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
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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.