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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 24



Verse 1

And with an Orator, one Tertullus (και ρητορος Τερτυλλου τινοςkai rhētoros Tertullou tinos). A deputation of elders along with the high priest Ananias, not the whole Sanhedrin, but no hint of the forty conspirators or of the Asian Jews. The Sanhedrin had become divided so that now it is probably Ananias (mortally offended) and the Sadducees who take the lead in the prosecution of Paul. It is not clear whether after five days is from Paul‘s departure from Jerusalem or his arrival in Caesarea. If he spent nine days in Jerusalem, then the five days would be counted from then (Acts 23:11). The employment of a Roman lawyer (Latin orator) was necessary since the Jews were not familiar with Roman legal procedure and it was the custom in the provinces (Cicero pro Cael 30). The speech was probably in Latin which Paul may have understood also. ητωρRhētōr is a common old Greek word meaning a forensic orator or advocate but here only in the N.T. The Latin rhetor was a teacher of rhetoric, a very different thing. Tertullus is a diminutive of Tertius (Romans 16:22).

Informed (ενεπανισανenephanisan). Same verb as in Acts 23:15, Acts 23:22, somewhat like our modern “indictment,” certainly accusations “against Paul” (κατα του Παυλουkata tou Paulou). They were down on Paul and the hired barrister was prosecuting attorney. For the legal form see Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Vol. II., p. 162, line 19.

Verse 2

When he (Paul) was called (κλητεντος αυτουklēthentos autou). Genitive absolute (as so often in Acts) with first aorist passive participle of καλεωkaleō Seeing that by thee we enjoy much peace (πολλης ειρηνης τυγχανοντες δια σουpollēs eirēnēs tugchanontes dia sou). Literally, obtaining much peace by thee. A regular piece of flattery, captatio benevolentiae, to ingratiate himself into the good graces of the governor. Felix had suppressed a riot, but Tacitus (Ann. XII. 54) declares that Felix secretly encouraged banditti and shared the plunder for which the Jews finally made complaint to Nero who recalled him. But it sounded well to praise Felix for keeping peace in his province, especially as Tertullus was going to accuse Paul of being a disturber of the peace.

And that by thy providence (και δια της προνοιαςkai dia tēs pronoias). Forethought, old Greek word from προνοοςpronoos (προνοεωpronoeō in 1 Timothy 5:8; Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:21), in N.T. only here and Romans 13:14. “Providence” is Latin Providentia (foreseeing, provideo). Roman coins often have Providentia Caesaris. Post-Augustan Latin uses it of God (Deus).

Evils are corrected for this nation (διορτωματων γινομενων τωι ετνει τουτωιdiorthōmatōn ginomenōn tōi ethnei toutōi). Genitive absolute again, γινομενωνginomenōn present middle participle describing the process of reform going on for this nation (dative case of personal interest). ΔιορτωμαDiorthōma (from διορτοωdiorthoō to set right) occurs from Aristotle on of setting right broken limbs (Hippocrates) or reforms in law and life (Polybius, Plutarch). “Reform continually taking place for this nation.” Felix the Reform Governor of Judea! It is like a campaign speech, but it doubtless pleased Felix.

Verse 3

In all ways and in all places (παντηι τε και πανταχουpantēi te kai pantachou). ΠαντηιPantēi old adverb of manner only here in N.T. ΠανταχουPantachou also old adverb of place, several times in N.T. But these adverbs most likely go with the preceding clause about “reforms” rather than as here translated with “we accept” (αποδεχομεταapodechometha). But “with all gratitude” (μετα πασης ευχαριστιαςmeta pasēs eucharistias) does naturally go with αποδεχομεταapodechometha f0).

Verse 4

That I be not further tedious unto thee (ινα μη επι πλειον σε ενκοπτωhina mē epi pleion se enkoptō). Koiné{[28928]}š verb (Hippocrates, Polybius) to cut in on (or into), to cut off, to impede, to hinder. Our modern telephone and radio illustrate it well. In the N.T. (Acts 24:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Galatians 5:7; Romans 15:22; 1 Peter 3:7). “That I may not cut in on or interrupt thee further (επι πλειονepi pleion) in thy reforms.” Flattery still.

