Acts 24



1 “And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and

with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.”

The high priest Ananias came down for Ananias the high priest descended, Authorized

Version; certain elders for the elders, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; an

orator, one Tertullus for a certain orator named Tertullus, Authorized Version;

and they for who, Authorized Version. After five days. Of which the first was the

day on which Paul left Jerusalem, and the fifth that on which Ananias and his

companions appeared before Felix (see v. 11, note). Tertullus. A Latin name,

formed from Tertius, as Lucullus from Lucius, Catullus from Catius, etc.

Informed; ἐνεφάνισαν enephanisianinformed; disclosed -  in the sense of

"laying an information" before a magistrate, only occurs elsewhere in ch. 25:2, 15

(see above, ch. 23:15, note).


2 “And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying,

Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds

are done unto this nation by thy providence,”  - Called for called forth,

Authorized Version; much peace for great quietness, Authorized Version;

evils are corrected for for very worthy deeds are done unto, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; there is also a change in the order of the words, by thy

providence is placed at the beginning instead of at the end of the sentence.

When he was called. We see here the order of the trial. As soon as the charge

is laid against, the prisoner, he is called into court, to hear what his accusers

have to say against him, and as it follows at v. 10, to make his defense (see

ch. 25:16). We enjoy much peace. The gross flattery of this address of the

hired orator, placed at the beginning of his speech, in order to win the favor

of the judge, is brought into full light by comparing Tacitus's account of the

misconduct of Felix in Samaria in the reign of Claudius, who he says, thought

he might commit any crime with impunity, and by his proceedings nearly

caused a civil war ('Annah,' 12:54); and his character of him as a ruler of

boundless cruelty and profligacy, using the power of a king with the temper

of a slave ('Hist' 5. 9.); and Josephus s statement that no sooner was Felix

recalled from his government than the chief men among the Jews at Caesarea

went up to Rome to accuse him before Nero, when he narrowly escaped

punishment through the influence of his brother Pallas. By thy providence.

"Providentia Caesaris" is a common legend on Roman coins (Alford).

Evils are corrected. The reading of the Received text, διορθώματαdiorthomata

meaning "reforms," occurs only here, but, like the kindred κατορθώματα

 katorthomata -  of the Textus Receptus, is a medical term. Διόρθωσις

Diorthosis - , reformation, is found in Hebrews 9:10. The κατορθώματα

katorthomatareformations take place - of the Textus Receptus. (which also

occurs nowhere else in the New Testament) means, in its classical use, either

"successful actions" or "right actions;" κατορθόω -  katorthoo -  is to "bring

things to a successful issue." Possibly Tertullus may have had in view the

successful attack on the Egyptian impostor (see ch. 21:38, note), or the

wholesale crucifixion of Sicarii and other disturbers of the public peace.




The Influence of a Good Ruler on National Evils (v. 2)


See the rendering in the Revised Version, “Seeing that by thee we enjoy

much peace, and that by thy providence evils are corrected for this nation.”

How far this may be a true description of Felix it may be difficult to decide.

The only good thing known of his rule is the energetic effort which he

made to put down the gangs of Sicarii (Assassins) and brigands by whom

Palestine was infested. Within two years of this very time Felix was

recalled from his province, and accused by the Jews at Rome. He only

escaped punishment by the intervention of his brother Pallas, then as high

in favor with Nero as he had been with Claudius. But Tertullus describes

the proper influence of good rulers, and so suggests a subject on which we

may profitably dwell.



CONQUERED NATION. Certain forms of lawlessness are only kept in

check by the strong hand of an active, vigorous government. In every land

there are criminal classes and revolutionary classes, and these make

headway as soon as, from any cause, the pressure of authority and national

police is relieved. In a conquered nation there is always a dangerous

sympathy with the revolutionary classes, which increases burglary,

brigandage, and murder.





Ø      There is the simple, but harsh method of conquest by armies, and the

crushing down of all expressions of life by brute force. This, however,

never really succeeds.


Ø      There is the slow method of forming aright public opinion, which makes

the nation become its own police. This often fails, because the demagogue

creates an opposing and unworthy public opinion.


Ø      There is the influence gained by the good ruler who can be prompt and

strong, wise and far seeing, who loves the people, and masters the evils for

the people’s sakes. Such a ruler secures peace from external quarrels and

internal dissensions, and, in securing peace, bears directly on the people’s

well being. He effects all reasonable reforms, so as to remove everything

that hinders the national prosperity. Show that it becomes us to pray for

good rulers; to seek grace and help for them that they may rule well; and to

aid them in carrying out all good schemes.


3 “We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.”

In all ways for always, Authorized Version; excellent for noble, Authorized Version.

Meyer connects in all ways and in all places with the preceding διορθωμάτων

γινομένωνdiorthomaton ginomenonreforms becoming; reforms and

improvements that have taken place on all sides and in all places. Πάντῃ -

Pantaein every way, found only here in the New Testament, means

"on all sides," " in every direction."



                        The Power of the Flatterer (v. 3)


Felix was not noble at all. Tacitus says of him that “in the practice of all

kinds of lust, crime, and cruelty, he exercised the power of a king with the

temper of a slave.” Tertullus had an end to gain, and adopted flattery as a

means. He was a hired pleader, and selected for the sake of his glib

eloquence. He could talk well. Men of his class were found in most of the

provincial towns of the Roman empire, They were necessary because the

local lawyers would not be sufficiently familiar with the proceedings at the

Roman courts, or with the minute details of Roman law. Tertullus had

“learned the trick of his class, and began with propitiating the judge by

flattery.” Canon Farrar says, “Tertullus was evidently a practiced speaker,

and Luke has faithfully preserved an outline of his voluble plausibility.

Speaking with polite complaisance, as though he were himself a Jew, he

began by a fulsome compliment to Felix, which served as the usual captatio

benevolentiae (winning of good will). Alluding to the early exertions of Felix

against the banditti, and the recent suppression of the Egyptian false Messiah,

he began to assure his excellency, with truly legal rotundity of verbiage, of the

quite universal and uninterrupted gratitude of the Jews for the peace which he

had secured to them, and for the many reforms which had been initiated by

his prudential wisdom.” The subject suggested for our consideration is this

— What are the limits of praise? How far may we go in conciliating others

by words of approval and congratulation? At once it may be answered that

no praise may go beyond the truth or be out of harmony with the truth. But

in practical life we have to remember that different persons have different

estimates of personal character.


1. Some are incompetent to form sound judgment, and such persons give

praise that is simply unsuitable, but is not spoken with any purpose of



2. Others are prejudiced, and can only see the evil sides of a man’s

character and actions. Their estimates are wholly unworthy.


3. Others are just as blind to the evil and as prejudiced to the good, and

their estimates, though seemingly flattering, are really only exaggerated

and untrustworthy; they lack criticism, but are not insincere.


4. Yet others praise with some object which does not appear; they have an

end to gain, and the praise is regarded simply as a means towards obtaining

the end. These are the flatterers, and their characteristic is insincerity. The

following points may be illustrated concerning the power of the flatterer:


  • HIS MOTIVES. Always some personal end is in view. Usually the

flatterer seeks to get something that is not in itself right. It is an agency to

use when a man’s case is bad. If a man lacks arguments, he will flatter the

judge. He means to throw him off his guard, and to get him into a

favorable mind by praises.


  • HIS AIDS IN THE PERSON FLATTERED. There is in us all, even in

the best of men, a self-love that makes praise pleasant. If the flattery is kept

well in hand and skillfully disguised, even noble natures, even humble

natures, may be swayed by it. If the flattery is too open and intense, good

men are put on their guard and resent the insult.


  • THE MORAL MISCHIEF OF HIS WORK. Show the injury that is

done to the flatterer himself, who is confirmed in his insincerity when he

finds flattery succeed. A man may get into such a habit of flattering that he

will lose the power to recognize the truth, and come to believe in his own

exaggerations. Show the injury that is done to the person flattered, who

may be led to form an undue estimate of himself, and so be placed in

positions of extreme moral peril when the hour of temptation comes. If it is

wrong for us to think of ourselves above that which we ought to think

(Romans 12:3), it must be wholly wrong for any one to flatter us so that

our self-opinion is unduly raised. Felix was really pushed a little nearer to

his fall by this flattery of Tertullus. For Scripture teachings concerning

flattery, see Psalm 36:2; 78:36; Proverbs 2:16; 20:19; 26:28; 29:5, etc. Press

the apostolic counsel, “Speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are

 members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).


4 “Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that

thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.”  But for notwithstanding,

Authorized Version; I entreat thee for I pray thee, Authorized Version; to hear

for that thou wouldest hear, Authorized Version. Of thy clemency (τῇ σῇ ἐπιεικείᾳ -

tae sae epieikeiato your leniency). The word is rendered "gentleness" in

II Corinthians 10:1, where alone it occurs in the New Testament; ἐπιείκης

epiekaes is most frequently rendered "gentle" (I Timothy 3:3 (Revised Version);

Titus 3:2; James 3:17; I Peter 2:18). A few words. The Greek has συντόμως

suntomos - briefly, concisely, found only here in the New Testament, but

common in classical Greek and especially in medical writers, where it means

"rapidly," "in a short time."


5 “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition

among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of

the Nazarenes:”  Insurrection for sedition, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.

