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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 24

 

 

Verse 1

1. μετὰ πέντε ἡμ.] After five days—or on the fifth day—from Paul’s departure for Cæsarea. This would be the natural terminus a quo from which to date the proceedings of the High Priest, &c., who were left in Jerusalem. That it is so, appears from Acts 24:11. See note there.

πρεσβ. τινῶν] The more ancient MSS. reading this, all we can say is that we have not sufficient authority to retain the reading of the rec. τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, though it appears more likely to be original, and to have given offence as seeming to import that the whole Sanhedrim went down. This is one of the cases where, in the present state of our evidence, we are obliged to adopt readings which are not according to subjective canons of criticism.

ῥήτορος] An orator forensis or causidicus, persons who abounded in Rome and the provinces; sometimes called συνήγοροι, or δικολόγοι. Kuin. says: ‘Multi adolescentes Romani qui se foro dederant, cum magistratibus in provincias se conferebant, ut caussis provincialium agendis se exercerent, et majoribus in urbe actionibus præpararent.’ So Cælius (see Cic. pro Cælio, c. 30), in Africa.

τερτύλλου] A diminutive from Tertius, as Lucullus from Lucius,—Catullus from Catius. The name occurs Plin. Ephesians 5:15; and Tertulla, Suet. Aug(149) 69 (Wetst.).

ἐνεφάνισαν] (not, ‘appeared,’ ἑαυτούς, sub.;—see reff.) laid information; and, as it seems, not by writing, but by word of mouth, since they appeared in person, and Paul was called to confront them.


Verses 1-32

CHAP. Acts 24:1 to Acts 26:32.] PAUL’S IMPRISONMENT AT CÆSAREA.


Verse 2

2.] ‘Inter præcepta rhetorica est, judicem laudando sibi benevolum reddere.’ (Grot.) Certainly Tertullus fulfils and overacts the precept, for his exordium is full of the basest flattery. Contrast with πολλῆς εἰρ. τυγχ., Tac. Ann. xii. 54: ‘Interim Felix intempestivis remediis delicta accendebat, æmulo ad deterrima Ventid. Cumano, cui pars provinciæ habebatur: ita divisis, ut huic Galilæorum natio, Felici Samaritæ parerent, discordes olim, et tum, contemptu regentium, minus coercitis odiis. Igitur raptare inter se, immittere latronum globos, componere insidias, et aliquando prœliis congredi, spoliaque et prædas ad Procuratores referre;’—Hist. Acts 24:9, quoted above, on ch. Acts 23:24;—and Jos. Antt. xx. 8. 9, οἱ πρωτεύοντες τῶς τὴν καισάρειαν κατοικούντων ἰουδαίων εἰς τὴν ῥώμην ἀναβαίνουσι, φήλικος κατηγοροῦντες· καὶ πάντως ἂν ἐδεδώκει τιμωρίαν τῶν εἰς ἰουδαίους ἀδικημάτων, εἰ μὴ πολλὰ αὐτὸν ὁ νέρων τῷ ἀδελφῷ πάλλαντι παρακαλέσαντι συνεχώρησε.… There was just enough foundation for the flattery, to make the falsehood of its general application to Felix more glaring. He had put down some rebels (see ch. Acts 21:38, note) and assassins (Antt. xx. 8. 4), ‘ipse tamen his omnibus erat nocentior’ (Wetst.).

It has been remarked (by Dean Milman, Bampton Lectures, p. 185) that the character of this address is peculiarly Latin (but qu. ?); and it bas been inferred from a passage in Valerius Maximus (cited at length in C. and H., vol. i. p. 3), that all pleadings, even in Greek provinces, were conducted before Roman magistrates in Latin. But Mr. Lewin has well observed (ii. 684), “under the emperors trials were permitted in Greek, even in Rome itself, as well in the senate as in the forum (Dio Cassius, lvii. 15, says of Tiberius, πολλὰς μὲν δίκας ἐν τῇ διαλέκτῳ ταύτῃ (viz. Greek) καὶ ἐκεῖ (in the Senate) λεγομένας ἀκούων, πολλὰς δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπερωτῶν); and it is unlikely that greater strictness should have been observed in a distant province. The name Tertullus proves little, as the Greeks, and even the Jews, very commonly adopted Roman names.” On this latter point, see note, ch. Acts 13:9.

