Paul Accused Before Felix
"Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: 'Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us. For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law. But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.' And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so" (Acts 24:1-9).

Paul was kept in Herod's Praetorium for several days, waiting for his accusers to travel to Caesarea. The Jewish religious leaders brought an orator, Tertullus, with them. It would seem they paid this eloquent speaker to come to represent their side, hoping it would improve their chances of getting what they wanted (namely, Paul dead).

Tertullus is predictable in his speech. He begins with a steady stream of compliments for Felix. He tries his best to butter the governor up and win him over before even presenting any evidence! If we were to paraphrase his words, we might do so like this: "Felix, it is because you are so wonderful and wise that we enjoy peace and prosperity. We are thankful for you and beg of you, if you would be so kind, to hear a few words from us."

He then gets right to the point and blasts Paul - "We have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." Although it is true that Paul's faithful preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ had stirred up much controversy around the world, he was not a plague or a creator of dissension. It was the hard-hearted rebelliousness of the Jews that caused the dissension, not Paul. Furthermore, it is true that Paul, as an apostle, was a prominent leader in the church (though the church was not and is not a sect). Does the label here, "Nazarenes," suggest that the early Christians used that name to refer to themselves? Such is very unlikely since this is the only New Testament reference to "Nazarenes," and the term is used here by enemies of Christ! The city of Nazareth had a negative stigma attached to it (e.g., John 1:46); thus, the term "Nazarenes" was likely used in a derogatory way.

In addition to portraying Felix as a keeper of the peace and Paul as a disturber thereof, Tertullus goes further by specifically affirming that Paul "tried to profane the temple." The use of the word "tried" is a subtle change from their initial charge in Jerusalem, but it completely alters the meaning behind their accusation. In other words, they claim that Paul attempted to profane their temple but they seized him before he was able to do so. Additionally, they would have handled the matter themselves had Lysias not taken him away from them by force and required them to travel here to see Felix.

Tertullus concludes by stating that everything he has affirmed is correct and verifiable. I can just see the Jews with him nodding their heads in approval and affirming his words as true.