Acts 24:27

Fog. West Virginia.

Sunday, 18 February 2024

But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. Acts 24:27

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, scrolling with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words more literally read, “And after two years having been fulfilled, Felix received a successor, Porcius Festus. ‘And intending to lay the Jews’ a favor, Felix left Paul bound’” (CG).

In the previous verse, it noted that Felix was hoping for money from Paul. Therefore, he called for him often and conversed with him. Now, the last verse of the chapter says, “And after two years having been fulfilled, Felix received a successor.”

In this clause is a word found only here in Scripture, diadochos. Successor is an exact translation. Felix’s time as governor had finally come to an end without any change in Paul’s status. It has been said that this succession was caused by the complaints of the Jews against Felix.

Their constant moaning finally led Nero to recall him. However, and maybe to keep from further complaints being filed against him, he granted them the favor of leaving Paul in prison. The justification for this was then a greedy hope of self-preservation.

Because of this, it appears that Paul’s frequent conversations fell on deaf ears if they were in relation to the gospel. No other conversations changed Felix’s attitude concerning Paul’s imprisonment. Instead, Felix departed Caesarea having abandoned Paul to the fate of the next governor, “Porcius Festus.”

It is known that Festus came to the province in AD60. He ended up dying in his second year in office. During the two years that Paul was in prison up to this point, it has been conjectured by some that he wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews.

It is also conjectured by some that Luke used this time to do his research for the gospel and for the book of Acts, compiling them and using Paul for necessary reference. As for the verse and the chapter, it ends with the words, “And intending to lay the Jews’ a favor, Felix left Paul bound.”

In this sentence is a new word, katatithémi. It signifies to lay or deposit a favor, probably with the view of receiving one in return. It will only be seen again in Acts 25:9. Both uses are tied to the sitting governor’s relationship with the Jews.

Paul came to Caesarea as a prisoner, having been falsely charged by his Jewish brethren. His time in prison outlasted the final years of the governor, and his state was left unchanged as a new governor was brought in to oversee the matter that should have been handled after the short trial two years earlier.

Closing out the chapter, the Pulpit Commentary says –

“The scene in this chapter is a very striking one, depicted with admirable simplicity and force. The bloated slave sitting on the seat of judgment and power, representing all the worst vices of Roman degeneracy. The beads of the sinking Jewish commonwealth, blinded by bigotry and nearly mad with hatred, forgetting for the moment their abhorrence of their Roman masters, in their yet deeper detestation of the Apostle Paul. The hired advocate with his fulsome flattery, his rounded periods, and his false charges. And then the great apostle, the noble confessor, the finished Christian gentleman, the pure-minded, upright, and fearless man, pleading his own cause with consummate force and dignity, and overawing his heathen judge by the majesty of his character. It is a graphic description of this very noble scene.”

Life application: The conjecture about Paul’s writing the Epistle to the Hebrews at this time is interesting. Although the letter is unsigned, it certainly bears all the hallmarks of having been written by Paul.

Internal clues in the letter tell us that the temple was still standing at the time of it having been composed. Paul would have had time to consider the many facets of why he held to his position concerning the law, the temple, and the sacrificial rites associated with them. As such, it was the most opportune time to write such a letter.

Further, it would mean that the letter was penned to his beloved brethren in the land of Israel, a nice touch. Being a Pharisee, he had the knowledge of the matters contained within the epistle to piece together the words to make the very complicated issues penned in it understandable.

Paul didn’t just whittle away his time in prison playing solitaire. If he penned Hebrews there, it would add another level of industry to his time in confinement. This can then inspire us to take advantage of such times in our lives as well.

Just because we are in difficult or trying circumstances, we shouldn’t let them take away our joy and productivity in the Lord. Look at David and what he did! Note the introductory words to the 57th Psalm: “To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.” And again, the introduction to the 142nd Psalm says, “A Contemplation of David. A Prayer when he was in the cave.”

David was hemmed in by his enemies, and yet he took time to pen his devoted words to the Lord. How many of us would get stuck in a car in a snowstorm and stop to write a song to the Lord? And once again, the 3rd Psalm opens with, “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom, his son.”

Who would be on the move on a battlefield and stop to write a psalm to God? David did. Remember the Lord at the bleak times in your life. God may just use you to do great things because you did.

