Paul Before Felix (Acts 24:1-27)

April 14, 2013

Book: Acts

Paul Before Felix (Acts 24:1-27)
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Scripture: Acts 24:1-27


Sermon Notes

Previously, Paul had been taken by the Jews after they’d seen him walking around town with a Gentile – they assumed he’d taken the Gentile to the temple – so they would punish him with death for that. 

Then, Paul spoke to them, and talked about everything he believed and his history, and said, “it is because of my hope in the resurrection that I’m here.” This divided the Pharisees and Saducees.

Also, there were 40 Jewish conspirators who’d vowed not to eat or drink until Paul was killed. Whatever happened to them?

They got off the hook – escape clause. If a vow had been taken, there were circumstances where they could get out of their vows. For example, one vowed to have a meal with someone else, but he got sick, so couldn’t – it was a limiting factor.

So, these dudes got off the hook too. The limiting factor was an army of Romans…

Now Paul is in the capital of the Romans – Caesarea.

The Jewish prosecutors showed up to state their case against him. The lawyer was probably a Greek Jew, versed in Roman law, and a good public speaker (thus he was hired). He began with customary “buttering up” (flattery). “Wow! You’re an awesome ruler! It’s sooooo peaceful here.” (Not, it was riotous – but he’s flattering him).

Eventually, he realized he might be overdoing it…so he got on with it. (There were (are) many long-winded lawyers).

“Trouble-maker” “riots” “ring-leader” “Nazarene sect” “all over the world”

That’s some political fiery rhetoric. Slight overkill…

He’s basically trying to say that Paul is a rebel and revolutionary trying to disrupt the “Roman Peace.” (Actually it was the Jews who were causing the trouble – not Paul. This whole case, as with Jesus’ case, was based on false testimony and lies – so that they could put him to death.)

After the political portion, he moves onto the theological.

“Paul TRIED desecrate the temple, but we stopped him.” Well, he didn’t and there were no charges of bringing Gentiles into the temple – which were the original charges. He puts his own spin on the event (and there were no first-hand eyewitnesses from the event). This is pretty shady lawyer-ing…

Previously, some Asian Jews had recognized him and stirred up the crowd (mob) against him.

In our Bibles, there’s a footnote for verse 7. Ancient manuscripts (Western) add this.

“…with much violence…” ha!

They wanted to judge Paul in the Sanhedrin to put him to death for a capital offense.

Felix then wanted to examine Paul himself.

Tertullus probably thought “oh! examine him well! *wink *wink – scourge and beat him! hehe”

But that didn’t happen, Paul went on the defense, challenging the charges. Paul acknowledged Felix’s position – the judge over this nation – he was acquainted with the Christians, the Jews, the riots, etc. Paul explained that he’d only just arrived and that he’d been a prisoner for the majority of that time. He’d come to worship, not begin a revolution.

“My accusers didn’t find me doing any of these things anywhere.”

But he did confess “I do worship our ancestral God – the Way – they call it a sect.”

This was a familiar term to his accusers (The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). “I believe all the Law and the Prophets (all the books of the OT).” He believed all the prophecies were concentrated and fulfilled in Jesus. He and other Christians worshiped the same God as the Jews. They believed in the Scriptures and the resurrection.

In this way, Paul cleverly shifts the accusations from political to purely theological – “the resurrection.” They didn’t agree with his theology – not political, theological.

For the Pharisees, the resurrection of the righteous was a future event based on the good works.

For Paul, the resurrection had already occurred – the first-fruits of which were Jesus. And keeping the Law wasn’t relevant. Something was lacking apart from good works alone and keeping the points of the Law. The missing element = Jesus.

The Christians and Pharisees have different approaches to salvation.

Christians = called by Christ, receive him, justified and sanctified by Christ – they asked for forgiveness when they sinned – only Christ is sinless. We always look to Jesus for forgiveness, cleansing, healing.

Another difference = Paul speaks of a resurrection of the just and the unjust (good and bad). The Pharisees might not have believed in that. But the Bible is clear – Daniel 12 speaks of the end times “at that time, your people, everyone found written in the book. and those in the ground will be raised to everlasting life and those not in the book to everlasting death.”

Revelation 12:20? “I saw the dead, and the books were opened and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, and death and Hades gave up the dead. And they were judged, according to their deeds. And the bad were thrown into the Lake of Fire (the second death). Those not written in the Book of Life were thrown into the Lake of Fire.”

So, how can we get in the Book of Life?

Accept Jesus, ask forgiveness, repent, let him guide you daily.

John writes, “A day is coming when all will hear his voice. Those who did good to life, those who did bad to judgment.”

Matthew writes of those who will be granted and denied entrance to heaven.

Paul also writes of this.

Paul said, “because of this, I tried to live my life free of guilt (i.e. ask forgiveness)”

He wanted his conscience to be free from guilt against God and man.

Basically, these guys didn’t like his religion.

So, after setting the record straight, he explained why he went to Jerusalem “I’ve come back after many years to bring gifts and an offering for the poor.” This was a good way to cement union between the Jews and Christians in Jerusalem.

They said he’d disgraced the temple.

He said he was ceremonially clean.

And his original accusers aren’t even there!

This is all hearsay.

Paul says, “those who are here should state what they have against me other than the resurrection.”

According to Roman law, if the accusers aren’t present, the trial should be thrown out. However, at this point, Felix abruptly stops the trial – this is a political situation (because of the rowdy Jews), and he can see these guys are trying to slam Paul with a death sentence. So, he cuts is short to wait for the Roman commander to come down.

He had a Jewish wife and decided to meet with Paul.

Felix’s wife was his third, he’d seduced her away from her husband when she was 16. And when they met, he wanted Paul to give him a bribe. But, Paul spoke of righteousness and judgment – he didn’t like it, so he left Paul in prison for 2 years until the next guy took over.

The thing is, Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. These things are important for everyone – Christians and non-Christians alike.


There was a dog who kept stealing stuff and hiding them – no matter how much he tried to get it to stop, it never did.

Many Christians are like that. They steal something, go off on their own, indulge in sin, and feel that since no one has seen them, it doesn’t matter. But, the Lord has seen ALL things – even our hearts.

Jealous of a guy who makes tons of money? God knows your heart. God knows his as well. Should you repent of your attitude? We aren’t the only ones. Everyone does some sinful things and has sinful thoughts.

Let’s conclude with a prayer.

If you’ve ever stolen, lied, had evil thoughts, you need to repent.
“Root them out, push them aside, four little foxes that will spoil the vine: envy, jealousy, malice, pride; all the others in our hearts abide?”

Do we have bad habits? Addictions? Regular evil thoughts? Humble yourselves, allow God to search your hearts. Let’s pray.

God, minister to our hearts, help us confess our sins. Help us overcome, gain the victory, release us from the inward shame, bring us into the Joy of the Lord which is our strength. We confess our sins, repent, receive your cleansing.