(Felix on his throne – Paul in chains – Soldiers holding Paul – Court official standing nearby.)
1st Narrator = The Apostle Paul was seized by Jews in the Temple in Jerusalem because the Jews were angry that Paul was a Christian. As the Jews were beating Paul to death the Roman soldiers under the command of the Tribune Claudius Lysias intervened and arrested Paul. When the Romans realized that Paul was innocent they wanted to release him, but they knew the Jews would kill him. So instead, Claudius Lysias sent Paul to the Governor, Marcus Antonius Felix, under armed escort. That night the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome.”
1st Soldier = (To Felix) Most Excellent Felix, We have brought this man to you for your judgment from the Tribune Claudius Lysias (hand letter to the Court Official)
Felix = (To the Court Official) Read the letter
Court Official = (Tap the staff on the floor X2) “From Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency, Governor Felix. Greetings! This man was seized by some Jews, and they were about to kill him when I arrived with the troops. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen, I removed him to safety. Then I took him to their high council to try to find out what he had done. I soon discovered it was something regarding their religious law—certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death. But when I was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you. I have told his accusers to bring their charges before you.”
Felix = (To Paul) What province are you from?
Paul = (To Felix) I am Paul of Tarsus of the province of Cilicia.
Felix = (To Paul) I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive. (To the Soldiers) Put Paul in the dungeon in Herod’s Palace.
(Felix on his throne – Court official standing nearby – Ananias & the Jewish Elders & Tertullus before Felix.)
2nd Narrator = Five days later the Jewish High Priest Ananias, some Elders of the Sanhedrin and their lawyer are granted an audience before Governor Felix to present their case against the Apostle Paul.
Felix = (To Ananias) You may speak
Ananias = (To Felix) Most Excellent Felix, We have come to present our charges against the troublemaker Paul.
Felix = (To the Court Official) Bring in the prisoner
Court Official = (Tap the staff on the floor X2) Bring in the Prisoner, Paul of Tarsus of the province of Cilicia.
Soldiers = (Bring Paul in)
Felix = (To Ananias) High Priest, you may proceed with the charges.
Ananias = (To Felix – motioning to Tertullus) Most Excellent Felix, may I present the Lawyer Tertullus, he will present our case.
Tertullus = (To Felix and the whole Court) Your Excellency, you have given peace to us Jews and have enacted reforms for us. And for all of this we are very grateful to you. But lest I bore you, kindly give me your attention for only a moment as I briefly outline our case against this man. For we have found him to be a troublemaker, a man who is constantly inciting the Jews throughout the world to riots and rebellions against the Roman government. He is a ringleader of the sect known as the Nazarenes. Moreover he was trying to defile the Temple when we arrested him. You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.
Ananias & the Jewish Elders = (Chime in, Yes, Yes, its true etc.)
Felix = (To Paul) What do you have to say to these charges?
Paul = (To Felix and the whole Court) I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs for many years, and this gives me confidence as I make my defense. You can quickly discover that it was no more than twelve days ago that I arrived in Jerusalem to worship at the Temple. I didn’t argue with anyone in the Temple, nor did I incite a riot in any synagogue or on the streets of the city. These men certainly cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing.
But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a sect. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the books of prophecy. I have hope in God, just as these men do, that he will raise both the righteous and the ungodly. Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else.
After several years away, I returned to Jerusalem with money to aid my people and to offer sacrifices to God. My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was completing a purification ritual. There was no crowd around me and no rioting. But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me! Ask these men here what wrongdoing the Jewish high council found in me, except for one thing I said when I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’”
Ananias, Tertullus & Jewish Elders = (Chime in, No, No, it’s a lie etc.)
Felix = (To the whole Court) Silence! Okay, that’s enough for now. We will reconvene this trial when Claudius Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” I want you to keep the prisoner Paul in custody but give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs.
(Felix on his throne – Drusilla seated next to him – Court official standing nearby.)
1st Narrator = The Governor has heard from Claudius Lysias and even though he knows Paul is innocent he will not release him because he wants to please the Jews he governs. Felix’s Jewish wife, Julia Drusilla the great-granddaughter of King Herod the Great, wants to hear Paul’s defense for herself.
Felix = (To Drusilla) Drusilla, you should enjoy listening to this man, Paul.
Drusilla = (To Felix) I’ve been looking forward to hearing his ravings, my husband.
Felix = (To Drusilla) It’s quite obvious he’s crazy, but as we found out from Tribune Lysias, he’s also innocent.
Drusilla = (To Felix) You aren’t thinking of letting him go free?
Felix = (To Drusilla) Of course not, I know how much that would anger your people. Of course if he bribed me with enough money I’d let him go. (Turn to the Court Official.) Bring him in.
Court Official = (Tap the staff on the floor X2) Bring in the prisoner.
Soldiers = (Bring Paul in)
Felix = (To Paul) You may speak
Paul = (To Felix & Drusilla) The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them prosper in Egypt. Then he powerfully led them out of their slavery. He put up with them through forty years of wandering around in the wilderness. Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. After that, judges ruled until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. But God removed him from the kingship and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, “David son of Jesse is a man after my own heart, for he will do everything I want him to.”
