The Book of Acts: Chapter 25 (pt 6 of 16)

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We have been talking about the new Governor, Festus, and his “trial” with Paul. We will soon notice from Festus’ later actions and conversation with Agrippa and Bernice that Paul’s appeal accomplished several things: For one thing, it immediately suspended Paul’s appearance in front of Festus, which is good! It also took the whole situation out of the hands of Festus, and the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem—That is better! It also gave Paul further protection being in Roman custody, and a safe arrival to Rome—That’s best of all!

There is a strange irony here, though. Before, Paul, could not be dissuaded from going to Jerusalem, now he can’t be persuaded to go back to Jerusalem. Paul had more confidence in receiving justice from a Roman (aka “heathen”) judge than he did in receiving justice from the highest Jewish court in the land. Ironic, don’t you think?

“Several days later, the provincial king Agrippa arrived in Caesarea with wife Bernice to welcome the new governor. Their visit lasted several days, which gave Festus the chance to describe Paul’s case to the king.

“Festus said, ‘Felix left me some unfinished business involving a prisoner named Paul. when I was Jerusalem, I got an earful about him from the chief priests and Jewish elders. They wanted me simply to decide against him, but I informed them that we Romans don’t work that way. We don’t condemn a person accused of a crime unless the accusers present their case in person so the accused has ample opportunity to defend himself against the charge. I arranged for them to come here for a proper hearing. In fact, the first day after I returned to Caesarea, I took my seat in court and heard his case without delay. Contrary to my expectations, the accusers brought no substantial charges against him at all. Instead, they were bickering about their own religious beliefs related to a fellow named Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul claimed was raised to life again. I had no idea how to handle a religious squabble pretending to be a legal case, so I suggested Paul be taken to Jerusalem so he could be triec on Jewish turf, so to speak. But Paul refused, and instead he appealed to be kept in custody so the case could be referred to his Imperial Majesty. So I have held him until we can arrange to send him to the emperor.’

“Agrippa responded, ‘This sounds interesting. I’d like to hear this fellow in person.”

“Festus answered, ‘You will, then. We’ll bring him in tomorrow.’” —Acts 25:13-22

Festus’ first reaction to Paul’s appeal was probably relief. Granted, he could have felt a certain amount of frustration that Paul was able to successfully go over his head by appealing to Caesar, (and undercutting his authority, in particular, his authority to send Paul to Jerusalem, and gain favor with the Jews). But I’m sure there would also be a sense of relief because Festus didn’t have to deal with this thorny problem, anymore. The Jews had nearly demanded that he send Paul to Jerusalem. You know that had to stick in his craw. I mean he is a Roman official and in the eyes of a Roman, “these Jews” were nothing more than subjects to the Throne. Rome put up with them for a long time, but eventually got tired of dealing with them and burned down their temple and kicked them out of Jerusalem.

Even Constantine, who supposedly became of follower of Jesus, was a Roman, first, and did all he could to erase the Jewish history from the Scriptures. For instance, he abolished the Sabbath by officially declaring the Sabbath to be a Jewish holy day, of which the church should have no part. You don’t believe me? Read the actual documents from the meetings of the ecumenical councils called together by Constantine, and specifically the Council of Laodicea, Canon #29, in the middle part of the fourth-century AD, and you will find that the Church explicitly declared the Sabbath to be a Jewish holy day, of which the church should have no part. They declared it would be better to end that practice altogether and begin a new one.

This new day of worship was to take place on the day of the week that Jesus was resurrected: the first day of the week. So, the council declared that meeting together on the seventh day, Saturday, the Shabbat, was to end, and communal worship should occur on a new day—the first day—which was already the standard day of meeting together to worship the most widely accepted, and politically correct, god of the Roman Empire, the Sun God. This is why that day is named Sun-day, because it was the day of worship of the Sun-god—Ra, and this celebration needed a new name to replace Sabbath; and that new name was to be “The Lord’s Day.”

So, what the church has been practicing for 1700 years is not a Sabbath that has been moved by one day, from the seventh to the first; it is an entirely different celebration, established by the Roman Church at the Council of Laodicea in 364 AD, at the direction of the current emperor of Rome, Constantine. This wasn’t done because of a special “vision,” or “Word” from the Lord, it came because a hatred of the Jews.

Now, this isn’t disputed. The heads and religious governments of all the great Christian denominations (Catholics, Protestants, Greek Orthodox, Anglican, and others) agree that what I just told you is true, and that the church long ago stopped observing the Sabbath [although a few hang on to the notion that the Sabbath can be any day we choose, except for the Seventh Day Adventists. On that one point (and only that one), I agree with their teachings].

Now, regarding Paul, his request to see Caesar takes it out of his Festus’ hands. This was Caesar’s problem (and gratefully so). However, as reality set in (or maybe after one of his counselors pointed it out), Festus realized that Paul’s appeal to Caesar put him on the spot. When Paul is indeed brought before Caesar, the Emperor’s first question is going to be, “What are the charges against this man?” That was the problem. There are no charges. All along, there had been accusations that were unproven and untrue. Neither Claudius Lysias, nor the Sanhedrin, nor Felix, nor Festus had ever established any basis for accusing Paul of wrongdoing. Now Paul was going to stand before Caesar and claim his innocence, and since there were no charges against him, Festus (not to mention others) was going to look bad. His first case, and it was already under appeal. Drats.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts


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