Paul continued to claim his legal rights as a Roman citizen.
What a sad pity it is that so many persons are deprived of their basic rights when they neither know the law as Paul did, or lack both the personal eloquence to speak on their behalf or supporting advocates who will give voice to their cause.
Those who are sufficiently educated or socially placed to know what rights are due to people must shoulder the responsibility that comes with knowledge. God’s Spirt, the source knowledge, does not have us informed just so that we can be magnified in the eyes of others as “know-alls”. The privilege of knowledge comes twinned to the burden of responsibility to act on the knowledge possessed.
This is the reason why, in the year 2020, we give thanks for the persons of all ethnicities, and especially those who do not classify as Blacks, to voice the truth that Black Lives Matter. It would be gross irresponsibility on their part to silently retort that ”all lives matter” when they know that the fact of this ideal truth underlies the status quo and fuels the disregard for Black Lives. All lives will truly matter when there is no set of lives that is disparaged, disregarded, treated as if they don’t matter.
Felix, the former governor, had granted the Jews a favour of sorts, by leaving Paul to rot in prison since the accused had made no attempt to bribe him for release; but two years later, Festus his successor had to face the tune.
Sure, he too, wanted to win favour with Jews; so he invited them to Caesarea where Paul could be tried. He even put before Paul the prospect of a hearing in Jerusalem. The Jews would have loved that as they wanted a trial in Jerusalem where they could make and break their laws at will.
But Paul knew the law too, and he insisted that his right to a voice with the emperor be respected. He knew that it was not the custom for any Roman citizen to be handed over to his (or her accuser) without being given the opportunity to make a defense.
Had his right to such a hearing not been upheld, he could have been handed over to his jealous, bad-minded accusers who though that they had entitlement to political favours at the expense of those whose lives they judged to be less important.
Paul would be martyred yes, but it almost seemed as if things were going to be according to plan, patterned a bit after our Lord who insisted, “I have power to lay down my life and power to take it up again” (John 10:18).
Paul was not the eternal Lord, and he could not determine the course of his future in the same way; but as far as his attitude went, he was in the driver’s seat. He did affirm “for to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1: 21). He was prepared for any eventuality. He was already shaped a victor. There was nothing his accusers could do now to diminish his victory.
To the emperor he would go.