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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Acts 24

Verses 1-27

Witness of Paul’s Arrest, Imprisonment, and Trials (A.D. 58-62) The final major division of the book of Acts (Acts 21:1 to Acts 28:31) serves as Luke’s testimony of the arrest and trials of Paul the apostle, his trip by sea to Rome, and preparation for a hearing before the Roman emperor, the highest court in the Roman Empire. G. H. C. MacGregor notes that this large portion of material devoted to Paul’s arrest, imprisonment and journey to Rome fills about one fourth of the book of Acts. He suggests several reasons. (1) Luke was an Eyewitness of these Events Luke was an eye witness of these dramatic events of Paul’s arrest, trials and journey to Rome. The nature of such events must have created a strong impact upon his life. (2) The Gospels are Structured with a Similar Disproportion of Jesus’ Arrest, Passion and Resurrection - By comparing this large portion of material to a similar structure in the Gospels, MacGregor suggests that Luke draws a parallel plot with the story of Paul. (3) Luke is Writing an Apology for Paul Many scholars believe Luke is writing an apology in defense of Paul. MacGregor bases this view upon the five speeches of Paul’s defense that are recorded in this section of Acts: Paul’s speech to the Jewish mob (Acts 22:3-21), to the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1-6), to Felix, the Roman governor (Acts 24:10-21), to Festus, the Roman governor (Acts 25:8-11), and to King Herod (Acts 26:2-23). A number of scholars support the proposition that the impetus behind these events was an effort to legalize Christianity in the Roman Empire, which leads to the suggestion that Luke-Acts was prepared by Luke as a legal brief in anticipation of Paul’s trial before the Roman court. MacGregor argues that this motif is woven throughout Paul’s missionary journeys when Luke carefully records his encounters with Roman authorities in various cities. He notes that Luke records statements by Lysias, Festus, and Felix regarding the failure by the Jews to prove Paul’s guilt under Roman Law. He adds that Luke ends the book by portraying Paul as a peaceful man entertaining guests while imprisoned in Rome, in stark contrast to the zealous violence of the Jews that Rome was accustomed to encountering. [258] We may add that Luke’s opening to his Gospel and Acts serve as a petition to Theophilus.

[258] G. H. C. MacGregor and Theodore P. Ferris, The Acts of the Apostles, in The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 9, ed. George A. Buttrick (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1954), 284-285.

The accounts of Paul’s five trials and apologetic speeches recorded in Acts 21:1 to Acts 26:32 show that Paul had exhausted the judicial systems in Palestine, both Jewish and Roman, before departing for Rome. In each of these trials, Luke proves Paul’s innocence. The only court left was an appeal to the highest court in Rome. These five trials serve as a testimony that Paul had a legal right to appeal unto Caesar, and that he was beyond doubt innocent of his allegations by the Jews.

One more important aspect of this passage is that divine oracles are embedded within the narrative material of Acts 21:1 to Acts 28:31. For example, Paul received divine oracles from the seven daughters of Philip the evangelist and the prophet Agabus (Acts 21:8); he testifies of his divine vision on the road to Damascus and of the prophecy of Ananias (Acts 22:6-16); Luke records Paul’s angelic visitation while in prison at Caesarea (Acts 23:11); Paul testifies again of his divine vision on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:12-19); Luke records Paul’s angelic visitation at sea (Acts 27:20-26).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline to Acts 21:1 to Acts 28:31:

1. Prophecies of Paul’s Arrest in Jerusalem Acts 21:1-14

2. Paul’s Arrest and First Speech to Jewish Mob Acts 21:15 to Acts 22:29

3. Paul’s Second Speech Before the Sanhedrin Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:35

4. Paul’s Third Speech Before Felix the Governor Acts 24:1-27

5. Paul’s Fourth Speech Before Festus the Governor Acts 25:1-12

6. Paul’s Fifth Speech Before King Agrippa Acts 25:13 to Acts 26:32

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 24". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/acts-24.html. 2013.