Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 24:16-27; 25:1-4
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 24:16
v16: Regardless of how the Roman governor might decide this case, there was still a deep spiritual matter being debated in this trial, and all the Jews in the room knew it. The religious leaders were claiming that Paul deserved to be executed because he was an apostate Jew. They believed the mob did t he right thing in trying to beat him to death and that divine justice was sadly interrupted when the Roman troops took him out of their hands. His statement in this verse is Paul’s answer to that spiritual charge. In effect, he repeats what he had said in front of the Sanhedrin (Ac 23:1). At that point in the trial he was speaking to the religious leaders, not the Roman governor.

Monday: Acts 24:16
v16 (continued): What they heard Paul say was something like this (vs14-16), “I have already judged myself. I have examined my own motives and tested my actions against the Word of God, and my conscious is clear. I have not turned away from true Judaism. I have not abandoned the God of our fathers. I have not forsaken the Scriptures. My faith is strong and I am fully prepared to stand before God, as all of us will do at the coming judgment.” Here is his conclusion in his own words, “…and in light of this (the resurrection and coming judgment) I myself always maintain a blameless (“unstumbled”) conscience toward God and men.” And that’s why Ananias had him struck in the mouth the first time he made that claim (Ac 23:2). If what Paul said was true, then he stood in judgment of them. He was the one who was truly following Israel’s Messiah, and they were the rebels.

Tuesday: Acts 24:17-21
vs17-21: Paul then returned to defending himself before the Roman governor by saying, “After many years I arrived to present alms (gifts for the poor) to my nation, and having been ritually purified, to present offerings, and that’s what they found me doing in the temple, not trying to gather a crowd or start a riot. But there are some Jews from Asia who ought to be standing here in front of you to present charges, if they have something against me. Or, let these men themselves declare what unrighteous deed they discovered when I stood before the Sanhedrin, other than this one statement that I shouted out while standing among them, ‘I am being judged before you today concerning the resurrection of the dead.’”

Wednesday: Acts 24:22-24
vs22-24: At this point Felix had heard enough. He finally understood the real motivation behind this trial. This was not the first time he had heard about Christianity. He already knew about Jesus and the movement called “the Way” (v14), so he didn’t need to listen to any further arguments. The root of this conflict was religious intolerance, but he didn’t have the political courage to say that, so he postponed his decision. He simply adjourned the trial, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down (from Jerusalem to Caesarea) I will investigate your issues more thoroughly.” Then he ordered the centurion to keep Paul in custody, but release him (from his bonds?) and not prevent his friends from meeting with him or providing for his needs.

Thursday: Acts 24:24
v24: Realizing that Felix had no intention of prosecuting this case any further, the religious leaders returned to Jerusalem. Since Paul had committed no crime, at that point he should have been released, but Felix didn’t have the courage to offend the religious leaders. He handled the matter by leaving Paul in a relaxed form of custody for the next two years (v27). Luke tells us that a few days after that trial was over, Felix arranged for a private meeting in which he and his third wife, Drusilla, met with Paul so they could listen to him talk about his faith in the Messiah Jesus. Drusilla may have been the one who was curious. She was one of King Agrippa’s (Agrippa I, A.D. 37-44) five children. Bernice and Agrippa II, who will interview Paul at a later date (Ac 25:13), were her sister and brother. Their father was the king who ordered the death of the apostle James (Ac 12:1) and they tried to kill Peter (Ac 12:3-4), but only a short time later died in a sudden, gruesome manner (Ac 12:21-33). Though she was only five years old when that happened, at some point she must have discovered the circumstances surrounding his death (J. Rawson Lumby, Acts, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1904, p.414). She may have come to that meeting with some troubling questions in her heart.

Friday: Acts 24:25-27
vs25-27: Luke says Paul “dialogued” with them concerning “righteousness, self-control (of our passions and desires), and the coming judgment,” and during the conversation Felix grew very frightened, and decided he’d heard enough. Again (Ac 24:22) he handled the situation by postponing his decision. He said, “For now, leave, but I’ll send for you later on.” Then, over the course of the next two years, he would send for Paul and meet with him more often than he really wanted to, because as Luke explains, he was hoping Paul would bribe him. At the end of those two years, Nero replaced Felix with a man named Porcius Festus. This change of governors took place in either A.D. 59 or 60. The Jewish historian Josephus said Nero removed Felix because he brutally put down a riot between Jews and Gentiles in the city of Caesarea (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 2.13.7, Antiquities, 20.8.7,9, Also: F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p.474). When he returned to Rome, he would give an account to Nero for the way he had governed Judea, and he needed whatever goodwill he could gain with the religious leaders in Jerusalem, so he left Paul in prison.

Saturday Acts 25:1-4
vs1-3: Three days after arriving in Caesarea to take up his position as governor, Festus went up to Jerusalem to meet with the Sanhedrin and other prominent men of the city. By this time Ananias (Ac 24:1) was no longer the high priest. He had been replaced by a man named Ishmael (Josephus, Antiquities, 20.8.11), but the religious leaders had not forgotten about Paul. They restated their charges against him and begged Festus to do them a “favor.” They asked him to summon Paul to Jerusalem, and once again (Ac 23:12-14) they had formed a plot to assassinate him along the way. v4: Festus replied that Paul was, indeed, still being held in custody, and since he intended to return to Caesarea in a few days, he invited them to appoint leaders to travel with him. When they arrived, he would assemble a court, and, “…if there is anything improper (“out of place”) in the man, let them present charges against him.”  

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