We have found (εὑρόντες heurontes -  finding). The construction of the sentence

is an anacoluthon (syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence; especially:

a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another (as in "you really

ought—well, do it your own way"). The participle is not followed, as it should be, by

a finite verb, ἐκρατήσαμεν ekrataesamen -  we lay hold (in v. 6), but the

construction is changed by the influence of the interposed sentence, "who moreover

assayed to profane the temple," and so, instead of ἐκρατήσαμεν αὐτόνekrataesamen

auton - , we have ὅν καὶ ἐκρατήσαμενhon kai ekrataesamenwhom we also lay

hold. A pestilent fellow (λοιμόνloimon - ); literally, a pestilence; as we say, "a pest,"

"a plague," or "a nuisance," like the Latin pestis. It only occurs here in the New

Testament, but is of frequent use in the Septuagint, as e.g. I Samuel 2:12; 10:27,

and 25:25, υἱοὶ λοιμοὶ - sons of Belial; I Maccabees  10:61; 15:3 ἄνδρες λοιμοί -

andres loimoivillains; pestilent fellows: and 15:21, simply λοιμοὶ (rendered

"pestilent fellows" in the Authorized Version), and elsewhere as the rendering

of other Hebrew words. It is occasionally used also in this sense by classical

writers. A mover of insurrections (στάσειςstaseis - , insurrection; sedition –

Received Text). This was the charge most likely to weigh with a Roman procurator

in the then disturbed and turbulent state of the Jewish mind (compare Luke 23:2;

John 19:12). Felix himself had had large experience of Jewish insurrections. The

Jewish riots at Philippi (ch.16:20), at Thessalonica (ch. 17:6), at Corinth (ch. 18:12),

at Ephesus (ch. 19:29), and at Jerusalem (ch. 21:30), would give color to the

accusation. The world (οἰκουμένηhae oikoumenaethe inhabited earth).

The Roman, or civilized, world (Luke 2:l; 4:5, etc.). Ringleader; πρωτοστάτην

 protostataen - ringleader, only here in the New Testament, but used by the

Septuagint in Job 15:24, and not uncommon in classical Greek, as a military term,

equivalent to the first, i.e. the right-hand man in the line. Also, in the plural, the

soldiers in the front rank. The sect of the Nazarenes. As our Lord was

contemptuously called "The Nazarene "(Matthew 26:71), so the Jews designated

his disciples" Nazarenes." They would not admit that they were Christians, i.e.

disciples of the Messiah.




The Indictment that was a Self-Indictment (v. 5)


The preparations for the indictment of Paul before Felix had been well

considered. Somewhat formidable, save to the strong heart, and that

divinely refreshed (ch. 23:11), most concerned in the matter, must the

legal phalanx have appeared, when Ananias the high priest, and the elders,

and their practiced professional helper Tertullus, and others of the Jews,

made their appearance. The speech containing the accusation against Paul,

which began with flattery for a Felix, not unnaturally culminates in

falsehood hurled at Paul, and mockery flung at the Nazarene. The

portraiture of perverseness such as this is no novelty; yet some peculiarity

in the featuring may be found here, A new touch or two fails not to give

some new expression to the countenance. What a mournful commentary on

human nature, that it is necessary to contemplate its worst expression of

countenance, and to study, not the model to copy, but the type false and

debased to avoid! Consider, therefore:




“PESTILENT.” These are the two things that underlie the ugly fact.


Ø      That it is the depths of a muddy nature that are reached.

Ø      That it is something that has the undisputed power to reach those depths

that is present and working. The “pestilence” was all subjective to Tertullus

and friends. The strong force was the force of Christ.






SIGNS OF SEDITION. These are at least some of the things that underlie

the fact.


Ø      That the unfolding of God’s mind and purpose to the world always

means war with its inertness. The keen appetites of the world are not to

true knowledge, not to godly activity, not to wisdom’s perfect work.

Ø      That the growing manifestation of God to mankind always means a

summons to simpler, purer, more determined holiness and height of life.

The stir and report that swell round the echoes of the voice summoning

men in this sort are indeed sedition to their stifled order of life and of habit

and of affection. It is not in them to “seek for honor, glory, and

immortality.” God’s greater, better, clearer gifts necessarily postulate a

truer human return of them, and a more correct reflection.








here before us. The polished orator, the trained and keen lawyer, heaps the

epithets, every one ill or of ill omen, “pestilence,” “sedition,” “ringleader,”

“sect,” “the Nazarenes.” These were the fruit of a tongue rather than

merely a pen “dipped in gall.” And false is the word stamped, as a

monogram is stamped, on every one of them. These are some at least of

the causes at work under the fact.


Ø      That reason, opportunities of knowledge, convictions, conscience

injured, ignored, insulted, know terrible ways of revenge, and a terrible

force of revenge. Obscurity becomes thick darkness; mistake becomes

willful preference for the wrong; one sin becomes a multitude.

Ø      hat a certain sort of heart, once deeply conscious, without the slightest

readiness to acknowledge it, that it is losing, loses also itself, loses its self-

control, and finds itself drifted, hurried, hounded on to senseless lengths.

Heaven’s sweetest beneficence — for this it has nothing but the vocabulary

of traducing slander.


  • CONCLUSION. These things are not the necessities and inevitable things

of human nature. They are results of:


Ø      permitted unfaithfulness,

Ø      condoned infidelities,

Ø      encouraged willfulness, and

Ø      deliberate defiance of TRUTH!


in place of devoted affiance to it. Deep need the roots of them to be sought,

that without mercy they may be uprooted and exterminated. And they need

the prayer earnestly offered, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try

me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and

lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)


6 “Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and

would have judged according to our law.”  Moreover assayed for also hath

gone about, Authorized Version; on whom also we laid hold for whom we took,

Authorized Version. To profane the temple. The same false charge as was made

in ch. 21:28. The remainder of v. 6, after the words "on whom we laid hold,"

the whole of v. 7, and the first clause of v. 8, are omitted in the Received Text

on the authority of א, A, B, G, H, etc. But the propriety of the omission is doubtful

(Alford, Bishop Jacobson, Plumptre), though sanctioned by Mill, Bengel, Griesbach,

Lachmann, and Tisehendorf (Meyer). If the words are not genuine, it is a marvelously

skilful interpolation, fitting into the place so exactly both at the beginning and at the

end, and supplying a manifest want in the speech of Tertullus. (For the statement in

v. 8 Authorized Version,  compare ch. 23:30.)


7 “But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took

him away out of our hands,” 8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee:

by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things,

whereof we accuse him.”  From whom thou wilt be able, by examining him

thyself, to take for by examining of whom thyself mayest take, Authorized Version.

According to the Revised Version, whom refers to Paul, but according to the

Authorized Version, to Lysias. This last agrees with v. 22. By examining him;

ἀνακρίναςanakrinas - examing (Luke 23:14; ch. 4:9; 12:19; 17:11; 28:18;

elsewhere only in Paul's Epistles). In ch. 25:26 the kindred ἀνάκρισιςanakrisis

examination, is used.


9 “And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.”

Joined in the charge for assented, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

affirming for saying, Authorized Version. Joined in the charge. The reading

of the Received Text, συνεπέθεντοsunepethentoagreed -  means "joined

in the attack upon," as in the Septuagint of Deuteronomy 32:27 ("behave

themselves strangely," Authorized Version); Psalm 3:6 (Codex Alexandrinus;

"set themselves against me," Authorized Version) The συνέθεντο of the Textus

Receptus means "agreed" (as John 9:22), "assented."


10 “Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak,

answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge

unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:”

And when the governor, etc., Paul answered for then Paul, after that the governor,

etc., answered, Authorized Version; cheerfully for the more cheerfully, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus; make my defense for answer for myself, Authorized

Version.  Forasmuch as I know, etc. Paul, with inimitable skill, pitched upon the

one favorable side of his judge's person, viz. his long experience in Jewish affairs,

and made it the subject of his opening reference - a courteous and conciliatory

reference, in striking contrast with the false, fulsome flattery of Tertullus.

Of many years. If Paul was speaking in the year A.D. 58, and Felix had been

governor only since A.D. 53, "many years" was rather an hyperbole. But

Tacitus expressly states that Felix was joint procurator with Cumanus; and

therefore he had been a judge to the Jewish nation long before the banishment

of Cumanus. Tacitus's authority is infinitely superior to that of Josephus, and

this passage strongly supports the statement of Tacitus ('Annal.,' 12:54). Make my

defense (τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαιta peri emautou apologoumaithe

concerning myself I am defending). For the word ἀπολογοῦμαιapologoumai

answer, and for the situation of Paul, and for the gracious promise provided for

such situation, see Luke 12:12; 21:15; see too ch.19:33; 25:8; 26. l-2; and for the

use of ἀπολογίαapologia – answer; defense, see ch.  22:1, note.


11 “Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days

since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.”  Seeing that thou canst take

knowledge for because that thou mayest understand, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; it is act more than for there are yet but, Authorized Version;

I went up to worship at Jerusalem for I went up to Jerusalem for to worship,

Authorized Version. Twelve days. These days may be thus reckoned:

(1) arrival at Jerusalem (ch. 21:15);
(2) Visit to James and the ciders (ibid. v.18);
(3) first day of purification (ibid.  v. 26);
(4) second day of purification;
(5) the third day;
(6) the fourth day;
(7) the fifth day, when the tumult took place (ch. 21:27);
(8) Paul brought before the Sanhedrim;
(9) the conspiracy of the forty Jews, Paul leaves Jerusalem for Caesarea –

      the first of the five days mentioned in ch. 24:1;
(10) arrival of Paul "next day" at Caesarea, and lodged in the pretorium

        second of the five days (ch. 23:32, 35);
(11) Paul in Herod's judgment hall - third of the five days;
(12) ditto - fourth of the five days;
(13) the current day, being also the fifth day of those mentioned in ch. 24:1.

        The mention of the brief time of twelve days shows the narrow limits

        of time within which the crime must have been committed, while the

        adroit mention of the purpose of his visit, to worship, would show how

        unlikely it was that he should have gone with any evil intent.


