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Acts 24-26 Listen
1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,
21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
People of Acts 24-26
(Taken from Easton's Bible Dictionary unless otherwise noted)
Ananias: The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the procuratorship of Felix (Acts 23:2, 5, 24).
Tertullus: A modification of Tertius; a Roman advocate, whom the Jews employed to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix (Acts 24:1-9).
Lysias, Claudius: The chief captain (chiliarch) who commanded the Roman troops in Jerusalem, and sent Paul under guard to the procurator Felix at Caesarea (Acts 21:31-38; 22:24-30). His letter to his superior officer is an interesting specimen of Roman military correspondence (23:26-30). He obtained his Roman citizenship by purchase, and was therefore probably a Greek.
Felix: The Roman procurator of Judea before whom Paul reasoned (Acts 24:25).
Drusilla: Third and youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12:1-4, 20-23). Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea, induced her to leave her husband, Azizus, the king of Emesa, and become his wife. She was present with Felix when Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 24:24). She and her son perished in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, A.D. 79.
Festus, Porcius: The successor of Felix (A.D. 60) as procurator of Judea (Acts 24:27).
Caesar: The title assumed by the Roman emperors after Julius Caesar. In the New Testament this title is given to various emperors as sovereigns of Judaea without their accompanying distinctive proper names (John 19:15; Acts 17:7). The Jews paid tribute to Caesar (Matt. 22:17), and all Roman citizens had the right of appeal to him (Acts 25:11). The Caesars referred to in the New Testament are Augustus (Luke 2:1), Tiberius (3:1; 20:22), Claudius (Acts 11:28), and Nero (Acts 25:8; Phil. 4:22).
Agrippa II: The son of Agrippa I, the Herod Agrippa of Acts 12:20. He was born at Rome, A.D. 27. He was the brother of Bernice and Drusilla. The Emperor Claudius (A.D. 48) invested him with the office of superintendent of the Temple of Jerusalem, and made him governor (A.D. 50) of Chalcis. He was afterwards raised to the rank of king, and made governor over the tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanias (Acts 25:13; 26:2, 7). It was before him that Paul delivered (A.D. 59) his speech recorded in Acts 26. His private life was very profligate. He died (the last of his race) at Rome, at the age of about seventy years, A.D. 100.
Bernice: The eldest daughter of Agrippa I, the Herod Agrippa of Acts 12:20. After the early death of her first husband she was married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. After his death (A.D. 40) she lived in incestuous connection with her brother Agrippa II. (Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30).
(The following is taken from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)
Well...Paul was arrested in Jerusalem because of the testimony of very angry Jews who objected to Paul's ministry to the Jews and Gentiles (see notes on Acts 21). He had an opportunity to present his case before the Sanhedrin, but he failed to win any support there. As a matter of fact, they tried to have him assassinated before he could be transported by the Romans out of Jerusalem, but their plot failed (Acts 23, see notes). At this point in Acts 24, he has been transported away from Jerusalem by the Roman officials. In Caesarea (about 60 miles northwest of Jerusalem), Felix has sent for Paul's accusers. Upon their arrival, Paul appears before him for a hearing. The high priest (Ananias) brings a mouthpiece, Tertullus the attorney, to represent their cause. He basically presents the case that Paul is one to stir up insurrection among the Jews wherever he goes. It is with a precise choice of words that Tertullus refers to Paul's doctrine as that of the "sect of the Nazarenes." The Greek word for "sect" is "hairesis." Look at the word; it's our transliterated word "heresy." The Louw & Nida Greek Lexicon defines this word as follows: "a division or group based upon different doctrinal opinions and/or loyalties and hence by implication in certain contexts an unjustified party or group (applicable in the New Testament to religious parties)." Literally, Tertullus is accusing Paul of bringing another religion into the Jewish temple and synagogues and causing disunity among the people. If he can show that there are no legitimate ties between life in Christ and Judaism, he can paint Paul as one who is out to destroy Judaism, a recognized religion within the Roman Empire.
