Study No. 29 Paul at Caesarea - Part One Acts Chapter 24
Paul, after the incidents in Jerusalem and after having heard of a plot to ambush and kill him, has been taken by the commander to Caesarea – both for his protection and to have him heard by the governor.
1. The ‘Hearing’.
What can we discover about governor Felix?
Marcus Antonius Felix was originally a slave from Cilicia, Paul's home province, but had gained his freedom thanks to his brother, Marcus Antonius Pallas, a freedman well-liked by Emperor Claudius. As Felix' political fortunes rose, so did his reputation for corruption, cruelty and base lusts. He governed Judea from 52 AD to 60 AD with "the power of a king but the mind of a slave", according to Tacitus, the Roman historian.
A ‘hearing’ is arranged, during which his accusers will be present to express their accusations against Paul.
This they do through an orator named Tertullus. Some of the charges brought against Paul are true, some are a distortion of truth and some are completely false.
He opens his presentation with some flattery. It is very unlikely that the Jews felt this way at all about the Roman occupation.
Tertullus is a Roman name. He may have been a Roman ‘lawyer’ hired by Ananias. Or he may have been a Jew with the ability to speak Latin, (some Jews took on Roman names)
He uses broad generalities and literally is calling Paul a plague.
He refers to Paul as a consciously and an intentionally divisive person, a ringleader, who, within the church organization supposes Paul to have a recognised position of leadership and authority
The term ‘sect of the Nazarenes’ is a derisive term used of Christianity, based on the common saying that even Philip at first used when he was being called to follow Jesus; ‘can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’John 1:46
They falsely accused him of bringing Trophimus, a Greek from Ephesus, into the temple, merely because they saw him associating with him earlier.
Tertullus says that they intended to judge him according to the law, but actually, they were in the process of killing him.
They accuse Lysius of violence but the Jews were committing the great violence and Lysius put a stop to it (7).
In the KJV, Tertullus is suggesting that Felix hear the witnesses. Other versions seem to simply say, “Ask him (Paul) yourself”.
10 ¶ Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered,
No flattery, just an acknowledgment.
He calls attention to the short time he has been in Judea; twelve days in total from the time he came into the city, including the three days he has been in custody.
The days of purification which Paul took part in were quiet and meditational.
Felix would have some knowledge of Judaism and its basis in the Law and the prophets.
During the previous investigation Paul brought up the subject of the resurrection, knowing (and hoping for) the kind of reaction it created. Whether the number of Sadducees is an issue or not Paul refers to the same doctrinal distinction. If you think about it … (and no doubt Paul had) reduced to the very lowest common denominator … the resurrection … of Jesus is what this is all about.
After it is over Felix defers a verdict until he can hear further evidence from the commander, Lysius.
1. A personal visit by Felix and his wife.
Note: Drusilla is the daughter of King Herod Agrippa ‘who was eaten by worms’ (Acts 12:23) and the sister of the king Agrippa mentioned in the next chapter.
And as he reasoned of righteousness—with reference to the public character of Felix.
temperance—with reference to his immoral life.
and judgment to come—when he would be called to an awful account for both.
Felix had the power to pardon Paul. Paul had the conviction to share the needed truth with him … even at the risk of offending him.
This visit ended with Felix being very convicted and fearful.
The Philippian jailor had asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Felix says … “Go. I will call for you again when it is convenient.”
When would that be? People are the same today. We always say, Later. Perhaps when I get married and settle down. When I am not so involved with my career. I will wait till I retire. No doubt many are in hell today who put off salvation to a more convenient time.
2Co 6:2 For he says, "In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.
3. A series of visits by Felix … meanwhile, he hoped Paul would offer him money to obtain his freedom.
We have no knowledge of the nature of their discussions. One could assume that Paul would focus on bringing him to conviction and repentance. But as far as conviction goes, indications are that he never did receive Jesus. Perhaps he never even ‘trembled’ again. The Spirit of God is in the world today to ‘convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment’: John 16:8. God’s spirit will not indefinitely ‘strive with man. Genesis 6:3
We may talk about ‘making the sale’ and ‘closing the deal’, and there is truth to the fact that there is a right moment to press for a decision. However, we sadly have to admit, that the right moment for some will pass …in spite of the soul-winners best effort, and that moment may never come again. Another case in point is the rich young ruler who actually made the effort to come to Jesus, but then went away sad … and unsaved. He probably died unsaved.
Two years pass. Paul has been permitted to have visitors … but for one reason or another, Felix just would not make the decision. Politics shows up in verse 27. Felix hoped for a re-appointment … and happy Jews might go a long way to make it happen. But it did not happen. Felix is replaced.
In our next study Paul will be examined by the new governor and also have opportunity to share the gospel with a king.
Then … Paul appeals to Caesar. He has the right of appeal. What ‘rights of appeal’ do we have as humans, and how does this look from childhood on up? How does this look across genders? How might this vary across cultures?