What does Acts chapter 24 mean?Acts 24 recounts Paul's trial before Governor Felix in Caesarea Maritima. Paul returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey to accusations he taught Jewish Christians they did not have to circumcise their sons (Acts 21:20–21). This is false: he only teaches this to Gentiles as even Jewish Jesus-followers do not have to follow the Mosaic law. While at the temple to perform a ceremony to prove his devotion to Judaism, Paul is again falsely accused, this time of bringing a Gentile into the temple (Acts 21:27–29). The Roman army tribune has spent three days trying to determine if Paul broke a Roman law, a Jewish law, or just has a different way of expressing his religion. After getting nowhere and facing a conspiracy by the Sanhedrin to assassinate Paul (Acts 23:12–15), the tribune has sent him to the governor.
In Acts 24:1–9, Paul's accusers arrive and present their case. The high priest Ananias and a few elders from the Sanhedrin allow the lawyer Tertullus to speak as Roman courts have specific protocols. Tertullus gives the customary flattery—despite the fact Felix is a horrible person—and accuses Paul of being a menace, a cult leader, and an attempted desecrater of a religious structure, which under Roman law was punishable by death. The high priest and other witnesses attest to the charges.
In Acts 24:10–21, Paul makes his defense. He points out he's only been in Jerusalem for about a week—hardly enough time to organize a revolution. As he did before the Sanhedrin, Paul largely ignores the surface charges and gets to the heart of the matter: he's there because he believes in the resurrection of the dead. He then points out that the men who originally accused him of desecrating the temple aren't even present.
Acts 24:22–27 records Felix's response. He knows about Christianity and their belief in resurrection, so he's not concerned about the doctrinal spat. He tells the group he will wait for the tribune to arrive and give his testimony. Until then, Paul is held under a relatively casual form of house arrest. But the tribune never arrives. Felix would just as soon keep the peace with the Sanhedrin if Paul isn't going to be coerced into paying for his freedom. So, Felix keeps Paul in custody until he is relieved two years later by Porcius Festus.
When Festus takes office, he is almost immediately beset by the Sanhedrin who want Paul convicted. Festus invites them to Caesarea where they repeat their accusations and Paul repeats his defense. This time, however, frustrated by the politics and mindful that Jesus has told him he will go to Rome (Acts 23:11), Paul appeals his case to Caesar. Since Paul is a Roman citizen, Festus has no choice but to honor his request. Before he leaves, however, Paul can witness to Agrippa II, fulfilling Jesus' promise to Ananias that Paul would bear His name before kings (Acts 9:15; 25—26).