Paul defends himself before Felix at Caesarea. He is kept in custody, discussing with Felix, righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. Felix is succeeded by Porcius Festus.
As I write in every introduction:
This online commentary and translation is available for free, gratis, to anyone who needs it, particularly those living in oppressive nations, who do not have access to printed Study Bibles.
The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.
If you would like to see other translations, please go to biblegateway.com. The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at biblehub.com. However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. And I keep things nontechnical.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Paul Is Accused before Felix (Acts 24:1-9)
|1 Μετὰ δὲ πέντε ἡμέρας κατέβη ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἁνανίας μετὰ πρεσβυτέρων τινῶν καὶ ῥήτορος Τερτύλλου τινός, οἵτινες ἐνεφάνισαν τῷ ἡγεμόνι κατὰ τοῦ Παύλου. 2 κληθέντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἤρξατο κατηγορεῖν ὁ Τέρτυλλος λέγων· πολλῆς εἰρήνης τυγχάνοντες διὰ σοῦ καὶ διορθωμάτων γινομένων τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ διὰ τῆς σῆς προνοίας, 3 πάντῃ τε καὶ πανταχοῦ ἀποδεχόμεθα, κράτιστε Φῆλιξ, μετὰ πάσης εὐχαριστίας. 4 ἵνα δὲ μὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖόν σε ἐγκόπτω, παρακαλῶ ἀκοῦσαί σε ἡμῶν συντόμως τῇ σῇ ἐπιεικείᾳ.
5 εὑρόντες γὰρ τὸν ἄνδρα τοῦτον λοιμὸν καὶ κινοῦντα στάσεις πᾶσιν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις τοῖς κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην πρωτοστάτην τε τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως, 6 ὃς καὶ τὸ ἱερὸν ἐπείρασεν βεβηλῶσαι ὃν καὶ ἐκρατήσαμεν, 8 παρ’ οὗ δυνήσῃ αὐτὸς ἀνακρίνας περὶ πάντων τούτων ἐπιγνῶναι ὧν ἡμεῖς κατηγοροῦμεν αὐτοῦ. 9 συνεπέθεντο δὲ καὶ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι φάσκοντες ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν.
|1 After five days, the high priest Ananias with some elders and a certain lawyer Tertullus came down. They brought formal charges against Paul to the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus began to lay out the charges, saying, “Experiencing great peace and great reform taking place to this nation through your foresight, 3 we acknowledge it in every way and everywhere, your Excellency Felix, with deep gratitude. 4 So as not to weary you further, I beg you by your graciousness to hear us briefly.
5 We have found this man to be a pest, stirring up strife with all the Jews living throughout the world, a first-rank leader of the faction of the Nazarenes. 6 He even attempted to desecrate the temple, and we arrested him. 8 You yourself will be able to examine these facts from this one, to learn the things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews joined in the attack, claiming that these things were so.
Wow. The high priest Ananias came down to beef up the case against Paul. The Jerusalem establishment must have seen Paul to be a strong threat to Judaism as they knew it.
The charges had three prongs: (1) stirring up strife and sedition all over the known world, which Rome would not like; (2) Paul was a ring-leader or first rank of a seditious faction against Judaism, and this disturbed the peace against Rome, so the first two charges overlap. (3) The third charge is that the Jews had a right to put him to death because he polluted the temple.
This bring us to the omitted section: In vv. 6b, 7-8a, some manuscripts add:
“We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7 But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you.” (NAS)
Paul is about to easily refute the charges.
In v. 8 “learn” is the verb epiginōskō (pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard as in “get,” and it is used 44 times in the NT). In any case here are the basic meanings, depending on the context: (1) “know exactly, completely”; “know again, recognize”; “acknowledge’; (2) “know, learn, find out, ascertain; notice; perceive, learn of; understand, know, learn to know.” Here the second definition is best.
“lay out the charges”: the verb is katēgoreō (pronounced kah-tay-gor-eh-oh), and it combines the prefix kata– (down) and the verb agoreuō (pronounced ah-gor-ew-oh), so the context is in public, specifically in the synagogue here. The verb agoreuō means “to speak in the assembly, harangue, speak ill of someone” (Liddell and Scott). Combine it with the prefix and you get “speak down to” or just “accuse.”
