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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 25

Verse 25. And as he reasoned. Greek, "And he discoursing." dialegomenou de autou No argument should be drawn from the word that is used here, to prove that Paul particularly appealed to reason, or that his discourse was argumentative. That it was so, is indeed not improbable, from all that we know of the man, and from the topics on which he discoursed. But the word used here means simply, as he discoursed, and is applied usually to making a public address, to preaching, etc., in whatever way it is done, Ac 17:2; 18:4,19; 19:8,9; 24:12.

Felix and Drusilla intended this as a matter of entertainment or amusement. Paul readily obeyed their summons, as it gave him an opportunity to preach the gospel to them; and as they desired his sentiments in regard to the faith in Christ, he selected those topics which were adapted to their condition, and stated those principles of the Christian religion which were fitted to arrest their attention, and lead them to repentance. Paul seized every opportunity of making known the gospel; and whether a prisoner or at liberty, whether before princes, governors, kings, or common people, was equally prepared to defend the pure and holy doctrines of the cross. His boldness in this instance is the more remarkable, as he was dependent on Felix for his pardon. A timeserver or an impostor would have chosen such topics as would have conciliated the favour of the judge, and procured his pardon, he would have flattered his vanity, or palliated his vices. But such an idea never seems to have occurred to Paul. His aim was to defend the truth, and to save, if possible, the souls of Drusilla and of Felix.

Of righteousness, peri dikaiosunhv. Of justice. Not of the justice of God particularly, but of the nature and requirements of justice in the relations of life, the relations which we sustain to God and to man. This was a proper topic with which to introduce his discourse, as it was the office of Felix to dispense justice between man and man; and as his administration was not remarkable for the exercise of that virtue. It is evident that he could be influenced by a bribe, (Ac 24:26;) and it was proper for Paul to dwell on this as designed to show him the guilt of his life, and his danger of meeting the justice of a Being who cannot be bribed, but who will dispense equal justice alike to the great and the mean. That Paul dwelt also on the justice of God, as the moral Governor of the world, may also be presumed. The apprehension of that justice, and the remembrance of his own guilty life, tended to produce the alarm of Felix, and to make him tremble.

Temperance. egkrateiav. The word temperance we now use commonly to denote moderation, or restraint in regard to eating and drinking, particularly to abstinence from the use of ardent spirits. But this is not its meaning here. There is no reason to suppose that Felix was intemperate in the use of intoxicating liquors. The original word here denotes a restraint of all the passions and evil inclinations; and may be applied to prudence, chastity, and moderation in general. The particular thing in the life of Felix which Paul had probably in view, was the indulgence of licentious desires, or incontinence. He was living in adultery with Drusilla; and for this, Paul wished doubtless to bring him to repentance.

And judgment to come. The universal judgment; the judgment that was to come on all transgressors. On this topic Paul also dwelt when he preached before the Areopagus at Athens, Ac 17:31. These topics were admirably adapted to excite the alarm of both Felix and Drusilla. It evinced great boldness and faithfulness in Paul to select them; and the result showed that he correctly judged of the kind of truth which was adapted to alarm the fears of his guilty auditor.

Felix trembled. In view of his past sins, and in the apprehension of the judgment to come. The Greek emfobov does not denote that his body was agitated or shaken, but only that he was alarmed, or terrified. That such fear usually shakes the frame, we know; but it is not certain that the body of Felix was thus agitated. He was alarmed and terrified; and looked with deep apprehension to the coming judgment. This was a remarkable instance of the effect of truth on the mind of a man unaccustomed to such alarms, and unused to hear such truth. It shows the power of conscience, when thus under the preaching of a prisoner the judge should be thrown into violent alarm.

