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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Acts 24



Verse 1

1. μετὰ δὲ πέντε ἡμέρας, and after five days. Most naturally this means after St Paul’s arrival in Cæsarea, and the events narrated at the end of chap. 23. But it may mean five days after the departure of the Apostle from Jerusalem. The chief captain would give notice to the high priest of what he had done as soon as it was safe to do so. After learning that they must go to Cæsarea with their accusation, the enemies of St Paul would spend some little time in preparing their charge for the hearing of Felix, and in providing themselves with an advocate. And as they would not probably travel with as much haste as St Paul’s convoy did, five days is not a long interval to elapse before they arrived in Cæsarea.

κατέβη ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἀνανίας, Ananias the high priest came down. He would be sure to be hot against St Paul after that speech about the ‘whited wall.’

The verb καταβαίνω is used because the journey was from inland towards the seashore.

μετὰ πρεσβυτέρων τινῶν, with certain elders. It would only be a portion of the elders who came. Those of the Pharisees’ party would rather have spoken in favour of the Apostle. The persons likely to take the journey to Cæsarea would be the Sadducees.

καὶ ῥήτορος Τερτύλλου τινός, and with an orator, one Tertullus. This man, as we may judge from his name, which is a modification of the Latin Tertius, was a Roman, and would be chosen because of his knowledge of Roman law, and his ability to place the case before Felix in such a light as to make it seem that Paul was dangerous to the Roman power, and not merely a turbulent and renegade Jew. We see below that he endeavoured to do this.

οἵτινες ἐνεφάνισαν, and they informed. On the breaking up of the relative in translation see above on Acts 23:33. If the relative rendering ‘who’ were kept, it might be supposed to refer only to Tertullus.

ἐμφανίζω St Luke uses in other places (Acts 25:2; Acts 25:15) of the laying a formal information before a judge. It is also used in LXX. (Esther 2:22) of Esther laying the information of the plot of the two chamberlains before king Ahasuerus.

Verses 1-9


Verse 2

2. κληθέντος δὲ αὐτοῦ, and when he was called, i.e. summoned by the official of the court, whose duty it was to call on the case.

ἤρξατο κατηγορεῖν ὁ Τέρτυλλος, Tertullus began to accuse him. St Luke has given us but the digest of the advocate’s speech. The seven verses, in which it is included, and a large part of which is occupied with compliments to the judge, would not have occupied three minutes in the delivery.

Verse 3

3. πολλῆς εἰρήνης τυγχάνοντες διὰ σοῦ, seeing that by thee we enjoy much peace. The orator seizes on almost the only point in the government of Felix on which he could hang any praise. By severity he had put down false Messiahs, and the partisans of an Egyptian magician, as well as riots in Cæsarea and Jerusalem, so that the country was in a more peaceful condition than it had been for a long time past.

For εἰρήνης τυγχάνειν, cf. 2 Maccabees 14:10, ἄχρι γὰρ Ἰούδας περίεστιν, ἀδύνατον εἰρήνης τυχεῖν τὰ πράγματα. See also the next note.

καὶ διορθωμάτων γινομένων τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ διὰ τῆς σῆς προνοίας, and that by thy providence evils are corrected for this nation. The sentence, which began with a nominative case τυγχάνοντες, is now varied by the introduction of a genitive absolute. πρόνοια is found in a very parallel passage, 2 Maccabees 4:6, ἑώρα γὰρ ἄνευ βασιλικῆς προνοίας ἀδύνατον εἶναι τυχεῖν εἰρήνης, where A.V. renders . βασ. πρ. ‘unless the king did look thereto,’ which shews what the force of the word is here. It was by the severe looking thereto of Felix that disorders were corrected, though we learn from Tacitus (Hist. Acts 24:9, Ann. XII. 54) that his severity in the end bore evil fruit, and it seems probable that his main motive in suppressing other plunderers was that there might be the more left for himself.

πάντῃ τε καὶ πανταχοῦ ἀποδεχόμεθα, we accept it in all ways and in all places, i.e. we acknowledge and are glad of it. Some would join πάντῃ τε καὶ πανταχοῦ with the previous clause, ‘evils are in all ways and in all places corrected &c.’ But this connexion is not favoured by the order of the Greek.

