Coachlight Bible Study - Acts Chapter 23:12-26:32

Paul Before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa


Acts 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:


We have read about Paul being beat, imprisoned, and falsely accused in the previous chapters.  While the situation looks hopeless, God is in control.  God uses the opposition, self-interests, inexperience, and concern for Roman law in different people, as well as the obedience of Paul to carry out His plan and spread the Gospel.

This section of Acts is a good example to us today teaching us how we should live our lives, disciple the people we meet and what we should teach them.


I. Jews Plot To Kill Paul - Acts 23:12-15

A. Forty Jews bound themselves under a curse

1. When it was day

2. They were going to kill Paul

a. They would not eat until they did

b. They would not drink until they did

B. Told of their plot to the Sanhedrin

C. The Plan

1. Sanhedrin to ask Chief Captain to bring Paul before them

2. To understand more fully the situation

3. The forty conspirators would ambush him

II. The Plot Discovered - Acts 23:16-22

A. Paul's nephew heard of the plot

B. Paul's nephew told Paul

C. Paul calls a centurion

1. Take his nephew in front of the Chief Captain

2. The nephew has something to say to him

D. Centurion takes Paul's nephew to the Chief Captain

1. Paul, the prisoner, asked me to bring this young man to you

2. He has something to say to you

E. Meeting between Paul's nephew and the chief captain

1. Chief Captain took him by the hand

2. They went to a private meeting

F. Paul's nephew reveals the plot to the Chief Captain

1. Don't take Paul to them

2. They are waiting to kill Paul

G. Response of chief captain to meeting with Paul's nephew

1. Let the young man go

2. Told him not to say anything about it

III. Paul's Rescue - Acts 23:23-24

A. Chief Captain calls for two centurions

B. Have men go to Caesarea at 9:00PM

1. 200 soldiers go to Caesarea

2. 70 Horsemen

3. 200 Spearmen

C. Provide them with horses

1. Take Paul safely

2. Go to the governor, Felix

IV. Epistle to Felix - Acts 23:25-30

A. Paul was almost killed by the Jews

B. Chief captain came with an army

1. Understood he was a Roman

2. Rescued him

3. Brought him before the Sanhedrin

4. Understood they accused him

a. By the Jewish law

b. Nothing worthy of death or imprisonment

5. I learned of the Jews plot to kill him

a. I send him to you

b. Commanded his accusers to see you

V. Paul Delivered to Felix - Acts 23:31-35

A. Felix read the letter

1. Asked Paul of what province he was from

2. Paul answers - Cilicia

3. I will hear you when the Jews arrive

B. Commands that Paul be kept in Herod's Judgment Hall

VII. Paul Tried Before Felix - Acts 24:1-21

A. 5 days later the Jews arrive

1. High priest - Ananias

2. The elders

3. Tertulus - an orator

B. Tertulus accuses Paul

1. He is a pestilent fellow

2. Mover of sedition to the Jews everywhere

3. Ringleader of the Nazarenes

4. He has desecrated the temple

5. Lycius took him away

a. With force

b. We couldn't judge him

c. Told us to take it before you

C.  Paul's Defense

1. They can not prove anything

a. Only been 12 days since I was in the temple

b. They didn't find me in the temple disputing

c. They didn't find me causing a commotion

1. Not in the synagogues

2. Not in the city

2. What they call heresy

a. I worship the God of my fathers

b. I believe all things written in the Law and the Prophets

c. I have hope of the resurrection

1. Of the just

2. Of the unjust

d. This is why I have a clear conscience before God and man

3. Now after many years I visited my nation

a. Bring alms

b. Bringing offerings

4. Certain Asian Jews saw me purified in the temple

a. Not with a multitude

b. Not with disorder

c. These Asian Jews should be before you

d. Or let these say if they have found anything evil in me

5. I did say before the Sanhedrin - I am called in question because of the resurrection

VIII. Paul Given Liberty - Acts 24:22-23

A. Felix deferred the matter until Lycias came

B. Commanded a centurion

1. Keep Paul

2. Let him have liberty

3. Don't forbid his acquaintances to visit

VIII. Paul Before Felix and Drusilla - Acts 24:24-27

A. Who was Drusilla - A Jewess


Third and youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. (Killed James, John’s brother)

Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea, induced her to leave her

husband, Azizus, the king of Emesa, and become his wife. She was

present with Felix when Paul reasoned of "righteousness, temperance,

and judgment to come"  She and her son perished in the

eruption of Mount Vesuvius, A.D. 79.  (Antiq. B. XX. ch. 7. sect. 1)

A. Sent for Paul

B. Listened about faith in Christ

1. Righteousness

2. Temperance

3. Judgment to come

C. Felix’s response

1. Trembled

2. Go your way

3. I'll send for you when it's convenient

4. Wanted Paul to bribe him for freedom

5. Festus took over

a. After two years,

b. Felix put Paul in bonds - to please the Jews

IX. Paul Before Festus - Acts 25:1 - 25:12

A. Two years Festus took over

B. Went to Jerusalem - Jews still want to kill Paul

1. High priest told him of Paul

2. High priest wanted him to send for Paul

3. Festus told Jews to come to Caesarea and accuse Paul

4. Festus returns to Caesarea in 10 days

C. Festus calls for Paul in front of the Jews

D. Jews accuse Paul with no proof

E. Festus wants to please Jews - wants Paul to go to Jerusalem

F. Paul says he wants to appeal to Caesar

1. Paul had done nothing against the Jews

2. You can't send me to Jerusalem - nothing worthy of death

G. Festus replies, you will face Caesar

X. Agrippa and Bernice Visit Festus - Acts 25:13 - 26:1

A. Festus tells him of Paul

1. He was left over from Felix

2. Jews want me to turn Paul over to them

3. It is not lawful to send a Roman to death without facing his accusers

4. When I called him the charges were not as I expected

5. I asked him to go to Jerusalem to face them

6. He wants to appeal to Caesar

B. Agrippa wants to hear Paul

C. Who is Agrippa II


Son of the foregoing, was born at Rome, A.D. 27 He was the brother of Bernice and Drusilla. The Emperor Claudius (A.D. 48 invested him with the office of superintendent of the Temple of Jerusalem, and made him governor (A.D. 50 of Chalcis. He was afterwards raised to the rank of king, and made governor over the tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanias It was before him that Paul delivered (A.D. 59) his speech. His private life was very profligate. He died (the last of his race) at Rome, at the age of about seventy years, A.D. 100

D. Who is Bernice


Bearer of victory, the eldest daughter of Agrippa I., the Herod Agrippa of Acts 12.  After the early death of her first husband she was married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. After his death (A.D. 40 she lived in incestuous connection with her brother Agrippa II. in Acts 25-26. They joined the Romans at the outbreak of the final war between them and the Jews, and lived afterwards at Rome.


E. Paul brought before Bernice and Agrippa

1. With great pomp

2. With principal people of the province

3. With the chief captains

F. The Jews have told me Paul should die

1. Here

2. At Jerusalem

G. I found

1. Did nothing worthy of death

2. Wants to appeal to Augustus Caesar

3. I'm determined to send him

4. I have no charges to write to Caesar

5. I have brought him before you

H. Agrippa permits Paul to speak


XI. Paul Before Agrippa - Acts 26:2 - 26:32

A. Paul is happy to defend himself before Agrippa

1. I know you are expert in customs of the Jews

2. Please hear me patiently

3. The Jews have known me from the beginning

4. I am a Pharasee

a. Now I am charged with believing in the hope of the resurrection

b. The same hope that the twelve tribes served God always

B. Agrippa asks why would that be unreasonable that you believe in raising the dead?

C. I used to oppose the Christians

1. I received authority from the chief priests

2. I put in prison many saints

3. I put many to death

4. I took them from many synagogues

5. I compelled them to blaspheme

6. I traveled to many citys to do this

7. I went to Damascus with authority and commission of the high priests

a. I saw a light from heaven on the way

1. Brighter than the sun

2. Shined around me and the ones with me

b. We all fell to the earth

c. I heard a voice in Hebrew - Why do you persecute me?  It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.

d. Paul answered, "Who art thou Lord?"

