Thursday, 14 December 2017

Acts Chapter 23 & 24 - Accusations & Indecisions


Oh dear! We left our last look at Acts in the middle of a chapter in the middle of an event!

What happened about the Murder Plot in Acts Chapter 23?



verses 16 - 22

Sometimes a little bit of help from our friends (or family) is a good thing.

Paul's nephew finds out about the plot against Paul and goes to the prison to tell Paul who then gets a centurion to take his nephew to the commander.  The commander listens to him and acts on the information he now has.

I think the following section shows that the commander trusted Paul by this stage and was worried because he now knew Paul was a Roman citizen and so did not want any harm to come to Paul while he was in his charge.


verses 23 - 35

23 And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night; 24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 


One prisoner, yet the commander was taking this threat so seriously that he was going to involve the use of 470 soldiers.  This must have meant he considered Paul an important prisoner.

So Paul was hurried off to be sent to the governor Felix in Caesarea in the middle of the night.

Felix was sent a letter from the commander briefly explaining who this prisoner was and who were his accusers.

Nice for the commander to be able to get Paul away safely so that he was not responsible for his safety any longer and to avoid any incident in the area he was responsible for.  Prevention is always better than having to sort things out after they have got out of hand.  When people are angry it is best to diffuse a situation rather than fuel it but also better to actually deal properly with a situation so that things do not be left unresolved for a long period of time and anger fester on and on.

So had Paul escaped from the accusations the Jews were trying to bring against him?

No.  Clearly verse 35 tells us that Felix after reading the letter told Paul

“I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.


But he did escape from being killed.




Straight away in the next chapter (chapter 24) we see from verse 1 that Annanias the High Priest, some elders and a man called Tertullus came 5 days later and spoke against Paul.


verses 2 - 9    give us the side of the Jews

Tertullus was the spokesperson and started (as many accusers do) with some sweet talking and complimenting the governor  -  trying to show a nice character so that the next thing he says might be accepted better.
Then he attacks the character of Paul and continues to attack the actions of the commander who is not there to defend himself.
The Jews of course just agreed with what he said.


verses 10 - 21    give us the side of Paul

Paul then has the opportunity to defend himself and knows that Felix has been in his position for some years and will be able to check on the information and find that Paul was only 12 days in Jerusalem and was not found to be inciting the people or acting badly in the Temple as had been claimed by Tertullus.

This then leads him to explaining some of what he believes in and that the Jews are angry with him because of his beliefs.


verses 22 - 23     give us the indecision by Felix

Felix doesn't seem to want to come down on one side or the other so says he will wait to hear from the commander and decides Paul should be under guard but not in prison.

Does this mean he thinks Paul is innocent of the charges but does not want to anger the Jews?
Or does he think is guilty but does not want to punish him?
Or can he just not make up his mind?
Certainly not the quality of a good leader.


verses 24 - 27     give us the real reason for this attitude by Felix

Felix it now appears seemed to want two things

  • to talk more to Paul about what he believed
  • to get a bribe from Paul
Throughout the next two years he keeps Paul in the same position never making a decision on his guilt or innocence with regard to the accusations.  He talks with Paul but never accepts his beliefs and never receives any bribes before being replaced by a new governor.  


People have always wanted what would benefit them and have had little regard for others.

The handing over of the position to a new person would probably have been a time to make that decision in Paul's favour as Felix would then be away from the area and have no headaches from the Jews and the new governor would not have to take the responsibility either.

Does this mean that Felix never becomes a believer in the future?





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