Lord God, may we be productive for You in our lives, even when things seem tough or troubling. It is at such times that we may have the greatest inspiration of all to glorify You. Remind us that You are there, and may we have the wisdom to acknowledge it. This life is fleeting. What we do with it now is important for ourselves and maybe for others as well. So, help us in this, O God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 24:26

Panorama view from West Virginia Capitol.

Saturday, 17 February 2024

Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. Acts 24:26

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, scrolling with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words more literally read, “And simultaneously, also hoping that money shall be given him by Paul that he might release him. And, therefore, summoning often, he talked with him” (CG).

In the previous verse, Felix sent Paul away, telling him he would call him at a convenient time. Rather than wanting to hear about the gospel, however, he had another reason for the delay, as Luke next records, “And simultaneously, also hoping that money shall be given him by Paul.”

As in government positions throughout history, getting bribes is something that the greedy and dishonest will naturally take advantage of. In this case, it may be that Felix latched on to Paul’s words of verse 24:17 and figured that he either had money or had friends who would take care of him if he were in need. There, it said, “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation.”

If Paul was carrying alms, it had to have come from somewhere. The source was less important to him than getting what Paul may have had access to. In exchange for a bribe, Luke says it was “that he might release him.”

Paul had clearly established his innocence, and there was no evidence of any wrongdoing in him that could be proven, and yet out of a sense of personal gain alone, Felix kept him in prison and waited to see if he could profit off it in order for Paul to be freed. And more, he assumed that the longer Paul was in prison, the more willing he would be to make a deal. Thus, Luke records, “And, therefore, summoning often, he talked with him.”

These words fail to mention any further fear on the part of Felix. Instead, he seems to have simply hardened his heart against the word. Such may not be the case, but it seems likely that if there were any hint of a conversion in him, Luke would have mentioned it.

This back and forth between the two went on for a full two years. It seems that he hoped to simply wear out Paul’s patience until he caved in and paid a bribe.

Life application: It appears that Paul was in no hurry to leave the prison. He was allowed to live there in a semi-free state. People could come to him and help him out, and – probably above all – he could study the parchments he possessed. His time in prison was probably one of great learning.

Today, we find ourselves always wanting to do more, go to more places, have adventures, and so forth. And yet, there are people who live on little islands or in country towns that have never traveled more than a mile or two away from home in their entire lives.

What is it that we find so important about doing, doing, doing? If we are truly happy people, we should be able to find contentment right at home. People find it necessary to miss church to attend sports. People skip work to go on a quick excursion to the beach.

Such things are obviously fun to do, but where are our priorities? Let us remember to cling to what is important first and foremost. If time permits, we can find other things to do, but we should never skip our time in the word or our time in fellowship with other believers if it is at all possible.

Lord God, help us to be content with simpler lives that focus on You more and the things of this world less. In the end, we won’t say, “I wish I had earned more money” when we are facing our final moments. How much more then will we regret the misuse of our time when we stand before You? Help us to wisely consider such things. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 24:25

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Friday, 16 February 2024

Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Acts 24:25

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

A more literal translation is, “And he, reasoning concerning righteousness and continence and the judgment coming to be, Felix, having become frightened, answered, ‘For now, be going, and having found time, I will call you’” (CG).

In the previous verse, it noted that Felix came to Paul with Drusilla, his wife. He heard Paul concerning the faith in Christ. From there, Luke now records, “And he.”

It is referring to Paul. While Felix and Drusilla were listening, Paul spoke, “reasoning concerning righteousness.”

The word is dikaiosuné. It speaks of “righteousness” or “justice” that is deemed right by the Lord. It isn’t so much in reference to the character of God as it is to what is expected of us in our relations with both God and man. Thus, it is the proper conduct of our lives.

In the next verse, it will be seen that Felix is susceptible to taking bribes, and so this was a good point for Paul to have started with. Next, it notes “continence.”

It is a new word in Scripture, egkrateia. It refers to a person’s ability to practice moderation or restraint concerning life’s temptations. Strong’s says it is “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.” Thus, continence is a good word. The thought is also well expressed by the words self-control. Paul then continues with “the judgment coming to be.”

It is an obvious thought concerning what a person can expect if there really is a God. Tucked inside of man is a sense of responsibility to his Creator. Further, the knowledge that God exists is revealed in the creation itself. Paul addresses these things in Romans 1.

