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Acts Chapter Twenty-four


Acts 24

Paul appears before the governors in succession-the Sanhedrim Felix Festus Agrippa and afterwards Caesar. And here when occasion offers we have striking appeals to conscience; when his defence is in question the manly and honest declarations of a good conscience that rose above the passions and interests that surrounded him. I pass over in silence the worldly egotism which betrays itself in Lysias and Festus by their assumption of all sorts of good qualities and good conduct; the mixture of awakened conscience and absence of principle in the governors; the desire to please the Jews for their own importance or to facilitate their government of a rebellious people; and the contempt felt by those who were not as responsible as Lysias for the public tranquillity. The position of Agrippa and all the details of the history have a remarkable stamp of truth and present the various characters in so living a style that we seem to be in the scenes described. We see the persons moving in it. This moreover strikingly characterises the writings of Luke.

Other circumstances claim our attention. Festus in order to please the Jews proposed to take Paul to Jerusalem. But Rome was to have its share in the rejection of the gospel of grace of the testimony to the assembly; and Paul appeals to Caesar. Festus must therefore send him thither although embarrassed to know what crime he is to charge him with in sending him. Sad picture of man's injustice! But everything accomplishes the purposes of God. In the use of the means Paul succeed no better than in his attempt to satisfy the Jews. It was perhaps to the eye of man his only resource under the circumstances; but the Holy Ghost is careful to inform us that he might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar.

In Agrippa there was I believe more curiosity than conscience though there may have been some desire to profit by the occasion to know what the doctrine was which had so stirred up people's minds a disposition to inquire which was more than curiosity. In general his words are taken as if he was not far from being convinced that Christianity was true: perhaps he would have been so if his passions had not stood in the way. But it may be questioned whether this is the force of the Greek as generally supposed and not rather 'In a little you are going to make a Christian of me ' covering his uneasiness at the appeal to his professed Judaism before Festus by an affected and slighting remark. And such I believe to be the case. The notion of an "almost christian" is quite a mistake though a man's mind may be under influences which ought to lead him to it and yet reject it. He would have been glad for Paul to be set free. He expressed his conviction that it might have been done if he had not appealed to Caesar. He gives his opinion to Festus as a wise and reasonable man; but his words were in reality dictated by his conscience-words that he could venture to utter when Festus and all the rest were agreed that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

── John DarbySynopsis of Acts


Acts 24

Chapter Contents

The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul's defence before Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul. (22-27)

Commentary on Acts 24:1-9

(Read Acts 24:1-9)

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.

Commentary on Acts 24:10-21

(Read Acts 24:10-21)

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.

Commentary on Acts 24:22-27

(Read Acts 24:22-27)

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.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Acts


Acts 24

Verse 2

[2] And when he was called forth Tertullus began to accuse him saying Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence

Tertullus began — A speech how different from St. Paul's; which is true modest solid and without paint. Felix was a man of the most infamous character and a plague to all the provinces over which he presided.

Verse 4

[4] Notwithstanding that I be not further tedious unto thee I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

But that I may not trouble thee any farther — By trespassing either on thy patience or modesty. The eloquence of Tertullus was as bad as his cause: a lame introduction a lame transition and a lame conclusion. Did not God confound the orator's language?

Verse 10

[10] Then Paul after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak answered Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Knowing — for several years thou hast been a judge over this nation - And so not unacquainted with our religious rites and customs and consequently more capable of understanding and deciding a cause of this nature. There was no flattery in this. It was a plain fact. He governed Judea six or seven years.

I answer for myself — As it may be observed his answer exactly corresponds with the three articles of Tertullus's charge: sedition heresy and profanation of the temple. As to the first he suggests . that he had not been long enough at Jerusalem to form a party and attempt an insurrection: (for it was about twelve days since he came up thither; five of which he had been at Cesarea Acts 24:1; one or two were spent in his journey thither and most of the rest he had been confined at Jerusalem.) And he challenges them in fact to produce any evidence of such practices Acts 24:11-13. As to the second he confesses himself to be a Christian; but maintains this to be a religion perfectly agreeable to the law and the prophets and therefore deserving a fair reception Acts 24:14 16. And as for profaning the temple he observes that he behaved there in a most peaceful and regular manner so that his innocence had been manifest even before the sanhedrim where the authors of the tumult did not dare to appear against him.

