The Acts Challenge: Chapter 24, Paul the Ring Leader

Paul has been taken to Rome, to have his “case” heard before Governor Felix. In this chapter, Ananias and others come down to make their accusations and, once again, Paul denies their claims, telling his own version of the story.

I love that they call him the “ring leader.” Kinda shows what kind of person they were trying to make him out to be. A little truth mixed with all the falseness in that he preached the Gospel to so many!

Thanks for being here for Day 24 of The Acts Challenge! Just a few more left and then we’ll be done!

Ananias & Tertullus Against Paul

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 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,

(Vs. 3) We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

(Vs. 4) Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

Tertullus was an orator which comes from a Greek word meaning a “forensic advocate.” In other words, Ananias had brought him down to be their star witness against Paul. That, and he knew how to toss around compliments in all the right places.

Ever heard that term, “Flattery will get you nowhere”? Well, Tertullus was hoping it would. He started the entire case about Paul with his flattering words to Felix.

Paul, A Ring Leader

(Vs. 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:

So after a mouth full of flattering words for Felix, Tertullus was anything but flattering when speaking of Paul. Calling him a “pestilent fellow” a “mover of sedition” and a “ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes”, he sought to paint a nasty picture right away.

By the way, “Nazarite” was a New Testament title given to Jesus and “Nazarites” were what the Jews called Christians at that time.

(Vs. 6) Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

(Vs. 7) But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands.

(Vs. 8) Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

(Vs. 9) And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

Tertullus went on to say that Paul had profaned the temple and that the Jews were about to judge him until captain Lysias (the chief captain) came and violently removed him.

Of course, this wasn’t so, but all the Jews in attendance agreed that it was.

Paul Again Defends Himself

(Vs. 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:

(Vs. 11) Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.

(Vs. 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:

(Vs. 13) Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

Paul tells the true story, that he had only gone to Jerusalem to worship. However, they did not find him in the temple arguing with anyone, he hadn’t tried to start a riot among the people, not in the synagogues or the city. Furthermore, he said, they can’t even prove what they’re saying is true.

Paul’s True Confession

(Vs. 14) But this I confess to 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:

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 16) And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

(Vs. 17) Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

How could they call what he was doing heresy, Paul says, when he was only worshipping, as they do, and having faith towards God, as they do? He tries to never offend and was only coming to bring alms and offerings. Again… no fault in that, right?

Here Come the Jews from Asia

(Vs. 18) Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with the multitude, nor with tumult.

(Vs. 19) Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

It was actually the Asian Jews, that had been following him around, waiting to find a way to kill him, that had accused him. They stirred up all the people and didn’t even have the audacity to be there, before Felix, to plead their case against Paul. So he turns to those who ARE there.

(Vs. 20) Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,

(Vs. 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.

He asks them to give their account of offense that was found while he was in front of their council in Jerusalem. The only one, he notes, was that he believes in the resurrection of the dead and that is what’s brought him to this very moment in time, before the judgment seat of Governor Felix.

Governor Felix Speaks

(Vs. 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.

Instead of issuing a judgment against Paul on the word of these Jews, Felix says he’ll wait to see what Lysias says when he arrives. In the meantime…

(Vs. 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.

As of yet seeing no reason to punish Paul, especially for matters that only pertained to the Jews and their laws, Felix commands that Paul be given liberty. His acquaintances can even come to visit and minister to him. This shows that, unless something changes, he sees no reason for Paul to be a prisoner, let alone killed by the Jews.

Felix & Drusilla Call for Paul

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 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 thee.

A few days later, Felix and his wife Drusilla, called for Paul to speak to them about Jesus. He told them about righteousness (how to live in a way that God approves of), temperance (self-control showing mastery over desires and passions), and judgment.

Immediately after Paul speech, it says Felix trembled and told Paul to go on. He said when there was a convenient season, he would call for Paul again.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a good old-fashioned case of “conviction”?

We all go through that stage where Truth is bothersome to our hearts and minds. It’s scary… we don’t want to think about the impending doom we feel coming against our lack of righteousness. And many times, just like Felix, we send Jesus away “for a more convenient time.”

For many, that more convenient time never comes.

Going With the In-Crowd

(Vs. 26) He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him in the oftener, and communed with him.

Felix secretly wished that Paul would have bribed him to set him free. Again, he obviously saw no reason for Paul to be jailed, much less killed. The same as the chief captain had felt. But, we know that God’s plans always supercede that of man, and His will be done. It was His will that the Gospel be preached in these areas where he might not otherwise have had such a large audience.

Still, the Bible says here that Felix sent for him often, and communed with him. No doubt, Paul preached more and more to him.

(Vs. 27) But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

Two years later, Festus came to Felix. Porcius Festus was the Governor of a minor province, in charge of financial affairs, and would be the successor of Felix. He apparently had something to do with the fact that Felix, to placate the Jews, kept Paul bound.

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