Acts 24:1-9 Five days later, the high priest Ananias to Caesarea with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus. They spoke to Felix about their case against Paul. At the hearing, Tertullus accused Paul of stirring up riots among the Jews throughout the world with his message about Jesus of Nazareth. He accused Paul of profaning the temple. The elders agreed with everything Tertullus and was confident that after examining Paul, Felix would come to the same conclusion.
Notes: Tertullus’ contemptuous reference to Christianity as “the sect of the Nazarenes” was intended to portray Paul as the leader of a messianic sect posing a danger to Rome.
Acts 24:10-21 Paul defended himself by saying that it had now only been twelve days since he first arrived to worship in Jerusalem. In that short period of time, the Jews did not see him disputing with anyone nor stirring up a crowd in Jerusalem, and they cannot prove that he did so. Paul defended the Way saying that it was not a sect as the Jews claimed, but was the truth that was laid down plain in the scriptures, especially in regards to the resurrection of just and unjust. Paul said that he came to Jerusalem to bring an offering, and the Jews found him in the temple purifying himself without a crowd or a disturbance. Paul said that the he Jews from Asia are the ones, if any, that could bring any kind of charge against him for disturbing the peace. Paul said that the only reason he was on trial was his utterance that he believed in the resurrection of the dead.
Notes: Far from seeking to stir up strife, Paul had gone to Jerusalem on a humanitarian mission.
Acts 24:22-27 Felix decided to wait for the tribune to arrive to converse with him before making his decision. Felix ordered that Paul stay in custody, but have some liberty, and that his friends should be allowed to see him and attend to his needs. Some days later, Felix and his Jewish wife, Drusilla, called upon Paul to speak further about his faith in Jesus, for he had some knowledge of Way already and wanted to know more. Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. Upon hearing Paul’s words, Felix was troubled and sent Paul back to custody and stated he would summon Paul again at a later time. What he hoped for was a bribe from Paul to release him, even summoning Paul many times to converse with him. After two years, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. He wanted to do the Jews a favor before leaving office, so he left Paul in prison.
Notes: Felix left Paul in prison since Jewish complaints to Rome about his brutality eventually led to his ouster from office. He had brutally suppressed a riot in Caesarea and infuriated the Jews, who managed to complain to Rome and have him replaced. Emperor Nero recalled him to Rome where he would have faced severe punishment if his influential brother, Pallas, had not interceded for him.