Ellen G. White Writings

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Sketches from the Life of Paul, Page 280

Chapter 26—Sojourn at Rome

According to Roman law, the trial of Paul could not take place until his accusers should be present in person to state their charges against him. They had not yet come from Palestine, nor was it known at Rome whether they had even started on the long journey. Therefore the trial might be postponed indefinitely. Little regard was shown for the rights of those supposed to have violated the law. It was often the case that an accused person was kept in prison a long time, by the delay of the prosecutors to prefer their charges; or his trial might be deferred by the caprice of those in power. A corrupt judge could hold a prisoner in custody for years, as did Felix in the case of Paul, to gratify popular prejudice, or in hope of securing a bribe. These judges were, however, amenable to a higher tribunal, and this would in some measure serve as a restraint upon them. But the emperor was subjected to no such restraint. His authority was virtually unlimited, and he often permitted caprice, malice, or even indolence, to hinder or prevent the administration of justice.

The Jews of Jerusalem were in no haste to present their accusations against Paul. They had been repeatedly thwarted in their designs, and had no desire to risk another defeat. Lysias, Felix, Festus, and Agrippa had all declared their belief in his innocence. His enemies could hope for success only in seeking by intrigue to influence the emperor in their favor. Delay would further their object, as it would afford them time to perfect and execute their plans.

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