διόρθωμα is ‘an amelioration or reform:’ κατόρθωμα, ‘res præclare facta,’ generally, whether military or civil (‘quæ nos aut recta aut recte facta dicamus, si placet, illi autem appellant κατορθώματα.’ Cic. de Fin. iii. 7). Phrynichus remarks, p. 250, ἁμαρτάνουσιν οἱ ῥήτορες οὐκ εἰδότες ὅτι τὸ κατορθῶσαι, δόκιμον. τὸ δʼ ἀπὸ το ύ του ὄνομα ἀδόκιμον, τὸ κατόρθωμα,—where see Lobeck’s note. I have, as always where reason to the contrary is not very clear, followed the authority of the most ancient MSS.

προνοίας] ‘providentiæ.’ ‘Hoc vocabulum sæpe diis tribuerunt’ (Beng.). ‘Providentia Cæsaris’ is a common phrase on the coins of the emperors (Mr. Humphry).


Verse 3

3. πάντη κ. πανταχοῦ] belongs to ἀποδεχ., not to γινομένων, in which case they would naturally precede the participle,—We receive, &c., not only here in thy presence, but also at all times and in all places. A refinement of flattery.


Verse 4

4. ἐπὶ πλεῖον] viz. than the matter demands: too long.

ἐγκόπτ.] See reff.

συντόμως] As Meyer observes, we need not supply λεξόντων, but take συντ. as the measure of the time implied in ἀκοῦσαι.


Verse 5

5. λοιμόν] See reff. and Demosth. p. 794. 5, οὗτος οὖν αὐτὸν ἐξαιτήσεται ὁ φαρμακός, ὁ λοιμὸς … The construction here is an anacoluthon, there being nothing to follow up the part. εὑρόντες. The part. cannot be taken for the finite verb. See Winer, edn. 6, § 45. 6. b.

ἡ οἰκουμένη] would here mean the Roman ‘orbis terrarum.’

ναζωρ.] This is the only place in the N. T. where the Christians are so called. The Jews could not call them by any name answering to Christians, as the hope of a Messiah was professed by themselves.

[6.] Considerable difficulty rests on the omission of the words καὶ κατά to πρὸς σέ. Their absence from the principal MSS., their many variations in those which contain them, are strongly against their genuineness; as also is the consideration that no probable reason for their omission can be suggested. On the other hand, as De Wette observes, it is hardly imaginable that so little should have been assigned to the speaker as would be if these words were omitted. Besides this, the historic aorist ἐκρατήσαμεν seems to require some sequel, some reason, after this seizure, why he was there present and freed from Jewish durance. The phænomena are common enough in the Acts, of unaccountable insertions, and almost always in D (here deficient). See a list of such in Prolegg. to Acts, § Acts 24:3. But in this place it is the omission which is unaccountable, for no similarity of ending, no doctrinal consideration can have led to it. The two reasons cited from Matthæi by Bloomfield, ed. 9,–1) “that the critics believed the Jews hardly likely to have accused Lysias himself,”—2) “because the words παρʼ οὗ, at Acts 24:8, must be referred to Paul: though by its (sic) position, it seems to refer to Lysias,” are futile and childish enough (on the latter of them, see below); and I only refer to them, to shew by what sort of considerations English readers are still supposed to be influenced.

I still retain the words, in dark brackets, being as much at a loss as ever to decide respecting them, and being moved principally by the aorist ἐκρατήσαμεν, inexplicable without any sequel. It may of course be said that this very circumstance may have given rise to their insertion. But of the two it seems to me less likely that Tertullus should have ended with ἐκρατήσαμεν, than that an abridgment of his speech should have been attempted. It may be a question how far we can detect traces of deliberate abridgment, in our early MSS., of the text of the Acts.]