12 “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither

raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:”  Neither in the

temple did they find me for they neither found me in the temple, Authorized Version;

or stirring up a crowd for neither raising up the people, Authorized Version; nor...

nor for neither... nor, Authorized Version. Stirring up a crowd. The reading of

the Received Text is ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου epistasin poiounta ochlou -  

which must mean "a stoppage of the crowd," in which sense it is a medical term.

But Meyer thinks it is a mere clerical error for the reading of the Textus Receptus

ἐπισύστασιν  -  episustasin - which is used in the Septuagint for "a tumultuous

assembly" (Numbers 26:9; III Esdras 25:9), and in Josephus, 'Contr. Apion.,'

1:20, of a conspiracy or revolt. In the  Septuagint also the verb ἐπισυνίσταμαι

episunistamai - means "to rise in revolt against" (Numbers 14:25; 16:19;  26:9).


13 “Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.”

Prove to thee for prove, Authorized Version. Prove (παραστῆσαιparastaesai

to present evidence); see ch. 1:3, note.


14 “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy,

so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written

in the law and in the prophets:”  A sect for heresy, Authorized Version; serve

for worship, Authorized Version ; our for my, Authorized Version; (my is better,

as following "I serve," and addressed to a Roman judge); which are according to

the Law, and which are written in the prophets for which are written in the Law

and in the prophets, Authorized Version. A sect. This, of course, refers to this

expression of Tertullus in v. 5, Πρωτοστάτης τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως

Protostataes taes ton Nazoraion haireseos - "Ringleader of the sect of the

Nazarenes." The word αἵρεσις (heresy), which means primarily "choice," has not

necessarily or even ordinarily a bad sense. In classical Greek its secondary sense

was a "sect" or "school" of philosophy, Academics, Peripatetics, Stoics, Epicureans,

etc. The Jews applied it to their own different schools of thought. So in ch. 5:17

we read, Αἵρεσις τῶν Σαδδουκαίων Hairesis ton Saddoukaion -, "The sect of the

Sadducees;" in ch.15:5, Αἵρεσις τῶν ΦαρισαίωνHairesis ton Pharisaion - 

"The sect of the Pharisees;" in ch. 26:5 Paul speaks of himself as having been a

Pharisee, Κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείαςKata taen

akribestataen hairesin taes haemeteras thraeskeias - "After the straitest sect of

our religion" (see too ch. 28:22). It begins to have a bad sense in Paul's Epistles

(I Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; and II Peter 2:1, αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας haireseis

apoleiasdamnable heresies, where, however, it gets its bad sense from the

ἀπωλείας  (of destruction) joined to it. In ecclesiastical writers it came to have

its worst sense of "heresy" as something worse even than "schism." In this

reference to Tertullus's phrase, Paul seems hardly to admit that Christianity was

properly called "a sect" by the Jews, but gives it the milder term of "the Way"

(see ch. 9:2, note). The God of our [my] father (τῷ πατρῳ Θεῷ - to patro Theo);

compare Galatians 1:14; and ch. 22:3; 28:17. Observe how Paul throughout insists

that, in becoming a Christian, he had not been disloyal to Moses, or the Law, or

the prophets, or to the religion of his fathers, but quite the contrary. According

to the Law. Κατὰ τὸν νόμον Kata ton nomon may mean either, as in the Revised

Version, "according to the Law," or, as Meyer takes it, "throughout the Law,"

and then is better coupled, as in the Authorized Version, with τοῖς γεγραμμένοις

 tois gegrammenois - . The Law, and... the prophets (as Matthew 5:17;

Luke 24:27, 44).




The Confession of a Coherent Worship and Faith (v. 14)


Paul is, of course, at no loss to account for the enmity of the Jews

manifested toward him. And it is his intention that his judge shall overhear,

if not hear, the true state of the case. He has vindicated himself and will

still vindicate himself against the ostensible accusations laid to his charge.

But now he pierces beneath all pretences and appearances, and touches

firm ground. And the concisest way of conveying his view of the state of

things to his judge lies in a very simple confession of his religion. To which

we may consider (as suggested by Paul’s language here) two things to be

essential. They are:


  • WORSHIP. And Paul is able to say these three things all distinctly

germane to the confession.


Ø      That he worships.

Ø      That he worships God.

Ø      That he worships the God of his fathers, i.e. the very same God whom

his accusers profess to worship.


  • A DEFINITE FAITH. An intelligible faith makes an informed instead

of a superstitious worship. There are ways and ways, of worship. And

these follow very consistently the faith that is held. Notice:


Ø      That Paul very decidedly pronounces for himself that his faith

embraces “all things written in the Law and the prophets.”


Ø      He implies that the faith of his enemies failed of this. It felt short,

perhaps, partly in its very character, but probably much more seriously

in its compass. The typical Jew of the days of Jesus prided himself in

reading the Law literally and fully, though with many a corrupt

addition. His “way” of interpreting the prophets was of a far more

eclectic character. He couldn’t see, because he wouldnt believe, the

humble and the humbling prophecies of the Messiah. Paul’s “heresy”

was, in fact, that he believed “all.The Jews’ ruining sin was that

they would not believe “all.” This quietly spoken sentence of Paul

gave the key to all. And it is another comment upon the Jews in

harmony with that uttered by Jesus Himself, “Had ye believed Moses,

ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me.”  (John 5:46).



The Way Called Heresy (v. 14)


The Revised Version reads, “After the Way which they call a sect, so serve

I the God of our fathers.” Paul’s teachings the Jewish party certainly

regarded as heresy, and did not hesitate to call heresy. Paul urges that

he did no more than belong to a sect, or section, of the Jews, who, while

worshipping according to the Mosaic system, had received, as they

believed, some further light by the direct revelation of God. To some Jews

Paul’s doctrine of resurrection, based upon the fact of the resurrection

of Christ, was a heresy. To others his free announcement of gospel

blessings to the Gentiles was a heresy. But his chief offence in the eyes of

the more bigoted Jews lay in this, that he freed his Jewish converts from

the characteristic demands of the Jewish ritual. This was, in their eyes,

heresy indeed. As indicating a wider use of the term sect than that with

which we are familiar, it may be noticed that it was used of Jewish sects by

Josephus, of schools of philosophy by Greek writers generally, and of

schools of medicine by Galen. There are four sides from which heresy, as a

misrepresentation or perversion of accepted truth, may be viewed.



distinctly of false doctrine, which puts the Christian truth in peril. There are

great first principles, great foundation truths, and for these we do well to

be jealous. But we must clearly see that while heresy on these points is

dangerous to the Christian faith and life, heresy on points which men have

been pleased to elaborate — on mere details and accepted formulae —

have never shaken the rock-built house of truth, and never will. God has

given us two all-sufficient tests of moral and religious truth. No heresy ever

yet has stood the application of these two tests.


Ø      Is the statement in harmony with God’s revealed Word?

Ø      Does it practically work out into that which is good — morally pure and

good? We need never fear any presentation of so-called truth that is in

accord with God’s Word, and is manifestly “unto holiness.” It is God’s

truth, whatever some may call it, if it helps to make men holy.



often is. A man expresses a well-established truth in some new form or new

phraseology, and, without waiting to examine it, and see if it was only new

clothing on the old body of truth, his fellow-men raise the heresy shout,

and create prejudice against him. Paul’s heresy was only individuality,

and God gave him that individuality in order that it might make him a holy

power. Jews called it heresy, but we have learned to glory in the gospel

with the Pauline stamp upon it. The lesson taught by the Christian records

of nearly two thousand years, but which we are strangely unwilling to learn

today, is that we must never crush individuality by the shout of heresy, but

thank God for sending men who can clothe His old truth in adaptation to

the thought and life of each succeeding age.



think it does. This it never does. God’s truth never wants the bolstering of

any human courts or judges. God’s truth asks only one thing from the

world’s powers and potentates — to be let alone. Truth wants the open air

and the sunshine, that is all. It can win its own way. It can carry its own

conviction. It can take care of its own purity. It can cast off all unworthy

additions. (I will tell this the best I can.  Once there was a father who took

his young girl to the circus.  The daughter was impressed with the lion

tamer in the cage with the lion.  The daughter told her father that it was

good that the lion had someone to take care of him, to which he replied,

“Let the lion out of the cage and he will take care of himself!”  Such is

God’s truth.  Let it out and it will take care of itself!  CY – 2018)

We greatly need an absolute and unquestioning confidence that

God’s truth is in no danger. It smiles at unbelief and over self-reliant

science, much as the granite rocks seem to do at the wild careering waves.



SIDES OF TRUTH. Truth — revealed truth — is a great whole, but no

one age seems able to take in the whole; some parts are always prominent

and some are always in the background; and there is this constant peril,

that the truths in the foreground are treated as if they were the whole, and

any one who brings up to view the neglected aspects is liable to the charge

of heresy. Many a so-called heresy is only a missed truth or a half-truth;

and then, after men have done “calling names,” they are glad to accept the

teaching. One rule is set before us, Prove all things, hold fast that which is

good”  (I Thessalonians 5:21), whatever may be the name by which men call it.”


15 “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there

shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”

Having for and have, Authorized Version; these also themselves look for for they

themselves also allow, Authorized Version; resurrection for resurrection of the dead,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Which these also themselves look for

(see ch.23:6). Both of the just, etc. This is distinctly taught in Daniel 12:2 (compare

Matthew 25:46; John 5:29).