Of thy clemency (τηι σηι επιεικειαιtēi sēi epieikeiāi). Instrumental case of old word from επιεικηςepieikēs and this from επιepi and εικοςeikos (reasonable, likely, fair). “Sweet Reasonableness” (Matthew Arnold), gentleness, fairness. An επιεικηςepieikēs man is “one who makes reasonable concessions” (Aristotle, Etho4. Acts 24:10), while δικαιοςdikaios is “one who insists on his full rights” (Plato, Leg. 757 D) as translated by Page.

A few words (συντομωςsuntomōs). Old adverb from συντεμνωsuntemnō to cut together (short), abbreviate. Like δια βραχεωνdia bracheōn in Hebrews 13:22. In N.T. only here and Mark 16 (shorter conclusion).

Verse 5

For we have found (ευροντες γαρheurontes gar). Second aorist active participle of ευρισκωheuriskō but without a principal verb in the sentence. Probably we have here only a “summary of the charges against Paul” (Page).

A pestilent fellow (λοιμονloimon). An old word for pest, plague, pestilence, Paul the pest. In N.T. only here and Luke 21:11 (λοιμοι και λιμοιloimoi kai limoi pestilences and famines) which see. Latin pestis. Think of the greatest preacher of the ages being branded a pest by a contemporary hired lawyer.

A mover of insurrections (κινουντα στασειςkinounta staseis). This was an offence against Roman law if it could be proven. “Plotted against at Damascus, plotted against at Jerusalem, expelled from Pisidian Antioch, stoned at Lystra, scourged and imprisoned at Philippi, accused of treason at Thessalonica, haled before the proconsul at Corinth, cause of a serious riot at Ephesus, and now finally of a riot at Jerusalem” (Furneaux). Specious proof could have been produced, but was not. Tertullus went on to other charges with which a Roman court had no concern (instance Gallio in Corinth).

Throughout the world (κατα την οικουμενηνkata tēn oikoumenēn). The Roman inhabited earth (γηνgēn) as in Acts 17:6.

A ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (πρωτοστατην της των Ναζωραιων αιρεσεωςprōtostatēn tēs tōn Nazōraiōn haireseōs). ΠρωτοστατηςPrōtostatēs is an old word in common use from πρωτοςprōtos and ιστημιhistēmi a front-rank man, a chief, a champion. Here only in the N.T. This charge is certainly true. About “sect” (αιρεσιςhairesis) see note on Acts 5:17. ΝαζωραιοιNazōraioi here only in the plural in the N.T., elsewhere of Jesus (Matthew 2:23; Matthew 26:71; Luke 18:37; John 18:5, John 18:7; John 19:19; Acts 2:22; Acts 3:6; Acts 4:10; Acts 6:14; Acts 22:8; Acts 26:9). The disciple is not above his Master. There was a sneer in the term as applied to Jesus and here to his followers.

Verse 6

Assayed to profane (επειρασεν βεβηλωσαιepeirasen bebēlōsai). A flat untruth, but the charge of the Asian Jews (Acts 21:28-30). Verbum optum ad calumnian (Bengel).

We seized (εκρατησαμενekratēsamen). As if the Sanhedrin had arrested Paul, Tertullus identifying himself with his clients. But it was the mob (Acts 21:28-31) that attacked Paul and Lysias who rescued him (Acts 21:32.).

Verse 7

This whole verse with some words at the end of Acts 24:6 and the beginning of Acts 24:8 in the Textus Receptus (“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”) is absent from Aleph A B H L P 61 (many other cursives) Sahidic Bohairic. It is beyond doubt a later addition to the incomplete report of the speech of Tertullus. As the Revised Version stands, Acts 24:8 connects with Acts 24:6. The motive of the added words is clearly to prejudice Felix against Lysias and they contradict the record in Acts 21. Furneaux holds them to be genuine and omitted because contradictory to Acts 21. More likely they are a clumsy attempt to complete the speech of Tertullus.

Verse 8

From whom (παρ ουpar' hou). Referring to Paul, but in the Textus Receptus referring to Lysias.

By examining him thyself (αυτος ανακριναςautos anakrinas). Not by torture, since Paul was a Roman citizen, but by hearing what Paul has to say in defence of himself. ΑνακρινωAnakrinō is to examine thoroughly up and down as in Luke 23:14.