However, man can sear his conscience to the point that this thought is almost completely erased from his mind. Therefore, it is something that Paul spoke about because whether one accepts the gospel or not, judgment lies ahead. The difference is how one will stand before God on that day.

In the case of Paul’s words, he certainly presented the gospel in the sense that we are fallen, and that leads to our failings, all of which will be dealt with in either our judgment for condemnation or in our salvation through Christ’s judgment on our behalf.

What is amazing about Paul’s words is that he is standing before the one who has the power to release him or convict him. Despite that, instead of tickling his ears, he talks about issues that would make both the humble and the hardened squiggle in their seats.

Rather than pursuing a soft message, he chose the topic that bore especially on Felix’s character. And rightfully so, because Tacitus’s writings about him say that he “exercised the authority of a king with the spirit of a slave.” Because of Paul’s words, Luke next records, “Felix, having become frightened.”

The presentation had its intended effect. The word used has a strong sense. “Terrified” might be a better description of his state. Fear can lead to changing one’s mind if the heart is tender, or it can lead to looking for a means of escape from that which terrifies. Unfortunately, Felix chose the latter. Luke continues that he “answered, ‘For now, be going, and having found time, I will call you.’”

Felix has put off what he should have acted on. When a person is faced with such a decision, delaying a response will generally lead to the hardening of the heart.

Life application: Sharing the gospel is something we should do. When we do, it is good to give a summary thought concerning what we have said. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul writes –

“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
‘In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2

This is a good verse to use to bring what you have said home. A delayed decision for Christ may turn into a decision never being made. In quoting Paul, adding in an understandable life application of the thought is helpful –

“Do you know that on September 11, 2001, several thousand people went into the World Trade Center, pressed the elevator button, and went up to whatever floor they were set to go to? Not one of those people thought, ‘This is the last time I will ever get on an elevator. I will be jumping out of a window at the top of this building in a few minutes.’ This is what life is like. We are one moment away from our demise at any moment. Without Jesus, we will have to face God alone. Today can be the day that changes for you. Call on Jesus and be saved while you have the opportunity.”

Be sure to speak of the judgment coming to be and how that can be one of salvation, not condemnation. Be sure to tell them that it can be so if they just believe in Jesus.

Lord God Almighty, may we be responsible with the time You have given us. Give us a heart to talk to others about Jesus, declaring their need to accept what He has done, believing the gospel of our salvation. And may we remember to remind them that today is the day! We may not have tomorrow. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 24:24

KKK Grand Dragon and a very rotten person, Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Thursday, 15 February 2024

And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Acts 24:24

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, it was commanded that Paul be given certain liberties while he was incarcerated in Caesarea. Now, the narrative continues, saying, “And after some days.”

This period was probably not very long. If the days were delayed to any extent at all, Luke most likely would have noted this. Regardless of the timeframe, however, it says, “when Felix came with his wife Drusilla.”

Drusilla was the third daughter of Herod Agrippa I and the sister of Agrippa II. Agrippa I was the king who spoke before the people of Tyre and Sidon in Acts 12, and who, failing to give glory to God, was struck by Him and was eaten by worms. Agrippa II is the king whom Paul will speak before in Acts 26.

This royal family was aware of the Christian movement, as Acts particularly describes. Of Drusilla, it next says, “who was Jewish.”

This is a point Luke felt was necessary to include to remind the reader of the status of those Paul spoke to. It could be deduced from a careful study of Acts that she was Jewish, but Luke especially notes it anyway.

As for her situation, at one time, she was engaged to be married to Antiochus Epiphanes, first son of King Antiochus IV of Commagene, but because he wouldn’t get circumcised, she was married to Azizus, king of Emesa. This is recorded in Josephus Ant. xx. 7. 1.

After this, and with the supposed help of a sorcerer named Simon, she was estranged from him and eventually was married to Felix. It is not certain if this was the same as the person mentioned in Acts 8. Barnes says the following concerning this –

“Felix was governor of Judea, he saw Drusilla and fell in love with her, and sent to her Simon, one of his friends, a Jew, by birth a Cyprian, who pretended to be a magician, to [endeavor] to persuade her to forsake her husband and to marry Felix. Accordingly, in order to avoid the envy of her sister Bernice, who treated her ill on account of her beauty, ‘she was prevailed on,’ says Josephus, ‘to transgress the laws of her forefathers, and to marry Felix’ (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 7, sections 1 and 2).”