A Hope Grown from a Deep and Manifold Root (v. 15)


The hope that there shall be a resurrection of the dead is here described as

a “hope toward God.” It is hope pre-eminently resting upon God. For:



NATURE GIVEN BY HIM. The deep-seated instincts of nature are

necessarily among the strongest moral arguments of which we can take

cognizance.  (It is He that hath put eternity into our hearts!  Ecclesiastes

3:11 – CY – 2018)




ALSO BY HIM. Reason’s arguments upon certain highest subjects, by

themselves, may easily be uncertain and fallacious. But as guides on the

way to other arguments, and as supports of other arguments, they are often

very significant, very suggestive, very helpful. And it is so to a high degree

in this instance.



It is the end of the gospel to him who believeth. If this hope fall through,

all falls through. (“If in this life only we have hope in Christ,  we are of

all men most miserable.” – I Corinthians 15:19 – CY – 2018)   The

Christian’s deception becomes an absolutely typical and leading instance

of deception for the whole world’s whole length of history; and the

Christian’s disappointment the keenest of all disappointments — his

collapse making him the most miserable of all men.


  • The hope that this resurrection shall include all — the unjust” as the





FAMILIAR. In this theme the mystery of unfathomable depths of

unsearchable wisdom is before us. It enwraps the height of highest hope,

the deepest things of fear.


16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of

offence toward God, and toward men.”  Herein... also for and hereby,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; to have a conscience... always for

to have always, etc., Authorized Version; and men for and toward men, Authorized

Version. (For the sentiment, compare ch. 23:1).  Herein (ἐν τόυτῳ - en touto

in this); i.e. on this account, under these circumstances supplying the ground and

cause of my action (comp. John 16:30). So, too, Matthew 6:7, Ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ

αὐτῶν – En tae polulogia auton - means "On account of their much speaking."

I exercise myself; ἀσκῶ - askoI am exerting, here only in the New Testament,

but frequent in medical writers for "to practice" the medical art.


The secret of strength and courage in the Christian life is a conscience void of

offence toward God and toward mankind.



A Powerful Incentive to a Noble Life (vs. 15-16)


Between the life of the meanest and basest men on the one hand, and that

of the purest and noblest on the other, what an immeasurable spiritual

space intervenes! We look here at:


  • A NOBLE HUMAN LIFE. There are those who, in the ordering of their

life, never rise above a consideration of their own enjoyment or acquisition.

There are others who never rise higher than the consideration of others

which is born of natural affection; that which springs from the ties of

kindred and, perhaps, common interest or companionship. Others again

there are who get as far as political or national enthusiasm. But they only

are worthy of the One “with whom they have to do” (Hebrews 4:13)

and reach the full stature of their manhood, who are constrained by

the sense of obligation to God and to man. Paul “exercised himself to

have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward

men.”  Here was:


Ø      A lofty aim. “To have a conscience void of offence toward God, and

toward men.” This means something more than the avoidance of the darker

sins and the greater crimes, of those misdeeds which stamp a man as a

sinner and a criminal in the eyes of the world. It means:


o        righteousness in the sight of the Supreme; the being counted righteous

by God, and the attainment of positive righteousness like his own; so

that a man is living in a state of abiding acceptance with God, and is

also walking before Him in uprightness and integrity of heart and life.

It means also:


o        recognition of the claims of men on our regard, and the consequent

shaping of our life in purity, honesty, truthfulness, helpfulness; so

that a man has not to reproach himself either with acts of injury or with

negligence and inconsiderateness; he has a “conscience void of offence”

toward men as well as toward God.


Ø      A comprehensive view. Paul aimed to be conscientious at all times, in all

things (διὰ παντός dia pantos). And we know that this was more than a

figure of speech; it could hardly be said to be in any way hyperbolical. He did

strive to act with a good conscience always. With whomsoever he had to do,

in whatsoever he was engaged, he sought to act faithfully. And the truly

noble life is one in which the humbler as well as the higher activities and

endurances are regulated by holy and heavenly principles.


Ø      An earnest endeavor; “I exercise myself,” i.e. “I strenuously endeavor,”

“I put forth my whole energy,” “I labor.” Paul’s action amounted to

something vastly more than an occasional sentiment or a feeble futile

effort; it was an earnest aspiration spending itself in vigorous exertion. He

cultivated his spiritual powers; he trained himself in holy habits; he wrestled

with the adversaries of his soul; he did stern battle with the lower

propensities; he strove to exhibit the graces which are dear to God, the

virtues which are valuable to men.


  • A POWERFUL INCENTIVE TO LIVE IT. (v. 15.) We may draw

many powerful and all-sufficient incentives to rectitude from considerations

which are at hand.


Ø      Our supreme obligation to God, the Divine Author of our being and

Source of all our joy.


Ø      Our influence upon our fellow-men, and the effect our life has on theirs.


Ø      The elevated joy we have in the consciousness of rectitude, both of

integrity of heart and innocency of life. But we shall do well to add this

other also:


Ø      The hope of future blessedness; including:


o        the approval of the Divine Master; His “Well done”

(Matthew 25:21); and

o        the extended sphere which He wilt appoint the faithful (ibid).




Loyalty to God and Men (v. 16)


 “A conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Bishop

Butler’s definition of “conscience” can hardly be surpassed. He says,

“There is a principle of reflection in men, by which they distinguish

between, approve and disapprove, their own actions. We are plainly

constituted such sort of creatures as to reflect on our own nature. The

mind can take a view of what passes within itself, its propensions,

aversions, passions, affections, as respecting such objects and in such

degrees, and of the several actions consequent thereupon. In this survey it

approves of one and disapproves of another, and toward a third is affected

in neither of these ways, but is quite indifferent. This is strictly conscience.”

This subject may be fitly introduced by discussing — What is conscience?

What is its sphere? and What are its limitations? The expressions in the text

remind us that the testimonies of our conscience depend upon our cherished

standards. There ought to be a due recognition of both Divine and human

rules, and our conduct has to be regulated in view of both. Paul presents us

the example of the man who is loyal to the revealed will of God, and loyal also

to the rules which men make for the regulation of their social relations.

These may indeed sometimes clash, and then the true-hearted man must

follow out the Law of God, whatever may be the consequences. But

usually there is found a practical harmony between the two, so that the

moral life is acceptable both to God and man. In estimating the value of

others’ opinion of us, let us remember that the great thing to cherish is our

will to that which is right, and our inward consciousness of being right.

That conviction was the strength of Paul. When Plato was told that he

had many enemies who spoke ill of him, “It is no matter,” he said, “I would

so live that none should believe them.” It may be impressed, in conclusion,

that the merely natural conscience is practically insufficient and

untrustworthy as a guide of life; and it absolutely needs spiritual

illumination, a quickening by the power of the Holy Ghost.


17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.”

After many years; or, several years. Paul's last visit to Jerusalem was that mentioned

in ch. 18:22. Since then he had spent "some time" (χρόνον τινά - chronon tina) at

Antioch, had gone over all the country of Phrygia and Galatia, had come to Ephesus,

and stopped between two and three years there, had gone through Macedonia, had

spent three months at Corinth, had returned to Macedonia, and from thence had

come to Jerusalem in about fifty days. All which must have occupied four or five

years - from A.D. 54 to A.D. 58 - according to most chronologers. Evidently Paul

had not been plotting seditious movements at Jerusalem, where he had only arrived

twelve days before, for a purely benevolent and pious purpose, after an absence of

four or five years. Alms... and offerings. Those of which he speaks in I Corinthians

16:1-4;  II Corinthians 8; Romans 15:25-26, 31. To this may be added "the charges"

for which he made himself answerable for the poor Nazarites (ch.21:24, 26).


18 “Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither

with multitude, nor with tumult.”  Amidst which for whereupon, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; they found me purified in the temple with no crowd, nor yet with

tumult: but there were certain Jews from Asia for certain Jews from Asia found me

purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus. Amidst which (ἐν αϊςen hais -  in which - Received Text)

refers to the alms and offerings The Textus Receptus has ἐν οϊς – en hois - "under

which circumstances," "at the transaction of which deeds," or, briefer, "whereupon,"

Authorized Version. But there were. Most manuscripts followed by the Received

Text, read τινὲς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς Ασίαςtines de apo taes Asias – any, certain from

Asia, thus giving a broken unfinished sentence instead of the plain and complete

one of the Textus Receptus, which agrees, moreover, exactly with ch. 21:27.


19 “Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought

against me.”  To make accusation for object, Authorized Version. The sense is

exactly the same.


20 “Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me,

while I stood before the council,”  Men themselves for same here, Authorized

Version; what wrong-doing they found for if they have found any evil doing in

me, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; when for while, Authorized Version.

Let these men themselves. Since the Asiatic Jews are not here to bear witness,

let these men who are here speak for themselves as to what they witnessed in

 the Sanhedrim.


21 “Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them,

Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.”

Before you for by you, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (ἐπί for ὑπό).

Except (): ἄλλο, else, is understood after τί, so that is equivalent to εἴ μή.

Touching the resurrection (see ch. 23:6, where the exact words are, 

"Touching the hope and resurrection of the dead, I am called in question ").




The Defense of Paul (vs. 10-21)


The simplest analysis of the defense which Paul here made for himself is its

highest praise. The matter of it must be closely dependent upon the

occasion, but the characteristics of its method must be good for all

occasions, and imitable to all generations. Notice in this defense:



COMPLIMENT. The contrast which is presented in this respect to the

introduction of Tertullus speaks for itself. There is here nothing, but simple




PROCEEDS TO ITS ONE TASK. I do the more cheerfully answer for

myself,” says Paul. He could never answer for himself with hope of any

ordinary justice before a council of his own people. But now, while this is

his one task to answer for himself, and he takes to it immediately, he does

not refrain from saying that there are aspects of the case which enable him

to throw himself with spirit into his work.




denies the allegations laid to his charge, shows to an experienced judge that

there was very little time in which the things alleged could possibly have

occurred, and challenges, by a direct contradiction, the ability of his highly

respectable accusers to prove their assertions and make out their charges.