GrowApp for Acts 24:1-9
A.. Paul was falsely accused. Have you ever been falsely accused? How did you handle it? Did you defend yourself as Paul does here, or let it go without defending yourself?
Legitimacy of His Service (Acts 24:10-16)
|10 Ἀπεκρίθη τε ὁ Παῦλος νεύσαντος αὐτῷ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος λέγειν· ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν ὄντα σε κριτὴν τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ ἐπιστάμενος εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι, 11 δυναμένου σου ἐπιγνῶναι ὅτι οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δώδεκα ἀφ’ ἧς ἀνέβην προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ. 12 καὶ οὔτε ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὗρόν με πρός τινα διαλεγόμενον ἢ ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου οὔτε ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς οὔτε κατὰ τὴν πόλιν, 13 οὐδὲ παραστῆσαι δύνανταί σοι περὶ ὧν νυνὶ κατηγοροῦσίν μου. 14 ὁμολογῶ δὲ τοῦτό σοι ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, οὕτως λατρεύω τῷ πατρῴῳ θεῷ πιστεύων πᾶσιν τοῖς κατὰ τὸν νόμον καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς προφήταις γεγραμμένοις, 15 ἐλπίδα ἔχων εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων. 16 ἐν τούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκῶ ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους διὰ παντός.||10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul answered, “Knowing that for many years you have been judge over this nation, I cheerfully defend myself concerning the case against me. 11 Since you can find out that there are not more than twelve days from when I went up to Jerusalem to worship, 12 they did not find me in the temple dialoguing with anyone or making trouble with the people, either in the synagogues or in the city, 13 nor are they able to provide proof concerning the charge of which they now accuse me. 14 I admit this to you that according to the Way, which they call a faction, I worship in the way of God of the fathers, believing in everything which is according to our law and written in the prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves accept, that there will soon be a resurrection to come, both of the righteous and unrighteous. 16 Therefore I discipline myself to have a clear conscience before God and humans, always.|
“cheerfully”: it comes from the adverb euthumōs (pronounced you-thoo-mohss), and eu– (good or positive), and thum– (originally spirit or soul or heart, the active part of humanity). Long before the NT was written, thum– described a Greek hero. Together they mean “positively spirited” or “positive disposition.” Paul was confident when he appeared before the court. Jesus said that when you are put on trial, there’s no need to over-think (or just plain rehearsing) what you will say, for the Spirit will guide you (Luke 12:12). In my view it is all right to have a plan, but don’t be thrown off or get shaky when the Spirit cancels your plan and charges you up with his anointing, much like he did for Stephen (Acts 7). Be confident and even cheerful when you testify.
“defend myself”: it is good to fight back once in a while. The best example is Jesus. Maybe millions believe that throughout his ministry he did not answer his challengers. Where do they get this bad idea? The source must be at his trial. Is. 53:7 says he did not open his mouth before his accusers, but was like a lamb going to slaughter, and Peter repeats the same idea (1 Peter 2:22-23) (Matt. 27:12-14; Mark 14:60-61; 15:4-5; John 19:8-9.) Yes, at his trial he did not defend himself or argue his case with the purpose of exonerating or clearing himself of the death sentence. He could have called twelve legions of angels (Matt. 26:53). Instead, he was called to die for the sins of the world, so he let the unjust events take their course and remained silent in the sense of no self-defense. However, during his ministry he often replied to verbal challenges from the Pharisees and teachers of the law. He answered back and defeated them in their badgering him (Mark 2:6; 2:16; 7:1-5; 8:31; 9:14; 10:33; 11:18, 27-28; 14:1, etc.).
Defend yourself cheerfully!
Here is Bruce’s (1990) timeline of the twelve days:
Day 1: Paul Arrives in Jerusalem (21:17)
Day 2: Paul and his company are received by James and elders (21:18)
Day 3: Paul initiates the purification ceremony (21:26)
Days 3-9: the seven days of purification (21:27)
Day 10: Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin (22:30-23:10)
Day 11: Plot formed and discovered against Paul, who is sent away from Jerusalem (23:12-30)
Day 12: Paul arrives in Caesarea (23:31-33)
Paul is on trial through no fault of his own. He was doing nothing wrong.
