Acts 24

Acts 24:1 Ananias...descended with...a certain orator named Tertullus

"Ananias and the elders of the Jews who accused Paul brought with them before Felix 'a certain orator named Tertullus' (Acts 24:1). Tertullus delivered his speech to Felix, and then Paul followed with his account of the events. The word used in the Greek New Testament for orator is rhetor-a rhetorician. The Jews knew that to argue their case before the Roman judges they needed someone trained in Roman rhetoric.

"Little is known about him, but Tertullus was probably a typical product of rhetorical education during the Second Sophistic. He seems to have been a professional public speaker who argued legal cases for a fee. He knew the conventions and manner of speaking at the Roman court. His Latin name indicates that he may have spoken Latin and was probably a Roman citizen. In his speech, Tertullus aligned himself with the leaders of the Jews and claimed to be an eyewitness to the events, but that was probably a rhetorical strategy...Tertullus was a rhetorical 'hired gun,' as Paul implied in his response." (Gary Layne Hatch, The Apostle Paul, His Life and His Testimony: The 23d Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 69-70.)

Acts 24:2-4 Tertullus' use of flattery

For Book of Mormon fans, Tertullus' methods are old and tired. Like so many Book of Mormon deceivers, Tertullus 'was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil' (Jacob 7:4). 'Now it was those men...who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges. Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession...Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain' (Alma 10:14-15, 32).

Acts 24:5 we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition

"Tertullus opened the trial with a clever speech against Paul. He paid a servile tribute to Felix and then brought three charges against the Apostle. The first was treason, for Paul had been found a source of mischief and an insurrectionist among the Jews throughout the Empire. The second was heresy, because Paul had been a ringleader in the sect of the Nazarenes. And the third was sacrilege, for it was alleged that he attempted to profane the Temple. The Jews in the audience joined in the charge, maintaining that the facts had been presented. (Acts 24:2-9)" (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 215.)

Acts 24:5 a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes

"Early Christians were apparently called Nazarenes, since Paul was accused of being a leader of this sect. (See Acts 24:5.) Early historians refer to a Christian group as Nazarenes, Christian Jews who neither would nor could give up their Jewish mode of life. Paul taught that the Mosaic Law was not binding upon gentiles or Jews, having been fulfilled by Christ. Later Nazarenes rejected Paul because of this, even though he had been known as a Nazarene during his lifetime. Later Nazarenes were absorbed within Judaism and Christianity by the end of the fifth century. However, the term Nozri (Nazarene) remains as the Hebrew word for Christian." (Victor L. Ludlow, "Major Jewish Groups in the New Testament," Ensign, Jan. 1975, 26)

Acts 24:13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me

The term "Asian Jews" refers to those Jews from Asia Minor who were well aware of Paul's teachings in Ephesus, Lystra, Antioch, Iconium, etc. Paul had worked the area so extensively, 'that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks' (Acts 19:10). Angered by his Christianization of Judaism, they sought any opportunity to get Paul in trouble. Seeing Greeks in the temple was enough for them to falsely accuse Paul of profaning the temple (Acts 21:28). But Paul had not brought the Greeks into the temple, and they had no proof to the contrary.

The whole absurd incident is reminiscent of the trials of Joseph Smith. Although latter-day "hired guns" tried their best to convict Joseph Smith of crimes he did not commit, they could not prove the things whereof they accused him.

"[Joseph Smith's] enemies perverted legal processes, using them as tools of religious persecution against him, as they had been used against many of Christ's apostles and other past martyrs. Although he often gained quick acquittals, numerous 'vexatious and wicked' lawsuits consumed his time and assets, leading to several incarcerations and ultimately to his martyrdom. Beginning soon after his ministry began and continuing throughout his life, Joseph Smith was subjected to approximately thirty criminal actions and at least that many civil suits related to debt collection or failed financial ventures." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1346.)

Acts 24:15 there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust

James E. Faust

"Through the atonement and those singular events surrounding it, all of the terrible individual and collective sins of mankind were taken upon the Lord's shoulders. The marvelous result of this great suffering was that he was able to redeem from physical death the believers and the obedient as well as the unbelieving and disobedient. (D&C 46:13-14; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22.) Every person ever born or yet to be born is the beneficiary of both the mediation and the atonement of the Savior. (Alma 11:42.)" (Reach Up for the Light, 132.)

Joseph F. Smith

"The resurrection of the dead must of necessity be just as broad as was the curse that brought death into the world. Paul has said 'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end. When he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.' From this we learn that the atonement reaches out and embraces every living creature in the resurrection. Just as long as one soul remains un-redeemed from mortal death and the grave, death has not been destroyed; therefore, every soul shall be ferreted out and receive the resurrection. Death shall be destroyed and immortality gain the victory (I Cor. 15:22-26.).

"Paul taught the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust, (Acts 24:15) and the Son of God very emphatically declared that 'All that were in the graves should hear his voice, and should come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life [that is eternal life] and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation' (John 5:28:29). What is damnation? It is being barred, or denied privileges of progression, because of failure to comply with law. All who fail to enter into the celestial kingdom, are damned, or stopped, in their progression, but they will enter into some other glory which they are entitled to receive.