e. I am Jesus who thou have been persecuting

1. Stand up

2. Because I have appeared 

a. To make you a minister of what you've seen

b. Delivering you from the people I will send you

1. Jews

2. Gentiles

c. To open their eyes

d. To turn them from darkness into light

c. Turn them from the power of Satan to God

d. They may receive forgiveness of sins

e. They may receive the inheritance of the sanctified in Me

f. I have followed the vision - instructed them to repent

1. In Jerusalem

2. Throughout Judea

3. Then to the Gentiles

8. This is why the Jews want to kill me

9. With the help of God I continue

a. Telling both small and great

b. The things that the prophets said would come

1.  That Christ would come

2. He would be the first to raise from the dead

3. He would show the light to the Jews and Gentiles

D. Agrippa Speaks

1. You are beside yourself

2. Much learning has made you mad

E. Paul says, "I am not mad

1. I speak the words of truth

2. In soberness

3. I think you know what I am saying

4. None of these things were done in private

5. Do you believe the prophets?

6. I know you do

F. Agrippa says, "Almost you persuade me to become a Christian."

G. Paul says

1. I wish you were more than just almost persuaded

2. I wish you were like me except for these bonds

H. All but Paul confer together

1. This man has done nothing worthy of death

2. Agrippa says he would have gone free if he hadn't appealed to Ceaser




Application Concerning How We Should Act


I. Acts 24 Demonstrates the grace of God toward Felix and Drusilla

A. Paul's two year liberty might seem a waste of time because Paul’s arrival in Rome is put off two years.

B. Is the Grace of God

1. Acts 24:24-26 show a time for the gospel to be repeatedly proclaimed to this governor and his wife.

2. God had purposed and promised that Paul would be His instrument to proclaim the gospel to Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel

Acts 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

II. The Power of the Gospel is demonstrated with the true Gospel

A. Paul could have modified the Gospel in such a way as to be less offensive to Felix and his wife.

B. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts - not the messenger

John 16:7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

John 16:8  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {reprove: or, convince}

We should give the pure unaltered Gospel message

III. The Power of God is demonstrated by the purity of our lifestyle.

A. Paul probably could have gone free with a bribe

B. Paul wanted a verdict which would promote the Gospel.

C. He left his fate in God’s hands. If he could not be released legally and honestly, he would not be released. Paul’s purity of lifestyle was directly linked, I believed, to his grasp of the power of God.

We shouldn't “bend the rules” or “play the world’s games” in order to promote the gospel.

IV.  God will use His servants, government officials, and even the religious - God's Plan for the Gospel spread to kings, Gentiles, and children of Isreal is demonstrated

1. God used Paul's love for his people to preach the Gospel to them

2. God used James and the churches who loved Paul to get him to Jerusalem

3. God used the opposition of the Sanhedrin who hated Paul and the Gospel

4. God used Claudias Lysias's care in protecting Paul's rights as a Roman citizen

5. God used the self-seeking Felix, who wanted to use Paul for his own interests

6.  God used the inexperience of Festus to spread the Gospel to Rome

7. God used the power of King Agrippa to get Paul to Rome

 We should be willing to be used of God

V. God is in control even when the world is out of control

1. Paul's ministry seems to be ended

2. Paul's life seems to be ending

3. The Gospel is preached to Felix and his wife

4. We should have faith in God's Word in the midst of sin, opposition, and confusion

We should not get discouraged in hard times


Galatians 6:9  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

VI. God always keeps His promises

A. At the time of Paul’s conversion, God revealed that he would witness of Christ “before the Gentiles and kings”.  Paul has already stood before Claudius Lysias, and Felix, and now Festus, and before “king” Agrippa and Bernice. Before very long, he will stand before Caesar.

Romans 11:30  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: {believed: or, obeyed}

Romans 11:31  Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. {believed: or, obeyed}

Romans 11:32  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. {concluded…: or, shut them all up together}

Romans 11:33  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Romans 11:34  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

Romans 11:35  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

Romans 11:36  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. {whom: Gr. him}

B. God gave Paul a platform to speak by using

1. God used Paul's love for his people to preach the Gospel to them

2. God used James and the churches who loved Paul to get him to Jerusalem

3. God used the opposition of the Sanhedrin who hated Paul and the Gospel

4. God used Claudias Lysias's care in protecting Paul's rights as a Roman citizen

5. God used the self-seeking Felix, who wanted to use Paul for his own interests

6.  God used the inexperience of Festus

C. God's plan will succeed even when there is a roadblock in front of his servants

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

D. God does not necessarily reveal all details to His plan - it will be to His glory

1. God's ways are higher than our ways

Isaiah 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

2. God revealed some of His plan to Paul, but not in detail or the timing

3. We are to use  faith in  God's Word, and reasoning (guided by the Holy Spirit) in serving God

a. When God guided Barnabas and Paul to begin the “first missionary journey,” He did it through the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch. But this guidance only informed to “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He had called them”. The church had to discern what the work was, to which Barnabas and Paul were called. Barnabas and Paul had to discern where they were to go, which was not told them in the beginning, but was progressively revealed or determined. They did not know, at the beginning, that Paul would take prominence over Barnabas (so that the order of their names would be reversed).

