A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favour with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.Acts 24:24- 27
I also noticed in my rush to get ready for surgery and moving ahead to give you the bulk text to the end of chapter 26 that I passed over some things some of you have asked whether I was going to address. Yes I will do that now.
There have been some questions from several of you concerning Felix’ motivation and two of you asked just what “righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment” meant. So let’s address those issues now before we move on to chapter 25. Do these three matters Paul talked about with Felix and Drusilla remind you of anything?
And when he comes [the Holy Spirit], he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.John 16:8-11
These are the exact same three points Jesus talked about with the disciples in the upper room before going to cross.
Jesus put them in the order John recorded but Luke has changed the order here. The normal progression would be sin, righteousness and judgement. I don’t know why Paul or Luke should have changed the order. The natural progression is to talk about sin first and then righteousness. Maybe Felix or Drusilla asked about righteousness first. You will have to ask them when you get to heaven or ask Paul.
In Acts 24 we have the words:[diakaiosune] righteousness – we have no righteousness of our own. We can’t earn it. We can only come into the understanding that we have to accept the righteousness God gives through Christ. Anything else is false. Earning our salvation is not a Christian concept, that belongs to all other religions. We can’t make ourselves right before God, only He can do that. [egkrateia] self-control effectively relates to sin. It is just that here the perspective is from the other end. Felix and/or Drusilla must have asked how they could develop self-control to overcome their tendency to do wrong and to hold all their passions and desires in check. I am sure at this point Paul probably told them his experiences summarised in Roman 7:9-25. The simple answer is you can’t. You need a Saviour to save you from yourself. [krima] judgement speaks of the coming Judgement when all will appear before Jesus Christ when He judges the living and the dead. Yes no wonder when these three concepts were explained to them, Felix became frightened and wanted Paul to stop.
Now what about Felix’ motivation? If what Paul talked about scared Felix, why did he keep asking to speak again? There are two possibilities:
1) Felix remained open to what Paul had talked about and wanted to know more.
2) Felix continued to talk with Paul regularly because he hoped Paul would eventually give him a bribe to let him go.
Is it that Felix was close to being persuaded, similar to Agrippa in chapter 26 or was it only in the hope Paul would give him money? More likely the latter but ask Felix if you see him. Actually if you see him in heaven then you will know. What is interesting in this passage is the clause “he sent for him quite often” is a present participle which suggests an ongoing action.
Felix had not done a good job of managing the Jews in this part of the Roman world. The Jews were a thorn in the Roman side. They were difficult and hard to govern. Hence Felix was recalled back to Rome in AD 57 or 58 and Porcius Festus succeeded him. Unfortunately Festus inherited the troublesome province that Felix had stirred up. So keep your antennae out for indications of how Festus proposed to deal with this itinerant Jewish teacher who dared to speak of the teaching, the death and the resurrection of this Jew that many regarded as the long awaited Jewish Messiah – in reality a rival ruler to Caesar. Quite an untenable situation really.
With that point I will leave your thoughts percolating before we begin our dissection of this large chunk of text before us.
You need faith to take risks to pass on things God tells you.Anon
I tried to throw in the towel and God said, “Wipe your face, you’re almost there.”Anon
When you get to the end of your rope look up.Anon
I don’t stop when I am tired ; I stop when I am done.Anon
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.Anon
Love will correct every violation of justice.Anon