Acts Chapter 24         Next chapter            Back to Bible Studies   

In the speech given by the Sanhedrin’s lawyer, Tertullus, in the opening verses of his chapter, we find many elements characteristic of the way things are done in this world, especially when one is anxious for a particular outcome regardless of the truth. In the words of the lawyer we find much flattery and pretence (made all the more false in light of the fact that the Jews actually hated Felix), and many lies. For the truth of what actually happened to Paul on the day in question, we should rather consult Acts 22: 22-29. It is interesting to note that the more mild ‘pestilent fellow’ (verse 5) of some translations actually meant, in the original Greek, a ‘pestilence’ or ‘plague’. In such terms was the barely suppressed venom against Paul expressed.  

In contrast, Paul’s reply (verses 10-21) seems mild, reasoned and credible. He sets his argument forth plainly and respectfully, reiterating in verse 15 that he stands before Felix having 'hope toward God’ that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, and once again raising (verse 16) the issue of his conscience being clear before God and man.

Returning to the issue of conscience as we have been studying it in the aforegoing chapters, this chapter takes the theme even further when we study closely the interaction between Paul and Felix and Drusilla. In verse 24 we find that Felix sends for Paul and listens to him speaking about righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come. Also with Felix is his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. Paul's choice of subject matter is very interesting indeed because Drusilla had actually been the wife of another king and Felix had lured her away to become his wife. Against this backdrop, Paul speaks to them about righteousness, self control and the judgement to come - and we see that Felix's conscience is stirred...So much so that he literally 'trembled,' in the original Greek. (The NIV has 'Felix became afraid'.) His immediate reaction is to stop Paul right there and dismiss him, saying that he would send for him at a time that was convenient to him. This reaction of Felix immediately made us think of the wonderful convicting work of the Holy Spirit and the following Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 6:2: "As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation." and

Genesis 6:3 "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever...”

It also reminded us of what happened to John at the hand of Herod when John spoke to him about his unlawful relationship with his brother's wife... From the text it is not clear what happened to Felix in the end, but one thing we know: God was speaking to him that day...

The last subject we discussed regarding chapter 24 was how this discourse of Paul about righteousness, self control and the judgement to come differs from what we read in Matthew chapter 7 regarding judging others. We must be careful to distinguish between what Paul did here and us judging another. Paul was not judging; he was simply talking with Felix and Drusilla about a subject that God had obviously laid on his heart. It just so happened to be a sensitive subject with Felix. The text does not even say that Paul knew about the situation between Felix and Drusilla, although he might well have. The same goes for us when we are speaking to others: we simply lay the truth of God out clearly without reference to anyone in particular; the rest we leave to God. It is, after all, His work.