b. In the “second missionary journey,” the thought to make this journey came first from the two missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, to visit those churches which had been founded on their first journey. The missionary team was divided by an argument between Paul and Barnabas, and the team was reformed . The journey went far beyond that which was first envisioned, and the places to which they were to go, or to avoid, were indicated over time and in different (sometimes unexplained) ways. The “Macedonian vision” was not as specific in its guidance as some seem to think. Paul was not told to go to Macedonia, or Philippi. He simply had a vision of a Macedonian, who pleaded for help. Paul and the others had to think and pray about this vision, to conclude that it was God’s guidance to go to Macedonia.  The decision to go to Philippi seems to have been made apart from any specific revelation.

c. How did Paul know that he was to appeal to Caesar? He “reasoned by faith” that this was the thing to do. He knew from his vision in Jerusalem that his work in Jerusalem was ending, and that he had a work to do in Rome. He knew the Jews were trying to kill him, and that they needed him in Jerusalem to do their evil deed. He knew now that Festus wanted to appease the Jews by persuading him to go to Jerusalem. Paul knew of his rights as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar, which would take him to Rome. It was a decision, based partly upon divine revelation, and partly on human reasoning (guided by the Holy Spirit).

d. Abraham discerned God’s will in the same way. God gave Abraham a number of promises, a land, a seed, and a world-wide blessing. The timing and the means were not revealed. Abraham was told to leave his homeland and his relatives, to go to the place where God would lead him, but he was not told at first where this would be. It became more and more clear that some of God’s promises could only be fulfilled through a son, whom we know (in time) would be Isaac. When God later commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, this caused a real dilemma for Abraham, because he was to kill the means by which many of God’s promises (and his hopes) were to be fulfilled. In the New Testament, we learn that Abraham came to grips with this matter by reasoning and by faith, or, should I say, by “faith reasoning”:


Hebrews 11:17  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

Hebrews 11:18  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: {of: or, to}

Hebrews 11:19  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

God did not command Abraham to sacrifice his son, telling him at the same time that He would spare this son by providing an animal in his place. He did not assure him of His ability to raise the dead. His ability to raise the dead was taught Abraham by the way in which Isaac was born

Romans 4:18  Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Romans 4:19  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:

Romans 4:20  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Romans 4:21  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

If God could give Abraham and Sarah (who were as good as dead when it came to child-bearing), then He could also bring this dead child to life, if he were sacrificed. The obedience of Abraham was based upon partial revelation of God’s will, and upon a reasoning of faith, based upon what God had already said and done in the life of Abraham.


We must act in faith, on what God has told us He will do, on the principles which should govern how we act, and on  “faith reasoning,” enabled by His Spirit, confident that He will use us as He wills, to further the gospel.

Application On How We Should Witness

I. Paul’s defense to Agrippa was not an “appeal to be pronounced innocent” but an “appeal for the salvation of Agrippa.”

We must be more concerned with the people we meet than ourselves

II. Paul’s best defense was his own life story.

We must give our testimony to people we meet

III. God Preached the Gospel in the Old Testament

Acts 26:22  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

We must point out the prophecies and prom ices in the Old Testament to people we meet

IV. The Resurrection is important in the Gospel.

As Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:38  Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Matthew 12:39  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

Matthew 12:40  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

We must teach the resurrection to the people we meet

IV. Paul’s defense explains Israel’s unbelief, and God's plan to turn them back to God

A. They oppose the Gospel preached in their own Scriptures

B. They oppose the Gospel because of the hardness of their hearts

1. contrary to the Scriptures

2. Contrary to history

3. Contrary to logic.

C. The Tribulation and Second Coming will be for the Isreal Nation to come to God

We need to teach the Second Coming to the people we meet

VI. The problem with Jews then, and Christians today is the same - The things we believe we do not live.

A. Paul had more harmony with the Pharasees because of the resurrection of the dead

B. The Pharasees needed to act on a belief in the resurrection of the Messiah as prophesied.