“Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.” (Acts 24:21, AV)
There is a hydrological feature that extends from Alaska to the southernmost tip of south America. It is called the Great Divide. It is also known as the Continental Divide of the Americas. This hydrological divide is characterized by a mountain range that separates water drainage basins. Basically, all water from precipitation drains either to the east or west of this Continental Divide. It is a great dividing line.
There are many great dividing lines in our world. Some are physical, some are philosophical. Religious beliefs can also establish a dividing line as we see in this passage. The resurrection is the great dividing line. Paul’s words, while giving a practical explanation for his situation, also presented a deeper theological implication for his life.
Paul stated that it was because of the resurrection that he stood before the provincial governor, Felix. We see this from Paul’s previous encounter with the Sanhedrin. “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6).
The Sanhedrin or Jewish ruling council consisted of 71 members from the religious sects of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The two sects differed in their view of the supernatural. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, angel or spirit, while the Pharisees believed all of these (Acts 23:8). When Paul had made this statement, the Sadducees and Pharisees on the council began arguing over the resurrection (Acts 23:7).
The hope of the resurrection is the great theological dividing line. While the Sadducees and Pharisees argued the theology of the resurrection, neither of these had the hope of the resurrection. Paul, on the other hand, had the hope of the resurrection because he experienced it in Christ.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3, AV)
Therefore, Paul’s words to Felix present something far deeper than an explanation of what happened before the Sanhedrin. Paul was before Felix because he had experienced Christ, the true hope of the resurrection. For Paul, the resurrection was not just an intellectual debate. For him it was a practical reality. This experience totally transformed his life. Yes, the resurrection was the great dividing line that separated Paul from others.
The resurrection of Christ separates those with hope from those without hope. It separates the truly saved from all others. The experience of this glorious hope drives believers to great heights. Their experience causes them to sacrifice for the glory of God, to serve Him with fervor, to face the peril of persecution with courage. The resurrection is the great dividing line that separates true believers from all others, for to experience the resurrection is to experience the risen Christ.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” (John 11:25, AV)