Acts 24

Paul before Felix

1 After 1five days the high priest 2Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges to 3the governor against Paul.
2 After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor, "S ince we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation,
3 we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, 4most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 "But, that I may not weary you any further *, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing.
5 "For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the 5sect of the Nazarenes.
6 "And he even tried to 6desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [We wanted to judge him according to our own Law.
7 "But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands,
8 ordering his accusers to come before you.] By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him."
9 7The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.
10 When 8the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: "K nowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense,
11 since you can take note of the fact that no more than 9twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship.
12 "10Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or 11causing a riot.
13 "12Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me.
14 "But this I admit to you, that according to 13the Way which they call a 14sect I do serve 15the God of our fathers, 16believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets;
15 having a hope in God, which 17these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
16 "In view of this, 18I also do my best to maintain always * a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
17 "Now 19after several years I 20came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings;
18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been 21purified, without * any 22crowd or uproar. But there were some 23Jews from Asia -
19 who ought to have been present before you and to 24make accusation, if they should have anything against me.
20 "Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before 25the Council,
21 other than for this one statement which 26I shouted out while standing among them, 'For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.' "
22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about 27the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case *."
23 Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be 28kept in custody and yet 29have some freedom, and not to prevent any of 30his friends from ministering to him.
24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about 31faith in Christ Jesus.
25 But as he was discussing 32righteousness, 33self-control and 34the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you."
26 At the same time too, he was hoping that 35money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him.
27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius 36Festus, and 37wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul 38imprisoned.

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.

Cross References 38

Footnotes 17

  • [a]. Lit "and"
  • [b]. Lit "orator"
  • [c]. Or "presented their evidence" or "case"
  • [d]. Lit "to hear...briefly"
  • [e]. Lit "the inhabited earth"
  • [f]. Lit "also"
  • [g]. The early mss do not contain the remainder of v 6, v 7, nor the first part of v 8
  • [h]. Lit "an attack of a mob"
  • [i]. Lit "the ancestral God"
  • [j]. Lit "practice myself"
  • [k]. Or "gifts to charity"
  • [l]. I.e. west coast province of Asia Minor
  • [m]. Or "Sanhedrin"
  • [n]. Lit "knowing more accurately"
  • [o]. I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  • [p]. Lit "own wife"
  • [q]. Lit "received a successor, Porcius Festus"

Acts 24 Commentaries