Verse 9

Joined in the charge (συνεπετεντοsunepethento). Second aorist middle indicative of συνεπιτιτημιsunepitithēmi old verb, double compound, to place upon (επιepi) together with (συνsun), to make a joint attack, here only in the N.T.

Affirming (πασκοντεςphaskontes). Alleging, with the accusative in indirect assertion as in Acts 25:19; Romans 1:22 (nominative with infinitive, Robertson, Grammar, p. 1038).

Were so (ουτως εχεινhoutōs echein), “held thus,” common idiom.

Verse 10

When the governor had beckoned to him (νευσαντος αυτωι του ηγεμονοςneusantos autōi tou hēgemonos). Genitive absolute again with first aorist active participle of νευωneuō to give a nod, old word, in N.T. only here and John 13:24. “The governor nodding to him.”

Forasmuch as I know (επισταμενοςepistamenos). Knowing, from επισταμαιepistamai

That thou hast been of many years a judge (εκ πολλων ετων οντα σε κριτηνek pollōn etōn onta se kritēn). The participle in indirect assertion after επισταμενοςepistamenos (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1041). Paul goes as far as he can in the way of a compliment. For seven years Felix has been governor, ονταonta being a sort of progressive present participle with εκ πολλων ετωνek pollōn etōn (Robertson, Grammar, p. 892).

Cheerfully (ευτυμωςeuthumōs). Old adverb from ευτυμοςeuthumos (ευeu and τυμοςthumos good spirit), here only in N.T.

Make my defence (απολογουμαιapologoumai). Old and regular word for this idea as in Luke 21:14 which see.

Verse 11

Seeing that thou canst take knowledge (δυναμενου σου επιγνωναιdunamenou sou epignōnai). Genitive absolute again. The same word and form (επιγνωναιepignōnai) used by Tertullus, if in Greek, in Acts 24:8 to Felix. Paul takes it up and repeats it.

Not more than twelve days (ου πλειους ημεραι δωδεκαou pleious hēmerai dōdeka). Here η (than) is absent without change of case to the ablative as usually happens. But this idiom is found in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, p. 666).

Since (απ ηςaph' hēs). Supply ημεραςhēmeras “from which day.”

To worship (προσκυνησωνproskunēsōn). One of the few examples of the future participle of purpose so common in the old Attic.

Verse 12

Disputing (διαλεγομενονdialegomenon). Simply conversing, discussing, arguing, and then disputing, common verb in old Greek and in N.T. (especially in Acts).

Stirring up a crowd (επιστασιν ποιουντα οχλουepistasin poiounta ochlou). ΕπιστασιςEpistasis is a late word from επιστημιephistēmi to make an onset or rush. Only twice in the N.T., 2 Corinthians 11:28 (the pressure or care of the churches) and here (making a rush of a crowd). The papyri give examples also for “onset.” So Paul denies the two charges that were serious and the only one that concerned Roman law (insurrection).

Verse 13

Prove (παραστησαιparastēsai). First aorist active infinitive of παριστημιparistēmi to place beside. They have made “charges,” mere assertions. They have not backed up these charges with proof, “nor can they,” says Paul.

Now (νυνιnuni). As if they had changed their charges from the cries of the mob in Jerusalem which is true. Paul has no hired lawyer to plead for him, but he has made a masterly plea for his freedom.

Verse 14

I confess (ομολογωhomologō). The only charge left was that of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. This Paul frankly confesses is true. He uses the word in its full sense. He is “guilty” of that.

After the Way (κατα την οδονkata tēn hodon). This word Paul had already applied to Christianity (Acts 22:4). He prefers it to “sect” (αιρεσινhairesin which means a choosing, then a division). Paul claims Christianity to be the real (whole, catholic) Judaism, not a “sect” of it. But he will show that Christianity is not a deviation from Judaism, but the fulfilment of it (Page) as he has already shown in Galatians 3; Romans 9.

So serve I the God of our fathers (ουτως λατρευω τωι πατρωιωι τεωιhoutōs latreuō tōi patrōiōi theōi). Paul has not stretched the truth at all. He has confirmed the claim made before the Sanhedrin that he is a spiritual Pharisee in the truest sense (Acts 23:6). He reasserts his faith in all the law and the prophets, holding to the Messianic hope. A curious “heretic” surely!

