FAKE NEWS & APOSTLE PAUL
How Apostles Defend Themselves Against “FAKE NEWS”
DR. KLUANE SPAKE
We hear a lot about Fake News these days!
I’m sure most of you have been accused wrongfully of things… I know I have!!! And it is difficult to know how to respond against the FAKE NEWS. Let’s look at how Apostle Paul defended himself against so many wrong accusations.
In Acts 21, the Apostle Paul was accused of teaching things contrary to the Scripture.
The Jews saw Paul at the temple. “They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, Men of Israel help us! This man teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place…” (27-28).
They accused Paul of defiling the temple with non-Jews. “…And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple are and defiled this place. (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed he had brought him into the temple area)” (28b-29).
The entire city became involved. People were running everywhere. Paul was seized and physically drug from the temple. The Jews tried to beat and kill him. The Roman troops heard the uproar and ran into the crowd to stop the riot and stopped them from beating Paul (vs. 30- 32). “When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried away by the Roman soldiers.” (35).
The Romans arrested Paul and bound him in chains. “Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered Paul be taken into the barracks” (vs. 34). The crowd followed and kept shouting, “Kill him. Away with him!”(vs. 36).
Paul asked to speak to the commander (37a) to get permission to defend himself to the crowd. He spoke to them in their own dialect of Hebrew (40). He told them his testimony about being the bright light from heaven and his own salvation and how Ananias came and rescued him. And he told the crowd how the Lord ultimately sent him to the Gentiles.
Meanwhile, the crowd became even more angered. “Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!’”(vs. 22). They threw their cloaks in the air and dust was everywhere.
The commander order Paul to be returned to the barracks and to be flogged in order to find out why people were shouting at him (vs. 24). Paul told the centurion that it was illegal to flog an innocent Roman citizen (vs. 25), and they ceased that threat. But trouble did not alleviate. Paul then had to defend himself before the Sanhedrin (vs. 30).
Notice how Paul was not intimidated by the false reports and jeering crowds. He looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day” (23:1).
The high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.”-(23:2). Paul responded with an insult, “You whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
The bystanders insisted that he should not have insulted a high priest (vs. 4). Paul agreed that it was wrong to “speak evil about the ruler” (vs. 5). Then, he continued to agitate them and to cause disagreement among them.
“Then Paul knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (6).
“When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) “-verses 7-8
There was a great uproar, and some … Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. We find nothing wrong with this man, they said. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”-verse 9
“THE DISPUTE BECAME SO VIOLENT that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks” (vs. 10).
The next night, the Lord spoke to Paul, “Take courage.”
Now, as if things weren’t bad enough, he was to testify in Rome (vs. 11).
The next day over 40 men made an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul (12-13). The Sanhedrin sent a petition to the commander saying they are also ready to kill Paul (14-15).
Paul’s nephew warned him about the threat. Paul told the centurion and the centurion told the commander that the Sanhedrin were plotting to kill Paul and 40 others are waiting to ambush him – upon the commander’s consent (17-21). The commander said to not tell anyone of the plot.
Claudius, the commander ordered Paul to be transferred to Governor Felix in Caesarea. He was to be guarded by 2 centurions, 200 solders, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen at 9:00 PM that night (vs. 23).
Claudius wrote to Gov. Felix about how he had rescued this Roman citizen named Paul because the Jews were about to kill him. The governor read the letter and ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace (vs. 34).
Chapter 24. Five days later, FAKE NEWS again wrongfully accused Paul. “… the high priest Anaias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor
Tertullus presented his case. “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him… The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true” (vs. 5-9).
Paul Defends Himself. He told them, It is easy to prove that 12 days ago he went to Jerusalem to worship. Nobody heard him arguing with anyone or causing any trouble in the synagogue or anywhere else. “And,” he said, “they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me (vs. 10-13).
Paul admitted that he worships the God of “our fathers.” But he insisted that he was not involved with disturbances. “But, there are some Jews … bring(ing) charges but they have nothing against me … unless it was this one thing concerning the resurrection of the dead” (vs. 14-2).
Felix said when the commander comes, he will decide the case. Paul was placed under guard but given some freedoms to write.
Notice how once again Paul used this circumstance to position himself into a position of influence. He fully utilized his time in prison to write the Gospels that we have today. And to influence the governmental leaders of his day.
Several days later Felix sent for Paul and listened to him speak about his faith. Paul “DISCOURSED ON RIGHTEOUSNESS, SELF-CONTROL AND THE JUDGMENT TO COME,” Felix actually became afraid and sent Paul back to his room. Over the next two years, “he sent for him frequently and talked with him” (vs. 26).
Felix was succeeded by Festus and because the Jews were still angrily spouting off fake accusations, Paul was left in prison (27). Three days later Festus went to Jerusalem, where the priests and leaders presented multiple charges against Paul (1-2). They asked that Paul be moved back to Jerusalem so they could kill him. Festus said they could come to Caesarea and charge him there (vs. 4-5).
Festus returned to Caeserea and ordered Paul to be brought before him at court. “The Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges (MORE FAKE NEWS) against him, which they could not prove” (vs. 6-7).
“Then Paul made his defense: I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar (vs. 8). ‘The charges brought against me by these Jews are NOT TRUE, no one has the right to hand me over to them, I appeal to Caesar!” (This would fulfill the Word of the Lord.)
Festus declared, “To Caesar you will go!”
But, a few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and wanted to talk to Paul. With great pomp, they were given audience. Paul acknowledged that they were acquainted with Jewish customs, and thanked them for listening patiently (vs. 1-3).
Paul told King Agrippa his whole story (vs. 19-23). Then, Festus rudely barges in and interrupts, ‘…You are out of your mind, Paul! he shouted. Your great learning is driving you insane.”P
In spite of all the wicked accusations, the King actually acknowledged that Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian (vs. 28). What a phenomenal opportunity. Paul used every evil intent to turn to good.
The King left saying to Festus, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment… This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” But, Paul knew he had to go to Rome…