Acts 24 - Outline of Acts (Book Notes menu page)
As chapter 23 closed, Paul's life was in danger because forty Jewish men aided by the religious leaders, had conspired to ambush and kill him. When the chief captain heard of this conspiracy, he arranged for Paul's transport, by night and with military escort, from Jerusalem to Caesarea (the regional center of Roman goverment). After reading the chief captain's letter of explanation, the Roman governor, Felix, placed Paul in prison, and issued orders for his accusers to present their case before him, in Caesarea.
1. And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders,
and [with] a certain orator [named] Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
Tertullus was a Greek orator {a rhetorically skilled spokesman}, hired by the Sanhedrin, to present the case against Paul, in the language and legal format which was expected by the governor.
2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse [him], saying,
Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness,
and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3 We accept [it] always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee,
I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5 For we have found this man [a] pestilent [fellow],
and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world,
and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple:
whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
7 But the chief captain Lysias came [upon us],
and with great violence took [him] away out of our hands,
8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee:
by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge
of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
The presentation by Tertullus:
  • begins with flattery of the governor (v.2-4)
  • presents charges against Paul (v.5,6)... he is:
    1. a pestilent fellow {ie., a pest, a public enemy}.
    2. a mover of sedition {ie., strife, insurrection} wherever he went.
    3. a ringleader of the Nazarenes {followers of Jesus of Nazareth}.
  • presents complaints against the chief captain (v.7-8)
    'We would have judged Paul according to our law, but Lysias interfered violently, and has caused you (and us) this inconvenience of hearing his case in Caesarea.'
10. Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered,
Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation,
I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand,
that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man,
neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy,
so worship I the God of my fathers,
believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow,
that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself,
to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and [toward] men.
17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple,
neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
20 Or else let these same [here] say, if they have found any evil doing in me,
while I stood before the council,
21 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.
22. And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of [that] way,
he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down,
I will know the uttermost of your matter.
23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let [him] have liberty,
and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
Paul's defense:
  • Appreciation for Felix' understanding of Jewish customs. v.10
  • A history of the events leading to his arrest (v.11-f).
    Only 12 days prior, he had come to Jerusalem. He had not been able to complete the prescribed 7 days for his vow in the Temple. The day after his arrest, he had been transported to Caesarea. Five days later, the Jewish rulers had arrived.
  • He denies the first two charges (v.12,13).
    He had not been the cause of any trouble, neither in Jerusalem, nor in any other place. His accusers had no proof to support their claims.
  • He confesses that he is guilty of their third charge (v.14-16).
    He does follow Jesus of Nazareth, whose coming was foretold by the Hebrew scriptures. Although that was heresy to the Jews, it was not a crime under Roman law (at that time).
    Paul repeats what he had said before the Sanhedrin: His belief in Christ is in accord with the Jewish expectation of the resurrection of the dead and the subsequent final judgment.
  • Paul explains what he was doing in the Temple (v.17-21), and
    how the riot got started due to a misunderstanding, and
    that those, who had caused the uproar, had not come to press charges against him,
    which they should have done, if there was any validity to their claims.
Felix postponed any ruling awaiting a personal report from Lysias, the chief captain.
The freedom that he afforded to Paul (v.23) suggests that he realized there was no substance to the charges against him.
24 And after certain days, when Felix came
with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess,
he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,
Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time;
when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him:
wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room:
and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
There was no judicial reason for this meeting, which Felix arranged for his own curiousity and entertainment.
     Felix had been appointed as governor or procurator of Judea, by emperor Claudius in 53 AD. He had risen to power through ruthless cruelty. He was given to profligacy (wasteful and self-indulgent living). Drusilla was his third wife. She was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1,21-23) and sister of Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:13-f). Felix had seduced her, to leave her prior husband for him.
     Consider the grace of God: to give such a man (and such a woman) the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ presented by no less than Paul. Felix heard Paul explain what it means to believe in Christ.
Paul reasoned of...
  • righteousness - ie., the purity of heart and life required by the Holy God who searches the heart.
    'There is none righteous, no not one... for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God... but now the righteousness of God... is manifested... by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe...' Rom 3:10,21-26
  • temperance - ie., the self-control of fleshly appetites and passions, which is demanded by God,
    and which is made possible through the new nature acquired at the new birth, through faith in Christ. Neither righteousness nor temperance were characteristics of Felix' life.
  • judgment to come - cp. Acts 17:30,31
Felix trembled {ie., was overcome with fear, became terrified}, but postponed any decision to a "more convenient time."
What a tragedy: that though he communed with Paul often, over a period of two years, having many discussions about the necessity of faith in Christ, there is no record that he ever repented and believed.
     Felix had been repeatedly offered "the gift of God [which] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." When he had first heard, he had been under conviction of "the wages of sin, which is [eternal] death," trembling at the thought of judgment. Rom 6:23
     Yet, he loved the reward of unrighteousness, living for the lustful pleasures of this present evil world. Righteousness? Judgment? He knew Paul had done nothing worthy of death or of bonds (Acts 23:29). Yet, he 'hoped' {confidently expected} Paul would give him money to secure his release. When no bribe was forthcoming, he was happy to leave this innocent man in prison for political advantage "to show the Jews a pleasure."

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