In today’s Bible reading in Acts 24, we come to Paul’s defense before Felix. In order to protect him from assassination, Paul has been brought to Felix under the cover of night with two hundred Roman soldiers guarding him. I find this a little ironic because
Think about this for a second: forty ordinary Jewish men vs. two hundred professional Roman soldiers. Even with the odds flipped, I’d still insist the odds were rigged in favor of the Romans. Why such an imbalance and show of force?
Theologically, the Romans didn’t have a preference of Jews vs. Christians; they simply didn’t care. I’m sure the Romans were well aware of The Way. And I’m sure the Romans know that they encounter more trouble with the Jews than with the Christians. But because Paul was a Roman Citizen, the Romans naturally favored him over the non-citizen Jewish leaders,
A small number of Roman soldiers could have held their own (and then some) against a mob. It reminds me of a saying I have often heard in many years of living in the Lone Star State: One mob, one Ranger. It only takes one Texas Ranger to control a mob of people.
In the First Century, the Romans tolerated the Jews and any skirmishes by the Jews were easily shut down by the Romans. I think the overwhelming show of force sent a strong message to the Jewish leaders that they better tone down their drama or face the consequences.
For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 (CSB)
Paul tells us that we don’t fight
To look at how much force the Romans took in protecting Paul against a mere forty radical laymen reminds me of how much our Father protects all of His kids.
Taking all of this backstory into account with today’s reading of Paul’s defense, I am just so encouraged! Paul’s Jewish accusers pulled out all the stops to curry favor with Felix and ramp up their namecalling attack on Paul. He simply introduces himself to Felix and lets God handle things from there.
God will fight your battles, if you will just let him.