"The Lord does not delight in the punishment of men. He was kind enough to grant to each his freedom to merit blessings or punishment according to his free will or pleasure. It never was the intention of the Lord to destroy, in the sense of annihilation, any of the souls of his children. His great object was to save them all if they would freely partake of the blessings of salvation. As already expressed, the Lord declared that his great work and glory is 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' And that he created man, 'that he might have joy.' That his children might not be lost, or denied the great privilege for which they were created, the Lord prepared various degrees of glory so that each individual may enter into the kingdom of God to inherit that which he is entitled to receive. When the day of final reckoning comes, we shall discover that none of his children is lost save the very few who become 'sons of perdition'...

"It is a very pleasing and consoling thing to know that the Lord will save all of his children, excepting the very few who willfully rebel against him. When his children have paid the penalty of their transgressions, they shall come forth from the clutches of the second death to receive a place somewhere in the great heavenly kingdom which is prepared with its several glories and degrees of salvation, for them." ("Is Man Immortal?", Improvement Era, 1916, Vol. Xix. March, 1916 No. 5.)

Acts 24:16 I...have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"We see an example of individual peace amidst strife and contention in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Near the end of his life, he was at the center of a whirlwind of turmoil and tribulation caused by devious associates, false accusations, and cunning plots against his life. Yet a few days before his death, he said, 'I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.' (D&C 135:4.) His inner peace sustained him through monumental adversities, even his own martyrdom." ("Peace Within," Ensign, May 1991, 36)

Alexander B. Morrison

"How noble are those who exhibit the moral courage to live by their adherence to a higher order of truth, whose souls will not be tarnished by the easy accommodation of an elastic conscience to a wicked and perverse world, who cannot live save by clinging to principle. To such celestial souls the conscience-devoid of offense toward God or man (see Acts 24:16)-serves as a guide or guardian. Winston Churchill spoke of such: 'The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.' (In Familiar Quotations, p. 744.)" (Feed My Sheep: Leadership Ideas for Latter-day Shepherds, 95.)

Lorenzo Snow

"Are we seeking to purify ourselves? How can a Latter-day Saint feel justified in himself unless he is seeking to purify himself even as God is pure-unless he is seeking to keep his conscience void of offense before God and man (see D&C 135:4) every day of his life. Many of us, walk from day to day and from week to week, and from month to month, before God, feeling under no condemnation, conducting ourselves properly, and seeking earnestly and in all meekness for the Spirit of God to dictate our daily course; and yet there may be a certain time or times in our life, when we are greatly tried and perhaps overcome; even if this be so, that is no reason why we should not try again, and that, too, with redoubled energy and determination to accomplish our object." ("Blessings of the Gospel Only Obtained by Compliance of the Law," Tambuli, Feb. 1979, 37)

Acts 24:17 I came to bring alms to my nation

Bruce R. McConkie

"Almsgiving is the contribution of free gifts to relieve the poor; the spirit that attends such a course is of God and finds its highest manifestation in the organized charitable enterprises of his earthly kingdom. Paul, for instance, in his day, carried alms to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Acts 24:17), he having first assembled the contributions from the saints in Macedonia and Achaia. (Acts 11:29; Rom. 15:25-28.) In modern times the major portion of the almsgiving of the saints is administered through the great church Welfare Plan." (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 31.)

Acts 24:22 when Felix heard these things...he deferred them

"Felix refused to make a decision in the case, saying that he would wait until the chief captain of the military came from Jerusalem to Caesarea. This was a thinly veiled stalling tactic adopted by Felix because he did not want to offend the Jews by making a decision favorable to Paul (Felix's own wife, Drusilla, was a Jewess of the Herod Agrippa family); yet Felix didn't want to turn a Roman citizen, whom he knew was innocent, over to the Jews and certain death." (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series, 290.)

Acts 24:24-25 Felix...sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ

Of Felix, we know the following:

"[He was] a Roman procurator of Judea appointed by the emperor Claudius in A.D. 53. He ruled the province in a mean, cruel and profligate manner. His period of office was full of troubles and seditions. St. Paul was brought before Felix in Caesarea. He was remanded to prison, and kept there two years in hopes of extorting money from him....The wife of Felix was Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa I., who was his third wife and whom he persuaded to leave her husband and marry him." (Dictionary of the Bible, William Smith)

In the story of Felix, and later Agrippa, we have a powerful magistrate who is impressed with the power of Paul's message. The Spirit affected Felix to such a degree that he 'trembled' at Paul's reasoning. Yet in the twisted pride of political power, Felix could not follow his conscience. Like an investigator that knows the gospel is true but does not have the courage to commit, Felix deserves to be remembered as one of history's spiritual cowards. Paul knew what it was like to sow the word among thorns, 'And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful' (Mark 4:18-19).

Acts 24:27 two years...Felix...left Paul bound

Bruce R. McConkie

"Without a formal trial, to appease the Jews, and in hope of receiving money for his release, the Roman governor of Judea, Antonius Felix, kept Paul a prisoner for two wearisome years. True the Apostle was thereby protected from the murderous hatred of the Jews and the persecuting zeal of the Sanhedrin; true he was granted sufficient liberty to write and do some teaching; but nonetheless as a prisoner in the Cause of Christ, he was denied the full missionary privileges of the past quarter century.

"We must assume that the Church did not grow as rapidly and that its members were not perfected as speedily as would have been the case had the great persuasive powers and energies of this mighty proselyter been used to the full during this period. No doubt this experience taught Paul that even he was not indispensable, and perchance his soul was further sanctified by suffering, but with it all the Lord's apostle was in fact a prisoner, held wickedly and unjustly by the forces of evil, all to the detriment of the work." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2: 197.)