Verse 8

8.] παρʼ οὗ, if the disputed words be inserted, refers naturally enough to Lysias; but if they be omitted, to Paul, which would be very unlikely,—that the judge should be referred to the prisoner (for examination by torture (Grot. and al.) on one who had already claimed his rights as a Roman citizen can hardly be intended) for the particulars laid to his charge. Certainly it might, on the other hand, be said that Tertullus would hardly refer the governor to Lysias, whose interference he had just characterized in such terms of blame; but (which is a strong argument for the genuineness of the doubtful words) remarkably enough, we find Felix, Acts 24:22, putting off the trial till the arrival of Lysias.


Verse 9

9. συνεπέθ.] joined in setting upon him, bore out Tertullus in his charges.


Verse 10

10. ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν] Felix was now in the seventh year of his procuratorship, which began in the twelfth year of Claudius, A.D. 52.

The contrast between Tertullus’s and Paul’s ‘captatio benevolentiæ’ is remarkable. The former I have characterized above. But the Apostle, using no flattery, yet alleges the one point which could really win attention to him from Felix, viz. his confidence arising from speaking before one well skilled by experience in the manners and customs of the Jews.


Verse 11

11. ἡμέραι δώδεκα] The point of this seems to be, that Felix having been so long time a judge among the Jews, must be well able to search into and adjudicate on an offence whose whole course was comprised within so short a period.

The twelve days may be thus made out: 1. his arrival in Jerusalem, ch. Acts 21:15 to Act_17:2. his interview with James, ib. Acts 21:18 ff. 3. his taking on him the vow, ib. 26; 3–7. the time of the vow, interrupted by—7. his apprehension, ch. Acts 21:27; Acts 8. his appearance before the Sanhedrim, ch. Acts 22:30 ff; Acts 9. his departure from Jerusalem (at night); and so to the 13th, the day now current, which was the 5th inclusive from his leaving Jerusalem. This, which is also De Wette and Meyer’s arrangement, is far more natural than that of Kuin., Olsh., Heinr., &c., who suppose that the days which he had already spent at Cæsarea are not to be counted, because his raising disturbances while in custody was out of the question. The view advocated by Wieseler (Chron. der Apost.-gesch. pp. 103 ff.), that Paul was apprehended on the very day of his appearance with the men in the temple, I cannot but regard, notwithstanding his arguments in its favour, as inconsistent with the text of ch. Acts 21:26-27; as also his idea that the Apostle did not take the vow on himself: the expression σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθείς clearly negativing the latter supposition; and τῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ ἁγνισμοῦ, Acts 24:26, being manifestly, unless to one warped by a hypothesis, identical with αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμέραι of Acts 24:27. See note there. I mention this here, because these suppositions materially affect his arrangement of the twelve days, which he gives thus: 2nd, from Cæsarea to Jerusalem; 3rd, interview with James 4 th, (Pentecost) visit to the temple with the Nazarites, and apprehension; 5th, before the Sanhedrim; 6th, departure from Jerusalem; 7th, arrival in Cæsarea; then, five days from that (but see note on Acts 24:1), Ananias, &c., leave Jerusalem (but how does this appear from Acts 24:1? κατέβη must surely denote their arrival at Cæsarea, where the narrator, or, at all events, the locus of the history is); 13th, arrival of Ananias, &c., at Cæsarea, and hearing (improbable) of Paul. So that the above hypotheses are not the only reasons for rejecting Wieseler’s arrangement.


Verse 12

12. κατὰ τὴν πόλ.] throughout the city, ‘any where in the city;’ as we say, ‘up and down the streets.’


Verse 14

14.] The δέ here has its peculiar force, of taking off the attention from what has immediately preceded, and raising a new point as more worthy of notice. But (‘if thou wouldst truly know the reason why they accuse me’), ‘hinc illæ lacrymæ.’

