Acts 24

1 After five days, the cohen hagadol Hananyah came down with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they presented their case against Sha'ul to the governor.
2 Sha'ul was called, and Tertullus began to make the charges: "Felix, your Excellency, it is because of you that we enjoy unbroken peace, and it is your foresight that has brought to this nation
3 so many reforms in so many areas. It is with the utmost gratitude that we receive this.
4 But, in order not to take up too much of your time, I beg your indulgence to give us a brief hearing.
5 "We have found this man a pest. He is an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world and a ringleader of the sect of the Natzratim.
6 He even tried to profane the Temple, but we arrested him.
8 By questioning this man yourself, you will be able to learn all about the things of which we are accusing him."
9 The Judeans also joined in the accusation and alleged that these were the facts.
10 When the governor motioned for Sha'ul to speak, he replied, "I know that you have been judge over this nation for a number of years, so I am glad to make my defense.
11 As you can verify for yourself, it has not been more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Yerushalayim;
12 and neither in the Temple nor in the synagogues nor anywhere else in the city did they find me either arguing with anyone or collecting a crowd.
13 Nor can they give any proof of the things of which they are accusing me.
14 "But this I do admit to you: I worship the God of our fathers in accordance with the Way (which they call a sect). I continue to believe everything that accords with the Torah and everything written in the Prophets.
15 And I continue to have a hope in God - which they too accept - that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.
16 Indeed, it is because of this that I make a point of always having a clear conscience in the sight of both God and man.
17 "After an absence of several years, I came to Yerushalayim to bring a charitable gift to my nation and to offer sacrifices.
18 It was in connection with the latter that they found me in the Temple. I had been ceremonially purified, I was not with a crowd, and I was not causing a disturbance.
19 But some Jews from the province of Asia - they ought to be here before you to make a charge if they have anything against me!
20 Or else, let these men themselves say what crime they found me guilty of when I stood in front of the Sanhedrin,
21 other than this one thing which I shouted out when I was standing among them: 'I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!'"
22 But Felix, who had rather detailed knowledge of things connected with the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case."
23 He ordered the captain to keep Sha'ul in custody, but to let him have considerable liberty and not prevent any of his friends from taking care of his needs.
24 After some days, Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Sha'ul and listened to him as he spoke about trusting in the Messiah Yeshua.
25 But when Sha'ul began to discuss righteousness, self-control and the coming Judgment, Felix became frightened and said, "For the time being, go away! I will send for you when I get a chance."
26 At the same time, he hoped that Sha'ul would offer him a bribe; so he sent for him rather often and kept talking with him.
27 After two years, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; but because Felix wanted to grant the Judeans a favor, he left Sha'ul still a prisoner.

Acts 24 Commentary

Chapter 24

The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul's defence before Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul. (22-27)

Verses 1-9 See here the unhappiness of great men, and a great unhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyond measure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; hereby they are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God's prophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very same charges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passions of men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech, too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men against the truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felix appear at the day of judgement, from what they are represented in the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value the applause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, who represent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and the excellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition.

Verses 10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was to have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation? How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness, nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in silence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; he will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than life.

Verses 22-27 The apostle reasoned concerning the nature and obligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligate mistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of the grace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power of godliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in the day of God's appearing. A prospect of the judgment to come, is enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled, but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who are not changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yet continue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of our souls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a more convenient season, but we do not find that the more convenient season ever came. Behold now is the accepted time; hear the voice of the Lord to-day. He was in haste to turn from hearing the truth. Was any business more urgent than for him to reform his conduct, or more important than the salvation of his soul! Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by a loud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness. Be not deceived by occasional appearances of religion in ourselves or in others. Above all, let us not trifle with the word of God. Do we expect that as we advance in life our hearts will grow softer, or that the influence of the world will decline? Are we not at this moment in danger of being lost for ever? Now is the day of salvation; tomorrow may be too late.

Acts 24 Commentaries