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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Acts 24

Verse 1

The third of five defenses which marked the early part of Paul's period of imprisonment is given in this chapter, the same being a formal arraignment and trial before the Procurator Felix at Caesarea, about 58 A.D., in which the high priest Ananias and his company from Jerusalem were legally represented by a lawyer named Tertullus, and in which Paul convincingly spoke on his own behalf. Events of this chapter (except the last paragraph) occurred only twelve days from the time Paul entered Jerusalem from Caesarea (Acts 21:17). For discussion of Felix, see under Acts 23:24, and for notes on Ananias under Acts 23:2.


And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with certain elders, and with an orator, one Tertullus; and they informed the governor against Paul. And when he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying. (Acts 24:1-2a)

And after five days ... Boles very properly says that this may mean "either five days from Paul's departure from Jerusalem, or five days after his arrival in Caesarea."[1] However, Ramsay deduced that it means "five days from Paul's leaving Jerusalem."[2] See more on this under Acts 24:11.

An orator, one Tertullus ... Having been foiled as a mob, and their forty conspirators having been left holding the bag, the high priest and company now tried another approach. "Cunning, assassination and conspiracy having failed, they tried the tinsel of oratory, attempting to gain their desire by flattery."[3]

Informed the governor against Paul ... The word Luke employed here is a technical one, having "the nature of a formal indictment."[4]

[1] H. Leo Boles, Commentary on Acts (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1953), p. 377.

[2] Sir William M. Ramsay, Pictures of the Apostolic Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1959), p. 288.

[3] John Peter Lange, Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), p. 422.

[4] E. H. Plumptre, Ellicott's Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 159.

Verse 2

Seeing that by thee we enjoy much peace, and that by thy providence evils are corrected for this nation, we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.

As De Welt said, "Tertullus was doing his mercenary best!"[5] Some of the "evils" which Felix had corrected were well known, for example, his defeat of the Egyptian false prophet (Acts 21:38). Tertullus did not mention the murder of Jonathan the high priest. But of course, "If a man lacks arguments, he will flatter the judge."Acts 2pp. 245.">[6] "Felix was a man of the most infamous character, and a plague to all the provinces over which he presided."[7]

[5] Don DeWelt, Acts Made Actual (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1958), p. 303.

Acts 2pp. 245.">[6] R. Tuck, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishers, 1950), Vol. 18, Acts 2pp. 245.

[7] John Wesley, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House), in loco.

Verse 4

But, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I entreat thee to hear us of thy clemency a few words.

Hear us ... In this, Tertullus, in good legal style, associates himself with his clients, continuing to use the first person plural pronoun throughout.

Thy clemency ... Felix would indeed bestow clemency, not upon the accusers, but upon Paul in the mild manner of his imprisonment.

Tedious unto thee ... Here is the art of the sycophant. "He speaks as if obliged to restrain himself from the further panegyrics which his feelings would naturally prompt!"[8]

Verse 5

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of insurrection among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: who moreover assayed to profane the temple: on whom also we laid hold: ... from whom thou wilt be able, by examining him thyself, to take knowledge of all these things whereof we accuse him.

Briefly stated: Paul was accused of being (1) a pest, (2) an insurrectionist, (3) a ringleader of the Nazarenes, and (4) one who had attempted to profane the temple. All these charges except No. 3 were unspecific, and even it was unsupported by any evidence whatever. "The weak part of Tertullus' case was that he produced no evidence to support his charges."[9]

The sect of the Nazarenes ... "This is the only place in the New Testament where this term is used of the followers of Jesus."[10] In no sense whatever is Christianity "a sect."

Assayed to profane the temple ... Note how this is changed from "profaning the temple" as they at first alleged (Acts 21:28).

By examining him thyself ... Agreement is felt with McGarvey who construed this as "a hint of examination by scourging,"[11] as indicated by their careful avoidance of giving any information regarding Paul's Roman citizenship, not knowing, of course, that Lysias had already informed the governor on that point. The resolution of the question, however, would have to turn finally on the verses left out of our text, appearing in the English Revised Version (1885) margin. The words left out are:

Acts 24:6b-8a, And we would have judged him according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came, and with great violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come before thee.