And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel! But before he came, John the Baptist preached the need for everyone in Israel to turn from sin and turn to God and be baptized. As John was finishing his ministry he asked, “Do you think I am the Messiah? No! But he is coming soon—and I am not even worthy to be his slave.”
This salvation is for us! The people in Jerusalem and their leaders fulfilled prophecy by condemning Jesus to death. They didn’t recognize him or realize that he is the one the prophets had written about, though they hear the prophets’ words read every Sabbath. They found no just cause to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.
When they had fulfilled all the prophecies concerning his death, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead! And he appeared over a period of many days to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem—these are his witnesses to the people of Israel.
God’s promise to our ancestors has come true in our own time, in that God raised Jesus. This is what the second psalm is talking about when it says concerning Jesus, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.”
For God had promised to raise him from the dead, never again to die. This is stated in the Scripture that says, ‘I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.’ Another psalm explains more fully, saying, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.’ Now this is not a reference to David, for after David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried, and his body decayed. No, it was a reference to someone else—someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay.
Please listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God—something the Jewish law could never do. Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said, “Look you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”
2nd Narrator = The Apostle Paul continued to reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, and Felix was terrified.
Felix = (Look scared, then say to Paul) Go away for now, when it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.
2nd Narrator = Felix hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him frequently. Two years went by in this way; then Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish leaders, he left Paul in prison.
(Festus on his throne – Paul in chains – Soldiers holding Paul – Court official standing nearby – Ananias & the Jewish Elders & Tertullus before Festus.)
2nd Narrator = Between 59 & 60 AD, Felix was removed from office and replace by Porcius Festus. Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his new responsibilities as Governor, he left for Jerusalem, where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met with him and made their accusations against Paul. They asked Festus as a favor to transfer Paul to Jerusalem. Their plan was to waylay and kill Paul. But, Festus replied that Paul was at Caesarea and he himself would be returning there soon. So he said, “Those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations.” Eight or ten days later he returned to Caesarea, and on the following day Paul’s trial began.
Festus = (To Tertullus) You may begin
Tertullus = (To Festus) Your Excellency, as we established in this very place in the presence of your predecessor Governor Felix, we have found this man Paul to be a troublemaker, a man who is constantly inciting the Jews throughout the world to riots and rebellions against the Roman government. He is a ringleader of the sect known as the Nazarenes. Moreover he was trying to defile the Temple when we arrested him. You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself.
Festus = (To Paul) What do you say?
Paul = (To Festus) I am not guilty, I have committed no crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government.
Festus = (To Paul) Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?
Paul = (To Festus) No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, neither you nor anyone else has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”
Festus = (Whisper with the Court Official then sit up and say to Paul) Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you shall go!
(Festus on his throne – King Agrippa & Bernice seated next to Festus – Paul in chains – Soldiers holding Paul – Court official standing nearby)
3rd Narrator = A few days later King Agrippa the second arrived with his sister, Julia Bernice both great-grandchildren of King Herod the Great, to welcome and pay their respects to the new Governor Porcius Festus. 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. When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and other Jewish leaders pressed charges against him and asked me to sentence him. Of course, I quickly pointed out to them that Roman law does not convict people without a trial. They are given an opportunity to defend themselves face to face with their accusers. When they came here for the trial, I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. But the accusations made against him weren’t at all what I expected. It was something about their religion and about someone called Jesus who died, but whom Paul insists is alive. I was perplexed as to how to conduct an investigation of this kind, and I asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial on these charges in Jerusalem. But Paul appealed to the emperor. So I ordered him back to jail until I could arrange to send him to Caesar.” “I’d like to hear the man myself,” Agrippa said. And Festus replied, “You shall—tomorrow!”
Festus = (To Paul) Paul, I am honored to present King Agrippa and his sister Julia Bernice. They have graciously agreed to hear your case. (To the whole assembly.) King Agrippa and all present, this is the man whose death is demanded both by the local Jews and by those in Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing worthy of death. However, he appealed his case to the emperor, and I decided to send him. But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no real charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write. For it doesn’t seem reasonable to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!”
Agrippa = (To Paul) You may speak in your defense.
Paul = (To Agrippa) I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. Now I am on trial because I am looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, O king, they say it is wrong for me to have this hope! Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.
One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to fight against my will.”
“Who are you, sir?” I asked.
And the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you. And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles, to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”
And so, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must turn from their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God protected me so that I am still alive today to tell these facts to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead as a light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”
Festus = (Suddenly, shout) Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
Paul = (To Festus) I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. I am speaking the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! (Turning back toward Agrippa) King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
Agrippa = (To Paul) Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?
Paul = (To Agrippa) Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience (Motion to all) might become the same as I am, except for these chains.
(Festus, Agrippa & Bernice, all stand and start to leave. As they walk out Agrippa turns Festus and tells him.)
Agrippa = (To Festus) This man hasn’t done anything worthy of death or imprisonment. “He could be set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar!”
1st Jewish Elder
2nd Jewish Elder
3rd Jewish Elder