Reading for Wednesday, May 9: Acts 24
It’s interesting to note that, although Luke devotes considerable space to Paul’s legal battles, he ultimately offers no resolution to the matter. From a literary point of view, this isn’t particularly good writing. Imagine a John Grisham novel with copious courtroom scenes without a final verdict of the main character’s guilt or innocence. But that’s the point Luke is making: Paul is an exemplary model of faithfulness to Jesus. So, in the big picture, Luke doesn’t really CARE what Rome has to say about Paul — what matters is his faithfulness to Christ. And in this final analysis, Paul is a tremendous example — maybe even our best example — of following Jesus. This is why Paul will tell the Corinthians to imitate him. “Therefore, I urge you to imitate me,” (1 Cor. 4.16); “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” (1 Cor. 11.1).
Paul’s defense before Felix validates the consistency of the New Testament with the Old. Jesus stands as the fulfillment to every promise of God to His people. “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust,” (Acts 24:14-15). Paul doesn’t see Christianity as a religious upstart, a clean break from Judaism. Rather, Paul understands Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the One who fulfills both Law and Prophecy and ushers in God’s Kingdom reign. Despite his advocacy for Gentile inclusion, Paul remains committed to the fulfillment of the distinctly “Jewish” promises of the Old Testament. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him,” (2 Cor. 1.20).