Let Us Be Heard

Earl E. Robertson
Xenia, Ohio

Luke, the inspired historian, reveals many things about the apostle Paul and his Roman citizenship. Felix was a Roman procurator of Judea, appointed by the emperor Claudius. Felix was introduced in the book of Acts due to a riot at. Jerusalem (Acts 21:27). These Asiatic Jews alleged that Paul taught falsely and had profaned the temple. Paul was charged on religious grounds and ser& to Caesarea for trial before Felix. During his trial Tertullus testified and Paul spoke in his own defense. Felix deferred judgment. After two years "Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound." When Festus, went to Jerusalem the Jews sought to influence him against Paul. They wanted him brought from Caesarea to Jerusalem for trial (but really wanted to kill him on the way). Paul knowing that he should be tried in Caesarea made his appeal unto Caesar. In the meantime King Agrippa and Bernice had come to Caesarea. Festus informs the king about Paul. He tells Agrippa and the Sanhedrin "ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer" (Acts 25:24).

Paul's Permission To Speak

Here Luke informs us the king said, "Thou art permitted to speak for thyself." Paul thought himself "happy" in that he had the right to give answer for himself. His accusers had been heard and understood. He can now answer their charges for himself. Realizing both the political and the religious feelings and situations, Paul considered himself blessed or fortunate. This word is used about fifty times in the New Testament, with Jesus using it about thirty of these, and Paul about eleven. Considering the prejudice within the Jews, and their political pressure on the Romans, Paul feels himself fortunate for this opportunity. Before he could be condemned, he had the right to speak for himself-he had the right to be heard! Even Fe8tU8 would grant him this right (Acts 25:16).

How Is It In The Kingdom?

Now this lesson has its counterpart in the Lord's church today. Often the world deals more honestly with the Lord's people than some Christians do with one another. This ought not so to be (Phil. 2: 3, 4). Christians should especially do good toward one another (Gal. 6: 10). In the figures, used to illustrate the nature and function of the kingdom of God, also are found the proper attitudes and feelings toward each other as citizens. (Cf. Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:12-27)

Many times some of us have been condemned without a hearing. The courtesy and fairness granted Paul by the Roman court was better than the conduct of some who have been washed in the blood of Christ! We have sought many times to be heard on different issues but only to be denied. Shades of one-sided journalism! Is it that some brethren know they do not have the truth and are unwilling to hear it? Are they afraid that if the brother "speaks for himself" he will be convincing? Some accept hearsay. Festus was "informed" by the Jews and chief priests, but would not render judgment until the accused had been met by the accusers face to face (Acts 24:14-21). If this should be the action and attitude of brethren today, one would see bigger men; men walking unafraid. But it is not the way some have chosen to live. Men dedicated to God and the truth of God, along with good churches have been castigated and ditched without even a notice much less a hearing!

April 15, 1971