κράτιστε Φῆλιξ, most excellent Felix. The title is the same which was given to Felix in the letter of Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:26), and which is afterwards given to Festus by St Paul (Acts 26:25).

Verse 4

4. ἵνα δὲ μὴ ἐπὶ πλεῖόν σε ἐγκόπτω, but that I be not further tedious unto thee. The notion in the verb is that of stopping a person’s way and so hindering him. Tertullus would imply that Felix was so deeply engaged in his public duties that every moment was precious.

ἐπιεικείᾳ, clemency. The usage of this word in the LXX. is always of the divine mercy. Cf. Baruch 2:27; 2 Maccabees 2:22; 2 Maccabees 10:4, &c.

Verse 5

5. εὑρόντες γὰρλοιμόν, for having found this man a pestilent fellow. The Greek is literally ‘a pestilence.’ But the word is used of persons, 1 Maccabees 10:61, καὶ ἐπισυνήχθησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἄνδρες λοιμοὶ ἐξ Ἰσραήλ, where, as here, the A.V. gives ‘pestilent fellows.’ In the Greek there, the phrase is further defined by ἅνδρες παράνομοι. Cf. also υἱοὶ λοιμοί, 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 10:27, and λοιμή used of Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:16.

By εὑρόντες Tertullus would convey the impression that they have already spent some pains in detecting the evil ways of the accused.

καὶ κινοῦντα στάσεις, and a mover of seditions. The first charge made was one of general depravity. On coming to particulars Tertullus puts that first which would most touch the Roman power, and against which Felix had already shewn himself to be severe. Insurrections were of such common occurrence that one man might at this time be readily the prime mover in many.

It should be noticed that εὑρόντες in this sentence is left entirely in suspense, the construction never being completed. It should run, ‘having found him &c.… we &c.,’ but the conclusion is forgotten in the orator’s accumulation of wrongdoings.

πᾶσιν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις τοῖς κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην, among all the Jews throughout the world. We must bear in mind that Paul had been assailed at a time when Jerusalem was full of strangers who had come to the feast. It is not improbable that from some of the Jewish visitors particulars had been gathered about the Apostle’s troubles at Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus and elsewhere, which in the minds and on the lips of his accusers would be held for seditious conduct, conduct which had brought him at times under the notice of the tribunals. This Tertullus would put forward in its darkest colours. ἡ οἰκουμένη at this time meant ‘the whole Roman Empire.’ Cf. Cæsar’s decree (Luke 2:1) that ‘all the world’ should be taxed.

πρωτοστάτην τε, and a ringleader. The word is used in classical Greek of the front-rank men in an army. It is found in LXX. (Job 15:24), ὤσπερ στρατηγὸς πρωτοστάτης πίπτων, where the Hebrew describes a man fitted for the battle.

τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως, of the sect of the Nazarenes. The adjective is used as a term of reproach equivalent to ‘the followers of Him of Nazareth,’ which origin was to the mind of the Jews enough to stamp Jesus as one of the many false Messiahs. Cf. on the despised character of Nazareth, John 1:46.

Verse 6

6. ὅς καὶ τὸ ἱερὸν ἐπείρασεν βεβηλῶσαι, who moreover assayed to profane the Temple. The orator puts as a fact now, what had at first been only an opinion of the Asiatic Jews, that Paul had brought Trophimus into the Temple (Acts 21:29). The mob made it as a charge in their excitement, but Tertullus speaks in cold blood.

ὃν καὶ ἐπρατήσαμεν, whom we also took, i.e. laid hold of by main force. The verb implies that force was needed for Paul’s arrest.

Here the words, which are rendered in the A.V. ‘and would have judged according to our Law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee,’ are omitted in nearly all the oldest MSS., while the Greek text in those MSS. in which the passage is found exhibits many variations. Yet in spite of this it is hard to see how the advocate could have avoided some allusion to the circumstances mentioned in these words. Of course he puts the matter in a light most favourable to the Jews. ‘We would have judged him according to our Law’ is very different language from that in which (Acts 23:27) Lysias describes Paul as in danger to be killed by the Jews. The action of Lysias too is described by Tertullus as one of great violence. Probably the Roman soldiers would not handle the mob tenderly. But Tertullus is trying to cast blame upon the chief captain and to represent his party as doing all things according to law.