If these words from the English Revised Version (1885) margin were allowed, of course, "examining him" would then be a reference to Lysias; and the fact of Felix mentioning Lysias in Acts 24:22 seems to indicate (but does not prove) that the words belong. It is a problem we must leave with the scholars.

[9] Sir William M. Ramsay, op. cit., p. 290.

[10] F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishers, 1954), p. 465.

[11] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on Acts (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company), 2p. 235.

Verse 9

And the Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that these things were so.

Of course, the very presence of the high priest with a group of prominent elders from Jerusalem, all arrayed on the plaintiff's side of the court would IPSO FACTO be their "affirming" the charges. It is also likely that by voice response, or by some of them seconding the attorney's opening remarks, they effectively joined in the charges.

Evidently the high priest Ananias and the group were counting on the social prominence of the plaintiffs to sway the governor, for they brought no witnesses! Perhaps they considered themselves successors to the witnesses; but events proved that not even the pagan court of Felix would tolerate any such thing as a "successor" to witnesses. There is a message here regarding the claims of "successors" to the apostolic witnesses.

Verse 10

And when the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, Paul answered: Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.

Here Paul was abruptly asked to defend himself without any prior knowledge of the charges, except as he might have surmised what they would be; and the eloquent and convincing manner in which he devastated the plaintiffs' case must be understood as a fulfillment of Jesus' promise that "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay" (Luke 21:15).

Many years a judge ... Felix's career had included other assignments prior to his becoming procurator, and Paul by these words took a sweeping view of it all. "If these events took place in 58 A.D., Felix had been governor six years."[12] However, those who accuse Paul of exaggeration overlook the fact that Tacitus expressly states that Felix "was joint procurator with Cumanus, and therefore a judge to the Jewish nation long before the banishment of Cumanus,"Acts 2p. 232.">[13] and long before Felix himself became procurator sole. Note Paul's use of "judge" rather than "procurator, or governor." None of the disgusting flattery such as Tertullus offered appeared in Paul's defense.

[12] W. J. Conybeare, Life and Epistles of St. Paul (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishers, 1966), p. 610.

Acts 2p. 232.">[13] A. C. Hervey, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishers, 1950), Vol. 18, Acts 2p. 232.

Verse 11

Seeing that thou canst take knowledge that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem.

Thou canst take knowledge ... By such a remark, Paul said in effect that "You are far too intelligent to be taken in by the unsubstantiated charges and wild allegations of the plaintiffs." The only allegation made against Paul that would have been of any interest whatever to the governor was the insinuation that he was an "insurrectionist." It was to that point which Paul immediately replied, proving by a single statement that it was a false charge, saying:

It is not more than twelve days since I went up ... (1) No insurrection was ever perpetrated in twelve days. (2) Paul was there to worship, and even paid the charges for certain men who had vows. He was in the temple when Lysias rescued him from the mob who were casting him out of the temple; and if Paul was causing an insurrection, the center of it would have had to be in the temple. Furthermore, Felix well knew, as did Pilate, that if Paul had been trying to stir up an insurrection, the temple Jews would have supported it. The charge, therefore, was a flimsy unsupported lie.

Scholars have busied themselves endlessly, counting up the twelve days Paul mentioned; and Ramsay's calculation of them is one of the most readable. It is as follows:

1. Reception by James and the elders; first day of purification.

2-4. Second, third, and fourth days of purification.

5. Fifth day of purification; riot; Paul's speech on the steps of Antonio.

6. Meeting of the council (Paul's dream that night).

7. Plot to slay Paul is arranged.

8. He starts to Caesarea before midnight, reaches Antipatris before dawn: Ananias learns of Paul's departure: first of the five days (Acts 24:1).

9. Paul is handed over to Procurator Felix in Caesarea: second day.

10-11. Paul in Caesarea: third and fourth days.

12. Fifth day (Acts 24:1): arrival of Ananias and Tertullus in Caesarea: Paul denounced and the investigation begun. (This is also the twelfth day of Acts 24:11.)[14]

Verse 12

And neither in the temple did they find me disputing with any man or stirring up a crowd, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city.

