on Acts 24 :27
After two years - That is, from the time that Paul came prisoner to Caesarea.
Porcius Festus - This man was put into the government of Judea about a.d. 60, the sixth or seventh year of Nero. In the succeeding chapter we shall see the part that he took in the affairs of St. Paul.
Willing to show the Jews a pleasure - As he had not got the money which he expected, he hoped to be able to prevent the complaints of the Jews against his government, by leaving Paul, in some measure, in their hands. For it was customary for governors, etc., when they left, or were removed from a particular district or province, to do some public, beneficent act, in order to make themselves popular. But Felix gained nothing by this: the Jews pursued him with their complaints against his administration, even to the throne of the emperor. Josephus states the matter thus: "Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix, by Nero, the principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Caesarea went up to Rome, to accuse Felix. And he certainly would have been brought to punishment, had not Nero yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Pallas, who was at that time in the highest reputation with the emperor." - Antiq. lib. xx. cap. 9. Thus, like the dog in the fable, by snatching at the shadow, he lost the substance. He hoped for money from the apostle, and got none; he sought to conciliate the friendship of the Jews, and miscarried. Honesty is the best policy: he that fears God need fear nothing else. Justice and truth never deceive their possessor.
1. Envy and malice are indefatigable, and torment themselves in order to torment and ruin others. That a high priest, says pious Quesnel, should ever be induced to leave the holy city, and the functions of religion, to become the accuser of an innocent person; this could be no other than the effect of a terrible dereliction, and the punishment of the abuse of sacred things.
2. Tertullus begins his speech with flattery, against which every judge should have a shut ear; and then he proceeds to calumny and detraction. These generally succeed each other. He who flatters you, will in course calumniate you for receiving his flattery. When a man is conscious of the uprightness of his cause, he must know that to attempt to support it by any thing but truth tends directly to debase it.
3. The resurrection of the body was the grand object of the genuine Christian's hope; but the ancient Christians only hoped for a blessed resurrection on the ground of reconciliation to God through the death of his Son. In vain is our hope of glory, if we have not got a meetness for it. And who is fit for this state of blessedness, but he whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered, and whose heart is purified from deceit and guile!
4. We could applaud the lenity shown to St. Paul by Felix, did not his own conduct render his motives for this lenity very suspicious. "To think no evil, where no evil seems," is the duty of a Christian; but to refuse to see it, where it most evidently appears, is an imposition on the understanding itself.
5. Justice, temperance, and a future judgment, the subjects of St. Paul's discourse to Felix and Drusilla, do not concern an iniquitous judge alone; they are subjects which should affect and interest every Christian; subjects which the eye should carefully examine, and which the heart should ever feel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others: temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these has neither the form nor the power of godliness; and consequently must be overwhelmed with the shower of Divine wrath in the day of God's appearing, Many of those called Christians, have not less reason to tremble at a display of these truths than this heathen.
on Acts 24 :27
But after two years - Paul was unjustly detained during all this time. The hope of Felix seems to have been to weary his patience, and induce him to purchase his freedom.
Came into Felix' room - As governor.
And Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure - Desirous of pleasing them, even at the expense of justice, This shows the principle on which he acted.
Left Paul bound - Left him in custody to the charge of his successor. His object in this was to conciliate the Jews; that is, to secure their favor, and to prevent them, if possible, from accusing him for the evils of his administration before the emperor. The account which Luke gives here coincides remarkably with what Josephus has given. He says that Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero. He does not, indeed, mention Paul, or say that Felix sought to conciliate the favor of the Jews, but he gives such an account as to make the statement by Luke perfectly consistent with his character while in office. He informs us that Felix was unpopular, and that there was reason to apprehend that the Jews would accuse him before the emperor; and, therefore, the statement in the Acts that he would be willing to show the Jews a favor, is in perfect keeping with his character and circumstances, and is one of those undesigned coincidences which show that the author of the Acts was fully acquainted with the circumstances of the time and that his history is true.
The account in Josephus is, that "when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero, the principal inhabitants of Caesarea went up to Rome to accuse Felix; and he had been certainly brought to punishment unless Nero had yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Palias, who was at that time had in the greatest honor by him" (Antiq., book 20, chapter 8, section 9). The plan of Felix, therefore, in suppressing the enmity of the Jews, and conciliating their favor by injustice to Paul, did not succeed, and is one of those instances, so numerous in the world, where a man gains nothing by wickedness. He sought money from Paul by iniquity, and failed; he sought by injustice to obtain the favor of the Jews, and failed in that also. And the inference from the whole transaction is, that "honesty is the best policy," and that men in any office should pursue a course of firm, constant, and undeviating integrity.
on Acts 24 :27
24:27 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.