Acts 24:6

ESV He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.
NIV and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.
NASB And he even tried to desecrate the temple, so indeed we arrested him.
CSB He even tried to desecrate the temple, and so we apprehended him. By examining him yourself you will be able to discern the truth about these charges we are bringing against him."
NLT Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him.
KJV Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.

What does Acts 24:6 mean?

Tertullus is presenting the Sanhedrin's case against Paul before Governor Felix. He has already accused Paul of inciting riots around the Roman Empire (Acts 24:5) and now claims that only the quick thinking of his noble clients saved the temple from Paul's desecration.

This is a serious charge. It was a capital offense according to Roman law to defile a religious structure. Despite the belief of the Romans that Jews were atheists because they had no images of their God, Judaism was a protected religion, and the temple was a sacred monument.

The truth of the matter is that Jews from the province of Asia in southeast modern-day Turkey saw Paul in Jerusalem with an Asian Gentile named Trophimus. They later saw Paul in the temple and assumed he had brought Trophimus with him (Acts 21:27–29). Gentiles were more than welcome in the courtyard around the temple—it was called the "Courtyard of the Gentiles"—but they couldn't go inside unless they had fully converted to Judaism, up to and including being circumcised. So, if Paul had brought Trophimus into the temple, the Sanhedrin would have a case. But he didn't, so they don't.

Tertullus also plays with the truth when he says the Sanhedrin "seized" Paul. Those Jews from Asia grabbed Paul, dragged him out of the temple, and incited a mob to beat him so badly the Roman army tribune had to send soldiers to rescue him (Acts 21:30–36). The reason for the trial before the Governor is because Lysias, the tribune, couldn't figure out what crime Paul had committed, and the Sanhedrin had joined a conspiracy to murder him (Acts 23:12–15, 26–30).

Less-reliable manuscripts have an additional phrase at the end that reads, "and we would have judged him according to our law." Verse 7 and the first part of verse 8 are also missing from older texts; they read, "But the chief captain Lysias came and with great violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come before you." The inference is that Lysias is wasting Felix's time and got in the way of the rightful role of the Sanhedrin in their responsibilities of enforcing Jewish law. Even though Lysias never appears to give his testimony, Felix knows they're lying.
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