Paul's emphasis here is still directed to the charge of creating an insurrection, the only thing Felix would have been the slightest concerned about. Paul's time in Jerusalem had been spent almost entirely in the temple, not in synagogues or the city, and what went on in the temple was controlled by the plaintiffs; and their casting Paul out and trying to murder him proved that no seditious activity had occurred. (Felix well knew that they would have SUPPORTED sedition.)

This blew their case right out of the water. Paul had been in Jerusalem only twelve days, and five of them had been spent in Caesarea. No! There could have been no sedition. An insurrection against Rome in less than a week? Impossible! Paul put the final torpedo in their charges with his next sentence.

Verse 13

Neither can they prove to thee the things whereof they now accuse me.

With this blast, Paul clinched his defense against the only charge that might have seemed important to the governor. He then moved to refute the others.

Verse 14

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call a sect, serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets.

The way which they call a sect ... The "way" as a designation of Christianity occurs frequently in Acts. See under Acts 9:2; 16:17,25; 18:26; 19:9,23; 20:4; 24:14,2. Implicit in such a name is the trueness and rightness of it. There are many ways of sin, but only one way of eternal life.

Sect ... "Tertullus applied this name to the Christians in a bad sense (Acts 24:5)";[15] but "Christianity was never a SECT, is not a SECT today; and Paul did not here refer to it as a sect."[16] God shall finally sum up all things in Christ; therefore, the wholeness is in him. The whole family in heaven and upon earth compose the one perfect entity of the body of Christ; and any thought of that precious and eternal spiritual body as, in any sense, a "sect" is a denial of sacred truth.

The God of our fathers ... Conybeare observed that Paul's use of this expression, having the meaning of "our hereditary God," had the design of establishing the legality of Christianity under Roman law.

Thus, Paul asserts that, according to Roman law which allowed all men to worship the gods of their own nation, he is not open to any charge of irreligion.[17]

This thought is further reinforced by Paul's declaration in connection with it, namely, that Christianity is the way of worshiping which is in all things according to the law of Moses and the writings of the holy prophets. Throughout all of Paul's epistles, as here, Paul never failed to present Christianity as fully identified with all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, being in fact the fulfillment of all that was intended by everything in the old institution. Christians are the true Israel. Christ is the Prophet like unto Moses. Christ's teaching is the New Covenant. And yet the New is identified with the Old.

[15] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 849.

[16] H. Leo Boles, op. cit., p. 382.

[17] W. J. Conybeare, op. cit., p. 608.

Verse 15

Having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust.

Both this and the verse following are further elaborations of the truth that Christianity is not some wild and irresponsible new religion (though in another sense eternally new), but that its roots reach back to Eden and include all of the vital hopes which humanity ever had, such as the resurrection mentioned here. What was so clear to Paul was that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, a fact to which the ancient leaders of Israel were totally blind.

Verse 16

Herein I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offense toward God and men always.

For discussion of "conscience" see under Acts 23:1. Paul repeatedly insisted, not merely as reported in Acts, but in his epistles as well, that he had done his best throughout life to live conscientiously toward God and men always. That he did, in fact, commit many sins does not deny this; for conscience is not an infallible guide. The conscience must be taught and regulated by the word of God before it can be a safe monitor of human behavior.

Verse 17

Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings: amidst which they found me purified in the temple, with no crowd, nor yet with tumult.

Now after some years ... "If Paul went up to Jerusalem (Acts 18:22), which it seems that he did, this was some five years ago."[18]

Alms to my nation ... This shows that Paul's journey to Jerusalem was for the purpose of bringing alms to the poor of that city, and that "Thus it was no part of his purpose to interfere with or profane the worship of the temple."[19] "Here is the one clear reference in Acts to the purpose of Paul's visit to Jerusalem, which occupies so large a place in his epistles."[20] He had canvassed the Gentile churches extensively, collecting money to be distributed to the poor Christians in Jerusalem; and as they were of Jewish background, it was not an error to state that the alms had been brought to Paul's "nation."

They found me purified in the temple ... This was easily proved, and none of the opposition denied it; hence the conclusion was mandatory that Paul had in no way profaned the temple. Rather, THEY had profaned it by their mob action against Paul, and by their murderous conspiracy within the temple itself. In fact, the very existence of such a reprobate as Ananias on the seat of the high priest was a profanation.

[18] H. Leo Boles, op. cit., p. 383.

