We are still with Paul before Felix. He and the Jews accusing him were expecting a decision. Guilty or not guilty, that was the question.
I find it interesting that Felix had “a rather accurate knowledge of the Way” (verse 22). Exactly what does this mean? Does it mean that he knew all about the belief in Jesus and then new church that was being built? Could it mean that he understood the scriptures? Is he possibly considering becoming a believer? Is his “accurate knowledge” an intellectual knowledge or heart knowledge?
I think that question is at the center of his decision. Felix had heard of the concepts that the new church was being built on but he didn’t want them to apply to his life. I think he might have even agreed with some of the foundational principles. But he wasn’t willing to admit this to the Jewish council. He had to stall them.
Lysias was the tribune who sent Paul to Felix in the first place. He was the boots on the ground when all the riots began. He would also have been in a place to say whether there were any reports of instances involving Paul during his stay in Jerusalem. Lysias would be able to attest to the differences in the charges levied against Paul in the two different instances. He was also a firsthand witness to the events in the Sanhedrin council chambers where Paul got them arguing amongst themselves.
Felix’s stalling took care of the immediate disposition of Paul but it didn’t end there. We are not told if Lysias ever visited Felix in person and if he did, whether there was another hearing held. Instead, Paul was kept in custody but given “some liberty” in his confinement and he got to have visitors. A comfortable jail is still a jail none the less.
During Paul’s confinement he was asked to speak with Felix and his wife, Drusilla, regarding his faith. Paul pulled no punches. They discussed Jesus’s teachings, including the coming judgement of all. This scared Felix. I believe he saw his own sin and where he stood concerning that judgement. But he still wasn’t ready to give his life over to Jesus.
Felix loved money and favor more than he valued what he was hearing from Paul. He already had a good understanding of the Way before Paul arrived. And during Paul’s time with him Felix was taught truth by Paul on many occasions. But Felix wasn’t willing to put that truth into action in his own life.
This reminds me of the person who reads the bible for literature sake and the person who dives into the word for relationship sake. For the first person, the bible is merely a collection of stories that may or may not have happened. It’s interesting history and good knowledge for debate. But the person who digs in to find the heart and meaning within the passages finds it to be a love letter straight from God.
God’s word is personal. It is living and breathing. It has the capacity to impact our lives today and every day. It is not simply a historical document with no application for today. But only if you are willing to go beyond the surface knowledge and let it speak to your heart. Paul’s words spoke to Felix’s heart but he wouldn’t let them go any further. Will you? I pray I do!
Father God, Your word is precious to me. I know I don’t give it nearly as much time in my day as I should. I want true knowledge from You. I want a deep and deepening relationship every time we sit together and look at Your words. I want them to reach deep into my heart and spur the changes that will bring us even closer together. I want to hear Your love in every letter. And I want to be able to share that love with anyone else listening in.
I know Paul was kept in captivity by Felix for Felix’s own reasons, but YOU placed him there for YOUR purposes. Thank You for providing comfort even in an uncomfortable situation. And thank You for working Your plan for spreading the gospel for me to have access to it today. I wonder if Felix ever gave You his heart.