But through all there is not a word that sounds like “pestilent fellow,” or

“sedition,” or “ringleader.”



OF THE MATTER. This was a difference “in the way of worshipping

God.” The keen Roman judge (and Paul knew it and correctly took

advantage of his knowledge) was not likely to be so very anxious to lend

the force of Roman law and a Roman executive to the mere bidding of

Jewish bigotry and ecclesiasticism.




PRINCIPLE OF ALL RELIGION. Paul does not blow contempt upon

the truths or methods of religion, even in that shape of religion least

understood or honored by Felix, revealed religion. He declares:


Ø      His conscience.

Ø      His living constant care of it.

Ø      His acknowledgment of the necessity of training it to correctness and to


Ø      His recognition of its twofold duty,


o       toward God and

o       toward man.

In all this, there can be no doubt that Paul honored his God, his religion,

and his individual conscience, with no hope of any deep sympathy,

on the part of Felix indeed, but also without any fear of the high

priest Ananias again daring to order them to “smite him on the mouth.”






PRESENT. Paul calls attention to the fact that these two things speak for

themselves. And finally challenges once more contradiction of this position,

that he had not been the originator of any disturbance whatever, much less

seditious disturbance in Jerusalem, unless his famous interpolation,

“Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this

day,” could be interpreted as such. But Paul knew this challenge could not

be taken up, both because the Pharisees sided with him in the matter on the

very occasion, and because the disturbance was one as between the rival

theologies of the Jews, and not as between mere civilians. The correctness,

cogency, calmness, of this defense made up its masterly convincingness.

There could be no doubt which party had the moral victory of the day.

There can be no doubt of the fallen countenances of Ananias and elders

and Tertullus. And there can be no doubt that, in this very defence, the

accused Christian may hear to the end of the world words not altogether

unlike these: “After this manner, therefore, defend ye yourselves.”


22 “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of

that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall

come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.”

But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them,

saying for and when Felix heard these things having more perfect knowledge

of that way, he deferred them, and said, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

determine for know the uttermost of, Authorized Version. Having more exact

knowledge, etc. At Caesarea, Felix must have seen and heard something of

Christianity. The conversion of Cornelius with his household and friends, men

belonging to the dominant Roman power; the work of Philip the evangelist,

residing probably for some years at Caesarea, and working among Romans as

well as Jews, must have given Felix some knowledge of "the Way." He would

learn something, too, both of Judaism and Christianity from Drusilla, his wife

(v. 24, note). When Lysias... shall come (see vs. 7-8, and note). I will determine

(διαγνώσομαι diagnosomaiI shall be investigating); see above, ch. 23:15,

where the verb is in the active voice, and is rendered in the Revised Version

"to judge." The idea of the word is "to know with discrimination;" and this is

the sense it has in medical writers, who use it very frequently; as e.g. Galen says,

Πρῶτον γὰρ διαγνῶναι χρὴ τί ποτέ ἐστὶ πάθος (quoted by Hobart). Hence the

"diagnosis" of an illness (ch. 23:15).


23 “And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty,

and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto

him.”  Gave order to the for commanded a, Authorized Version; that he should be

kept in charge for to keep Paul, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; and should

have indulgence for and to let him have liberty, Authorized Version; not to forbid

any of his friends for that he should forbid none of his acquaintance, Authorized

Version; to minister unto him for to minister or come unto him, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus. Indulgence (ἄνεσιν anesin - ease); literally, relaxation, viz.

of the prison restraints and confinement. The word is used in the Septuagint of

II Chronicles 23:15, ἔδωκαν αὐτῃ ἄνεσιν edokan hautae anesin, i.e. those

who had taken Athaliah prisoner, "let her loose" till she got out of the temple

court. It is also a common medical term for the cessation or remission of pain

or disease. Paul uses it four times in his Epistles for "rest" or "ease" (II Corinthians

2:13; 7:5; 8:13; II Thessalonians 1:7). Doubtless Luke was thus enabled to be much

with Paul during his imprison merit, and, as suggested above, to have his help in

 writing his Gospel.




Paul before Felix (vs. 1-23)


  • TERTULLUS AND PAUL: A CONTRAST. Between false and

spurious eloquence. False rhetoric, as Plato taught, always owes its power

to its flattering the passions of the audience. So here the orator addresses

himself directly to the magistrate’s self-love. It is pretty clear that Felix,

instead of being the beneficent ruler he is described as being, must have

been well hated by the people for his vices and oppression. Later they

accused him to the emperor. Flattery is a great solvent. The great gain the

little, and not less the little gain the great to their ends by it.


Ø      “Great lords, by reason of their flatterers, are the first to know

their own virtues, and the last to know their own vices” (Selden).

Ø      “Know that flatterers are the worst kind of traitors” (Sir W. Raleigh).


On the other hand, true eloquence speaks to the heart and conscience (v 10).

Paul indulges Felix in no flattering complimentary titles. He respects the

office and the existing order which it represents, true to his teaching in

Romans 13.; but not the bad man in the office. He speaks with freedom

and boldness. He avows himself the member of a despised sect. He is a

Nazarene. But Christianity is no newly invented heresy, nor does the gospel

depart from the faith of the fathers. Rather Christ’s gospel their spiritual sum

and substance, the end and goal of the old covenant. All that is true in any

of our sects is continuous with the old; what is quite novel is probably not

true. The simple words of Paul contain a fine defense of persecuted opinions.


o       They are not of yesterday.

o       The future belongs to them.

o       Meanwhile, the great thing we exercise is a good conscience.

If they are really conscientious, force cannot put them down.




Ø      “To have a conscience void of offence.” Religion which does not aim at

this and end in this, is vain; otherwise a mere matter of the head, or of

hereditary habit, an occasion of contention and source of division, chaff

without wheat, and a shadow without life. A life that will bear the

inspection of men and of God, the only certificate of true religion; or

rather, the endeavor for such a life. The “exercise of one’s self” in

worthy habits, to noble ends.


Ø      Hope is ever connected with the good conscience. The hope of the

resurrection is not a doctrine the splendor of which first appears in the

New Testament pages; it appears in bright glimpses in the Old from

the time of the Babylonian Captivity onward. In some form it lives

and burns at the heart of all genuine faith and religion. With a joyous

confession on the lips, a clear conscience in the bosom, an innocent

life-record behind one, the just judgment of God before one’s

expectation, — here are the defenses of the Christian against the

arrows of calumny.




Paul’s Liberty (v. 23)


“He commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty.” It is

evident that the prosecution of the apostle by the Jewish party had utterly

broken down. No charge could be substantiated which made him amenable

to punishment according to Roman law. If Felix had been a free man, and,

as a judge, free of all other considerations than the doing of justice, he

would have liberated Paul at once, declaring publicly his innocence. But

Felix was not free. No man is really free who does not dare to do the right.

And we can recognize a gracious overruling providence in Paul’s being

kept for a while longer under Roman protection. So great was the enmity

against him of the Jewish party, that his life would have been in extreme

peril if he had been liberated. Knowing that he was dealing unfairly by the

prisoner, and impressed by his dignity of bearing, Felix compromised

matters with himself, persuaded himself that he could secure Paul from the

schemes of the Sanhedrim by keeping him prisoner; put off Paul’s enemies

by an excuse that he would confer with Lysias; and privately arranged for

Paul to have a real, though not an apparent, liberty. Through all the ages

some of the worst wrongs have been done in the name of compromise,

which is too often the weak device of those who cannot “stand firm to the





Ø      By the weakness of his moral character.

Ø      By the desire to please an important section of those whom he had to


Ø      By the consequences of his own wrong-doings, which it cost him all his

effort to keep off as long as possible.

Ø      By the circumstances in which he found himself placed, and which he

had no strength of will or purpose to master.


The man of vice and self-indulgence weakens his will, and becomes the

slave of his sin as truly as does the drunkard.


  • PAUL APPARENTLY BOUND. He had been tied by a chain to a

Roman soldier day and night, according to the usual Roman custom, and if

Felix relaxed this, still Paul was a prisoner in the barracks, and probably a

soldier-guard waited on him constantly. If his friends were free to come to

him, he was not free to go out to them. If we estimate his character aright,

we shall feel that even the slightest form of bondage must have been most

painful to him. His was a soul so noble than even the limitations of a frail

body were to him an agony.



Not free enough to say, honestly and. honorably, “This man is innocent of

all crime against the state, and must be set at liberty at once.” Only able to

shake the fetters off enough to say, “Forbid none of his acquaintance to

minister or come unto him,” and only able to give this order in a private

way to the centurion.


  • PAUL REALLY FREE. However he might seem to be still set under

outward limitations, nothing can imprison a man save his own willful sin.

Nobody can put any real fetters on any fellow-man. Each man who wears

fetters puts them on himself; each man who dwells in a prison goes in

himself, and himself bolts the door.


Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage.”


But “whosoever committeth sin becomes the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)

So, whatever may have been the limitations of the apostle’s circumstances,

there was no bondage, for there was no conscience of sin. The freedom of



Ø      to commune with God,

Ø      study the truth,

Ø      to serve the Churches,


          maybe shown; and it may be pointed out how often the very limitations

          of a man’s circumstances, through sickness or persecution, has found

          him the freedom for some great and noble service, as may be illustrated

          from Luther’s work while in the Wartburg, and from John Bunyan’s

          work while in the Bedford jail.


24 “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was

a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.”

