Acts 24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
In verse 24 we learn more about Felix’s understanding of spiritual truths. His wife was a Jewess. She was not a saved woman, but she would have known some things about Jewish beliefs and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Felix sent for Paul and heard him regarding the faith in Christ. Paul would not have had this opportunity if he had hid behind some lawyer who was only capable of arguing on the basis of secular law. Paul was a man of conviction and he was not ashamed of speaking the truth, even in a hostile environment. Paul is an example of what every true Christian should be like. We need to be students of the Word and trust God to guide us in giving an answer when needed. God was also working in Felix’s heart to give him a desire to hear more about the truth. The problem with Felix was that he refused to yield to God’s drawing in his heart.
In verse 25 we see that Paul reasoned with Felix. The word translated as “reasoned” means “to say thoroughly, to converse, to discuss”. Paul was willing to speak of those things that were important in Felix’s life. Felix needed to know what true faith in Christ was about. It was more than just having a home in heaven. It was about righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.
Felix needed to know what true righteousness was. It was more than just a word spoken. It was something that could be and must be demonstrated. The word translated as “righteousness” means “integrity, virtue, purity of life, correctness in thinking, feeling and acting.” Felix would know that the righteousness that Paul spoke of was different than the righteousness that the false teachers spoke of. It was something that was not possible by a mere mortal. It was something that was the result of the new birth. Romans 10:4:
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
The true Christian does not try to act righteously in his own strength. He is saved and relies on the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable him to walk in righteousness. It is not the hypocrisy that Felix would have observed in the Jews and quite likely even in his own wife as an unsaved Jew. True Christians walk in righteousness, and they do so under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
Temperance is that “self-control particularly in regard to sensual appetites”, that the true child of God has. The child of God is different and has the ability to honour God in all areas of life.
Judgment to come was something that Felix needed to be aware of. He was the governor and he was called upon to sit in judgment of others, including the apostle Paul. He was not fit to judge the apostle Paul, because he was assuming to be knowledgable of the Gospel, which he was not. Felix was under the judgment of God and he was not in a good place.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Felix could have been saved, but rather he was living under the wrath of God. That was not good in his present life and would certainly not be good for him after death. As Paul reasoned with Felix on these matters, it caused fear to come upon Felix. That was a good thing, but Felix did not act on that fear in a proper manner. His pride kept him from turning to God in repentance and being forgiven and saved.
Felix dismissed Paul after a time and stated that he would call on him again when he had a convenient season. There are far too many people that put off the most important matter in life for a more convenient season. Presently they have too many other things that they assume are more important than knowing the true God. There is nothing more important than knowing the true God. Everything of value revolves around knowing the true God.
In verse 26 we see the evil heart of Felix. He was looking for money. He was the governor. Yet he wanted to be bribed so that he could set Paul free. He knew Paul was not a criminal. He knew he had no legitimate reason to keep him in prison. However, as a politician, he would see if Paul would get tired of being locked up and if he would offer some money to be released. That was the corruption that dominated the justice system of that time. Certainly different than the righteousness, temperance and judgment that Paul spoke of.
Felix sent for Paul the oftener and communed with him. He was bringing further condemnation upon himself because he was receiving all this light, but was rejecting it. It is good to ask questions regarding spiritual matters. It is also important to act responsibly with the answers given. Felix was not doing that. His mind was set on making money, not on getting saved.
In verse 27 we see that Felix would delay Paul’s release for political reasons. Two years Paul was kept in prison there. Festus would relieve Felix as governor of Caesarea and Felix would leave Paul bound to do a favour for the lost Jews. He knew they were wrong, but there was more of them than there was of the apostle Paul. The lost Jews were not afraid to cause a public display of their displeasure. Paul and the other true Christians would not do that. They would speak the truth in love, but they did not cause a riot. Felix had nothing to fear from the true Christians. He needed to fear God and he needed to humble himself and be saved. He made a very foolish choice and decided to entertain the lost and remain under God’s wrath, himself.
God was being gracious to Felix and to others in his court. He had many opportunities to turn to God and be saved. God’s Word was powerful and it was convincing him of his sin. The Holy Spirit was working in conjunction with the Word of God and convincing Felix of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. However, Felix failed to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. He no doubt had opportunity to judge many who did not take their crimes seriously. He may even have had occasion to sentence some criminals to death. Yet he was neglecting the serious situation of his own soul. He was content to remain in sin, rather than humble himself and know God’s peace. He would not take one penny with him beyond the grave. At death he would lose all his possessions. He would face the judgment of Christ in the wrong place.
That is the state that many are in today. Many do not take the matter of the condition of their soul seriously. They assume it will all work out in the end, even though they do not submit to God’s Word. It is important to not just hear the truth, but to actually submit to the truth and be saved. It is important to live for God and glorify Him.
As we mentioned before, Paul spent several years in prison, but his time was not wasted. He did not make any money while in prison, but he was given many opportunities to speak to many people without having to hire a ship or travel on foot to different places. God brought many people to him and he had opportunity to speak to the governor and to others while in prison. It is never a waste of time to serve the Lord. We are not told if anyone was saved at that time through Paul’s efforts. For centuries people have read this account and had opportunity to know the truth and to learn how to respond to the ungodly. What was important was that Paul was faithful to the Lord. He definitely had the right impact on the hearts of people. He was content to serve the Lord wherever he was. That is something that we who are saved need to learn as well. We need to serve the Lord where He places us. If we glorify Him, that is what matters. There is joy in serving the true God as His child.