“accuse”: see v. 2 and “lay out the charges.”
“admit”: the verb is homologeō (pronounced ho-mo-loh-geh-oh, and the “g” is hard), which is a compound: hom– = same, and log– = speak. It can mean “confess” in the sense of “agreeing and speaking” or “speaking agreement.” Other meanings, depending on the context: “promise, assure”; “agree, admit”; “declare publicly, acknowledge” “say plainly, claim, praise.” BDAG says it means, depending on the context: (1) “to commit oneself to do something, for someone, promise, assure”; (2) “to share a common view or be of common mind about a matter, agree”; (3) “to concede that something is factual or true, grant, admit, confess”; (4) “to acknowledge something, ordinarily in public, acknowledge, claim, profess, praise.” Here it could mean the third or fourth definition.
“worship”: it is the verb latreuō (pronounced lah-true-oh), and it is related to serving, which can encompass worship (Acts 7:7, 42). But sometimes it is best to translate it as serving. Its translation is optional—up to you. Interpret it both ways: worship and serve.
Bible Basics about Praise and Worship
“believing”: The verb is pisteuō (pronounced pea-stew-oh), and it is used 241 times. It means to “believe, be convinced of something.” In a more specific definition it goes in a direction: “to have faith in Christ or God” (Mounce p. 61). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Here it is connected to “saved.”
Let’s discuss the verb believe and the noun faith more deeply. It is the language of the kingdom of God. It is how God expects us to relate to him. It is the opposite of doubt, which is manifested in whining and complaining and fear. Instead, faith is, first, a gift that God has distributed to everyone (Rom. 12:3). Second, it is directional (Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 20:21). We cannot rightly have faith in faith. It must be faith in God through Christ. Third, faith in Christ is different from faith in one’s ability to follow God on one’s own. It is different from keeping hundreds of religious laws and rules. This is one of Luke’s main themes in Acts, culminating in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s ministry for the rest of Acts. Faith in Jesus over faith in law keeping. Fourth, there is faith as a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are built on Scripture (Acts 6:7). Fifth, there is also a surge of faith that is poured out and transmitted through the Spirit when people need it most (1 Cor. 12:9). It is one of the nine charismata or manifestations of grace (1 Cor 12:7-11). Sixth, one can build faith and starve doubt by feasting on Scripture and the words about Christ (Rom. 10:17).
Word Study on Faith and Faithfulness
Bruce is right: “There is no need to doubt that, like other Pharisees, he had inherited the belief in such a twofold resurrection, but when he develops the doctrine in his letters, he concentrates on the hope set before ‘those who belong to Christ,’ for whom resurrection (at the advent of Christ) will be participation in his resurrection, the harvest of which his resurrection was the firstfuits (1 Cor. 15:20-23; cf. Phil. 3:20-21)” (comment on vv. 14-16). In other words, he really did believe in the final resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous, one side for eternal life, the other side for eternal negative judgment.
Bible Basics about the Final Judgment
“hoping”: The verb for hope is elpizō, and the noun is elpis. See the application section, below, for a theology of hope.
Polhill is right to see the resurrection as the main theme to Paul’s preaching from Acts 23-26:
Paul’s reference to the resurrection is the high point of his witness in all the speeches of Acts 23–26. This was not by accident. Paul’s conviction in the resurrection constituted the real point of contention with the other Jews. In the present passage this was precisely Paul’s point. He believed the same Scriptures, worshiped the same God, shared the same hope. But it was precisely at this point that “the Way” parted ways with the rest of the Jews. The Christians believed that the resurrection already had begun in Christ. (p. 485)
“Way”: Greek: hodos (pronounced hoh-dohss). It means the “path” or “road.” In Greece today, it is the standard word for street and road, and you will see street signs with “od” or “OD” or St. with the name of the street. John the Baptist, through the OT prophet Malachi, launched the idea: “Prepare the way (hodos) of the Lord!” (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23). Jesus said the road (hodos) to life is narrow (Matt. 7:14). And Jesus said he is the way (hodos), the truth, and the life (John 14:16). He is the road way to God.
