Today’s reading is a little longer so I gave you a link rather than putting all of the text here. Please read the Bible story. Don’t skip this part. It’s the most important part of the blog.
Paul now rests firmly in the hands of the Romans. The Jewish leadership has handed him over and it appears the Romans would rather protect Paul than punish or kill him as the Jews have requested. The next few years will be spent under house arrest. Romans jails were not used for punishment. You were either awaiting trial or execution. But that waiting process could take as long as the officials wanted to make you wait. There was no “right to a speedy trial” like we are supposed to have in the U.S. Many died in Roman prisons just waiting for their trial. But Paul’s situation was not so bad. He had some freedom of movement and fellow believers were allowed to come and visit him, bringing whatever he needed. Most certainly Paul used this time to write letters to outlying churches, to minister to the believers in Caesarea, and witness to his guards.
The verses that have an interesting punch for today begin in 24:22.
22But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.”
23Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.
24After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.
25And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
26At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him.
27When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Felix was looking to see if Paul was actually living out the faith he was speaking about all the time. Had Paul actually offered Felix a bribe to secure his freedom, Felix could have put the faith aside, as it would have put the faith to shame. It would make Christianity just as useless as the “worship” of all the false gods that went on in Rome. Paul of course passes this test as he does not offer Felix a bribe. Christianity is not like other religions at all. Paul is not there to gain his freedom. He is there to witness about Jesus to anyone who will listen. Felix’s desire for a bribe brought Paul to him often and you know that Paul took advantage of every single one of those opportunities.
This reading brings us to an examination of our own motives. How many times do we look just like the world around us, thus negating our witness about the uniqueness of Christ? Paul stands as an amazing example of being willing to suffer rather than compromise the message. Would that my witness were so strong.