Acts 24 Paul Before Felix
Summary

Five days after Paul had been transferred from Jerusalem, the High Priest and elders brought an orator named Tertullus to Caesarea to make the case against Paul. Tertullus accused Paul of creating dissension, being the ringleader of a sect, and profaning their temple. He accused Claudius Lysias of taking Paul out of their hands with “great violence.” Paul denied the charges before Felix. He concluded saying that in fact he was being judged because of his views on resurrection from the dead. Felix adjourned the meeting allowing Paul some freedoms. He later listened to Paul speak about the gospel. He hoped that the Christians would give him money to release Paul. Felix held Paul at Caesarea for two years.

Paul Before Felix at Caesarea

24And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:

“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4But, to detain[1] you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. 67 678[2] 8By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”

9The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.

Question 1

What did the High Priest and elders want Felix to do with Paul?

10And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:

“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— 19they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”

Question 2

What did Paul deny from the speech made byTertullius?

Question 3

What did Paul confess about his time in Jerusalem?

Paul Kept in Custody

22But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.

Question 4

How did Felix react to the dispute?

24After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

Question 5

How did Felix react to Paul’s reasoning about righteousness, self-control, and judgment?

People
  • Tertullian
  • Orator speaking for the High Priest and elders

  • Felix
  • The Roman governor

  • Drusilla
  • Felix’ wife

  • Porcius Festus
  • Governor following Felix

Places
  • Caesarea Maritima
  • Seat of Roman govern- ment in Palestine

Paul Before Felix at Caesarea

24And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:

“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4But, to detain[1] you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. 67 678[2] 8By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”

Acts 24:1

Tertullus was an orator (we get our word “rhetoric” from the Greek word used here.


Acts 24:3

See chapter 23, comments on verse 26 for description of Felix.


Acts 24:5

The Jews thought of Christianity as a “sect” or organized group with identifiable beliefs.

This so-called “sect” was identified with Jesus of Nazareth (see Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:14; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22).


Acts 24:6

Charges against Paul: a) a plague or pest; b) creator of dissension or political agitator; c) leader of a sectarian faction; and d) defiler of the temple (v. 5-6).


Acts 24:7

There is a certain degree of risk in accusing Lysias before the Roman governor.

9The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.

Acts 24:8

Tertullus was confident that when Felix examined Paul, he would find the charges to be true.

10And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:

“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia— 19they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”

Acts 24:11

Paul’s defense is that it has only been 12 days and no apparent rebellion in Jerusalem happened.


Acts 24:17

He further states that his purpose was to bring gifts to help people; not to arouse rebellion.

Paul Kept in Custody

22But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.

Acts 24:22

Felix “reserves judgment” waiting for Lysias, in his sight a non-partisan observer, to testify.

24After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

Acts 24:24

Drusilla was a daughter of Herod Agrippa I and sister to Agrippa II. She was supposedly Jewish by Religion. She was part Idumaean by blood. She was married to Azizus at age 14 or 15. She left him to marry Felix. She was born in AD 38 so she was probably just 19 or 20 at this time. According to Josephus, Suetonius, and Tacitus she was Felix’ third wife.


Acts 24:25

Understanding the circumstances of Felix and Drusilla’s marriage, Paul’s sermon to them is reminiscent of John the Baptist’s message to Herod Antipas (Luke 3:19-20).


Acts 24:26

Felix’ character is further seen in his desire for a bribe from Paul or his friends.

Perspectives

There may be frequent false charges against God’s messengers.

Paul did good, like Jesus, rather than committing the crimes he was accused of. We should imitate that in our lives.

We must be preaching about righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come.