In this age of pluralism and multiculturalism, don’t be afraid to proclaim the exclusivity of Jesus. You can find some elements in other religions where you can build a bridge (e.g. they also say not to steal), so you do not have to denigrate them through and through. But you will discover that other religions claim exclusivity. Buddhists believe Hindus are wrong; Sikhs believe Hinduism and Islam are shortsighted and deficient. Muslims who know their Quran believe all other religions are wrong and deny, for example, the essential conditions for salvation: the Lordship of Jesus, his Sonship, his crucifixion, and his bodily resurrection. Do I need to keep going on about Islam?
Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions
“which they call a faction”: I like how he corrected his accusers. He is saying that his Messianic faith is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible. Messianic Jews should be confident in the same thing today.
Also, Paul assumes there are Pharisees among the elders who came from Jerusalem. That’s why he could appeal to the biblical doctrine of the resurrection.
Here are the basics about resurrection in the New Testament:
1.. It was prophesied in the OT (Ps. 16:3-11; Is. 55:3; Jnh. 1:17)
2.. Jesus predicted it before his death (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33-34; John 2:19-22)
3.. It happened in history (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-8)
4.. Power used to resurrect Jesus:
a.. Power of God (Acts 2:24; Eph. 1:19-20; Col. 2:12)
b.. Christ’s own power (John 10:18)
c.. Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25-26)
d.. Power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18)
5.. Nature of Christ’s resurrection
a.. The same body that died was raised (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27)
b.. It was a physical body
(1)) He ate (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 10:40-41)
(2)) He could be touched (John 20:27; 1 John 1:1)
(3)) It was a gloried body (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21)
(4)) He passed through locked door (John 20:19, 26)
(5)) He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9)
c.. It was also a transformed and glorified body
12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?
And for a review of the basics, please click on this post:
11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead
You can also go to youtube to find out the evidence for it. Look for Gary Habermas or Mike Licona.
For a table of his appearances and other facts, please see:
14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples
“I discipline myself”: it comes from the verb askeō (pronounced ass-keh-oh), and we get our word ascetic from it (the “c” was hard and could be interchangeable with the “k”). It can mean “do one’s best” or “practice.” Don’t be afraid of some discipline in your life. Turn off the TV and your cell phone. Open the Word (it’s okay, if it’s on your cell phone!). Cut back on social media. Think of the pioneer days back in the 1880s. They did not even have a radio. Yes, the telegraph system was up, but it took huge effort to send a message from a nearby town. Their only distraction was work and going to church—or having the pastor come by neighboring farms to gather the farming families and sing and pray and preach to them. The point is this. Don’t let modern conveniences distract you from your devotion to the Lord. Exercise some discipline, but without too much legalism and self-denial so that you let the pendulum swing too far away from social media. Be balanced.
Marshall: “Paul’s wording reflects the common idea of human duty towards God and man (Prov. 3:4; Luke 18:2, 4) and ties in with Jesus’ summary of the law in terms of love of God and one’s neighbor” (comment on v. 16). Think of the question which the lawyer posed: what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus: love God and your neighbor (Luke 10:25-28). Then Jesus explains who the lawyer’s neighbor was in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:30-37).
Marshall adds what a good conscience was: “It also echoes his earlier claim in 23:1 to have a good conscience, i.e. one that does not condemn him, not because it is insensitive but because it can detect no faults” (comment on v. 16).
GrowApp for Acts 24:10-16
A.. Paul said that he disciplines himself to keep his conscience clear before God and humanity, always. How do you discipline yourself to keep your conscience clear?
Financial Aid and Purification Ceremony (Acts 24:17-23)
|17 δι’ ἐτῶν δὲ πλειόνων ἐλεημοσύνας ποιήσων εἰς τὸ ἔθνος μου παρεγενόμην καὶ προσφοράς, 18 ἐν αἷς εὗρόν με ἡγνισμένον ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ οὐ μετὰ ὄχλου οὐδὲ μετὰ θορύβου, 19 τινὲς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἀσίας Ἰουδαῖοι, οὓς ἔδει ἐπὶ σοῦ παρεῖναι καὶ κατηγορεῖν εἴ τι ἔχοιεν πρὸς ἐμέ. 20 ἢ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι εἰπάτωσαν τί εὗρον ἀδίκημα στάντος μου ἐπὶ τοῦ συνεδρίου, 21 ἢ περὶ μιᾶς ταύτης φωνῆς ἧς ἐκέκραξα ἐν αὐτοῖς ἑστὼς ὅτι περὶ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν ἐγὼ κρίνομαι σήμερον ἐφ’ ὑμῶν.
