24:10 When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11 since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13 Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia— 19 who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21 other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”
Paul's defense has four components. It is simple and logical. First he expresses how glad he is to be in front in an experienced judge who can easily verify the facts.
Fact #1 - Yes I came to Jerusalem 12 days ago but I did not lead any kind of public meeting, much less incite a riot.
Fact #2 - Yes I belong to the Way in accordance with all the teachings of the Law and the Prophets.
Fact #3 - I was in the temple quietly bringing alms and presenting my offerings when men from Asia accused me, men who are conspicuous by their absence here today. If they have something against they should be here to present it.
Fact #4 - The only thing the council has against me is my statement that I believe in the resurrection of the dead.
In the case of traffic violations we have the option to contest the charges in court. If the officer who made the charges is not present for the proceedings the case is dropped and you are free to go. Paul's accusers who incited the riot in the temple are not present. Isn't that odd? Tertullus and the Council had 5 days to gather witnesses and put together as solid a case as possible. What happened?
We aren't told specifically but we can guess. The accusations hurled at Paul in the temple that day were false. He never started a single riot in Asia. There were public disturbances but they were never caused by him. The most serious one was in Ephesus which was incited by the silversmiths because they were losing business after the decline in idol worship.
To bring those liars to court would have been legal suicide so Tertullus left them home. Paul pointed out their obvious absence.
Without their presence the only accusation left against him was about the resurrection, and argument the Council wanted to avoid because half believed and the other half did not.
There is a beauty in innocence. No strategy is needed. No clever rearranging of the facts is necessary. No flattery is required. No lies need inventing.
Don't get me wrong. Innocence does not guarantee vindication. That's not the beauty I speak of. I am referring to the beauty of innocence itself. Even when falsely accused and falsely found "guilty" innocence is still innocence. No amount of false justice can make an innocent person guilty. Jesus was killed by a mob and a mockery of justice but He was still the spotless Lamb.
Seek to live a life of innocence so that when the spotlight is turned on you and accusations fly your defense can be clear, simple, and concise because there is nothing to hide.
"As much as it is possible with you, live at peace with all men."
Tomorrow we'll find out what happened next...