The Hope Of Israel, The Resurrection Of The Dead, And Jesus: A Study Of Their Relationship In Acts With Particular Regard To The Understanding Of Paul’s Trial Defense -- By: Robert J. Kepple

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:3 (Sep 1977)
Article: The Hope Of Israel, The Resurrection Of The Dead, And Jesus: A Study Of Their Relationship In Acts With Particular Regard To The Understanding Of Paul’s Trial Defense
Author: Robert J. Kepple


The Hope Of Israel, The Resurrection Of
The Dead, And Jesus: A Study Of Their
Relationship In Acts With Particular Regard
To The Understanding Of Paul’s Trial Defense

Robert J. Kepple*

One of the notable characteristics of the Book of Acts is the large amount of space given to Paul’s arrest and subsequent trials. Long recognized as a significant feature of the book, the attention that Luke focuses on this part of Paul’s life has often been an important factor in various interpretations of the purpose of Acts.1

Basic to such an interpretation grounded on these accounts in chaps. 21–28 is an accurate understanding of Luke’s presentation of Paul’s trial and defense, but this is far from easy to attain. It is the purpose of this paper to examine one difficulty in understanding Luke’s presentation of Paul’s trials—namely, how can Luke present Paul as claiming that he is on trial for “the hope of Israel” and “the resurrection of the dead” when it seems far more accurate, from our perspective, to say that the issue is “Jesus”?

This difficulty will be examined by first making some observations about Paul’s trials and defenses. Then, the various statements Paul makes about why he is on trial will be examined. And finally, the relationship in Acts between the hope of Israel, the resurrection of the dead, and Jesus will be analyzed.

I. Paul’s Trials And Defenses

There are three basic features of Luke’s presentation of Paul’s trials and defenses that need to be noted as background to what follows.

First, the charges made by the Jews against Paul are both political and religious. In 21:28, the original “riot” is occasioned by the charge: “This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the law, and this place; and besides, he has even brought Greeks into the temple area and has defiled this holy place.” The charge is twofold: (1) general and religious—he works against true Judaism; and (2) specific, religious and civil—he has defiled the temple. In the scene in chap. 23 no specific charges against Paul come out; but in chap. 24 we find the formal Jewish charges brought against Paul before Felix: “For we have found this man a real troublemaker who stirs up

*Robert Kepple is reference librarian at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

dissension among all the Jews throughout the world. He is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes and even tried ...

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