“Within five days, the Chief Priest Ananias arrived with a contingent of leaders, along with Tertullius, a trial lawyer. They presented the governor with their case against Paul. When Paul was called before the court, Tertullius spoke for the prosecution: ‘Most Honourable Felix, we are most grateful in all times and places for your wise and gentle rule. We are much aware that it is because of you and you alone that we enjoy this peace and gain daily profit from your reforms. I’m not going to tire you out with a long speech. I beg your kind indulgence in listening to me. I’ll be quite brief.

“‘We’ve found this man time and again disturbing the peace, stirring up riots against Jews all over the world, the ringleader of a seditious sect called Nazarenes. He’s a real bad apple, I must say. We caught him trying to defile our holy Temple and arrested him. You’ll be able to verify all these accusations when you examine him yourself.’

“The Jews joined in: ‘Hear! Hear! That’s right!'” Acts 24:1-9 (The Message).

It wasn’t long before the big guns arrived in Caesarea along with their lawyer, Tertullius, a Roman by his name or possibly a Jew with a Roman name.. This scenario and the circumstances surrounding Paul’s arrest and trial seem to be following a pattern, reminiscent of what happened to his Master.

We wait with baited breath to hear the charge, lies skilfully woven by a clever and unscrupulous lawyer and wrapped in words of syrupy flattery designed to butter up the governor and give him a warm fuzzy feeling towards these troublesome Jews. One wonders how Paul felt about Tertullius’ preamble, knowing full well that he was not responsible for the rioting that dogged him from city to city which seems to be the basis for his arrest.

Tertullius should have known that, as a lawyer it was not his prerogative to influence the court on the prisoner’s innocence or guilt. His job was to present the case for the prosecution and allow the court to decide. His so-called “evidence” was nothing but prejudice and hearsay with no witnesses to bolster up his accusations.

It does not take a trained legal mind to shoot holes in this man’s evidence. His presentation was nothing but pronouncements and opinions with no examination of the facts. He accused Paul of stirring up riots, of being the ringleader of a seditious sect, of being a “bad apple” but where were the witnesses and where was the evidence? On what was he basing these statements?

Tertullius was representing men who, like their predecessors, were putting a man on trial for his life on trumped-up charges to satisfy their own prejudice, not because any of their accusations were true. It would take a wise judge to see through their plot and give an impartial verdict based on the evidence presented. One wonders how much Tertullius was paid off to use his training to sway the governor.

It was a case of how much heat and how much light was operating in this court case. Terullius was using all his skills to turn up the heat. If he could whip up enough emotion against Paul, he would win the case and place Paul at the mercy of a governor sympathetic to their cause. It would be up to Paul to enlighten Felix on the facts if he wanted to shake off the lies that were tying him up.

For Felix it was a matter of how clearly he saw through the religious scruples which had set the whole conflagration off. There were times in Paul’s experience when authorities recognised the issue to be nothing but Jewish religious squabbles and would have nothing to do with them. Would Felix recognise that what lay behind this auspicious group of religious hierarchy was nothing but petty nit-picking?

Strange as it may seem, it was the accusers who were on trial, not the accused. Every false accusation they made exposed their own wicked hearts and laid them open to the verdict of guilty, which they so desperately wanted Felix to pass on their enemy, Paul.

Luella Campbell

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