The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 24

Act 24:5

Almost identical to the charges in Luk 23:2 and Mat 26:61, re Christ.

NAZARENE SECT: Cp Mat 2:23; John 1:46; 7:41,42.

Act 24:6

TRIED TO DESECRATE THE TEMPLE: But Paul was actually purified in the Temple (v 18)!

The "tried" indicates a more careful charge than the one in Acts 21:28.

Act 24:8

V 7 (in NIV mg): "But the commander, Lysias, came and with the use of much force snatched him from our hands": That is, 'We would have handled this matter easily, not disturbing you... if only Lysias had left us alone.'

BY EXAMINING HIM YOURSELF: "Him" = Lysias, who will -- they say -- confirm their story (vv 7,22).

Act 24:10

In ct Tertullus' speech (Acts 24:2-8), Paul uses no flattery at all; he speaks in a clear and straightforward manner. And so would we always speak. If we feel there is a need to flatter the one to whom we are speaking; then probably our case is not as good as we would like to think.

Act 24:11

NO MORE THAN TWELVE DAYS AGO: As if to say, 'How could I have achieve as many extraordinary things as my accusers allege in only 12 days?'

Act 24:14

Vv 14-21: Why does Paul include so much seemingly irrelevant information? Perhaps because he has a higher motive: he wants Christianity to be validated, in the highest possible Roman court, as a legitimate religion.

THE WAY, WHICH THEY CALL A SECT: "The (one true, and living) Way, which they (erroneously) call (just another Jewish) sect."

Act 24:15

RIGHTEOUS: See 2Co 5:10; 1Th 4:14,17; Rev 20:4,6.

WICKED: See Mat 25:41,46; 2Th 1:8,9; Rev 20:12,13.

The word translated "unjust" (KJV) or "wicked" (NIV) is the Greek "adikos"; other uses of the same original word plainly include the unbaptized: (a) "When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous (adikos) instead of the saints?" (1Co 6:1) -- the "unrighteous" are directly contrasted with the "saints"; (b) "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust (adikos), that he might bring us to God" (1Pe 3:18) -- the "unjust" are those who are in the process of being brought to God, a perfect definition of the as-yet-unbaptized!; and (c) "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust (adikos) unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Pe 2:9) -- the immediate context here equates the godly with Lot (v 7), and the unjust with the men of Sodom and Gomorrah (v 6), and plainly says that they -- being "unjust" -- will be punished on the day of judgment.

Again in the immediate context of Acts 24:15, the Gentile ruler Felix, who heard these words of Paul about a "resurrection of the wicked", grew fearful when -- only a few days later -- Paul spoke to him again of "the judgment to come" (Acts 24:25). If a resurrection of the "wicked" or the "unjust" (v 15) plainly held no threat at all for any unbaptized Gentile, why did Felix tremble when told of the judgment?

Act 24:18

'They have brought these charges against a man pronounced ceremonially clean and purified by their own priests!'

Act 24:22

WELL ACQUAINTED: Having "rather accurate knowledge" (RSV).

ADJOURNED: Gr "anaballomai" (only once in NT) describes how Felix "deferred" the Jews after the first hearing of the case against Paul. There is an evident suggestion of impatience about this word ("thrust them back": a quite strong word), which crystallizes out further when reference is made to Psa 78:21; 89:38, LXX, where this is used.

WHEN LYSIAS COMES... I WILL DECIDE YOUR CASE: But Felix already had the captain's witness in the letter before him (Act 23:29).

Act 24:24

DRUSILLA: Born in AD 38, she was a Jewess, previously married to Azizus, king of Emesa, whom she left for Felix (Jos Ant 20:7:1,2). As the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I, Drusilla belonged to the infamous family of the Herods. When Paul stood before Felix and Drusilla, the apostle spoke "concerning the faith in Christ Jesus," with the result that Felix was "terrified" as Paul "reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come" (Acts 24:25, ASV). The effect on Drusilla is not recorded.

Act 24:25

SELF-CONTROL: Listed as one of the products of the Spirit in the life of a believer (Gal 5:23). "Felix was a naturally violent and headstrong man, used to exercising power, and getting his own way. If men revolted against his authority, he destroyed them. If the High Priest remonstrated with him, he had him put to death. If he fancied another man's wife, he took her. But if he wanted to be a Christian, he would have to get down off his high horse and learn to control his passions. 'Except a man be converted, and become as a little child', the founder of Christianity had laid down, 'he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.' And neither Felix or anybody else is exempted. There is no place for people on hand-made pedestals in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God" (LR).

JUDGMENT TO COME: Knowledge of the "Way" (vv 14,15) can bring responsibility to the judgment of God: Acts 17:30,31; John 12:48; 15:22.

FELIX WAS AFRAID: But conviction is not conversion!

"The bloated slave sitting on the seat of judgment and power, representing all the worst vices of Roman degeneracy; the heads of the sinking Jewish commonwealth, blinded by history and mad with hate, forgetting for the moment their abhorrence of their Roman masters and their deeper detestation of the apostle Paul; the hired advocate with his fulsome praise and false charges. And the great apostle with his inimitable skill in debate, pure-minded, upright, fearless, pleading his own cause with consummate force and dignity, and overawing his heathen judge by the majesty of his character. A graphic description of a noble scene" (AC Hervey, SB 14:85).

Act 24:26

HOPING THAT PAUL WOULD OFFER HIM A BRIBE: He knew of the funds Paul had brought with him (v 17).

Act 24:27

PORCIUS FESTUS: "The successor to Antonius Felix as procurator of Judea under Nero. According to Schurer, he was unable to undo the damage done by his predecessor, although he himself was disposed to rule well. Josephus (Ant 20:8:9-11) presents Festus as a wise and just official, an agreeable contrast to Felix and to Albinus his successor.

"According to Acts 24:27, Paul had been in prison two years when Festus arrived in Caesarea. When the procurator, anxious to gain favor with the Jews, asked Paul if he would consent to being tried in Jerusalem (Acts 25:9), the apostle objected to what (in his mind) would have been a risky situation, and then made his classic reply: 'I appeal unto Caesar' (Acts 25:11). Because Festus had no charge to send to Nero with the prisoner (Acts 25:25-27), he appealed to Herod Agrippa II to hear the case" (EBC).

FELIX WANTED TO GRANT A FAVOR TO THE JEWS: He could have settled the case before he left (being called to Rome), but he did not bother.

HE LEFT PAUL IN PRISON: See Lesson, Paul in prison.

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