Her recorded life, including her marriage to a Gentile, indicated that she wasn’t a strict adherent to Jewish ways. As for Felix’s return with Drusilla, Luke next records that “he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.”

The news about how the Jews opposed Paul’s teaching may have made both her and Felix eager to hear what he had to say concerning the message of Jesus. Luke specifically focuses on the fact that Paul’s message was centered on “the faith.”

Life application: Felix was a Gentile, and Drusilla was a Jewess who was not obedient to the law. Both of them stood outside of the acceptable parameters of the Law of Moses. And yet, they were willing to hear about Paul’s doctrine concerning faith in Christ.

Even though Felix was a Gentile, he would have had a good understanding of what Judaism taught. As such, it was probably surprising to both he and his wife that Paul spoke of faith rather than works.

In the coming verses, Paul will explain what the faith in Christ should entail, but the things he mentions are points of doctrine that come after salvation. Salvation is not contingent on those things, nor is continued salvation contingent on those things.

The saving message of Jesus is one of faith in what He has done. Personal merit is entirely excluded. Be sure that when you present the gospel to others, that this is clearly understood. If people are told they must merit salvation through works, you are not presenting the true gospel.

Jesus! He has done it all. We need to believe this by faith. Upon belief, we are saved. After belief, we should endeavor to live in a holy and upright manner because of the salvation God bestowed upon us by His grace.

Lord God Almighty, what could we place before You and say, “See, this is why You should save me?” We are stained with sin and incapable of doing anything that could remove that. But You, O God, have made it possible through the giving of Jesus. We can now boldly proclaim, “See, this is what God has done to save us all!” Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 24:23

Nice group of employees, West Virginia Capitol.

Wednesday, 14 February 2024

So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him. Acts 24:23

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Felix told Paul that when Lysias, the commander, came down, he would decide the case against him. With that complete, it now says, “So he commanded the centurion.”

The centurion mentioned here was probably the one in charge of all of the prisoners who were at the location. It would be he whom Felix would deal with. This centurion would then have guards under him that he would direct concerning individual prisoners. To this particular centurion, the direction was “to keep Paul and to let him have liberty.”

The word translated as “liberty” is new to Scripture, anesis. It is a noun derived from the verb aniémi, to let loose or slacken. For example, that verb was used previously in Acts –

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed [aniémi].” Acts 16:25, 26

Thus, Paul is being given an easing or loosing of the normal confinement of prisoners. But more, Felix goes further “and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.”

The order for Paul to have a relaxation of the prison rules included that he should be allowed to have visitors and be provided for by them as well. This might mean better food could be brought to him or whatever else his visitors thought would help his time go by more enjoyably.

This time in prison may very well have been used by Luke to obtain information for either his gospel, or the book of Acts (as a legal defense for Paul), or maybe both.

Paul’s time in prison in Caesarea would not be overly difficult as far as Felix is concerned. As the Geneva Bible says, “God is a most faithful keeper of his servants, and the power of the truth is wonderful, even amongst men who are otherwise profane.”

That was true of Joseph while he was in prison. Likewise, Paul will now enjoy freedoms during his incarceration that will allow him to contemplate the goodness of God even during a difficult situation. It is more than probable that he was allowed to keep his parchments in order to study the word. If so, he would constantly be making connections from the Old Testament concerning the marvelous work of God in Christ.

Life application: Tough times are sure to come upon each of us. Some may be arrested for their witness to Christ. Some may lose their jobs in a time of financial distress. Some may be hurt or get a sickness that causes them to be incapacitated, paralyzed, bedridden, etc.

We don’t normally think about such things until they come upon us. However, what would you do if one of these came upon you? How would you respond to it? It is likely that Paul used his time in prison in prayer and in a study of the Scriptures. He certainly told those around him about the freedom found in Christ, even while they were bound in prison.

It is good and right for us to remain productive even while in troubling circumstances. Let us not lose or slacken our devotion to the Lord at such times. Rather, let us continue to be proper examples of the patience of Christ, even through them. This is a demonstration of faith, and nothing done in faith will lack its reward when we stand before the Lord.

Lord God, may we be willing to hold fast to You even in the most trying of times. Help us to have this attitude now in preparation for anything that may come against us in the days ahead. Help us to remain faithful vessels filled with Your Spirit so that those around us will see that our faith is worth emulating. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.