Acts 24

1 After five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down with certain elders and an orator, one Tertullus. They informed the governor against Paul. 2 When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that excellent measures are coming to this nation, 3 we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 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 amongst all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 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.” 9 The Jews also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so. 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 recognize 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. 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 towards God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 Herein I also practice always having a conscience void of offense towards 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 amongst them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!’” 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.” 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. 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. 25 As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, “Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you.” 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. 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.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–9

See here the unhappiness of great men, and a great unhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyond measure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; hereby they are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God’s prophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very same charges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passions of men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech, too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men against the truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felix appear at the day of judgement, from what they are represented in the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value the applause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, who represent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and the excellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition.

Verses 10–21

Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul’s aim was to have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation? How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness, nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in silence see God’s word despised, or hear his name profaned; he will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than life.

Verses 22–27

The apostle reasoned concerning the nature and obligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligate mistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of the grace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power of godliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in the day of God’s appearing. A prospect of the judgment to come, is enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled, but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who are not changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yet continue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of our souls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a more convenient season, but we do not find that the more convenient season ever came. Behold now is the accepted time; hear the voice of the Lord to-day. He was in haste to turn from hearing the truth. Was any business more urgent than for him to reform his conduct, or more important than the salvation of his soul! Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by a loud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness. Be not deceived by occasional appearances of religion in ourselves or in others. Above all, let us not trifle with the word of God. Do we expect that as we advance in life our hearts will grow softer, or that the influence of the world will decline? Are we not at this moment in danger of being lost for ever? Now is the day of salvation; tomorrow may be too late.

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