Paul is summoned before Governor Felix. Paul’s Jewish opposition who oppose the notion that God is for the Gentiles as well as the Jews ironically hire a Gentile Lawyer to further their interests before the governor. Tertullus refers to Paul as “a plague” who causes trouble throughout the world by his preaching the gospel. Sin, rebellion, death is a plague … the gospel is good news … but when people are blinded then what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good.
Paul counters the accusations made against him but acknowledges that he is a follower of the Way. Perhaps we should use the phrase “followers of the Way” to refer to ourselves more often than we do. The Way worships God, believes everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, and has a hope in God. Paul identifies this hope as being that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. For this reason, he seeks to live with a clear conscience toward both God and man.
Felix adjourns the case summons Paul to speak with himself and his Jewish wife Drusilla. As Paul speaks of righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix became afraid – and for good reason! Contemporary Roman historians said that Felix had the power of a king which he yielded with the mind of a slave. What they meant was that Felix used his power instinctively for brutality and self-indulgence. One example of this was how Felix has lusted after the sixteen-year-old Drusilla and caused her to enter an adulterous relationship with himself. No wonder Paul’s words of righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment made Felix afraid. Felix should have repented but instead he was happy to hear Paul speak from time to time for entertainment reasons while hoping that Paul would give him a bribe to release him. Two years later Felix was recalled to Rome on charges of corruption. What a tragedy that Felix squandered the opportunity to respond to eternal things hoping instead for a few more silver coins.
The future resurrection caused Paul to live with a clear conscience. The thought of a future resurrection and judgment made Felix afraid. Paul and Felix represent two kinds of men. There are those who like Paul have been regenerated having hearts cleansed of sin and reformed desires by means of the Spirit. Then there are those like Felix having hearts after the nature of the first Adam enslaved to the power of sin, corruption and living for the flesh. For followers of the Way the day of resurrection is a judgment of rewards where God crowns his work in us by rewarding our living for the kingdom. His infinite generosity is such that he even rewards our ordinary daily tasks when conducted as part of a godly life pleasing to him. The resurrection is a fearful judgment for some that they feel is best denied but for us it is the reason why our weekdays are incredibly significant. What we do today counts because God will respond to it.
There is a God of providence and there is a day of resurrection and judgment – the God who is and is to come gives meaning to our present lives.