Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned to him to speak, answered…
The simplest analysis of the defense which Paul here made for himself is its highest praise. The matter of it must be closely dependent upon the occasion, but the characteristics of its method must be good for all occasion, and imitable to all generations. Notice in this defense -
I. ITS ADDRESS TO THE JUDGE, UNGARNISHED BY A HOLLOW COMPLIMENT. The contrast which is presented in this respect to the introduction of Tertullus speaks for itself. There is here nothing, but simple truth.
II. THE HONEST BUSINESSLIKE POINTEDNESS WITH WHICH IT PROCEEDS TO ITS ONE TASK. "I do the more cheerfully answer for myself," says Paul. He could never answer for himself with hope of any ordinary justice before a council of his own people. But now, while this is his one task to answer for himself, and he takes to it immediately, he does not refrain from saying that there are aspects of the case which enable him to throw himself with spirit into his work.
III. ITS ENTIRE ABSTINENCE FROM ANYTHING BEARING THE REMOTEST RESEMBLANCE TO ABUSE OF HIS ACCUSERS. Paul denies the allegations laid to his charge, shows to an experienced judge that there was very little time in which the things alleged could possibly have occurred, and challenges, by a direct contradiction, the ability of his highly respectable accusers to prove their assertions and make out their charges. But through all there is not a word that sounds like "pestilent fellow," or "sedition," or "ringleader."
IV. ITS DIRECT PENETRATING TO WHAT LAY AT THE HEART OF THE MATTER. This was a difference "in the way of worshipping God." The keen Roman judge (and Paul knew it and correctly took advantage of his knowledge) was not likely to be so very anxious to lend the force of Roman law and a Roman executive to the mere bidding of Jewish bigotry and ecclesiasticism.
V. ITS HONORING BEFORE ONE WHO KNEW LITTLE AND THOUGHT LESS OF IT, CONSCIENCE TILE FOUNDATION PRINCIPLE OF ALL RELIGION. Paul does not blow contempt upon the truths or methods of religion, even in that shape of religion least understood or honored by Felix, revealed religion. He declares:
1. His conscience.
2. His living constant care of it.
3. His acknowledgment of the necessity of training it to correctness and to vigor.
4. His recognition of its twofold duty,
(1) toward God and
(2) toward man. In all this, there can be no doubt that Paul honored his God, his religion, and his individual conscience, with no hope of any deep sympathy, on the part of Felix indeed, but also without any tear of the high priest Ananias again daring to order them to "smite him on the mouth."
VI. ITS VERY EVIDENT BUT NONE TITLE LESS CONSUMMATE STROKE OF POLICY, IN POINTING TO THE FACT OF THE STRANGE ABSENCE OF SOME WITNESSES, AND TILE STRANGER SILENCE OF OTHERS ALTHOUGH THEY WERE PRESENT. Paul calls attention to the fact that these two things speak for themselves. And finally challenges once more contradiction of this position, that he had not been the originator of any disturbance whatever, much less seditious disturbance in Jerusalem, unless his famous interpolation, "Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day," could be interpreted as such. But Paul knew this challenge could not be taken up, both because the Pharisees sided with him in the matter on the very occasion, and because the disturbance was one as between the rival theologies of the Jews, and not as between mere civilians. The correctness, cogency, calmness, of this defense made up its masterly convincingness. There could be no doubt which party had the moral victory of the day. There can be no doubt of the fallen countenances of Ananias and elders and Tertullus. And there can be no doubt that, in this very defense, the accused Christian may hear to the end of the world words not altogether unlike these: "After this manner, therefore, defend ye yourselves." - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: