Hope on Trial


By Pastor Roger Eng, May 29, 2022

Acts 9:15 (NLT), “… Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

• 20 years after Saul’s conversion, these words come true, as Paul suffers and delivers the Gospel to the King.

Hope on Trial (Acts 24-26)

  1. Felix: Buried Hope

Acts 24:13 (NLT), “These men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing. 14 But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people…” 22 At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” 23 He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.

Acts 24:24 (NLT), A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” 26 He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. 27 After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.

• Governor Felix should have released Paul, but instead he held him in proson for 2 years!

• Felix and his Jewish wife had Bible Study with Paul. They heard all about hope in Jesus Christ. But when Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control, and judgment, Felix was afraid (that means he was under conviction). Felix did not want to be accountable to God.

• Paul’s hope for justice would not come from Felix, it will come at the resurrection.

• It would be good for us to remember that there may not be justice for us at times in this world, but there will be justice for all when Christ returns.

  1. Festus: Blurred Hope

Acts 25:7 (NLT), …the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove. 8 Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,” he said. 9 Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?” 10 But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. 11 If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”

Acts 25:12 (NLT), Festus …replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!” 13 A few days later King Agrippa arrived with his sister, Bernice, to pay their respects to Festus. 14 During their stay of several days, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. “There is a prisoner here,” he told him, “whose case was left for me by Felix… 17 When his accusers came here for the trial, I didn’t delay. I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. 18 But the accusations made against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected. 19 Instead, it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive. 20 I was at a loss to know how to investigate these things…”

• Governor Festus knows it is unjust to leave a Roman citizen in jail without charges and without opportunity to face their accusers.

• Festus blurred the situation by suggesting Paul be re-tried in Jerusalem. So as a last resort, Paul appealed to Caesar. The trial ended quickly.

• Governor Festus, like Felix, he wanted favor with the Jewish leaders who hated Paul. Justice never happens when it ignores the law and plays favorites.

  1. King Agrippa: Bold Hope

Acts 26:6 (NLT), “I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. 7 In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! 8 Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead? 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”

Acts 26:24 (NLT), Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!” 25 But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—” 28 Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” 29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”

• This is the 3rd time Paul gives his testimony.

• Paul boldly invites everyone in the Palace to become a Christian!

• King Agrippa is Jewish, and perhaps close to becoming a Christian. So Paul gives a Jewish apologetic that the resurrected Christ is the Messiah: the hope of Moses, the hope of the Prophets and the hope of Paul, and maybe the hope of the King!

Conclusion: The more people tried to bury the hope of Christ, and blur the hope of Christ, Paul became bolder in the hope of Christ!

• What is Paul’s hope? The Resurrection! Immortality! Christ! Eternal Life!

C.S.Lewis, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”