Paul’s Trial before Felix
1Five days later, Ananias the high priest arrived in Caesarea, accompanied by some Jewish elders and Tertullus, their prosecuting attorney. # 24:1 Or “an orator” or “a public speaker.” He was a professional advocate representing the high priest and Jewish elders. Tertullus means “triple-hardened.” They were brought before the governor to present formal charges against Paul. 2After Paul was summoned, Tertullus accused him, saying, 3“Your Excellency Felix, under the shadow of your wise leadership # 24:3 As translated from the Aramaic, “under your shade” (or “shadow”) or “tent.” we Jews have experienced a long period of peace. Because of your wise foresight, many reforms are coming to pass in our nation because of you, Most Honorable Felix. We deeply appreciate this and thank you very much.
4“So that I won’t weary you with a lengthy presentation, I beg you to hear our brief summary, with your customary graciousness. 5For we have found this man to be a contagious plague, # 24:5 As translated literally from the Greek. The Aramaic is “He is an assassin.” a seditious man who continually stirs up riots among the Jews all over the world. He has become a ringleader of the sect known as the Nazarenes. # 24:5 The word Nazarene means “the branch” or “Scion.” The Aramaic word implies the title of an heir of a powerful family, or one who is victorious (“Jesus, the Victorious”). Believers are now grafted-in branches of his family tree, victorious ones in Christ (Nazarenes). Many modern-day Arabic speakers still use the term Nazarenes when speaking of believers in Jesus. 6He has even attempted to desecrate our temple, which is why we had him arrested. We sought to judge him according to our law, 7but Commander Lysias came with great force, snatched him away from our hands, and sent him here to you. 8He has ordered his accusers to come to you so that you could interrogate him and ascertain for yourself that all these charges we are bringing against him are true.” # 24:8 Verse 7 and parts of vv. 6 and 8 are missing in most reliable Greek manuscripts. They are a part of the Aramaic text and included here.
9All the Jews present joined in the verbal attack, saying, “Yes, it’s true!”
Paul’s Defense before Felix
10The governor motioned that it was Paul’s turn to speak, so he began to answer the accusations.
“Because I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years, I gladly respond in my defense. 11You can easily verify that about twelve days ago, I went to Jerusalem to worship. 12No one found me arguing with anyone or causing trouble among the people in the synagogues or in the temple or anywhere in the city. 13They are completely unable to prove these accusations they make against me.
14“But I do confess this to you: I worship the God of our Jewish ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. For I believe everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets. 15And my hope is in God, the same hope that even my accusers have embraced, the hope of a resurrection from the dead of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16That’s why I seek with all my heart to have a clean conscience toward God and toward others.
17“After being away from Jerusalem for several years, I returned to bring to my people gifts for the poor. # 24:17 The Aramaic is “For many years I brought to my people gifts for the poor.” 18I was in the temple, ritually purified and presenting my offering to God, when they seized me. I had no noisy crowd around me, and I wasn’t causing trouble or making any kind of disturbance whatsoever. 19It was a group of Jews from western Turkey # 24:19 Or “Asia” (Minor). who were being unruly; they are the ones who should be here now to bring their charges if they have anything against me. 20Or at least these men standing before you should clearly state what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before the Jewish supreme council, 21unless it’s the one thing I passionately spoke out when I stood among them. I am on trial today only because of my belief in the resurrection of the dead.”
22Felix, who was well acquainted with the facts about the Way, concluded the hearing with these words: “I will decide your case after Commander Lysias arrives.” 23He then ordered the captain to keep Paul in protective custody, but to give him a measure of freedom, he allowed any of his friends to visit him and help take care of his needs.
Paul Speaks to Felix and Drusilla
24Several days later, Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, # 24:24 Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I and sister of Agrippa II. As a Jewess, she was likely the source of Felix’s understanding of the Way. who was Jewish. They sent for Paul and listened as he shared with them about faith in Jesus, the Anointed One. 25As Paul spoke about true righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became terrified and said, “Leave me for now. I’ll send for you later when it’s more convenient.” # 24:25 The Aramaic can be translated “When my conscience is clear I will call for you.”
26He expected to receive a bribe from Paul for his release, so for that reason he would send for Paul from time to time to converse with him.
27Two years later, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Before he left office he decided to leave Paul in prison as a political favor to the Jews.