King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 24

The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul’s defence before Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul. (22-27)

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The speech of Tertullus against Paul

1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.

2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.

Paul’s defence before Felix

10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.

12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:

13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

14 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:

15 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.

16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,

21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul

22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.

23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.

24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Ananias went down to Cæsarea, where Paul was then confined. This is the sense of the Greek.

Ver. 2. By thy provision.[1] Lit. thy providence, by thy prudence. Wi. — Though Felix governed Judea in the arbitrary manner mentioned in the note on the last chapter, he had nevertheless done some good, which is recorded to his honour. See Joseph. Ant. xx. 6. 11. and Bel. Jud. xii. But had this not been the case, a public orator seldom scruples to gain over the man by praises, whose judgment he seeks. S. Paul was not ignorant of this rule of rhetoric, though he refuses to imitate Tertullus by pressing flattery into his service, as we observe below, v. 10. and Acts xxii. 1. 3. See also the exordiums of Cicero pro Roscio, pro Milone, &c. &c.

Ver. 5. A pestilent,[2] or pernicious, and pestiferous man; Greek, one that is a plague. — Author, or ringleader of the seditious sect, &c. Wi.

Ver. 8. From him thou . . . mayest know. By the construction it is doubtful whether from Lysias, or from S. Paul. Wi. — Behold them here ready to support the heads of accusation I have brought forward, and which are moreover so self-evident, that the party accused will not dare to deny them. V.

Ver. 10. In the apostle’s speech we observe nothing of the flattery, which characterized the opposite party. It would have been unworthy of his just cause. Calmet. — He observes he had been governor of the province many (eight or nine) years, to insinuate, that had he been a seditious man, as he was accused, Felix would not have failed to have heard of his misdeeds before. Menochius.

Ver. 11. Since I went up from Cæsarea to Jerusalem, not to profane the temple, or excite sedition, but to adore the one true God.

Ver. 12. In Jerusalem there was only one temple, nor could there, by an express command of the Almighty, be any more throughout the whole kingdom. (Perhaps the Almighty may have wished by this singular circumstance to have impressed more forcibly on their minds the absolute necessity of unity in religion. A.) But there were many synagogues, which were a kind of schools, in which the law was publicly taught, and the people assembled to read the Scriptures, and to pray. Calmet.

Ver. 14. The Father,[3] and my God. In the Greek, the Lord of our fathers. Wi. — According to the way. The Protestant version has sect for way; but in this, as well as in many other points, the original is not attended to, in which we read kata ten odon, as in our translation.

Ver. 22. Felix . . . knowing most certainly of this way. That is, knew even by Lysias’s letter, that Paul and the Christians were not guilty of any thing against Cæsar, but only accused of disputes relating to the Jewish law. Wi.

Ver. 25. Felix being terrified, &c. When S. Paul spoke of God’s judgments, and hinted at such sins as his conscience reproached him with. Wi. — Whoever knows the infamous character of Felix and Drusilla, will not fail to admire the apostle’s fortitude, that he durst speak (as formerly the Baptist did to Herod,) to them on the subject of justice and chastity. Suetonius says of the former, that he married three queens. Drusilla, one of the three, was Herod’s daughter, and wife of Aziz, king of Emesa, whom he had seduced by the enchantments of a Jew of Cyprus. Hence it is not surprising he was terrified at the thoughts of a future judgment, when expounded by a S. Paul, whose zeal to make these wicked people enter into themselves, hurried him beyond the bounds of worldly prudence, but made such impression on his hearers, as to disarm the indignation his discourse was calculated to produce. See Josephus, ut supra. Tirinus, Calmet, and others. Next to the worship of God, the Christian religion requires of its followers, in the first instance, justice and chastity. Felix was unjust, avaricious, cruel; and both Felix and Drusilla were guilty of adultery. Such was the wickedness of the Gentiles in those degenerate days, that fornication was not looked upon as a crime. How much had they deviated from the excellent maxim we read and admire, inter Socraticas disputationes! omnem virtutem niti continentia, et incontinentem nihil a bellua brutissima differre; that all virtue was built upon continency, and that the incontinent man differed in nothing from the most brute beast. — At a convenient time I will send for thee. Such is the expedient Felix has recourse to, to silence the voice of conscience: and in this how often is he not imitated by the sinner, who dreads nothing so much as to enter into himself. Why put that off to another time, which will never arrive? Or why delay till death a repentance, which like the remorse of the damned, will then be as unavailing, as it will be eternal?

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[1] V. 2. Per tuam providentiam, pronoias, a prudent foreseeing.

[2] V. 5. Hominem pestiferum, loimon, pestem.

[3] V. 14. Patri & Deo. to patroo theo.