When Paul left Jerusalem by command of the chief captain (Acts 23:23-24), he was really on his way to Rome. However, he was to stop over in Caesarea to appear before Felix the governor (Acts 23:24 through chapter 24), and Agrippa, the king (Acts chapter 25). By command of these three Roman officers: the chief captain, the governor, and the king, the Lord’s “must” of chapter 23, verse 11, was being carried out.
Paul Accused Before Felix
It is interesting to note the carefulness with which the Jews executed their false charges against Paul. For instance, the employment of the certain “orator named Tertullus,” who was to speak for them before the governor (Acts 24:1). His false and flattering address before Felix is recorded in Acts 24:2-9. We quote,—”And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.”
Paul Answers for Himself
“Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here say, if they had found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council. Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day” (Acts 24:10-21).
The Jews had brought three distinct charges against Paul—He was “a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). The time element referred to by Paul in Acts 24:11, together with the reference to his behaviour in the temple, the synagogue and the city (Acts 24:12) and his call for proof in Acts 24:13 completely revealed the falsity of the first two accusations, and the third one was not a crime in Roman law. He gladly confessed worshipping the God of his fathers, and that he had contended for the truth of the resurrection from the dead, but these things were allowed by the Jews themselves, according to their own law.
The Decision of Felix
“And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him” (Acts 24:22-23).
Paul’s only visible reward for all that he suffered at the hands of his false accusers and the vacillating judge was the fact that Felix gained a “more perfect knowledge of that WAY” (Acts 24:22). The governor did not realize it, but that way was Christ (John 14:6).
“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. 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” (Acts 24:24-25).
Paul’s faith in Christ was so outstanding in his message of defense that the governor and his wife called him before them again to hear more about it. The logical and scriptural reasoning of the apostle, before these two, concerning “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come” caused Felix to tremble.
Even though the convicting power of the Holy Spirit was strong enough to make the governor tremble, he would not yield himself to God. Acts 24:26-27 prove that his love for money and his selfish desire to please men outweighed both his interest in meting out justice, as an office, and in heeding the urge of the Holy Spirit concerning his own soul.
Felix could have been saved and delivered from all fear and trembling but so far as we know, he never accepted faith in Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, is the Holy Spirit dealing with you either for your soul or for a complete surrender of your life to Him? If so, look up—give up—let Him have His way with you.