To the governor

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Prepare

Has God ever given you a golden opportunity to ‘solemnly testify’ about him? Have you ever turned away from such an opportunity? Pray that God will make you always ready for his divine appointments.


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Bible passage: Acts 23:23–35


Paul Transferred to Caesarea
 23Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix."

 25He wrote a letter as follows: 26Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.

 31So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35he said, "I will hear your case when your accusers get here." Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Divine purposes
I wonder if this Tribune, Claudius Lysias, ever imagined that his letter to Felix would appear one day in the Word of God? Luke chose by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to include this entire letter.

Why? Because it shows the lengths to which God will go to open curious doors and use unlikely characters to achieve his divine purposes. Jesus had appeared to Paul to encourage him, and to tell him that he was finally bound for Rome – after years of longing and patient waiting (consider Romans 1:9–11).

Concern for details
In order to get Paul to Rome, the Lord unleashed his strategic genius. First he forged a unique relationship between Paul and Claudius: Claudius saved Paul’s life no less than four times!

Then he sat Claudius down to pen a letter to introduce Paul to Felix. And then, in his kind compassion, he moved Felix to give Paul a room in his official residence: Herod’s Praetorium! When God creates an opportunity to solemnly testify about him, he takes perfect care of all the details.

Dorman Followwill


Respond


Paul’s life reveals the deep truth Job learned in Job 42:2: ‘...that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’ May we expect the same mighty hand to open doors for us to solemnly testify of the gospel of God today.


Deeper Bible study


The Roman commander, on hearing of the plot, acts quickly and organises an immediate transfer of Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea and to Felix, Governor of Judaea between ad 52 and 59. The events in our reading today take place around five years into his governorship.

The commander writes a letter to the governor according to the standard letter conventions and so, at last, we learn his name: Claudius Lysias. He briefly describes the events that have led him to send Paul to the governor, but notice how he enhances his activities by suggesting that he rescued Paul because he knew him to be a Roman citizen. The important point that he highlights in this letter, however, is the fact that Paul has been accused in regard to questions of Jewish law and that Paul is not guilty of any crime requiring imprisonment or death. In Caesarea, Felix reads the letter and tries to pass the problem on, rather as Pilate had tried to do with Jesus (Luke 23:6–12). On hearing that Paul came from the province of Cilicia, he realises that he is unable to do this, so he decides to ‘park the problem’1 and, as we shall discover, he ‘parks’ Paul for two years (Acts 24:27).

If the vision Paul received encouraged him while in Jerusalem, how much more would that vision have been important to him through those years! We do not know if he ever got discouraged and questioned God during those years, but, if he did, he could look back to that vision and the promise made as a reason to look forward and not give up. There will be times in all our lives when we know that God has particularly spoken to us and touched our lives. We can look back on these and use them to encourage us to look forward and not give up.

1 Tom Wright, Acts for Everyone Part 2: Chapters 13–28, 2008, p178

Julie Robb

Background: Meet Felix


Background

Roman governors in Judea were appointed by the Emperor. They were normally drawn from the Roman middle class and had proved themselves in the military or in administration.

Felix was an exception, being a former slave freed either by the Emperor Claudius or his mother Antonia. His brother was a favourite of the Emperor and through his influence Felix got the post. The governors were responsible for administering the region and raising taxes.

He married three women from royal backgrounds including Drusilla, sister of Agrippa.

Governor of Judea

He probably became governor in AD 52, and was recalled to Rome by Nero in AD 59. During his time as governor there was increasing unrest. In AD 55 there was an uprising led by an Egyptian who claimed to be Messiah. The Egyptian escaped but Felix slaughtered his followers. In Acts 21:38 Paul is mistaken for this Egyptian. The Roman historian Tacitus says of Felix that ‘with savagery and lust he exercised the powers of a king with the disposition of a slave’.

Luke records that he had a good understanding of Christianity (Acts 24:22).

He seems to have felt that his connection with the Emperor gave him a special position. A Jewish delegation which complained to the Emperor about him was unsuccessful. After his recall nothing is known of him.

Paul and Felix

After his arrest Paul was taken to Caesarea. The Roman governors normally lived there, only visiting Jerusalem in times of particular tension. Other sources mention his disregard for justice and his greed.

The first is seen in the way that although he knew Paul to be innocent he kept him in prison (Acts 23:29) to please the Jews (Acts 24:27). The second in his hope that he might receive a bribe to release Paul.

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All my days (Beautiful saviour)
Stuart Townend
Copyright © 1998 Thankyou Music
www.integritymusic.com

Not ashamed
Ben Cantelon & Nick Herbert
Copyright © 2009 Thankyou Music
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Comments
  • Sue Hanson | Friday, 02 March 2018

    I love the way our Bible not only gives us everything we need to know about God's plan and the life of Jesus but is also such an accurate history book as well.

  • Alan Pang | Friday, 02 March 2018

    Of late, commentators seem to resort to retelling the the story in their own words with a few notes. Perhaps the narratives don't require many comments.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 03 March 2018

    ANGELA E. - Thankyou for your kind words as we walk our Christian lives together in God's presence. God is always in control and reigns supreme. We are able to wholeheartedly join with the Divine God in the 'dance of life' and know He is with us always, even in discomfort......Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul have shown this to us. Angela, are you still in Mallorca on your boat? Have I remembered correctly?" May God be close to you this day. " Amen.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 03 March 2018

    ANGELA E thank you for your encouraging words and ANGELA M, yours too and perhaps during Lent you can share a snippet occasionally from your meditations.

  • Lynda Spencer | Saturday, 03 March 2018

    BARBARA, as I was catching up on some missed readings I have just found your kind message to say you have some choir music for me. Thank you so much! I'm glad SU have sent you my contact details - I had an acknowledgment of my request from them, but wasn't told they had actually contacted you yet. Exciting! (Sorry to use this forum for personal stuff - won't make a habit of it!) Hope all in the UK are keeping safe and warm in this awful weather.

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