Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Acts 24 - Sedition, justice and the Romans


Paul before Felix, showing St Paul on trial before Felix, governor of Caesarea; the Saint to right, Felix and two priests on a dais, one sitting, asleep, beside the governor, two clerks in front of the bench at which St Paul stands, a figure with the Roman standard and a scroll to left, a soldier to right and two figures carrying fascae either side of the dais; state before quotation from Warton included and date earsed.  1752 Etching and engraving
William Hogarth, Paul before Felix (etching, 1752)
Source: British Museum, Print by Luke Sullivan

Acts 24
 Five days later the high priest Ananias came down, accompanied by some of the elders and by an advocate named Tertullus; these appeared before the governor against Paul. 2 So, when Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began his indictment thus. Such is the peace thou hast enabled us to enjoy, so many wrongs have been righted for us through thy wisdom, 3 that always and everywhere, most noble Felix, we are ready to acknowledge it with grateful hearts. 4 But I must not weary thee with more of this; what we ask of thy courtesy is no more than a brief audience. 5 Here is a man who is known to us as a pestilent mover of sedition among Jews all over the world, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, 6 who has not scrupled to attempt a violation of the temple. We arrested him, and had intended to try him according to our own law, 7 when the captain, Lysias, came and took him out of our hands, with great violence, 8 and insisted that his accusers must appear before thee. Interrogate him thyself, and thou wilt be able to learn the truth about all the accusations we bring against him.9 And the Jews, for their part, supported the indictment, alleging that all this was the truth.
Post quinque autem dies descendit princeps sacerdotum Ananias, cum senioribus quibusdam, et Tertullo quodam oratore, qui adierunt præsidem adversus Paulum. 2 Et citato Paulo cœpit accusare Tertullus, dicens: Cum in multa pace agamus per te, et multa corrigantur per tuam providentiam, 3 semper et ubique suscipimus, optime Felix, cum omni gratiarum actione. 4 Ne diutius autem te protraham, oro, breviter audias nos pro tua clementia. 5 Invenimus hunc hominem pestiferum, et concitantem seditiones omnibus Judæis in universo orbe, et auctorem seditionis sectæ Nazarenorum: 6 qui etiam templum violare conatus est, quem et apprehensum voluimus secundum legem nostram judicare. 7 Superveniens autem tribunus Lysias, cum vi magna eripuit eum de manibus nostris, 8 jubens accusatores ejus ad te venire: a quo poteris ipse judicans, de omnibus istis cognoscere, de quibus nos accusamus eum. 9 Adjecerunt autem et Judæi, dicentes hæc ita se habere.

