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1: Ananias - Who would spare no trouble on the occasion,
with several of the elders, members of the sanhedrim.
2: Tertullus began - A speech how different from St. Paul's; which
is true, modest, solid, and without paint. Felix was a man of
the most infamous character, and a plague to all the provinces
over which he presided.
4: But that I may not trouble thee any farther - By trespassing
either on thy patience or modesty. The eloquence of Tertullus
was as bad as his cause: a lame introduction, a lame transition,
and a lame conclusion. Did not God confound the orator's language?
10: Knowing - for several years thou hast been a judge over this
nation - And so not unacquainted with our religious rites and
customs, and consequently more capable of understanding and
deciding a cause of this nature. There was no flattery in
this. It was a plain fact. He governed Judea six or seven
years. I answer for myself - As it may be observed, his answer
exactly corresponds with the three articles of Tertullus's
charge: sedition, heresy, and profanation of the temple. As
to the first, he suggests,. that he had not been long enough
at Jerusalem to form a party and attempt an insurrection: (for
it was about twelve days since he came up thither; five of which
he had been at Cesarea, (Ac 24:1); one or two were spent in
his journey thither, and most of the rest he had been confined
at Jerusalem.) And he challenges them, in fact, to produce any
evidence of such practices, (Ac 24:11-13). As to the second,
he confesses himself to be a Christian; but maintains this to be
a religion perfectly agreeable to the law and the prophets, and
therefore deserving a fair reception, (Ac 24:14,16). And as
for profaning the temple, he observes that he behaved there in a
most peaceful and regular manner, so that his innocence had been
manifest even before the sanhedrim, where the authors of the
tumult did not dare to appear against him.
14: After the way which they call heresy - This appellation St.
Paul corrects. Not that it was then an odious word; but it was
not honourable enough. A party or sect (so that word signifies)
is formed by men. This way was prescribed by God. The apostle
had now said what was sufficient for his defence; but having a
fair occasion, he makes an ingenuous confession of his faith in
this verse, his hope in the next, his love in the 17th.(Ac 24:14,15,17),
So worship I the God of my fathers - This was a very proper plea
before a Roman magistrate; as it proved that he was under
the protection of the Roman laws, since the Jews were so:
whereas had he introduced the worship of new gods he would
have forfeited that protection. Believing all things which
are written - Concerning the Messiah.
15: Both of the just and of the unjust - In a public court this
was peculiarly proper to be observed.
16: For this cause - With a view to this, I also exercise
myself - As well as they.
19: Who ought to have been present before thee - But the world
never commit greater blunders, even against its own laws, than
when it is persecuting the children of God.
21: Unless they think me blamable for this one word - Which
nevertheless was the real truth. (Ac 23:6).
22: After I have been more accurately informed - Which he afterward
was; and he doubtless (as well as Festus and Agrippa) transmitted
a full account of these things to Rome.
23: He commanded the centurion to let him have liberty - To be only
a prisoner at large. Hereby the Gospel was spread more and more;
not to the satisfaction of the Jews. But they could not hinder it.
24: And after Paul had been kept some days in this gentle
confinement at Cesarea, Felix, who had been absent for a short
time, coming thither again, with Drusilla, his wife - The daughter
of Herod Agrippa, one of the finest women of that age. Felix
persuaded her to forsake her husband, Azizus, king of Emessa,
and to be married to himself, though a heathen. She was
afterward, with a son she had by Felix, consumed in an eruption
of Mount Vesuvius. Concerning the faith in Christ - That is, the
doctrine of Christ.
25: And as he reasoned of justice, temperance, and judgment to
come - This was the only effectual way of preaching Christ to an
unjust, lewd judge. Felix being terrified - How happily might this
conviction have ended, had he been careful to pursue the views
which were then opening upon his mind! But, like thousands, he
deferred the consideration of these things to a more convenient
season. A season which, alas! never came. For though he heard
again, he was terrified no more.
In the meantime we do not find Drusilla, though a Jewess, was
thus alarmed. She had been used to hear of a future judgment:
perhaps too she trusted to the being a daughter of Abraham,
or to the expiation of the law, and so was proof against the
convictions which seized on her husband, though a heathen. Let
this teach us to guard against all such false dependencies as
tend to elude those convictions that might otherwise be produced
in us by the faithful preaching of the word of God. Let us stop
our ears against those messengers of Satan, who appear as angels
of light; who would teach us to reconcile the hope of salvation
with a corrupt heart or an unholy life. Go thy way for this time
- O how will every damned soul one day lament his having neglected
such a time as this!
26: He hoped also - An evil hope: so when he heard his eye was not
single. No marvel then that he profited nothing by all St.
Paul's discourses: that money would be given - By the Christians
for the liberty of so able a minister. And waiting for this,
unhappy Felix fell short of the treasure of the Gospel.
27: But after two years - After St. Paul had been two years a
prisoner, Felix desiring to gratify the Jews, left Paul bound
- Thus men of the world, to gratify one another, stretch forth
their hands to the things of God! Yet the wisdom of Felix did
not profit him, did not satisfy the Jews at all. Their
accusations followed him to Rome, and had utterly ruined him,
but for the interest which his brother Pallas had with Nero.