Paul's Trial before Felix
Acts 24:1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
They descended, because Jerusalem is high, with a smooth tongued orator, a lawyer, making accusations against Paul. The devil is subtle, and wiley, we will see what comes of this.
Acts 24:2 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,
Acts 24:3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
Tertullus begins with flattery of the governor. Beware of flattering lips, they are after something.
“The picture drawn by the historian Tacitus of Felix’s public and private life is not a pretty one. Trading on the influences of his infamous brother [Pallas, a favorite of the emperor Claudius], he indulged in every license and excess, thinking ‘that he could do any evil act with impunity’ (Tacitus, Annals 12.54).” (Williams)
Psa 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
Prov 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Paul never used flattering words.
1 Th 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:
This doesn't mean we are not to say kind words. We are to speak truth in love, building up our family of God. Flattery is a twisting of truth for our own purposes.
Tertullus continues his case against Paul.
Acts 24:4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
Acts 24:5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
The flatterer of Felix was also a skillful accuser. He described Paul as a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Jesus had lived in Nazarene, the city had a bad reputation. The lawyer wanted to paint a bad picture of Jesus and his followers, by referring to the city. In truth Jesus came from God in heaven. The way was the way of God's people.
These charges were to put Paul against the Roman government as a ring leader of a dangerous radical group, terrorists.
Acts 24:6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
There was no evidence for this accusation, it was the cry of a confused mob...
Acts 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
Acts 21:29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
Tertullus concludes his accusation against Paul.
Acts 24:7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
Another twisted truth, it was the Jews who were violent, wishing to kill Paul. Perhaps there was strength shown against an angry mob. Sometimes we must allow God's strength in us to combat evil.
Jesus spoke of spiritual violence...
Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
In the world we will face opposition, people guided by demonic spirits will oppose our efforts to establish the kingdom of God in the hearts of those seeking God. We cannot give in to opposition, the kingdom of God sometimes is established by force, intensity of spiritual warfare, the sword of truth, the word of God. Even physical force may be needed to rescue another from a perilous place.
We receive the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus. There will be many more battles, but the battle belongs to the Lord. We trust and serve him.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The lawyer continues, placing the Roman captain in a bad light.
Acts 24:8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
Acts 24:9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
The Jewish leaders were agreeing with their lawyer, but there was little evidence of wrong doing. They are hoping that the governor, Felix is of a like spirit, and will see as they see Paul.
Do you see the importance of having God fearing judges and leaders in our own country? Otherwise, they judge according to an evil mind and seek power and bribes. Give me a judge who upholds God's word and principles.
Paul speaks in his own defense
Acts 24:10 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:
Acts 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
Acts 24:12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
Acts 24:13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
Where is the evidence? Paul does not flatter the judge, he speaks plainly. It has been only 12 days since the uprising, now where are those with evidence of wrong doing. Many accuse, but no one has proof.
When we witness for Jesus, our proof is God's word and our testimony. Accusers will call us all manner of evil names, but they cannot provide evidence that the word is false. We have much evidence for the gospel truth. The first being a resurrected Jesus and our own new changed lives.
Acts 24:14 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:
The way, the Christian faith believes we are to worship the God of the Jewish fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Paul continues saying the word of God is truth, he believes all that is written in the law and the prophets, the same scriptures the Jews teach.
Acts 24:15 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.
Their hope is in a resurrection, unless they do not believe, as the liberal Saduces did not believe. Paul's hope is also in the promised life after death. Jesus was the firstborn of the resurrection unto eternal life.
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Paul also believed in the resurrection of the unjust for judgement, the great white throne judgement.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
He is careful to not offend any, but if the word of God offends, it is God they must answer to.
Acts 24:17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
He brought offerings from the churches for the poor church people in Jerusalem.
Acts 24:18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
Acts 24:19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
Where are these Asian Jews who accused Paul? Why do they not come with proof of their charges?
Acts 24:20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,
Acts 24:21 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.
Let those here to accuse me, show evidence. The only charge was that he believed in the resurrection of the dead. A truth found both in the law and the New Covenant.
Acts 24:22 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.
The captain had already testified in his letter to Felix, which was read when Paul arrived. I think Felix was looking for a bribe. Like many unjust judges, they seek their own gain. This was the letter:
Acts 23:27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
Acts 23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
Acts 23:29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
Acts 24:23 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.
Felix tried to walk a middle ground. He knew Paul was innocent, yet he did not want to identify himself with Paul’s gospel and the Christians. So he made no decision and kept Paul in custody.
Acts 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.
Acts 24:25 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.
Paul did not talk about Jesus, but of the law that they new and disobeyed. He spoke of righteousness, to a judge who looked for personal gain. He spoke of temperance to a couple who had no moral restraints. He spoke of judgement from the final judge of all people, our God will judge and condemn the unrighteous. Felix trembled at these words, as every spirit of darkness does, but he did not receive his message. He had something else in mind.
Acts 24:26 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.
All he wanted was his own worldly gain. Paul would not give him money, so he was kept in realative freedom, but under arrest.
Paul no doubt thought of the Lord's word to him "Acts 9:16 For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake."
1 Pet 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
1 Pet 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Acts 24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
Festus would replace Felix as governor. When he came he found that Paul had been there two years. The limit for holding a prisoner without proof of guilt was two years by Roman law. Felix had hoped for bribe money from Paul and had held him, not letting him go free to please the Jews. This was a political consideration.
Paul was still at the center of God's will for him. He had suffered greatly delivering the hope of the gospel to many lands. The greatest opposition was from the Asian Jews and the head leaders including the chief priest in Jerusalem, who sought to kill him. Being under house arrest with freedom to receive visitors had kept Paul safe. There was a time in our Lord Jesus' ministry when he had to avoid Jerusalem because of the plotting of the Jewish leaders. But, when the time for the fulfillment of his purpose came, he did not run from this terrible suffering to come for our sins.
Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
Paul was in the Lord's plan, he would go to Rome when the time would come.