12: Confinement in Caesarea – Discussion Starters

  1. Before Felix. Imagine you are Paul, called to face an attorney hired by people who don’t like anything you’ve been doing. In short, they hate you. The attorney, Tertullus, is also a Roman governor and is the first to take your case to make you appear to be in obvious violation of customs in Caesarea. Imagine Tertullus opening an impressive document, fingering down the page and then stopping to announce that he had found more than one reason to find Paul guilty of violating Roman law.

  2. The charges. The first charge Tertullus made was that Paul was a noisy troublemaker. Was that true? Is it true that wherever Paul went, the Jews were stirred up to disagree with him? Of course, Tertullus thundered, everyone knew that Paul was a ringleader of the Nazarenes and thus part of a highly disruptive Christian organization. And finally, Tertullus charged Paul with defiling the temple. Was Paul likely to have a fair hearing under Felix?

  3. The response. How did Paul respond to these chilling accusations by Jews who were out to get him? Do you think Paul was ready to resign himself to being charged with crimes he did not commit or accept accusations that were false? Or was he preparing for a stronger fight? In either case, how was it that Paul ended up spending two long years in prison while Felix, more or less ignored him? Who took Felix’s place as the governor of Judea?

  4. The plan. Ambush. Murder. Deceit. Why did Felix put Paul in prison? What did Felix’s successor, Festus, do about this turn in events? Is it true that the officials leading the charge against Paul agreed that they wanted him dead, in whatever way that could be justified? How could Paul be seen as a threat to the Roman empire at that time? How did Paul put pressure on his accusers so that he could end up appealing to the Roman emperor himself?

  5. Rome it is. Just another Roman official? How did King Agrippa play into this drama? First, we see Agrippa at the auditorium stage. Then we see his royal wife Bernice. And we see Paul and Festus. What is Paul wearing—a crown, a walking stick, or chains? Putting Festus’s words into your own style, describe what you know (or don’t know) about what he wants the king to do to Paul. Are you surprised by the candor and even humility shown by Festus? Why or why not?

  6. Paul’s speech. Now Paul has the opportunity to speak to King Agrippa. Does he succeed in winning the king’s favor? Share with your class the key elements of Paul’s speech to the king. How was he able to change the argument against him from an accusation of violating Jewish law to a shared conviction that all Gentiles who chose to accept the crucifixion of Jesus as a crowning act in the gospel story had full access to eternal salvation?

  7. Almost thou persuadest me… Remember the first time you heard the part of Paul’s story when King Agrippa, probably tossing half a dozen ideas around in his head, speaks out—or stammers—“Almost thou persuadest me to be Christian.”  Almost. Have you ever presented a gospel truth and listened to your heart pounding as the person says, “You know, you have a good point there. I can’t accept the whole thing the way you presented it, but yes, you do have a point.” What next?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons