Acts 24:23
And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul.—More accurately, the centurion—either the officer in whose custody he had been placed by Lysias, or the one who had the special charge of the prisoners waiting for trial. The favourable impression made on Felix is shown by the unusual leniency with which the prisoner was treated. The attribute of “clemency,” on which the orator had complimented Felix, was not altogether dead, but it was shown to the accused and not to the accusers.

24:22-27 The apostle reasoned concerning the nature and obligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligate mistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of the grace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power of godliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in the day of God's appearing. A prospect of the judgment to come, is enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled, but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who are not changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yet continue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of our souls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a more convenient season, but we do not find that the more convenient season ever came. Behold now is the accepted time; hear the voice of the Lord to-day. He was in haste to turn from hearing the truth. Was any business more urgent than for him to reform his conduct, or more important than the salvation of his soul! Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by a loud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness. Be not deceived by occasional appearances of religion in ourselves or in others. Above all, let us not trifle with the word of God. Do we expect that as we advance in life our hearts will grow softer, or that the influence of the world will decline? Are we not at this moment in danger of being lost for ever? Now is the day of salvation; tomorrow may be too late.And he commanded ... - It is evident from this verse that Felix was disposed to show Paul all the favors that were consistent with his safe keeping. He esteemed him to be a persecuted man, and doubtless regarded the charges against him as entirely malicious. What was Felix's motive in this cannot be certainly known. It is not improbable, however, that he detained him:

(1) To gratify the Jews by keeping him in custody as if he were guilty, and,

(2) That he hoped the friends of Paul would give him money to release him. Perhaps it was for this purpose that he gave orders that his friends should have free access to him, that thus Paul might be furnished with the means of purchasing his freedom.

22, 23. having more perfect knowledge of that—"the"

way—(See on [2106]Ac 19:23; and [2107]Ac 24:14).

When Lysias … shall come … I will how, &c.—Felix might have dismissed the case as a tissue of unsupported charges. But if from his interest in the matter he really wished to have the presence of Lysias and others involved, a brief delay was not unworthy of him as a judge. Certainly, so far as recorded, neither Lysias nor any other parties appeared again in the case. Ac 24:23, however, seems to show that at that time his prepossessions in favor of Paul were strong.

To let him have liberty; not so confined as to be kept in a dungeon, or more inward prison; but to have the liberty of the prison, yet so as with a chain about him; as appears, Acts 26:29 Acts 28:20.

Acquaintance; relations or disciples; for there was a church at Caesarea, Acts 10:48 21:8. When it is expedient for us, God can add the comforts of these outward enjoyments, relations and friends, unto us; and that his and our enemies shall contribute towards it. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul,.... In custody, to watch and guard him, and look after him, that he went not away, since he was neither condemned nor acquitted; and therefore must be retained a prisoner, till one or other was done:

and to let him have liberty; not to go where he pleased, or out of the place of confinement, for then there would have been no need of the after direction, not to prohibit his friends from coming to him; but to free him from his bonds and close confinement; which was done, partly on account of his being a Roman, and partly because he took him to be an innocent man, and it may be because he hoped to receive money from him:

that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him; but that they should have free access to him, and the liberty of conversation with him; which layouts granted show that he was inclined to the side of Paul, both through the defence that he had made for himself, and through the letter which Lysias sent him, as well as through the knowledge he had gained by long observation and experience, of the temper and disposition of the Jews, their priests and elders.

{6} And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.

(6) God is a most faithful keeper of his servants, and the power of the truth is wonderful, even amongst men who are otherwise profane.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 24:23. Διαταξ.] belongs, like εἰπών, to ἀνεβάλετο, and (yet τέ has preponderant testimony against it) having given orders. Comp. κελεύσας, Acts 23:35.

τηρεῖσθαι αὐτὸν κ.τ.λ.] that he should be kept in custody and should have relaxation. He was to have rest (“requiem,” Vulgate), to be spared all annoyance. Comp. Plat. Pol. ix. p. 590 B: χαλάσει τε καὶ ἀνέσει. Polyb. i. 66. 10 : ἄνεσις καὶ σχολή. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 6. 10 : φυλακὴ μὲν γὰρ καὶ τήρησις ἦν, μετὰ μέντοι ἀνέσεως τῆς εἰς τὴν δίαιταν. So correctly also Wieseler, p. 381. Usually ἄνεσιν is understood of release from chains, custodia libera, φυλακὴ ἄδεσμος (Arrian. ii. 15. 7; see on it, Geib, Gesch. d. Rôm. Criminalprocesses, p. 562 f.); but without indication of this special reference in the text, and against Acts 24:27. From τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ it is rather to be inferred that the present custody was the usual custodia militaris, in which, however, Paul was to be treated with mildness and to be left without other molestation.

