Acts xxiv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Ananias went down to Cęsarea, where Paul was then confined. This is the sense of the Greek.

Ver. 2. By thy provision.[1] Literally, thy providence, by thy prudence. (Witham) — Though Felix governed Judea in the arbitrary manner mentioned in the note on the last chapter, he had nevertheless done some good, which is recorded to his honour. See Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, xx. 6. 11. and The Jew War, xii. But had this not been the case, a public orator seldom scruples to gain over the man by praises, whose judgment he seeks. St. Paul was not ignorant of this rule of rhetoric, though he refuses to imitate Tertullus by pressing flattery into his service, as we observe below, ver. 10. and Acts xxii. 1. and 3. See also the exordiums of Cicero pro Roscio, pro Milone, &c. &c.

Ver. 5. A pestilent,[2] or pernicious, and pestiferous man; Greek, one that is a plague. — Author, or ringleader of the seditious sect, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 8. From him thou…mayest know. By the construction it is doubtful whether from Lysias, or from St. Paul. (Witham) — Behold them here ready to support the heads of accusation I have brought forward, and which are moreover so self-evident, that the party accused will not dare to deny them. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 10. In the apostle’s speech we observe nothing of the flattery, which characterized the opposite party. It would have been unworthy of his just cause. (Calmet) — He observes he had been governor of the province many (eight or nine) years, to insinuate, that had he been a seditious man, as he was accused, Felix would not have failed to have heard of his misdeeds before. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Since I went up from Cęsarea to Jerusalem, not to profane the temple, or excite sedition, but to adore the one true God.

Ver. 12. In Jerusalem there was only one temple, nor could there, by an express command of the Almighty, be any more throughout the whole kingdom. (Perhaps the Almighty may have wished by this singular circumstance to have impressed more forcibly on their minds the absolute necessity of unity in religion. (Haydock)) But there were many synagogues, which were a kind of schools, in which the law was publicly taught, and the people assembled to read the Scriptures, and to pray. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. The Father,[3] and my God. In the Greek, the Lord of our fathers. (Witham) — According to the way. The Protestant version has sect for way; but in this, as well as in many other points, the original is not attended to, in which we read kata ten odon, as in our translation.

Ver. 22. Felix…knowing most certainly of this way. That is, knew even by Lysias’s letter, that Paul and the Christians were not guilty of any thing against Cęsar, but only accused of disputes relating to the Jewish law. (Witham)

Ver. 25. Felix being terrified, &c. When St. Paul spoke of God’s judgments, and hinted at such sins as his conscience reproached him with. (Witham) — Whoever knows the infamous character of Felix and Drusilla, will not fail to admire the apostle’s fortitude, that he durst speak (as formerly John the Baptist did to Herod,) to them on the subject of justice and chastity. Suetonius says of the former, that he married three queens. Drusilla, one of the three, was Herod’s daughter, and wife of Aziz, king of Emesa, whom he had seduced by the enchantments of a Jew of Cyprus. Hence it is not surprising he was terrified at the thoughts of a future judgment, when expounded by a St. Paul, whose zeal to make these wicked people enter into themselves, hurried him beyond the bounds of worldly prudence, but made such impression on his hearers, as to disarm the indignation his discourse was calculated to produce. See Josephus, ut supra; Tirinus; Calmet; and others. Next to the worship of God, the Christian religion requires of its followers, in the first instance, justice and chastity. Felix was unjust, avaricious, cruel; and both Felix and Drusilla were guilty of adultery. Such was the wickedness of the Gentiles in those degenerate days, that fornication was not looked upon as a crime. How much had they deviated from the excellent maxim we read and admire, inter Socraticas disputationes! omnem virtutem niti continentia, et incontinentem nihil a bellua brutissima differre; that all virtue was built upon continency, and that the incontinent man differed in nothing from the most brute beast. — At a convenient time I will send for thee. Such is the expedient Felix has recourse to, to silence the voice of conscience: and in this how often is he not imitated by the sinner, who dreads nothing so much as to enter into himself. Why put that off to another time, which will never arrive? Or why delay till death a repentance, which like the remorse of the damned, will then be as unavailing, as it will be eternal?


[1] Ver. 2. Per tuam providentiam, pronoias, a prudent foreseeing.

[2] Ver. 5. Hominem pestiferum, loimon, pestem.

[3] Ver. 14. Patri & Deo. to patroo theo.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Paul defendeth his innocence before Felix, the governor. He preaches the faith to him.

1 And after five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down, with some of the ancients, and one Tertullus, an orator, who went to the governor, against Paul.

2 And Paul being cited, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: Whereas through thee we live in much peace, and many things are rectified by thy provision;

3 We accept it always, and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thanksgiving.

4 But that I be no further tedious to thee, I beseech thee, of thy clemency, to hear us in a few words.

5 We have found this a pestilent man, and an exciter of seditions among all the Jews throughout the whole world, and author of the sedition of the sect of the Nazarenes:

6 Who also attempted to profane the temple: whom we apprehended, and would have judged according to our law.

7 But Lysias, the tribune, coming upon us, took him away with great violence out of our hands,

8 Commanding his accusers to come to thee: from him, thou, judging, mayest know concerning all these things, of which we accuse him.

9 And the Jews also assented, and said that these things were so.

10 Then Paul answered, (the governor making a sign to him to speak) Knowing that for many years thou hast been judge over this nation, I will with good courage answer for myself.

11 For thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days, since I went up to adore in Jerusalem:

12 And neither in the temple did they find me disputing with any man, or causing any concourse of the people, neither in the synagogues,

13 Nor in the city: neither can they prove to thee the things of which they now accuse me.

14 But this I confess to thee, that according to the way, which they call a heresy, so do I serve the Father, and my God, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets:

15 Having hope in God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection of the just and unjust.

16 In this I myself also study to have always a conscience without offence towards God, and towards men.

17 Now after many years, I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings, and vows.

18 *In which they found me purified in the temple: not with a crowd, nor with a tumult.

19 But certain Jews of Asia, who ought to be present before thee, and to accuse, if they had any thing against me:

20 Or let these men themselves say, if they found in me any iniquity, when standing before the council,

21 Except it be for this one voice only, that I cried out, standing among them: *That concerning the resurrection of the dead am I judged this day by you.

22 And Felix put them off, knowing most certainly of this way, saying: When Lysias, the tribune, shall come down, I will hear you.

23 And he commanded a centurion to keep him, and to let him be easy, and that he should not hinder any of his friends to minister to him.

24 And after some days, Felix coming with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, sent for Paul, and heard from him the faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

25 And as he treated of justice, and chastity, and of the judgment to come, Felix being terrified, answered: For this time, go thy way: but at a convenient time, I will send for thee.

26 Hoping also withal, that money would be given him by Paul: on which account also frequently sending for him, he spoke with him.

27 But *when two years were ended, Felix had for successor Portius Festus. And Felix being willing to gratify the Jews, left Paul bound.



18: Acts xxi. 26.

21: Acts xxiii. 6.

27: about the year A.D. 60.