24:1 Five days later [from the time of Paul’s arrest in the temple; Paul’s accusers arrived from Jerusalem] the high priest Ananias [cf. Acts 23:1-5] went down to Caesarea with some of the elders [perhaps senior members of Sanhedrin] and a lawyer [orator, speaker in court] named Tertullus [common Greek name; a Jew acquainted with Roman and Jewish law], and they brought their charges [to bring an accusation, to indict] against Paul before the governor [Felix].
24:2-9 The Jewish charges against Paul presented by Tertullus.
24:10 When the governor motioned [to wave, to motion with the hand] for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation [Felix had some experience in handling such matters]; so I gladly [confidently; with good courage] make my defense.
24:11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago [certainly not enough time for Paul to have done all he was accused of] I went up to Jerusalem to worship [not to stir up trouble].
24:12 My accusers did not find me arguing [to discuss, to teach, to dispute] with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd [dissension; sedition, which was against Roman law] in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.
24:13 And they [Paul’s Jewish enemies] cannot prove [to substantiate, to put evidence alongside of argument] to you the charges they are now making against me.
24:14 However, I admit [confess] that I worship the God of our fathers [Paul had not forsaken the faith of his fathers, rather he saw Christianity as the fulfillment of Israel’s faith] as a follower of the Way [term refers to Christianity], which they [erroneously] call a sect [heresy; faction; Tertullus characterized Christianity as a sect of Judaism (Acts 24:5)]. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets [OT bears witness to Jesus Christ; Paul saw Christianity as the fulfillment of all “that is written in the Prophets”],
24:15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection [only Pharisees believed in resurrection, Sadducees did not] of both the righteous and the wicked [both would face God’s judgment].
24:16 So [therefore, in light of Paul’s belief in the resurrection and that he would one day stand before God] I strive [to exercise, to take pains, to drill; word has a note of moral strictness about it; cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27] always to keep my conscience clear [without offense, unharmed, uninjured; Paul did not do or say anything for which his conscience would condemn him later] before God and man [integrity is vital to our witness].
24:17-21 Paul continued defense/challenged accusers to present charge against him.
24:22 Then Felix [the Roman governor in Caesarea], who was well acquainted [perhaps more than the Jewish leaders gave him credit for] with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias [the commander who had sent Paul to Caesarea (cf. Acts 23:23-26); he had already written a letter re: incident (cf. Acts 23:25-30)] the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide [to examine, to determine] your case.”
Felix, the governor of Judea, presided over the case against Paul. Felix was married to Drusilla, a Jewish woman who likely kept him informed about what was happening among the Jews.
As a Roman official, Felix was accurately informed about the Way, or knew about the Christians. He probably knew that the charges against Paul were without merit and that the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5) were not troublesome revolutionaries. But, instead of acquitting Paul and risking trouble with the Jews, Felix adjourned the proceedings.
Felix decided to postpone judgment until Lysias personally arrived in Caesarea. However, Lysias, the commander who had sent Paul to Felix, had already submitted a written report of the incident that had occurred in Jerusalem (see Acts 23:23-26).
24:23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard [protective custody] but to give him some freedom [indulgence, privilege] and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
There is no indication that Felix ever sent for Lysias. It was easier for Felix to postpone the matter indefinitely than to pass judgment. Had Lysias come, Felix would have had to deal with the whole troubling matter. Instead, he placed Paul under house arrest and under the watchful guard of Roman soldiers. Perhaps motivated by the fact that Paul was a Roman citizen, Felix gave his low-risk prisoner a measured amount of freedom. He allowed Paul’s Christian friends to visit him and care for his needs.
24:24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla [Felix’s third wife; daughter of Herod Agrippa I (who had James killed as per Acts 12:1-2) and a sister of Herod Agrippa II (cf. Acts 25); left her first husband to marry Felix], who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus [Paul took advantage of every opportunity to share Christ].
Several days after the trial, Felix and his wife Drusilla expressed an interest in meeting with Paul. Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the man responsible for the execution of the apostle James (see Acts 12:1-2). She had left her first husband to marry Felix. Because she was Jewish, her marriage to Felix, a Gentile, was contrary to the Jewish law. Drusilla may have been the one most interested in meeting with Paul. Felix seems to have had other motives for doing so (see verse 26).
Whatever the reason behind their desire to visit with the great apostle, Paul took advantage of the opportunity to speak with them about faith in Jesus Christ. We too must be prepared for unexpected opportunities to share the gospel with others.
24:25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness [right behavior that honors God], self-control [the control of the passions and desires, often used regarding the controlling of sexual desires; resisting temptation] and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid [became terrified; struck with fear and trembling] and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient [have spare time; procrastination is the thief of souls (cf. 2 Cor. 6:2)], I will send for you.”
Paul geared his message specifically for his private audience. He spoke to Felix and Drusilla about righteousness, or measuring up to God’s standards. Failing to measure up to God’s standards is the basis for the judgment to come. Paul also addressed the topic of self-control, something that Felix and Drusilla both lacked. Drusilla had divorced her husband to become Felix’s third wife and Felix had a reputation as a self-serving official who hesitated at nothing to further his ambitions.
Convicted by Paul’s message, Felix became afraid. However, instead of repenting and placing his faith in Christ, he dismissed Paul. Felix was interested in Paul’s message until the point it touched the sin in his own life. Sadly, we have no record that Felix ever made matters right between himself and God. Someone wisely noted that procrastination is the thief of souls. Today is the most convenient time for any sinner to repent (see 2 Cor. 6:2).
24:26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so [because of financial expectations] he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
Even when Felix declared he wasn’t ready to become a Christian, Paul kept talking to him at every opportunity. When people tell us they are going to wait about becoming a Christian, we are to keep talking to them about their relationship with God at every opportunity. Felix sent for Paul quite often over the two-year period of Paul’s imprisonment.
Sadly, this is not an indication that Felix was interested in spiritual matters. Instead, Felix was motivated by greed and the hope of getting a bribe from Paul, presumably to buy his freedom. Although bribes were against Roman law, bribe-taking was common throughout the empire.
24:27 When two years had passed, Felix [failed personally, officially, spiritually] was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews [Felix did the wrong thing because he was only interested in being politically correct], he left Paul in prison.