Scripture Reading: Acts 24:1-27

In this message we come to 24:1-27. In this section of Acts Paul is accused by the Jews’ advocate (vv. 1-9), he defends himself before Felix (vv. 10-21), and he is kept in the custody of the unjust and corrupt Roman politician (vv. 22-27).


Acts 24:1 says, “And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a certain orator, Tertullus; and they informed the governor against Paul.” The orator Tertullus, was an advocate, a lawyer, who knew Roman legal procedure.

Verses 2 through 4 continue, “And when he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him saying, Since we have obtained much peace through you, and through your forethought reforms are being carried out for this nation, both in every way and everywhere we welcome it, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. But that I may not detain you further, I entreat you to hear us briefly in your forbearance.” Tertullus’ word here displayed his baseness; he was altogether without any ethical standard.

In 24:5 Tertullus said concerning Paul, “For we have found this man a pest and an agitator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the inhabited earth, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Here we have a threefold accusation. First, Tertullus accused Paul of being a pest. A pest is full of evil “germs.” Paul, however, was full of positive germs—the germs of the resurrected Christ for the propagation of Christ by imparting Him to others. We all should be such “pests.”

Second, Tertullus gave to Paul the title of “agitator.” He accused Paul of being an agitator of insurrections among the Jews throughout the inhabited earth.

Third, Tertullus claimed that Paul was a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. The word “sect” here is somewhat equal to today’s word “cult.” Tertullus’ word indicates that the Jews regarded the believers in the Lord Jesus as Nazarenes. In chapter thirteen of Acts the believers were first called Christians in Antioch. Christians are Christ-men, those who live Christ. Here the Jews’ attorney gives the believers another nickname—Nazarenes. The use of this nickname indicates that the believers were considered followers of the Nazarene, Jesus.


In 24:10 Paul begins to make his defense before Felix: “And when the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul answered, Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense as to the things concerning myself.” We have seen that, in contrast to the way the Lord Jesus faced His opponents, it was necessary for Paul to make a defense and to exercise his wisdom in order to save his life from his persecutors so that he might fulfill the course of his ministry.

Serving God and
Behaving according to the Scriptures

In verses 11 through 14 Paul goes on to say, “As you can realize, it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem. And neither in the temple did they find me disputing with anyone nor stirring up a crowd, neither in the synagogues nor throughout the city. Neither are they able to prove to you the things concerning which they now accuse me. But I confess this to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all that is written throughout the Law and in the Prophets.” Here we see that what the opposing Jews called a sect Paul called the way. As we have pointed out, the way, mentioned several times in Acts (9:2; 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 22:4), denotes the Lord’s full salvation in God’s New Testament economy.

In verse 14 Paul testified that according to the way the opposers called a sect he served the God of their fathers. Literally, the Greek word rendered “serve” means “serve as a priest.” Paul’s way of serving God was the way of the New Testament economy. Therefore, his way of serving was different from that of the other Jews.

In verse 14 Paul also says that he believed all that is written throughout the Law and in the Prophets. Here Paul is saying that he acted according to the Old Testament, which was composed of the Law and the Prophets. Therefore, Paul vindicated himself as a person who behaved according to the Scriptures.