Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year: Acts 21-24 for Nov 24

In view of the spate of interest in the Roman Empire, Acts 21-24 reads like a plot for another great drama. There is plenty of drama (22:23), conflict (21:11,21-22), violence (21:31-36), flight (22:18), religious fanaticism (23:12-15), and the providential handling of these things (23:16). There's even government bureaucratic delay (24:25).

As far as speeches go, that of Paul to his accusers in Jerusalem is of a pattern with Stephen's in Acts 7. People will listen to lots of detailed facts, but if they include some sort of mirror of accusation back on the listeners (7:53), or the putting of the listeners in a relatively unfavorable light (22:21), the listening stops and the opposition often ensues.

Again the pax Romana is in evidence here (21:32), although it is not always "right-on" (21:38). In these chapters, Paul's rescue from Jerusalem's religious leaders is enabled through Paul's nephew (23:16), but it is actually brokered through a Roman centurion and a Roman commander, "Claudius Lysias" (23:26). We sense some fairness, along with an incredulity, in the secular arm (23:29).

In the case of the secular governor, Felix, his response to Paul is like a man who can point each eye separately. One eye views Christianity more exactly (24:22). But with the other eye, he summons Paul to preach to him, but hopes Paul will give him money (24:26)! Politics trumping knowledge ensues, and Felix passes from the scene.

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