Chapter 10 – Paul’s Arrest Defense and Journey to Caesarea
This chapter begins with Paul arriving in Jerusalem, and immediately meets with James. James presents an issue to Paul regarding the Pharisees questioning Paul’s adherence to the law. For Paul was teaching his followers that they did not need to follow some aspects of the law of Moses. James also proposes a solution. Paul would submit himself and 4 Nazarites for purification in the temple, and as an act of charity Paul would also pay the Nazarites expenses. All this was all meant to show that Paul does observe and follow the law.
However James’s plan did not work. In fact those who saw Paul in the temple now accused him of teaching against the law and also of defiling the temple by bringing a Greek pagan into the temple. Paul had not done this but it was an accusation that stuck, and a plan that worked for Paul’s accusers, who planed to lynch him and stone him to death.
However Paul skilled in the art of rhetoric because of his Greek heritage, offered his own defense first by speaking in Greek to the local Tribune who allowed Paul to speak to the people. Then Paul spoke in Hebrew to the people, at first the crowd was silent as he told them of his heritage as a Pharisee, but later the crowd became agitated when he spoke of leading the gentiles to Christ.
At this pint Paul is brought before the local Tribune again, but this time Paul declares that he is a Roman citizen. Because of his citizenship they can not punish him, but instead the Tribune orders that Sanhedrin meet to learn exactly what charges Paul was accused of. The next morning a group of Jews plotted to kill Paul, but the plot is discovered by Paul’s nephew and the Tribune wanting to make sure a Roman citizen was not lynched on his watch, immediately transports Paul to Caesarea where he will be brought to Felix the local governor.
Paul testified before Felix, but Felix wanted to wait for the Tribune to come to Ceasaera before proceeding with this case. While Paul waits he was granted freedom and given a roman guard as an escort. Ironically this arrangement continued for some time, and gave Paul immunity form further harassment by the Pharisees and allowed him to continue working and evangelizing.
Some time later Felix was called back to Rome and a new Governor was appointed Festus. When talking with Festus Paul requested an appeal of his case before Caesar. The chapter ends with this request be granted, but before Paul left he was brought before King Agrippa where he talked again and Agrippa quipped that in a little more time Paul would make a Christian of him.
While reading this chapter a though kept reoccurring that this was presented in a way that in some respects parallels how the Pharisees harasses and tried to trap Jesus and kill Jesus by what he said and did.
I do like this book and its narrative style. The narrative follows the journey of Paul as described in the Acts of the Apostles but tells the story in a more colorful and enjoyable way. I would truly like to read this book in a more leisurely at a latter time. It also includes more background information. For instance the description of how Herod had transformed the village of Strato’s Tower into the city called Caesarea
I would also recommend this book to others especially if they where looking for a text to bring more light to the book of Acts. Also I think it may be a good book to use in group bible study of Acts. The extra insights of Paul’s journey I think may help generate a lively discussion of Paul’s his skill as an evangelist.