The Accusations Against Paul
24:1 After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought formal charges against Paul to the governor. 24:2 When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “We have experienced a lengthy time of peace through your rule, and reforms are being made in this nation through your foresight. 24:3 Most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this everywhere and in every way with all gratitude. 24:4 But so that I may not delay you any further, I beg you to hear us briefly with your customary graciousness. 24:5 For we have found this man to be a troublemaker, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 24:6 He even tried to desecrate the temple, so we arrested him. 24:8 When you examine him yourself, you will be able to learn from him about all these things we are accusing him of doing.” 24:9 The Jews also joined in the verbal attack, claiming that these things were true.
A lawyer – ‘The rhetor was a professional teacher of rhetoric, or, as Tertullus (Acts 24:1, AV ‘orator’) a speech-writer who might accept a barrister’s brief himself. The extreme refinement of the rhetorical art, which formed the hallmark of higher education, and the difficulties of a hearing before a foreign court, made his services indispensable to the Jews. They were rewarded with a fine speech, notable for its ingratiating exordium. Paul, a master of the art himself, was able to reply in his own person. Elsewhere (1 Cor. 2:4) he disdained professional skill.’ (NBD)
‘The Greeks classified oratory into three modes.
- The judicial mode, the speech of the law court, concerns guilt and innocence. Examples of judicial rhetoric include the cases involving Paul which were brought before Gallio, Felix, and Festus (Acts 18:12-16; 24:1-21; 25:15,18-19; 26:1-29).
- The deliberative mode is concerned with the expediency of a course of future action. Examples include the Sanhedrin’s debate over Jesus’ growing following which culminated in Caiaphas’ suggestion that the expedient course was to seek Jesus’ death (John 11:47-50) and Demetrius’ discourse on what action was necessary to save the business of the silversmiths in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-27).
- The epideictic mode concerns praise and blame. Examples include Paul’s praise of love (1 Cor. 13) and his censure of the Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-5). Broadly speaking, this mode includes any exhortation to virtuous action (as in James).’ (Holman)
Paul’s Defense Before Felix
24:10 When the governor gestured for him to speak, Paul replied, “Because I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years, I confidently make my defense. 24:11 As you can verify for yourself, not more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 24:12 They did not find me arguing with anyone or stirring up a crowd in the temple courts or in the synagogues or throughout the city, 24:13 nor can they prove to you the things they are accusing me of doing. 24:14 But I confess this to you, that I worship the God of our ancestors according to the Way (which they call a sect), believing everything that is according to the law and that is written in the prophets. 24:15 I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 24:16 This is the reason I do my best to always have a clear conscience toward God and toward people. 24:17 After several years I came to bring to my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings, 24:18 which I was doing when they found me in the temple, ritually purified, without a crowd or a disturbance. 24:19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia who should be here before you and bring charges, if they have anything against me. 24:20 Or these men here should tell what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before the council, 24:21 other than this one thing I shouted out while I stood before them: ‘I am on trial before you today concerning the resurrection of the dead.’ ”
‘According to Acts 24:1-21 Paul defended himself in a Roman court before Felix, the governor, against Jewish opponents represented by a professionally trained forensic rhetor, Tertullus (Acts 24:1). The latter mounted a seemingly formidable case of political agitation and insurrection in worldwide Jewry against Paul, a Roman citizen (see Citizenship). Paul reduced the serious criminal charge to a theological issue, the resurrection, which was the only comment he made before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6). He prescribed the limits of evidence to events in Jerusalem, proscribed the charges of absent Asian Jewish accusers, used the forensic structure with an introduction, statement of facts, establishment of facts, refutation and conclusion, and displayed his knowledge of the little-known right of appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11). Legal training by means of forensic rhetoric was an essential part of Greek education, and this summary of Paul’s defense reflects his professional forensic skills.’ (DPL)
24:22 Then Felix, who understood the facts concerning the Way more accurately, adjourned their hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commanding officer comes down, I will decide your case.” 24:23 He ordered the centurion to guard Paul, but to let him have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.
Paul Speaks Repeatedly to Felix
24:24 Some days later, when Felix arrived with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 24:25 While Paul was discussing righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for now, and when I have an opportunity, I will send for you.” 24:26 At the same time he was also hoping that Paul would give him money, and for this reason he sent for Paul as often as possible and talked with him. 24:27 After two years had passed, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix, and because he wanted to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Self-control – The word (enkrateia) is often used in relation to sexual behaviour. ‘Since an adulteress sat beside Felix while Paul discussed self-control, its bearing on unchastity is easily apparent, and the verse compares naturally with 1 Cor. 7:9. This restricted reference to chastity often features in later literature. The Encratites enjoined complete abstinence from marriage; and some Christian clergy today may not marry. This distorted interpretation is called demonic in 1 Tim. 4:2-3, and the qualification ‘self-controlled’ (enkrates) is applied to the married bishop in Tit. 1:8 (cf. 1 Pet. 3:2).’ (NBD)
He was also hoping that Paul would give him money – We learn from Paul’s previous encounter with Felix that part of his reason for traveling was to take alms and offerings to the churches. This helps us understand why Felix thought that Paul might be an ‘easy touch’.