“But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he (Paul) be kept in custody but should have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came and his wife Drusilla, who is a Jewess; and he sent for Paul and heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus.” (Acts 24:22-24). Faith’ in the Acts of The Apostles.
The testing of Paul’s faith from his testimony of the previous 12th occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Acts is fraught with life and death defense. Since his ‘Farewell Speech’ given to the Elders of Ephesus he has stopped in Tyre where not only the disciples there, but the Judean ecstatic Agabus warns Paul not to go to Jerusalem for, “so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”
The question of ‘The Law’ is still not settled in Jerusalem. ‘The Way— the church’ is even further still from securing it’s own identity as it continues a defining struggle inside Judaism. James, now in leadership assembled the elders to receive Paul upon his arrival. He, too, still loyal to ‘The Law’ fears for Paul’s life as they devise a plan: “take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but you yourself live in observance to the law.”
Can’t exactly put my hands on the whys of Paul following this plan devised by man, particularly when he ‘is’ in my thinking the original recipient of The Holy Spirit. I know, I know, we can debate Pentecost, but it is Paul (not the Twelve) who ‘Christ (alizes)’; ‘Christ (ologizes)’ and gives meaning and definition to having received the personal gift of the Holy Spirit through his Damascus experience. And the use, ‘Paul’s use’ of spiritual gifts in giving incarnation to the power of the spirit of Christ. But, while at the Temple following James and the Jerusalem elders’ plan, he is seized, dragged from the Temple and the violence upon his life begins anew.
In all of this the ‘Who I Am’ of Paul emerges into the brightest of lights. We have come upon the 2nd recording of his ‘conversion’; but now in 1st person. He asks the tribune to allow him to speak to the mob that has called for his detainment and in Hebrew he says, “I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day…” Before this ‘Speech From The Steps Of The Fortress’ in Jerusalem is concluded he reminds them of how he persecuted this ‘Way’ delivering them to prison, even carrying letters from the high priest and the whole presbytery as license for this mission of death and destruction. The final response of the mob: “Away with such a man from the earth! For it is not right that he should live.”
It is Jesus who reminds us that a prophet is not without honor, except in his own home. Paul is home and the violence against his life has reached it’s peak. His own people have now decided that it is time for him to die.
Must note before leaving this space that his only relative identified in scripture enters here; his nephew comes to him where he is being held to warn him of the assassination ‘curse’ plot that has been set in motion.
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