10 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself,
11 because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city.
13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.
16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
17 “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation,
18 in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.
19 They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.
20 Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council,
21 unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’”
many years a judge (v.10) — Felix knew the Jews and the strong prejudices and bigotry the frequently practiced. Unlike Tertullus, Paul was respectful without using false flattery.
According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Felix had occupied an official position of much importance during the procuratorship of Cumanus, apparently administering Samaria, while Cumanus devoted his care to Galilee. Cumanus was procurator A.D. 48-52. Josephus does not mention Felix’s office in Samaria, but merely relates how he succeeded Cumanus as procurator (A.D. 52). Supposing Paul’s trial before Felix to have taken place in A.D. 57, we have a period of five years at least, and, on the testimony of Tacitus, one of eight or nine years, during which Felix was a judge in that part of the country. so long a continuance in office was unusual among Roman governors, etc. — Walker, page 505.
not more than twelve days (v.11) — And therefore the truth about such recent events would be easily ascertainable. Moreover, since this was at least the fifth day since Paul had left Jerusalem, it left an incredibly short time (only a week) for exciting the faction and insurrection of which he stood accused. The first day saw the interview with James (21:18); the second witnessed Paul undertaking the vows in the temple (21:26); the third, fourth, fifth and sixth days were occupied in connection with those vows; the seventh was the day of his arrest (being the sixth of the seven days of purification referred to in 21:27); on the eighth, he stood before the Sanhedrin (22:30); on the ninth, the conspiracy was formed against him (23:12), and he left Jerusalem after dark; on the evening of the tenth day, he arrived in Caesarea (23:32); on the eleventh and twelfth days he awaited in custody the coming of his accusers; and now, after the expiration of the twelve days in question, being the fifth since the forming of the conspiracy against him, he is arraigned before Felix. — Walker, pages 505-506.
Paul answers the three charges against him:
1) Sedition and treason (v.5) — He explains that it was only 12 days since he arrived in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost (v.11), and he’d spent half of them in Roman custody — hardly time to have stirred up all the trouble he’d been accused of. Also, he came to bring the Jews money (v.17), not cause riots.
2) Leading an illegal sect (v.5) — Paul admitted to following “the way” (v.14), but it wasn’t a sect — it was soundly based on the Jews’ own law and prophets. He has hope in the resurrection, as the Jews also do (v.15), and his conscience is clear of any wrongdoing (v.16). He doesn’t bring up the fact that the Sadducees among the council, including the high priest who was there at the trial, didn’t believe in the resurrection, which would have brought up the fact that he followed the Jews’ Scripture better than many of them did.
3) Profaning the temple (v.6) — He was in the temple, but without a crowd or any commotion (v.18) and, in fact, had been properly purified. His accusers were not there to testify as required by law, and those who were there could point out no fault in him.
confess (v.14) speak freely — not an admission of wrongdoing.
hope (v.15) — The Jews believed there could be resurrection from the dead. Paul was just saying that there had been — Christ.
It should be observed that a few days previous, before the Sanhedrin, he had made an issue of the Sadducean denial of the resurrection and had exposed the disunity among Israel’s rulers. He might have done this again before Felix but refrained, doubtless out of respect for his nation and for the testimony he and they could both give before Felix. Since the majority in the Sanhedrin and the vast majority of the Jews believed in the resurrection; since this was the traditional Hebrew faith and the teaching of their Scriptures, he could truthfully say: “Which they themselves also allow,” leaving them to face secretly the embarrassing fact that the heretics were to be found among them, his accusers, and at the same time leaving them speechless lest they expose before Felix the deep discord that prevailed among them. He believed the Old Testament Scriptures as to the resurrection, while some of them, even their chief priests, did not — and will they now charge him with heresy? — Stam, pages 95-96.
after many years (v.17) = lit. “after more years” — It had been about four years since Paul’s previous visit to Jerusalem, just before his third journey.
alms (v.17) — the gifts from the Gentile churches. This is the only mention of them in Acts, although Paul wrote of them often in his epistles.
offerings (v.17) — temple offerings — the sacrifices for the four Nazarites — although Stam says the Greek word can refer to any kind of offering
whereupon (v.18) — while he was making the temple offerings. He wasn’t profaning the temple
except it be (v.21) — Paul may have been admitting that speaking out before the council was unwise.
Paul admits to his statement before the council regarding the resurrection (v.21) which started a riot, but challenges those of the council who were there to find any evil in his actions.