22 Ἀνεβάλετο δὲ αὐτοὺς ὁ Φῆλιξ, ἀκριβέστερον εἰδὼς τὰ περὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ εἴπας· ὅταν Λυσίας ὁ χιλίαρχος καταβῇ, διαγνώσομαι τὰ καθ’ ὑμᾶς· 23 διαταξάμενος τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ τηρεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἔχειν τε ἄνεσιν καὶ μηδένα κωλύειν τῶν ἰδίων αὐτοῦ ὑπηρετεῖν αὐτῷ.
|17 “After many years, I brought financial aid to the poor of my nation and presented offerings, 18 in which Jews of Asia found me engaged, purifying myself in the temple, neither with a crowd nor an uproar. 19 They should be present before you and bring charges, if something might be against me. 20 Or these themselves here should speak if they found any crime when I stood before the great council, 21 or else about this one statement which I shouted, when I stood among them: ‘I am on trial before you today for the resurrection of the dead!’”
22 Felix adjourned them, now that he knew about the Way more accurately, saying, “When Lycias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep him and to give him liberty, preventing no one of his own friends from taking care of him.
Paul circles back around to his blameless behavior while in Jerusalem and the temple. Please don’t smash the culture of a church, if you are extra-prophetic. I have seen over-zealous Charismatics do this, and it is ugly and grimace-inducing. Please respect the boundaries. The goal is to glorify Jesus and be winsome, not awesome in your own mind. Yes, the OT prophets did outlandish things by our standards, but in the ancient world they had a different outlook. Today, if you go into a church that has a restrictive pneumatology and yell out some prophecy, “Yeah, verily, I shall come against you like a herd of elephants!” then you turn people off to a deeper walk with Jesus. They are right to usher you out.
“my nation”: it says that Paul loved Israel and considered it his homeland over the province of Cilicia in southern Turkey. For him, Israel was a major player in the Roman empire. The Jerusalem temple was the largest single man-made structure in the empire (I don’t know how to calculate its size compared to the pyramids.
In v. 19, “bring charges, see v. 2 and “lay out the charges.” Marshall refers to an historian of Roman law (Sherwin-White) who says that Paul was on solid legal grounds because Romans did not like plaintiffs making accusations and not carry them through in court (comment on v. 19). So, Paul says, the charges should be dropped.
Paul is challenging the standing of his accusers. The first accusers were the Jews from Asia, and they should be here. And then the Jews present cannot produce evidence that he ignited a riot, because he was simply carrying out a vow for cross-cultural outreach for the benefit of the Messianic Jews of Jerusalem and their relations with non-Messianic Jews. There is nothing wrong with cross-cultural outreach. Sometimes charismatic Catholics take Mass—a Catholic ritual—so they can bring some Catholics into the fulness of the Spirit. Just because I may not agree with the theology of the Mass does not mean I can stand back from a distance and criticize and sneer. These Catholic Charismatics are reaching out to their fellow Catholics and bringing them to the water to drink more deeply. I applaud them.
Basics about the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper in Synoptic Gospels + Church Traditions
John 6 and Partaking of His Body and Blood
Some time in his life, Felix accurately heard about the Way. It is great that followers of the Way could get into his household and gain access to him. Was it one of the apostles or an on-fire lesser known believer? Sadly, we will never know who he was or who they were. But when, by God’s grace, we get to heaven, we can ask.
Bruce notes that Lysias came down with information, but none of it helped Felix render a verdict. Felix kept Paul in prison to give no more offense against the Jews because Felix was abusive in his policies while being governor over Judea (comment on v. 23).
GrowApp for Acts 24:17-23
A.. Paul preached the resurrection of the dead, and Felix learned more about the Way. When you share your faith, do you have a theme like the resurrection? Or something else?