αἵρεσιν, in allusion to αἱρέσεως used by Tertullus, Acts 24:5. The word is capable of an indifferent or of a had sense. Tertullus had used it in the latter. Paul explains what it really was.

οὕτως = κατὰ ταύτην. Notice in the words πατρώῳ θεῷ the skill of Paul. The term was one well known to the Greeks and Romans, and which would carry with it its own justification. “Invisum quippe erat gentibus, nominatim etiam Romanis, si quis se peregrinis aut diis aut deorum cultibus addiceret; præterea Judæis per multa imperatorum et magistratuum decreta et senatus consulta sancita erat potestas, Deum patrium colendi, patriis ritibus et sacris utendi. Jos. Antt. xiv. 17; xvi. 4” (Kuinoel). In his address to the Jews (ch. Acts 22:14) the similar expression ὁ θ. τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, brings out more clearly those πατέρες, in whom Felix had no interest further than the identification of Paul’s religion with that of his ancestors required.

κατὰ τ. ν.] See on κατ. τ. πόλιν, above. Then (if the words in brackets be omitted: and it is not easy to imagine that St. Luke wrote them) the dat. is used of the personal agents, the prophets. He avoids saying ‘by Moses,’ because the mention of the law would carry more weight.


Verse 15

15. αὐτοὶ οὗτοι] It would appear from this, that the High Priest and the deputation were not of the Sadducees. But perhaps this inference is too hasty; Paul might regard them as representing the whole Jewish people, and speak generally, as he does of the same hope ch. Acts 26:7, where he assigns it to τὸ δωδεκάφυλον ἡμῶν.

νεκρῶν, inserted here in some MSS. to fill up the meaning, is not likely to have been spoken by the Apostle. The juxtaposition of those words, which excited mockery even when the Gospel was being directly preached, would hardly have been hazarded in this defence, where every expression is so carefully weighed.


Verse 16

16. ἐν τούτῳ] Accordingly, i.e. ‘having and cherishing this hope;’ see reff.

καί] also, ‘as well as they.’


Verse 17

17.] δέ refers back to the former δέ, Acts 24:14. ‘But the matter of which they complain is this, that after an absence of many years,’ &c.

See 1 Corinthians 16:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8, 9. notes, ch. Acts 20:4.


Verse 18

18.] De W. observes, that ἡγνισμ. can only refer to προσφ., not to ἐλεημ.: thus αἷς may have been altered to οἷς, to give a general neuter sense, amidst which occupations: and the sense will be among or engaged in which offerings: it being in the temple. But this seems far-fetched and unlikely, and Meyer’s supposition, that οἷς has been altered to αἷς to suit προσφοράς, certainly has an air of probability. The use of a verb referring to two substantives, to only one of which it is applicable, is too common to require illustration. But, as so often in this book, we must follow the best MSS., our only fixed evidence, as against any questionable subjective considerations.

The construction is irregular. A subject to εὗρον has to be supplied by a reference to some nominative case implied in οὐ μετὰ ὄχ. οὐδ. μ. θορ., thus: amidst which they found me purified in the temple, none who detected me in the act of raising a tumult … but certain Asiatic Jews.… This would leave it to be inferred that no legal officers had apprehended him, but certain private individuals, illegally; who besides had not come forward to substantiate any charge against him. Bornemann would supply οὐχ οὗτοι μέν before τινες δέ; but the objection to this is, that the negative οὐ μετὰ ὄχ … stands already as the proper opponent clause to τινες δέ, and we should thus have two negative clauses together.

On this sense of δέ, see Viger, ed. Hermann, p. 16, note 24; and Hermann’s note, p. 702. 19. The latter remarks, “intelligitur in hac formula, quam malum, stultum est, vel simile quid.”


Verse 19

19.] ἔχοιεν, not ἔχουσιν, implying the subjective possibility merely, and disclaiming all knowledge of what the charge might be. The sentence is an anacoluthon: δεῖ is absolutely asserted in the present: then ἔχοιεν in the opt. follows, as if the hypothetical ἔδει had been used: and hence the correction to ἔδει. (So I wrote in former editions, and so I still believe: but the text must follow the evidence of the great MSS. [1870.]) On the opt. after the hypothetical indicative, see Bern-hardy, Syntax, p. 386 ff.

