22Felix knew a lot about the Lord's Way. But he brought the trial to an end and said, “I will make my decision after Lysias the commander arrives.” 23He then ordered the army officer to keep Paul under guard, but not to lock him up or to stop his friends from helping him.
Paul Is Kept under Guard
24Several days later Felix and his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, went to the place where Paul was kept under guard. They sent for Paul and listened while he spoke to them about having faith in Christ Jesus. 25But Felix was frightened when Paul started talking to them about doing right, about self-control, and about the coming judgment. So he said to Paul, “That's enough for now. You may go. But when I have time I will send for you.” 26After this, Felix often sent for Paul and talked with him, because he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe.
27Two years later Porcius Festus became governor in place of Felix. But since Felix wanted to do the Jewish leaders a favor, he kept Paul in jail.
Charges against Paul have been laid and Paul has responded to each charge by proclaiming his innocence. Felix takes the easy way out by awaiting the arrival of the garrison commander. The real reason he defers his judgment is to gain favour with the religious leaders. No governor wants word to get back to Rome that there is trouble in a province. The question that would be asked would be how effective is the work of the man we sent to be in charge? He does provide Paul with some degree of freedom and friends to visit him and take care of his needs.
Verse 12 suggests that Felix has a good understanding of the Christian position. A few days later Felix brings his wife to see Paul. Drusilla was Jewish and therefore not uninterested in the religious dispute. Paul tells them about Jesus Christ. I’m sure he would speak of Jesus as someone who was crucified by the Romans but would speak of our hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus. His speech turned on three key words: righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment.
This would be very uncomfortable for the couple. Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa the first. She was a woman of great beauty who was already married. Felix, with the help of a magician, had seduced her from her rightful husband and made her his wife – his third wife. Their lax morals would help to explain the topics that Paul chose to speak to them about. Actually Felix was hoping for a bribe from Paul. But Paul refused to take the bait. Although bribery was outlawed in the Roman empire it would have been hard to enforce it in the far reaches of Palestine. However it would be cynical to suggest that every visit Felix paid on Paul was for the purpose of extracting money or property. Undoubtedly Felix’s conscience must have been aroused. For Paul, I am sure, the possibility of Felix’s conversion would have been more important than his release from prison. Sadly there is no evidence that Felix surrendered to Christ.
As we think of the need of Drusilla and Felix for forgiveness, help us to realize our own need for forgiveness. Your word says we have all fallen short, yet you love us and forgive us as we turn to you.