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1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us. 5For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law. 7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

 

Chapter 24 is Paul’s defense before Felix in Caesarea. The Jewish elders and their attorney, Tertullus, bring their accusations against Paul before Governor Felix. The charges by Jewish elders were three:

A troublemaker against Jews over the Roman world, which was a political charge of sedition against Rome.

A leader of the Nazarene sect of a religion not authorized by Rome, which was non-Jewish.

He desecrated the temple, whereby the Jews had authority from the Roman government to execute anyone who defiled the temple (Acts 21:28).

24:1

Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

After five days, the high priest Ananias and his entourage, with an orator-lawyer, came to Caesarea to present their case against Paul before Felix, the Governor of Judea.

24:2

And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,

The lawyer for the Jews, Tertullus, presented his case against Paul by claiming Israel was at peace until he came to disturb their state of affairs. Peace was a core value of the Romans, represented by the Pax Romana, which argument appealed to Felix, who was charged with keeping the peace in Judea. Tertullus’ statement to Felix that he brought “great peace” misrepresents the facts. Felix allowed excessive abuses against Israel.

24:3

we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

Tertullus attempted to ingratiate his group to Felix by appealing to Felix’s “noble” administration of the Jews. This Roman governor was a former slave who gained his freedom through the influence of his brother Pallas, whom Emperor Claudius favored.

24:4

Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

Tertullus appeals to Felix’s pride to allow his group the courtesy of listening to them. He hopes his investigation of Paul is not tedious to the governor.

24:5

For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

The Jewish lawyer claims that Paul is a troublemaker who caused dissension among the Jews, not only in Jerusalem but through the Roman world (Acts 17:7; 21:8). He says that the apostle is a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” who caused problems among the Jews everywhere he went. However, Paul did not cause the “dissension” but was the victim in every case.

The Jews associated Jesus with His hometown, Nazareth, a term of derision. This charge of provoking insurrection throughout the Roman world would have concerned the Roman government. It would be a threat to the Pax Romana. Tertullus tried to imply that the Way was a seditious danger to Rome, ultimately causing rebellion and insurrection against Rome.

24:6

He [Paul] even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.

A further accusation against Paul was that he profaned the temple, and the Sanhedrin wanted to hold him in court according to Jewish law. The Jews had the right to arrest and even kill the perpetrator. This charge was the most dangerous for Paul because Rome granted the Jews the right to execute anyone who profaned the temple. They accuse him of defiling the temple by leading a seditious sect. This charge rested on the testimony of Asian Jews, who were the so-called eyewitnesses of the case (Acts 21:29). They charged Paul with taking Trophimus, a Gentile Christian, behind the wall of the temple. Tertullus did not say that Paul took him behind the temple wall but that he attempted to do so. Tertullus neglected to mention that in every case, it was Jews who took the initiative to riot.

24:7

But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,

Tertullus claimed that the Jewish Sanhedrin would have held Paul in court, but the Roman commander took Paul out of their custody by “great violence.”

The last phrase in verse 6, verse 7, and the first part of verse 8 are not in older manuscripts. If those manuscripts were invalid, Tertullus would have urged Felix to examine Paul when they arrested him personally. That would not have established the case against Paul, so the more complete manuscripts are preferred. By including these verses, Tertullus said that the Sanhedrin gathered all the evidence necessary against Paul for a complete case. In that case, they would have charged Lysias with subverting Jewish law. This explains why Felix delayed his verdict until he heard from Lysias.

24:8

commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”

Concluding his speech, Tertullus says that Felix can find out the facts by examining Paul himself. The governor knew Roman law about the Jewish state to decide for himself.

24:9

And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

The Jewish elders who came with Tertullus also upheld the “truth” of the lawyer’s statement. However, the actual case against Christianity was Jewish hostility against Christians, as stated by the famous Gallio (Acts 18:12-16, 22). The Roman commander, Lysias, could confirm that fact as well (Acts 23:29).

PRINCIPLE:

Christians should never be surprised that they are the object of unfair treatment by non-Christians.

APPLICATION:

First Peter 4:12 affirms that Christians should not be surprised at the fiery persecution they receive for their faith. Jesus said oppression would happen to His followers, as well as much of the New Testament. Believers must fortify themselves with a good grasp of God’s sovereignty and the biblical reasons the Lord wants them to go through trial. First Peter offers many reasons why God puts adversity in the life of one who lives for the Lord.  

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