25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.” Acts 24:25
Here’s the situation: Paul is in Romanish custody because he has run afoul of the Jewish Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin makes their case against Paul, and Paul makes his defense, but, for what appears to be political reasons, Felix is quite unwilling to make a judgment in Paul’s case. Reading between the lines, it appears that he would like to side with Paul, but wants to placate the Jews, so he just keeps Paul in prison and keeps summoning him for conversation – partially because he wants Paul to offer him a bribe, and also, it would seem, because he is interested in talking about faith in Jesus – at least a little. Verse 25 is from that context – Paul is conversing with Felix about the Way, and Felix becomes scared at the mention of righteousness, self-control and judgment to come. The reason why Felix gets afraid at such talk is a very interesting story, and we’ll tell it after we read our passage for the day.
As we see in this passage, Felix is married to Drusilla, a Jewish woman. Though she is only mentioned here in the Bible, ancient historians record a good bit about her life and that of her husband. Drusilla was apparently a woman of surpassing beauty, and Felix was absolutely smitten with her when he first saw her. Unfortunately, he was already married – not a huge deal to a pagan Roman person…but she was also married, which was a bigger deal. This did not dissuade Felix, so he sent a man named Simon, who pretended to be a magician, to implore Drusilla to forsake her husband Azizus, divorce him, and marry Felix. She did this, which was a bummer for Azizus, I’m sure, in part because he had allowed himself to be circumcised as an adult in order to marry Drusilla – ouch! One other historical note: Drusilla and Felix had a son named Agrippa who perished in Pompeii at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, and it is possible that Drusilla, his mother, perished along with him. So it was that Felix won his second wife through less than honorable means, and I’m sure hearing Paul speak about righteousness, self control and judgment to come was pretty frightening for such a man!
What sort of judgment to come is Paul talking about here? I’m glad you asked!
This is the judgment Paul refers to in 2nd Timothy 4:
I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1
and Peter refers to in Acts 10 and 1 Peter 4:
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42)
5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)
And Paul mentions again at the end of Romans:
9 Christ died and returned to life for this: that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:9)
Jesus, meek and mild while on Earth for His first advent, will be powerful and mighty during His second advent. There will be a judgment at the end of this age, and Revelation gives us a glimpse at what is to come:
11 Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 13 Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15
No doubt this is the truth that Paul proclaimed to Felix and Drusilla, and you can probably see quite clearly why it frightened Felix to the core! The Bible proclaims the truth that the end of the world will be accompanied by judgment, and that the judge – Jesus – is standing at the door. (James 5:9) That should not be alarming for those rescued by Jesus, however, as Paul teaches us in 2nd Corinthians 5:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
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