Felix arrived with Drusilla, his [ife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned. (Acts24:24-27)
After risking life and limb preaching the Way to Jewish congregations in Jerusalem (chapters 22 &23) and being unjustly accused of subverting the Jewish Law and traditions before the Sanhedrin, Paul is despatched to Caesarea partly for his own safety and also to be presented before the Governor Felix. Whilst some of his Pharisee listeners had been open to the idea that Paul may have been inspired by God so should be listened to (23:9), the majority were baying for his blood and some pledged to refrain from food and drink until the apostle had been killed. Humanly speaking, Paul’s plight was aided by the fact that he was a Roman citizen, as a result of which he received the protection of a staggeringly large military escort in his journey to Caesarea (23:23), the size of which would put any present-day US President’s motorcade in the shade. In the presence of Governor Felix, Paul presents his defence against his detractors , affirming that he had said nothing against the Jewish Law or the Temple, “ever ensuring to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God or man” (24:16)..
Why Felix trembled
The most interesting aspect of this passage concerns Felix himself in the verses quoted above for it gives a unique insight into an individual’s response to Paul’s personal evangelism. According to 24:22 Felix seemingly already had a better knowledge of the Christian Way than many of Paul’s Jewish detractors, as a result of which he postponed his decision on the case until he had had a personal discussion with Paul about what it really meant to have faith in Christ (v24). “But as Paul was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you’”.
Dear reader, if personal righteousness, self-control and final judgement are what you would expect to be at the heart of Paul’s presentation of the Gospel, then all may be well. If however, like me in the past, these emphases surprise you in view of what you understand Paul to be saying in his epistles, then bear with me as I hope in future posts (or by your accessing my book**) to show that Paul’s preaching and evangelism in Acts, though theologically less dense, is essentially consistent with the teaching of his pastoral letters that we will be reviewing shortly.
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