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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Festus and Paul’s Accusers

Luke doesn’t come right out and say so, but Festus seems to be two different people in this narrative. The first Festus seems to have been aware of the previous plot of the Jewish authorities to have Paul killed (Acts 25:2-3; cp. Acts 23:12-15, 20-21, 28-30) and resists the repeated supplications of the Jewish authorities[1] to have Paul brought to Jerusalem for trial. However, the second Festus seems very willing to use Paul as a political pawn to secure for himself a stable alliance between Rome and the local Jewish ruling class. What are we to make of this? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Christianity, Paul in bonds

 

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Why Didn’t Felix Release Paul?

Luke leaves us at the end of Acts 24 with Paul still in bonds. Usually, when a procurator left his office he either executed the prisoners he had taken captive for crimes worthy of death or released others. Yet, Paul’s fate was left for the next Roman governor to decide, while Felix returned to Rome to answer to Caesar for how he handled certain a certain insurrection that developed in Caesarea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds

 

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Paul’s Trial Before Felix

Governors of Roman provinces were recruited from the equestrian order (Roman knights) and assumed the official title of prefect or procurator. Felix was the procurator of the province of Judea cir. 52-58 CE, but had been a slave of Claudius Caesar’s mother, Antonia. When he was freed, he took the name Antonius to honor his former master, and, probably through the influence of his brother, Pallas, who was a favored official in Claudius’ court, was sent to the eastern frontier Province of Judea to assist Cumanus, whom he later replaced in 52 CE in governing the troublesome eastern frontier. Josephus claims it was at the request of Jonathan, the Jewish high priest, that Claudius named Felix to replace Cumanus as the governor of Judea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Kingdom of God

 

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Paul and Roman Benevolence

I believe it would be a mistake to presume that, because Luke shows in the next few chapters that Rome believes Paul was innocent of the charges brought against him, he means to show Rome as a benevolent or just Empire. It was not, and it certainly was not so toward Christianity during the next few centuries. Nor was it true of Felix, who not only wouldn’t release Paul without receiving a bribe (Acts 24:26), but left Paul’s case unresolved after he was replaced by Festus and sent to Rome to answer charges leveled against him by the Jewish authorities (Acts 24:27).[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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The Plot on Paul’s Life

It would be a mistake to believe that life in the Middle East was less complex in the first century than it is today. Today, it is oil that turns the wheels of political and commercial intrigue, but back then it was food. The eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, especially Egypt, provided the necessary food supplies to keep Rome living in abundance and luxury, while the rest of the world struggled to get by. The province of Syria, which included Galilee and Judea, provided the needed buffer for Rome between its control over the rich provisions of Egypt and any threat from the Parthian Empire, further east (largely Iran today), who would also have liked to control the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul Before the Sanhedrin

It has been argued that, due to a lack of a plaintiff argument, the Sanhedrin proceedings were informal.[1] However, strictly speaking Claudius Lysias, the Roman tribune who commanded the Roman army in the Antonia and second in authority only to Felix, called the court together. How informal could that have been? Whether the intention was to hear Paul as a kind of grand jury to determine whether or not Paul had committed a crime or whether the court was convened in the manner in which Festus had thought to do in Acts 25:9 is uncertain. Nevertheless, a formal hearing was called, and judging from the cry of innocence by some of the members of the court (Acts 23:9), it functioned as either an authentic trial on Paul’s life or as a kind of grand jury. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Who Was the High Priest in 56 AD?

Josephus offers us a list of the Jewish high priests extending from the Hasmonians to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Dating them for the most part is not very difficult, if one follows along in his history of the Jewish people, and if one compares his work with the works of others that concern common personalities such as Roman emperors, and the presidents of Syria and governors of Judea etc. There are, however, difficult places in the list that are a bit confusing, where a strict reading leads to contradictions. One of those places in the list occurs when Paul was taken captive by the Romans cir. 56 AD. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul, the Roman Citizen

The Jews reaction to Paul’s statement that he was being sent far away to the gentiles, is a bit controversial. “Away with him!” they cried, punctuating their words by “throwing dust into the air and “casting off their clothes” (Acts 22:23). The Greek for “casting off” is rhipeto (G4496). Are we to understand them as casting aside their cloths (outer robes) in order to stone Paul (cp. Acts 7:57-58), to shake the dust from their outer garments as a gesture of contempt (cp. Acts 13:51), or to tear their cloths as a gesture of astonishment when witnessing the utterance of blasphemy (cp. Mark 14:63-64)? Any one of these suggested propositions could be true, but whichever one is the truth, it was clearly evident to all that the crowd was hostile to Paul and was out for his blood. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul’s First Defense

With the Roman fortress behind him and the Temple of God before him, in chains and surrounded by a Jewish mob crying out for his death and Roman soldiers holding him in a precarious protective custody, Paul began his first of four final addresses. This one is before his countrymen, the Jews. I already discussed Paul’s main defense in a previous blog, but I wish to emphasize the logic behind Paul’s defense in this one. The mob grew silent as Paul lifted his hand in a gesture to speak, and when he spoke in Hebrew, the silence became even more pronounced (Acts 22:1-2). Paul’s defense was a simple narration of his life from birth to his embracing Messianic Judaism and his vision of Jesus in the Temple of God. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul’s Defense—“I am a Jew!”

After Paul was seized and taken from the Temple compound, the gates of the Temple were shut, presumably to undergo purification rites over the assumption that a gentile had entered into the forbidden area beyond the great wall, which separated the court of the gentiles from the court of the Jews. Josephus tells us that a sign had been placed on the wall forbidding anyone of any other race to enter the inner Temple courts under pain of immediate execution.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul in Chains

Paul had agreed to seek to rectify the slanderous report made against him that he was a renegade Jew, i.e. that he was teaching Jews of the Diaspora to forsake the Law of Moses by not walking according to the manner of the Torah and by ceasing to circumcise their children (Acts 21:21-24). When his seven-day service was nearly complete, Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and stirred up the people against him and seized him with the intent to kill him (Acts 21:27-28, 31). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul in the Image of Christ

Another perspective of Paul’s presence in Jerusalem beginning with Acts 21 would recall that of Jesus during his final week before his crucifixion. The Hellenist Jewish community was disappointed with Jesus (John 12:34), just as the Hebraic believing community at Jerusalem was disappointed with Paul’s ministry among the Diaspora (Acts 21:20-21). Both Jesus and Paul were misunderstood and rejected by those to whom they were sent. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Overview of Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem

Paul had intended to be in Jerusalem by the Passover but was prevented in doing so when a plot against his life was uncovered (Acts 20:3). His second plan was to be there by Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Obviously, he would have more time to spare on his journey than if his first plan was fruitful. Since he spent the winter months at Corinth (Acts 20:3; cp. 1Corinthians 16:6), he would have been ready to embark from there to the Province of Syria in late February or the first week in March. However, due to the plot on his life Paul spent three or four weeks journeying through Achaia and Macedonia visiting the churches there and didn’t set sail from Philippi until after the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Gospel, Paul's 3rd missionary journey

 

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Paul’s Mixed Reception at Jerusalem

One might expect, given the reason for Paul’s visit to Jerusalem was to bring an offering from the gentile churches scattered across Europe and Asia for the Judean poor, that he might have been received more cordially by the Jews in the Holy City, but this was definitely not the case. Moreover, all the blame cannot fall simply upon the unbelieving community. In fact, Luke hardly makes mention of the offering, pointing it out only in passing at Acts 24:17.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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