24:24 After 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. 25 And 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.” 26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
25:1 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”
This is starting to sound like the life of John the Baptist. The local ruler likes to keep the prophet around and listen to him sometimes, so he keeps him in prison.
There is so much more going on here, though! We heard the other day that Felix has ‘an accurate understanding of the Way.’ Today we hear that his wife is Jewish! We don’t learn much more about that, but wouldn’t it be cool if they were followers of Jesus? In some of Paul’s letters, he mentions various high-level political leaders or their households as being part of the church. It could happen.
Paul spends TWO YEARS in this prison-ministry. It’s prison because he can’t leave. It’s ministry because he speaks regularly for 2 years just like he did in Ephesus. Anybody can come and visit him and he’s able to send out a ton of letters to churches during this time.
Was this the best way for Paul to be an evangelist? Was this the way Paul would have chosen to spend 2 years of his life?
I doubt it, but that didn’t stop him. Even in Paul’s letters that sound negative (“everyone in Asia has abandoned me”), he still rejoices and continues to do what he is able to do with the Gospel.
Even though Paul’s message would disturb Felix sometimes, he didn’t let up. He grew in such favor (and Felix was holding out for that bribe for so long) that Paul’s reputation carried over to the next administration. Now Festus is going to have a chance to hear the Gospel and continue keeping the court philosopher.
Evil Roman ruler or not, God is using the greed of this Roman to preserve Paul’s life and to spread the Gospel even further.
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