Paul and Felix Discuss Issues, and Festus Succeeds Felix (Acts 24:24-27)
|24 Μετὰ δὲ ἡμέρας τινὰς παραγενόμενος ὁ Φῆλιξ σὺν Δρουσίλλῃ τῇ ἰδίᾳ γυναικὶ οὔσῃ Ἰουδαίᾳ μετεπέμψατο τὸν Παῦλον καὶ ἤκουσεν αὐτοῦ περὶ τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν πίστεως. 25 διαλεγομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ περὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ ἐγκρατείας καὶ τοῦ κρίματος τοῦ μέλλοντος, ἔμφοβος γενόμενος ὁ Φῆλιξ ἀπεκρίθη· τὸ νῦν ἔχον πορεύου, καιρὸν δὲ μεταλαβὼν μετακαλέσομαί σε, 26 ἅμα καὶ ἐλπίζων ὅτι χρήματα δοθήσεται αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τοῦ Παύλου· διὸ καὶ πυκνότερον αὐτὸν μεταπεμπόμενος ὡμίλει αὐτῷ.
27 Διετίας δὲ πληρωθείσης ἔλαβεν διάδοχον ὁ Φῆλιξ Πόρκιον Φῆστον, θέλων τε χάριτα καταθέσθαι τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὁ Φῆλιξ κατέλιπεν τὸν Παῦλον δεδεμένον.
|24 After some days, Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife, a Jewess, and summoned Paul and listened to him about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 While he was discussing righteousness, self-control and judgment to come, Felix became afraid and answered, “Go away for now! When I have a spare moment, I shall summon you.” 26 At the same time, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul. Therefore he quite often summoned him and conversed with him.
27 When two years were completed, Felix received Porcius Festus as successor. Since he wanted to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul a prisoner.
Drusilla and Felix were thoroughly corrupt. Drusilla married an older man (Felix) because she was unhappy with her first husband. But these things can be looked up online.
The point for this commentary about your walk with God is that he may surprise you so that you can witness about Jesus to the highest local authority. Paul went right back to the key of the whole gospel: faith in Christ Jesus, as distinct from obeying the law to attain enough righteousness to please God. Jesus pleases God for you, and all you (and Felix and Drusilla) have to do is live “in Christ.”
“faith”: the noun is pistis (pronounced peace-teace), and it is used 243 times. Its basic meaning is the “belief, trust, confidence,” and it can also mean “faithfulness” and “trustworthy” (Mounce p. 232). It is directional, and the best direction is faith in God (Mark 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 6:1) and faith in Jesus (Acts 3:16; 20:21; 24:24; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:15; Col. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:13). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Recall the true acronym:
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
See v. 14 for more comments.
And now Paul goes beyond the essential starting point—faith in Christ Jesus—to deeper doctrines, at least they were deeper for Felix and young Drusilla. Once you live in Christ, he gives you the grace to walk in righteousness, self-control, and be assured of judgment to come. However, Felix was not ready to face judgment, so he became afraid.
Faith in Jesus → righteousness—self-control—judgment. For Paul, it all begins with faith in Jesus; then good results can flow from it.
Here we have the perfect image of the conflict between God’s kingdom, which is advanced mainly by the preaching of the gospel and establishing a Christian community in a town, and a human kingdom governed by men like Felix in the foreground and Rome in the background. Felix was waiting for bribes from Paul and his friends. Recall that Philip and his four prophet daughters were there, and the believing community was growing. Felix must have received reports that Paul had his needs met from many believers coming and going, and he had brought an offering of aid to the church in Jerusalem. So the governor expected some monetary kickback.
Bruce: “In spite of stern and reiterated edicts against bribery, the wheels of Roman justice, especially in some of the provinces, ran more smoothly and rapidly if they were were judicially oiled; and a number of provincial governors were deplorably venal” (comment on v. 26).
In the two years before Felix left, the Jews and Greek fought in Caesarea, and Felix punished the Jews, causing many deaths. Jews complained, and Rome did not like Felix’s handling of the case, so Rome recalled him and put him on trial. His very rich brother, however, intervened to prevent a guilty sentence.
Scholars speculate that Luke was putting together his notes for research on his (third) Gospel in Caesarea; he must have traveled into Jerusalem, and perhaps into Galilee, to interview people. I wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, was alive, and she told him about the virgin birth. Or maybe it was one of Jesus’s (half) brothers or sisters (“half” because his father was the Father through the Spirit). He probably got ahold of some of traditions (handed down stories about Jesus) that made up Matthew’s Gospel and the preaching that Peter told, which was retold by someone else, if Peter was not around in Judea at this time. These traditions formed the Gospel of Mark. Luke may have traveled up to Galilee to interview people.
