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Bible Study: Acts, Chapter Twenty-Four

  • RHM Bible Study, Acts Chapter Twenty-four from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Transcript: Today we are going to study Acts chapter 24 in depth. You can follow along in your own Bible if you like. I will be reading from the World English Bible because it is the only modern English translation that is copyright free, and I can read the entire Bible on video without any legal drama or breaking anyone’s rules. After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching quiz that I have prepared for you on the website. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far. Let’s get started:

    First let’s set our location and do a brief catchup. Previously in Acts, Paul had visited Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost but when he entered the temple area, he was beaten by a mob of angry Jews that intended to kill him, but Roman soldiers intervened and took him into custody. The Jews were mostly upset that Paul was teaching that Gentiles were equal to them, that everyone was saved alike. It was unthinkable at the time. Paul was examined by the Roman soldiers, then taken to the Sanhedrin, but there were no formal charges brought against him. Over forty Jews bound themselves with an oath to not eat until they had killed Paul, and when word got back to the commanding officer, he put together an armed escort of 470 soldiers and took Paul to Caesarea, where the governor of the province lived. That is where we begin our story today.

    Caesarea was a thriving port city that Herod the Great had built in order to accommodate and shelter the large Roman cargo ships that were vital to commerce in the area. There was a lively trade in olive oil, wine, grain, and fish sauce carried out from Caesarea. It was about 65 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The city grew quickly and it became the largest city in Palestine with a population of over 125,000, who were mostly gentiles. The city was laid out like a grid and covered about 8,000 acres. Aqueducts brought in fresh water from springs on Mount Carmel and the Zarqa River. While the sewers were flushed with the motion of the sea. It was a state of the art city with running water and flushing toilets. It was the center of Roman administration in Palestine. A stone was found there in 1961 called the “Pilate Stone” which mentions Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect that gave the order to crucify Jesus. It is likely that Pilate lived in Caesarea and visited Jerusalem when needed.

    Acts Chapter 24 beginning in verse 1, reading from the World English Bible: After five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down with certain elders and an orator, one Tertullus. They informed the governor against Paul.

    The high priest Ananias, some Jewish elders, and a lawyer hired by the Sanhedrin named Tertullus, made the 65 mile journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea to accuse Paul. The Roman governor in Caesarea at that time was Antonius Felix, a cruel and brutal man.

    Antonius Felix was the first slave in the history of the Roman Empire to become the governor of a Roman province. That would have been quite a distinction if he had earned it, but that was not the case. As a child, Felix, along with his brother Pallas, had been freed by Antonia, the mother of Prince Claudius, a future Caesar. As they grew up, Pallas became a close friend of Claudius, so much so that when Claudius became emperor, Pallas persuaded him to make Felix a government official in Palestine under Cumanus. When Cumanus was deposed, Felix obtained his office through questionable methods.

    During his governorship, insurrections and anarchy dramatically increased throughout Palestine because of his brutality. The historian Josephus tells us that he repeatedly crucified the leaders of various uprisings. His slave mentality stayed with him. The Roman historian Tacitus described him as “a master of cruelty and lust who exercised the powers of a king with the spirit of a slave.” Antonius Felix was an immoral, corrupt, brutal, scheming politician. 

    Drusilla was his third wife, and Felix was her second husband. She was barely twenty when she married Felix. She was unusually beautiful, and her ambition and lust equalled that of her new husband. Unlike Felix, who was a pagan, Drusilla had been raised as a Jew (verse 24), though she no longer had an active faith.

    2 When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that prosperity is coming to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.

    Felix had brought nothing but horror to the Jewish people and they feared him. He had once ordered a massacre of thousands of Jews in Caesarea, and anytime a gathering could be called an uprising, he had the leaders crucified. The lawyer here was attempting to flatter him with the part about peace and prosperity.

    4 But that I don’t delay you, I entreat you to bear with us and hear a few words. 5 For we have found this man to be a plague, an instigator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

    Knowing that Felix came down hard on insurrections, the lawyer accused Paul of being an instigator, a ringleader and a plague. Ancient Judea was filled with would-be messiahs and revolutionaries against Rome. Tertullus wanted to put Paul in the same group with these kinds of terrorists. Also Nazareth had a poor reputation as a city (John 1:46), so when he called them the “sect of the Nazarenes” it was intended as a despising reference to both Jesus and His followers. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

    6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we arrested him. 7  † 8  By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”

    The lawyer accused Paul of profaning the temple, when he had done no such thing, and they had no evidence or proof. Paul had nothing to fear from the truth; but he knew that the truth does not always win in a court of law. The lawyer really had no case to present against Paul, and he did not even pretend to offer outside evidence of the charges. His only hope was that Paul would incriminate himself under examination by Felix. Clearly Paul’s accusers regretted that the case had come this far and they would have preferred to settle this out of court, like the forty assassins wanted to.

    9 The Jews also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so.

    The other Jewish accusers present, the high priest and the elders, agreed with the charges against Paul, but they offered no supporting evidence either.

    10 When the governor had beckoned to him to speak, Paul answered, “Because I know that you have been a judge of this nation for many years, I cheerfully make my defense, 11 seeing that you can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem. 12 In the temple they didn’t find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the synagogues, or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove to you the things of which they now accuse me.

    Paul did not try and flatter Felix, but “cheerfully” told him the truth. Paul was happy to answer for himself, knowing that the facts of the case were in his favor. It had only been twelve days since the event and many witnesses that were at the temple in Jerusalem could be easily found, but Paul’s accusers offered no witnesses to prove that he was in the temple inciting the crowd. There was simply no proof for their accusations.