Which these themselves also look for (ην και αυτοι ουτοι προσδεχονταιhēn kai autoi houtoi prosdechontai). Probably with a gesture towards his accusers. He does not treat them all as Sadducees. See note on Titus 2:13 for similar use of the verb (προσδεχομενοι την μακαριαν ελπιδαprosdechomenoi tēn makarian elpida looking for the happy hope).

Verse 15

That there shall be a resurrection (αναστασιν μελλειν εσεσταιanastasin mellein esesthai). Indirect assertion with infinitive and accusative of general reference (αναστασινanastasin) after the word ελπιδαelpida (hope). The future infinitive εσεσταιesesthai after μελλεινmellein is also according to rule, μελλωmellō being followed by either present, aorist, or future infinitive (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 870, 877, 878).

Both of the just and the unjust (δικαιων τε και αδικωνdikaiōn te kai adikōn). Apparently at the same time as in John 5:29 (cf. Acts 17:31.). Gardner thinks that Luke here misrepresents Paul who held to no resurrection save for those “in Christ,” a mistaken interpretation of Paul in my opinion. The Talmud teaches the resurrection of Israelites only, but Paul was more than a Pharisee.

Verse 16

Herein (εν τουτωιen toutōi). His whole confession of belief in Acts 24:14, Acts 24:15.

Do I also exercise myself (και αυτος ασκωkai autos askō). “Do I also myself take exercise,” take pains, labour, strive. Old word in Homer to work as raw materials, to adorn by art, then to drill. Our word ascetic comes from this root, one who seeks to gain piety by rules and severe hardship. Paul claims to be equal to his accusers in efforts to please God.

Void of offence (απροσκοπονaproskopon). This word belongs to the papyri and N.T. (only in Paul), not in the ancient writers. The papyri examples (Moulton Milligan, Vocabulary) use the word to mean “free from hurt or harm.” It is a privative and προσκοπτωproskoptō (to cut or stumble against). Page likes “void of offence” since that can be either active “not stumbling” as in Philemon 1:10 or passive “not stumbled against” as in 1 Corinthians 10:32 (the first toward God and the second toward men), the only other N.T. examples. Hence the word here appears in both senses (the first towards God, the second towards men). Paul adds “alway” (δια παντοςdia pantos), a bold claim for a consistent aim in life. “Certainly his conscience acquitted him of having caused any offence to his countrymen” (Rackham). Furneaux thinks that it must have been wormwood and gall to Ananias to hear Paul repeat here the same words because of which he had ordered Paul to be smitten on the mouth (Acts 23:1.).

Verse 17

After many years (δι ετων πλειονωνdi' etōn pleionōn). “At an interval (διαdia) of more (πλειονωνpleionōn) years” (than a few, one must add), not “after many years.” If, as is likely Paul went up to Jerusalem in Acts 18:22, that was some five years ago and would justify “πλειονωνpleionōn ” (several years ago or some years ago).

To bring alms (ελεημοσυνας ποιησονeleēmosunas poiēson). Another (see προσκυνησωνproskunēsōn in Acts 24:11) example of the future participle of purpose in the N.T. These “alms” (on ελεημοσυναςeleēmosunas See Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:4, and note on Acts 10:2, common in Tobit and is in the papyri) were for the poor saints in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Romans 15:26) who were none the less Jews. “And offerings” (και προσποραςkai prosphoras). The very word used in Acts 21:26 of the offerings or sacrifices made by Paul for the four brethren and himself. It does not follow that it was Paul‘s original purpose to make these “offerings” before he came to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 18:18). He came up to worship (Acts 24:11) and to be present at Pentecost (Acts 20:16).

Verse 18

Amidst which (εν αιλen hail). That is, “in which offerings” (in presenting which offerings, Acts 21:27).

They found me (my accusers here present, ευρον μεheuron me), purified in the temple (ηγνισμενον εν τωι ιερωιhēgnismenon en tōi hierōi). Perfect passive participle of αγνιζωhagnizō (same verb in Acts 21:24, Acts 21:26) state of completion of the Jewish sacrifices which had gone on for seven days (Acts 21:27), the very opposite of the charges made.

With no crowd (ου μετα οχλουou meta ochlou). “Not with a crowd” till the Asiatic Jews gathered one (Acts 21:27).

Nor yet with tumult (ουδε μετα τορυβουoude meta thorubou). They made the tumult (Acts 27:30), not Paul. Till they made the stir, all was quiet.

