Acts 24 Commentary

Acts Chapter 24 Commentary Bible Study

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Acts Chapter 24 Commentary Bible Study

Acts 24:1-4 Commentary

Acts 24:5-13 Commentary: Sect of the Nazarenes
Acts 24:14-21 Commentary: Sect
Acts 24:22-27 Commentary: Antonius Felix
ACTS 24:1  1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

Who came to Caesarea from Jerusalem with "Ananias the high priest" (Acts 24:1)?
Given the "great dissension" (Acts 23:10) that arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees over Paul, most if not all of "the elders" (Acts 24:1) who accompanied Ananias and stood behind the accusation "against Paul" (Acts 24:1) are likely to have been from the Sadducees faction of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel.

Who was "Tertullus" (Acts 24:1)?
He was an "orator" (Acts 24:1), a lawyer for the era. His name is Roman but it wasn't uncommon for Jews and Greeks to take Roman names, so he may not have been a Roman. And while he speaks from a Jewish perspective (see below), it also wasn't uncommon for orators/lawyers to speak from the perspective of their clients, so Tertullus may not have been a Jew either. Regardless of his background, he had been deemed the best person to present Ananias and company's case against Paul.

ACTS 24:2-3  2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, 3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

Did the Jews in Judea "enjoy great peace" (Acts 24:2)?
If so, 472 Roman soldiers wouldn't have been needed to protect the transfer of one prisoner (see Paul's nephew). Judea was a hotbed of simmering rebellion that often boiled over, not a place of great peace.

Was "prosperity ... being brought to this nation" (Acts 24:2)?
If so, Paul's companions wouldn't have had to bring famine relief donations for the church in Jerusalem.

Did the Jews "accept [Roman rule] always and in all places ... with all thankfulness" (Acts 24:3)?
Paul was sent to Caesarea because the Jews had plotted to kill him in Jerusalem, which would have required them to fight against and probably kill the Roman soldiers protecting Paul.

Was Felix "most noble" (Acts 24:3)?
No, see Felix.

What was Tertullus trying to achieve with his lies?
In a Roman court, it was customary for orators to start with flattery to win the favor of the judge. In this case, however, Tertullus' flattery may also have been made and/or received with a veiled threat against the fragile peace in the region, should Felix not side with the Jews.

ACTS 24:4  4 “Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

Why does Tertullus say he doesn't want to "be tedious to [Felix] any further" (Acts 24:4) and switch to making his accusation against Paul?
Felix may have started to roll his eyes at Tertullus' insincere flattery, or Tertullus may not have wanted to linger on a veiled threat if one had been issued and/or perceived, lest Felix gets upset.

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