The Prosecution Against Paul: Acts 24:1-9
“1) After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges to the governor against Paul. 2) After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor, “Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3) we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4) But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5) For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6) And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7) But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8) ordering his accusers to come before you.] By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” 9) The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.” Acts‬ ‭24‬:‭1‬-‭9‬
The Jews amassed their best prosecution against Paul. Ananias the high priest together with some prestigious elders went to Caesarea for the trial. Representing them was a skilled attorney named Tertullus. He is mentioned by name twice in this text, but nowhere else in the Bible.
He began his accusation with a bunch of fluff and complementary words about the Felix, the Governor. The flattery soon ran out of steam and most likely did little to help his case. It was disingenuous. The Jews despised Rome and their presence in Palestine.
His accusations against Paul had four charges. First, Paul was a real pest. Second, he stirs up dissection among the Jews. Third, he was a ringleader of a sect of Nazarenes. And finally, that he tried to desecrate the temple.
He then added that they had arrested Paul and were trying to judge him according to their own law. But the hysteria that triggered Roman intervention was anything but a lawful trial. It was a violent riot.
Tertullius then made the mistake of implicating Lysias the Roman commander. He accused him of violence and abstracting justice. His charges against Lysias were actually more severe than his case against Paul. It appears that emotion took over and the whole Jewish delegation joined in the verbal attack against both Paul and Lysias.
Though the charges against Paul had some merit, especially if he had indeed tried to desecrate the temple, but nothing rose to the level of capital punishment. Implicating the Roman commander was a huge mistake. Lysias now had every right to stand before his accusers as well.
It should be noted, that about a decade later, Roman soldiers would march into Jerusalem and totally demolish both the temple and the city. Rome actually viewed Jerusalem and the pious attitude of the Jewish religious elite with contempt.
True to Roman law, Paul was about to have equal time for his defense. The case against him was serious, but it lacked legal merit and was about to crumble. As we shall see, Paul was about to pick it apart piece by piece.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global