And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
The Character of Felix.
Felix was not a man altogether ignorant of the religion which Paul preached; he is, on the other hand, spoken of as one who had a more perfect knowledge of that way—that is, of the religion of Christ. Felix' heart was not wholly hardened; his conscience not wholly seared; he was a man who had sinned grievously, who sinned against light and knowledge, and therefore was, so to speak, on the high road to utter hardness and blindness of heart; but he had not arrived at that condition yet—if he had he would not have trembled when Paul spoke of judgment to come. And we must also remark, that although Felix was not ignorant of the claims of the gospel, and was not utterly beyond hope as being spiritually dead, still he was able to make the warnings of St. Paul utterly useless. Felix trembled, but he did nothing more; his mind was disturbed as by the sudden gust of a storm, but there was no abiding impression, no deep, lasting effect; and so the storm passed over, and he rested in his sins unchanged. We gather these lessons from his story:—
I. Is it not a besetting sin of us all to be afraid or to be too idle to look into our consciences to examine our acts, our thoughts, our words, and see whether in each day they have been such as God will approve? Is it not, in fact, the very tendency of fallen man ever to follow the example of his first parents and hide himself from the searching eye of God?
II. Again, are there not many who listen weekly to sermons, and in them hear Christ's ministers, as Felix heard St. Paul, "concerning the faith of Christ," who yet are none the better for what they hear?
III. Again, is there nothing Felix-like in the manner in which people very often treat this warning of God, which more clearly than any human words speaks of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come?
IV. May we not see in Felix generally a type of want of seriousness in religion? His was a character wanting in deep solemn feeling, wanting in judgment as to the value of things, unable to see for more than a transient moment the awfulness of these thoughts, which made him tremble when they were uttered by St. Paul. Felix must for ever be a type a many within the Christian Church.
Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 182.
Reference: Acts 24:24-27.—J. Fraser, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 385.
Acts 24:25I. Felix made two great mistakes. He did not know what constituted a convenient season, and he presumed he might repent and turn to God whenever he pleased. We are all apt to give too much weight—whether in help or hindrance—to external circumstances. It is a testimony to true religion, that almost every one will say that he hopes and means some day or other to be, if not very religious, yet certainly more religious than he is now. But then, all fancy that by-and-bye they will be in a position which will be more favourable to make a beginning. They will be holier, or their anxieties will be fewer, or their temptations will be less, or their religious advantages will be greater, or their associations in life will be more fitting, so their state of mind will be better prepared. They picture a certain future which wears a sober and almost a religious aspect, and then they call that a convenient season.
II. It is the felt willingness of God to receive us, it is the still small voice consciously heard within, it is the drawings of the secret constraining power which is the operation of the Spirit of God upon the conscience and the affections,—these make the convenient season. Where these are everything is sure to be convenient—God will make it convenient, how unlikely soever it be. Where these are not, there will be an inconvenience—an utter impossibility. All religious procrastination is an insult to the Holy Ghost. The only time to keep a resolution is the moment that it visits you; and he who does not turn to God when he is drawn, increases each time, tremendously, the risk that he will never turn at all.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 166.
I. Men lull awakened consciences to sleep, and excuse delay in deciding for Christ by half-honest promises to attend to religion at some future time.
II. Note reasons for this attitude. (1) There is the instinctive natural wish to get rid of a disagreeable subject; (2) many think it will be time enough to think about serious things and be religious when they get older; (3) many let the impressions made on their hearts and consciences be crowded out by cares and enjoyments and pleasures and duties of this world; (4) some do not like to give up something which is inconsistent with God's love and service.
III. Delay is really decision the wrong way. It robs us of large blessings. It is gambling with a very uncertain thing—our life and its future opportunities.
A. Maclaren, A Year's Ministry, 1st series, p. 165.
References: Acts 24:25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 171; E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. ii., p. 80; Talmage, Old Wells dug Out, p. 94. Acts 24:27.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 249. Acts 25:8.—Ibid., vol. x., p. 57. Acts 25:9.—Ibid., vol. ii., p. 249.
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.
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 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 have 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.
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.
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.
He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.