The DEEP

The Art of Lying

We don't even expect the truth.

Acts 25:13-22 (ESV)

Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

Not only is the case against Paul weak, his accusers have botched the presentation. Festus is surprised by the insignificance of their charges. He says to Agrippa, “When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive.”

With Felix, they at least made a case that a Governor would care about. It was a lie, but it was significant.

For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. – Acts 24:5 (ESV)

But lies require planning and coordination. After a two-year delay, Paul’s accusers don’t have their act together that well, so they end up telling the truth about what’s really bugging them. That’s a real head scratcher for Festus, so his explanation to Agrippa is rather long.

This has the curious benefit of piquing Agrippa’s interest.


One of the most glorious things about God’s universe is the way that truth often works out for the best.

But lying is so much a part of our culture that we don’t even notice it. Just look at our politicians, or the commercials we watch, or even the news media. We laugh at people who trust what they hear or read.

It’s even worse than that. We ask people, “How ya’ doin’?” but don’t want to hear a real answer. What would you do if someone told you they were struggling?

Would you have the courage to stop and ask them, “What with?”


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.