Read: Acts 24
Paul is in prison in Caesarea. His accusers hired an attorney named Tertullus to speak for them to Felix. Tertullus was not more of an expert than the religious elite that hired him, he was an orator. He laid it on thick with Felix with flattery upon flattery.
In the end Paul had three charges leveled against him—(1) Paul was a public menace, stirring up riots everywhere. (2) He was a leader of the Nazarene sect. (3) He attempted to desecrate the temple (5–6).
Paul obviously refuted these charges, citing specifically where he had been and what he had done. In verse 19, he even charges his accusers with the fact that, not only do they have nothing against him, but the ones who stirred up trouble for him weren’t even there.
At the end of the chapter, we see the true tale of Felix’s character, that what he wanted was a bribe (26). Felix had been a slave, won his freedom, and was put in a position of power. He was self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, and corrupt. The Roman historian Tacitus slammed Felix when he wrote, “He exercised royal power with the mind of a slave.”
This passage is highly descriptive. Luke is simply telling us what happened—we need to know this to understand how Paul eventually ended up in Rome. It points to Paul’s innocence in captivity. His accusers had nothing on him.
However, there are a few things we might learn. First, Paul said in verse 16, “I also do my best to maintain a blameless conscience both before God and before other people, always.” If you’re looking for advice on how to live out your faith in a hostile culture, this is it. To do this well requires a Holy Spirit filled, Scripture drenched, prayerfully devoted relationship with the Lord.
The second thing that stood out to me was the difference between Paul and Felix. Felix exercised royal power with the mind of a slave. However, Paul exercised royal power (from the King of the Universe) with the humility of a slave. Paul frequently referred to himself as a bondservant (slave) to Jesus. There was great shame associated with being a slave in this culture, that’s why what Tacitus said was so offensive. However, Paul willingly accepted that role.
Do we live blameless? Do we maintain the mind of a slave to Jesus? A slave doesn’t argue with the Master about what you will and won’t do. There’s no bargaining. Whatever the Master asks, the answer is “yes” even before it’s asked. This may be scary, but can we trust the Lord with our future? Can we trust his promises to those whom He calls to live sold out to Him? As Paul said in Romans 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”
Paul trusted the Lord, even as he was in prison for the gospel. Also note that in the first phrase in verse 27, two years passed. Imagine reading that verse, putting your Bible down, and waiting to pick it back up when the story continues May 4th, 2023. Sometimes being a bondservant of Jesus means waiting on Him and His timing. I think many of us are willing to serve the Lord at a high level, but it’s harder when serving Him means waiting. God’s timing is perfect, He’s never early or late. Part of being a blameless bondservant means embracing the seasons of waiting as much as the opportunities for service.
By: Tyler Short
I love this contrast: “Felix exercised royal power with the mind of a slave. However, Paul exercised royal power (from the King of the Universe) with the humility of a slave.” What a good reminder of the mentality we should aim to have! Reminds me a little of Philippians 2.
Thanks Thomas. Good Word.
v.5) “We have found this man to be a troublemaker”
Sometimes being a bondservant of Jesus means waiting on Him and His timing.
This passage from verse 5 and Tyler’s comment about “waiting on Him and His timing” really spoke to my heart today. I remember many times as a child when my parents would say to my brother & me, “you boys get outside & play and stay out to trouble”. There was a farm across the street from my house and my brother and I would roam the woods with the farmer’s son and occasionally get into mischief. Staying out of trouble is normally a good thing that we desire for our children & ourselves, right? So what happens when proclaiming truth and standing on the word of God lands us in trouble? Sometimes there are consequences to doing the right thing! Paul spent two years in prison for proclaiming the good news of Jesus and salvation through Him alone. Verse 26 tells us that Felix “sent for him frequently”. I’m sure each time Paul met with Felix he was hoping he would be released from prison and return to his gospel ministry. Paul could have paid Felix a bribe or said whatever Felix wanted to hear to hasten his release but Paul trusted God’s timing and stood on truth without wavering. The Bible is filled with characters who were so called “troublemakers”. I believe persecution is coming to Christians in our country and I pray we stand firm and trust God’s timing. Having said that, let’s go get in some trouble today CPC brothers & sisters! Jesus is worth it!
"Let's go get in some trouble today."
Two big things come to mind from your writing, Tyler. Both of these have to do with being able to wait and be patient well. I think our lack of patience looks like this:
Lack of patience
Lack of trust Instant gratification Want of control
Our lack of trust in the faithfulness of God and His good character, our inner desire to be the god and ultimate decision maker in our lives, and a world filled with instant gratification feed our lack of patience. If we want to fight this sin well, we have to attack this weed at its roots.
That graphic did not come through as typed haha
Nice Jordan. I often say that we live in a microwave world where we want what feels good now. However, I don't think that there are hardly any meals you can cook from beginning to end in the microwave that truly benefit you. There is hardly any decision where the easiest, fastest, most convenient is the best solution. The best comes through time and struggle. There are no shortcuts on excellence in anything that matters.
Thank you Tyler! I am not good at waiting, most of the time, and I certainly needed this encouragement along with truth spoken into my life today!