[19] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1953), Acts, p. 334.

[20] Everett F. Harrison, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 474.

Verse 18

But there were certain Jews from Asia, who ought to have been here before thee, and to make accusation, if they had aught against me.

The failure of any of those Asian Jews to appear proved their unwillingness to testify against Paul; and, as they were the ones who first initiated the charge of profaning the temple, it left Ananias and the other litigants pressing a charge made by others, and of which they were in no sense witnesses. Paul's plea here has the effect of saying, "Where are those who say they saw me profaning the temple?" The mention of the Asian Jews imposed upon the plaintiffs the necessity of either producing the witnesses or withdrawing the charges. The whole trumped-up affair was, by this time, appearing to the governor as fraudulent and irresponsible. Felix could undoubtedly, see through the whole thing. "The Jews, pretending loyalty to Caesar, desired Paul condemned as a traitor to Caesar, whereas their real motive was to have him silenced as a gospel preacher."[21]

Verse 20

Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question before you this day.

This brought their whole case crashing to the ground. They had already tried Paul before the Sanhedrin, and there had been no guilty verdict. Instead the Sanhedrinists broke up the meeting fighting among themselves! So Paul put his forefinger into a very sore spot when he asked them to explain to the governor what they found out when they had already tried him!

Except it be for this one voice ... This must not be understood as the tiniest admission of any wrong on Paul's part. Adam Clarke paraphrased it like this: Of course, in the eyes of these Sadducean priests, they consider me to have done wrong in advocating a resurrection of the dead. "But as this doctrine is credited by the nation in general, and is not criminal, they can bring no accusation against me with reference to anything else."[22] Paul here implied that his belief in the resurrection was the true basis of their hatred of him.

McGarvey also noted that:

Paul made this last reference, not because he was conscious of any wrong in the matter, but in order to taunt his Sadduceean accusers, and to show Felix that they were moved against him by party jealousy.[23]

Paul's challenge for the high priest to tell what happened at that trial they had already completed administered the COUP DE GRACE to the hopes of the Jews that they might force an unfavorable verdict from Felix. "The high priest wanted no talk about their council meeting that had degenerated into a riot."[24] This was the summary end of the trial, except for the announcement of the verdict.

[22] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1937), Vol. V, p. 876.

[23] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 237.

[24] Orrin Root, Acts (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1966), p. 182.

Verse 22

But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the way, deferred them, saying, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will determine your matter.

The charges had been proved false, Paul's innocence established, and the governor was fully convinced on both points; but he did not act in a manner consistent with the facts and his own responsibility, proving, as Walker said, "that the best methods of court procedure are of less consequence than the right kind of judges."[25]

When Lysias the chief captain shall come down ... This was only a delaying tactic. "He was a long time coming; for Paul stayed two years in Caesarea."[26] However, it may be that Felix never invited him to come. The governor's fertile brain was already working on that bribe which he anticipated might be extorted from Christians to procure an innocent man's release.

Having more exact knowledge of that way ... It should be remembered that Caesarea was the place where a prominent centurion, Cornelius, had been converted, where Philip the evangelist and his four daughters lived, and where there were doubtless many influential Christians. Felix doubtless knew many of these, hence it is not unreasonable at all that he should have had a great deal of information about the Christians.

[25] W. R. Walker, op. cit., p. 79.

[26] Don DeWelt, op. cit., p. 306.

Verse 23

And he gave order to the centurion that he should be kept in charge, and should have indulgence and not to forbid any of his friends to minister unto him.

The centurion ... The use of the definite article here has led some to suppose that this was the same centurion sent by Lysias; but Plumptre affirmed that it might be either he "or the one who had special charge of the prisoners waiting for trial."[27]

The favorable impression made by Paul on Felix is seen in the unusually lenient treatment accorded the prisoner. As Boles said, however, "The indulgence did not include removal of his chains."[28] Don De Welt, quoting Jacobus, noted that "He seems to have been in what was called `military custody,' in which the prisoner was bound by a long light chain to his arm, the other end of which was fastened to the officer."[29]

Indulgence ... as used here "is a common medical term for the cessation or remission of pain or disease,"[30] thus inadvertently showing the hand of the learned doctor of medicine, the sacred evangelist Luke.