And answered, Go thy way, etc. How different is this answer from that of the jailer of Philippi when alarmed in a similar manner. He asked, "What must I do to be saved?" and was directed to Him in whom he found peace from a troubled conscience, Ac 16:30,31. Felix was troubled; but instead of asking what he should do, he sent the messenger of God away. He was evidently not prepared to break off his sins, and turn to God. He sought peace by sending away his reprover; and manifestly intended then to banish the subject from his mind. Yet, like others, he did not intend to banish it altogether. He looked forward to a time when he should be more at leisure; when the cares of office should press less heavily on his attention; or when he should be more disposed to attend to it. Thus multitudes, when they are alarmed, and see their guilt and danger, resolve to defer it to a more convenient time. One man is engaged in a career of pleasure, and it is not now a convenient time to attend to his soul's salvation. Another is pressed with business; with the cares of life; with a plan of gain; with the labours of office, or of a profession, and it is not now a convenient time for him to attend to religion. Another supposes that his time of life is not the most convenient. His youth he desires to spend in pleasure, and waits for a more convenient time in middle age. His middle life he spends in business, and the toils of the world, and this is not a convenient time. Such a period he expects then to find in old age. But as age advances, he finds an increasing disposition to defer it; he is still indisposed to attend to it; still in love with the world. Even old age is seldom found to be a convenient time to prepare for heaven; and it is deferred from one period of life to another, till death closes the scene. It has been commonly supposed and said, that Felix never found that more convenient time to call for Paul. That he did not embrace the Christian religion, and forsake his sins, is probable, nay, almost certain. But it is not true that he did not take an opportunity of hearing Paul further on the subject; for it is said that he sent for him often, and communed with him. But though Felix found this opportunity, yet

(1) we have no reason to suppose that the main thing —the salvation of his soul— ever again occupied his attention. There is no evidence that he was again alarmed or awakened, or that he had any further solicitude on the subject of his sins. He had passed for ever the favourable time; the golden moments when he might have secured the salvation of his soul.

(2.) Others have no right to suppose that their lives will be lengthened out that they may have any further opportunity to attend to the subject of religion.

(3.) When a sinner is awakened, and sees his past sins, if he rejects the appeal to his conscience then, and defers it to a more convenient opportunity, he has no reason to expect that his attention will ever be again called with deep interest to the subject. He may live; but he may live without the strivings of the Holy Spirit. When a man has once deliberately rejected the offers of mercy; when he has trifled with the influences of the Spirit of God, he has no right or reason to expect that that Spirit will ever strive with him again. Such, we have too much reason to fear was the case with Felix. Though he often saw Paul again, and "communed with him," yet there is no account that he was again alarmed or awakened. And thus sinners often attend on the means of grace after they have grieved the Holy Spirit; they listen to the doctrines of the gospel, they hear its appeals and its warnings, but they have no feeling, no interest, and die in their sins.

A more convenient season. Greek, "Taking time." I will take a time for this.

I will call for thee. To hear thee further on this subject. This he did, Ac 24:26. It is remarkable that Drusilla was not alarmed. She was as much involved in guilt as Felix; but she, being a Jewess, had been accustomed to hear of a future judgment, until it caused in her mind no alarm. Perhaps also she depended on the rites and ceremonies of her religion as a sufficient expiation for her sins. She might have been resting on those false dependencies which go to free the conscience from a sense of guilt, and which thus beguile and destroy the soul.

{|} "reasoned" "discoursed" {c} "righteousness" Pr 16:12; Jer 22:15-17; Da 4:27; Joh 16:8

{@} "righteousness" "Justice" {d} "temperance" Pr 31:4,5; Da 5:1-4; Hos 7:5; 1 Pe 4:4

{e} "judgment" Ps 1:3,4; Da 12:2; Mt 25:31-46; 2 Co 5:10; Re 20:12

{a} "trembled" Ps 99:1; Isa 32:11; Hab 3:16; Heb 4:1,12

{b} "Go thy way" Pr 1:24-32; Mt 20:1-5; 25:1-10

{*} "call for thee" "send"

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