But for and, Authorized Version; Felix came for when Felix came, Authorized

Version; Drusilla, his wife for his wife Drusilla, Authorized Version; and sent for

he sent, Authorized Version; Christ Jesus for Christ, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus. Came; παραγενόμενοςparagenomenoscoming along -  a

very favorite word with Luke, occurring twenty-nine times in his Gospel and the

Acts. It implies that Felix had been absent from Caesarea for some days after the trial.

Drusilla. She was, according to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 7:1, 2) the daughter of

Herod Agrippa I, who "killed James with the sword" (ch. 12:1-2), and died shortly

afterwards. She was first the wife of Azizus, King of Emesa; but Felix, becoming

enamored of her on account of her singular beauty, employed a certain magician,

a Jew named Simon, to entice her away from her husband, and persuade her to

marry him, contrary, as Josephus says, to the institutions of her country.

She perished, with Agrippa, her only son by Felix, in the eruption of Vesuvius,

in the reign of Titus (Josephus, as above). Tacitus says that Drusilla, the wife of Felix,

was granddaughter of Antony and Cleopatra. But he seems to have confounded her

with another of the three royal wives of Felix, mentioned by Suetonius in 'Claudius;'

unless, perchance, as has been conjectured, be had two wives of the name of Drusilla,

of whom one was, as Tacitus says, granddaughter of Antony, by being the daughter of

King Juba and Cleopatra Selene, Antony's daughter (see note in Whiston's 'Josephus,'

and in Kuinoel, on ch. 23:24). But there is no certainty on the subject. Only Josephus's

detailed account of Drusilla, the wife of Felix, agrees with Luke's statement that she

 "was a Jewess," and is beyond doubt true.


25 “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,

Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a

convenient season, I will call for thee.”  And temperance for temperance,

Authorized Version; the judgment for judgment, Authorized Version; was terrified

for trembled, Authorized Version; and when for when, Authorized Version;

call thee unto me for call for thee, Authorized Version.



Rare Heroism and Common Folly (vs. 24-25)


There are two main points well worthy of attention.



“reasoned of righteousness, continence, and judgment to come.” It requires

some courage for a man to address a company of his fellows, even when he

feels sure that they will be sympathetic; it demands other and far higher

courage to address a number of men, when it is certain they will be

unsympathetic; but it requires higher devotedness still, it demands heroism

of a rare order for one man to use the language of remonstrance and

rebuke when speaking to another man, particularly when that other is the

stronger and higher of the two. For the poor man, the captive, the accused,

the one who stood absolutely in the other’s power, to “reason of

righteousness, continence, and judgment to come,” to the unrighteous and

dissolute judge, who had so much ground for dreading the future, — for

Paul thus to expostulate with Felix was heroism itself. Let us thank God

that he gave us such a man, to do such a work, at such a time in the history

of our race. Let us emulate his spiritual nobility. High courage is, in part, a

gift to be thankfully accepted; but it is also, in part, a grace to be

studiously acquired. Paul was the faithful man he proved himself at

Caesarea, not only because his Creator endowed him with a fearless spirit,

but because:


Ø      he placed himself on the right side — on the side of truth, of

righteousness, of God; and because,


Ø      he cultivated carefully the conviction that infinite power and love

surrounded him with its constant care. He could always say, The Lord

stood by me.”  (ch. 23:11)This is the secret of spiritual nobility, of moral




trembled.” His agitation should have passed at once into resolution; he

should have said at once, “I will return on my way; I will turn my back on

my old sins; I will be a new man, living a new life.” But he did not; he

made terms with his old self; he temporized; he played with his

opportunity; he resorted to evasion, to self-deception; he excused himself;

he said, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season,

I will call for thee.” O well-worn, much-trodden path of self-excuse,

along whose pleasant way such thousands of travelers have gone on

TO THEIR RUIN! This is how we commit spiritual suicide, how we go

to our death! We do not say presumptuously, “I will not;’ we say feebly,

falsely, fatally, “I will soon,” “I will when.” There are three strong reasons

against delay under religious conviction.


Ø      It is a guilty thing. We blame our children when they hesitate or linger

instead of rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience; but we are more

bound than they to implicit and unhesitating obedience to the Supreme. “I

will when — “means “I will not now.” It is rebelliousness of spirit put in

the least flagrant form; but it is still rebellion; it is a state of sin.


Ø      It is a delusive thing. We defer, IMAGINING that we shall find ourselves

able and willing to do the right thing further on. But we have no right to

reckon on this; for:


o        Outward hindrances tend to become stronger rather than weaker. Life

becomes more and more complicated, companions grow more

numerous and urgent, difficulties and entanglements thicken, as our

days go by; the hedge before us becomes thicker and higher continually.


o        And inward and spiritual obstacles become more difficult to surmount;

the habit of the soul today is the finest silken thread which the child’s

finger may snap, but it will shortly become the strong cable which the

giant’s strength will be unable to divide. (The chains of habit are too

light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.  CY - 2018) 

Well does Scripture speak of “the deceitfulness of sin.”

(Hebrews 3:13)


o        It is a fatal thing. If vice has slain its thousands, and pride its thousands,

surely procrastination has slain its tens of thousands. The man who is

consciously and determinately refusing to serve God knows where he

stands and what he is; he knows that he is a rebel against God,

standing on perilous ground. But he who thinks he is about to enter

the kingdom, or even dreams of so doing, shelters himself under the

cover of his imaginary submission, and goes on and on, until sinful

habit has him in its iron chain, or until “pale-faced Death” knocks

at his door, and HE IS FOUND UNREADY!


“Oh, ‘tis a mournful story,

Thus on the ear of pensive eve to tell,

Of morning’s firm resolve the vanished glory,

Hope’s honey left to wither in the cell,

And plants of mercy dead that might have bloomed so well.”




The Highest Powers Eluded by the Heart’s Subterfuges

(vs. 24-25)


The immediate connection reminds us very forcibly how the man who is

the worst friend to himself is sometimes environed with opportunities

charged with the offer of mercy, Providence and the God of all providence

long wait upon him in natural relationships, in his very weaknesses, in

suggestions and inducements of almost every various kind. How many

things conspired now to give Felix the opportunity of hearing and knowing

the truth! His position, his popularity, his knowledge of that Way, the

fact of his having married a Jewess, and even the itching of his hand for a

bribe (v. 26) — things so strangely at variance with one another and

some of them with goodness — did nevertheless all combine to make him a

hearer of the things greatest and best to be heard. He heard, felt, resisted,

and lost. And Felix is a great and long-enduring illustration of:



SPECIALLY OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH. There are deep valid reasons for



Ø      Right lies with them, by the verdict of


o        even reason;

o        conscience;

o        experience of practical life.


In every one of these directions, even to all their ramifications, there is

nothing like a mere beating of the air, nothing like mere sound and fury,

nothing like vox et praeterea nihil (a voice and nothing more), in the appeals

of religious truth. Each appeal is a home-thrust, that purports to reach and is

fitted to reach what is deepest and most enduring in a man. And each appeal

is a manifesto in the name of one or more of these grand authorities and

arbiters of human life.


Ø      The imaginings, as just as they are instructive (if not first stifled) of the

mysterious looming future, lend a large contribution to the power of

religious appeal Sometimes they are roused as by the mutterings of distant

thunder, sometimes as by strains and snatches of celestial music. The

echoes are for some so rich with sound, so mellow; or for others they

wander as though haunting the empty chambers of hollow hearts. The

apprehension of the infinite and the infinite future “hangs in doubt” before

many eyes. But it is not always the apprehension of fear, and whether one

or the other it does its work.


Ø      Love, and of an unusual kind, dwells in them. The interference with the

sacredness and the retiredness of individual thought and feeling which is

offered by religious appeal, and offered also with a certain appearance of

arbitrary authority, is remarkably counterbalanced by its undisputed

disinterestedness, men would never bear to be addressed on any other

subject whatsoever in the way and in the tone and with the persistency to

which they readily yield themselves in the matter of the appeals of religion.

And that they sufficiently know nothing but their own deepest advantage is

aimed at, is the sufficient account of it.


Ø      No doubt the commanding power of religious appeal — in the sense of

convincing power — is due to the operation of the Holy Spirit.




RESPONSIBILITY. The deep reality of such power of resistance is

testified with certainty from the too well-known fact of it. Notice such

causes of it as are traceable amid the deeper and inscrutable mysteries that

cloud the subject.


Ø      A mind really turned from the LIGHT and TRUTH!


Ø      A heart that is strong in its own pride. How many a heart knows the love

that is intended for it, yet of pride refuses it!


Ø      An aversion to effort, specially moral effort; and to the demand of

change which it involves in habit and action, specially that form of change

called reform.


Ø      The grievous facilities for yielding to temptation. Legion is the name of

deception in things moral. The wide sweep of opportunity for resisting,

courts the very spirit of him who is open at all to the approach of

temptation. The shifts to which such will condescend to have recourse are

innumerable, unaccountable, and find their strict description only as of

those devices of Satan, of which we are not ignorant” (II Corinthians 2:11),

indeed — “not ignorant” in a double sense — but against which so many are

unarmed and irresolute in their presence. The versatility also of subterfuge

in order to gain the end of resistance is amazing. It can blind the eyes of

reason and of self-interest. It can stifle the conscience and hush to silence

the deepest, most just,  sources of fear. It can defy the lessons of practical life.

It will induce a man to use the responsible advantages of his own highest

position to stay, in feeling’s most favored and critical moment, the pressure

and all the persuasion of moral importunity itself. And to all else, to elude

the one precious moment of grace, temporizing, procrastinating, playing

with time, it condescends to the mournfully vain expedient of attempting

to throw dust with one hand into the eyes of others, and into its own with

the other. The moment when Felix trembled as he heard the great verities

of life announced and urged, was the fairest moment of his life. But it

vanished.  And THE DARKEST MOMENT succeeded it all swiftly,

when Felix not only resisted the pleadings of knowledge, of truth and

grace, and of the Spirit, but resisted them by the aid of the deceptions

of procrastinating, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient

season, I will call for thee.”