[27] E. H. Plumptre, op. cit., p. 161.

[28] H. Leo Boles, op. cit., p. 386.

[29] Don DeWelt, op. cit., p. 307.

[30] A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 233.

Verse 24

But after certain days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus.

The character of Felix was noted under Acts 23:24; and some further attention is due to the woman who sat beside him as his wife.


Drusilla was a sensuously beautiful person, one of the ten descendants of Herod the Great whose names appear in the New Testament, and, like all the Herod's, possessed of a character marked by selfishness and profligacy. She was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I; and at this time (57 or 58 A.D.), she was not yet twenty years old. Her brother Agrippa II gave her in marriage to the king of Emesa when she was only fourteen or fifteen years of age.

The young queen was only sixteen when Felix, with the help of Atomos, a Cypriot magician, persuaded her to leave her husband and marry him. She was Felix's third wife, and they had a son named Agrippa.[31] After the recall of Felix, Drusilla and her only son by him perished in the eruption of Vesuvius.[32] She was one of three royal wives taken by Felix.[33] According to the unanimous testimony of the ancients, she was a woman of spectacular beauty.

Luke's mention of the fact that "she was a Jewess" probably indicates Drusilla as the source, or one of the sources, of Felix's decision to retain Paul in custody.

[31] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 472.

[32] A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 233.

[33] Jack P. Lewis, Historical Backgrounds of Bible History (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1971), p. 164.

Verse 25

And as he reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me.

Such subjects as Paul discussed with Felix were calculated to inspire terror in any man who fully comprehends their meaning. God is righteous and the imperishable enemy of all wickedness. The entire book of Romans is given over to a discussion of this theme; and what is indicated here is but a summary of all that Paul said before Felix.

Self-control ... is a quality of character demanded of all who hope to be saved; and the persons who composed Paul's audience on this occasion were notoriously deficient in it.

Judgment to come ... This is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity (Hebrews 6:2). Briefly stated, it means that Jesus Christ will summon all the dead and living of the entire world to the judgment of the Great Day, and that every man shall receive the reward of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad. The Christian concept of a universal judgment day is essential to all sanity in this present life. Without faith in the judgment, it must ever appear that the righteous are frustrated; but in this conception of what will finally occur, there lies the conviction that "even a cup of cold water" given in the name of the Lord shall not lose its reward. See more on "The Judgment" in my Commentary on Matthew under Matthew 12:41ff., 25:31ff., in my Commentary on John, under Luke 5:29 and in my Commentary on Hebrews under Hebrews 6:2. One may only grieve for the fact that widespread preaching on the subject of eternal judgment has subsided or disappeared altogether in many churches; but right here is the power that convicted sinners like those who heard Paul here; and if modern churches would have any convicting power, let them preach the word of God on such subjects as this.

A convenient season ... Nothing that we know of either Felix or Drusilla leads us to suppose that a "convenient day" ever came for them. "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Satan will see to it that no man finds it "convenient," either to surrender himself to Jesus or to forsake the pursuits of the flesh which are antecedent to it.

Verse 26

He hoped withal that money would be given him of Paul: wherefore also he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

Having learned venality as a slave in the court of an emperor, Felix pursued the vice with a singleness of heart. As Ramsay said, "As Felix was a man of wealth, brother of the richest man in Rome, and the husband of a princess, he could not have thought of a paltry bribe."[34] Pallas his brother was a millionaire, a friend and favorite of the Emperor Claudius. Ramsay also thought that Paul had come into possession of considerable wealth at this time; but this is not by any means certain. We are not told how Felix managed to convey to Paul the message that some money might loosen up the wheels of justice, but we are sure what Paul's response would have been: he would have given him "another sermon on righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come"![35]

Regarding the results of Paul's repeated preaching to Felix, Dummelow said, "The result was that Felix trembled, but delayed his repentance; and that Drusilla was made an irreconcilable enemy."[36] Another result that might be observed in what is recorded here is that for the Christians of all ages, the giving of a bribe is as sinful and reprehensible as the taking of a bribe; otherwise, Paul's friends would doubtless have raised the necessary money to procure his release.

