Acts 24

ACTS 24:1  1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

Who came to Caesarea from Jerusalem with "Ananias the high priest" (Acts 24:1)?

Who were the “elders” - why did they get involved?

Given the "great dissension" (Acts 23:10) that arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees over Paul, most if not all of "the elders" (Acts 24:1) who accompanied Ananias and stood behind the accusation "against Paul" (Acts 24:1) are likely to have been from the Sadducees faction of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel.

These 5 days may have been while Paul finished his purification.

Who was "Tertullus" (Acts 24:1)?

What was his job (Acts 24:2-3)?

He was an "orator" (Acts 24:1), a lawyer for the era. His name is Roman but it wasn't uncommon for Jews and Greeks to take Roman names, so he may not have been a Roman. And while he speaks from a Jewish perspective (see below), it also wasn't uncommon for orators/lawyers to speak from the perspective of their clients, so Tertullus may not have been a Jew either. Regardless of his background, he had been deemed the best person to present Ananias and company's case against Paul.

ACTS 24:2-3  2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

Did the Jews in Judea "enjoy great peace" (Acts 24:2)?

If so, 472 Roman soldiers wouldn't have been needed to protect the transfer of one prisoner (see Paul's nephew Acts 23:26). Judea was a hotbed of simmering rebellion that often boiled over, not a place of great peace.

Was "prosperity ... being brought to this nation" (Acts 24:2)?

If so, Paul's companions wouldn't have had to bring famine relief donations for the church in Jerusalem.

If not, why say so? What was Tertullus trying to achieve with his lies?

In a Roman court, it was customary for orators to start with flattery to win the favor of the judge. In this case, however, Tertullus' flattery may also have been made and/or received with a veiled threat against the fragile peace in the region, should Felix not side with the Jews.

Did the Jews "accept [Roman rule] always and in all places ... with all thankfulness" (Acts 24:3)?

Paul was sent to Caesarea because the Jews had plotted to kill him in Jerusalem, which would have required them to fight against and probably kill the Roman soldiers protecting Paul.

Was Felix "most noble" (Acts 24:3)? Or was this simply the appropriate expression when fronting a court?

How do flattery and courtesy compare?

No. Although he is twice called “most excellent Felix” (23:26, 24:2), Felix is well known as a particularly bad governor of Judea. Although Luke does not paint a flattering picture of Felix, he is more flattering toward the governor than any other ancient writer

ACTS 24:4  4 “Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

Why does Tertullus say he doesn't want to "be tedious to [Felix] any further" (Acts 24:4) and switch to making his accusation against Paul?

Felix may have started to roll his eyes at Tertullus' insincere flattery, or Tertullus may not have wanted to linger on a veiled threat if one had been issued and/or perceived, lest Felix gets upset.

ACTS 24:5  5 “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Why does Tertullus call Paul a ringleader of "the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5)?

Was Paul a plague? Did Paul create dissension? Does he still?

Because Jesus grew up in Nazareth, the Jews called Christians "the sect of the Nazarenes" in derogation.

Was it a sect?

SECT:

    • A group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice.
    • A religious body, especially one that has separated from a larger denomination.
    • A faction united by common interests or beliefs.

ACTS 24:6  6 “He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.

Did Paul try to "profane the temple" (Acts 24:6) of Jerusalem?

To the contrary, he spent almost seven days in it in ritual purification (see Paul's Nazarite vow).

Did the Jews want to "judge him according to [their] law" (Acts 24:6)?

"They were seeking to kill him" (Acts 21:31) contrary to their law.

ACTS 24:7-9  7 “But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

Did the commander Lysius "with great violence" (Acts 24:7) take Paul out of their hands (Acts 23:10)? 

The Roman Commander Claudius Lysias took Paul from the Jew’s great violence against him.

How did this reflect on the Jews who “also assented…”?

How should we respond to people who also assent to lies and misrepresentations about the Christian Gospel?

ACTS 24:10-13  10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.

What is missing from Paul's opening words?

Who made assertions, who offered verifiable facts?

The flattery. He simply acknowledges that Felix had "been for many years a judge of this nation" (Acts 24:10). Since Felix was at this time also married to Drusilla, one of Herod's daughters, he should have had at least some knowledge of Judaism and Christianity.

Had it really only been "no more than twelve days since [Paul] went up to Jerusalem" (Acts 24:11)?

