- Over the next three chapters Paul will testify before Governor Felix, Governor Festus, and King Agrippa. Think about the toll that would have on the apostle. This was all part of the suffering Paul knew he would endure for his Savior.
Read Acts 24:1-27
- Tertullus’ Prosecution (1-9)
- Paul’s Defense (10-22)
- Felix’s Response (23-27)
Tertullus’ Prosecution (1-9)
- The excessive flattery is absurd. Felix dealt with the Jews in such violent ways that they hated him. He squashed frequent uprisings and revolts with brutal force.
- Three Charges:
- Troublemaker who stirs up riots all over the world (Paul threatens the pax Romanathat you are required to preserve).
- Ringleader of the Nazarene sect (Paul is the radical leader of a dangerous group of religious heretics).
- Tried to desecrate the temple (He brought a Gentile into the temple 21:29).
- Standing trial in a capital case would be nerve-wracking. Throughout history innocent people have been sentenced for crimes they didn’t commit.
- One historic case is that of Jean Calas, a French Protestant, where Catholicism was the state religion. One son converted to Catholicism, then another son died. The state accused Calas of murdering his son to prevent him from also converting. The evidence suggested suicide.
- Calas was convicted, tortured, and sentenced to death by wheel.
- The corruption of religious and political authorities is typical across every age and geographic location.
- It testifies to the depravity of man and points to our need for a just judge. But it also reveals our inability to secure justice apart from God.
- Non-religious countries are no better off than religious ones. In fact, history has proven non-religious leaders to be the cruelest (Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin).
- It reminds us to trust in God alone.
After presenting the case against Paul, Tertullus encouraged Felix to hear…
Paul’s Defense (10-21)
- Felix governor for 5yrs.
- Troublemaker: Paul recently went to Jerusalem to worship God. He had no intentions of causing a stir.
- Nazarene Ringleader: He was a follower of “the Way” in full agreement with the Jewish Scriptures. Christianity was not new and untrustworthy.
- Temple Desecrater: He brought alms and offerings (Irony: On trial for supporting Israel). He was also ceremonially clean when they seized him in the temple.
- Paul’s sharp reasoning is clear in v.19-21:
- The Asian accusers are not present?
- The only valid testimony these men have is that they heard me shout (v.21).
- The one thing that is synonymous with politicians on both sides of the aisle is that they are dishonest individuals.
- Mark Twain, “When you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
- Paul told the truth. He wasn’t evasive. He never flip-flopped. He answered the accusations directly.
- How do you respond when the truth is ignored?
- Paul had no advocate speaking on his behalf. Surely, he was reminded of Stephen who faced a similar trial. After the wrongful accusations were thrown at him, and while he was being pelted by gigantic stones, Stephen declared, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). His advocate was present, representing him before the Supreme Judge.
Paul’s point for point defense should have exonerated him, but his release is prevented due to the systemic corruption witnessed in…
Felix’s Response (22-27)
- Felix procrastinates. He’s merely buying himself some time (v.22; cf. 23:29).
- Felix and his wife hear Paul’s thoughts regarding “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.”
- These were convicting topics considering Drusilla was Felix’s third wife whom he seduced from her husband.
- However, he continues to invite him to speak, because he thinks he can obtain a bribe from Paul.
- When that didn’t come, in order to appease the Jews, he left him imprisoned for two years until Festus replaced him.
- Paul’s boldness to declare the truth in the face of political powers calls to mind the actions of John the Baptist who rebuked Herod Antipas for stealing his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17-20).
- Paul’s integrity remained despite the governors tempting offer of freedom. He could have argued that the ends justified the means.
- Felix listened to Paul, but he had no intention of repenting.
- Boice, “The real tragedy of his life was not that he postponed making a judgment about Paul in regard to the Sanhedrin’s accusations, but that he postponed the far more serious matter of making a decision concerning Jesus Christ.”
- Felix knew he was a sinner, which is why he was alarmed (v.25), but instead of repenting, he added greed to his shame (v.26).
Today is the day of salvation!
- We have seen a picture of corruption in the religious and political figures who make decision based upon self-serving purposes with no interest in the truth.
- We have also seen the integrity of the apostle to testify to the truth even though it would make little difference.
- We have also seen the willingness of Felix and Drusilla to procrastinate on the gospel.