And communed with him ... Campbell said that this word is used only four times in the Christian scriptures. "It indicates familiar conversation."[37] The quaint comment of Lange sums up the situation which confronted Paul thus:

When avarice has taken deep root in the hearts of men invested with authority, justice is sold for them by money; and the innocent receive no aid unless they pay for it, while the guilty who have bribed the judge, escape punishment.[38]

[34] Sir William M. Ramsay, op. cit., p. 292.

[35] Orrin Root, op. cit., p. 183.

[36] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 849.

[37] Alexander Campbell, Acts of Apostles (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House), p. 164.

[38] John Peter Lange, op. cit., p. 428.

Verse 27

But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.

Felix was succeeded ... The occasion of Felix's recall was the outbreak of strife between the Jewish and Gentile elements of Caesarea, in which Felix's intervention with troops led to the slaughter of many Jews (revealing, perhaps, his true feelings against them). Through the intervention of his brother Pallas, he received no punishment beyond that of removal from office, which was taken by Festus.


This man was described by Josephus as wise, just and agreeable. However, nothing is known of his life before his accession to the procuratorship of Judea, in which office he died after about two years. The picture of Festus that emerges in Acts contradicts Josephus, for he is revealed as willing to sacrifice Paul to please the Jews; and he further deliberately exploited Paul the prisoner for the entertainment of Agrippa and Bernice. As G.P. Gould said, "Paul's appeal to Nero is the lasting condemnation of Festus."[39]

The date of this change of procurators is very important in determining New Testament chronology; and the following quotations are offered as shedding some light on it:

The procuratorship of Festus (60-62), as valuable as the specific date would be, is a debated question with opinions varying from A.D. 55-60.[40]

William M. Ramsay, in PAULINE STUDIES, p. 348, has shown that Eusebius' evidence, when rightly understood, points to the year A.D. 59 for the arrival of Festus in Palestine; and some support for this date may be afforded by the sudden change of procuratorial coinage in that year, an event most plausibly attributed to the arrival of a new governor.[41]

Desiring to gain favor with the Jews, left Paul bound ... Dummelow observed that the Bezan text says Felix left Paul bound "for the sake of Drusilla," a not improbable statement.[42]


Concerning this remarkable chapter, some further comments are in order:


I. Regarding the weapons of malice:

A. Persistent hatred. The animosity against Paul was such that the highest authorities in Judaea traveled many miles, spending much effort and money to prosecute him illegally.

B. Disgusting flattery. The speech of Tertullus is a model of sycophancy and deceit.

C. Gross misrepresentation (Acts 24:5).

D. Appeal to prejudice, "sect of the Nazarenes."

E. Downright falsehood. In no way had Paul profaned the temple.

II. Regarding the defense of innocence:

A. Courtesy (Acts 24:10).

B. Straightforwardness (Acts 24:11-17).

C. Fearless denial (Acts 24:12,13,18).

D. Righteous challenge (Acts 24:19,20).

III. Regarding the two years of Paul's imprisonment.MONO>LINES>

Paul spent two whole years in the old palace of Herod at Caesarea as a prisoner of Felix. How was this time employed by himself, and by Luke? Many have supposed that Paul wrote Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon during this period; and while a lot may be said in favor of such a view, agreement is felt with Dummelow who said, "It seems more probable that all four were written in Rome."[43] "They of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:22) naturally suggests Rome.

It is the firm belief of this writer that Luke employed himself by careful and extensive interviews and investigations leading to his twofold work, especially Luke's gospel. As Dummelow said, "He probably interviewed Philip the evangelist, James the Lord's brother, and Mary the Virgin."[44] But it is also highly probable, if not indeed certain, that he also interviewed many of the Pharisees in whose homes occurred so many of the events narrated in Luke, such Pharisees having been among the great company of the priests who became Christians (Acts 6:7).

In the matter of Luke's painstaking investigations and interviews of eyewitnesses of the glorious beginnings of Christianity, one may behold the gracious Providence which overruled the injustice suffered by the apostle Paul, providing in that suffering and delay the occasion for the indispensable writings of the beloved physician Luke.

[39] New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishers, 1962), p. 421.

[40] Jack P. Lewis, op. cit., p. 152.

[41] The New Bible Dictionary, op. cit., p. 421.

[42] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 850.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Acts 24". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.