This also is a skilful argument on the part of the Apostle:—it being the custom of the Romans not to judge a prisoner without the accusers face to face, he deposes that his real accusers were the Asiatic Jews who first raised the cry against him in the temple,—not the Sanhedrim, who merely received him at the hands of others,—and that these were not present.


Verse 20

20.] Or let these persons themselves say, what fault they found in me while I stood before the Sanhedrim, other than in the matter of this one saying … τί serves for τί ἄλλο. So in English: What fault but this: i.e. ‘What other fault but this.’


Verse 21

21.] ἐφʼ ὑμ., before you: less usual than ὑφʼ ὑμ., which is probably a correction.


Verse 22

22. ἀνεβάλετο αὐτ.] ‘ampliavit eos:’ viz. both parties.

ἀκρ. εἰδὼς τὰ π. τ. ὁδ.] These words will bear only one philologically correct interpretation, having more accurate knowledge about the way: not, ‘till he should obtain more accurate knowledge’ (ungrammatical): nor, ‘since he had now obtained’ (viz. by Paul’s speech: but εἰδώς cannot be rendered ‘certior factus’). But this, the only right rendering, is variously understood. Chrys. says: ἐπίτηδες ὑπερέθετο (he adjourned the case purposely), οὐ δεόμενος μαθεῖν, ἀλλὰ διακρούσασθαι βουλόμενος τοὺς ἰουδαίους. ἀφεῖναι οὐκ ἤθελε διʼ ἐκείνους. Luther and Wolf: “distulit, … non quod sectæ ignarus esset, aut pleniorem sibi notitiam ejus comparare vellet, sed quia, cum satis illam jam cognitam haberet, Judæos amplius sibi molestos esse nolebat.” But these interpretations, as De W. observes, overlook the circumstance, that such a reason for adjournment would be as unfavourable to Paul, as to the Jews. Meyer explains it, that he adjourned the case, ‘because,’ &c. But this (De W.) would imply that he was favourably disposed to Paul. The simplest explanation is that given by De W.: He put them off to another time, not as requiring any more information about ‘the way,’ for that matter he knew before,—but waiting for the arrival of Lysias. Whether Lysias was expected, or summoned, or ever came to be heard, is very doubtful. The real motive of the ‘ampliatio’ appears in Acts 24:26. The comparative implies, “more accurate than to need additional information.”

διαγν. τὰ καθʼ ὑμ.] I will adjudge your matters. So in reff. also.


Verse 23

23.] διαταξάμενος is in apposition with εἴπας, and both belong to ἀνεβάλετο.

ἄνεσιν] De W. and Meyer explain this of ‘custodia libera,’ φυλακὴ ἄδεσμος (Arrian, Exp. ii. 15). But this can hardly be. Lipsius (Excurs. II. on Tacit. Ann. iii. 22; vi. 3, cited by Wieseler, Chron. d. Apost.-g. p. 380) says, ‘Præter custodiam militarem alia duplex, apud magistratus, et apud vades. Apud magistratus, quum reus Consuli, Prætori, Ædili, interdum et Senatori, etiam non e magistratu, committebatur: quod nonnisi in reis illustrioribus usurpatum, eaque custodia libera dicta: vid. Tacit. Ann. vi. 3; Sall. Cat. xlvii.; Liv. vi. 36; Cic. Brut. xcvi.; Dio lviii. 3. Custodia apud vades, quum eorum periculo fidejussoribus reus tradebatur: vid. Tacit. Ann. Acts 24:8; Suet. Vitell. 2.’ Now, Wieseler argues, as Paul was not bailed,—and was not ‘e reis illustrioribus,’ and besides was delivered to a centurion to keep, his cannot have been ‘custodia libera,’ but ‘militaris:’ relaxed however as much as was consistent with safe custody. He cites Josephus, who says (Antt. xviii. 6. 10) of the custody of Agrippa, φυλακὴ μὲν γὰρ καὶ τήρησις ἦν, μετὰ μέντοι ἀνέσεως τῆν εἰς τὴν δίαιταν. Remission, or relaxation, would be a better rendering than ‘liberty.’


