Acts Chapter Twenty Four, Paul's
In our study of Acts chapter twenty four, we continue with Paul on
his way to testify about Jesus in Rome. Here, he is put on trial in the city of Caesarea
before the governor.
Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with
some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against
Paul before the governor.
Five is the number of grace throughout the Bible and we are
reminded of that grace in the fact that God rescued Paul from those that were going to
kill him. Five days after he was sent to Caesarea, the religious rulers showed up with
their prosecutor to present the case against Paul.
When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix:
'We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about
reforms in this nation. Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we
acknowledge this with profound gratitude. But in order not to weary you further, I would
request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.'
The prosecutor begins his case against Paul not with any charges
but with flattery to the governor. He really lays it on thick as he kisses up to the
governor. He really knew that he didn't have a case against Paul but he was hoping for a
guilty verdict as a favor. That is much the same way that Satan will use people to
attack us as children of God. Usually, it will not be a direct attack but instead will
be a distortion or distraction from the truth.
'We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots
among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even
tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. But the commander, Lysias, came and
with the use of much force snatched him from our hands and ordered his accusers to come
The prosecutor finally gets down to the charges that they are
bringing against Paul. Really there are no specific charges only general accusations. He
also tells Felix that they had the matter under control until the commander stepped in
and that is why they are there. He doesn't really give any facts of the case and that is
typically how the devil and his demons work.
Acts 24:8 & 9
'By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth
about all of these charges we are bringing against him.' The Jews joined in the
accusation, asserting that these things were true.
The prosecutor summed up his case against Paul and all of the Jews
agreed with him. He tries to make it seem like even a child could see it in hopes of
getting a quick agreement.
When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: 'I know
that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my
Now, Paul gets to defend himself against these false accusations.
He starts by saying that he knows that Felix understands the Jewish customs and so he is
glad to present his defense. Felix had been there for years dealing with Jewish matters
and so would be qualified to make a reasonable ruling in the case.
'You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up
to Jerusalem to worship. My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple,
or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. And they cannot
prove to you the charges they are now making against me.'
Paul continues by explaining that he only went to worship and that
his accusers weren't even there to see what he was doing. They have no basis for their
charges and cannot prove them. It is interesting to note that he says it was "no more
than twelve days ago" that this happened. Twelve is the number of divine authority
throughout the Bible and it reminds us that Paul is in front of Felix by the appointment
and authority of God and so he has no need to worry.
'However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a
follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the
Law and is written in the Prophets,'
Paul continues by explaining that He is a follower of Jesus Christ
which is in agreement with the Torah (Old Testament) which his accusers believed. Jesus
said that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it and all of the Old
Testament points to the coming of the Messiah who is Jesus, the Son of God.
Acts 24:15 & 16
and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a
resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my
conscience clear before God and man.
Paul explains that there is one hope and that is for the
resurrection just as Jesus was raised from the dead. In light of that hope, he tried to
live a life that would bring honor and glory to God. He gave practical advice on how we
can all do this in Ephesians
Acts 24:17 & 18
'After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my
people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. I was ceremonially clean when they
found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved
in any disturbance.'
Now, Paul directly confronts the false charges. He points out that
he was in complete agreement with the law (ceremonially clean) and was going to present
offerings. He also adds that there was no crowd or disturbance.
'But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be
here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.'
He continues to explain that, if anyone had a reason to present the
charges it would be some Jews from Asia where he had done most of his work. They were
not there in front of Felix just as they were not present before the Sanhedrin.
Acts 24:20 & 21
Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when
I stood before the Sanhedrin - unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in
their presence: 'It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before
Paul continues by sharing the fact that he was not found guilty of
any crime when he was brought before the Sanhedrin. Then, he gives the real reason that
he was put on trial again and that was because he preached the message of the
Acts 24:22 & 23
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the
proceedings. 'When Lysias the commander comes,' he said, 'I will decide your case.' He
ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit
his friends to care of his needs.
So, after hearing both sides, Felix, whose name means "pleasure"
and who was a cruel and immoral man, decides not to decide. He puts the decision off and
holds Paul but gives him more freedoms than normal. Felix new about the Jewish laws and
even he could see that Paul was not guilty but he still did not release him. We might
ask why God would let His child suffer under arrest like that and the simple answer is
that we see parts but God sees His whole plan and He knows what is truly best.
Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a
Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ
Now, we see why God would allow this to happen and we see this
immoral man about to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. This man was a politician and so
would not have done the right thing unless there was something in it for himself. He
came expecting a bribe but instead got a lesson on the coming judgment.
As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment
to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find
it convenient, I will send for you.'
Paul told Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the
judgment. That made Felix very uncomfortable and so he sent Paul away. Paul just boldly
proclaimed the Word of God and allowed God to convict Felix about his lifestyle. Do you
find that many around you are uncomfortable when you talk about the things of God? That
is a good thing in that as we live and speak the things of God, He will convict their
hearts and they may repent and be saved.
At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe,
so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
Felix faced an internal conflict as the Word of the Lord convicted
him and made him uncomfortable yet his greed made him seek a bribe from Paul. In seeking
a bribe, he continued to call for Paul and hear the Word of God. Paul simply kept on
faithfully sharing the Word. God can use all things for His purposes and, here, He even
uses the greed of this immoral man so that Paul could share about Jesus. It is a
reminder that we need to seek the "immoral men" around us and trust God to do His work
in them through us. We also notice that Paul did not compromise his faith to build a
relationship with Felix before sharing the gospel. In the same way, we are not to
compromise and do the same things as the "immoral men" in hopes of winning them to
Christ. We are to hold fast to our faith, be different, and faithfully share the truth
of God's Word.
When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus,
but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.
This went on for two years and still Felix did not accept Christ
but he heard the gospel. Instead of doing the right thing, he then turned Paul over to
his successor and he still remained in prison. We may ask how someone could do that to a
man that they knew was innocent but in fact they did even worse when Jesus was crucified
(He who knew no sin became sin so that we may have life). Paul who was innocent stayed
in prison and preached the gospel to his captors so that they too may have life in