Acts 24 – 2019-10-09
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- CHAPTER 24 COMMENTARY Background
”The future of the gospel was at stake, as powerful forces ranged themselves for and against it. On the one hand, the Jewish persecutors were prejudiced and violent. On the other, the Romans were open-minded and went out of their way to maintain the standards of the law, justice and order of which their best leaders were understandably proud…. Between these two powers, religious and civil, hostile and friendly, Jerusalem and Rome, Paul found himself trapped, unarmed and totally vulnerable. One cannot help admiring his courage. […] The source of his courage was his serene confidence in the truth. He was well aware that the Romans had no case against him. He was convinced that the Jews had no case either, because his faith was the faith of his fathers, and the gospel was the fulfillment of the law. And above all he knew that his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was with him and would keep his promise that he would bear witness, some day, somehow, in Rome.”
v.1: “The seriousness with which the Jewish leaders took this case is apparent in that the high priest himself made the sixty-five-mile journey to Caesarea along with elders and lawyer Tertullus.”
vv.10-15: “…[I]n the few days at his disposal [Paul] had had no time to foment an insurrection; he had had no intention of doing so either, since he went to Jerusalem as a pilgrim to worship, not as an agitator to cause a riot; and his accusers could produce no evidence that in temple, synagogue or city he had caused a disturbance or even engaged in an argument.
“Secondly, Paul addressed himself to the charge that he was ‘a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.’ This led him to affirmation as well as denial. Although he was indeed ‘a follower of the Way,’ this was not a ‘sect’, as they called it, for he worshipped the God of their fathers and believed the teaching of the Scriptures.”
vv.11-16: “Paul does admit that he is a member of the Way, but he goes on to show that this sect has similar beliefs to the Jews (vv. 14-15); this is a sect just like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Next Paul asserts his blamelessness (v.16). No one can point a finger at him regarding his personal life…. The word translated ‘strive’ in verse 16 (askeo) was originally used for athletic strife. It means ‘to engage in some activity, with both continuity and effort.’”
v.14: The followers of Christ were known as followers of the Way. Only later was the term Christian commonly used to identify believers.
vv.14-15: “Paul’s purpose in this was not just to make a personal declaration, however, but to insist that he shared it with the whole people of God. He worshipped the same God (‘the God of our fathers’), believed the same truths (the Law and God of our fathers’), shared the same hope (the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked) and cherished the same ambition (to keep a clear conscience). […] His ownership, faith, hope and goal were no different from theirs. ‘The Way’ enjoyed a direct continuity with the Old Testament, for the Scriptures bore witness to Jesus Christ as the one in whom God’s promises had been fulfilled.”
vv.22-23: “Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way (perhaps through his Jewish wife, Drusilla), adjourned the proceedings. He found himself on the horns of a dilemma. He could not convict Paul, since Lysias the tribune had found no fault in him (23:29), nor had the Sanhedrin (23:9), nor had Tertullus been able to substantiate his charges. On the other hand, Felix was unwilling to release Paul, partly because he hoped for a bribe (26) and partly because he wanted to curry favour with the Jews (27). The only other option was to postpone his verdict on the pretext that he needed the tribune’s advice…”
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990) 356-357.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 578.
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990) 361.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 579.
 The Quest Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984) 1543.
John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990) 361-362.
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990) 362.
- Acts 24:1-27 (ESV) 1 And 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.2 And 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, 3 in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. 4 But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. 5 For 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. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”
9 The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.
10 And 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. 11 You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12 and 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. 13 Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 But 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, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18 While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. Butsome Jews from Asia— 19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council,21 other 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.’”
22 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then 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.
24 After 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. 25 And 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.”26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
- Acts 24:1-21
- What lesson can I draw about Christian proclamation through the difference between Tertullus’s presentation and Paul’s introductory remarks?
- In what ways is Felix a confusing and contradictory man?
- What lessons or parallels to my own relationship with the truth of God’s word can I draw from Felix’s odd response to Paul?