Paul gets his opportunity to reply to the accusations beginning in verse 11. He points out that when he was arrested, he was strictly observing the religion, Judaism, which he had embraced for his whole life. He was not doing any of those things for which he is being accused. As a matter of fact, Paul was serving as the sponsor for some Jewish men who were offering the required sacrifices for the Nazarite vow when he was arrested. How much more Jewish can you act? While Tertullus referred to Christianity as the "sect of the Nazarenes," Paul refers to Christianity in verse 14 as "the Way." Paul is attempting to show that "the Way" is the natural extension of Judaism. He does not deny any of the Law or the Prophets, but rather embraces them. And besides, where are these Jewish accusers who witnessed the profane and seditious acts for which Paul is being accused?
Paul is kept in prison (sort of) for two years through the end of the term of Felix, the Judean governor. Felix was hoping for a bribe from Paul, and he summoned him from time to time to talk religion...and to probably see how the bribe money was coming. Paul? Well, he just kept on witnessing, writing and preaching to whomever would listen. Felix kept him in prison to keep the Jews happy, but gave Paul a good bit of liberty. It was like a minimum-security prison arrangement with a Roman centurion as a bodyguard. What an opportunity for Paul - share the Word with influential people while under the protection of the Roman government. It turns out that Paul's greater opportunity was realized from prison. Can't you imagine that there were countless Believers praying for Paul's release from prison, not realizing that unique opportunities for service were available to Paul because he was imprisoned. That's why praying for wisdom is so important for Believers. It very well may be that our way is not God's way. We should pray to know God's way. Incidentally, the first time Felix introduces Paul to Festus, he leaves him bound...just to impress the Jews (verse 27).
1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
Regime changes can be a pain. Now Festus (wasn't he a character in the 50's Gunsmoke episodes?) has taken the place of Felix after two years in prison in Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast about 60 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Festus is wanting to please the Jews, so he allows them to bring up their charges against him once again. They want him transported back to Jerusalem so they can assassinate him on the way, but during the course of the new trial (so to speak), Paul rejects the idea of going back to Jerusalem and appeals to Caesar instead - a request that is granted.
How about you Agrippa? (Acts 25:13-27)
13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:
15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.
22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.
24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
While it appears that Agrippa II had no real authority in the matter, he takes a shot at hearing Paul's story as a matter of curiosity. He's visiting with Festus when Festus tells him about the dilemma he has of imprisoning a man (Paul) in whom he can find no real fault. Festus is just looking for ideas in the matter. It is interesting how Festus viewed the Jews' religion back in Jerusalem as "superstition." That word "superstition" comes from a Greek word which means "excessive religion." Since Agrippa has been ruling over Jerusalem, he probably regards himself as somewhat of an expert on these kinds of issues. Festus explains that he is already on his way to appear before Caesar, but it would be nice to have a descriptive letter to accompany him stating the charges against Paul...and he's clueless as to what should be written as capital charges against Paul - just lookin' for some ideas here. It is under these circumstances that Agrippa hears Paul.
1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
In the first 11 verses Paul makes his case that he had been a very observant and zealous Jew prior to his conversion. He even persecuted those of the faith he now trusts - even going so far as to force them to blaspheme if possible.
In verses 12-18 Paul talks about a miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus. At that time he was commissioned according to verse 18. How could he do anything other than what God commanded him to do? It is interesting that Paul emphasizes the Jewishness of the occasion when he mentions that the voice he heard from Jesus was in Hebrew.
In verses 19-23 Paul describes his actions after his conversion. Now he just preaches what the prophets and Moses proclaimed would come to pass regarding the coming of the Messiah, and he does it all in good conscience.
Special note on giving one's testimony: Notice the simplicity of Paul's testimony as shown above. It consists of (1) who I was, (2) what happened to change me, and (3) who I am now that I have trusted Christ.
About that time Festus interrupts Paul in verse 24 proclaiming that he is mad - not a criminal - just mad. Paul respectfully rebuts his remark and appeals to Agrippa. Subsequently, Agrippa replies that he almost believes.
At the conclusion of the session, Agrippa and Festus discuss Paul's situation. Were it not for his appeal to Caesar, he could be set free in their opinion. Bummer! Well, actually, prison turns out to be the best place from which to serve God effectively for Paul. He was permitted by the Romans to write and teach about Christ under their protection. As a free man, he would have constantly had to concern himself with his personal safety from the Jewish leaders who wanted him dead. Paul did some of his most effective evangelism while in Roman custody.