The Substance of the Faith in Christ (vs. 24-25)


From Farrar’s ‘Life of St. Paul,’ note to p. 340, vol. 2., see the relations of

Felix to this Drusilla. She was a Jewess by birth, and would be interested in

a man who was the object of such virulent persecution. She had, no doubt,

heard of the Prophet of Nazareth, and was likely to show some curiosity

when one of his leading disciples was a prisoner at the court. Private

audiences were given to Paul, and he was invited to speak freely

concerning “the faith in Christ.” It is a side light thrown upon the greatness

of Paul’s nature, that he used his opportunities at once so skillfully and

so nobly. “With perfect urbanity, and respect for the powers that be, he

spoke of the faith in Christ which he was bidden to explain, in a way that

enabled him to touch on those virtues which were most needed by the

guilty pair who listened to his words. The licentious princess must have

blushed as he discoursed of continence; the rapacious and unjust governor

as he spoke of righteousness; both of them as he reasoned of the judgment

to come. Whatever may have been the thoughts of Drusilla, she locked

them up in her own bosom; but Felix, unaccustomed to such truths, was

deeply agitated by them” (Farrar). The word “faith” is employed in

Scripture with several distinct meanings; here it is used of the Christian

doctrine, but Paul deals with the practical rather than the theoretical

aspects of it. His remarks bore upon that first necessity of Christianity, the

conviction of sin. Bungener puts the point of his preaching both succinctly

and forcibly when he says, “Paul, as usual, wished to press certain

consequences; and it is always against these that people resist, even when

they are far better than Felix and Drusilla. ‘He heard him concerning the

faith in Christ; and as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and

judgment to come:’  


Ø      of righteousness, to a cruel and unjust despot;

Ø      of temperance, to a debauchee whose very marriage had been but

one scandal the more, and

Ø      of judgment to come,


to a man who had doubtless sought in Epicurean negations a refuge from the gods —

then Felix trembled.  Paul’s theme finds expression in three words:


Ø      righteousness, full and honorable discharge of all the duties which

man owes to God, and man owes to man;

Ø      temperance, or the due control of all the appetites and passions

of the body;

Ø      judgment to come, or the certainty that all life-conduct

must, sooner or later, be perfectly appraised, and due punishment

be inflicted.


Paul does not confine himself, as a merely ethical teacher might have done, to

abstract arguments on the beauty or the utility of ‘justice’ and ‘temperance.’ Here,

also, his own experience was his guide, and he sought to make the guilty pair

before whom he stood feel that the warnings of conscience were but the presage

of a Divine judgment which should render to every man according to his deeds.

It will be noted that there is here no mention of the forgiveness of sins, nor of the

life of fellowship with Christ. Those truths would have come, in due course,

afterwards. As yet they would have been altogether premature. The

method of Paul’s preaching was like that of the Baptist and of all true

teachers” (Plumptre). The three topics may be treated in a more general

way if presented thus:


Ø      Righteousness, or the Divine ideal of a human life.


Ø      Temperance, or a man’s personal responsibility in the use of his body,

and the shapings of his human relationships.


Ø      Judgment to come, or the appalling fact for all who follow their own

willful ways, that results must be divinely recognized. Compare the

convincing of the Spirit, which is of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and

press that only upon the conviction of sin can the message of a Savior





Convenient Seasons (v. 25)


This familiar topic needs but a brief outline. Procrastination is one of man’s

chief perils. It is the “thief of time,” the “delusion of the evil one.” No man

has any “by-and-by,” any “tomorrow” to which he can trust. “NOW” is our

accepted time, our day of salvation. A man has nothing but the passing

moment; yet he comfortably shifts off the duty of today by the vain fancy

that it can be done to-morrow. “Felix is the type of the millions whose

spiritual life is ruined by procrastination.” Philip Henry says, “The devil

cozens us out of all our time by cozening us out of the present time.”

Archias, a supreme magistrate of the city of Thebes, was seated at a feast,

surrounded by his friends, when a courier arrived in great haste, with

letters containing an account of a conspiracy formed against him. “My

lord,” said the messenger,” the person who wrote these letters conjures

you to read them immediately, being serious things.” “Serious things tomorrow,”

replied Archias, laughing, and then put the letters under his

pillow. This delay was fatal. The conspirators that evening rushed into the

banqueting-room, and put the careless Archias, with all his guests, to the




opportunities always seem to be away in the future. The pressure of daily

business or daily pleasure will surely be lightened some day. We all have

our eye upon some distant time when we mean to be in earnest about

religion, and our sincere intent excuses OUR PRESENT DELAY!



what we have in the case of Felix. He was smitten, but was purposed not

to yield, so quieted conscience with a vague promise.



Press that the only convenient seasons for us are just those in which God

brings home to our souls His truth, and urges us to its acceptance. Could

Felix only have seen it, the most convenient season for him was the hour

when Paul urged upon him the “faith in Christ.”


26 “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he

might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with

him.”  Withal for also, Authorized Version; would be for should have been,

Authorized Version; that he might loose him is omitted in the Received Text

and Revised Version; wherefore also for wherefore, Authorized Version.

Sent for him the oftener. The mixture of conviction with covetousness in the

mind of Felix as the motive for seeing Paul is observable. As in other cases of

double-mindedness, the convictions were doubtless stifled by the corrupt avarice,

and so came to nothing.


Felix was a man with a seared conscience.  (I Timothy 4:2)  Contrast him with Paul

who exercised himself to always have a conscience void of offence towards God

and man.   Felix would be a case study of a man with the light of an education,

perhaps once having contact with Christianity with a knowledge of facts which

has been darkened by sensuality, avarice, worldly power, and constant trifling

with conscience. He could tremble at truth, but even while trembling was ready to

sell it for his own vicious pleasures. He felt its force, but steadfastly resisted it,

and even sent again and again for Paul, in hope to make gain out of him.


Felix was a trifler with opportunity.  Preaching may move the feelings without

changing the heart. Behind the procrastination there is generally a moral

corruption hidden. The opportunities which are trifled with harden the heart

and hasten the judgment. Felix knew not the time of his visitation. Judgment

fell on him, and the Jews, to whose wickedness he pandered, became his

accusers before Caesar. No season is more convenient than THE PRESENT

when the voice of God says, “Repent!”




Covetousness Excusing Injustice (v. 26)


Felix proved utterly ignoble. His reasons for leaving a man prisoner whom

he knew to be altogether innocent, are base. “Willing to do the Jews a

pleasure.” “Hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul.”

Felix is stamped as:


Ø      a time-server, and

Ø      as a corrupt judge.


“Felix, well knowing how the Christians aided one another in distress, and

possibly having some information of the funds with which Paul had

been recently entrusted, and ignorant of those principles which make it

impossible for a true Christian to tamper by bribes with the course of the

law, might naturally suppose that he had here a good prospect of enriching

himself.”  (What if Paul had taken the money collected from the churchs

and instead of retaining it for the needy of the church at Jerusalem, had

used it to bribe Felix?  CY – 2018)  Nothing so quickly and so utterly debases

a man as the cherished spirit of covetousness. This, however, is a somewhat

unusual form and expression of the many-sided evil. Olshausen says, “The

sword of God’s Word pierced deep into the heart of Felix, but for this very

reason he suddenly broke off the conference. But his moral baseness betrayed

itself strikingly in this, that he could still hold fast his prisoner for the mere

purpose of obtaining money for his release, yea, that at his departure from

the province, he left him in prison, out of complaisance to the Jews.”




Ø      that Felix knew the right;

Ø      but that, nevertheless, he did the wrong; and

Ø      that the love of money in part explains his choosing the wrong.


The following incident may be helpful in the illustration of this third point:

“A case was tried before a young cadi (judge) at Smyrna, the merits of which

were these. A poor man claimed a house which a rich man usurped. The

former held his deeds and documents to prove his right; but the latter had

provided a number of witnesses to invalidate his title. In order to support

their evidence effectually, he presented the cadi with a bag containing five

hundred ducats. When the day arrived for hearing the cause, the poor man

told his story, and produced his writings, but could not support his case by

witnesses; the other rested the whole case on his witnesses, and on his

adversary’s defect in law, who could produce none; he urged the cadi,

therefore, to give sentence in his favor. After the most pressing

solicitations, the judge calmly drew out from under his sofa the bag of

ducats which the rich man had given him as a bribe, saying to him very

gravely, ‘You have been much mistaken in the suit, for if the poor man

could produce no witnesses in confirmation of his right, I myself can

produce at least five hundred.’ He then threw away the bag with reproach

and indignation, and decreed the house to the poor plaintiff.”