If the words be an interpolation, it is one which differs very greatly from those which are common in the Acts. In other places of the book such insertions have merely been made to bring the whole of a narrative under view at once, and there has been no variation of an account previously given elsewhere. But here we have a passage not representing the facts as stated before, but giving such a version of them as might make Lysias appear to have been in the wrong, and to have exercised his power in Jerusalem most arbitrarily against men who were only anxious to preserve the purity of their sacred temple. As both the Syriac and the Vulgate represent the passage it is not quite satisfactory to reject it.

Verse 7-8

7, 8. Omitted from καὶ κατὰ to ἐπὶ σέ with א ABHLP. See notes.

Verse 8

8. παρ' οὗ δυνήσῃ αὐτὸς ἀνακρίνας, κ.τ.λ., from whom thou wilt be able by examining him thyself to take knowledge, &c. When the Text. Recept. stood, the words ‘whom’ and ‘him’ in this passage referred to Claudius Lysias, from whom Felix might naturally be expected to make enquiry; without the supposed interpolation the words apply to St Paul. Thus Tertullus suggests to Felix that the truth of the case against the Apostle would be found to be supported by an examination of the accused. This appears strange reasoning. It has therefore been suggested that the word ἀνακρίνας has regard to some process of torture by which a prisoner might be forced to confess the truth. But for this no sufficient support has been found. The noun ἀνάκρισις derived from this verb is employed (Acts 25:26) for the enquiry before Agrippa. On the whole there seems quite as much to be said in favour of the Textus Receptus from internal evidence as can be brought against it by the evidence of MSS.

Verse 9

9. συνεπέθεντο δὲ καὶ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, and the Jews also joined in the charge, i.e. by language of their own reiterated the accusation. For the verb used of an attack made in common, cf. LXX. Psalms 3:6, οἱ κύκλῳ συνεπιτιθέμενοι.

φάσκοντες ταῦτα οὕτως ἔχειν, affirming that these things were so. Tertullus had of course been instructed in his case by Ananias and the elders. Having supplied him with his arguments they now express their accord with what he has said.

Verse 10

10. ἀπεκρίθη τε ὁ Παῦλος, and Paul answered. When the governor had given him leave to speak the Apostle addressed his defence to the points charged against him. He had not excited the people, nor been the leader of any body of Nazarenes, nor had he polluted the Temple.

ἐκ πολλῶν ἐτῶν, for many years. We have arrived in the history at about A.D. 58 or 59, and Felix had been made procurator in A.D. 52. So that ‘many years’ means about six or seven. But the governors were often recalled before they had held office so long. In Acts 24:17 ‘many years’ must be about four or five.

εὐθύμως τὰ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ ἀπολογοῦμαι, I cheerfully answer for myself. St Paul was so far of good courage, because the experience of Felix, and his knowledge of Jewish manners and customs, would enable him to appreciate the statements which related to the Apostle’s presence in Jerusalem.

Verses 10-21


Verse 11

11. δυναμένου σου ἐπιγνῶναι, seeing that thou art able to take knowledge. The Apostle refers to the acquaintance which Felix had gained of Jewish habits and customs and their festivals, and the manner of observance thereof. This knowledge would make him appreciate St Paul’s statement.

οὐ πλείους εἰσίν μοι ἡμέραι δώδεκα, it is not more than twelve days. The time may be accounted for thus: the day of St Paul’s arrival, the interview with James on the second day, five days may be given to the separate life in the Temple during the vow, then the hearing before the council, next day the conspiracy, the tenth day St Paul reached Cæsarea, and on the thirteenth day [which leaves five days (Acts 24:1), as Jews would reckon from the conspiracy to the hearing in Cæsarea] St Paul is before Felix. See Farrar’s St Paul, II. 338 (note).

ἀφ' ἧς ἀνέβην προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. The purpose of the Apostle was ‘to worship.’ Was it likely that he would try to profane the Temple? And προσκυνήσων expresses all the lowly adoration common among Orientals. The Apostle probably chose it for this reason. He would have Felix know that it was in a most reverent frame of mind that he came to the feast.

ἀφ' ἧς (ἡμέρας) is the construction in full.