The main point: Luke’s Gospel was rooted in the earliest recollections of the disciples. The Gospel of Luke—and by association Matthew and Mark—are historically reliable.
11. Eyewitness Testimony in Luke’s Gospel
As usual, I like how Bock summarized Paul’s defense. First he says that the new “sect,” the Way, when it is truly lived out, can only bring peace to society and is no threat to Rome. “In today’s world, where the moral compass has lost its magnetism, such a life stands in contrast to that of the many. This contrast, if lived out in an effective, engaging manner, can be attractive when people sense the chaos of the alternative lifestyle that a lack of morals produces” (comment on v. 27).
Then Bock writes:
Paul’s defense is that he is a citizen guilty of nothing but living out his faith and experiencing God’s promise. His offense is to challenge others to see the benefit of responding to God’s leading and direction as he has. Whether Paul’s offense for the gospel is a cause for offense or is met with a recognition of the need to acknowledge God depends on the heart of the listener. Paul has met his responsibility by sharing. He is not responsible for the result or the response. The same is true today for those who spread God’s message, reflecting Paul’s example. (comment on v. 27)
In other words, fulfill God’s mission and duty put on you. Speak the word and leave the results up to God.
GrowApp for Acts 24:24-27
A.. To a pagan governor, Paul preached faith in Jesus, and then righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. Do you think he was wise to cover those themes?
B.. What are you doing to live in those four biblical truths?
Observations for Discipleship
Two key words in this commentary is believing (v. 14) and hope (v. 15).
Let’s discuss each one, so we can know God better.
The verb is pisteuō (pronounced pih-stew-oh), and it is used 241 times. It means to “believe, be convinced of something.” In a more specific definition it goes in a direction: “to have faith in Christ or God” (Mounce p. 61). This is much better than a vague believing in oneself or the universe. Believe in Jesus first, then study Scripture slowly as you move along. When you advance, you can study basic doctrine.
Believing is the currency of heaven. We have faith in Jesus and his salvation first. And then we believe in him for everything else, like walking in holiness, healing, and the gifts of the Spirit. All good things flow from our faith in Jesus Christ apart from works of the law.
The opposite of believing is doubting. You may have doubts, but starve those doubts through the power of the Spirit. Ask God to fill you more. The second way is to starve your doubts by feeding your faith, and this happens when you study Scripture. As you study Scripture, say key verses that are meaningful to you out loud. Speak them out.
Now let’s turn to hope.
Hope is a gift of God (Rom. 15:13), of Jesus (1 Tim. 1:1), and of the Spirit (Rom. 5:5 and 15:13).
And so all three persons of the Trinity distribute this gift.
The verb for hope is elpizō, (pronounced ehl-pee-zoh and used 31 times), and the noun is elpis (pronounced ehl-peace and used 53 times). “The most important sense of this verb is the firm conviction that because of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, we can have confidence as we face the future … The sense of confident expectation is used when the NT writers speak about hoping in God” (Mounce, p. 340). For the noun: “The majority of the NT writers invest elpis, “hope,” with the nuance of ‘confident expectation,’ or ‘solid assurance’” (ibid).
In other words, the world has a vague sense of hope, as in “I’m just a-hopin’ and a-prayin’ that everything will work out, but I just don’t know.” That’s not biblical hope, because it is not directed towards God or Christ. Biblical hope stands on them, and they bring your promise to pass. So faith and hope must be directed towards God, and he will carry you through.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2007.
Bruce, F. F. Acts. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1988. (I also used his earlier work Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Commentary, Eerdmans, 1951, 1952, 1990, 3rd ed.).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger. United Bible Society, 2014. The Greek text in the tables comes from the Nestle-Aland 28th ed, available here: https://www.academic-bible.com/en/online-bibles/novum-testamentum-graece-na-28/read-the-bible-text/
Keener, Craig, S. Acts. New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge UP, 2020.
Longenecker, Richard N. Acts. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.
Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Tyndale, 1980.
Parsons, Mikeal C. and Martin M. Culy. Acts. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor, UP, 2003.
Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 2009.
Polhill, John B. Acts. New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Broadman and Holman, 1992.
Schnabel, Eckhard, J. Acts. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan, 2012.