Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Acts Ch.24 / 28 Ch.s


* The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul's defence
before Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul.

#1-9 See here the unhappiness of great men, and a great
unhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyond
measure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; hereby
they are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God's
prophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and our
Lord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very same
charges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passions
of men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech,
too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men against
the truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felix
appear at the day of judgement, from what they are represented
in the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value the
applause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, who
represent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and the
excellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition.

#10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him
from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence
against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its
having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God,
to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other
rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there
will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their
doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was to
have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to
abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of
religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If
blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our
neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation?
How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness,
nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of
love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his
service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes
in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any
sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which
the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the
Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be
a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his
heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in
silence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; he
will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than
one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than

#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.