Verse 12

12. καὶ οὔτε ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ κ.τ.λ., and they neither found me in the Temple disputing, &c. The Apostle gives a flat denial to the charge of insurrection, and challenges them to prove any single point of it. He had not even entered into discussion with any man.

On St Paul’s reply Chrysostom remarks: καὶ οὐδὲν εἶπεν ὧν εἶχεν εἰκότως εἰπεῖν· ὅτι ἐπεβούλευσαν· ὅτι κάτεσχον αὐτόν· ὅτι ἔνεδρον ἐποίησαν· ταῦτα γὰρ παρ' ἐκείνων λέγεται γενέσθαι, παρὰ δὲ τούτου, καὶ κινδύνου ὄντος, οὐκ ἔτι· ἀλλά σιγᾷ καὶ μόνον ἀπολογεῖται καί τοι μυρία ἔχων εἰπεῖν.

ἢ ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου, or causing a stir of the crowd. Rev. Ver. ‘stirring up a crowd.’ The crowd had really been gathered by the Jews.

Verse 13

13. οὐδὲ παραστῆσαι δύνανταί σοι, neither can they prove to thee. The proof must be such as the Law required, not the mere multiplied assertions of the accusers. The verb παρίστημι implies a formal setting-forth of evidence, and is used by Josephus (De vita sua 6), of an array of proof which he has set forth to shew that his fellow-countrymen did not enter on a war till they were forced.

Verse 14

14. κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, after the Way which they call a sect. So the rendering of αἵρεσις is made to correspond with Acts 24:5 above. For ‘the Way’ meaning the Christian religion, see note on Acts 9:2.

οὕτω λατρεύω τῷ πατρῴῳ θεῷ, so serve I the God of our fathers. The verb λατρεύω is used of service which a man is bound to pay, and by its use, as well as by the reference to ‘the God of our fathers,’ the Apostle wants to shew that he has cast off no morsel of his old allegiance, has not severed himself from the ancestral faith of the Jewish nation.

πιστεύωνγεγραμμένοις, believing all things which are according to the Law, and which are written in the Prophets. The Apostle thus testifies to his complete acceptance of all the Jewish Scriptures. Sometimes the division is given as ‘the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms’ (Luke 24:44), but more frequently, as in the text, only two sections are named (cp. Matthew 7:12; Matthew 11:13; Matthew 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45).

Verse 15

15. ἐλπίδα ἔχεν, having hope. The way in which this hope is described, ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι, explains the expression in Acts 23:6 περὶ ἐλπίδος καὶ ἀναστάσεως. The hope was even of the resurrection of the dead.

ἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, which they themselves also look for. Here the Apostle is of course alluding only to the Pharisees among his own people, but he puts them as representatives of the larger part of the nation. The Rev. Ver. renders ‘which these also themselves look for.’ If the Apostle employed the words in that sense he must have turned towards the body of Jews in the court rather than to the Sadducees and their spokesman.

ἀνάστασιν μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι, that there shall be a resurrection. St Paul adheres to the point which had before provoked the anger of Ananias and his party, and they must have been the more irritated because the words of the Apostle declare their opponents, the Pharisees, to be holding the true faith, and imply that such is the general belief of the Jewish people.

δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων, both of the just and unjust. Speaking in the presence of Felix, the Apostle seems to have chosen words which might touch the conscience of the Procurator.

Verse 16

16. ἐν τούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκῶ, herein also I exercise myself. Herein, i.e. in the worship, faith and hope spoken of in the last two verses; while holding this belief, and because I hold it, I try to keep my conscience clear. ‘I exercise myself’ that I may, by constant training and striving, at length get near to what I aim after.

ἀπρόσκοπον συνείδησιν ἔχειν, to have a conscience void of offence. The primary meaning of ἀπρόσκοπος is found Sirach 23 [35]:21 where ὁδὸς ἀπρόσκοπος = a plain way, one where there are no stumblers nor anything to stumble at. A man of whose conscience the figure could be used was neither likely to be a profaner of the Temple nor a mover of sedition. The adverb διαπαντός has a very emphatic place as the last word in the verse.

Verse 17

17. δι' ἐνῶν δὲ πλειόνων, now after many years. St Paul had come to Jerusalem on the return from his second missionary journey in A.D. 53. It was now A.D. 58, so that his absence had lasted four or five years (see note on Acts 24:10).

ἐλεημοσύνας ποιήσων εἰς τὸ ἔθνος μου, to bring alms to my nation. These consisted of the money which had been collected in the Churches of Macedonia and Achaia at St Paul’s request, and which is often alluded to in his Epistles (cp. 1 Corinthians 16:1; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4, &c.). There could be no desire to wound the feelings of the Jews in a man who had come for such a purpose. It is noticeable too that he describes the alms as not for the Christians only, but for his nation, conveying by the word the impression of his great regard for all the Jews.

St Paul can say ἐλεημοσύνας ποιεῖν, for though the gifts were not his own, he was the cause of their being sent.

καὶ προσφοράς, and offerings. These were the sacrifices connected with the vow which he had undertaken. They must be offered in the Temple, and the offerer was not likely to be one who thought of profaning the holy place.

Verse 18

18. ἐν αἶς, amidst which, i.e. engaged in offering these oblations.

εὗρόν με ἡγνισμένον, they found me purified, i.e. abstaining from all things forbidden by the Law of the Nazirites (see Numbers 6:3-8). A man who religiously purified himself could by no means be suspected as likely to defile the Temple. All things tell the same way.

οὐ μετὰ ὄχλου οὐδὲ μετὰ θορύβου, neither with multitude nor with tumult. The two things that would be steps towards profanity in such a place, would have been to gather a crowd and then to raise an uproar. Nothing of the sort could be laid to Paul’s charge.

τινὲς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἀσίας Ἰουδαῖοι, but there were certain Jews of Asia. It was from the Asiatic Jews, perhaps those from Ephesus, that the uproar had at first originated. It would appear also that part of Tertullus’ argument was derived from their information. Of these Asiatic Jews St Paul was now about to speak, but he checks himself, and does not say any word against them, only that they ought to have been here to explain the offence for which he had been assailed.

Verse 19

19. καὶ κατηγορεῖν, and to make accusation. They had set the cry against him, yet did not come to say what he had done wrong. They were probably on their way home, now that the feast was over.

Verse 20

20. ἢ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι εἰπάτωσαν, or let these men themselves say, i.e. Ananias and his party. The assailants of St Paul were of two classes, first the Asiatic Jews, who were furious against him because of his preaching among the Gentiles in their cities, then those in Jerusalem who hated him for preaching the resurrection. He challenges them both, and when the former do not appear, he turns to the other.

τί εὗρον ἀδίκημα, what evildoing they found. Paul uses ἀδίκημα as being the word which the Sadducees would use, not adopting it himself.

στάντος μου ἐπὶ τοῦ συνεδρίου, when I stood before the council. Up to the moment when in the presence of the council he had spoken of the resurrection, and so produced a division in the assembly, there was no act of St Paul which had to do with any disturbance. The tumult in the Temple and while he was speaking from the tower-stairs was all caused by the Jewish mob.

Verse 21

21. ἢ περὶ μιᾶς ταύτης φωνῆς, except it be for this one voice, i.e. this exclamation or cry. From Acts 23:6 we can see that St Paul raised his voice when he mentioned the resurrection.

= other than. τί = τί ἄλλο ἤ.

Verse 22

22. ἀκριβέστερον εἰδὼς τὰ περὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ, having more perfect knowledge of the Way.

On ἡ ὁδὸς = the Christian religion, see on Acts 9:2. Felix was more likely to understand something of the relations between Judaism and Christianity, because he had a Jewish wife, Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa I., one who had been brought by her position into connexion with the movements of the time.

ὄταν Λυσίας ὁ χιλίαρχος καταβῇ, when Lysias the chief captain shall come down. There had been nothing said in the letter of Lysias, so far as we have it, about his coming to Cæsarea, but no doubt he went often between Jerusalem and the residence of the governor. The language of this verse gives some support to the genuineness of Acts 24:7. (See note there.)

διαγνώσομαι τὰ καθ' ὑμᾶς, I will determine your matters. On διαγιγνώσκω see above, Acts 23:15.

Verses 22-27


Verse 23

23. διαταξάμενος τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ, having commanded the centurion. It might perhaps be one of the two whom Lysias had put in charge of the conveyance of Paul (Acts 23:23). One might be appointed to go on to Cæsarea, while the other returned with the larger part of the convoy from Antipatris.

τηρεῖσθαι αὐτόν, that he should be kept in charge. τηρεῖσθαι only conveys the idea of safe keeping, not of severe detention, and it is clear that for some reason Felix shewed himself well-disposed towards the Apostle. Either his conscience moved him or his hope of gain, or perhaps the flattery and compliments of Tertullus had overshot their mark.

ἕχειν τε ἄνεσιν, and should have indulgence, i.e. the strict prison rules were to be relaxed in his favour.

For ἄνεσις cf. 1 Esdras 4:62, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἄφεσιν καὶ ἄνεσιν.

καὶ μηδένα κωλύειν, and that he should hinder no one. Here is a change of subject in the sentence. Παῦλον was the subject to the two first infinitives, to κωλύειν the subject is τὸν ἑκατοντάρχην.

τῶν ἰδίων αὐτοῦ, of his friends. More literally ‘of his own people.’ Here from our limited knowledge we are only able to think of Philip the Evangelist, who would be particularly a friend of St Paul; but he had been more than once before in Cæsarea, and he had no doubt made himself known there as in other places. Those unnamed disciples of Cæsarea (Acts 21:16) would be among the persons who had a warm interest in St Paul, and it is dear from St Luke’s language that there were friends at hand and ready to visit the Apostle when they were allowed.

ὑπηρετεῖν αὐτῷ, to minister unto him. ὑπηρετεῖν implies the doing of those services of which a prisoner even under such liberal conditions must ever stand in need. They would be his means of communication with the outer world. And the cupidity of Felix may have suggested that through these friends the means might be supplied for purchasing the Apostle’s release.

Verse 24

24. μετὰ δὲ ἡμέρας τινὰς κ.τ.λ., but after certain days Felix came, &c. Felix aid not always reside in Cæsarea. After the first hearing of St Paul’s cause he had gone away for a time, but on his return he sent for the Apostle to question him on his doctrine. Perhaps those words about the resurrection of the just and unjust had made him uneasy.

σὐν Δρουσίλλῃ τῇ ἰδίᾳ γυναικὶ οὔσῃ Ἰουδαίᾳ, with Drusilla his wife who was a Jewess. She was a daughter of Herod Agrippa I. and so sister of Agrippa II. and of Bernice. She had formerly been married to Azizus, king of Emesa, but had been induced by Felix to leave her husband and become his wife. Though she had been only six years of age when her father died (Acts 12:23) she may have heard of the death of James the brother of John, and the marvellous delivery of St Peter from prison: for such matters would be talked of long after they had happened, and perhaps her father’s sudden death may have been ascribed by some to God’s vengeance for what he had done against the Christians. Her marriage with the Gentile Felix shewed that she was by no means a strict Jewess, and what she had heard of Jewish opposition to St Paul’s teaching may have made her, as well as her husband, desirous to hear him.

μετεπέμψατο τὸν Παῦλον, sent for Paul. The Apostle was lodged in some part of the procurator’s official residence (see Acts 23:35 note) and so was close at hand.

καὶ ἤκουσεν αὐτοῦ περὶ τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν πίστεως, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. The addition of Ἰησοῦν supported by the oldest MSS. gives force to the sentence. What St Paul would urge was not only a belief in the Christ, for whose coming all Jews were looking, but a belief that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah whom they had so long expected.

Verse 25

25. διαλεγομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ., and as he reasoned of righteousness and temperance and the judgment to come. It was no barren faith which St Paul commended, but was to have its fruits in the life. Felix perhaps expected some philosophical dissertation on the subject of the resurrection, and the life after death. His own conduct, of which Tacitus (Ann. XII. 54, Hist. Acts 24:9) speaks as mean and cruel and profligate, would make the subjects on which St Paul addressed him peculiarly disturbing. For what if this man’s teaching should be true?

