Paul's trial before Felix. Acts 24
Paul's trial before Felix
-The author of Acts is Luke, a doctor, Paul's traveling companion, and a Gentile
-The key verse of the Book of Acts is Acts 1:8. Therein it speaks of the Mission of the Church-- To preach the
Gospel of Christ to all people everywhere and the necessary power of the Holy Spirit that is needed to serve
-The Book of Acts details the spread of the church and the attendant working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of
those taking the message and in the hearts of those being saved
-The primary figure in the Book of Acts is the Apostle Paul, at one time a violent persecutor of the church,
then its greatest ambassador.
Today we are going to take a look at Acts 24
-In this passage Paul, facing a big time lawyer, is on trial before a Roman Governor and his life is in the
How did Paul come to this place?
-The answer to this question starts in Acts 9. Acts 9 recounts how Paul became a Christian. After being
blinded by a light from Heaven and spoken to by Jesus, God sends a man named Ananias to the house Paul
was staying in, having told Ananias this; "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the
Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Acts 9:15-16. Hence we see that Paul's standing on trial before Felix had been part of God's plan for Paul
from the very start.
-During what is called Paul's third missionary journey Paul lets it be known that he will be heading to
Jerusalem -the same Jerusalem of which Jesus said "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and
stone those sent to you," Matthew 23:37. While the believers urged Paul not to go, being told by the Holy
Spirit that Paul would encounter much trouble there, Paul insisted that it was God's will
-Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the believers rejoiced with Paul over the report of his ministry, but then
informed him that his name and ministry had been slandered in Jerusalem- with most Jews thinking that Paul
had been teaching the scattered Jews to turn away from the law of Moses.
-To counter this slander a plan is drawn up to show that Paul is still a faithful and observant Jew.
-Despite the plan, the slanderous reports were to much, the result being that a huge riot broke out in the
Temple, and the people tried to kill Paul
-As the people were trying to kill Paul, the Roman commander of Jerusalem came in with his troops and
arrested Paul-- thinking Paul to be an Egyptian who had started a revolt with 4000 terrorists.
-Paul asked for an opportunity to speak, it was granted. Paul then spoke to the people in Aramaic-- which
quieted them-- telling them his story of how he became a follower of Jesus and of his calling. Everything
went ok until he told them that God had sent him to take the message of God and Christ to the Gentiles. At
this the crowd-- due to racism and hatred of non Jews- freaked out.
-In order to figure out why the crowd was so bent on killing Paul, the Commander ordered Paul to be flogged.
Before this happened, Paul revealed a big secret-- he was a Roman citizen by birth. This was a big deal, the
result being that Paul was not flogged and in fact given special treatment while in Jail.
-The next day Paul was taken to the Sanhedrin to face his accusers. A huge fight broke out when Paul
asserted that the only reason he was on trial was because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. This
divided the Sanhedrin because the Pharisees believed in this and the Sadducees didn't.
-Following this the Jews draw up a plan to get Paul to return to the Sanhedrin. Over 40 men were planning to
assassinate Paul as he was escorted there by the Roman guards. The plan is found out and Paul, under the
care of 470 Roman soldiers is sent to the Governor in Caesarea-- a city 60 miles away.
-Five days after Paul is in Caesarea, in the Governors jail, the high priest, along with a big time lawyer show
up with a list of charges against Paul--- there ultimate aim being that Paul is executed.
With the backdrop to Acts 24 in place, let us together read Acts 24
Paul's trial before Felix: Lessons for us
1. Avoid flattery when talking to others v.2-3
In Proverbs 29:5 it says; "Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet."
In getting ready to lay his charges against Paul, Tertullus, the Roman lawyer representing the Sanhedrin's
case against Paul lays it on "Thick" when he addresses Felix.
Not a single thing that Tertullus says in v.2-3 is true (peace, reforms, progress, their enjoyment of his rule).
The fact is Governor Felix was a base man. He was an ex slave, he had weaseled his way into power, he was
ruthless, cruel, and cunning- and would not hesitate to have a person killed, who he thought stood in his
way. His rule over Palestine was marked by unrest and turmoil.
When we talk to people, and especially when we want something from them, we are not to resort to flattery
2. We are to be truth tellers. We are not be given to lies or half truths v.10-21
We are to be truth tellers-- speaking the truth in love, being careful with our words, using our words-- not to
tear down, but to encourage others.
Note Paul's address to Felix in v.10-21. It is simple and truthful
Note also how Paul responds to the false charges that were laid against him.
-He doesn't get angry even though he is brutally slandered (charged with sedition, being the ringleader of a
heretical sect, desecrating the temple) . He doesn't get all emotional
-He recounts facts.
