Introduction: Very few people look forward to a trial. When we last
left Paul, the Governor told him, “I will hear your case when your
accusers get here.” In our study this week, Paul’s accusers arrive
and we study the charges and how Paul defends himself in not one but
two trials! Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Trial Before Felix

    1. Read Acts 24:1-4. Have we seen the Jewish leaders hire a
      lawyer before to bring charges against Paul? (Not that I

      1. Why do they hire a lawyer this time? (They want to be
        rid of Paul. It might also reflect that this is a
        more formal setting.)

      2. How does the lawyer Tertullus start his case against
        Paul? (He starts out complimenting Governor Felix.)

        1. What does this tell us about Felix? (He is vain
          and perhaps not too smart. Felix should realize
          this has nothing to do with the charges against

      3. Have you ever heard a lawyer argue? If so, did you
        hear a promise to be brief? (This is a promise often
        made and often broken.)

    2. Read Acts 24:5-9. What are the charges against Paul? (He
      creates trouble and starts riots. He is a leader of the
      Christian church. He tried to desecrate the temple.)

      1. Are these charges true? (It is true that the Jews
        often riot when they hear Paul’s message. So do
        others. This, of course, is a crime on the rioter’s
        part, and not Paul’s crime. It is true that Paul is
        a leader in the Church. The last charge has changed,
        compare Acts 21:28-29.)

    3. Read Acts 24:10. Is Paul also starting with an irrelevant
      statement? (Paul is saying that Felix knows the Jewish
      leaders are trouble. He is not complimenting Felix, he is
      telling Felix to consider his own experience with these

    4. Read Acts 24:11-13. Does this meet the rioting charge
      against Paul? (The charge is that Paul is starting riots
      everywhere. Paul denies that he was stirring up the crowd
      in Jerusalem twelve days earlier.)

      1. Who has the burden of proof here? (Paul asserts that
        the Jewish leaders have the burden of proof.)

    5. Read Acts 24:14-16. What does Paul say about the charge
      that he is a leader in the Church? (He admits it.)

      1. Paul goes on to talk about theology. Why is that
        important? (Read Acts 23:29. This is part of the
        letter from Claudius Lysias to Governor Felix. Lysias
        says that the charges against Paul have to do with
        religion, not some civil charge worthy of
        imprisonment or worse. Paul is reinforcing that

    6. Read Acts 24:17-21. We find here a defense to the charge
      of riots around the world. What is Paul’s defense? (Those
      who made the original charges are not here. There is no
      first hand testimony about this. Paul did nothing wrong
      when he was in the temple in Jerusalem, so nothing in his
      current conduct would suggest wrongdoing in other places.)

      1. Of what charge did the Sanhedrin find Paul guilty?
        (Read Acts 23:9-10. The Sanhedrin did not reach a
        verdict because the place broke out in a riot.)

    7. Read Acts 24:22-23. Why would Felix wait for Lysias? Will
      Lysias add anything? He already wrote a letter stating
      that Paul is not guilty.

      1. How are we to understand the statement that Felix
        knows a lot about Christianity?

    8. Read Acts 24:24-25. Is there any legal problem here?
      (Felix the judge, is listening only to Paul’s side of the
      case. In an American court of law, both sides are supposed
      to be present.)

      1. Why would the judge become afraid? Does this teach us
        something about the way that we should witness? (This
        shows that Felix is not a good man. He does not want
        to hear about self-control or “the judgment to

        1. Paul is a big proponent of grace? What does
          this say about grace? (Grace does not free us
          to live any way that we want. God has right
          living in mind for us.)

    9. Read Acts 24:26. Why would Felix think that Paul might
      offer a bribe? (Re-read Acts 24:17. Paul is bringing money
      to the poor, perhaps he might bring some to Felix. This,
      of course, if further proof that Felix is a bad man.)

    10. Read Acts 24:27. What is the most important factor in this
      trial? (Not a search for the truth, but rather political

      1. Why would God allow this? Remember that this is the
        same God who walked Peter out of prison. See Acts
        12:6-10. (We know that God has the power to free
        Paul. Thus, God has His reasons for leaving Paul in

  2. The Trial Before Festus

    1. Read Acts 25:1-3. What would motivate Festus to agree to
      this? (He was new to the job. An important part of his job
      was to keep peace with the Jews.)

    2. Read Acts 25:4-5. On what basis does Festus decide to
      reject the proposal of the Jewish leaders? (It seems like
      the convenient solution for everyone except the Jewish

      1. What presumption does Festus express with regard to
        Paul’s trial? (He presumes him innocent.)

    3. Read Acts 25:6. Notice that within two weeks of starting
      the job, Festus hears the case against Paul. What does
      that suggest? (Paul’s case is important. Imagine all the
      other things that Festus is supposed to do in his new

    4. Read Acts 25:7-11. How is it a favor to the Jews to move
      the trial to Jerusalem if Festus is still going to be the

      1. Recall that in Acts 25:3 we learned that the Jews
        wanted to kill Paul during the transfer. Do you think
        that Festus understood this? (I doubt it, unless he
        had been briefed on the previous plot against Paul in

      2. Why would Festus seek Paul’s consent for the transfer
        to Jerusalem? (If Paul agrees it is a simple

        1. Why does Paul not agree? (In Acts 25:11 he
          refers to being handed over to the Jews. Paul
          knows they will have more practical power over
          him in Jerusalem.)

      3. How do you think the trial is going so far for Paul?
        (Very well.)

        1. If it is going well, why does Paul appeal to

    5. Read Acts 25:12. Is this an easy decision for Festus?

    6. Read Acts 25:16-21. Now we learn the private thoughts of
      the judge! Why was Festus willing to let Paul be
      transferred to Jerusalem if Paul consented?

      1. How would Festus have decided the case if Paul had
        not appealed? (Paul would have won.)

    7. Read Acts 25:23-27. What is the most pressing problem for
      Festus? (He cannot even put together a reasonable
      statement of the charges against Paul.)

    8. In Acts 26:1-21 Paul recites his conversion story and the
      gospel mission given to him by God as his defense to the
      charges made against him. Notice that at this hearing Paul
      has no accusers. Read Acts 26:22-24. What has made Festus
      think Paul is out of his mind? (The talk about Jesus being
      the first to rise from the dead.)

      1. Is there a compliment in Festus’s charge? (Paul is a
        man of great learning.)

    9. Read Acts 26:25-28. Does King Agrippa think Paul is
      insane? (Quite the opposite. He merely says that he is not

    10. Read Acts 26:29-32. Was it a mistake for Paul to appeal to

      1. Read Acts 28:17-19. What do you think about Paul’s
        explanation for his appeal?

      2. Let’s revisit something we have already read. Read
        Acts 23:11. Do you think these words from Jesus
        motivated Paul?

    11. Friend, these trials and hearings show that Paul is
      innocent of any criminal charges, yet he continues to be
      confined. Have unjust things happened in your life? Were
      they the result of your obedience to God? Will you
      determine that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to remain
      faithful to God even when unjust things happen to you?

  3. Next week: Journey to Rome.