καὶ μηδένα κωλύειν] the construction is active: and that he (the centurion) should hinder no one.

τῶν ἰδίων αὐτοῦ] is not to be understood of the Jewish servants of the procurator, but of those belonging to the apostle. They were his friends and disciples, among whom were perhaps also relatives (Acts 23:16). They were allowed to be at hand and serviceable for the satisfaction of his wants.Acts 24:23. τηρεῖσθαι: that he should he kept in charge as a prisoner; not middle as in A.V.—ἔχειν τε ἄνεσιν: “and should have indulgence,” R.V., not “liberty,” A.V., word only elsewhere in Paul in N.T., 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, cf. also Sir 26:10, 1Es 4:62. From Acts 24:27 it appears that the prisoner was still bound, but the indulgence involved a custodia liberior, and extended to food, and the visits of friends, and remission from the severer form of custody, cf. Jos., Ant., xviii., 6, 7, 10, where Agrippa has similar indulgence in his imprisonment at Rome, but is still chained.—μηδένα κωλύειν τῶν ἰδίων, cf. Acts 4:23, Luke, Aristarchus, perhaps Trophimus, cf. Jos., Ant., xviii, u. s., for the same indulgence; change of subject to centurion in κωλύειν.—ὑπηρετεῖν, Acts 13:36, Acts 20:34.23. And he commanded a centurion] The Greek noun has the article, therefore the Rev. Ver. gives “the centurion.” It might perhaps be one of the two whom Lysias had put in charge of the conveyance of Paul (Acts 23:23). One might be appointed to go on to Cæsarea, while the other returned with the larger part of the convoy from Antipatris.

to keep Paul] The best MSS. omit the proper name. Read (with Rev. Ver.) “that he should be kept in charge.” The verb only conveys the idea of safe keeping, not of severe detention, and it is clear that for some reason Felix shewed himself well-disposed towards the Apostle. Either his conscience moved him, or his hope of gain, or perhaps the flattery and compliments of Tertullus had overshot their mark.

and to let him have liberty] Better, “and should have indulgence.” That is, there should be a relaxation of prison rules in his case.

and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance] In order to join on better with the previous clause, read (with Rev. Ver.) “and not to forbid any of his friends.” The original has a word stronger than “acquaintance.” It refers more particularly to such matters as country, home, family and friends, which are specially a man’s own. Here from our limited knowledge we are only able to think of Philip the Evangelist who would be particularly a friend of St Paul, but he had been more than once before in Cæsarea, and he had no doubt made himself known there as in other places. Those unnamed disciples of Cæsarea (Acts 21:16) would be among those who had a warm interest in St Paul, and it is clear from St Luke’s language that there were friends at hand and ready to visit the Apostle when they were allowed.

to minister or come unto him] The best MSS. have no Greek for “or come.” The verb “minister” implies the doing of those services of which a prisoner even under such liberal conditions must ever stand in need. They would be his means of communication with the outer world. And the cupidity of Felix may have suggested that through these friends the means might be supplied for purchasing the Apostle’s release.Acts 24:23. Τηρεῖσθαι, that he should be kept) be secured in safety.—ἄνεσιν, rest) Thus he was able to propagate the Gospel. The Jews were annoyed at this, but could not prevent it.Verse 23. - Gave order to the for commanded a, A.V.; that he should be kept in charge for to keep Paul, A.V. and T.R.; and should have indulgence for and to let him have liberty, A.V.; not to forbid any of his friends for that he should forbid none of his acquaintance, A.V.; to minister unto him for to minister or come unto him, A.V. and T.R. Indulgence (ἄνεσις); literally, relaxation, viz. of the prison restraints and confinement. The word is used in the LXX. of 2 Chronicles 23:15, ἔδωκαν αὐτῃ ἄνεσιν, i.e. those who had taken Athaliah prisoner, "let her loose" till she got out of the temple court. It is also a common medical term for the cessation or remission of pain or disease. St. Paul uses it four times in his Epistles for "rest" or "ease" (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). Doubtless St. Luke was thus enabled to be much with St. Paul during his imprison merit, and, as suggested above, to have his help in writing his Gospel. Liberty (ἄνεσιν)

From ἀνίημι, to send up; thence, to loosen, release. It is almost exactly expressed by our vulgarism, to let up. The noun here is more correctly rendered by Rev., indulgence. In all the other New Testament passages it is rendered rest, ease, or relief. See 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.

To minister (ὑπηρετεῖν)

See on officer, Matthew 5:25.

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