ἔμφοβος γενόμενος ὁ Φῆλιξ ἀπεκρίθη, becoming terrified Felix answered. It can hardly be conceived that St Paul was ignorant of the character of those to whom he was speaking. Felix had been in office long enough to be well known. And the Apostle’s themes were exactly those by which he could find the joints in the procurator’s harness. Of ‘righteousness’ his life’s history shews no trace, and for ‘temperance,’ i.e. self-control, the presence of Drusilla by his side proved that he had no regard. Well might such a man be full of fear at the thought, as St Paul would urge it home, of the judgment after death. But the influence of his terror passed away, for we do not read that the Apostle ever beheld such signs of penitence as led him to quiet the terror, by preaching Christ as the atonement for sin.

ἔμφοβος is used, 1 Maccabees 13:2, to describe the terror of the Jews at Tryphon’s invasion, εἶδε τὸν λαὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν ἔντρομος καὶ ἔμφοβος.

τὸ νῦν ἔχον, for the present. Cf. for the phrase Tobit 7:11, ἀλλὰ τὸ νῦν ἔχον ἡδέως γίνου, ‘Nevertheless for the present be merry’ (A.V.).

καιρὸν μεταλαβὼν μετακαλέσομαί σε, when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. The convenient season never arrived. Felix did not change his conduct. When two years more of his rule were ended and he was superseded by Festus, the Jews in Cæsarea brought an accusation against him before Nero, and had it not been for his brother Pallas’ influence he would have been punished for his cruelty and injustice. We have no record of how long he lived after his recall from Cæsarea.

Verse 26

26. ἅμα καὶ ἐλπίζων κ.τ.λ., at the same time also hoping that money would be given him by Paul. He had heard the Apostle speak of the contributions which he had gathered for the Jews in Jerusalem. His thought would naturally be that if he could raise money for the needs of others, he could do so for his own release.

διὸ καί, wherefore also, i.e. this was a second reason why Paul was frequently sent for, that he might, if he were disposed, offer Felix a bribe. The first reason was to hear what the Apostle had to say about the faith in Christ.

ὡμίλει αὐτῷ, he communed with him. ὁμιλέω implies that he established a degree of friendly intercourse with his prisoner. Thus the way was made smooth for any proposal about the terms of release, had Paul been inclined to make one.

Verse 27

27. διετίας δὲ πληρωθείσης, but when two years were fulfilled, i.e. fully completed. It may be that St Luke intends to indicate by his expression, that it was not a reckoning of time such as was usual among the Jews, where portions of a year were sometimes counted for a whole, but that the Apostle’s detention endured for two years complete.

ἔλαβεν διάδοχον ὁ Φῆλιξ Πόρκιον Φῆστον, Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room. Lit. ‘Felix received Porcius Festus as a successor.’ Festus was made governor by Nero probably in A.D. 60 and died in about two years. Josephus (B. J. II. 14. 1) gives him a far better character than his predecessor, but he had the same kind of difficulties to deal with in the outbreaks of the populace and the bands of assassins with which the country was infested. (Jos. Ant. XX. 8. 10.)

θέλων τε χάριτα καταθέσθαι τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὁ Φῆλιξ, and Felix desiring to gain (lit. to store up) favour with the Jews. What Felix particularly desired at this time was to blunt the anger which the Jews (especially those of Cæsarea) felt towards him, that they might be less bitter in their charges against him on his recall. And so he used Paul as his ‘Mammon of unrighteousness’ and left him detained that he might make himself friends thereby.

κατέλιπε τὸν Παῦλον δεδεμένον, left Paul bound (R.V. in bonds). This seems to indicate that before his departure Felix withdrew the indulgence which had been previously granted to Paul, and put him in bonds, so as to give to his successor the impression, which the Jews desired, that he was deserving of punishment. It would be very interesting to know what St Paul did during the two years that he was kept at Cæsarea. Various conjectures have been ventured on, but none with any ground of certainty. Some, accepting him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, point to this period as the time of its composition. Others assign to this imprisonment those letters of the Apostle which speak so much of his bonds, viz. to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians and Philemon, but the evidence in favour of Rome as the place whence they were written seems far to outweigh all that can be said on behalf of Cæsarea. Our only reflection on such a gap as this in the history of St Paul’s work must be that the Acts was not intended to be a narrative of any man’s labours, but how God employed now this servant, now that, for the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ. The remembrance of this will prevent us seeking from the book what it was not meant to give.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Acts 24:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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