1 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.
2 And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,
3 we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.
7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,
8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”
9 And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.
Long years before Moses had declared, by inspiration of God, that if Israel rebelled against Him: The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low … he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail (Deuteronomy 28:43-44).
This process was rapidly taking place as the chosen people declined in power before the ascendancy of Rome. Even a few years previous, at their rejection of Christ, the Council had largely taken matters into their own hands and had driven Pilate to do what they wished, as “the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed, and Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required” (Luke 23:23-24). Now they come with abject flattery to a ruler they despised, careful not to be “tedious,” to him and beseeching him out of his “clemency” to hear them a “few words” (vs. 2-4). — Stam pages 87-88.
Tertullus (v.1) — a Latin name — a professional speaker or lawyer hired by the Jews to make their case because of his familiarity with Roman legal proceedings. He may have been a Hellanistic Jew, but whether he was or not, he spoke for the Jews.
we enjoy great peace (v.2) — It is true that Felix had suppressed the brigands who infested Judaea, and that he had driven off the Egyptian impostor (Acts 21:38) and dispersed his followers. He also quelled riots as they arose from time to time. Tertullus alludes to this in flattering style, though Felix had, otherwise, given much cause for discontent. He had even caused the high priest Jonathan to be assassinated by the Sicarii. — Walker, pages 501-502.
prosperity is bring brought (v.2) — Literally “Reforms are taking place.” The reforms or corrections in question must be the suppression of the disorders already referred to, as we know of no other. — Walker, page 502
tedious (v.4) = hinder — “hinder you from doing your duties”
pestilent (v.5) — infecting society with his teaching
The indictment (v. 5-6) contains three counts. First stands a political accusation. This, in presence of the high Roman officer, was of the greatest importance. Any conspiracy against the Roman government was a capital offense. The charge of sedition or treason was thus at once laid at the door of the apostle. The second offense Tertullus brought against Paul was of a religious nature. As a ringleader of the Nazarenes, presented by him as a sect of the Jews, he had abetted that which was against the peace of Judaism and introduced not alone a disturbing element, but had transgressed another Roman law, which forbade the introduction of unrecognized religious sects. The third charge was the profanation of the temple. If this last charge could have been proven against Paul the sentence of death would have fallen against him. — Gaebelein, page 390.
Nazarenes (v.5) — The term is used of Christ in Acts 2:22, 3:6; 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9. It is here, for the first time, applied to His followers. In the lips of opponents, it was already a term of contempt, and was to come more and more into vogue among the Jews as their name for the despised and hated Christians. — Walker, page 503.
According to their testimony (v.6-7) everything had gone smoothly and they were just about to give Paul a fair trial when Lysias “came upon them” and “with great violence took him away!” This was a more brazen misrepresentation than anything Lysias had written, for not only were they about to kill Paul when Lysias rescued him, but they had almost torn him to pieces a second time and had finally taken part with more than 40 assassins in a vicious plot to do away with him. Indeed, it was Lysias who had commanded them to give Paul a hearing and they had then fought so among themselves that Paul’s very life had again been endangered. — Stam, page 92.