27 “But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing

to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”  When two years were fulfilled for

after two years, Authorized Version; Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus for

Porcius Festus came into Felix room, Authorized Version; desiring to gain favor

with the Jews for willing to show the Jews a pleasure, Authorized Version; in bonds

for bound, Authorized Version; Felix is also transposed. Was succeeded by;

ἔλαβε διάδοχον elabe diadochon. This word occurs only here in the New Testament,

but is used twice in Ecclesiasticus. It is also, as above noted, the identical word used

by Josephus of Festus. But in ch. 25:1 Festus's government is called an ἐπαρχία

eparchia - province, and Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:11) calls Festus an ἔπαρχος

eparchos, instead of the more usual ἐπίτροποςepitropos - steward. Could

Josephus have seen the Acts of the Apostles? Porcius Fetus. Josephus speaks of

him as sent by Nero to be the "successor" (διάδοχοςdiadochos) of Felix

('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:9; 'Bell. Jud.,' 2. 14:1). Nothing is known of him from Tacitus

or other Latin historians, and he appears from Josephus's account to have held t

he government for a very short time, probably less than two years, when he died

('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 9:1). But the impression derived from Josephus is the same as that

conveyed by Luke, that he was a just and upright ruler, in marked contrast with

Felix his predecessor, and his successors Albinus and Gessius Florus. Desiring to

gain favor. χάριτι καταθέσθαιchariti katathesthaito curry with favor); literally,

to lay up in store good will, or favor, or a boon, to be requited at some future period.

A frequent phrase in the best classical authors. Felix had good reason thus to try and

put the Jews under obligation to him at the close of his government. For the danger

was great to the retiring governor of complaints being sent to the emperor of

oppression and plunder, which were often listened to and punished. Josephus

relates, in point of fact, that the chief Jews in Caesarea sent an embassy to Rome

to lodge a charge against Felix before Nero; and that he only escaped punishment

by the influence of his brother Pallas ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:9).


The scene in this chapter is a very striking one, depicted with admirable simplicity

and force. The bloated slave sitting on the seat of judgment and power, representing

all the worst vices of Roman degeneracy. The heads of the sinking Jewish

commonwealth, blinded by bigotry and nearly mad with hatred, forgetting for

the moment their abhorrence of their Roman masters, in their yet deeper detestation

of the Apostle Paul. The hired advocate with his fulsome flattery, his rounded

periods, and his false charges. And then the great apostle, the noble confessor,

the finished Christian gentleman, the pure-minded, upright, and fearless man,

pleading his own cause with consummate force and dignity, and overawing

his heathen judge by the majesty of his character. It is a graphic description of

a  very noble scene.




                        Not This Man, but Barabbas.” (vs. 1-27)


There are many gradations of the truth stated in I Samuel 21:7, “The

Lord seeth not as man seeth,” and the corresponding truth, “That which is

highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” But both

passages mark distinctly how often the judgment of man diverges from the

judgment of God, or in other words, how far men often are from judging

righteous judgment” concerning persons and things which come under their

notice. This false or erroneous judgment proceeds from two causes:



  • The first is the comparative ignorance of man. He forms his judgment

often-times on insufficient grounds. His mental vision only takes in a

portion, sometimes a very small portion, of the materials upon which a

sound judgment should be based. In the instances to which I Samuel

16:7 refers, Samuel, judging by the fair looks and commanding stature of

Eliab, thought he must be fit to be the ruler of Israel. His eye could not

discern the heart, the hidden character of the man. And so it continually

happens. We base our judgments on insufficient premises, being ignorant of

those things which, if known, would influence them in an opposite

direction. The practical lesson to be drawn from this view of the erroneous

judgments of men is threefold.


Ø      To be diligent in adding to our knowledge whenever we are called upon

to form a judgment.

Ø      To be always diffident and modest in regard to our own conclusions.

Ø      Whenever our judgments do not agree with those of Holy Scripture, to

be sure that the disagreement arises from our own ignorance, and to

submit ourselves accordingly.


  • But the second cause of men’s erroneous judgments is not mere ignorance,

but injustice and unfairness of mind. Men misjudge others because they are

influenced by hatred, prejudice, self-interest, and other corrupt motives. They

are like the unjust judges spoken of by Isaiah (v. 23), “who justify the wicked

for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him.” A

large part of the favorable and unfavorable judgments of the world are of this

character. We have a typical example of this in the chapter before us. Here are

two men standing on the stage of observation.


Ø      One is Felix. We know him as a cruel, licentious, unrighteous man,

steeped in blood, rich by oppression, profligate in conduct. We know

him as one the meanness of whose servile origin broke through the

crust of the splendor of his official greatness. We know him as

a man raised to power by the most corrupt and shameful influences

which have ever prevailed in national affairs, and abusing that

power to the utmost under the screen of an infamous security.


Ø      By his side stands another man, certainly one of the greatest figures

among the great men of the world, and one of the very best among

the very good of the children of men. It is the Apostle Paul. For his

mighty victories in the world of mind and spirit he might have borne

surnames from provinces of the East and of the West, more glorious

than those of the Africani and Germanici of the Roman commonwealth.

For energy of action, for dauntless courage, for inexhaustible

resource, for masterful vigor of character, for lofty eloquence,

for influence over the minds of other men, he stands abreast

with the greatest of the earth’s heroes. For absolute disinterestedness,

for unsullied purity, for overflowing benevolence, for ardent and

glowing kindness, for self-sacrifice, for self-restraint, for uprightness,

for truth, for generosity, for laborious well-doing, for consistency of life,

for perseverance through every hindrance and contradiction in a sublime

and noble purpose, for tenderness and faithfulness to friends, and for

ungrudging service to his Divine Master, where shall we find his equal?

What, then, was the judgment passed on these men respectively — this

Felix and this Paul?


o       Felix is thanked and belauded for his “very worthy



o       Paul is “a pestilent fellow;” “Away with him from the earth: it is

not fit that he should live!”


And so we are reminded of another judgment, the unanimous judgment

of a great multitude: “Not this man, but Barabbas!” (John 18:40)

and we are put upon our guard against the judgments of men.




Malice, Innocence, and Power (vs. 1-23;26-27)


We have illustrated here:




Ø      Persistent hatred. It was a long journey to Caesarea, and it was a most

humiliating thing, to which they were utterly averse, for the high priest and

the elders to appear before the Roman judge to get their countrymen into

their own power; nevertheless the undying hatred, the animosity which did

not diminish by time carried them through their distasteful work.


Ø      Disgusting flattery (vs. 2-3).


Ø      Gross misrepresentation (v. 5). Paul had caused no little dissension

and conflict among his fellow-countrymen, but it was simple perversion

of the truth to call him a “pestilent fellow,” etc.


Ø      Offensive characterization (v. 5). Paul was “a ringleader of the sect of

the Nazarenes;” but malice put his position into the most offensive form

it could command.


Ø      Downright falsehood (v. 6). He had not gone about to profane the

temple.” These various falsities came from the lips of Tertullus, but they

were owned and adopted by the Jews (v. 9). To such baseness malice

will stoop to compass its ends; to such iniquity professed piety will

condescend when inflamed by the unholy heats of bigotry.




Ø      Courtesy (v. 10). We may not flatter, but we must be courteous and

conciliatory (I Peter 3:8; I Samuel 25:23-33).


Ø      Straightforward statement (vs. 11, 14-17). There is no better way by

which to prove our integrity than telling the whole truth from beginning

to end, with perfect frankness.


Ø      Fearless denial (vs. 12-13, 18). We should solemnly deny, in calm and

dignified language, that which is falsely alleged against us; in quietness and

composure rather than in vehemence and loud protestation, is our strength.


Ø      Righteous challenge (vs. 19-20). We may do well to face our accusers

with bold and righteous challenge (John 8:46).




Ø      gave an unrighteous decision, for the case had broken down, and Paul

should have been released,


Ø      hankered after a bribe (v. 26); was willing to sell justice for money;


Ø      left his position with an act of selfish injustice (v. 27). He presents a

pitiful picture both as a public administrator and as a private individual.

How little to be envied are those who climb to high stations! How

contemptible is power when it is perverted to mean and selfish ends! How

admirable, how enviable in comparison, is innocence in insignificance or

even in bonds!




The Divine Word and the Conscience (vs. 24-27)




ITSELF. There is silver music in the message of reconciliation to man’s

distracted heart; but the call to repentance as the necessary condition of

peace, this is discordant with passion and self-will. And there are grave

errors here. Some suppose that the gospel renders the moral law

superfluous; others, that the freedom of the conscience under the gospel

means license; others take faithful reproof as personal affront; many are

under the dominion of sense, and the will is captive to the lusts of the flesh.




Ø      They have not the resolution for thorough repentance, to break utterly

with the evil past.


Ø      They neglect the acceptable time and the day of salvation. “The golden

grace of the day” flees, and never comes back to them.


Ø      They thrust aside the thought of JUDGMENT TO COME!   Though

they know the vanity of the world, they are too indolent to tear themselves

from its deceptive pleasures. Disgusted with the hateful bondage of sin,

they are too weak to break off their fetters. Superficial impressions are

felt, but frivolity admits no deep impressions.




Ø      Certain subjects are not in good taste. Speak to me of everything but

that! Generalize on virtue and goodness, but let my favorite weaknesses

or vices alone!


Ø      Procrastination. “Tomorrow!”


“To-morrow and to-morrow

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.”


“Procrastination is the thief of time.

Year after year it steals till all are fled,

And to the mercies of a moment leaves

The vast concerns of an eternal time.”


The time of repentance is now and always for him who is willing. For

GOD IS EVER CALLING inwardly and outwardly; in every circumstance

time can be found to obey. But never for him who cannot find it seasonable

to LISTEN TO GOD AT ANYTIME. “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find

me, and shall die in your sins” (John 8:21).




Ø      He speaks of repentance and its fruits; justice towards our neighbor;

personal purity; sober recollection of the Divine judgment.


Ø      Its powers. The preacher is a slight and insignificant man, yet he makes

the powerful magistrate tremble. He is bound in one sense, yet in another

free, and the lord is the real slave. He is the accused; yet quickly he

changes parts with Felix. Paul is the hero in the light of truth and of

eternity, Felix the coward and the abject.


o       If we are on the side of truth, the Word of God becomes a

sword in our hand.

o       If we are opposed to it, we must be fatally pierced by it.



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