Verse 19

But certain Jews from Asia (τινες δε απο της Αλιας Ιουδαιοιtines de apo tēs Alias Ioudaioi). No verb appears in the Greek for these words. Perhaps he meant to say that “certain Jews from Asia charged me with doing these things.” Instead of saying that, Paul stops to explain that they are not here, a thoroughly Pauline anacoluthon (2 Corinthians 7:5) as in Acts 26:9. “The passage as it stands is instinct with life, and seems to exhibit the abruptness so characteristic of the Pauline Epistles” (Page).

Who ought to have been here before thee (ους εδει επι σου παρειναιhous edei epi sou pareinai). This use of επιepi with genitive of the person is common. The imperfect indicative with verbs of necessity and obligation to express failure to live up to it is common in Greek (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 919-21). “The accusers who were present had not witnessed the alleged offence: those who could have given evidence at first-hand were not present” (Furneaux). There was no case in a Roman court. These Asiatic Jews are never heard of after the riot, though they almost succeeded in killing Paul then.

If they had aught against me (ει τι εχοιεν προς εμεei tōi echoien pros eme). A condition of the fourth class or undetermined with less likelihood of being determined (ειei with the optative, Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). This is a “mixed condition” (op.cit., p. 1022) with a conclusion of the second class.

Verse 20

These men themselves (αυτοι ουτοιautoi houtoi). Since the Asiatic Jews are not present and these men are.

Wrong doing (αδικημαadikēma). Or misdeed. Old word from αδικεωadikeō to do wrong. In the N.T. only here and Acts 18:14; Revelation 18:5. Paul uses “αδικημαadikēma ” from the standpoint of his accusers. “To a less sensitive conscience his action before the Sanhedrin would have seemed venial enough” (Furneaux).

When I stood (σταντος μουstantos mou). Genitive absolute, second aorist active participle of ιστημιhistēmi (intransitive), “when I took my stand.”

Before the council (επι του συνεδριουepi tou sunedriou). Same use of επιepi with genitive as in Acts 24:19.

Verse 21

Except it be (εe). Literally, “than,” but after interrogative τι τι αλλοtōi ̂ tōi allo “what else than.”

For this one voice (περι μιας ταυτης πωνηςperi mias tautēs phōnēs). The normal Greek idiom with the attributive use of ουτοςhoutos calls for the article before μιαςmias though some inscriptions show it as here (Robertson, Grammar, p. 702).

That (ηςhēs). Genitive of the relative attracted to the case of the antecedent εκεκραχαphōnēs

I cried (περιekekraxa). Reduplicated aorist as is usual with this verb in the lxx (Judges 3:15). Robertson, Grammar, p. 348.

Touching (κρινομαιperi). Concerning (around, about).

I am called in question (επ υμωνkrinomai). As in Acts 23:6.

Before you (eph' humōn). Same idiom as in Acts 24:19, Acts 24:20.

Verse 22

Having more exact knowledge (ακριβεστερον ειδωςakribesteron eidōs). “Knowing” (second perfect active participle of οιδαoida) “more accurately” (comparative of adverb ακριβωςakribōs). More accurately than what? Than the Sanhedrin supposed he had “concerning the Way” (τα περι της οδουta peri tēs hodou the things concerning the Way, common in Acts for Christianity). How Felix had gained this knowledge of Christianity is not stated. Philip the Evangelist lived here in Caesarea and there was a church also. Drusilla was a Jewess and may have told him something. Besides, it is wholly possible that Felix knew of the decision of Gallio in Corinth that Christianity was a religio licita as a form of Judaism. As a Roman official he knew perfectly well that the Sanhedrin with the help of Tertullus had failed utterly to make out a case against Paul. He could have released Paul and probably would have done so but for fear of offending the Jews whose ruler he was and the hope that Paul (note “alms” in Acts 24:17) might offer him bribes for his liberty.

Deferred them (ανεβαλετο αυτουςanebaleto autous). Second aorist middle indicative of αναβαλλωanaballō old verb (only here in N.T.) to throw or toss up, to put back or off, in middle to put off from one, to delay, to adjourn. Felix adjourned the case without a decision under a plausible pretext, that he required the presence of Lysias in person, which was not the case. Lysias had already said that Paul was innocent and was never summoned to Caesarea, so far as we know. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, Lysias could have thrown some light on the riot, if he had any.