Yes, and it was a period rather short to have organized and committed all that he was being accused of having committed, especially since three of those twelve days had been spent in Roman custody: "And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly (Day 1). On the following day (Day 2) Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present" (Acts 21:17-18), "Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple ... Now when the seven days (Days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him" (Acts 24:27). "The next day (Day 10), because he (commander Lysias) wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them" (Acts 22:30). "But the following night (Day 11) the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome" (Acts 23:11). "And when it was day (Day 12), some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul" (Acts 23:12). Paul was escorted out of Jerusalem that night (see Claudius Lysias).

ACTS 24:14  14 “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

How does Paul defend Christianity - "the Way which they call a sect" (Acts 24:14)?

He references the Scripture, indicating that his Christian beliefs are in line with "all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets" (Acts 24:14).

How is this different today for distinguishing Christianity from sects?

Is this the source of denominations?

Is he claiming to be just a good a Jew as they are while being a follower of the Way?

It isn't. Whether or not a group is truly Christian or a sect depends neither on its size nor how long it has been around but on the adherence of its beliefs and practices to the Scripture, both the Old Testament law and prophecies that Paul referenced above, and their fulfillment in the New Testament. Groups whose beliefs and practices adhere to the Bible are Christian. Sects include all other groups, whose beliefs and practices do not adhere to the Bible, which God closed with a stern warning: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).

ACTS 24:15-16  15 “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offence toward God and men.

Is it true that "there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15  John 5:28-29  Revelation 20:11-15  Matthew 22:29)?

Yes, and the just will enjoy heaven while the unjust burn in hell/lake of fire.

What is Paul saying above?

That his life is driven by "hope in God" (Acts 24:15) and heaven, not by earthly gains.

Is this true of your life?

How easy is it to have a conscience without offence towards God and men (1Peter 2:7-8 Matthew 10:22)?

ACTS 24:17-19  17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, 18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. 19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.

What was Paul doing when the Jews took offence? Was that so bad? 

Who were missing among Paul's accusers? Is this a serious lack?

The "Jews from Asia" (Acts 24:18), Paul's original accusers who ... seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place" (Acts 21:27-28). "They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me" (Acts 24:19).

ACTS 24:20-21  20 “Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, 21 unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ "

What does Acts 24:21 confirm about Paul's accusers? Would this matter bother the Romans?

They were Sadducees, who do not believe in life after death.

ACTS 24:22   22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”

Who was "Felix" (Acts 24:22)?

How might Felix have gained a more accurate knowledge of the Way (Acts 10:24,44-46)

Marcus Antonius Felix was originally a slave from Cilicia, Paul's home province, but had gained his freedom, thanks to his brother Marcus Antonius Pallas, who was a freedman well-liked by Caesar Claudius. As Antonius Felix' political fortunes rose, so did his reputation for corruption, cruelty and lust. Felix governed Judea from 52 AD to 60 AD with "the power of a king but the mind of a slave," according to the Roman historian Tacitus.

ACTS 24:23   23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

What would have happened if Felix had acquitted Paul and released him? 

Was this justice delayed or was it being practical or did Felix have other plans - see V24)?

The Jews would have tried again to kill Paul.

If God wanted Paul to evangelize in Judea, wouldn't He have provided protection for him?

Paul's God-appointed apostleship was to the gentiles - "He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the gentiles" (Galatians 2:8) - and the gentile capital of Judea was Caesarea. For two years (see below), Paul stayed in Caesarea's Roman Praetorium, where he had "liberty" (Acts 24:23), where nobody could "forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him" (Acts 24:23), and where he was protected against the Jewish assassins by Roman guards. Providing protection for Paul appears to be precisely what God did.

ACTS 24:24-27   24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” 26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agripps 1. What happened to him (Acts 12:1-3,23)?

How did hearing the Gospel affect Felix (Acts 24:25)? Why did he feel this way?

Was this why Felix adjourned "the proceedings" - Acts 24:22 - of Paul's trial instead of rendering a verdict?

Felix said, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case" (Acts 24:22). Since Felix was succeeded "two years" (Acts 24:27) later without having rendered a verdict, either Claudius Lysias, the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, didn't come to Caesarea, where his legion was headquartered, for two years, which is highly unlikely, or Felix didn't want to render a verdict and used the absence of Claudius Lysias, who had already given his report in writing, as an excuse.

How long was Paul detained for (Acts 24:27)?

Why wouldn't Felix want to render a verdict? Did the manner of his father-in-law’s death impact him?

Was he genuinely interested in the gospel (Acts 24:26)?So what did Felix do?

Have you had similar experiences when sharing the gospel?

Have you/can you/how do you “reason about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come”? Is “reason” a good word to use?


1402 Modified: 31-08-2022
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