place in this beautiful city on the Mediterranean.
As we open our Bibles to Acts 24, we see that Paul had been in the prison in Caesarea for five days. (Verse 1) On the fifth day, Ananias, the high priest, arrives on the scene with Tertullus, a spokesman and accuser of Paul. They began to present their case against Paul to the Governor, Felix.
Read Acts 24:2-8.
- What does Tertullus accuse Paul of?
Read Acts 24: 10-21.
- Summarize what Paul says to Felix, the Governor.
Read Acts 24:22-23
- After speaking with Paul, what was the reaction of Felix?
Read Acts 24: 24-26
- What does verse 24 say that Paul spoke about the next time they were together?
- Why do you think that Felix was alarmed?
- What are some different reactions that you have seen when people are told the “truth”?
- Do you think that a light turned on in Felix? (Acts 4:12)
- Who became the new governor after Felix?
Read Acts 25:1-5.
- What are the Jews still trying to arrange for Paul?
- What is the response of Festus?
In Acts 25:6-12 we see that Festus has returned to Caesarea and Jews had also come with him to accuse Paul. None of the charges that they brought against him could they prove!
- Summarize Paul’s response to them.
- What does Paul request?
- What is the response of Festus?
In Acts 25:13-21 we see the arrival of Agrippa, the King, along with his sister, Bernice. Agrippa was Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa I and great-grandson of Herod the Great. The scripture says that Agrippa stayed there for many days and it gave Festus the opportunity to lay Paul’s case before him. He begins by saying that Felix had left Paul there as a prisoner. (Interesting that even back then people were good at laying the blame on someone else!)
- Summarize what Festus told Agrippa.
- What was Agrippa’s reaction and response? (Verse 22)
Read Acts 25:23-27.
- How did Agrippa enter the scene?
- Summarize what Festus says about Paul in front of Agrippa and Bernice.
Chapter 26 in the book of Acts is what Paul says in his own defense as he stands before *Agrippa. Read Chapter 26 in its entirety. In verses 24-29:
- What is the reaction of Festus?
- What is the reaction of Agrippa to the testimony of Paul?
- In verses 30-32, what does Agrippa say to Paul, Festus and the crowd?
Read chapters 27-28 in Acts. Paul boards the boat for Italy under the guard of a centurion named Julius of the Augustan Cohort. (Cornelius was a member of this cohort.) This chapter tells us about their voyage including the storm at sea and their shipwreck. Even though they are shipwrecked on Malta, Paul takes the opportunity to share Christ with the native people there.
Read Acts 28:16. Where was Paul allowed to stay when he arrived in Rome?
Read Acts 28:17-28.
- In verses 23-27 Paul speaks to them the truth of the gospel. What is their reaction?
- What is the result of their reaction? (Verse 28)
- In verses 29-31, what does Paul do for the next two years?
It is with these verses that this account of Luke ends. From secular sources we learn the following:
- Some writings speak of Paul being released and preaching in the west. (This was probably in Spain.) *Writings of Clement. It was during the time after his first imprisonment that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus.
- Eusebius says that Paul continued his ministry until he was imprisoned a second time in Rome and was then martyred.
- It was during the time of his imprisonment that Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. (Probably written during his house arrest.) So although he was in prison, God was still using him in a mighty way. He probably wrote his last book, 2 Timothy, as he was awaiting execution.
As we conclude the study of Paul in Caesarea and Rome:
- Looking at the way that Paul spoke up boldly every time he was given the chance, how does this speak to you? Are you willing to speak up and testify about Jesus in front of your friends? The school board? the government?
- Even though Paul was lied about he continued to speak the truth and left the result up to God. Are you willing to do the same?
- If you are in dire circumstances such as Paul was: in prison, in a storm at sea, shipwrecked, alone, not believed…would you be willing to allow God to use you to encourage and teach others as Paul did? Both in his writing and his speech, Paul continued to share the gospel and it made an impact that we are still feeling today!
- Is there anything else that you have learned from this study? Write your notes below and meditate on them this week.
*During the time of Jesus and Paul, Israel was under the control of Rome. Although the Jews might not see the Roman rulers on a day to day basis, they knew that they were there. Taxes were paid to Rome and the people were aware of the presence of Roman authority. As long as the Jewish people got along, the Romans did not have to interfere. However, if there were major disagreements among the Jews, the Romans would often step in to settle the problems. Of course, Rome assigned kings and governors to rule over certain areas of Israel. Herod the Great was one of those kings. His great grandson, Agrippa, is the king who was the authority in the area at the time Paul was in Caesarea. We see in this passage that first Felix and then Festus were governors in the area during the time of Paul. We all know an earlier governor who also lived in this area, Pontius Pilate! Normally, the Sanhedrin and the high priests could adequately govern the Jews but on occasions like this one with Paul, the Roman officials were called in to help.