Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 8th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 24

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


Acts 24:0


The Case Against PaulAccused of SeditionPaul Before FelixThe Case Against PaulThe Case Before Felix
Acts 24:1-9Acts 24:1-9Acts 24:1-2aActs 24:1-2aActs 24:1-9
Acts 24:2-8Acts 24:2-9
Acts 24:9
Paul Defends Himself Before FelixThe Defense Before FelixPaul's Defense Before Felix
Acts 24:10-21Acts 24:10-21Acts 24:10aActs 24:10aActs 24:10a
Paul's Speech Before the Roman Governor
Acts 24:10-21Acts 24:10-16Acts 24:10-13
Acts 24:14-16
Acts 24:17-21Acts 24:17-21
Felix ProcrastinatesPaul's Captivity at Caesarea
Acts 24:22-23Acts 24:22-27Acts 24:22-23Acts 24:22-23Acts 24:22-23
Paul Held in CustodyPaul Before Felix and Dursilla
Acts 24:24-26Acts 24:24-26Acts 24:24-26Acts 24:24-26
Acts 24:27Acts 24:27Acts 24:27Acts 24:27

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What does the term "Nazarene" mean?

2. What are the implications of the first title for the church in Acts being "the Way"?

3. Explain the significance of Acts 24:15.

Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 24:1-2a 1After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges to the governor against Paul. 2After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor,

Acts 24:1 "the high priest Ananias" See full note at Acts 23:2. Wow! The high priest himself came from Jerusalem to Caesarea. Paul was really a thorn in their flesh!

"came down" For Jews, Jerusalem is always "up" and all other geographical locations are "down."

"elders" In the OT this term referred to older tribal leaders. By the post-exilic time it began to be used of wealthy, influential people of Jerusalem. Often in the NT the Sanhedrin is described as "the High Priests, scribes, and elders." These were probably members of the Sanhedrin who were supporters of the Sadducees. The temple leadership had seen the potential problem when Pharisees were present (cf. Acts 23:6-10).

"Tertullus" This was a hired lawyer (advocate) or orator (cf. NKJV). It is a form of the Greek word rçma or "spoken word." Apparently he presented the Sanhedrin's case in an acceptable Roman legal form, possibly in Latin.

Verse 2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 24:2-9 2b"Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8ordering his accusers to come before you.]By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him." 9The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.

Acts 24:2-4 This introduction was not only an attempt at flattery (probably expected), but baseless in fact. Felix was a cruel man (cf. Tacitus, Histories 5.9 and Annals 12.2). Felix was only in his position because of his brother, Pallas, who, along with Felix, was a freedman of Antonia (Marc Antony's daughter), Claudius, the Emperor's mother. He was later removed by Nero at the request of the people (cf. Josephus, Wars 2.12.8-13.7 and Antiq. 20.7.7-8.9.

Acts 24:2b "attained much peace" Some think this refers to his attempt to stop the activity of the Jewish extremists called sicarii (dagger men). See Josephus' Wars 2.13.2.

Acts 24:5 "we have found this man" It is Luke's purpose throughout Acts to show the Roman world that the charges against Christianity are false. This is why Luke records so many appearances before Roman courts and officials. Paul was accused of three things:

1. being a troublemaker

2. being a leader of a new sect

3. temple desecration

NASB"a real pest" NKJV"a plague" NRSV"a pestilent fellow" TEV"a dangerous nuisance" NJB"a perfect pest"

This comes from a word meaning plague (cf. Luke 21:11). In the OT (LXX) it also had the meaning of plague, but could be used metaphorically of a person (cf. Proverbs 19:25).

"throughout the world" This is surely a purposeful overstatement and yet what a compliment to the effectiveness of Paul's ministry in the diaspora.

"ringleader" This is a compound Greek term from "first" and "to stand." It was used in the Septuagint of Job 15:24, "a captain of the first rank." It is found only here in the NT and not at all in the Koine papyri found in Egypt.

"the sect" The term hairesis originally meant "division" or "faction" (literally, "to make a choice'). It came to have a negative connotation, as can be seen in our English term "heresy," which comes from this Greek term. The Sadducees are addressed by this term in Acts 5:17 and the Pharisees in Acts 15:5. In this context in Acts, Paul considers Christianity an integral part of the historical Jewish faith and hope (cf. Acts 24:14).

"the Nazarenes" This term refers to the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Some assert that the term comes from the city of Nazareth but others relate it to nezer (BDB 666) or "branch," a title for the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2). See Special Topic at Acts 2:22.

Acts 24:6 Notice the charge made against Paul in Acts 21:28 that he desecrated the temple, has now been changed to "he tried to desecrate the temple." They really had a weak case. Paul's effective preaching was really the problem.

Acts 24:7 The parenthesis in the NASB shows a textual addition found in the uncial MS E (8th century) and several minuscules starting the 9th century. The longer reading is found in NKJV. It seems to change the one/ones wanting to hurt Paul from the Jewish leadership to Lysias.

The UBS4 excludes the addition and rates the shorter version (MSS P74, א, A, D, some Old Latin, Vulgate, Coptic, and Georgian versions) as a "B" (almost certain). The UBS3 included the longer reading but gave it a "D" rating (high degree of doubt).

Verses 10-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 24:10-21 10When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: "Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia19who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, 'For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.'"

Acts 24:10 As the attorney for the Sanhedrin used a formal introduction (probably culturally expected), so too, does Paul.

"defense" We get the English term "apology" or "apologetics" from this Greek term. It originally meant a legal oral defense in court.

Acts 24:11-12 Paul asserts that his public activities in Jerusalem were anything but abnormal and contentious. He was accused of desecrating the temple, but in reality, he was performing an acceptable ritual.

Acts 24:14 "The Way" This was the early title for Christians which emphasized that Jesus is the way to God (John 14:6) and a lifestyle fellowship (cf. Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:22 and possibly Acts 18:25-26).

"I do serve the God of our fathers" Paul clearly asserts in this verse that what he preaches about Jesus in no way violates the OT. Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel's hopes and promises. He does not see Christianity as something new and different but a fulfillment (cf. Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19).

"the Law. . .the Prophets" These are two of the threefold divisions of the OT canon:

1. The Torah (Law) Genesis - Deuteronomy

2. The Prophets

a. former prophets Joshua - Kings (except Ruth)

b. latter prophets Isaiah - Malachi (except Lamentations and Daniel)

3. The Writings

a. megiloth Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations

b. wisdom literature Job, Psalms, Proverbs

c. post-exilic history I & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah

Acts 24:15 "having a hope in God which these men cherish themselves" Paul is asserting that his religious orientation is the same as these accusers (cf. Acts 24:16), except in his view of the resurrection. Paul is trying to defend himself by showing that the conflict is over theological issues within Judaism, which Rome did not want to become involved with.

For "hope" see SPECIAL TOPIC: HOPE at Acts 2:25.

"there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" This refers to the theology of the Pharisees, not the Sadducean leadership of the temple. Josephus, Antiq. 18.1.3, even asserts that some Pharisees denied the resurrection of the wicked (for a modern view of annihilation see Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes). The Bible is replete with this concept of a general resurrection (cf. Isaiah 25:8; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:29; Romans 2:6-11; Revelation 20:11-15). Paul saw Christianity as the natural fulfillment of the OT (cf. Matthew 5:17-19). It was not something new!

Acts 24:16 "I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience" This same phrase is what angered the High Priest so much in Acts 23:1-2. Paul repeats it again in his presence. It is similar to his discussion of personal effort in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The self-control he preached to Felix (cf. Acts 24:25) was not an easy thing to accomplish and maintain. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and possibly the capstone of the list of fruits!

Acts 24:17 "I came to bring alms to my nation" For "alms" see Special Topic at Acts 3:2. This probably refers to the contribution from the Gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem (cf. Romans 15:25-27; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 1 Corinthians 2:0 Corinthians 8-9). It is surprising it is not mentioned in Acts 21:15ff. This may show that it was not received well by all of the church in Jerusalem (see James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament). Intrenched racism is hard to deal with even for believers.

"and to present offerings" This refers to

1. the conclusion of Paul's limited Nazarite vow (cf. Acts 21:24)

2. his paying for others' limited Nazarite vows (cf. Acts 21:24)

Because this phrase seems to be linked grammatically to "bring alms," it is possible that they both refer to Jewish rituals, not the offerings from the churches.