Chrysostom (Homily 50): See how this man also from the very outset with his praises seeks to gain the judge beforehand.... And see how he would put up the judge to a desire of punishing, seeing he had here an opportunity to coerce the man that turned the world upside down! ...see how maliciously they calumniate him: (found him), as if he had been always giving them the slip, and with difficulty they had succeeded in getting him: though he had been seven days in the Temple!
10 Then the governor made a sign to bid Paul speak, and he answered, I am the more emboldened to make my defence, because I know well that thou hast been a judge over this nation for many years. 11 Thou hast the means of assuring thyself that it is only twelve days since I came up to Jerusalem, to worship there. 12 They have never found me raising controversy, or bringing a crowd together, either in the temple, or in the synagogues, or in the open city; 13 nor can they produce any proof of the charges they bring against me. 14 But this I admit to thee, that in worshipping God, my Father, I follow what we call the way, and they call a sect. I put my trust in all that is written in the law and the prophets, 15 sharing before God the hope they have too, that the dead will rise again, both just and unjust. 16 To that end I, like them, am at pains to keep my conscience clear of offence towards God or man, at all times.  
Respondit autem Paulus (annuente sibi præside dicere): Ex multis annis te esse judicem genti huic sciens, bono animo pro me satisfaciam. 11 Potes enim cognoscere quia non plus sunt mihi dies quam duodecim, ex quo ascendi adorare in Jerusalem: 12 et neque in templo invenerunt me cum aliquo disputantem, aut concursum facientem turbæ, neque in synagogis, neque in civitate: 13 neque probare possunt tibi de quibus nunc me accusant. 14 Confiteor autem hoc tibi, quod secundum sectam quam dicunt hæresim, sic deservio Patri et Deo meo, credens omnibus quæ in lege et prophetis scripta sunt: 15 spem habens in Deum, quam et hi ipsi exspectant, resurrectionem futuram justorum et iniquorum. 16 In hoc et ipse studeo sine offendiculo conscientiam habere ad Deum et ad homines semper
 Chrys:  This is not the language of flattery, his testifying to the judge's justice: no, the adulation was rather in that speech of the orator...What Paul sought was justice.
17 After some years’ absence I came up to bring alms to the men of my own race, and certain offerings. 18 It was when I had just made these offerings and had been purified in the temple, that I was found there, no crowd about me, no rioting, by whom? 19 By some Jews from Asia, who ought to be here, standing in thy presence, if they had any quarrel with me. 20 In default of that, it is for those who are here to give their own account of what blame they found in me, when I stood before the Council; 21 unless it were over one single utterance, when I cried out, standing there among them, If I am on my trial before you to-day, it is because of the resurrection of the dead.
Post annos autem plures eleemosynas facturus in gentem meam, veni, et oblationes, et vota, 18 in quibus invenerunt me purificatum in templo: non cum turba, neque cum tumultu. 19 Quidam autem ex Asia Judæi, quos oportebat apud te præsto esse, et accusare si quid haberent adversum me: 20 aut hi ipsi dicant si quid invenerunt in me iniquitatis cum stem in concilio, 21 nisi de una hac solummodo voce qua clamavi inter eos stans: Quoniam de resurrectione mortuorum ego judicor hodie a vobis.
 22 Felix, who had full information about this way, reserved judgement; I will give you a hearing, he said, when Lysias, the captain, has come down here. 23 And he gave orders to the centurion that Paul was to be kept safely, but left at his ease, and that any of his friends should be given liberty to minister to him. 24 And some days afterwards, when Felix was there with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and listened to his message about faith in Jesus Christ. 25 When he spoke of justice, and continence, and of the judgement that is to come, Felix was terrified; 
Distulit autem illos Felix, certissime sciens de via hac, dicens: Cum tribunus Lysias descenderit, audiam vos. 23 Jussitque centurioni custodire eum, et habere requiem, nec quemquam de suis prohibere ministrare ei. 24 Post aliquot autem dies veniens Felix cum Drusilla uxore sua, quæ erat Judæa, vocavit Paulum, et audivit ab eo fidem quæ est in Christum Jesum. 25 Disputante autem illo de justitia, et castitate, et de judicio futuro, tremefactus Felix,  
Chrys (Homily 51): And observe Paul, how, though reasoning with a ruler, he says nothing of the sort that was likely to amuse and entertain, but (he reasoned, it says,) of righteousness, and of the coming judgment, and of the resurrection. And such was the force of his words, that they even terrified the governor. This man is succeeded in his office by another, and he leaves Paul a prisoner: and yet he ought not to have done this; he ought to have put an end to the business: but he leaves him, by way of gratifying them....

And his wife also hears, together with the governor: This seems to me to show great honor. For he would not have brought his wife to be present with him at the hearing, but that he thought great things of him. It seems to me that she also longed for this. And observe how Paul immediately discourses not only about faith, nor about remission of sins, but also about practical points of duty.
No more of this for the present, he said, I will send for thee when I can find leisure. 26 At the same time, he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe, and for that reason sent for him often, and courted his company. 27 So two years passed; then Porcius Festus came as successor to Felix; and Felix, who wished to ingratiate himself with the Jews, left Paul in prison.
 respondit: Quod nunc attinet, vade: tempore autem opportuno accersam te: 26 simul et sperans quod pecunia ei daretur a Paulo, propter quod et frequenter accersens eum, loquebatur cum eo. 27 Biennio autem expleto, accepit successorem Felix Portium Festum. Volens autem gratiam præstare Judæis Felix, reliquit Paulum vinctum.
Chrys: Observe on all occasions how the governors try to keep off from themselves the annoyance of the Jews, and are often compelled to act contrary to justice, and seek pretexts for deferring: for of course it was not from ignorance that he deferred the cause, but knowing it.

...Observe his hardness of heart: hearing such things, he hoped that he should receive money from him!  And not only so, but even after conversing with him— for it was towards the end of his government— he left him bound, willing to show the Jews a pleasure...

From Homily 50:

Let us imitate him, since he also was an imitator of Christ. If he, with enemies, who went even to the length of murder and slaughter, said nothing offensive to them, what pardon shall we deserve, who in reviling and abuse become infuriated, calling our enemies villains, detestable wretches? ...

Keep free from passion, keep unwounded: do not, by wishing to smite another, bring the hurt upon yourself. What, is the other tumult of our soul not enough for us, the tumult that is stirred up, though there be none to stir it up— for example, its outrageous lusts, its griefs and sorrows, and such like— but we must needs heap up a pile of others also?

And how, you will say, is it possible, when one is insulted and abused, to bear this? And how is it not possible, I ask?

Is a wound got from words; or do words inflict bruises on our bodies? Then where is the hurt to us? So that, if we will, we can bear it. Let us lay down for ourselves a law not to grieve, and we shall bear it: let us say to ourselves, It is not from enmity; it is from infirmity— for it is indeed owing to an infirmity, since, for proof that it comes not from enmity nor from malignity of disposition, but from infirmity, the other also would fain have restrained (his anger), although he had suffered numberless wrongs.... 

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