Shall come down (καταβηιkatabēi). Second aorist active subjunctive of καταβαινωkatabainō

I will determine your matter (διαγνωσομαι τα κατ υμαςdiagnōsomai ta kath' humās). Future middle of διαγινωσκωdiaginōskō old and common verb to know accurately or thoroughly (διαdia). In the N.T. only here (legal sense) and Acts 23:15. “The things according to you” (plural, the matters between Paul and the Sanhedrin).

Verse 23

And should have indulgence (εχειν τε ανεσινechein te anesin). From ανιημιaniēmi to let loose, release, relax. Old word, in the N.T. only here and 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13. It is the opposite of strict confinement, though under guard, “kept in charge” (τηρεισταιtēreisthai).

Forbid (κωλυεινkōluein). To hinder “no one of his friends” (μηδενα των ιδιωνmēdena tōn idiōn). No one of Paul‘s “own” (cf. Acts 4:23; John 1:11) or intimates. Of these we know the names of Luke, Aristarchus, Trophimus, Philip the Evangelist.

Verse 24

With Drusilla his wife (συν Δρουσιλληι τηι ιδιαι γυναικιsun Drousillēi tēi idiēi gunaiki). Felix had induced her to leave her former husband Aziz, King of Emesa. She was one of three daughters of Herod Agrippa I (Drusilla, Mariamne, Bernice). Her father murdered James, her great-uncle Herod Antipas slew John the Baptist, her great-grandfather (Herod the Great) killed the babes of Bethlehem. Perhaps the mention of Drusilla as “his own wife” is to show that it was not a formal trial on this occasion. Page thinks that she was responsible for the interview because of her curiosity to hear Paul.

Sent for (μετεπεμπσατοmetepempsato). First aorist middle of μεταπεμπωmetapempō as usual (Acts 10:5).

Verse 25

Was terrified (εμποβος γενομενοςemphobos genomenos). Ingressive aorist middle of γινομαιginomai “becoming terrified.” ΕμποβοςEmphobos (ενen and ποβοςphobos) old word, in the N.T. only Luke 24:5; Acts 10:5; Acts 24:25; Revelation 11:13. Paul turned the tables completely around and expounded “the faith in Christ Jesus” as it applied to Felix and Drusilla and discoursed (διαλεγομενου αυτουdialegomenou autou genitive absolute) concerning “righteousness” (δικαιοσυνηςdikaiosunēs) which they did not possess, “self-control” or temperance (εγκρατειαςegkrateias) which they did not exhibit, and “the judgment to come” (του κριματος του μελλοντοςtou krimatos tou mellontos) which was certain to overtake them. Felix was brought under conviction, but apparently not Drusilla. Like another Herodias her resentment was to be feared (Knowling).

Go thy way for this time (το νυν εχον πορευουto nun echon poreuou). The ancient Greek has this use of το νυν εχονto nun echon (Tobit 7:11) in the accusative of time, “as for the present or holding the now.”

When I have a convenient season (καιρον μεταλαβωνkairon metalabōn). Second aorist active participle of the old verb μεταλαμβανωmetalambanō to find a share in, to obtain. It was his “excuse” for dodging the personal turn that Paul had given.

Verse 26

He hoped withal (αμα και ελπιζωνhama kai elpizōn). “At the same time also hoping.” Paul had mentioned the “alms” (Acts 24:17) and that excited the avarice of Felix for “money” (χρηματαchrēmata). Roman law demanded exile and confiscation for a magistrate who accepted bribes, but it was lax in the provinces. Felix had doubtless received them before. Josephus (Ant. XX. 8, 9) represents Felix as greedy for money.

The oftener (πυκνοτερονpuknoteron). Comparative adverb of πυκνοςpuknos old word, in N.T. only here and Luke 5:33 which see and 1 Timothy 5:23. Kin to πυγμηpugmē (Mark 7:3) which see from πυκωpukō thick, dense, compact. Paul kept on not offering a bribe, but Felix continued to have hopes (present tense ελπιζωνelpizōn), kept on sending for him (present tense μεταπεμπομενοςmetapempomenos), and kept on communing (imperfect active ωμιλειhōmilei from ομιλεωhomileō old word as in Acts 20:11; Luke 24:14, which see, only N.T. examples of this word). But he was doomed to disappointment. He was never terrified again.