Verse 14

[14] But this I confess unto thee that after the way which they call heresy so worship I the God of my fathers believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

After the way which they call heresy — This appellation St. Paul corrects. Not that it was then an odious word; but it was not honourable enough. A party or sect (so that word signifies) is formed by men. This way was prescribed by God. The apostle had now said what was sufficient for his defence; but having a fair occasion he makes an ingenuous confession of his faith in this verse his hope in the next his love in the 17th. Acts 24:14 15 17 So worship I the God of my fathers - This was a very proper plea before a Roman magistrate; as it proved that he was under the protection of the Roman laws since the Jews were so: whereas had he introduced the worship of new gods he would have forfeited that protection.

Believing all things which are written — Concerning the Messiah.

Verse 15

[15] And have hope toward God which they themselves also allow that there shall be a resurrection of the dead both of the just and unjust.

Both of the just and of the unjust — In a public court this was peculiarly proper to be observed.

Verse 16

[16] And herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.

For this cause — With a view to this I also exercise myself - As well as they.

Verse 19

[19] Who ought to have been here before thee and object if they had ought against me.

Who ought to have been present before thee — But the world never commit greater blunders even against its own laws than when it is persecuting the children of God.

Verse 21

[21] Except it be for this one voice that I cried standing among them Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Unless they think me blamable for this one word — Which nevertheless was the real truth. Acts 23:6.

Verse 22

[22] And when Felix heard these things having more perfect knowledge of that way he deferred them and said When Lysias the chief captain shall come down I will know the uttermost of your matter.

After I have been more accurately informed — Which he afterward was; and he doubtless (as well as Festus and Agrippa) transmitted a full account of these things to Rome.

Verse 23

[23] And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.

He commanded the centurion to let him have liberty — To be only a prisoner at large. Hereby the Gospel was spread more and more; not to the satisfaction of the Jews. But they could not hinder it.

Verse 24

[24] And after certain days when Felix came with his wife Drusilla which was a Jewess he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

And after Paul had been kept some days in this gentle confinement at Cesarea Felix who had been absent for a short time coming thither again with Drusilla his wife - The daughter of Herod Agrippa one of the finest women of that age. Felix persuaded her to forsake her husband Azizus king of Emessa and to be married to himself though a heathen. She was afterward with a son she had by Felix consumed in an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Concerning the faith in Christ — That is the doctrine of Christ.

Verse 25

[25] And as he reasoned of righteousness temperance and judgment to come Felix trembled and answered Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.

And as he reasoned of justice temperance and judgment to come — This was the only effectual way of preaching Christ to an unjust lewd judge.

Felix being terrified — How happily might this conviction have ended had he been careful to pursue the views which were then opening upon his mind! But like thousands he deferred the consideration of these things to a more convenient season. A season which alas! never came. For though he heard again he was terrified no more. In the meantime we do not find Drusilla though a Jewess was thus alarmed. She had been used to hear of a future judgment: perhaps too she trusted to the being a daughter of Abraham or to the expiation of the law and so was proof against the convictions which seized on her husband though a heathen. Let this teach us to guard against all such false dependencies as tend to elude those convictions that might otherwise be produced in us by the faithful preaching of the word of God. Let us stop our ears against those messengers of Satan who appear as angels of light; who would teach us to reconcile the hope of salvation with a corrupt heart or an unholy life.

Go thy way for this time — O how will every damned soul one day lament his having neglected such a time as this!

Verse 26

[26] He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener and communed with him.

He hoped also — An evil hope: so when he heard his eye was not single. No marvel then that he profited nothing by all St. Paul's discourses: that money would be given - By the Christians for the liberty of so able a minister. And waiting for this unhappy Felix fell short of the treasure of the Gospel.

Verse 27

[27] But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix willing to shew the Jews a pleasure left Paul bound.

But after two years — After St. Paul had been two years a prisoner Felix desiring to gratify the Jews left Paul bound - Thus men of the world to gratify one another stretch forth their hands to the things of God! Yet the wisdom of Felix did not profit him did not satisfy the Jews at all. Their accusations followed him to Rome and had utterly ruined him but for the interest which his brother Pallas had with Nero.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Acts


Chapter 24. The Trial Before Felix

Enough For Now
Send for You Again

I. The Charges of the High Priest

  1. Mean and Flattering
  2. A Troublemaker
  3. Bring False and Malicious Charges Against Paul

II. Paul's Own Defense

  1. Hope in Resurrection
  2. Before God and man
  3. Keep Conscience Clear

III. Felix's Reaction

  1. Treat Paul Generously
  2. Listen to the Way
  3. Expect a Bribe
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament