This chapter can conveniently be divided into four sections:

1. The indictment of Paul (verses 1-9).

2. Paul’s defense (verses 10-21).

3. How Felix disposed of the case (verses 22-23).

4. Paul addresses Felix (verses 24-27).

If the Jews, after Paul’s removal from Jerusalem, had not pressed the case against him (read chapter 23), Paul would have been released.  Only a few days had elapsed when a strong delegation from Jerusalem appeared in Caesarea. The high priest filled with much hatred against Paul had taken it upon himself to come in person. This was an unusual occurrence for a person of Ananias’ standing to leave Jerusalem.

They brought along a certain orator named Tertullus, who accused Paul in the presence of Felix. The words Tertullus used against the great man of God are extremely vile and manifest the hiss of the serpent. He calls him a pestilent fellow,” a person whom society may well be rid of. The indictment contains three counts.

  • The first charge against Paul was a POLITICAL accusation. This, in presence of the high Roman officer, was of the greatest importance. Any conspiracy against the Roman government was a capital offense. The charge of sedition or treason was thus at once laid at the door of the Apostle.
  • The second offense Tertullus brought against Paul was of a RELIGIOUS nature. As ringleader of the Nazarenes, presented by him as a sect of the Jews, he had abetted that which was against the peace of Judaism and introduced not alone a disturbing element, but had transgressed another Roman law, which forbade the introduction of an unrecognized religion.
  • The third charge was the PROFANATION OF THE TEMPLE. Paul answers the indictment in a masterly way. His address contains a denial of the first charge; a confession and admission concerning the second, and a complete vindication of the accusation of the temple profanation.

Paul’s defense was eloquent and distinctive.  Certainly, the charges against him were bogus.  However, Paul did confess in verses 14-16, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”  His words would only serve to divide and incite the Pharisees and Sadducees for the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  Acts 23:8 tells us, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”

Felix knew the accusations were not true, but he refused to make a decision. Paul should have been set free at this point.  Felix was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe to secure his freedom. (verse 26).  Felix postponed Paul’s trial until Lysias the chief-captain came to Caesarea. But he never came, and Paul was kept a prisoner. Felix and his wife, Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, a wicked woman, heard Paul and Felix trembled. Later Felix left Paul behind still a prisoner, when Porcius Festus became governor.  How sad that Paul had to wait in prison for two years until Porcius Festus finally arrived.  (477.6)