-He includes all pertinent details (not lying by omission)
Ephesians 4:15 says; "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the
mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."
3. When lied about and slandered, keep your cool and leave justice to God
In Romans 12:19 God says; "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is
written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."
Note again that when lied about Paul doesn't explode and lose it. He didn't say nasty things about those
who brought charges against him. Paul simply defended himself and answered the charges- which he did with
class (and sometimes we get into this by trying to get people to take sides, etc)
4. Rely on the Holy Spirit's help for the right words and right response
We are to be a people who rely and depend upon the Holy Spirit for his direction, leading, power, and the
very words to speak
Paul demonstrates this is his defence before Felix.
When you think of Paul's defence, do not think of it as a finally crafted speech that he concocted while in
jail. Do not chalk up his defence to his oratory prowess.
Rather: Ponder these words of Christ.
"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend
yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." Luke
Q Have you ever had a conversation with someone and realized that the words and wisdom that you shared
had nothing to do with you, but seemed to have been given to you by God?
5. Before being called "Christians" the followers of Jesus were called "Followers of the Way" v.14
This is also made note of in Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:22.
Why called the followers of the Way?
My conclusion is that this was so because of Jesus' words in John 14:6 "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
no one comes to the Father but by me."
Jesus is the way of salvation and peace with God. He showed the Way-- by his death and resurrection. There
is no other Way
Acts 11:26 tells us that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.
Acts 4:12 says "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by
which we must be saved."
6. Our faith and salvation hangs on Jesus' resurrection from the dead v21
Listen to Paul's words in v.21 "It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you
The central focus of the preaching of Paul and all of the disciples and Apostles in the Book of Acts is the
resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Note the following references: Acts 3:12,15; 4:1-2, 10,33; 5:30; 10:38, 40-41; 13:16,23,30,33; 17:18, 31
The key message of all N.T preaching is that Jesus is risen.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul stresses the importance of Christ's resurrection, saying "If Christ has not been
raised then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain." Paul then goes on to say "If Christ has not been
raised, your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins."
When we think of Jesus and his claims-- particularly his claim to be God, we think of his power and authority
over nature, over death, over evil spirits, of his authority to forgive sin. We also think of how in Christ a
multitude of Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. However, as it relates to all of these, it is his death on
the cross as the sacrifice for our sins and the resurrection of Christ from the dead which stands as central to
His claims. This explains why the Gospels focus so much on the last week of Jesus' life and his death and
As it regards our being convinced of Christ's resurrection, ponder these reasons to believe
1. This is the Bible's testimony. While attacked often, we have every reason to trust that the Bible is the
Word of God (archaeology, fulfilled prophecies, it's unity)
2. The empty tomb of Christ (though guarded by 16 Roman soldiers-- remembering that the disciples had fled
and were in a state of terror and not armed resistance)
3. The radical transformation that took place in Jesus' disciples (from cowards and giving up to giving their
lives for the message of the resurrection)
4. Skeptics and opponents of Jesus became believers (Thomas, Paul,Jesus' half brother James)
5. The testimony of many people claiming to see Jesus alive after his crucifixion
Because of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, we are not to be afraid of death. Death is a defeated foe
Because of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, all his claims about himself and the way of salvation are true
Romans 10:9 says; "If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised
him from the dead, you will be saved"
7. Looking for evidence that God is gracious? Ponder the opportunities of repentance and salvation
extended to Felix and his wife v. 22,24-27
Note in v.22 that it says that Felix was well acquainted with the WAY
How fascinating that for 2 years God gave Paul opportunity to witness to Felix and his wife and all those who
were around him in prison. Such was God's grace to Felix and his wife-- that they heard a clear Gospel
presentation and could have all their questions answered.
How sad that after hearing Paul speak of Jesus, the way of salvation, the judgment to come, and what it
means to live a righteous life, that Felix and his wife refused to embrace Christ as Savior and Lord (though
frightened they did not believe)
Some points to think about:
God wants people to put their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. He gives people opportunities to do this. It
is the hardness of peoples hearts that keeps them from faith. Ultimately salvation is a gift of God, worked
out by the inner working of the Holy Spirit who moves as He pleases.
2 Peter 3:9 says; "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient
with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
Let me encourage you to read Paul's missionary journeys again. They are incredibly exciting and I think best
read all at once.
We are the fruit of Paul's. For us who are Gentiles (non Jews) our faith in part owes to Paul's faithfulness in
taking the Gospel beyond the borders of Jerusalem.
Our task is to take the Gospel of Christ, not afraid of the opposition that we might face, trusting in the Holy
Spirit's leading and relying upon his indwelling power.