Public enemy number one…
A threat to all humanity as we know it…
A person who has turned the world upside down…
Yet this was Paul, a humble man who was a helpless prisoner of the world’s most extensive empire. Was he really all that dangerous?
In Acts 24, the political ruler refused to hear Paul because he knew he himself to be a sinful man. The religious leaders refused to hear Paul because they thought themselves to be righteous men.
Both the religious and political systems viewed Paul as a plague. Paul must have loved this description of himself. He wanted nothing more than to spread Christianity everywhere and to cause trouble to the religious position that he had once helped to spread.
In reality, it was the cure for the plague of sin that Paul carried with him everywhere he went, turning both idolatrous men and those who trusted in the law for their righteousness upside down. Paul carried an antidote for the ails of mankind—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul was never afraid to shake things up, always willing to speak the truth without apology. And, yet, he was always striving to present himself beyond reproach, so that no man (nor even God) could point the finger and say, “That is wrong.” Even though Paul tried to live that way, still they were accusing him before the governor.
The Jews had hired a professional speaker and brought him all the way to the trial to accuse Paul in his trial before Felix. Paul defended himself wisely, but in the end, he fell back on the core of his message. What he was being accused of was believing in the resurrection of the dead.
It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ (which Paul believed was foretold in the Old Testament) which was his hope of being resurrected himself as a righteous man, standing in faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.
It was the resurrection of every living man and woman, just and unjust, to stand in judgment before God that caused him to fear God and to live uprightly on this earth.
Ultimately, Felix heard Paul again and was concerned when he spoke of this coming judgment. Felix had a bad motive—he hoped to receive a bribe from Paul. He refused Paul’s message.
The Jews had a bad motive too. They wanted to shut Paul up so they could maintain the positions of power they had made for themselves.
Ultimately, Paul stayed there in prison for two years. We might think this a terrible price to pay for the gospel. Paul might think it a small price to pay for the privilege of being a righteous plague.