Event(s): Paul appears before Felix
Today’s Text: Acts 24:1-27
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 25:1-27
Paul and his accusers have arrived at Caesarea to appear before Governor Felix. The trial begins.
Acts 24:1 “a certain orator, Tertullus” Paul’s accusers bring in “the big guns”, hiring a prosecuting attorney who was especially skillful in oratory.
Acts 24:2-4 “we enjoy great peace” Tertullus’ opening statements are oozing of flattery (which is a form of manipulation.) As we learn from history, Felix was actually a fierce ruler, and if there was any “peace” that existed, it wasn’t tranquil peace. It was peace that resulted from the terror and fear with which he led.
Acts 24:4 “not to be tedious to you any further…” He promises to be brief, and also makes light of the situation, as if it’s too petty of a “crime” to require the attention and time of such a “great” ruler.
Acts 24:5b “a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Before throwing Lysias under the bus, Tertullus directs three specific charges at Paul. The first two are personal and political in nature, which of course, will get Felix’s immediate attention. He basically accuses Paul of heresy and treason.
Acts 24:6 “even tried to profane the temple” In addition to causing dissension amongst the Jews, “profaning the temple” was a religious charge. This was a reference to the false assumption that Paul had taken Trophimus into the inner precincts of the temple (Acts 21:29).
Acts 24:6b “and wanted to judge him according to our law” Again, we have an issue of twisted truth. Paul’s accusers had done anything bug judge him, but Tertullus conveniently left out the fact that the Jews had attempted to kill Paul on the spot by stoning.
Acts 24:7 “But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands.” Though this harmonizes with Lysias’ story in his letter to Felix, it is a bit of a jab at Lysias, making it appear that if he would have just let them deal with the issue, they wouldn’t have had to “waste” Felix’s time.
Acts 24:10 “Then Paul….answered” Paul opens his defense politely, yet not using flattery as his prosecutor had.
“Although Tertullus is supposed to be a skilled orator, Paul demonstrates his superior skill by making use of Tertullus’ words to build his own case.” – Robert C. Tannehill, Bible Scholar
Acts 24:11 “it is no more than twelve days” It was known that Felix had repeatedly crucified leaders of uprisings who had previously disturbed the peace in Rome. There was zero tolerance for this type of crime. Paul starts with that allegation first, making a point that it’s not even possible to start an uprising or a revolution in a matter of twelve days, and that his purpose for coming to Jerusalem was worship, not a riot.
Acts 24:12-21 “Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.” Explaining what had actually taken place, Paul also makes the point that there was no evidence to support the charges against him.
Acts 24:19 “They ought to have been here before you…” The ones who had originally accused Paul of profaning the temple (the Asian Jews) were not even present at the trial.
Roman law imposed heavy penalties upon accusers who abandoned their charges (destitutio), and the disappearance of accusers often meant the withdrawal of a charge. Their absence, therefore, suggested that they had nothing against him that would stand up in a Roman court of law.” –Richard Longenecker, Bible Scholar
Acts 24:24 “Felix came with his wife Drusilla” “Drusilla was the great-granddaughter of Herod the Great, who had tried to kill the baby Jesus. She was the great-niece of the Herod who killed John the Baptist. Her father was the man who had the apostle James put to death. Drusilla was Felix’s third wife. He had taken her from her former husband.” –NKJV Study Bible
Acts 24:25 “now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come…” The truth started to hit home with Felix and he quickly became very uneasy. Apparently, he was willing to approach religion logically and could have open discussions about the theology side of things. But when it came to the issues of personal morality and responsibility, he was terrified.
The Greek word used in this verse for “afraid” is the same word that can be translated, “trembled”. In other words, Felix literally began to shake. Obviously the enemy was using the guilt of his own immorality against him. Unfortunately, Felix masked what he was feeling by saying this was not a convenient time, and there is no record of Felix ever giving his life to Christ.
He hardened his heart further by seeking for a way he could benefit from the message of the Gospel without having to give himself to it.
What appeared as procrastination on the surface, was actually fear in the heart. There are many other reasons we can procrastinate: laziness, anger, indecision, perfectionism, just to name a few. But whether it’s responding to something the Holy Spirit is convicting us about, or just putting something off we know we should be doing, it would serve us well to dig a little deeper and ask God to reveal the real issue behind why we may procrastinate.
What do you tend to avoid the most, and are you aware as to why? Procrastination is not a label of failure, unless we let it be. One of the first steps towards overcoming procrastination is to resist the guilt that is so often associated with putting things off. A more productive use of our time and energy is to instead ask God to reveal what’s at the heart of the matter. Once we can identify the why behind the what, it will become much easier to find the solutions we need that will help us move forward.