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Acts Chapter 24
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
Concise PRESENTATION NOTES
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
1) Five days later the head priest, Ananias, came down [to Caesarea] with certain [Jewish] elders and an attorney [named] Tertullus, who brought their case against Paul before the governor. Came down is from Jerusalem. It is about 2,550 feet above sea level where Caesarea is a harbor city.
- The Sanhedrin was represented by some of its members such as Ananias and certain of the elders.
2) When Paul was called [to appear before the court] Tertullus began the prosecution by saying, "Your Excellency Felix: Since through you we are able to enjoy peace [in this province] and under your jurisdiction the problems in our society are being [properly] dealt with, Tertullus is most likely a Greek or Roman attorney rather than a practicing Jew. There was no attorney for Paul.
- Actually, Your Excellency Felix was quite corrupt. He was out of office within two years. See verse 27. Also see the evaluation by F. W. Farrar at the bottom of page 4.
- This comment must have gagged Ananias.
- This is "exaggerated flattery" known as an exordium.
3) we welcome all such efforts in each district with full gratitude. Felix had assassinated the High Priest Jonathan.
- It was his dealings that pushed the nation toward its final rebellion, culminating in its destruction in A.D. 70. See Josephus, Antiquities XX.8.6.
4) But, not wanting to prolong matters for you, I urge you to give consideration to this brief account [of the problem we face].
5) We have found this man [i.e., Paul] to be extremely bothersome, and an instigator of strife among the Jews throughout the world and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. They had found Paul to be a pestilence, a plague and an epidemic - to look at the Greek figures of speech.
- Paul was peaceful. It was Tertullus' clients that had caused the riots. This held true throughout the Roman world.
- sect is a way of saying he led a new - and therefore illegal - religion.
6) We arrested him, for he attempted to desecrate [even] the Temple {{Some ancient manuscripts add verse The charge is milder than the original wild claims. See Acts 21:28.
- It was Claudius Lysias, the commander in charge, who arrested Paul. Tertullus' clients would have killed him, but the attorney failed to mention that.
7) and we would have judged him according to our law but commander Lysias came and forcibly took him out of our hands}} It is doubtful if Felix understood that the charges, if upheld, would have required the death penalty.
- "Your man Lysias interfered with our system of justice."
- The canonicity of the text is in question and the argument presented by Tertullus does not seem likely to this writer.
8) [and] you will be able to determine the nature of our accusations against him by questioning him yourself." Felix did not choose to question Paul in court.
9) Then the Jews also joined in [making] the charge, and confirmed all the facts that were being presented. The ninth commandment of the Law says "You shall not bear false witness." Exodus 20:16. That did not deter these religious zealots because the end they sought justified any means they could use.
 
10) And when the governor had motioned for him to speak, Paul answered [the charges, by saying],
"I know
[Your Excellency] that you have administered justice for this nation for many years, so I am glad to make my defense [before you].
Paul was jerked out of jail without notification of the charges against him; he had no attorney and had no witnesses to call.
- Jesus had promised help for times like this. Luke 12:11, 12, 21:15.
- Paul did not flatter Felix, but commended his experience with Jewish matters.
12) [While there] I was not observed arguing with anyone or trying to stir up a crowd [to riot] in the Temple or in the synagogues or [anywhere else] in the city. Not observed - his accusers were going on hearsay or even manufactured evidence. - He had not been arguing anywhere in Jerusalem.
13) Neither can anyone prove to you the charges they are now bringing against me. There are no witnesses here to any charge being made. "These charges are without merit."
14) But, I declare to you, I am serving the God of our forefathers according to the 'Way,' called [by my detractors] a sect, and I believe everything that is in harmony with the law of Moses and what is written in [the writings of] the prophets. The second charge was that he was a ringleader in a new and illegal religion.
- Paul declares that he worships the ancestral God of Israel. The Way is the promised outcome of the law of Moses and the prophets of Israel.
- Paul clearly believed in the authority of the Old Testament Scripture.
15) I have a hope in God that there will be a resurrection both for those who have done right and those who have done wrong, just as the Jews themselves also expect. Paul now presents the resurrection (and consequent judgment) to this extremely wrong-doing Roman judge.
- This is in harmony with Jewish expectations. (The minority Sadducees not included.)
16) So, for this reason I make every effort to have a clear conscience before God and men at all times. Paul reaffirms his clear conscience, both in the past and now.
 
17) "Now after several years I came [to Jerusalem] to bring relief for the poor people of my nation and to present my offerings. The third charge was that he attempted to desecrate the Temple. Acts 24:6.
- After being gone at least four years, Paul had brought gifts for the poor in Israel and to present his offering at the Temple.
- Felix heard the word "money." "This fellow is wealthy."
18) While doing this, they [i.e., the Jews] found out that I had undergone the rites of purification in the Temple. There was no crowd and no commotion. But certain Jews from [the province of] Asia Paul had undergone the proper rites to be pure. No desecration here.
- There was no crowd and no commotion. Things were peaceful.
19) should have been here before you, [Your Excellency] to make their accusations, if they [really] had a valid charge against me. The troublemakers were some Jews from Asia (verse 18) and they should be here in court. Those with the original accusations have failed to show up here.
20) Or let these men themselves [i.e., members of the Sanhedrin] testify what they found wrong with me when I stood before their Council [meeting]. Claudius Lysias had also written that he could not find a crime in Paul.
- The Council is acting on hearsay evidence and cannot testify of any wrongdoing that they have found.
21) However, this one point, which I made when I stood among them [could have been objectionable]: I shouted, 'The reason I am being charged before you today is [my preaching of] the resurrection of the dead.'" Paul referred to his shouting to call attention to their disorder as a judicial body. He had to shout to be heard.
- They dare not argue about the resurrection of the dead in this Roman Court of Law.
- This grand finale allowed Paul to end on the subject of the resurrection - the lynchpin of Christian beliefs.
 
22) But because Felix [felt he] had more accurate knowledge of the "Way" [than was being presented by Paul's accusers], he dismissed them, saying, "When commander Lysias comes down [to Caesarea] I will make a decision on your case." Where had Felix learned about the Way? Was it his intelligence agency? Or Philip? Or Drusilla? (Vs. 24)
- Felix knew Paul was not guilty and should be released.
- "Court is adjourned."
- For political reasons he would not decide against the Jews with them present in court.
23) So, he ordered his officer to keep Paul in custody, yet with some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to his needs. Paul was kept under palace arrest, visited by Philip and others. Luke moved here to Caesarea after locating Paul. He needed food, clothing and company while in custody.
 
24) After a number of days, Felix and Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, came [back to the palace] and sent for Paul to [come and] tell them about [the] faith in Christ Jesus. Nineteen-year-old Drusilla's father was the King Herod of Acts 12. He had beheaded the Apostle James and intended to kill the Apostle Peter. This was her second marriage and the third for Felix.
- Paul told of the Faith, fulfilling Acts 9:15.
25) And as he discussed the matters of doing right, and [maintaining] self control and the coming judgment, Felix became terrified and answered, "Go on away for now; I will call you back when it is convenient for me." Doing right was far from the life-style of Felix.
- If self control included things like beautiful women and money, Felix was in deep trouble because he had a special attraction for both.
- Judgment implies that a Judge exists who is higher than Felix. No wonder he was terrified.
- Surprisingly, he did call Paul back, but his motive was not lofty.
26) He had hoped, along with everything else, that he would receive money from Paul, so he sent for him more frequently and had discussions with him. Money was high on the agenda of Felix. This might just be his chance because Paul somehow had access to money. See verse 17 above.
- He had frequent discussions with Paul, hoping that a bribe would be forthcoming.
 
27) So, Felix allowed Paul to remain in chains, because he wanted to gain favor with the Jews [during that period of time]. Two years passed and Felix was succeeded by Portius Festus. Beyond a doubt, Luke did the research for the Gospel of Luke while based here. He could have written Acts to this point, also.
- Festus did not want the Jews to file charges against him after he left office.
  Felix:

As he glanced back over the stained and guilty past, he was afraid. He had been a slave in the vilest of all positions, and the vilest of all epochs, in the vilest of all cities. He had crept with his brother Pallas into the position of a courtier at the most morally degraded of all courts. He had been an officer of those auxiliaries who were the worst of all troops. What secrets of lust and blood lay hidden in his earlier life we do not know; but ample and indisputable testimony, Jewish and pagan, sacred and secular, reveals to us what he had been - how greedy, how savage, how treacherous, how unjust, how steeped in the blood of private murder and public massacre - during the eight years he had spent in the government, first of Samaria, then of Palestine.

Frederic W. Farrar in The Life and Works of St. Paul (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1879), page 550.
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