Verse 27

But when two years were fulfilled (διετιας δε πληρωτεισηςdietias de plērōtheisēs). Genitive absolute first aorist passive of πληροωplēroō common verb to fill full. ΔιετιαDietia late word in lxx and Philo, common in the papyri, in N.T. only here and Acts 28:30. Compound of διαdia two (δυο διςduoετοςdis) and ελαβεν διαδοχονetos year. So Paul lingered on in prison in Caesarea, waiting for the second hearing under Felix which never came. Caesarea now became the compulsory headquarters of Paul for two years. With all his travels Paul spent several years each at Tarsus, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, though not as a prisoner unless that was true part of the time at Ephesus for which there is some evidence though not of a convincing kind. We do not know that Luke remained in Caesarea all this time. In all probability he came and went with frequent visits with Philip the Evangelist. It was probably during this period that Luke secured the material for his Gospel and wrote part or all of it before going to Rome. He had ample opportunity to examine the eyewitnesses who heard Jesus and the first attempts at writing including the Gospel of Mark (Luke 1:1-4).

Was succeeded by (Διαδοχοςelaben diadochon). Literally, “received as successor.” διαδεχομαιDiadochos is an old word from δια δυοdiadechomai to receive in succession (οι διαδοχοιdiaΠορκιον Πηστονduo two) and occurs here alone in the N.T. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 115) gives papyri examples where τελων τε χαριτα κατατεσται τοις Ιουδαιοιςhoi diadochoi means “higher officials at the court of the Ptolemies,” probably “deputies,” a usage growing out of the “successors” of Alexander the Great (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary), though here the original notion of “successor” occurs (cf. Josephus, Ant. XX. 8, 9). Luke does not tell why Felix “received” a successor. The explanation is that during these two years the Jews and the Gentiles had an open fight in the market-place in Caesarea. Felix put the soldiers on the mob and many Jews were killed. The Jews made formal complaint to the Emperor with the result that Felix was recalled and Porcius Festus sent in his stead.

Porcius Festus (κατατεσταιPorkion Phēston). We know very little about this man. He is usually considered a worthier man than Felix, but Paul fared no better at his hands and he exhibits the same insincerity and eagerness to please the Jews. Josephus (Ant. XX. 8, 9) says that “Porcius Festus was sent as a successor to Felix.” The precise year when this change occurred is not clear. Albinus succeeded Festus by a.d. 62, so that it is probable that Festus came a.d. 58 (or 59). Death cut short his career in a couple of years though he did more than Felix to rid the country of robbers and sicarii. Some scholars argue for an earlier date for the recall of Felix. Nero became Emperor Oct. 13, a.d. 54. Poppaea, his Jewish mistress and finally wife, may have had something to do with the recall of Felix at the request of the Jews.

Desiring to gain favour with the Jews (κατατιτημιthelōn te charita katathesthai tois Ioudaiois). Reason for his conduct. Note second aorist (ingressive) middle infinitive κατελιπε τον Παυλον δεδεμενονkatathesthai from καταλειπωkatatithēmi old verb to place down, to make a deposit, to deposit a favour with, to do something to win favour. Only here and Acts 25:9 in N.T., though in some MSS. in Mark 15:46. It is a banking figure.

Left Paul in bonds (δεδεμενονkatelipe ton Paulon dedemenon). Effective aorist active indicative of δεωkataleipō to leave behind. Paul “in bonds” (κατατεσταιdedemenon perfect passive participle of δια Δρουσιλλανdeō to bind) was the “deposit” (katathesthai) for their favour. Codex Bezae adds that Felix left Paul in custody “because of Drusilla” (dia Drousillan). She disliked Paul as much as Herodias did John the Baptist. So Pilate surrendered to the Jews about the death of Jesus when they threatened to report him to Caesar. Some critics would date the third group of Paul‘s Epistles (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians) to the imprisonment here in Caesarea, some even to one in Ephesus. But the arguments for either of these two views are more specious than convincing. Furneaux would even put 2 Timothy 4:9-22 here in spite of the flat contradiction with Acts 21:29 about Trophimus being in Jerusalem instead of Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), a “mistake” which he attributes to Luke! That sort of criticism can prove anything.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 24:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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