Verse 24

24. παραγεν.] Into the hall or chamber where Paul was to speak.

δρουσίλλῃ] She was daughter of Herod Agrippa I. (see ch. 12) and of Cypros,—and sister of Agrippa II. She was betrothed at six years old (Jos. Antt. xix. 9. 1) to Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, king of Commagene; but (Antt. xx. 7. 1) he declining the marriage, not wishing to be circumcised and become a Jew, she was married to the more obsequious Azizus, king of Emesa. Not long after, Felix, being enamoured of her beauty, persuaded her, by means of a certain Simon, a Cyprian magician (see note on ch. Acts 8:9), to leave her husband and live with him (Antt. xx. 7. 2). She bore him a son, Agrippa: and both mother and son perished in an eruption of Vesuvius, in the reign of Titus (ibid.).

The Drusilla mentioned by Tacitus (Hist. Acts 24:9), a granddaughter of Antony and Cleopatra, must have been another wife of Felix, who was thrice married, and each time to persons of royal birth; ‘trium reginarum maritus,’ Suet. Claud. 28.


Verse 25

25.] It is remarkable that Tacitus uses of Felix (Ann. xii. 54) the expression ‘cuncta malefacta sibi impune ratus.’ The fear of Felix appears to have operated merely in his sending away Paul: no impression for good was made on him.


Verse 26

26.] ‘Lex Julia de repetundis præcipit, ne quis ob hominem in vincula publica conjiciendum, vinciendum, vincirive jubendum, exve vinculis dimittendum; neve quis ob hominem condemnandum absolvendumve … aliquid acceperit.’ Digest. xl. 11. 3. Cited by Mr. Humphry, who observes: Albinus, who succeeded Festus, so much encouraged this kind of bribery, that no malefactors remained in prison, except those who did not offer money for their liberation (Jos. B. J. ii. 14. 1). St. Paul did not resort to this mode of shortening his tedious and unjust imprisonment, and Tertullian (‘de Fuga in Persecutione,’ 12, p. 116) quotes his conduct in this respect against those who were disposed to purchase escape from persecution: a practice which prevailed and became a great evil in the time of Cyprian. See his Epistles, iii. and lxviii., denouncing the Libellatici.


Verse 27

27. διετίας] viz. of Paul’s imprisonment.

πόρκιον φῆστον] Festus appears to have succeeded Felix in the summer or autumn of the year 60 A.D.: but the question is one of much chronological difficulty. It is fully discussed in Wieseler, Chron. d. Apost.-g. pp. 91–99. He found the province (Jos. Antt. xx. 8. 10) wasted and harassed by bands of robbers and sicarii, and the people the prey of false prophets. He died, after being procurator a very short time,—from one to two years. Josephus (B. J. ii. 14. 1) contrasts him, as a putter down of robbers, favourably with his successor Albinus.

On the deposition, &c., of Felix, see note, ch. Acts 23:24.

χάριτα καταθέσθαι] See reff. ‘Est locutio bene Græca, Demostheni quoque usitata et Xenophonti: quales locutiones non paucas habet Lucas, ubi non alios inducit loqueutes, sed ipse loquitur, et quidem de rebus ad religionem non pertinentibus.’ Grot. The reading χάριτα, brought into the text by the evidence of the best MSS., has apparently been a correction to suit the context, only one such act being spoken of. The plural would describe the wish of Felix to confer obligations on the Jews, who were sending to complain of him at Rome,—and so win their favour.

δεδεμένον] There was no change in the method of custody, see note on Acts 24:23. He left him in the ‘custodia militaris’ in which he was.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 24:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/acts-24.html. 1863-1878.

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