    14 But this I confess to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 In this I also practice always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men. 17 Now after some years, I came to bring gifts for the needy to my nation, and offerings; 18 amid which certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, not with a mob, nor with turmoil. 19 They ought to have been here before you, and to make accusation, if they had anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what injustice they found in me when I stood before the council, 21 unless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!’ ”

    Tertullus the lawyer called Christianity the “sect of the Nazarenes” while Paul called it “the Way”. Paul told Felix the truth about what had happened. He had came to Jerusalem with a gift, purified himself and went into the temple. The rioting started when Jews from Asia, cities that Paul had visited on his mission trips, formed a mob and tried to kill him. They had been plotting to kill Paul for a long time, and just happened to find him in the temple that day.

    The missing evidence was a strong point in Paul’s defense: the people who had started the riot in the temple and called for Paul to be killed, claiming to be eyewitnesses of his alleged sacrilege, mysteriously didn’t show up in court. Because Paul was in the right, he consistently called the case back to the evidence, the very thing his accusers wanted to avoid.

    22 But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, “When Lysias, the commanding officer, comes down, I will decide your case.”

    Felix avoided making a decision under the pretense of waiting for more evidence through the Roman commander Lysias, the one who had arrested Paul in the temple. Felix clearly had enough evidence to make a decision in Paul’s favor, but didn’t see how releasing Paul would benefit him.

    23 He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody, and should have some privileges, and not to forbid any of his friends to serve him or to visit him.

    Felix knew that Paul was innocent, so he granted him liberty even while he was being held in custody. He tried to walk a middle ground, to straddle the fence. He knew Paul was innocent, but innocent or not, the high priest and the Jewish elders certainly didn’t like Paul, so Felix did not want to identify himself with Paul’s gospel and the Christians. Instead, he made no decision at all and kept Paul in custody.

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

    Felix brought his wife Drusilla to hear Paul’s testimony, perhaps because she was born a Jewess and could share some insight into what was behind the accusations that the Jews were making against Paul.

    25 As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, “Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.”

    Paul apparently skipped right over what happened in the temple and went straight into preaching an inspired, spontaneous message from the Holy Spirit for them. It was the kind of message that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. He warned them that they would not escape divine accountability. Felix was terrified, but instead of asking “What must I do to be saved?” like the Philippian Jailer, he sent Paul away.

    Putting Jesus off to a more convenient time is still just rejecting Him. You may never hear the message, or feel that gentle tug on your heart again. Scripture tells us to come to Jesus in repentance and faith today: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). All people have their warnings, and everyone who has perished had their last one. You never know when it is your last one. So live your life ready to die.

    26 Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore also he sent for him more often and talked with him.

    Though Felix met often with Paul, it does not mention that he was terrified anymore. Eventually he became hardened to the words of Apostle Paul and just hoped that he was ready to pay him off with a bribe. If Paul would have paid him money, Felix would have released him. 

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

    Under Roman law, the type of custody that Paul was in was could only last two years, but Felix was willing to break that law by keeping Paul a prisoner right on. Felix refused to release Paul, even though he knew that he was innocent. He did this for the same reason that Pilate condemned Jesus while knowing that He was innocent. They both acted out of pure political advantage, because they “wanted to do the Jews a favor.” In a way, people like Felix and Pilate are the guiltiest of those who reject Jesus Christ. They knew what is right but refused to do right purely out of the fear of man. They have an eternally fatal lack of courage.

    When his time as governor was up, Felix left office, and left Paul in custody in Caesarea.

    That concludes our Bible study on Acts Chapter 24. Thank you for watching and for being a part of Refreshing Hope!

    Take the Acts 24 quiz, or scroll down for the text version!

     

    Quiz Questions on Acts Chapter 24:

    1. After five days, the high priest, __________, came down with certain elders and an orator, one Tertullus. They informed the governor against Paul.
    2. When he was called, __________ began to accuse him, saying, “Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that prosperity is coming to this nation by your foresight, we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.
    3. Tertullus continued: But that I don’t delay you, I entreat you to bear with us and hear a few words. For we have found this man to be a plague, an instigator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the __________.
    4. Tertullus continued:  He even tried to profane the __________, and we arrested him. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”
    5. The __________ also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so.
    6. When the governor had beckoned to him to speak, __________ answered, “Because I know that you have been a judge of this nation for many years, I cheerfully make my defense”
    7. Paul continued: “seeing that you can verify that it is not more than __________ days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem.“
    8. Paul continued: “In the __________ they didn’t find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the synagogues, or in the city. Nor can they prove to you the things of which they now accuse me.”
    9. Paul continued: “But this I confess to you, that after the __________, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets”
    10. Paul continued: having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a ____________________, both of the just and unjust.
    11. Paul continued: In this I also __________ always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men.
    12. Paul continued: Now after some years, I came to bring gifts for the needy to my nation, and offerings; amid which certain Jews from __________ found me purified in the temple, not with a mob, nor with turmoil.
    13. Paul continued: They ought to have been here before you, and to make accusation, if they had anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what injustice they found in me when I stood before the __________
    14. Paul continued: unless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, ‘Concerning the ____________________ I am being judged before you today!’
    15. Paul continued: But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, “When __________, the commanding officer, comes down, I will decide your case.”
    16. He ordered the __________ that Paul should be kept in custody, and should have some privileges
    17. He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody, and should have some privileges, and not to forbid any of his __________ to serve him or to visit him.
    18. But after some days, __________ came with __________, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus.
    19. As Paul reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was __________, and answered, “Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.”
    20. But when __________ years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.

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Kerryann Ivey
Kerryann Ivey

Live your life ready to die... Amen to that !!! 

Dec 2