Acts 24:19

ESV they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me.
NIV But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me.
NASB who ought to have been present before you and to have been bringing charges, if they should have anything against me.
CSB It is they who ought to be here before you to bring charges, if they have anything against me.
NLT But some Jews from the province of Asia were there — and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me!
KJV Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

What does Acts 24:19 mean?

When Paul was touring around the Aegean Sea, visiting churches and trying to avoid plots long enough to get to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit told him that when he reached Jerusalem he would be arrested (Acts 20:22–23). He didn't know that he would also face more than four years of injustice.

Paul is in the middle of a trial before Governor Felix in Caesarea Maritima. About a week prior, Paul had been at the temple, trying to help four men complete a vow. Jews from Asia, the province in southwest modern-day Turkey, wrongly accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple. To do so would be against the Mosaic law and possibly a capital offense against Roman law. The men dragged Paul from the temple and beat him. A mob formed and joined in the violence, even though Paul hadn't brought his friend in the temple (Acts 21:27–30).

When the Roman tribune heard about the fight, he took several soldiers to break it up. He couldn't determine what was going on because many of the revelers didn't know. He bound Paul and arrested him, then tried to flog him to force the information out of him. Paul managed to tell the centurion he was a Roman citizen. The tribune was horrified; not only was it illegal to torture a Roman citizen who hadn't been convicted of a crime, it was illegal to bind him (Acts 21:31–36; 22:24–29). This provides a likely explanation for why the tribune, himself, didn't show up for this trial.

The next day the tribune took Paul to the Sanhedrin in hopes the Jewish council could explain why everyone was angry with Paul. Paul started the meeting by declaring his good conscience whereupon someone from the council ordered Paul be struck. Paul called his attacker a "whitewashed wall" before learning the high priest Ananias gave the order. Paul responded in a seemingly gracious way that revealed he knew Ananias was corrupt, and then Paul manipulated the Sadducees and Pharisees into a fight. The tribune, again, had to take him away before he was killed (Acts 23:1–10).

The following day, forty Jews conspired with the Sanhedrin to assassinate Paul. Only Paul's nephew's quick thinking and the tribune's fear kept Paul safe (Acts 23:12–24).

Now, representatives from the Sanhedrin are bringing charges against Paul before Felix. They claim, among other things, that he starts riots and tried to profane the temple (Acts 24:1–6). Paul points out that no one there saw the "riot" or his supposed temple desecration. If he committed these things—which the tribune couldn't even prove (Acts 23:26–30)—the witnesses from Asia should be there to testify. But they're not. Possibly because they're not interested in convicting Paul, they just want him dead, which is more difficult with Paul in the capital—Caesarea—than in Jerusalem where the government representative is a confused twenty-something-year-old junior officer.

This is the first twelve days of Paul's four years of injustice. Felix knows Paul hasn't done anything, but he wants to keep the Sanhedrin quiet—or get a bribe from Paul—so he keeps Paul under house arrest (Acts 24:26–27). Two years later, Festus will replace Felix and Paul will appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11–12). He will survive one more death threat (Acts 27:42–43) before finally arriving at Rome, where he will spend another two years under house arrest before being freed (Acts 28:30–31).
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