Acts 24:18 "they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified" This Jewish ritual procedure was at the instigation of James and the elders of the church (cf. Acts 21:17-26). It was meant to placate the legalistic Jewish believers in the church, but in reality, it inflamed the Greek-speaking Jews from Asia.

Acts 24:18-19 "Jews from Asia who ought to have been" This was an important legal point in Paul's defense (cf. Acts 24:19). The eyewitnesses' accusers were not present! Those who were accusing Paul of world-wide mischief had no experiential evidence (cf. Acts 24:20)!

Asia is a geographical reference to Jewish people from southern and western Turkey, then called Asia Minor.

Acts 24:19b "if" This is a fourth class conditional, a way to express a contingency which is the farthest removed from possibility. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 420, calls it a mixed condition with a second class conclusion (i.e., but they are not present, Acts 24:19a). His Grammar (p. 1022) lists other mixed conditional sentences in Luke's writings (cf. Luke 17:6 and Acts 8:31).

Verses 22-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 24:22-23 22But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case." 23Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.

Acts 24:22 Apparently Felix had heard about Jesus and Christianity. Probably as a Roman official he had been briefed about the local situation to which he would be assigned.

Felix's wife was Jewish (cf. Acts 24:24), which meant he had an experiential opportunity to know about the teaching of Judaism. The Way was considered a sect within Judaism and was, therefore, a "legal" religion in the Roman Empire.

Acts 24:23 This shows that Felix did not see Paul as a threat and allowed some freedom and access. Here again is a Roman official who does not sense Christianity as a political problem. This was surely one of Luke's purposes in writing his Gospel!

Verses 24-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Acts 24:24-27 24But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you." 26At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.

Acts 24:24 "Drusilla" She was the youngest, and apparently beautiful, daughter of Herod Agrippa I and the sister of Bernice and Agrippa II. She was Felix's third wife, whom he took from the Azizus, the King of Emesa (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 20.7.2).

NASB, NRSV, TEV, NJB"Christ Jesus" NKJV"Christ"

Option #1 is found in MSS P74, א*, B, E, and the Old Latin, Vulgate versions. The shorter reading is found in MSS אc, A, C, and the Peshitta and Coptic versions. The UBS4 gives the longer version a "B" rating (almost certain).

One wonders if in this context "Christ" should be translated "Messiah" (MS 044 has "the Messiah").

"faith" This is a crucial theological word. See Special Topics at Acts 2:40; Acts 3:16; and Acts 6:5. Remember these theological terms in Koine Greek are based not on Greek usage, but the Septuagint. Luke knows the Septuagint well. It was the OT for the church.

Acts 24:24-25 Paul preached the gospel often (cf. Acts 24:26b) to Felix and Drusilla. This was exactly what Jesus wanted him to do (cf. Acts 9:15). He was convicted, but also greedy (i.e., he wanted Paul to bribe him) and put off his decision (cf. Acts 24:26).

Acts 24:26 Apparently Paul had some funds during this prison period. Possibly from (1) a personal inheritance or (2) help from the churches (i.e., Philippi or Thessalonica). Felix called for Paul often, not to hear him speak, but in hopes of receiving a bribe.

Acts 24:27 "after two years had passed" Many believe that it was during this period that Luke gathered eyewitness information from those in Palestine for his Gospel (cf. Luke 1:1-4). This must have been a discouraging time to an aggressive man like Paul! However, he did not seek freedom by means of bribery. He knew he was in God's will.

"Porcius Festus" There is some disagreement between the Roman historians, Suetonius and Tacitus, over the beginning date of his office. Felix was put on trial in A.D. 55, but it is uncertain whether he was convicted and removed then or in A.D. 59. Festus died in A.D. 62, while still in office (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 20.9.1). There is little known about him (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 20.8.9-10; Wars 2.14.1).

"Felix left Paul imprisoned" It was customary to release all the prisoners at the time of the change of administrations. This verse shows the political situation in Palestine and the weakness of the Roman leaders, as well as the power of the Sanhedrin.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Acts 24". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/acts-24.html. 2021.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile