Dr. Randy White
“But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him.” (Acts 24:4–6)
When the Jewish authorities arrested Paul, they charged him on four accounts. First, they said he was a real “pest.” The word is actually the Greek word for “pestilence” and our English word, “pest” is an abbreviation. More than the English term implies, the accusation was that Paul was a dangerous man. Second, Paul was accused of being one who “stirs up dissension.” The Roman government was based on authority, and dissension was always looked down upon. This accusation was carefully chosen to perk the ears of the Romans more than the Jews. Third, Paul was accused of being “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” The final charge was that Paul tried to desecrate the Temple.
In the trial, Paul responded to these charges, giving evidence that he was not a dangerous man, he did not initiate any riots, he was in the temple just twelve days earlier, and no charges could be proved against him. However, of the charge of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, he said, “I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve.” Paul was unashamedly the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
There is an old question that asks, “If you were arrested and put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Whether or not it will ever come to that in our country, I do not know. However, if it does happen, I want to readily admit, “I’m guilty!”
In His Grace,
Dr. Randy White
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